By Rebecca Dravis
12:48PM / Friday, December 23, 2016
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Northern Berkshire Community Coalition is currently focused on community pride, and there's no one more proud to lead that effort than Amber Besaw.
Besaw, who has been acting as interim executive director of NBCC since Adam Hinds stepped aside last spring to wage his successful campaign for a state Senate seat, has official been named permanent executive director.
Besaw has been with the Coalition for the past five years, holding positions of deputy director and program director for The Family Place. She brings her diverse background in medical social work, community mental health, clinical social work with children and families, program development, and community organizing to NBCC's mission of community support and action in Northern Berkshire County.
"Since April 2016, Amber has served as interim director of the nbCC. She has exhibited a strong, open, communicative leadership style that serves to support the Coalition's mission. We are pleased to announce Amber's appointment to the executive director's position and we thank everyone for their continued support of NBCC," board President Kris Maloney said in a news release on Thursday.
A resident of North Adams for the past 10 years, Besaw originally came to the Berkshires to work with The Brien Center in an innovative pilot program called the Enhanced Outpatient Program, a predecessor program to the current Intensive Care Coordination program, where she was a supervisor for two years. Over her time in the Berkshires, Besaw has become involved with the community soccer and hockey leagues, her church community, and other community groups. Besaw has also had the opportunity to travel internationally, making two trips to Nepal where she was able to teach workshops to educators within the school system about the benefits of play and alternative disciplinary techniques for children. Additionally, Besaw and her family were able volunteer to spend time with children and families in the Okhaldhunga village hospital.
"I am thrilled to accept this opportunity. I look forward to working with the Coalition staff and board to continue the traditions that make the Coalition a cornerstone of the Northern Berkshire region, as well as find new and innovative ways for us to grow," Besaw said. "As executive director, my initial priorities will be to build and maintain the relationships of the Coalition within our community, make myself available to listen and create opportunities for constructive community dialogue, as well as work with the staff and Board to begin a strategic planning process for our future."
At the last Coalition forum on Dec. 9, Besaw led a discussion on community pride, something she said came about from a brainstorming session in the fall about what topics to focus on this year.
"Community pride is kind of different," she said, talking about how surveys show some young people feel "hopeless" about life in Northern Berkshire County but that she and her Coalition staff want to help change that perception. "It made us even more passionate about why we should be proud of living in Northern Berkshire."
After hearing from representatives from Adams, North Adams, Williamstown and Clarksburg about what they see community pride as, Besaw unveiled the Coalition's latest contest: the DIY Community Pride Challenge, where residents are encouraged to track their good deeds and actions through Jan. 6. Details can be found on the Coalition's Facebook page.
"Every day ask yourself, ‘What am I doing for my community?'" she said.
What Besaw has done for her community is show unwavering support, North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright said in the news release.
"Having first met Amber through her work at the Coalition with the Family Place, three wonderful qualities were evident; commitment, compassion and the ability to collaborate," he said. "As interim director over the past several months, Amber has displayed strong leadership skills and I am certain she will continue to fulfill the Coalition's mission traditionally and in new and exciting ways."