For Immediate Release - May 12, 2014


SPRINGFIELD – Monday, May 12, 2014 – Governor Deval Patrick’s Western Massachusetts Regional Office today announced the launch of “Partners in Public Service,” a civic engagement initiative aimed at bridging the distance between community stakeholders in Western Massachusetts and those who represent them on Beacon Hill. In the spirit of promoting public service, the main objective of the program will be to facilitate stakeholders’ ability to access, understand and effectively navigate state government and its related agencies.

“The Governor's Springfield Office is an important means for us to stay engaged with Western Mass communities and they with us,” said Governor Patrick. “This initiative builds on that platform to encourage constituents and stakeholders to connect with their government.”

“Partners in Public Service” was first conceived following two successful focus group sessions last spring that brought together a host of non-profit leaders from the greater Hampden County region. In response to feedback from those in attendance naming early education and care as a consensus policy affecting all stakeholders involved, the Western Massachusetts Office coordinated a “meet and greet” forum in December last year at which over 50 local providers and community leaders were invited to meet with Tom Weber, Commissioner for Early Education and Care.

Following the success of these meetings and in hopes of providing community leaders with the tools needed to continue their engagement with state government in the future, the Western Massachusetts Office will be holding another forum on Monday, May 19, 2014, at the Kittredge Center (People’s Bank Conference Room), Holyoke Community College, 303 Homestead Avenue, Holyoke.

Monday’s forum seeks to provide an opportunity for non-profit and community leaders with a strong interest in early education and care to gain insight into the Massachusetts budget process, interact directly with public officials and forge valuable partnerships. Emme Shultz, Budget Director, Ron Marlow, Assistant Secretary for Access and Opportunity at Administration and Finance, Maydad Cohen, the Governor’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy and Cabinet Affairs and Commissioner Weber will share their expertise and engage in a panel discussion. Stephanie Neal-Johnson, Undersecretary/Acting Chief of Civil Rights at the Massachusetts Department of Transportation will be moderating the event. In addition, Joel Barrera, Executive Director of the Commonwealth Seminar and Deputy Director of the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, will deliver featured remarks.

"Our democracy only works when citizens own their government," said Barrera. "I look forward to meeting leaders from Western Massachusetts and sharing ideas about how we can create better connections between community members and state government.”

The Western Massachusetts Office also plans to hold a third “Partners in Public Service” event in the fall designed specifically to support non-profit and service organizations. Serving at the grassroots level, these organizations are in the best position to gain public input and provide the opportunity for citizens to take an active role in civic work. As government cannot reach certain segments of the population alone, this event hopes to encourage effective and continued community dialogue. Hosted by several organizations, this third initiative will be a community discussion aimed at stimulating the long-term civic participation of stakeholders and everyday citizens, advancing public policy, and expanding economic growth while maintaining a focus on under-served communities. Everyday Democracy, a nationally recognized non-profit organization that has provided knowledge, training, and resources to hundreds of local communities across the United States, will offer guidance and provide technical assistance to community leaders in attendance.

“Everyday Democracy is excited to work with the Western Massachusetts Office and its partners in their efforts to provide a way for people from all walks of life – public officials, stakeholders, and everyday citizens – to make decisions about how they will address issues around early childhood education and care,” said Carolyne Abdullah, Director of Community Assistance at Everyday Democracy. “We are especially impressed by their shared commitment to pay special attention to structural barriers to opportunity so that all children can have equal chances to learn and give back to their communities.”

Since taking office in January 2007, Governor Patrick and his Administration have actively sought to develop a more inclusive and accessible state government committed to serving the Commonwealth in its entirety. Acting as a crucial link between the tens of thousands of citizens residing in Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden and Hampshire counties, the Governor’s Western Massachusetts Office hopes “Partners in Public Service” will serve to advance this mission in tangible and meaningful ways, while setting an example to be followed by future administrations.

What:                          An Insider’s Look at the Massachusetts State Budget

Where                         Holyoke Community College (Kittredge Center-People’s Bank Conference Room), 303 Homestead 
                                   Avenue, Holyoke

When:                         Monday, May 19, 2014. Doors open at 12:30 p.m.

Who:                          Stephanie Neal-Johnson, Undersecretary and Acting Chief of Civil Rights, Massachusetts 
                                   Department of Transportation

                                   Emme Schultz, Assistant Secretary for the Budget and Fiscal Operations

                                   Ron Marlow, Assistant Secretary for Access and Opportunity, Commonwealth of Massachusetts

                                   Maydad Cohen, Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy and Cabinet Affairs, Commonwealth of 

                                   Joel Barrera, Executive Director of the Commonwealth Seminar and Deputy Director of the 
                                   Metropolitan Area Planning Council

                                   Thomas L. Weber, Commissioner, Department of Early Education and Care

Contact:                      Elizabeth Cardona, Sr. Director and Civic Engagement Advisor, Office of the Governor, Western 
                                   Massachusetts at (413) 784-1200

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