If it hadn’t been for this program…
That is a common refrain among public servants who have been awarded the Caroline L. Gross Fellowship to attend the Senior Executives in State and Local Government Program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.
For Cathy Provencher, it was having the confidence to run for New Hampshire State Treasurer, a post in which she served for seven years.
For Durham Town Administrator Todd Selig, it is the ability to see complicated situations “from the balcony,” to collaborate and build relationships to move important public projects forward: a new town hall, a new library, downtown construction.
For the Hon. Tina Nadeau, Chief Justice of the state’s Superior Court, it was envisioning a system and building coalitions to streamline the way in which felony cases are processed in New Hampshire’s courts.
The intensive, three-week program draws participants from a range of disciplines from around the world — from police and fire chiefs to congresspeople to mayors and members of parliament. Participants work on challenging assumptions about how to exercise leadership; on innovative models of collaborative governance and decision-making; on developing new ways to address policy issues; and examining the relationships between citizens and government.
Fellows describe the program as profound. Thought-provoking. Life-changing.
The fellowship is named for Caroline Gross, Majority Leader of New Hampshire’s House of Representatives from 1989 until her death in 1993.
“She had a great intelligence and great people skills, and believed strongly that public service was an honorable calling,” said her husband, Martin Gross. Family, friends and colleagues contributed to create the Fellowship, which is administered by the Foundation. One participant per year is chosen to attend the Harvard program from New Hampshire. The fellowship is Caroline Gross’ living memorial.
“In a word,” said Marty Gross, the results have aligned with his expectations “perfectly.”
“The whole point is to jolt them out of their habits of thinking and offer them new ways to think about things, to refresh their approaches,” Gross said. “The point was not just to reward long service, but to refresh and reinvigorate devoted public servants in New Hampshire.”
Twenty-two fellows have been named since 1995. The fellowship, and everyone who contributed to create and maintain it, have delivered immeasurable dividends for the state: a cadre of stronger leaders, deeply connected with colleagues across disciplines and regions, re-devoted to public service, envisioning new ways to make things better for New Hampshire.
Provencher is now treasurer for the University System of New Hampshire. When she is at the statehouse, she makes a point to look up at Caroline Gross’ portrait in Representatives Hall.
“I have a deep sense of gratitude that there is this program, in her name,” Provencher said, “that I hope allows me to provide better public service because of it.”
This story originally appeared in our 2014 Annual Report.
“I have a deep sense of gratitude that there is this program, in her name, that I hope allows me to provide better public service because of it.Catherine Provencher, University System of New Hampshire vice chancellorTweet This