Portsmouth, N.H. (PRESS RELEASE) – Craig Welch, executive director of the Portsmouth Housing Authority, has been named the 2016 recipient of the Caroline L. Gross Fellowship. Established in memory of the late House Majority Leader to honor dedication to public service, the fellowship is awarded annually by the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation.
Foundation President Richard Ober presented the fellowship award on Wednesday in a ceremony at the Portsmouth Housing Authority. The fellowship enables an individual in public life to attend the three-week Senior Executives in State and Local Government program at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.
“Caroline Gross was an exemplary leader, and this program has strengthened an entire generation of civic leaders to improve the work they do for New Hampshire,” said Foundation President Richard Ober. “The fellows who have been through this program describe it as a transformative experience in their professional careers.”
The fellowship, now in its twenty-first year, honors an extraordinary elected or appointed official in New Hampshire state or local government who demonstrates leadership ability and the highest standards of performance in public service.
Welch has directed the Portsmouth Housing Authority, which provides affordable housing to 1,000 city residents, since 2013. He is a former vice president of housing at the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund and holds a Master’s in Education, Organization and Management from the Antioch New England Graduate School.
“I am really honored,” Welch said. “I’m very interested in the opportunity to grow and to learn, and I think that will be not just a benefit to me, but a benefit to the people I am here to serve.”
Affordable housing, Welch said, is just one component of addressing the problems of families who live with “chronic scarcity.”
“It’s one of society’s most intractable problems. There are people in all of our communities that are stuck in a cycle of poverty that sometimes lasts generations,” Welch said. “I hope that in the future, I will be able to not just make an impact on how we work through that here in Portsmouth, but hopefully develop strategies that will allow us to do that beyond Portsmouth.”
Caroline L. Gross was a New Hampshire native who devoted her adult life to public service, serving in numerous capacities in the New Hampshire House of Representatives, the Governor’s office, and as a state representative from Concord. In 1989, she was appointed House Majority Leader, a position she held until her death in 1993. Her husband, Martin Gross, along with friends, family and colleagues established a fund at the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation to provide permanent funding for the Caroline L. Gross Fellowship.
Martin Gross, a former mayor of Concord and former chair of the Foundation’s board of directors, passed away in January. At the request of his wife, Deirdre Sheerr-Gross, the fellowship will be renamed the Caroline and Martin Gross Fellowship. Sheerr-Gross has made a generous gift to the fund that sustains the fellowship.
“Deirdre’s gift is really a gift to New Hampshire, and a perfect way to honor Martin and continue to honor Caroline,” Ober said.
Previous fellowship recipients include: George Bald, John Beardmore, Gina Belmont, Philip Bryce, Joan Callahan, Christopher Clement, Lou D’Allesandro, Sylvio Dupuis, Orville “Bud” Fitch, David Hess, Jason Hoch, Beverly Hollingworth, Tricia Lucas, Tina Nadeau, Marilee Nihan, Merelise O’Connor, Catherine Provencher, Alan Robichaud, Todd Selig, Kathleen Sgambati, Stephen Shurtleff and Mary Beth Walz.
About the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation
The New Hampshire Charitable Foundation is New Hampshire’s statewide community foundation, founded in 1962 by and for the people of New Hampshire. The Foundation manages a growing collection of more than 1,700 funds created by generous individuals, families and businesses, and awards more than $30 million in grants and scholarships every year. The Foundation works with generous and visionary citizens to maximize the power of their giving, supports great work happening in our communities and leads and collaborates on high-impact initiatives. For more information, please visit www.nhcf.org or call 603-225-6641.