For executives who are new to the area, living and working in New Haven can sometimes be a daunting experience. But officials at the Greater New Haven Leadership Center hope they can make moving in just a little bit easier.
About a month ago, nine executives from the Greater New Haven region graduated from the center’s Executive Orientation Program. The program, which is offered twice per year, is designed specifically for executives from corporate, nonprofit and governmental organizations who are new to New Haven or their positions.
“We try to educate people about what is in the area,” the center’s executive director, Patti Scussel, said. “I think it is important that people are aware of the opportunities and assets that are available in the region.”
Anthony Rescigno, the president of the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce, said the program is beneficial for longtime residents as well.
“We find that even people who have grown up here don’t know some of the inner working of the city,” he said. “This is an opportunity to get some insight into how the region runs and see things that people would normally not see.”
The program involves a series of five weekly meetings that include discussions with community leaders on city issues, such as New Haven’s history, neighborhood revitalization, families, education, policing and the arts scene, as well as Tweed-New Haven Airport and the Port of New Haven.
“We draw on longtime leaders of our community to concisely educate these executives in areas such as government, arts and entertainment, history, neighborhoods, and the overall attributes and diversity of our region,” said Diane Wishnafski, the chairman of the Chamber of Commerce.
The program’s organizers said they believe it is beneficial to the region because it encourages participants to become involved in the community.
“The subject matter we present in a short period of time provides the participant with the necessary background — of our region so that they can quickly become an active participant and effective leader in the initiatives of our community,” Wishnafski said.
Rescigno added that the program also has economic benefits.
“Our hope is that we’re nurturing these people to have a better understanding of the area and therefore a greater appreciation of New Haven,” Rescigno said. “Then the graduates of the program become ambassadors for the area and can help to promote the local economy.”
Graduates provided positive feedback about the program.
“It was very thorough,” said Janet Zwerdling Weiswasser, who graduated from the program in October. “We really got a nice sense within one month of the strengths, weaknesses, challenges and needs of the community.”
Weiswasser is the director of community relations and program development for the Yale medical school’s Department of Pediatrics.
Organizers were pleased with the graduate response.
“Participants find the program invaluable,” Wishnafski said. “The positive feedback from participants at the graduations only reinforces the need for this program and is a testament to its success.”