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As co-founder and current director of the Grow Education program at the Marion Institute, Zoe has worked to cultivate family and school partnerships in marginalized neighborhoods through school-based community gardens. She describes her Leadership SouthCoast experience as transformative: “The exposure to the diverse vibrant sectors of the South Coast informed the ways in which I approach my work- finding the interconnections between education, industry and culture,” says Zoe.

What do you do professionally? 
For the last nine years I have had the honor of working for the Marion Institute, a local South Coast non-profit. I am co-founder and current director for Grow Education, a program aiming to cultivate family and school partnerships in marginalized neighborhoods through school-based community gardens. My professional journey is increasingly leading me in the direction of independent consulting, where I have enjoyed locating and leveraging points of connection between education, industry and culture. Operating through an evidence and asset-based approach I work with schools and organizations to cultivate cross-sector relationships and develop innovative culturally responsive solutions.

How are you involved in the community and what motivates you to engage?
I am originally from Providence, RI, however the beautiful City of New Bedford has been my home for several years. I serve on several community boards and committees including;  Co-Chair of United Way South End Engaged Family and School Engagement Committee, Community Foundation Scholarship Review Committee, Lighting the Way: Historic Women of the South Coast Curriculum Committee, Leadership South Coast Education Session Planning Committee, and the Advisory Board for Community Connections Coalition.  I am also receiving my PhD in Educational Leadership and Policy from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth this May.

My motivation is deeply rooted in a commitment to social justice and equity, particularly within the realm of education. In my role as a collaborator and connector, the meaningful and authentic relationships I cultivate, both professionally and personally, continue to be my primary source of inspiration.

What did you find most valuable about the LSC experience and how did it contribute to your community leadership? 
My Leadership SouthCoast experience was transformative. The exposure to the diverse vibrant sectors of the South Coast informed the ways in which I approach my work- finding the interconnections between education, industry and culture. Being able to identify and leverage points of connection in the South Coast community had a direct impact on Grow Education programming, allowing me to incorporate/develop new partnerships and connect New Bedford teachers with local resources. Beyond the curriculum, I was able to form lasting relationships with my cohort. You can find the Class of 2013 gathering every year during the LSC graduation- more than often than not, we are the loud table in the back.

Describe your leadership in one word.
Pioneering

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