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Catherine (Cat) DeTerra (’18) serves as People Incorporated’s Vice President of Communications and recently joined LSC’s Board of Directors. The best leadership advice she’s ever received? “Never forget your journey and the stumbles along the way.”

What did you find most valuable about participating in LSC?

Interacting with so many talented people and groups who are so passionate about community building was such a gift. Going into Leadership SouthCoast, I understood that I would learn more about the region, explore leadership concepts, and work on a community project. That seemed to encompass a wonderful LSC experience. However, discovering the ongoing public and private initiatives to improve the lives of the people living and working in our area was so inspiring! After leaving each monthly session, it was overwhelming to think of the breadth and depth of the work (often silently) going on around us every day, including food pantries and community gardens, education and art initiatives, assistance for people experiencing homelessness, the creation of new opportunities in areas like textiles and offshore wind, the ongoing work to protect our waterways, and too much more to list. Our LSC cohort gained so many personal, professional, and community insights through this intense Leadership SouthCoast experience.

In what community initiatives are you involved? What motivates you to engage?

I manage festivals and events as part of my role at People Incorporated, generally to raise awareness or funds for child and family programming.  Examples include Kids-A-Palooza, the Jack Rua Invitational, and the Miles for SMILES Road Race. I enjoy the opportunity to be creative, collaborative, and meet so many great people.

As part of the Fall River Transformative Development Initiative (TDI) Partnership, I am working within a strong group of community leaders to leverage the many assets of the TDI District (downtown area) to increase positive perceptions of the City of Fall River. This effort involves engaging and building relationships with the community and local stakeholders so that together we can form a distinct district identity – a destination in which people can visit and stay downtown. In 2019 the TDI Partnership launched the first Taste Fall River restaurant night, drawing approximately 450 people. Taste Fall River is now an annual event due to that success. 

Community initiatives with a lasting positive effect are the most intriguing to me.  I hope that work done now will continue to make the community better long after I’m gone.

What’s the best leadership advice you’ve ever received?

“Never forget your journey and the stumbles along the way.” As one’s career progresses, it can be easy to forget how it felt to be the new kid with talent and enthusiasm, but perhaps not enough time in rank to get attention turned towards your ideas. Help new staff. Welcome people into the circle so that you can continue learning right along with them, and mentor them with the care and respect you wish you had received.

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