Dana Lee Mengwasser of Montague has been named the Executive Director of The Brick House Community Resource Center. Since summer 2014, Mengwasser has served as the organization’s Youth Programs Manager.
“Over the past three years, Dana has expanded programming, and the role The Brick House plays in the lives of youth and families,” said Meaghan Carr, president of the Brick House Board of Directors. “Teen center attendance has doubled during their tenure, and Dana has been instrumental in developing programs that focus on social justice and meeting the needs of youth in our community.”
Mengwasser graduated from Hampshire College in 2012, where they conducted in-depth research on conflict resolution within non-profit organizations. They worked as an EEC-certified teacher at the Nonotuck Community School in Northampton, a residential counselor at the Northeast Center for Youth and Families, and an administrator and NADA Protocol acupuncturist at the Freedom Center of Northampton. They have developed and directed educational theater programming about consent and violence prevention for Five Colleges Inc., and designed and implemented a range of arts and health-based programming at camps, after-school programs, and schools throughout Western Massachusetts and Southern Vermont.
Since 2010, The Brick House has been substantially managed by its Board of Directors, a group of volunteers, with no Executive Director on staff.
Hired in 2014 to fill a new Youth Programs Manager position, Mengwasser’s experiences made them a good fit, and they have demonstrated leadership and vision beyond the scope of their job. They worked with participants, staff and community stakeholders to develop several new youth-serving programs, and in response, youth participation at the Brick House has grown dramatically, with a 120% increase in drop-in attendance at the Teen Center since 2016.
These programs include Momentum Arts, which provides youth the opportunity to explore self-expression through a wide range of artistic mediums; the Peer Support group, a collaboration with the Western Mass RLC, which offers a supportive and stigma-free space for young people to discuss challenges they face; and YOLO (Youth Opportunities for Leadership and Organizing), a program made possible by Community Development Block Grant funding from the Town of Montague. YOLO focuses on social justice education and bullying prevention, using popular media as a teaching tool, and on helping young people step into leadership roles at the Brick House and in their community.
This year, the Board of Directors came to recognize that additional work Mengwasser was doing in guiding the organization through a transition fit well with the typical responsibilities of an Executive Director.
“Collaborating with partner agencies has been a priority for Dana, and the Board has recognized their continued efforts to look toward the needs of our community at large,” said Meaghan Carr.
“In many ways, Dana has been working toward this role in their entire time as Youth Programs Manager,” said Mike Jackson, secretary of the Board of Directors. “Through their thoughtful leadership, they convinced us that the Brick House will need an ED if we are going to grow to meet this community’s changing needs. We knew we didn’t have to look far to find a suitable candidate.”
The promotion has been an opportunity to restructure and identify areas that need focus in coming years. As Executive Director, Mengwasser will be able to provide on-the-job attention to fundraising, development, and grant-writing.
“I’m glad to be leaving The Brick House in capable hands,” says Jared Libby, who is moving on this fall from his longtime post as Director of Operations. “Dana’s years of experience as Youth Programs Manager are great preparation for the work ahead. Most importantly, I know that Dana’s heart is behind the mission and work of The Brick House.”
The Brick House first opened its doors in 1990 in response to domestic violence in the community, seeking to provide accessible services, address immediate needs, and foster efforts toward longer-term solutions.
The organization receives funding from the Department of Children and Families to convene a coalition that supports positive youth development and parent involvement, collaborating with the Gill-Montague Community School Partnership and Montague Catholic Social Ministries in that effort. It works actively with the Franklin Hampshire Regional Employment Board, Community Action, DIAL/SELF, the Franklin Regional Council of Governments, and the Department of Public Health, among other valuable community connections.
The Brick House also continues to provide direct support to parents and families, and its vibrant Third Street community center serves as a shared meeting and performance space, available at low cost to all area residents.
Meaghan Carr, Brick House Board President
(774) 278-1178; firstname.lastname@example.org
Mike Jackson, Brick House Board Secretary
(413) 772-9959; email@example.com