DANBURY, CONN. — Three Western Connecticut State University alumni who have discovered varied outlets for innovation, creativity and problem-solving in public service will discuss their experiences at an Entrepreneurial Arc panel discussion on Monday, May 6, 2019, at the university’s Westside campus, 43 Lake Ave. Extension in Danbury.
Participants in the Entrepreneurial Arc panel, presented as part of the WCSU series of programs showcasing local entrepreneurs, will include Alex Larsson, 2018 Democratic candidate for the 66th House District and a co-founder of the Connecticut Crossroads Project; John Board, New Britain Conservation Commission member and chairman of New Britain Pride; and Christal Preszler, deputy director of Economic and Community Development for the town of Newtown.
The forum will be at 6 p.m. in Room 218 of the Classroom Building on the Westside campus. Admission will be free and the public is invited to attend. Co-sponsors for the event include the Center for Entrepreneurship, Research, Innovation and Creativity (E.R.I.C.@THEGARAGE), the Ancell School of Business and the Macricostas Entrepreneurial Endowment, all at WCSU; the Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce; and the Danbury Hackerspace.
Dr. Pauline Assenza, associate professor of Management and coordinator of the Entrepreneurial Arc program, observed that the forum will offer perspectives on the personal experiences and evolving careers of the panelists in the public arena and explore what each hopes to accomplish in public service going forward. Assenza noted that public sector work often demands an entrepreneurial mindset attuned to identifying and acting upon opportunities to arrive at innovative solutions for the benefit of citizen stakeholders in society.
“If the goal of the entrepreneur is to look for opportunities to solve problems for those who are in need, and if innovative solutions are necessary, why not apply this energy to public service and become an advocate for your constituents?” she remarked. She added that each of the featured panelists provides an example of seeking opportunities “to exercise creativity in pursuit of something meaningful and to work actively for change.”
Larsson, who received his B.A. and M.A. in History at WCSU, participates in the management of the nonprofit organization Connecticut Crossroads Project, which seeks to record and archive oral histories of residents in communities across the state. A native of New Milford and Woodbury who now resides in Bantam, he observed, “Connecticut’s Northwest corner has a rich history and culture that can be opened up even more with programs through the historical societies and libraries.” He currently serves as a member of the Litchfield Conservation Commission, alternate member of the Litchfield Parks and Recreation Commission and chair of the Litchfield Democratic Town Committee. He also volunteers in a program to train guide and service dogs.
He competed in 2018 as the Democratic nominee for the 66th District seat in the state House of Representatives, losing to incumbent Republican Rep. David Wilson. Describing himself as a youthful progressive, Larsson campaigned to promote public education, free community college enrollment, accessible health care, affordable housing, economic revitalization and other programs to build up communities and expand opportunities for Connecticut residents.
Board, recipient of a B.A. in Political Science at WCSU, is a current member of the New Britain Conservation Commission and previously served on the Redding Parks and Recreation Commission. An Eagle Scout who dedicated more than 1,000 hours to community service, he interned in the offices of the Newtown first selectman and the mayor of New Britain and has been active in Connecticut political campaigns since 2012. During 2018, he served as campaign manager for Fifth Congressional District Republican candidate Manny Santos and later joined the campaign of independent gubernatorial candidate Oz Griebel as scheduler and deputy policy director.
As founder and chairman of New Britain Pride since 2017, Board has led the organization in coordinating LGBTQ+ Pride celebrations and promoting an atmosphere of acceptance in the city. He has been a frequent “citizen advocate” in testimony before the Connecticut legislature over the past decade, appearing to speak at hearings on House and Senate bills covering a diversity of issues including health and human services for the LGBTQ+ community, student financial aid and debt, transparency in college tuition decisions, and community college consolidation. He served as a student member of the Connecticut Board of Regents for Higher Education and an anchor for the award-winning 2017 WCSU Election Connection broadcast. In his anchor role, he observed, “It is fundamental for the community to know and understand what is happening in their local town halls, how their municipal CEOs respond to residents, and how all levels of government interact.”
Preszler, who earned her M.B.A. from the WCSU Ancell School of Business, began her career in the private sector as associate product manager at Duracell, working in diverse areas including customer service, sales, logistics and business-to-business marketing. She joined the Newtown Economic and Community Development office in 2012 and in January 2017 became its deputy director, where she serves as an advocate for development grants, brownfield recovery, business startups and other measures to build a vibrant and economically strong community. Her office seeks to identify property options for Newtown commercial and retail businesses that are planning expansions as well as for firms that are considering relocation to Newtown. Other tasks include assistance to new businesses to gain fast-track permitting and publicity for events such as Sandy Hook Restaurant Week and the Newtown Arts Festival.
Assenza noted that Preszler has become an effective and innovative business advocate for the town where she also makes her home. “Working with diverse stakeholders, the public, government agencies and private organizations, Christal’s goal is to create a business-friendly environment in Newtown,” she said.
For more information about the panel discussion, contact Assenza at email@example.com or the Office of University Relations at (203) 837-8486.
Western Connecticut State University changes lives by providing all students with a high-quality education that fosters their growth as individuals, scholars, professionals and leaders in a global society. Our vision: To be widely recognized as a premier public university with outstanding teachers and scholars who prepare students to contribute to the world in a meaningful way.