Pam Hallagan
Co-Founder & 
Executive Director

With more than 25 years of leadership development and executive education experience, Pam has developed a broad business perspective that she brings to her client advisory and program design work. As Director of Custom Executive Education at Harvard Business School (HBS), she works closely with business leaders to design strategically aligned, high impact executive education and leadership development programs using multi-modal learning designs including residential, virtual, field-based, and experiential learning. Prior to her work at HBS, Pam managed Harvard University alumni involvement in the university’s expansion into Allston, Mass. and the planning of the capital campaign. Before this Pam was a principal at the Center for Executive Development and a management consultant with CSC Index.


Building LEADS has been a perfect marriage of Pam’s expertise in leadership development with her passion for mobilizing communities through positive, collaborative action. Pam sits on the NE Regional Board of the Anti-Defamation League and the Leadership Council of Temple Beth Elohim. She is a proud mentor with Partakers’ College Behind Bars program. She lives in Needham, Mass. with her husband and four children.

Portfolio Director 

HBS Executive Education

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Derek Mitchell
Co-Founder & President 

Derek brings a cross-sectoral lens and gateway city orientation to the development and implementation of the LEADS programming. He has lived, worked, started his family in Lowell, and served as the founding Executive Director for the Lawrence Partnership in Lawrence for over 6 years. Derek is deeply committed to the unique assets and opportunities that Gateway Cities provide for innovation, upward mobility, and community building. In the course of his career—which has included everything from working with refugee families and high-risk youth to real estate investment and local politics—he was bitten by the bug of collaboration, which he believes is the true silver bullet for getting things done. Helping build and scale the LEADS programming has been a perfect avenue for Derek to apply his skills and passions. Derek lives in West Newbury, Mass. with his wife and two daughters and myriad of farm animals.


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Jeff Bussgang
Co-Founder and Chairman 

Senior Lecturer

Harvard Business School

General Partner

Flybridge Capital Partners

Jeff’s career has spanned entrepreneurship, venture capital, academia, and civic leadership. He is co-founder and general partner at Flybridge Capital, an early stage technology venture capital firm with over $700 million under management. He also serves as a Senior Lecturer at Harvard Business School and teaches a popular class on entrepreneurship called Launching Technology Ventures. In this capacity, he has co-authored forty HBS cases, book chapters and teaching notes regarding startup management and entrepreneurship. His two books – Entering StartUpLand and Mastering the VC Game – have been hailed by the Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, TechCrunch and The Financial Times as essential guides for entrepreneurs.


Jeff is an active community member, serving as co-chair of the leadership council at educational non-profit, Facing History and Ourselves, co-founder of a private-public partnership designed to tackle the underrepresentation of highly-skilled minority employees in Boston’s innovation ecosystem, Hack.Diversity, co-founder and co-chair of an immigration reform non-profit, the Global EIR Coalition, and co-founder and former chair of the progressive policy organization, The Alliance for Business Leadership. Jeff also serves on the board of EdX, the massively open online course provider created through a joint venture between Harvard and MIT.

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Socrates De La Cruz
Founder and CEO,
De La Cruz Law and De La Cruz Properties

From a modest upbringing in Lawrence, Ma, Socrates De La Cruz has emerged as one of the Merrimack Valley’s most impactful business, civic, and evangelical leaders.  He has founded and serves as the CEO of De La Cruz Law, a criminal defense and personal injury firm; and De La Cruz Properties, a real estate investment, holding and management firm that boasts one of the largest residential portfolios in the City of Lawrence.  Previously, he served as a trial attorney for McBride and Associates and as an Assistant District Attorney in Essex County.


Socrates leverages his own personal experiences and successes to inspire others and give back to his community.  In addition to founding and running Socratic Inc., a non-profit that offers motivational speaking and awards scholarships to youths in the Merrimack Valley, he also serves as the Vice Chair of the Lawrence Partnership and sits on the boards of Greater Lawrence Family Health Center and Greater Lawrence Community Action Council.  Socrates is also a founding Board Member of LEADS.

In 1998 Socrates received his JD from Suffolk University Law School after receiving his BA from Holy Cross, where he was a Division 1 basketball player.  He credits so many of his early opportunities to his close relationship with the Lawrence Boys and Girls Club, for which he was honored as the National Youth of the Year in 1991, commemorated by a visit to the White House to be recognized by then President George H. Bush.

In 1999 he was recognized by Oprah Winfrey on the Oprah Show for his civic leadership and community contributions. In 2006 Socrates authored a chapter in the NY Times Best Seller A Hand to Guide Me by Denzel Washington, which features other various contributing writers like Muhamad Ali and former President Bill Clinton.

In 2012, Socrates became an ordained minister through the Free Methodist Church USA and currently serves as an Assistant Pastor at the First Spanish free Methodist Church in Lawrence, the same church his grandmother attended for decades.  In addition to preaching and visits to congregants, Socrates is also part of the governing body at his local church. He lives with his wife and 3 daughters in Methuen, MA.  In the few moments when he is not with family, building his businesses or giving back to his community, he is an avid golfer and reader.

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Robert F. Rivers
CEO and Chair of the Board of Eastern Bankshares, Inc. and Eastern Bank 

A 39-year community banker who started his career as a teller, Bob is CEO and Chair of the Board of Eastern Bankshares, Inc. and Eastern Bank. Founded in 1818, Eastern Bank has approximately $17.0 billion in assets and more than 110 locations serving communities in eastern Massachusetts, southern and coastal New Hampshire, and Rhode Island.


Bob is involved extensively in the community, serving as Chair of the Massachusetts Business Roundtable and The Dimock Center and on the Board of Directors of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, The Lowell Plan and The New England Council. He also is a member of the Board of Trustees of Stonehill College, the Advisory Boards of the Lawrence Partnership and JFK Library Foundation, and the Boston Women’s Workforce Council, in addition to providing support and guidance to numerous other non-profit organizations. In addition, he is a Co-Chair of the recently-launched Massachusetts Business Coalition for Early Childhood Education, comprised of more than 75 Massachusetts companies focused on raising awareness about the need for a more robust and sustainable network of early child care and education.

Bob has been recognized by many organizations for his work in championing diversity and social justice and has been consistently named among the Top 10 “Most Influential People in Boston” by Boston Magazine, and to the Boston Business Journal Power 50 list.