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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 LEADS. As Director of Custom Executive Education at Harvard Business School (HBS), Pam works closely with business leaders to design strategically aligned, high impact executive education and leadership development programs using a variety of learning designs and pedagogies. Prior to her work at HBS, Pam managed Harvard University alumni involvement in the university’s expansion into Allston, Mass. 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.

Joey Banh
Director of Network Programing

Joey Banh is the founder of JBanh Consulting, a consulting firm that specializes in small business startup, negotiations, leadership/management training, team building, networking, public speaking and career advancement consulting. Joey spent 15 years serving the Lowell community in a variety of ways; youth work, organizing, education, community building, non-profit program management, entrepreneurship building, small business education and leadership training. Before consulting, Joey spent time working for Lowell Public Schools, Entrepreneurship for All, Lowell Community Foundation, UTEC, the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Lowell, COOL, Lowell Plan, and the City of Lowell. Joey has also been involved with the boards of organization such as, COOL, The Lowell Plan, Lowell Public Schools, CMAA, M.A.L.E.S.(UML), EParaTodos, and DIY Lowell. After his college graduation he co-founded FreeVerse! and spent time as a traveling spoken word artist, outdoor youth counselor, community organizer, youth advocate, and public-school teacher. Joey spent 4 years as the Sr. Program Director for the Boys &Girls Club of Greater Lowell and 3 years as the Senior Program Manager of EforAll (Entrepreneurship for All) Joey opened a restaurant with his brother and sister-in-law in the Acre neighborhood of Lowell, (Sizzling Kitchen).

Joey Banh was raised in Lowell, MA by immigrant parents displaced by the Vietnam war. Currently Joey is living in Leominster MA with his wife Dana.

He graduated from the University of Massachusetts Lowell in 2010 with a dual bachelor’s in Management and Marketing.



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Lisa Buettner
Advisor, LEADS Accelerator

Lisa Buettner is a sales strategy and leadership development consultant with over twenty years of global leadership experience. As Founder and Executive Principal of Anchor Consulting, she has built and led a successful consulting practice serving the strategy, business development, sales, and human capital needs of Fortune 100 companies. 

Lisa has worked extensively with technology, healthcare, retail/CPG, media and entertainment, private equity, and manufacturing companies. In her sales strategy work, she has partnered with global companies to improve business development and sales efforts, and transform from transactional, tactical vendors to strategic, consultative solution partners. Her copyrighted Customer Value Mapping tool has enabled hundreds of sales leaders and teams to identify and sell value-aligned solutions to their customers resulting in over $12B in new opportunities and wins. In her work with private equity firms, she has conducted commercial due diligence focused on go-to-market analysis and sales/operations effectiveness. Post-acquisition, she has worked with companies to meet sales, operations and customer engagement growth targets. In her leadership development work, and in partnership with Harvard Business School Corporate Learning, her learning strategies have empowered companies to maximize the strength of their talent to improve business results and create a future-ready workforce. Her award-winning programs for hundreds of leaders are highly experiential and focus on applying learning to real business challenges within the organization. For one client, they realized $3.6M in direct ROI impact based on the implementation of eight learning projects. 


Lisa is actively involved as a mentor and judge in startup labs, accelerators and competitions. She has worked with for-profit, nonprofit and mission-based organizations as they navigate through customer discovery, prototyping, pitching, and launching. She serves on the Boards and Committees of several organizations including The Women’s Fund of Essex County and the Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership.


She holds a Master’s in Organizational Development from Suffolk University, Advanced Certification in Training and Development from Boston University and a Bachelor’s in Business Management from Gordon College.


Principal of Anchor Consulting

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Fredy Hincapie
North Shore LEADS Program Coordinator

As a Lynn resident who migrated from Colombia 20 years ago, Fredy brings a deep understanding of the North Shore. His passion for uplifting members of his community is highlighted through his work as Social Enterprise Manager at The Haven Project, a nonprofit that provides social services to homeless youth north of Boston.


In addition to his Bachelor’s in Finance from Salem State University, he has 10 years of experience working closely with city constituents at the local level. In his spare time, he loves to surf, snowboard, and travel.


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Jeff Bussgang
Co-Founder and Chairman 

Senior Lecturer

Harvard Business School

General Partner

Flybridge Capital Partners

Jeffrey J. Bussgang is a Senior Lecturer in the Entrepreneurial Management Unit at the Harvard Business School (HBS) as well as Co-Founder and General Partner at Flybridge Capital Partners, an early-stage venture capital firm with offices in Boston and New York City and over $1 billion under management across six seed funds and nine network funds. “Unicorn” portfolio companies include BitSight, Bowery, Chief, FalconX, Habi, MadeiraMadeira, and MongoDB. He studies lean startups as well as strategy and management challenges for founders.


At HBS, Jeff teaches MBA classes on entrepreneurship and lean start-ups called Launching Technology Ventures, Venture Capital Journey, and Scaling Minority Businesses. He has authored two books:  one for startup joiners, Entering StartUpLand, and one on venture capital and entrepreneurship, Mastering the VC Game, to provide entrepreneurs an insider’s guide to financing and company-building. Both books 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 board chair and co-founder of Hack.Diversity, a talent development program for Black and LatinX technologists, as well as a board member at educational non-profit Facing History and Ourselves and co-founder and board chair of LEADS, an economic and leadership development program for diverse Gateway City leaders.

Jeff holds a BA in Computer Science from Harvard University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

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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 40-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 $23.0 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 regularly named among the Top 10 “Most Influential People in Boston” by Boston Magazine, and to the Boston Business Journal Power 50 list.

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Julieann M. Thurlow
President and CEO  Reading Cooperative Bank

Julieann M. Thurlow is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Reading Cooperative Bank, responsible for the strategic leadership and stewardship of the $750MM mutual bank founded in 1886 in Reading, MA. 


Julieann serves as Chair Elect of the American Bankers Association. She is immediate Past-Chair of ABA’s Core Platforms Council; and currently serves as a member of their Government Relations Administrative Committee and Membership Council. 


Julie is a founding member of Alloy Labs, a consortium of banks nationally formed to innovate in the banking space and is a Director of Atlantic Community Bankers Bank (ACBB).  Locally, Julieann serves on the MA Fintech Hub and is a Board and Executive Committee member of the Lawrence Partnership, the Massachusetts Taxpayer Foundation and the Greater Lawrence Community Health Center. 


American Banker Magazine has repeatedly named Julieann to its list of the Top 25 Women to Watch in Banking and the Commonwealth Institute has named Reading Cooperative Bank a Top 100 Women-Led Business for the past six years running.


In addition to an MBA from the Charles F. Dolan School of Business at Fairfield University, Julieann completed advanced studies at the Stonier Graduate School of Banking, Harvard Business School’s Division of Continuing Education, and the CEO Leadership Lab at Wharton’s Aresty Institute for Executive Education. She is a proud member of the first cohort of Leads, MA, (Leaders Engaged and Activated to Drive Systemwide Change) a cross-sectoral leadership program focused on innovation, civic engagement and social responsibility.

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