The Beacon Hill Civic Association (BHCA) will lose a faithful longtime staff member when Executive Director Suzanne Besser steps down from the position in June.
Soon after relocating from Simsbury, Conn., in 1998, Besser landed the job, which she said drew on her previous experience working as the executive director of other non-profits and served as “a good way to get involved in the community.”
In the fall of 2004, Besser, who also worked as a reporter for the Hartford Courant in the ‘80s, left the BHCA to take on the role of editor of The Beacon Hill Times.
“I just wanted to get back to journalism,” Besser said of the decision. “It was like taking a sabbatical from the BHCA for a few years.”
But she couldn’t stay away too long: In July of 2007, Besser returned to the BHCA when her old position opened up again.
“I really do love this job because of the people I’ve gotten to meet and work with,” Besser said. “It’s also great to see how this community gets together and rallies behind the issues that are important to them. One of the greatest examples occurred on Jan. 4, when nearly 200 people came to 74 Joy to oppose Capital One.”
When asked about the Civic Association’s most notable achievements in recent years, Besser points to the increase in civic engagement and events that build community, such as the growth of the Neighborhood Block Party, Holiday Decorating and other neighborhood events. Most memorable is “A Plan for the Neighborhood” – an extensive report on goals and aspirations for Beacon Hill that was two years in the making.
Steve Young, president of the BHCA board of directors, described Besser as the “perfect” executive director during her tenure with the organization.
“She is personable, highly competent and has been a pleasure to work with,” Young said. “I will personally miss working with Suzanne, and the organization as a whole will miss her greatly.”
BHCA Chair Ania Camargo also praised Suzanne as a true champion of the neighborhood.
“Suzanne has been an amazing leader for the BHCA and a good friend to anyone who has worked with her,” Camargo said. “She exemplifies what the Beacon Hill Civic Association stands for. She is gracious, kind, considerate, and has always looked out for the best interest of the neighborhood.”
State Rep. Marty Walz pointed to the growth of the Civic Association under Besser’s guidance as a testament to both her winning personality and leadership abilities.
“With Suzanne’s warm and cheerful personality, no one in the neighborhood is a stranger for long,” Walz said. “And with her dedicated work, the Civic Association thrived. As I reflect on her leadership, Suzanne’s impact on Beacon Hill is so large it is impossible to describe. Perhaps that, most of all, is the best reflection of Suzanne and what she has accomplished.”
Meanwhile, Besser, who has agreed to stay on until after the BHCA annual meeting in late May to help with the transition, said she would remain active in the neighborhood.
“I’m just looking for a more flexible schedule that allows me to spend more time with my family, among other things,” Besser said. “I still hope to stay involved with the Civic Association and other community organizations, just on a more limited basis.”