Feb 22, 2013

Irish Cultural Center names Ellen Dziura as new executive director



Staff report

CHICOPEE – The Board of Directors of the Irish Cultural Center (ICC) at Elms College in Chicopee has voted unanimously to hire Ellen Dziura, of Chicopee, as its new executive director. 

In the position, Dziura will oversee daily operations at the center, organizing events and coordinating communications efforts. She also will help in formulating a strategic plan to map out operational and facility goals for the future.

ICC president Sean Cahillane said Dziura was chosen from among many qualified applicants for the position. He said board members found Dziura to be a perfect fit for the organization.

“The Irish Cultural Center has established a strong foundation in the Western New England area, primarily due to the dedicated efforts of board members and volunteers,” Cahillane said. “Along with other board members and Ellen, the plan is to further the mission of the Irish Cultural Center in New England,”

ICC board member Mary Ellen O’Brien agreed. “The ICC has plans to grow and Ellen is here to help us,” O’Brien said.  

Dziura is a native of Springfield and has lived in the local area most of her life. She is the daughter of William and Rosemary Maloney and, having grown up in the Hungry Hill section of the city, she says she has a strong appreciation and love for the Irish culture.

She is married to Thomas Dziura, and they have two grown sons, Gregory and William. William Dziura is a member of the Irish Cultural Center Board of Directors.

Ellen attended local schools, including Western New England College (now Western New England University), where she earned a bachelor’s degree of science in business administration. She also has executive certification from the University of Virginia Darden School of Business.

She worked for nearly three decades at MassMutual Life Insurance Company, most recently as vice president of annuity customer service, training, financial controls and project management. In that role, she was executive leader for the Annuity Customer Service organization, a highly regulated entity. Prior to that she was vice president of retirement services.

Ellen also served as the president of the board for the South End Community Center, where she worked with Mayor Domenic Sarno to preserve valuable services to inner city children. She currently works in the Sisters of Providence Fund Development Office, providing office support, content for fund-raising and campaign management.

She said she is thrilled with her new position. “I’m excited because I’m working with a highly skilled and dedicated group of individuals who are so committed to the Irish Cultural Center and to strengthening Irish culture across the region.

“I’m so looking forward to helping in this mission,” she said.

ICC vice president Francis Hennessey gave Dziura a welcome in her new role.

 “To achieve our goals we needed someone with a strong combination of strategic, and operational leadership skills as well as non-profit experience, and Ellen brings all of those to the center,” Hennessey said.

Ellen replaces longtime executive director, Sister of St. Joseph Judith E. Kappenman, who retired in December.

Since its founding 12 years ago, the ICC has promoted and advocated various events and activities throughout the year. ICC programs have included visits by former Irish president Mary McAleese and longtime Irish Sinn Féin politicians Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness.

Many scholars and authors also have given presentations.

The ICC hosts annual trips to Ireland, a winter film series, a yearly breakfast, Christmas with an Irish Touch, a film series, and Celtic Adventures For Kids in the summer. In conjunction with the college, Gaelic language classes are offered and a Fulbright scholar from Ireland has been in attendance for the last three years.

The ICC maintains a collection of books, paintings, and other memorabilia of museum quality.