The Board of Directors of FOCUS Greater Syracuse Inc. celebrated community strength at the Everson Museum of Art, Oct. 2, 2019, with the two Wisdom Keepers for 2019: Melanie Littlejohn and Maarten Jacobs. These Wisdom Keepers join a long list of people who have shown leadership, continual caring and an understanding of the importance of the vision for tomorrow.
Melanie Littlejohn is vice president for New York Customer & Community Management at National Grid and chair of the Centerstate CEO Board of Directors.
A thought leader and a visionary, Melanie joined National Grid in 1994 as the director of inclusion and diversity for U.S. operations responsible for the company’s overall strategy for inclusion and diversity and compliance, a mission she carries on today in community as well as business roles.
She is former chair of the CNY Community Foundation Board and has served on the Business Advisory Council for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, MACNY, Consensus Commission, boards at SUNY Morrisville Business School and St. Joseph’s Hospital, the Downtown Committee, and the Say Yes to Education Scholarship Board. She is a member of the OCC Board of Trustees and on the board of Pathfinder Bancorp. She has been active with HealtheConnections and other health organizations.
Maarten Jacobs is the Director of Community Prosperity at the Allyn Family Foundation. He is co-developing a Community Prosperity Initiative to disrupt concentrated poverty in neighborhoods by empowering residents to fulfill their potential, contributing to the wellbeing of their families and revitalization of their neighborhoods.
Before joining Allyn Family Foundation, he was executive director of the Near Westside Initiative, a nonprofit organization working to combine the power of art, technology, and innovation with neighborhood values and culture to revitalize Syracuse’s Near Westside, also known as the SALT District. In that role for seven years, Maarten worked to ensure that neighborhood residents were engaged in the revitalization. Early in the process in 2010, he was a featured presenter at a FOCUS Forum introducing the initiative.
He teaches Community Economic Development at the Syracuse University School of Social Work. In January 2016 he received the Martin Luther King JR Unsung Hero award at Syracuse University.
Tapping their creativity and drive to improve Central New York, Melanie and Maarten asked that the 2019 Wisdom Keeper event be a celebration bringing together all parts of the community in a community venue.
Wisdom Keeper 2018
WISDOM KEEPER 2018
The 2018 FOCUS Wisdom Keeper Sean Kirst celebrated with us by honoring the people of Central New York who made his storytelling career possible. A throng of remarkable people with memorable stories joined us in the Finger Lakes Ballroom of the Marriott Downtown Syracuse (Historic Hotel Syracuse) to tell their stories at the event.
You can see the plaque honoring Wisdom Sean Kirst “Storyteller” alongside the plaques honoring previous Citizen Trustee Wisdom Keepers in the mini-garden on the east side of City Hall Commons.
What is a Wisdom Keeper?
FOCUS celebrates and honors community leaders whose continual caring and understanding of the vision for tomorrow has been an inspiration. LEARN MORE AT THIS LINK.
Wisdom Keepers so far have been:
Charlotte “Chuckie” Holstein
Rev. James Mathews
Dr. Sharon Brangman
Bethaida “Bea” Gonzalez
and for 2019 Melanie Littlejohn and Maarten Jacobs