By: Jennifer Hoffman

HEADstrong and The Community’s Foundation teamed up for an impressive Leadership Workshop and Seminar last Friday, January 10th. Professionals from an array of experience levels and business backgrounds came together at the Inn at Swarthmore for a day full of networking opportunities and breakout sessions from notable speakers. 

Derek Fitzgerald opened the workshop sharing his remarkable and truly inspiring story centered on his battle with Non Hodgkins Lymphoma and the numerous health issues that occured after beating cancer. The last 10 years have not been the easiest for Derek, which he detailed with a commanding presence. Not only was he hit with an unexpected cancer diagnosis, one of his chemotherapy drugs caused him to go into heart failure and the onslaught of complications continued from there. On top of battling cancer, Derek would also undergo a heart transplant that would change his life forever. 

From left to right Jeff Baxter (HEADstrong Director of Community Engagement, Derek Fitzgerald (Keynote Speaker, Cancer Survivor and Organ Donor Recipient), Cheryl Colleluori (HEADstrong Foundation President), Michael Colleluori (HEADstrong Foundation Vice President)

Needing a massive shift in his life in order to stay alive, he realized that was his 4am wakeup call. Instead of letting his health issues take reign over his life, he decided after “dying twice” that it was time he took control. Slowly but surely he did, and to the surprise of many, he went on to compete in the IRONMAN World Championship in Hawaii. He also started his own foundation, The Recycled Man Foundation where he is able to share his story and help others overcome their biggest obstacles. 

Following Derek’s impactful opening speech, attendees of the event were able to sit in on a variety of breakout sessions ranging from Leadership Skills, Networking Skills, Being a Community Connector and Social Media/Marketing. Current and former CEOs, Directors, and entrepreneurs took to the stage to share their experiences and tips to success. The event was capped off with a Happy Hour at the elegant Broad Table Tavern, creating an opportunity for attendees and presenters to interact in hopes of future engagement.  

“It was great to have some of our local business supporters take advantage of the program that we put together in partnership with The Community’s Foundation. Our goal was to give our supporters that are involved in their community or organization at a leadership level an opportunity to gain insight on some best practices taught by seasoned professionals.” remarked Jeff Baxter, HEADstrong’s Director of Fundraising. 

Attendees of the event ranged from Insurance professionals, to hospital Social Workers, Financial Advisors, and a few semi-retired-professionals turned consultants. 

What a day! It is always refreshing to have so many community-minded citizens come out to share their time with HEADstrong and The Community’s Foundation.  We were grateful to have supporters from so many different walks of life, come out to network, share their skills, and think about how they can best serve the community in 2020.” stated TCF’s Executive Director Heather Finnegan. 

For additional information on any of the speakers or to access their presentation material, please contact Bridget Kehoe from the HEADstrong Foundation. 

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