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Board Members

James Birge – Chair of the Lever Board

James F. Birge, Ph.D. is the 12th President of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) in North Adams, Massachusetts and has worked in higher education for more than 30 years. Dr. Birge spent much of his early career in student affairs followed by work with faculty and staff to integrate community-based learning into academic course objectives before serving in executive roles at other institutions. President Birge has worked in public and private higher education as well as with an association of academic presidents. Although always an administrator, Dr. Birge has taught undergraduate courses in religious studies, writing, and leadership.  Previously, Dr. Birge served as President of Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire. Since his arrival at MCLA in 2016 Dr. Birge launched a strategic planning process to guide MCLA’s work; encouraged the development of new academic majors, minors, and certificate programs; charged the President’s Athletic Advisory Committee to develop new athletic programs; budgeted to create a Chief Diversity Officer position, and; guided the $3 million Centennial Dining Room renovation and the $7 million conversion of the campus pool to a fitness and athletic training center. As a member of the Boards of Directors for LEVER, MASS MoCA, 1Berkshire, and the MountainOne Bank Community Advisory Board, Dr. Birge works to build collaborations between the College and the community. Dr. Birge earned his Ph.D. in leadership studies from Gonzaga University in Washington, an M.Ed. in guidance and counseling from Plymouth State University in New Hampshire, and a B.S. in elementary education from Westfield State University in Massachusetts. President Birge and Lisa, his wife of 34 years, have three daughters:  Caitlin, Margaret, and Siobhan.

James Birge – Chair of the Lever Board

James F. Birge, Ph.D. is the 12th President of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) in North Adams, Massachusetts and has worked in higher education for more than 30 years. Dr. Birge spent much of his early career in student affairs followed by work with faculty and staff to integrate community-based learning into academic course objectives before serving in executive roles at other institutions. President Birge has worked in public and private higher education as well as with an association of academic presidents. Although always an administrator, Dr. Birge has taught undergraduate courses in religious studies, writing, and leadership.  Previously, Dr. Birge served as President of Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire. Since his arrival at MCLA in 2016 Dr. Birge launched a strategic planning process to guide MCLA’s work; encouraged the development of new academic majors, minors, and certificate programs; charged the President’s Athletic Advisory Committee to develop new athletic programs; budgeted to create a Chief Diversity Officer position, and; guided the $3 million Centennial Dining Room renovation and the $7 million conversion of the campus pool to a fitness and athletic training center. As a member of the Boards of Directors for LEVER, MASS MoCA, 1Berkshire, and the MountainOne Bank Community Advisory Board, Dr. Birge works to build collaborations between the College and the community. Dr. Birge earned his Ph.D. in leadership studies from Gonzaga University in Washington, an M.Ed. in guidance and counseling from Plymouth State University in New Hampshire, and a B.S. in elementary education from Westfield State University in Massachusetts. President Birge and Lisa, his wife of 34 years, have three daughters:  Caitlin, Margaret, and Siobhan.

Cairn Cross

Cairn Cross is a co-founder of FreshTracks Capital and serves as a Managing Director of the Fund.  Cairn presently serves on the boards of FreshTracks portfolio companies Vermont Teddy Bear, NativeEnergy, Faraday, and Mamava and is an observer to the SunCommon and Caledonia Spirits boards.  Cairn is a lecturer at the UVM Grossman School of Business where he teaches Financing Sustainable Innovation for the Sustainable Innovation MBA program. Cairn is also an advisor to the board of Colchester, Vermont based C2 an IT services and management company. Cairn is also the Instructor for the Vermont SBA Emerging Leaders program.

Cairn Cross

Cairn Cross is a co-founder of FreshTracks Capital and serves as a Managing Director of the Fund.  Cairn presently serves on the boards of FreshTracks portfolio companies NativeEnergy, Faraday, and Mamava and is an observer to the SunCommon and Caledonia Spirits boards.  Cairn is a lecturer at the UVM Grossman School of Business where he teaches Financing Sustainable Innovation for the Sustainable Innovation MBA program. Cairn is also an advisor to the board of Colchester, Vermont based C2 an IT services and management company. Cairn is also the Instructor for the Vermont SBA Emerging Leaders program.

Don Dubendorf

Donald R. Dubendorf is a recently retired attorney. He had been in private practice in Williamstown, Massachusetts since 1978. His practice concentrated on corporate, business, and land use law throughout Western Massachusetts and beyond.

He worked with a wide range of businesses, financial and cultural institutions, developers and entrepreneurs providing creative problem solving and innovative solutions and applying the law in pursuit of the best of client outcomes.

Jim Mahon

Jim Mahon teaches courses on political economy, comparative politics, Latin American politics, U.S.- Latin America foreign relations, and Cuba at Williams College. He has authored various works on taxation and financial flows in Latin America, political economy, and comparative social inquiry. His current research examines fiscal politics and the reform of the state in Latin America.

Travis McCready

Travis is the Executive Managing Director & National Life Sciences Practice Leader for the global commercial real estate advisory JLL. He brings over 25 years of experience in private, public & large-scale not-for-profit institutions with a focus on innovation, tech, and the life sciences. A passionate advocate for entrepreneurship, he is a frequently invited speaker on leadership development, innovation clusters & economic growth, and the creative economy. McCready received a B.A. from Yale University and J.D. from the University of Iowa. He and his wife Tanya reside in the Boston area and hold a deep affection for the Berkshires.

Rick Morgenthal

Richard Morgenthal founded Morgenthal Frederics Opticians in 1986. With degrees in both optics and fine arts, Rick designed the entire eyewear collection fostering a creative and whimsical alternative to the eyewear buying experience. Additionally, the Morgenthal Frederics collection was featured in Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, and leading optical stores worldwide. Morgenthal Frederics eyewear has been an incredible success appearing in numerous fashion publications and attracting a premium clientele. In 2006, Rick sold Morgenthal Frederics to the private enterprise group Credit Suisse. Since then, Morgenthal Frederics has expanded to Beverly Hills, Chicago, Aspen and Palm Beach. Rick and his wife Leslie have lived in Pownal since 2006. Both are artists. Rick paints at his studio in the Beaver Mill in Clarksburg.

Elizabeth Nielsen

Elizabeth has experience as a teacher, in a range of volunteer work, and non-profit Board service, including serving as the Board Chair of InterVarsity.

She earned her BA in English at Williams College and later earned graduate degrees in literature (Rutgers University) and theology (Knox Theological Seminary). Elizabeth serves as Pastor of Congregational Care at the First Presbyterian Church in North Palm Beach, Florida. Elizabeth and her husband Steven enjoy living part-time in the Berkshires.

Jeffrey Thomas – Lever Co-Founder

Jeffrey D. Thomas is Lever’s founder and Executive Director. A self-described scientist-by-training and entrepreneur-by-accident, Jeffrey was among the founding scientists at Millennium Pharmaceuticals and was the founding CSO of Genstruct (now Selventa). He also led the genomics and bioinformatics program at Pfizer where he oversaw a large internal R&D group as well as numerous strategic partnerships with biotech firms. Since 2003, Jeffrey has consulted in biotechnology, specializing in the translation of academic genomic research. He founded Entrepreneurs@Williams in 2011, an initiative that includes courses, internship opportunities, and a business plan competition. He received his B.A. from Wabash College and his Ph.D. and M.D. from Indiana University. He lives in Williamstown.

Jack Wadsworth – Lever Co-Founder

Jack Wadsworth is Honorary Chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia and Advisory Director of Morgan Stanley globally. He is also Chairman and Co-Founder of Ceyuan Ventures, a China-based early-stage technology venture fund. Mr. Wadsworth joined Morgan Stanley as a Managing Director in 1978. In 1987, he moved to Japan as President of Morgan Stanley Japan. In 1991, Mr. Wadsworth moved to Hong Kong as Chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia. In 2001, he retired from Morgan Stanley and moved from Hong Kong to San Francisco.
Mr. Wadsworth is a Trustee of the California College of the Arts; a member of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business Council; a Director of Asia Art Archive; a Board Director of Lever, Inc; an Advisor to Mission BioCapital, BioInnovation Capital, bioscience affiliates of University of California San Francisco, and Chairman Emeritus of the Asia Society of Northern California. Mr. Wadsworth is also an Emeritus Trustee of Williams College, the Asia Society, and the Guggenheim Museum of New York. A former Director of the University of California San Francisco Foundation, the Pacific Pension Institute, and Pixar. Mr. Wadsworth began his investment banking career with The First Boston Corporation in 1963, where when he left in 1978 he was Executive Vice President, a member of the Management Committee, and the Board of Directors. Mr. Wadsworth earned a B.A. from Williams College in 1961, and an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago, Booth School of Business in 1963. Mr. Wadsworth is married, has three children and eight grandchildren.

 


Emeritus Board Members

Julia Bowen

 

Barry Davis

 

Tina Olsen

 

Lee Park

 

Denise Richardello

 

Will Schmidt

 

Laurie Thomsen

 

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