Versatility and volunteerism are in DLE newcomer Nick Russo’s DNA.
Over the summer, the Pittsfield (MA) resident switched jobs and professions—leaving an engineering role with a New York-based design firm to become the senior transportation planner at the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission.
Only a few weeks into his new role, Nick beams about his new career path. “I love the collaborative spirit and diverse crowd this company has to offer.”
He is actively involved in applying for grants and state funding, writing planning documents for towns such as pavement preservation plans and Complete Streets Prioritization Plans, and performing public outreach and involvement on long-range transportation plans.
“Recently, I’ve worked with a team to submit a grant request for an e-bike disbursement program that we are hoping to start,” says Nick, an enthusiastic cyclist who earned a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering Technology with a minor in Urban Studies from the Rochester Institute of Technology.
Away from the office, Nick actively serves his community. An avid volunteer, he freely gives his time and talent to support the Western Mass Labor Action on multiple fronts—from donating food to paying bills for others.
“Community service and involvement is important to me because I want to use my energy, health and time to the greatest extent while I have it. I think shared ownership and commitment to our communities is what makes them strong, and I want to lead by example.”
Coupled with volunteer stints at several other Berkshire-based non-profits, including Downtown Pittsfield Inc. (organizer of the municipal clean-up program that the DLE has participated in for several years), Nick’s outreach is a daily routine.
As a recent project, Nick designed a detailed map of the neighborhoods of his Pittsfield hometown. “My map project has been a personal hobby that I began while I had a glut of time to spend indoors, as I’m sure a lot of us had in the past year. I had been inspired by artistic prints of other cities that illustrated all the neighborhoods that comprise them, and I was always interested in the historical place names of many parts of Pittsfield. I had gained some experience in mapping software at the time, and I knew it would be a good chance to apply the skills for a challenge,” he explains.
To date, Nick has sold nearly 60 prints (there’s one framed in the DLE headquarters), primarily through local shops and a farmers’ market. “I’m hoping to set up an online store at some point as I develop more ideas,” he shares.
Since joining the DLE last month, Nick has propelled his engagement as a regular at the weekly, in-person Coffee, Conversation and Connections program and as a member of the Programming Committee. He is leading plans for a totally new, special event in October. More details to come!
“The DLE is going to help me to be more of a confident leader in the business world,” he notes. “I am looking forward to building my relationship skills. I feel like my goals, work life and volunteering services align with the DLE’s mission and the programs they have to offer.”