Committee Members and Biographies

Joseph Strazzulla, Chairman, School Building Committee

I have been a Northbridge resident since 2007. My wife and I have three children, two of them attend
Balmer and one is at NES.

I am a teacher in Milford and currently serve as the Vice Chair on the Northbridge School Committee.
Most recently I was nominated and am now Chair of the School Building Committee.

This elementary school project is vital for the Town of Northbridge. While Balmer has served the
community well for decades, it is time to look to the future. Maintaining this ageing school is no longer
an option. Through Massachusetts School Building Authority program, Northbridge has been approved
to secure State funding that can be used in a renovation, renovation addition, or a new school project.
With the Feasibility Study underway, the School Building Committee will be tasked with presenting a
project that will set the stage for an outstanding learning experience for our elementary students.
I look forward to engaging the community as we develop a plan that is balanced, affordable, and
represents the best possible option for ensuring student success.

Melissa Walker, School Business Manager

I have been a resident of Northbridge for nearly 35 years and I attended the Northbridge Public
Schools as a student from Kindergarten through Grade 12.

I have served as the Business Manager for the Northbridge Public Schools for the last 9 years.
Prior to holding the position of Business Manager, I spent 10 years (2 full time and 8 part time)
with the Northbridge Public Schools working in different capacities within the business office and
with the department of buildings and grounds. I have served as a member on various town committees
including the Town Solar Committee, Town Safety Committee, and Town Manager Screening Committee.
The MSBA requires that a Massachusetts Certified Public Purchasing Official serve on the School
Building Committee; I fulfill this role.

James Marzec, Chairman, Board of Selectmen

I have been a resident of Northbridge since 1994 and have 2 children that have gone through the
Northbridge Public Schools. Additionally, I have been a long-term public school educator, beginning
my career in 1992.

I am currently serving as a Town Selectman for 4 consecutive terms, including two years as the chairman.
Additionally, I have been involved on school budgetary subcommittees and have also served on the Board of Health. Wearing the hat of both a parent and a town official, I have seen firsthand the effects of aging school buildings on the children and the community. Schools are an integral part of the community and I envision schools that I can be proud of as opposed to continuously placing “Band-Aids” to correct a
growing number of issues. As a selectman, it concerns me that good money is put forward to correct
infrastructure issues in the short term, rather than looking for the cost/benefit long term. I volunteered on the committee because I feel a reasonable, rational voice was needed from the Town with first-hand
experience in the school community. Many community members are vocal about the present conditions and I have an obligation to address them with an eye on the community as a whole. We have to be
proactive rather than continuously reactive and parents do pay attention to the school conditions.

Michael LeBrasseur, Member, School Committee

I have been a resident of Northbridge since 2004, and a member of the School Committee since 2007.
I am also the parent of two children who have gone through the Northbridge Schools and will both be in the High School in the Fall of 2017.

I am excited to be a part of this process and thankful that the town voted to support the feasibility phase of this project. The Balmer School Building feasibility project represents an incredible opportunity for the town to partner with the MSBA to determine how to best address our school building challenges
and ensure we provide quality educational experiences for our students in the future.

Paul Bedigian, Representative of the Building, Planning, Construction Committee

I am a lifelong resident of Northbridge and Northbridge Building, Planning and Construction Committee representative to the School Building Committee.

I have been a member of the Northbridge Building, Planning and Construction Committee for over 5 years and have 28 years of experience as a structural engineer. My experience includes design of facilities, structural condition assessments, preparation and review of construction documents, and engineering support during construction. I am a registered Professional Engineer in Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania.

I have a strong vested interest in the School Building Committee as a parent and lifelong resident of Northbridge.

Steven Gogolinski, Representative of the Finance Committee

I am a resident of Northbridge since 1991 and Member of the Northbridge Finance Committee since 2012 and represent the Finance Committee on the School Building Committee. I am a Certified Public
Accountant in Massachusetts.

I have three children in the Northbridge School District, all three will be high school students next year.

The new school is intended to replace two aging schools. As the representative of the Finance
Committee, my goal is to balance the needs of the schools and maintain fiscal responsibility for the town and taxpayers of Northbridge.

Jeffrey Tubbs, Community Member with Building Design and/or Construction Experience

I have been a resident of Northbridge for nearly 16 years, and I have four children in Northbridge Schools. This is my first appointment on a committee in Northbridge, however, I have served on and chaired a number of committees within the construction and engineering community.

I work for an international consulting and engineering company, Arup, where I serve as a Principal and lead the Arup Boston Consulting Practice. I am a registered Fire Protection Engineer with nearly 25 years of experience, and more than 15 years of experience leading engineering and planning teams on projects for new and existing buildings and transport infrastructure.

This project brings significant potential to address issues at Balmer, reduce recurring maintenance costs for the town, and improve our schools. I am excited to bring my experience to help Northbridge gain the best value from the potential school renovation or new build project.

Peter L'Hommedieu, Community Member with Building Design and/or Construction Experience

My wife and I have been residents of Northbridge for over twelve years and have two children who attend Northbridge Elementary School, our eldest daughter is in the first grade and our youngest daughter is in preschool.

I have been with Shawmut Design and Construction for over fifteen years and am currently a
Senior Project Manager working on large projects. I have completed over thirty projects while at Shawmut including a mix of renovations and out of the ground buildings. I have experience in both public and
private sector projects.

Jeff Lundquist, Community Member with Building Design and/or Construction Experience

I have been a resident of Northbridge since 2005, and have two children in the Northbridge Public Schools.

I bring 20 years of experience in managing all phases of Life Sciences, Commercial, Educational, and
Infrastructure construction to the building committee. I have managed the entire project life-cycle, from programming and pre-construction all the way through commissioning on both ground-up and renovation projects. A considerable portion of my experience is in managing K-12 construction, as I have been a part of nearly $1.5B of K-12 construction projects covering over 140 facilities, many of which were similar to what we envision our facility in Northbridge will be. I am hopeful that my knowledge and experience will enable us to take advantage of the best practices and avoid challenges that I have observed throughout my career as we commence this important endeavor. 

Andrew Chagnon, Community Member with Building Design and/or Construction Experience

Currently I work for the Vertex Companies (Vertex), a fast-growth, international firm that is employee-owned and consistently ranked as one of the best places to work. I have 19 years of experience planning, permitting, and executing site design and land development projects throughout the Northeast. I specialize in the design of complex site projects and I am adept at assembling various disciplines to address various challenges. In my role as Vice President, I am responsible for Vertex’s Civil Engineering projects being performed from our Weymouth, Massachusetts office. My work includes major institutional
clients, such as the Massachusetts Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance and the

University of Massachusetts; multiple K-12 educational facilities; various municipal projects; and sports and recreation facilities. I hold a B.S. in civil engineering from the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. I am a Registered Professional Engineer in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Vermont. In the past 10 years, I have worked over a dozen K-12 educational facilities that have been subject to review and approval by the Massachusetts School Building Committee (MSBA). In addition to work, I volunteered as a member of the Northbridge Conservation Commission for over 18 years.

I believe that my engineering education and experience, specifically my prior experience with school
projects performed under the umbrella of the MSBA and work on a municipal commission, make me
well suited to serve as a member of the School Building Committee.

Spencer Pollock, Parent Representative

My wife and I moved to Northbridge in 2002. We have two children, a son who attends third grade at
Balmer Elementary School, and a daughter who attends first grade at N.E.S.

When our children reached school age and we began being present in the schools, we observed the
subpar conditions and unsafe environment, especially at Balmer.

Balmer Elementary was built in 1967 and has not had any major renovations since it opened in 1968.
The current issues with the school include frequent leaks in the roof, failing floor tiles that contain
asbestos, poor lighting and air quality conditions, and unbalanced heating, to name a few. Also, the
school does not have any science labs or a full size functioning computer lab.    

The children and teachers of Northbridge deserve a comfortable, safe, up-to-date and healthy
environment in which to learn.  As members of the school building committee, we will strive to
develop a cost effective, sustainable, and educationally appropriate solution to the aging
Balmer School.

Adam Gaudette, Town Manager

I was recently hired by the Board of Selectmen to serve as the Town’s 5th Town Manager, following the recent departure of the retiring Manager Ted Kozak. I have 18 years of experience in public and private community development from serving as Town Planner here in Northbridge for 3 years, to serving as a Land Planner and Project Acquisition Manager in the private sector for 6 years, and Town Planner for the Town of Spencer for 2 years. Most recently, I served as the Town Administrator for the Town of Spencer for 7 years.

During my career, I have obtained extensive experience in project management, budgeting, permitting, development, and construction. I look to bring that experience to the School Building Committee and will assist as necessary. I understand the importance of education in a community, having not only sought to improve the quality of life for the communities I have worked in but also as my wife and I are the proud parents of 3 school-aged children. I look forward to hearing the concerns of the community and working with the committee as they seek to present the best possible project for the community.

Dr. Catherine Stickney, Superintendent of Schools

It has been my pleasure to serve the community of Northbridge for the past four years. I became
the Assistant Superintendent in 2013. I was then hired as the Superintendent in 2014. Prior to
accepting the position in Northbridge, I was employed by Ashland Public Schools for eleven years,
working as an Inclusion Specialist, Grants Coordinator, and Director of Curriculum.

Northbridge is a special community that takes great pride in its history. Much as the Whitins loved
this community and wanted the best for their families, I, too, see a strong future for the children in
the community. However, aging facilities and systems are becoming very costly to maintain. Most
repairs do not solve problems, but serve only to prolong an inevitable replacement. The time has
come to focus on providing an environment for our children that affords them the opportunity to
participate in 21st century learning activities in a safe, healthy atmosphere that inspires them to
feel as though the quality of their education matters.

A renovation or new elementary school would also serve to entice new families and businesses to move to the community, because such an improvement conveys that we care about our children and the quality of their education and environment.

Steven von Bargen, Building Maintenance Local Official

I have just recently relocated to New Hampshire from Oxford, Ohio, which is in southwestern Ohio. My wife is a fifth-grade teacher, and we have three precious children, two daughters and a son.

I have over 16 years of experience in Facilities and Operations experience that I bring to the School
Building Committee. I am an accomplished leader with proven experience developing and implementing operation strategies and tactics that consistently surpass objectives. I am adept in administrative and
financial oversight, team building, and training and development. I have a passion for maintaining efficient and profitable facilities. I am enthusiastic about the opportunity that is set in front of Northbridge Public Schools. This is a great project that will provide a safe and conducive learning environment for all the
children that attend Northbridge. 

Karlene Ross, Principal, W. Edward Balmer Elementary School

I have been the principal of the W Edward Balmer Elementary School for the past four years. Prior to that I worked for the Fall River Public Schools for fifteen years as a teacher and administrator.

This school building project is important to the Northbridge community. Our current building is beginning to deteriorate and no longer meets the educational needs of our young learners. A new Balmer will address the many needs our current school faces, such as poor access for parents and buses, limited parking for guests and visitors, a roof in need of repair, and the list continues! Providing a state of the art school allows students to access 21st Century skills in an environment that supports technology, inquiry and collaboration. Our students are our future. An investment in their learning will benefit the entire community.

Jill Healy, Principal, Northbridge Elementary School 

I have worked for the Northbridge Public Schools for 10 years. I was the Assistant Principal for
preschool-grade 4 from 2007-2009 then Principal of Northbridge Elementary School from 2009-present.

As an Administrator for the Northbridge School Department I have gained a solid understanding of the
Northbridge community and have multiple opportunities to visit all schools across the district. I see the need to improve W.E. Balmer Elementary School to provide a learning environment that so that it is much better suited to providing our students and staff a safe and healthy educational environment that promotes collaboration, critical thinking and problem-solving. I had the opportunity to experience the opening of a new school building in my hometown and the change resulted in having an up to date educational facility that is more efficient and cost effective.

Kathleen Perry, Director of Pupil Personnel Services

I am currently the Director of Pupil Personnel services for the Northbridge School District. I have one daughter and three step-children and I reside in Rhode Island with my husband and daughter. I have spent my entire career working with students in public school settings. I began my career as a special
education teacher in Hopedale, MA and then worked as a school psychologist, assistant principal
and director of pupil personnel services before having the privilege of joining the Northbridge
community in 2015. During my time in Northbridge, I have been struck by the district’s commitment
to students and families. It is my hope that in my work as a non-voting member of the committee that I can advocate for spaces and programming that will meet the needs of Northbridge’s most valuable resource — it’s children.

Joel Seeley, Owner's Project Manager, Symmes Maini & McKee Associates, Inc. (SMMA)