Nicole Blais, CEO of Holyoke, Chicopee, Springfield (HCS) Head Start Inc., was recently re-elected to the Massachusetts Head Start Assoc. (MHSA) board of directors and will also serve as treasurer.

MHSA serves as the voice of nearly 30 Head Start and Early Head Start programs across Massachusetts. The not-for-profit membership organization provides collaborative learning opportunities, leverages partnerships, and advocates for Head Start programs.

Blais has spent most of her entire career with Head Start. Beginning in 1996 as the Parent Education and Support specialist for HCS Head Start, she was responsible for ensuring that Head Start performance standards and other regulations related to parent involvement were upheld at all times. For a decade, she developed and implemented various parent and family engagement programming — such as Parenting in the 21st Century, Men Involved in the Lives of Kids, Family Fun Nights — and other parent-driven activities; supervised a team; and began making a name for herself speaking and presenting throughout the Commonwealth as well as at National Head Start Assoc. conferences across the country.

In 2012, Blais transitioned to the position of director of Community Engagement, where she spent almost another 10 years supporting the work of HCS Head Start. In this role, she identified, maintained, and grew collaborations with outside agencies and community initiatives, local media outlets, political and community leaders, and funders.

The next phase of her career came when her mentor, Janis Santos, HCS Head Start’s longtime CEO, announced her retirement. In 2021, amid the pandemic, Blais began her role as CEO of the organization.

Blais serves the community in other ways, including roles as a Springfield Regional Chamber ambassador and Holyoke Rotary Club member. She attended the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and did her graduate studies in nonprofit management & philanthropy at Bay Path University.

Read the article in Business West