By Janice Llanes Fabry
Anne Bradner has stepped into her new role as the Carver Center’s Executive Director with a profound respect and appreciation for the community organization’s commitment to families in need. There’s already a familiarity with which she walks through the corridors and greets everyone in the building. Perhaps it’s that she used to be a dedicated volunteer at Carver’s Dinner at Noon program; more than likely, it’s because she has built a remarkable résumé
by leading organizations in adjacent towns.
“Although I don’t live in Port Chester, this feels like my community. I’ve established a great number of relationships in the area and I feel this community has tied all my work together,” said the Harrison resident. “My experiences are going to apply here to guide this institution, to help us get to the next level.”
In addition to keeping Carver financially sound and continuing to run its rich support programs, Bradner sees the near future as a period of growth. “We have to ask ourselves: Where is the additional need in the community? How do we keep doing what we do better? and How do we reach the population that needs us?”
As a young woman, she started out in the arts as a dancer, but early on she choreographed a career that capitalized on her leadership, management, and planning skills behind the scenes. It was the machinations off-stage and the people working in the wings for which she had an affinity.
Bradner is humbled by the fact that the desk she now sits behind belonged to the late and beloved Rye resident Bob Izard, who gave more than two decades of leadership to the Center and spearheaded development efforts.
“For me to end up at the desk of someone who was so passionate about this organization is meaningful to me. What a privilege that I get to lead Carver,” she noted.
No stranger to Rye, Bradner was Executive Director of The Rye Arts Center for eight years. Living in Brooklyn when she was initially hired, she recalled the first time she stepped off the train at Rye.
“I loved the town right away,” she said. “I grew up in Winnetka, Illinois, which is not dissimilar to Rye in feel.”
During her tenure in the 1990s, Bradner led the Arts Center through a significant expansion. She increased educational programming and outreach efforts to underserved communities, all while improving financial stability.
“I’m probably most proud of creating an environment there where staff and volunteers could work together on our mission. Everyone had a stake in the Center’s artistic direction,” she remarked.
She continued honing her development skills in cultural institutions, as an Interim Executive Director at The Performing Arts Center at SUNY Purchase and as Director of Development at the Greenwich Historical Society.
Her career took a turn in 2014, when she began thinking more and more about “how important support is to low-income families” and wanting to devote herself to making a difference in their lives.
As a result, she accepted the position of Vice President of Development at the Boys and Girls Club of Greenwich, an organization that prepares today’s youth to become responsible and productive citizens through enrichment opportunities.
“Working at the Boys and Girls Club and learning about their programs was essential to my appreciation of what a great job Carver is doing,” she said.
Once at Carver, she began working closely with the Center’s outgoing director Joe Kwasniewski. They both recognized how critical an executive leadership transition is to the continued success of a nonprofit organization.
“Joe is a visionary, who is super passionate about Carver. It has been a privilege for me to work with him, and a tremendous opportunity,” she said.
Bradner is also collaborating with Carver’s Chief Learning Officer, Leanne Tormey, who “keeps the staff engaged around exemplary client service,” as well as with its board of directors. Borrowing a term from “Power of Communication” author Helio Fred Garcia, she calls them “force multipliers”, because “the Board brings resources, contacts, and ideas to Carver, and they help define policies.”
Besides the commendable staff, she believes Carver’s greatest assets are “its community partnerships, which are really organic and productive, as well as our relationship with the school system.”
Indeed, Carver runs extensive on- and off-site afterschool programs and has forged partnerships throughout the community, providing a wide range of services to all Port Chester residents, from infants to senior citizens.
One recent program is Turning Point, created to bolster the 19- to 24-year-old demographic who might be in a post-high school limbo. As Bradner explains, “They have graduated from high school and our Teen Center but haven’t fully launched into their adult lives. Our staff got together with them and carved out a program that gives them access to classes, the fitness center, and to educational lectures about such relevant topics as financial literacy.”
Bradner plans to generate more community partnerships and hopes to work on expanding volunteer opportunities.
In addition, she is currently working on hiring marketing and development directors. “I want more people in Port Chester and the surrounding communities to become aware of all that Carver Center has to offer.”
Executive Director Anne Bradner