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Limón, who was named Poet Laureate in July 2022, read poetry, answered questions and reflected on mortality and resurrection during a virtual Writers House event at Merrimack College.
As chief executive officer of New Balance, Merrimack alum Joe Preston ’84, P’17 is usually in the shoe business. But when COVID-19 created new challenges for the organization—and his community—Joe saw an opportunity to do good by manufacturing a new product: masks.
Like countless retailers, Boston-based athletic footwear and apparel giant New Balance’s business was completely upended by the pandemic. But amid the chaos of store closures and work-from-home mandates, Joe made sure the company was primed to give back. With the help of chief operating officer and fellow Merrimack alum Dave Wheeler ’85, New Balance began manufacturing general use face masks for frontline workers.
“The impact of the pandemic was immediate—we had to close our offices, our stores and our factories,” Joe said. “But in the midst of that disruption, I’m very proud of the way our team pivoted with purpose to develop personal protective equipment.”
In addition to manufacturing masks, the company’s philanthropic arm, the New Balance Foundation, pledged $2 million to help COVID-19 relief efforts, donating to several regional charities, including the Boston Resiliency Fund, Groundwork Lawrence and the Good Shepherd Food Bank in Maine, among others. New Balance also donated $1 million in footwear to frontline workers at area hospitals, such as Beth Israel Deaconess, Lahey Health and Lawrence General Hospital, as well as another 400,000 masks to help people vote safely in this year’s election.
This isn’t the first time Joe has helped the company navigate significant change. After joining New Balance in 1995, he played a key role in the brand’s transition from a $150 million business to today’s multi-billion-dollar operation, with 3,500 stores around the world. Despite its global presence, the brand remains firmly rooted in New England. “We make or assemble millions of pairs of shoes right here in the United States—in Lawrence, Boston and three factories in Maine,” Joe said.
Whether at work or at home, Joe believes the pandemic has highlighted the importance of community—something he also learned during his time as a Warrior.
“During times like these, people lean on their communities and it really reinforces how important they are,” Joe said. “It starts with family, but it’s also your neighborhood, your school, your church, your friends. I’ve got a lot of close friends from college that I’m still in touch with today, and I think that has a lot to do with Merrimack’s culture and commitment to building community.”
As managing director and head of global government affairs at global asset management firm The Carlyle Group, Stacey Dion ’98 is no stranger to navigating the ups and downs of an uncertain economic market. Since the onset of the pandemic, that expertise has proven valuable for both her company and the Merrimack community.
The Carlyle Group is composed of more than 1,800 professionals across 30 offices on six continents. In her role, Stacey leads the company’s global government relations and public policy functions, helping shape Carlyle’s global legislative and regulatory activities. During 2020, she has helped the organization and its clients weather a variety of political and legislative challenges—from navigating global government resources to managing heightened risk created by political uncertainty—offering a broad perspective based on local knowledge and trusted relationships across the globe.
“During the initial months of the pandemic, we advocated for legislative changes to ensure our portfolio companies in the aerospace and defense sector had access to government support as well as favorable tax changes that would be needed in order for companies across the portfolio to have stronger financial positions,” Stacey said. “Government support has ranged dramatically in different parts of the world, so we’ve geared resources to match the specific support companies could access.”
An accomplished public policy professional, Stacey has extensive experience working directly in government affairs, including serving as policy advisor and counsel in the Office of the Republican Leader and tax and pension policy advisor in the Office of the Majority Leader. Prior to joining Carlyle, she served as Vice President of Corporate Public Policy for The Boeing Company.
A member of our College Leadership Council, Stacey has long been a valuable resource to her fellow Warriors. When COVID-19 upended the U.S. economy in early 2020, it also disrupted the plans of Merrimack seniors and recent grads looking to enter the job market. But for many Warriors, invaluable career advice was only a phone call away.
“When COVID-19 hit, I dedicated time each week to take phone calls from seniors and new grads,” Stacey said. “Some of them were trying to enter the financial services sector during a really uncertain time, while others had a job, but were unsure about their trajectory. I like to share my personal story, because my background is very relatable to many of them.”
For Stacey, giving back to Merrimack is a natural result of her Augustinian education.
“When I think back to my time at Merrimack, what really stands out is the theme of ‘servant leader,’” Stacey said. “It was the Augustinian directive and I really took that to heart. I couldn’t be prouder to be part of this community.”
When COVID-19 left many people stuck at home, separated from their family, friends and normal activities, Merrimack College alum Travonne “Trevv” Berry-Rogers ’15 had an idea for boosting morale while encouraging physical health: free virtual workouts.
Trevv is the founder of The Warehouse—a fitness organization based in Lynn, Massachusetts that emphasizes the importance of physical and mental growth. When local gyms were forced to shut down, he began offering free at-home workout tutorials via The Warehouse’s Instagram page, no equipment needed. Instead, he encouraged his followers to improvise—by replacing weights with household items. “Remember when the pandemic started and everyone rushed out and got a lot of toilet paper? We made workouts using toilet paper, like grabbing it on one side and stacking it on the other side, so you can work your core.”
For Trevv, it was all about providing levity during a challenging time. “Those virtual workouts really helped people stay sane when they were stuck inside every day.”
From a young age, Trevv felt called to spread positivity and help people. It was after graduating from Merrimack, when he returned to his former high school to coach basketball and teach English as a second language, that his plans began to take shape. As a four-year member of the Merrimack basketball team—and now a coach himself—Trevv recognized the potential of sports and fitness for building mental and physical strength.
“It started with the players on my basketball team—not only focusing on the physical aspect and the skills, but mental toughness and well-being as well,” he explained. “Then last summer, we started building different fitness offerings for people in the community.”
Today, The Warehouse offers fitness classes, basketball coaching and personalized training—both outdoors and online— for individuals of all ages and abilities.
Trevv credits Merrimack for his entrepreneurial achievements. “As a business major, I took an entrepreneurship course that really stayed with me,” Trevv said. “My time at Merrimack also taught me to be creative and work hard, which have served me well.”
While his current accomplishments are impressive, Trevv says he’s just getting started. “Our next step is to get a physical facility that’s accessible to a wide variety of people. Then, I have plans to reach multiple cities and states—and spread positivity across the country.”