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Whatever Happened to 20% Time?

It’s common knowledge that innovation is tied directly to creativity. Companies and organizations that foster creativity create a well of new ideas that can spur growth. Creative environments strengthen morale, engagement and productivity among employees. Or so we’re told.

One of the more famous programs aimed at promoting creativity was adopted by Google. Known as “20% Time,” it invites employees to allot 20 percent of their time to work on individual or group projects that they think would most benefit the company. Some accounts suggest the program resulted in products like Gmail and AdSense, which are now widely used products. I thought this was an interesting idea. Employees, to some degree, have the most knowledge of a company’s operations as they are the one’s working the frontlines. By allowing them more time to work on what they consider most important, they will be able to come up with innovative ways to improve the company’s performance. Surely such a simple and effective idea would spread to other industries- or so I thought.

I read some personal accounts of Google’s 20 percent time and learned that the many people are not as enthusiastic about the program as early media coverage suggested, and it hasn’t seemed to spread much beyond tech. Even at Google, less than ten percent of its employees were using it and those that did sometimes referred to it as “120 percent time.” 20 percent time ultimately requires employees to take time off from primary projects to work on individual ventures, a sacrifice many people are unwilling to make voluntarily, and those that do, just end up working longer. It seems that creativity requires context, and the 20% time program didn’t offer the right one for everyone. A few years back there was some media attention to the program’s discontinuation, although there was disagreement over whether it was extinguished entirely

Silicon Valley tech companies like to give off the impression that their management techniques are a form of enlightened thinking, especially when compared to other industries. They pride themselves for their innovativeness and attract many great talent as a result. However, I wonder if these “special” methods act more as decorations to disguise these companies from the fact that they operate and manage like any other profit driven business. Google HR boss said it himself, “In some ways, the idea of 20 percent time is more important than the reality of it.”

Despite the program’s discontinuation, it still serves a vital purpose as a part of Google’s story that potential employees can relate to. People want to work at a place that appears to have a laidback, creative culture, regardless of whether or not that’s how it actually is. 20 percent time still serves that purpose.

Leadership Pioneer Valley Class of 2016 makes it into El Sol Latino’s July edition!


Leadership Pioneer Valley Welcomes New Board Members




Community Leaders elected for two year term


July 19, 2016 – Springfield, MA Leadership Pioneer Valley is pleased to welcome, Raymond Berry Jr., Ed Kubosiak Jr., Russell Peotter, and Francia Wisnewski to its Board of Directors. Each brings a passion for both the work of the organization and the continued success of the Pioneer Valley.


“We are delighted to have these dynamic and community leaders join us,” said Lora Wondolowski, Leadership Pioneer Valley Executive Director. “Ed, Ray, Francia, and Rus bring important skills and experience to the board and will help to fulfill our mission of building and connecting more diverse, committed and effective leadership for the Pioneer Valley.”


Raymond Berry is the Senior Vice President & CFO at the United Way of Pioneer Valley a regional non-profit organization and founder of White Lion Brewing Company, the first craft brewing company in the city of Springfield’s history. Berry is currently an appointed member of the United Way Worldwide’s Financial Issues Committee, is a board member for Partners for Healthier Communities, Black Leadership Alliance, STCC Foundation and the local YMCA.  Recently he served as a mayoral appointed and city council approved Commissioner for the city of Springfield’s License Board.  Ray is also an inaugural class alumnus of LPV.

Ed Kubosiak Jr. is the Editor-in-Chief of, a position he has held since 2005, and has spent the past 23 years as a journalist. Kubosiak has helped MassLive grow into the second-largest digital media organization in the state, trailing only the Boston Globe properties (, with more than 3.5 million monthly unique visitors. Previous to joining MassLive in 1998 Kubosiak spent five years as a sports reporter at the Daily Hampshire Gazette in Northampton.

Russell Peotter is responsible for the management of WGBY Springfield, the WGBH-affiliated public television station serving western Massachusetts, northern Connecticut and southern Vermont. He oversees programming, production, development, engineering, and administration. Rus came to WGBY in 2001 from Maine Public Broadcasting. He has served on numerous PBS national committees, helping senior PBS management develop policies and services in support of stations across the country. Outside of work, he is currently Chair of MassCreative, the Commomwealth’s Arts advocacy organization, Chair of the Hampshire Regional Chamber of Commerce, and on the boards of CISA and the Hilltown Land Trust among others.

 Francia Wisnewski grew up in Colombia and worked as a biology teacher before moving to this country to pursue a master’s degree in education at UMass Amherst. After settling in Greenfield, she immersed herself in volunteer work and selflessly continues to give time and effort to causes she believes in.  She just stepped down as an elected school committee member and is Regional Program Manager for Raising a Reader MA.

About Leadership Pioneer Valley:
The mission of Leadership Pioneer Valley is to identify, develop and connect diverse leaders to strengthen the region. Formed in 2010 to fill a critical need for a leadership program that builds a network of emerging leaders to address the challenges and opportunities of the region, Leadership Pioneer Valley combines both classroom and hands-on, experiential learning at different locations throughout the Valley. The curriculum is designed to foster the skills, collaboration, and commitment needed to further a vibrant and culturally competent Pioneer Valley. The inaugural class launched in the fall of 2011.


Leadership Pioneer Valley 2016 Graduation

Leadership Pioneer Valley (LPV) held its fifth graduation ceremony last week on June 15, 2016. As the organization’s summer intern, I had the pleasure of attending this event and was able to learn more about the work we do.

I started my stint at LPV in early May, not knowing too much about the program, but it didn’t take long for me to catch on. By the end of the first week, the executive director Lora Wondolowski had me working on multiple projects and even invited me to attend the Class of 2016’s final Challenge Day in late May. It was a great experience, and I was finally able to see our work in action. Our trainer that day discussed the art of negotiation. Lora and Greg Richane, program coordinator, also planned team building activities so the participants could apply these new skills. It was an intensive session, but the participants were determined to challenge both themselves and each other to work through the problems. But what I found more impressive was their motivation. They weren’t completing these tasks simply because they had too. There was a deeper drive behind it. They wanted to learn, grow, and develop. They showed a genuine passion, which is what LPV works to spark in all of its participants.

About a month later I had the opportunity to watch those same people graduate. However, to my surprise, the ceremony was not all fun and games. After working tirelessly for ten months, the graduates were required to present the results of a community development project that they had been working on throughout the program. Some projects proved more successful than others, but I did notice one commonality among each group– everyone put their individual motives to the side and functioned as a single unit with one common goal. They worked as a team and exhibited the leadership traits that they had been working on all year. It’s always a refreshing experience to see what individual people can do when they come together and work collaboratively. The learning, passion and connections were evident last week, and I’m sure it will carry on from here on out.


Leadership Pioneer Valley and Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts offer discount to graduates to strengthen collaboration

SPRINGFIELD, MA— Effective immediately Leadership Pioneer Valley (LPV) and the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts (Women’s Fund) will begin offering alumni of their programs a mutual 20 percent discount. The discount is just one part of a new effort between these organizations to strengthen and coordinate learning opportunities for emerging leaders in the region.

Both LPV and the Women’s Fund Leadership Institute for Political and Public Impact (LIPPI) program seek to empower up-and-coming leaders and, ultimately, strengthen the region as a whole. However, each program has unique content and perspectives that, if taken subsequently, will provide a comprehensive leadership experience. Graduates of the LPV program can apply for LIPPI at; graduates of LIPPI can apply for LPV at

“The Women’s Fund is thrilled to participate in this collaborative effort with Leadership Pioneer Valley,” said Elizabeth Barajas-Román, CEO, Women’s Fund. “We think this is a natural partnership for our organizations, as we both invest in creating strong communities through leadership development. Together, our participants will become the civic and business leaders of tomorrow who will help the region thrive.”

“This partnership makes so much sense as we feel our curriculums are complementary. Together, we are building a cadre of leaders who are making a difference in their careers and communities,” said Lora Wondolowski, Executive Director of Leadership Pioneer Valley.

LPV is a nonprofit that works to identify, develop, and connect diverse leaders to strengthen the region. LPV’s core program challenges and engages emerging leaders from all sectors of the community from throughout the region. The curriculum consists of both classroom and hands-on, experiential learning that builds leadership skills, enhances regional understanding, and creates broader networks.

The Women’s Fund is a public foundation that connects donors with the lives of local women and girls through strategic grant making and leadership development. Their signature, non-partisan program, LIPPI, is designed to address the need to provide women with the tools, mentors, and confidence they need to become powerful and effective civic leaders and elected officials.

Further information on each program can be found at and


Can an LPV Volunteer Team Help With Your Project?

Leadership Pioneer Valley’s class of 2016 began its work last week, and we want you to know how their efforts might support yours.  As a part of our curriculum, our program participants implement team-based projects in support of local nonprofits, schools and other public-serving entities. Could your organization use help from an LPV team? If so, please submit a brief project proposal. You can view a detailed description of this effort in our full invitation and RFP (pdf).

Potential Projects

LPV team projects are an opportunity for our class to serve the community, and act as a platform for them to apply leadership skills learned in our training sessions. Teams commit about 250 hours combined over roughly 5 months (teams of 5-6 people, who each commit 5-10 hours per month). Ideal projects fit that time frame, and don’t require significant resources beyond an LPV team’s commitment of time. Projects should meet a concrete need, but be flexible enough that our teams can leverage their own creativity and problem-solving skills. Finally, we also require each project to have a primary contact within your organization who can be available to meet with our team. You can view examples of past projects in our RFP.

How To Apply

If you’re interested please follow these steps:

  • Send us an informal email to let us know you’re interested and/or plan to submit a proposal, so we can track the overall level of interest.
  • Respond more formally to our detailed partner invitation/RFP by October 23rd. We hope you can answer all of our questions, but it’s OK if you can’t. If you have a great project for us, please submit it – we care more about your idea more than your application.
  • If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact LPV Program Coordinator Greg Richane.

 About Us and Our Work

Leadership Pioneer Valley identifies, develops and connects diverse leaders to strengthen the region. Our ten-month leadership development program immerses participants in a leadership curriculum that examines critical regional issues. During the program, participants expand their leadership skills while gaining connections, commitment to community stewardship, and cultural competency.