September 2, 2013

2013 40 Under Forty: Liz Sheehan Castro

Sheehan Castro

TITLE: Project Manager, Worcester Food & Active Living Policy Council

COMPANY LOCATION: Worcester

RESIDENCE: Worcester

FAVORITE MOVIE: When I need to laugh, I love to watch "Wedding Crashers" or "Anchorman." But mostly I love to watch anything really thought provoking — like a documentary or something political and suspenseful.

FAVORITE BOOKS: "Beloved" by Toni Morrison, "The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho, and "House of the Spirits" by Isabelle Allende.

Career highlights: My career path has led me all over this country, as well as abroad and back. The best part has been working with amazing organizations and people that have taught and inspired me on topics ranging from teaching Spanish, youth development, intercultural understanding, food systems and community development. All of this has shaped me and prepared me for my work in Worcester, building our coalition, shaping public policy and engaging the community in food and active living work.

Community involvement: As part of my job with the Policy Council, I make it a point to get involved with or connected to just about anyone or any organization that has any connection to food or physical activity. This is probably one of the best parts of my job. Outside of that, I have been on the board of directors of the Regional Environmental Council since 2012. I was previously on the board of directors for the Artichoke Co-Op in 2010 and 2011. In those same two years, I was part of a discussion group that met monthly to delve into the work of dismantling racism.

Biggest success: Being a habitual job-changer, having been in one city and with one organization for almost four years feels like a major success sometimes. And having come to Worcester with almost no connection to anyone or anything, having built such a strong professional network in the past four years feels really great.

Biggest challenge: Being a new(ish) parent with my second child on the way, finding and keeping that work-life balance is an ongoing challenge. I often wish I could simultaneously work full time and be a stay-at-home mom. Since that can't happen, I try to make my decisions with my heart and always keep the big picture in mind.

Mentors: The people that have inspired me and taught me the most have been my parents, as well as Professor Phyllis Jackson of Pomona College; Joanne Pinnaire of Visions Service Adventures; and Jean McMurray of the Worcester County Food Bank (and I'm not just saying that because she's my boss or because she nominated me. She's truly amazing.).

Hidden talents:I'm really great at memorizing driving directions and maps. And I can knit and crochet in the dark.

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