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Updated: May 2, 2022 / The Power 50 for 2022

2022 Power 50: Ronald Waddell Jr.

Photo | Courtesy of Legendary Legacies Ronald Waddell Jr., executive director of Legendary Legacies Inc., in Worcester
Ronald Waddell Jr. Title Executive director Organization Legendary Legacies Inc., in Worcester  Residence Worcester Colleges Bridgewater State University, Boston University Read all the 2020 Power 50 profiles here
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Three years ago, Ronald Waddell Jr. was an employee of the Worcester Community Action Council, working on an idea to help young men build themselves to be productive members of society. By early 2020, the funding for that nonprofit idea, Legendary Legacies, had grown just enough for Waddell to make it his full-time job. Today, Waddell and Legendary are cornerstones of the effort to engage communities of color with jobs and civic responsibility.

In July, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Bureau of Substance Abuse gave Waddell a $1.3-million grant to expand the Legendary Links program within the nonprofit, which assists Black and Latino men returning home from incarceration. That came after the $125,000 Legendary received from the Worcester Together fund to create a youth-led civic engagement academy to increase voter registration, and $10,000 the previous year to run a food-delivery program during the coronavirus pandemic. Legendary Legacies is still relatively small, having grown from two to eight employees, but Waddell’s star is on the rise.

He co-chaired the Coalition for a Healthy Greater Worcester, which developed the Community Health Improvement Plan for the city government, designed as a long-term strategic roadmap to address health disparities.

What sets the Central Mass. business community apart? The proximity of leaders in the city fosters a deep spirit of collaboration. This is a pro and a con. There are times that due to the closeness of these relationships, courageous conversations to advance betterment for all are received as personal offenses.

Early exit: I’m technically a U.S. Navy veteran. I was in the Navy for five weeks before I was medically discharged.

Read all the 2020 Power 50 profiles here

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