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Meet our Community Manager: Renee Dufour

Renee Dufour

I’m thrilled that Renee Dufour is joining the Groundwork! team as our community manager. A native of the South Coast, Renee has an impressive resume of leadership roles in the public, private, and non-profit sectors. But what really stands out about Renee is what others have to say about her. She has left a network of fans in her wake, and I’ve discovered that they are all more than happy to sing her praise.

Clearly, this is a woman who understands the importance of relationships and connections. It makes perfect sense that she found her way to us at Groundwork!

I’m looking forward to seeing what Renee can bring to our community, as well as what she can take from us. Read more about her story and a few lessons she has learned along the way:

What led you to here? Give us a short summary of your life journey up to this point.

A short summary you ask? I’ll do my best. I’ve been on the South Coast for most of my life growing up in Somerset and Fall River, later years living in New Bedford and now Westport. I did spend a few years enjoying life in the mountains of Jackson Hole, WY and the Grand Tetons. That experience led me to finishing my college degree in the field of Physical Education, Recreation.

I developed a niche of working with cities and towns that either had no Park & Recreation Department or a department that was stagnant and needed rebranding and revitalization. Have you heard of the old sitcom Parks & Recreation? Yep, that was me, the real life Leslie Knope. I am proud to say I served in the Massachusetts communities of Northboro, Fairhaven, Somerset and New Bedford. I was also the District Manager for the State Parks system (DCR) for the South Coast District which spanned greater than we typically think of the South Coast. That position got me my television debut thanks to a ‘shark sighting’ at Horseneck Beach one summer. ;)

After many years in the public sector it was time to venture out into the private sector and continue to build my knowledge base and experiences. I took the role of Director, Corporate & Employee Relations, aka Human Resources Director for Lafrance Hospitality Company. I was part of a thriving and growing, family, senior leadership team and the company grew from about 350 employees to 750 during my time.

I more recently served in the position of VP, Community Engagement with the Buzzards Bay Coalition, a local non-profit striving to clean and protect our beautiful Buzzards Bay.

Mixed in with the professional roles I’ve always maintained community work and serve on a variety of non-profit, municipal boards and committees.  I am also an active member of the Fall River Rotary Club.

I followed the Groundwork story from the very beginning and was always impressed and intrigued with what Sarah and Dena created. I was thrilled to see a part time position posted because I knew it would fit perfectly into the next chapter on my journey.

Your experience spans public, private, and non-profit sectors. What are some lessons you’ve learned from working in different environments?

I like lists and bullets, so bear with me:

  • Build a large and strong network, you are never alone-someone somewhere has had or is having similar issues, ideas, etc. in thier work, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel
  • Don’t take anything personal, grow thick skin and broad shoulders
  • Lead and manage alongside your team, lead by example and get to know your people- what lights them up?
  • Always give 110% and be your word
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help
  • Have passion and a fire in your gut
  • Serve everyone you encounter with respect and honesty
  • Maintain balance in your own life and don’t take things to seriously

Renee in Ireland

What excites you about working at Groundwork?

What excites me about Groundwork is the sense of community and it’s diverse members. There is a enormous variety of personalities, businesses, and passions all working in the same space. It’s a very motivating place with positive energy and hard workers. I am excited to learn from the members but more importantly to support them in their work, challenges and goals.

What inspires you right now? What are you listening to, watching, and reading?

Right now I am particulary inspired by entrepreneurs and people who are living or embarking on a journey that is true to them. It’s inspiring to watch these people work past fears and uncertainty to create and deliver something that is important to them.

I am obsessed with and listen to almost all of my books, right now The Fire Starter Sessions by Danielle Laporte has my ear. I recently finished The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. When it comes to what I am watching, I am a big fan of This is Us, Grey’s Anatomy and Lucky Dog.

What skills or experience can you teach or share with other Groundwork! members?

I’ve always been a mentor, teacher and coach and I think I can be helpful with listening to challenges and brainstorming solutions (if that’s what someone wants) while also helping to build networks through connection. And hey, if nothing else, I can teach you to stop and catch your breath for a moment since I am a yoga teacher!

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