NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) announces its spring public policy lecture, “Start Here, Succeed There: Stories of Entrepreneurship in the Berkshires.” Moderated by MASS MoCA Director Joseph Thompson, it will feature a panel of experts whose entrepreneurship has roots in Berkshire County. This discussion will take place on Tuesday, March 29, at 7 p.m., in the MCLA Church Street Center’s Eleanor Furst Roberts Auditorium.

Made possible through the generosity of the Ruth Proud Charitable Trust, this event is free and open to the public.

The discussion will feature panelists Julia Bowen, executive director of BART Charter Public School; museum visionary Thomas Krens; Kathy Lloyd ’13, of the How We Roll food truck; brothers Mitch and Seth Nash, of Blue Q; and Brad Svrluga, a co-founder and general partner at Primary Venture Partners.

“This public policy event provides a unique opportunity to hear from some of the most well-known entrepreneurs to emerge from the Berkshires, each of whom is successful in his or her own right with a multitude of accomplishments in a number of diverse sectors. During this panel discussion, we will learn how their start here defined the course of their careers,” said John DeRosa, administrator of the Ruth Proud Charitable Trust. “I encourage the public to attend this event, which is sure to be both fascinating and very informative.” 

Thompson is the founding director of MASS MoCA, and since its inception in 1987, he has guided the museum’s development and arts programming. A 1981 graduate of Williams College, Thompson received an MA in art history from the University of Pennsylvania, where he was an Annenberg Fellow, and holds an MBA from the Wharton School of Business, where he was named a Morgenthau Fellow for his work in public policy and management.

For his work in the arts and regional economic development,Thompson has been awarded the Williams College Bicentennial Medal, for outstanding achievement by a Williams College alumnus, and the Commonwealth Award.Under his tenure, MASS MoCA’s visitation has grown from 80,000 in 1999 to over 160,000 in 2015. The arts center is recognized as an important catalyst for regional economic revitalization, adding over 600 jobs and $21 million per year in economic impact to the region.

Bowen, BART’s executive director, joined the school during its development in 2003. She has a background in business management as well as education. Bowen was a math teacher at Mount Greylock Regional High School in Williamstown before joining BART.

In addition to her work at BART, Bowen serves on numerous boards, including the Massachusetts Charter Public School Association. She previously worked at The Monitor Group, an international consulting company headquartered in Boston, where she consulted for clients in the United States and Europe, and served on the company’s management team. She has a BA in mathematics from Dartmouth College.

Krensis the former director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation in New York City, and is the Guggenheim’s Senior Advisor for International Affairs, overseeing the completion of the Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. During his 20-year tenure as director, he increased the Guggenheim’s endowment from $20 million to $118 million.

In 1986, as the director of the Williams College Museum of Art, Krens conceived the idea to convert the closed Sprague Electric plant on Marshall Street in North Adams into the world's largest contemporary art museum. He recently proposed a 160,000-square-foot “Global Contemporary Collection and Museum,” and an “Extreme Model Railroad and Contemporary Architecture Museum” for North Adams.

After many years of culinary experience that includes working with Daniel Osman at the Dream Away Lodge in Becket, Lloyd, together with her husband, Gabe Lloyd ’08, launched their How We Roll food truck in Pittsfield, in March 2013. That summer, How We Roll was one of the top four finalists in a nationally televised food truck competition featured on ABC’s “Live with Kelly and Michael” show.

Lloyd, who worked for well-known chef Emeril Lagasse when the couple lived in New Orleans, La., for a number of years, returned to the Berkshires to open How We Roll, which serves a variety of comfort foods in an egg roll.

Brothers Mitch and Seth Nash are the owners of Blue Q, manufacturing “life-improving, joy-bringing products” since bursting onto the scene in 1988, in Boston. Previously, Mitch ran a successful music merchandising business, and Seth was a high-tech engineer. For the past 17 years, Blue Q has churned out merchandise that is sold across the globe from its headquarters in a renovated player piano factory in Pittsfield, where the company employs 13 and packages all its products with the tag, “We Just Want You To Be Happy.”

Built on a single gag gift, “FlatCat,” a two-dimensional cardboard kitty that was marketed as the perfect pet, Blue Q went on to produce a line of personal care products, confections and assorted gift “stuff” ranging from refrigerator magnets to tin banks. Wit reigns in the titles and package design of products like “Tainted Love,” “Miso Pretty,” and “Dumb Gum.”

Svrluga is a co-founder and General Partner at Primary Venture Partners. He has been a venture investor since the bubble days of the late 1990s, starting his investing career with Berkshires Capital Investors (BCI), the original fund in the Village Ventures Network. Prior to BCI, he was a strategy consultant with Monitor Group, leading projects out of the firm’s Cambridge, Mass., South Africa and Brazil offices.

Svrluga focuses his investing activities on web services and digital media. At Primary, he has led the firm’s successfully exited investments in Pump Audio (sold to Getty Images), Threadsmith (sold to Vistaprint), and Allworx (sold to PAETEC). At BCI, the investments he was responsible for included HealthShare (sold to WebMD) and Profile Systems (sold to AT+T). He leads Primary’s efforts in the New York City market, and is an active participant in the New York City venture community. Svrluga is a graduate of Williams College, where he majored in economics, and divides his time between his home in the Berkshires and his work in New York City.

For more information, 413-662-5224, or go to

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) is the Commonwealth's public liberal arts college and a campus of the Massachusetts state university system. MCLA promotes excellence in learning and teaching, innovative scholarship, intellectual creativity, public service, applied knowledge, and active and responsible citizenship. MCLA graduates are prepared to be practical problem solvers and engaged, resilient global citizens.