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Ashland - Local Town Pages

Ashland Community Center’s Long-time Director Retires

After twenty years of service, Joanne Duffy announces her retirement

Ashland Community Center director, Joanne Duffy, retired in July after successfully running the Senior Center for twenty years. During those years, Joanne acted as a mentor for the Senior Center staff and volunteers.

“For two decades, Joanne has overseen the Community Center and senior activities in town with competence, compassion, and a sense of humor. She has been a consistent and effective advocate for elder issues, both out front and behind the scenes. She leaves especially big shoes to fill,” says Town Manager, Michael Herbert.

Joanne Duffy pioneered many of the services offered at the Senior Center. She initiated a partnership with BayPath Elder Services offering the Meals on Wheels program. She also created a partnership with the MetroWest Regional Transit Authority expanding transportation services, including converting a van for the Senior Center’s exclusive use and providing a driver. More recently, Joanne was instrumental in helping Ashland become a Dementia Friendly community, an initiative to create a supportive, safe, and respectful community for those living with dementia. 

Becoming a Dementia Friendly community was a significant undertaking. “Coordinating Ashland to become Dementia Friendly was a huge initiative that I am particularly proud of,” says Joanne Duffy, “It’s definitely a highlight of my career.” 

Joanne coordinated with community members, businesses, and staff members in the community center and around the other municipal departments to create and implement this program. The program provided specific training to increase the Community Center’s ability to better support people suffering with dementia and their caregivers. Her extraordinary stewardship in forming this community initiative betters our town for years to come.

Joanne also led the Community Center through the pandemic as they constantly tried redefining how programming was offered to keep seniors connected during the long, early months of COVID-19. During this time, Joanne also supported the Human Services Department and Food Pantry in changing their operations to ensure that individuals and families that were suffering from food insecurity were being reached. She also helped to support the Recreation Department as it adjusted its programming to support the needs of families during online and hybrid learning.  

“Joanne’s ability to create a welcoming place for Ashland’s senior population will certainly be missed. Luckily through her leadership, she successfully cultivated a strong and dedicated team that is ready to continue her legacy of being able to pivot to meet the needs of our community, creating engaging programming, and providing needed social and emotional support,” says Assistant Town Manager, Jenn Ball.