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  • Lawrence Partnership


Longtime Executive Director Mitchell announces departure, Estrella takes helm as Board Chair

LAWRENCE (March 26, 2021) – The Lawrence Partnership, the collaboration of business and civic leaders committed to building an inclusive and resilient economy in Lawrence, today officially announced a pair of long-planned leadership moves.

Derek Mitchell, the organization’s executive director since it was founded in 2014, announced that he will complete his term this summer. The Board has initiated a search for a new executive director with experience in economic development and a background in business, public administration, community planning or a related field.

The transition was planned to coincide with the elevation of its new Board Chairperson, Lawrence attorney Wendy Estrella, who took over as chair in January. She replaced Marianne Paley Nadel. Lawrence attorney Socrates De La Cruz has been named Board Vice Chair.

“With the strongest balance sheet and budget since our organization’s founding and the successful transition of our board chair complete, I have never been more confident in the future of this organization as I am today,” said Mitchell. “Wendy Estrella is as strategic and thoughtful as they come, and she is surrounded by a talented and committed staff and expansive and influential board. I am excited to continue to support her, the new Executive Director, and the vital mission of the Partnership in a consulting capacity after the transition is complete.”

Estrella, who will lead the search for the new director, is the first Latina to lead the board. She was the youngest of nine children when her family emigrated from the Dominican Republic as a teenager, and is a graduate of Lawrence High School, Northern Essex Community College, Merrimack College and Massachusetts School of Law. She founded Estrella Law in 2005, and currently serves as a trustee of Massachusetts Law School and a board member of the Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union. She is a former board member of the Lawrence Family Development Charter School and The Merrimack Valley Workforce Investment Board, and a former trustee of Northern Essex Community College.

“This is a moment of mixed emotions as we wish Derek all the best and thank him for the strong foundation he helped build,” said Estrella. “His leadership and passion will be missed but we’re grateful that he will continue to collaborate with us from his next post. At the same time, I am proud and honored to lead this amazing organization. The future is exciting as we accelerate our work with a host of public and private partners to deliver an economy that will benefit all the people who live and work in Lawrence.”

De La Cruz is a graduate of the College of Holy Cross and Suffolk Law School. He is the founder of DLC Law Group, a former Assistant District Attorney and a member of the Massachusetts, New Hampshire and New York bar associations. He is a board member of Greater Lawrence Community Action Council Board, The Executive Committee of the Lawrence Bar Association and the Lawrence Partnership Board, and a former member of the Greater Lawrence Boys & Girls Club.

About The Lawrence Partnership

The Lawrence Partnership was launched in 2014 by leaders from local businesses, area banks, nonprofits, educational and healthcare institutions, and government, all committed to building a resilient, inclusive and equitable local economy. Always guided by a people-first strategy, the Partnership develops and implements initiatives that support small businesses, foster leadership and grow the workforce in Lawrence.

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