Several years ago, CityStage of Springfield (MA) approached me to be part of a special theatrical production. However, it was not your usual event appearance. Instead, I would take a role in A.R. Gurney’s award-winning play Love Letters. For those unfamiliar with the Love Letters, only two characters are on stage, reflecting on memories and the passage of time. In this case, I was paired with the newly elected Mayor of Springfield, Domenic Sarno. The play earned great accolades, and it was the perfect launch pad for our friendship that has lasted for almost 15 years. From that first moment, I could see he was a person of warmth with a great deal of enthusiasm, not just for those around him, but also for the city of Springfield. We can learn much from his leadership style that embraces the credo, “I care about you. I’m making time for you.” He understands the public power of presence. Just as he proudly embraces his Springfield roots, it reminds me that Bay Path, too, was founded in the ‘City of Homes.’ When the main office of The American Women’s College was opened at 1350 Main Street, we were also acknowledging our own beginnings of the Bay Path Institute in downtown Springfield. He was one of the first to welcome us back. And, I might add, he has for many years provided the official opening welcome to the Women’s Leadership Conference held at Springfield’s MassMutual Center. I count myself so fortunate to have the Mayor of one of the Commonwealth’s largest cities as a supporter of Bay Path, and, more important, a true friend.
Could you share a bit about your life journey and career?
Much like you <President Carol Leary>, I come from humble and strong family roots, one generation removed from the “old country.” My parents always instilled in me a hard work ethic, respect for others, and follow through. They always stressed, even though they could not pursue a full formal education (both had their own businesses though – barber shop and seamstress shops) ‘school…school and more school’ – this was the pathway up! I’ve had a number of triumphs, but also became stronger through the trials and tribulations we all face. I’m Springfield born…bred and proud. So from the halls of the High School of Commerce through AIC and finally Westfield State College to the halls of City Hall – I am truly humbled and honored to be the Mayor of Springfield and live/love it 24/7.
What are you most proud of in your career?
With my City team getting us through the devastating EF3 tornado of June 1, 2011, and restoring Springfield’s financial stability and pride.
What is one regret that you have in your career?
Not being able to fully eradicate youth/gang violence – yet – it leaves me, at times, sleepless at night.
What advice would you give to students at Bay Path who are setting out on their own life journey?
It’s great to be book smart, but also jut as important, have common sense and some “street smarts,” too. These attributes will serve you well in better understanding and respecting each other and the issues we face.
A former four-term City Councilor who served as City Council President and as a member of the Springfield Finance Control Board, Domenic Sarno was elected to his first term as Mayor on November 6, 2007 and won reelection in 2009, 2011 and 2015.