Berkshire County Development Alliance Announces New Co-Chairs

Berkshire County Development Alliance Announces New Co-Chairs


Founded over two decades ago, the Berkshire County Development Alliance (BCDA)  is an informal group of 150+ development professionals who represent Berkshire area nonprofit organizations in a fundraising capacity. Members gather up to a half-dozen times per year to share information and engage in meaningful dialogue about advancement issues affecting the industry.  

In a Zoom meeting on February 13, 2022, the Berkshire County Development Alliance, announced Shela Levante and Molly Merrihew as the organization’s new co-chairs and they outlined their vision for the future.

To kick off planning for the year, the co-chairs asked members to complete a short questionnaire and prioritized topics that were top of mind for the group. Areas of focus for the year ahead include: Berkshire Specific Fundraising, Planned Giving, Hiring, Talent Retention, Professional Development for Advancement Staff and DEI in Development.

“I am really excited about what we have planned! The mix between Berkshire County specific topics and learning about issues impacting our field as a whole are going to make for a very unique and interesting dialogue,” Merrihew shared.

“The effect of COVID-19 on giving and volunteering behavior, as well as how individuals work and interact, have shaped the current needs of this organization,” added Levante.

The co-chairs are also offering a mix of Zoom and in-person meetings. The next BCDA meeting will be held via Zoom on April 27, 2022 at 4 PM and when the weather is nicer, the goal is to meet in person. Future meeting dates are:

  • June 22, 2022
  • August 24, 2022
  • October 19, 2022
  • December 14, 2022
  • February 21, 2023

About the co-chairs

Shela Levante wanted to be Wonder Woman growing up and that led her into the field of nonprofit service. Shela currently serves as the Major Gifts Officer at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts where she helps to raise and steward dollars that support students in realizing and actualizing their potential. While a Berkshire transplant, she has a deep history of service in the area. Most recently she served as the Director of Development at Berkshire Community College and worked at Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation as a Community Engagement Officer. Shela has an M.P.A. from Northeastern University, and B.A. in Nonprofit Leadership and Management from Arizona State University.

Molly Merrihew is an arts administrator and theatre maker. She has worked in the performing arts sector for over ten years, honing her skills in communications, fundraising and strategic planning. Currently, she works for WAM Theatre in the role of Managing Director where she  oversees Fundraising and Communications. Previously, she spent eight years at Shakespeare & Company working in Communications. Before moving to the Berkshires she worked at the Florida Studio Theatre in a variety of capacities including marketing and patron services. Molly is passionate about uplifting artists and non-profit organizations and to that end also works as an arts-management consultant. Molly has an M.S. in Arts Administration with a Graduate Certificate in Fundraising Management from Boston University, and a B.A. in Theatre and English-Creative Writing from the State University of New York at Potsdam.