August 10, 2021

Great Bay Collaborates with Community Partners to Offer Judy Mettee Institute

Professional development program honors the dedication and memory of organization founder

PORTSMOUTH – During a time of upheaval in the labor market, Great Bay Community College is stepping up to help employers find ways to attract and retain the people who work for them.

Great Bay recently wrapped up instruction of another innovative professional development program for Portsmouth-based Community Partners, a community mental health organization. The eight-week Judy Mettee Institute is designed to help the people who work at Community Partners be more effective in their jobs.

Great Bay and Community Partners developed the curriculum for the institute in 2018, and more than 110 employees – about 25 percent of the workforce — have completed it since. “Helping to identify growth opportunities for current employees translates to retention and workplace satisfaction,” said Carolyn Foster, Director of Human Resources at Community Partners. “The program has been an incredible investment in our staff members that is valued and sought out quite frequently. There has yet to be a semester that we did not have to create waiting lists for each course, because available spots so quickly fill to capacity.”

It honors the dedication and memory of one of the founders of the organization, who embodied the goals of Community Partners to connect clients and their families to the opportunities and possibilities for full participation in their communities.

The Judy Mettee Institute has a professional development track for staff members, and another for supervisors. The objective is to increase professional skills, confidence, and the positive work ethic required to help the agency achieve its goals, Foster said. “In order to accomplish that, we need compassionate, resilient, caring, wonderful staff members on our team. Investing in the great people that join our team is a strategic decision made to give back to those that give so much of themselves.”

Lynn Szymanski, Director of Workforce Development for Great Bay, praised Community Partners for its commitment to staff. “I think Community Partners is a great example of an organization that really invests in its employees, and in a tight labor market like this, an organization than can differentiate itself as being a partner with its employees benefits from a happier and more dedicated workforce.”

She said the college will work with any employer to develop a staff development program tailored to its specific needs. That could include an ongoing program similar to the one between Great Bay and Community Partners or an apprenticeship, where the college trains a cohort of workers for specific roles. “There are a lot of ways companies can invest in their workers, and Great Bay can help them do it effectively and efficiently,” Szymanski said.

Debra Schuler, an instructor with Great Bay Community College’s Business and Training Center with 25 years of experience in the corporate world, said companies are wise to invest the people who work for them.

“There is a very real cost to turnover,” Schuler said. “Community Partners has a true organizational passion and commitment for developing their people. It’s very authentic, and I think that’s because it’s couched in the legacy of this very special woman who was affiliated with them for so long.”

For information on corporate training and other programs offered through GBCC’s Business and Training Center, visit or email [email protected] or call 603-427-7653.

Great Bay Community College is a comprehensive postsecondary institution offering quality academic and professional and technical education in support of workforce development and lifelong learning. Great Bay Community College is part of the Community College System of New Hampshire, a public system of higher education consisting of seven colleges in Berlin, Claremont, Laconia, Concord, Manchester, Nashua, and Portsmouth. The colleges offer Associate degrees and career training in technical, professional and general fields, including transfer pathways to baccalaureate degrees. For more information on Great Bay Community College, visit