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Monday, June 30, 2014

New director takes over at Nashua Adult Learning Center

NASHUA – Carol Baldwin began her first week as director of the Nashua Adult Learning Center last Monday, replacing a legend.

The former director, Mary Jordan, headed the organization for 27 years. But with big shoes to fill, Baldwin is ready for the task ...

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NASHUA – Carol Baldwin began her first week as director of the Nashua Adult Learning Center last Monday, replacing a legend.

The former director, Mary Jordan, headed the organization for 27 years. But with big shoes to fill, Baldwin is ready for the task

“I’m thrilled to pieces ... Mary is an amazing woman, she’s made it a great organization, I’m blown away by the culture. Now I have a lot to learn, Mary’s a tough act to follow.”

After 14 years as a law firm secretary, and 14 years in corporate America, Baldwin said she hopes to spend the next 14 years at the Adult Learning Center

“I’ve come full circle. There was a time when I actually cleaned these offices,” Baldwin said.

Although she lives in Merrimack now, Baldwin said Nashua still feels like her community. She grew up in Nashua, graduating in the same class as Mayor Donnalee Lozeau.

She tried attending college for nursing twice, but dropped out and “kind of floundered.”

Then Baldwin went through secretary school and wound up working with Mary Jordan’s late husband Ted at his law firm.

“I worked there for 14 years when Ted asked why I didn’t go to college, and said I’d make a good paralegal.”

With Jordan’s help, she attended Rivier for a paralegal BA. To pay her portion of tuition, Baldwin cleaned offices, including the ones at the Adult Learning Center.

When the attorneys realized she was serious about her studies, she said they picked up full tuition, and she received her bachelor’s degree in 1995, then eventually went on for a master’s degree.

“I got my master’s in education from Rivier. That was a huge gift to come out of Rivier with no student loans,” she said.

She wanted to thank them, and offered to stay as long as they wanted.

“Ted thought that was indentured servitude, instead he asked to give it back in community service,” said Baldwin.

After school, she worked as a corporate paralegal at RiverStone Resources.

“One day I was sitting at my desk and had an ‘aha’ moment; I realized I forgot to give back. I didn’t know how to do community service work, so I called Mary and asked to join the board at the Adult Learning Center,” she said.

She stayed on the board for years while working as a paralegal all the while talking about the Adult Learning Center.

“The thing I’m most proud of is the idea to invite nonprofit organizations to meetings to speak to employees,” she said. She was able to put in grant requests for the Adult Learning Center, but it never felt like work.

“It was really about what Ted and Mary did for me many years ago.”

Mary Jordan had been a big help guiding Baldwin through the college application process. She it was a lot like the college prep program at the ALC.

She parted ways with RiverStone on a high note, she said.

“They wished me well and made a $15,000 contribution to the Adult Learning Center.”

She said she’s surrounded by professional tenured staff, many of whom she knows from her time on the ALC board.

“The Adult Learning Center is the organization it is today because it does so very much right,” said Baldwin. “This is a talented and organized staff. I’m looking forward to taking it to the next level; picking up the ball and carrying it to the future.”