A historic transition in NH

Larry Gammon deserves the thanks of all Granite State citizens

I have been around New Hampshire full-time since 1966, and part-time before that. There have been individuals who have seemed to be constants on the scene, who over time have passed from the scene.

In politics, when I came here, Norris Cotton had been around forever, and Tom McIntyre for a long time. Jim Cleveland and Louis Wyman, John W. King (three-term governor, judge and chief justice), Justice Frank Kenison, governor and college president Walter Peterson, and many others were icons who were fixtures.

Which brings me to the topic of this column, Larry Gammon, longtime president and CEO of Easterseals New Hampshire. Recently, he announced his intention to retire from his position, at age 75 — a position he has held for more than 30 years, having worked at Easterseals since 1971. Larry Gammon runs an operation with an annual budget of over $100 million. He probably is the senior nonprofit executive in New Hampshire, and the most respected CEO in the entire Easterseals network nationally.

Gammon, a native of the Tidewater region of Virginia, went to the University of Virginia on a baseball scholarship. He still has the record for lowest earned run average on that school’s baseball team. After graduation, he joined Easterseals in 1971 in Keene, NH, as a special education teacher. He drove a school bus, taught school, worked as a case worker and did many line jobs at Easterseals, joining the Manchester team. Later, he was principal of the special education school, under the leadership of Robert Chollette, Easterseals/Goodwill of New Hampshire’s president (as it was known in those days).

In the late 1970s, I joined the Easterseals board. When I joined, it was a rather small nonprofit, providing services to a limited number of people. Ultimately, the time came when its then-CEO was asked to head Catholic Medical Center, and the baton was passed to Larry Gammon, only for him to discover that the finances were dire and he faced challenges.

Gammon built a team, and after that first year never had a deficit again. The organization grew and ultimately acquired responsibility for the Easterseals organizations in Vermont, Rhode Island, New York, much of Connecticut and, later, Maine. They were acquired because they were in need of help, and after they were healthy, they were transferred to the direction of more local organizations. Now Easterseals New Hampshire is responsible for our state, Vermont and Maine, with subsidiary Farnum Center in Manchester and Franklin.

Over the years, Larry Gammon has helped many volunteers become leaders as they progressed through the board chairs in the various organizations under his leadership. Many of the civic leaders of New Hampshire have been involved, and there are no governmental leaders not familiar with Easterseals and its facilities and services.

Gammon has advised and mentored many staff members who have gone on to lead other organizations. Paul Boynton, head of The Moore Center, was a vice president. Christine McMahon, longtime chief operating officer, now heads Fedcap, a major nonprofit in New York. Alison Pitman Giles was a vice president prior to her heading to Lakeshore Hospital, New London Hospital and Catholic Medical Center.

Internally, he mentored and developed his executive team of Elin Treanor, Tina Sharby, Karen Van Der Beken and many other talented staff members who have helped him make Easterseals New Hampshire into the standard of service providers in New Hampshire and the go-to consultant for those elsewhere.

This year, he will be recognized by the Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire with its Lifetime Achievement Award. Privately, his generosity, anonymously, to a host of individuals and causes attests to his living the values he espouses. There are a host of volunteers, clients and friends who would do anything for this fine man.

As he leaves the organization, Gammon’s replacement was a major decision for the Easterseals board. Selected was a formidable local nonprofit executive, Maureen Beauregard, who founded and has led Families in Transition for decades — another stellar leader with a proven track record helping her state and its most vulnerable citizens.

The retirement of Larry Gammon as president of Easterseals New Hampshire is one of those major transitions, and it is unlikely there will be another leader with the tenure or contributions he has had. He deserves the thanks of all New Hampshire citizens.

Brad Cook, a shareholder in the Manchester law firm of Sheehan Phinney Bass & Green, heads its government relations and estate planning groups. He can be reached at bcook@sheehan.com.

Categories: Cook on Concord