How many people do you know who can be described as a legend?
It’s a rare title, but that’s how some describe Ted Carroll ’76 (CLAS), ’80 MSW.
“When it comes to Hartford, I don’t use the word legend lightly, but I think Ted is a Hartford legend,” said Jason Jakubowski ’99 (CLAS), ’01 MPA, president and CEO of Foodshare. “What he’s done for that city in the last 35 years is just remarkable. He’s basically been their loudest cheerleader for nearly four decades.”
Carroll is retiring as president and CEO of Leadership Greater Hartford (LGH), a non-profit he has led for 35 years. During his career, he has groomed thousands of business and community professionals to be future leaders of greater Hartford. He has imbued these leaders with his collaborative style of leadership and strong core values, encouraging them to make connections and work together to build a strong community.
Luckily for UConn, though he is retiring, Carroll has agreed to serve on UConn Hartford’s new volunteer Board of Advocates. He will work with Mark Overmyer-Velazquez, Ph.D., the campus director, to highlight the promise and relevance of UConn Hartford. He will serve as an ambassador for the University’s Hartford campus, helping to promote the campus and the students’ achievements and strengthening relationships with alumni.
Friends and colleagues describe Carroll as humble, down-to-earth, and open-minded.
“He is always willing to listen and he is always willing to work with anybody and everybody even if he disagrees with what their position is,” said Jakubowski, a former board chair of LGH.
His influence in Hartford, where he has also been a community organizer, a board of education member, and resident for many years, is far reaching.
“Ted Carroll is seen as someone who is trusted and has a solid character. You know that he will make things happen through all the connections he has,” said LGH board member Nadine Brennan, who is the associate campus director of UConn Hartford. “LGH is a place people go when they need to be either more involved or more aware of what’s going on in Hartford and the greater Hartford region.
For example, after a spate of city violence in 2008, a video went viral showing a 78-year-old Hartford man struck by a hit-and-run driver lying in the road with seemingly indifferent onlookers.
When the Hartford mayor turned to LGH for assistance, Carroll helped build an initiative called Hartford Cares that was designed to spur conversations, connections, and a commitment to building a better Hartford. He helped arrange a vigil at Bushnell Park where people could write down on a wall their commitment to making Hartford better. The celebratory atmosphere featured artists, the Hartford Symphony, dance, and song, and the opportunity for residents to sign up to volunteer for non-profit organizations.
Carroll has always believed in Hartford.
“He’s done what he can to create a culture of resurgence in the city of Hartford,” Jakubowski said. “How do we get more young people into the city of Hartford, how do we catalyze economic development, how do we find ways of attracting families here to the city of Hartford? Those were always in the undercurrents of everything that he was doing.”
Last year, the Association of Leadership Programs, a national organization, honored him with their Lifetime Achievement Award. Closer to home, the Hartford Children’s Theatre made him the 2010 Honoree at the Kid at Heart Gala and the Hartford Business Journal gave him a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011.
Carroll said he is looking forward to helping to promote his alma mater during his retirement.
“I believe in what UConn Hartford is doing and I’m impressed by Mark [Overmyer-Velazquez] and Nadine [Brennan] and others on that campus,” Carroll said. “I think they’re onto some good things and anything I can do to make their work successful I’ll be very willing to do.”
Carroll, who grew up in Plainfield, Conn. and attended St. Bernard School in Uncasville, says his UConn undergrad and graduate experiences at UConn had a profound influence on his life, not the least of which is that he met his wife, Jane [Liebig] Carroll ’76 (CLAS), ’78 MA there.
“We fell in love our sophomore year when we were both living in the Jungle,” he said. “She was living in Hurley Hall and I was McConaughy Hall.”
“My second most profound experience was probably my junior year. Even though I was in love, I decided I would still go to France for my junior year abroad program. That was life changing. It helped my perspective and even my appreciation for other cultures in ways that nothing else could.”
Later, in graduate school, he honed his leadership skills through internships as a community organizer. He first interned at the Connecticut Citizens Action Group and then at Greater Hartford Process, where he worked with Moe Coleman, the former dean of the UConn School of Social Work.
“The internships I had there absolutely shaped my views on leadership, on community, how you bring about change, and on the kinds of values that ought to guide that work,” he said.
Though he’s entering retirement, he is not slowing down much. Besides serving on UConn Hartford’s Board of Advocates, he plans to work as a consultant for a day or two a week, sharpen his golf game, and spend more time with his family, including two grandsons, and soon-to-arrive granddaughter.