Family, early life and education
Charlene DiCalogero grew up during the hopeful 1960s and 70s, in a middle and working class neighborhood in Queens, NY. The second child of second and third generation Americans from Italy and Belarus, her parents and grandparents had lived through the Great Depression and worked hard to give their children a better life.
Charlene remembers that her family benefited directly from at least two publicly-supported programs. One was the GI Bill, which enabled her father to attend college and business school to become an accountant. Later, when she was three, the family moved from a dark, run-down tenement into a new mixed-income cooperative apartment complex, built with help from the city and Typographical Union #6.
Her values were shaped by the student, civil rights and peace movements of her childhood, as well as the emerging field of ecology. She attended public schools in New York City, earned a B.A. double majoring in Bioecology and History at Connecticut College, an M.A. in Conflict Resolution and Peace Studies at Antioch University, and was awarded a University Fellowship to study Communication and Conflict Processes at the Ph.D level at Temple University.
Charlene has worked in both the nonprofit and private sectors, starting out in a software firm as a technical editor. Wanting to make a living in harmony with her values, she worked her way into nonprofit and higher education program and grants administration.
Much of her professional career has been dedicated to education, from early childhood through adult basic and advanced education. She has been a team member of research, development and training centers dedicated to best practices in literacy teaching and learning for children and adults, a think tank for the creation of self-advocacy tools, and an institute for transformative mediation. She also managed grants for a large graduate school, serving its education, health careers and arts divisions.
As a volunteer, Charlene has served as Treasurer for the Center for Anti-Violence Education; performed with Soh Daiko, an acclaimed Japanese drum troupe; co-founded a small-town arts center; and led a regional MoveOn.org council in central Mass. She is currently on the MA Alliance Against Predatory Lending (MAAPL) Steering Committee, and an Outreach and Education volunteer for the Greater Worcester Community Foundation.
She received public recognition in her career as a musician and songwriter when her CD, Of Armor and Old Lies: Odyssey Songs Vol 1, recorded in Cambridge, MA, aired around the country, including WXRV, WICN, and especially WUMB in Massachusetts. She joined the large musicians' community in eastern Mass soon after she arrived in 1999, and continues to be a member of a monthly songwriting group with many fine writers and performers whom she is proud to call her friends.
In her spare time, Charlene likes to garden, drop into the Berlin farm where she is a CSA member, and frequent user of the local libraries. As an avid knitter, she was delighted to find a branch that lends knitting needles of all kinds, handy for making hats, scarves and mitts for her family.
Since 2009, Charlene has lived in a right-sized condominium home in Sawyer Hill EcoVillage, Berlin, a green development that she planned and built with other neighbors. The EcoVillage includes two cohousing communities and over 25 acres of permanent conservation land. Her home is surrounded by friendly neighbors, pets and the rolling hills, farms and historic towns of eastern Central Massachusetts.