By Lauren Halligan
November 6, 2014
SARATOGA SPRINGS>> Rich Harwood has devoted his life to changing communities for the better, but he said he owes much of his success in that endeavor to his hometown of Saratoga Springs.
“Saratoga had a huge influence on me professionally, in terms of what I’m doing,” Harwood said Thursday on his visit home to deliver the keynote address at the New York Library Association’s conference at the Saratoga Springs City Center.
Harwood is founder and president of the Harwood Institute for Public Innovation, a national nonprofit organization based in Bethesda, Maryland. The institute teaches and coaches people and organizations to solve pressing problems and change how communities work together. Because of this successful effort, he has been called a “national community change expert.”
Now an international figure, Harwood was first intrigued to do this type of work while growing up in the Spa City.
Harwood was originally born in Queens, but at 6 years old he moved to Saratoga Springs with his family and grew up on Nelson Avenue.
“I love this town,” he said. “I have a deep affection for Saratoga.”
He first attended kindergarten at School No. 4, then went to Caroline Street School, and on to Saratoga Springs High School, where he played tennis, basketball and soccer and served as student government president. Even as an adolescent, Harwood was interested in community and politics, he said.