Shortly after joining the team at MCC, Nicola Tsongas, at left, with President Cowan and the first Celebrity Forum speaker, newsman Walter Cronkite, who was interviewed by historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. ▲ A N E W FA C E J O I N S T H E T E A M Enter Nicola (Niki) Tsongas, an attorney and the widow of the late U.S. Senator and Presidential candidate Paul Tsongas, who had also been a huge advocate of Middlesex. Tsongas recalled her introduction to the college. Having just left a position with a Boston law firm, she was interested in becoming more engaged in the community. At the time of her hiring in July of 1997, Tsongas told the Lowell Sun: “Middlesex is a vibrant place where students can set new directions and get the education and training they need for a whole host of emerging careers. I believe I can help Middlesex Community College secure its economic future and continue to assist in the economic development of Lowell and all of Middlesex County.” Cowan saw it as a chance to introduce a new skill set to the college’s repertoire. “Carole’s initial goal was to have an external affairs office to do outreach as well as a development office that could assist the college in securing funding opportunities for its capital expansion plans,” Tsongas remembered. Cowan paired Tsongas with Cynthia McGurren and Nina Anton to help ignite MCC’s annual fund campaign and to launch an annual speaker series. Together, they created an event that would bring a well-known speaker to headline an annual Foundation fund-raising event. The event would be called Celebrity Forum. 88