Audio Journal’s Lombardi, Frandsen transformed disabilities-championing nonprofit

As a longtime veteran of the nonprofit world, Vincent dePaul Lombardi knows the challenges that come with recruiting, managing and motivating a volunteer workforce. From 1999 until his recent retirement, Vince has served as executive director of Audio Journal, the Central Massachusetts-based broadcast outlet of the Radio Reading Service for the Blind.

Newly promoted Audio Journal Executive Director Mary Frandsen — who assumed the top role upon Vince’s departure on Oct. 1 — has been a key partner in that success.

What are some of the secrets to recruiting, inspiring and successfully leading a volunteer-staffed nonprofit – and how can it translate to motivating and optimizing your own workforce? Join us for The Communicators Club’s Nov. 5 luncheon meeting, which runs from 11:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. at the Bancroft School Field House, 100 Shore Drive, Worcester.

A light lunch will be served along with the talk.

Lombardi is scheduled to be the meeting’s presenter, but a scheduling conflict may prevent his appearance. Fortunately for TCC and its Nov. 5 audience, Frandsen – also a seasoned speaker – has graciously agreed to step in, if needed. Each Audio Journal leader is expertly prepared to address the topics of recruiting and getting the best out of volunteers.

Under Lombardi’s watch, Audio Journal moved from a basement facility to fully professional and accessible studios. That enabled many individuals with disabilities, including visually impaired listeners, to join the ranks of over 150 volunteers.

Vince’s and Mary’s accomplishments at Audio Journal are many:

  • Since 1999, the nonprofit’s on-air hours have been increased by 41%;
  • Its annual budget has increased more than 150%;
  • The number of towns carrying Audio Journal on cable access TV has increased by 160%;
  • The agency has earned 14 international awards for excellence in broadcasting;
  • Audio Journal provides employment for individuals who are blind, and an employment-trainee program was established;
  • Vince provides audio descriptions for theater, video and museum patrons who are blind;
  • He is a corporator of the Worcester Art Museum and a member of ArtsWorcester;
  • He hosts “Standard Time,” a weekly jazz program on NPR affiliate WICN (90.5 FM), a Public Radio station in Worcester.

Born in Rockville Centre, N.Y., and raised in Northern New Jersey, Vince was named after his inventive grandfather, who — unlike Vince’s Hall of Fame NFL coaching namesake — had no knowledge of, or interest in, American football.

He attended Kansas State University, and has had a career predominantly in the printing and publishing fields. He was formerly the Associate Publisher of The Hearing Journal, a trade publication for hearing healthcare providers. Following in his oldest daughter’s footsteps, he became a volunteer reader for Audio Journal in 1995, continued expanding his functions, eventually being named director of the organization in 1999.

Mary has been a nonprofit professional for 18 years.  Her responsibilities have included programs, operations, and fundraising, with a specialty in grant writing. 

She taught grant writing and research courses in the Nonprofit Management Master’s Degree program at Worcester State University, of which she is a 2007 graduate.  She was a founding board member of Jericho Road Worcester, now ONE Worcester, which is a nonprofit capacity building organization. 

Mary plays clarinet in the Atlantic Wind Symphony, and in a church handbell choir.  In her free time, Mary likes to go walking with her husband, Ted, and dog, Maggie, play bridge, and spend time with friends.  In the fall on Saturdays, you will find Mary cheering on the Penn State football team.  Her email address is

Mary is a primary presence on the Audio Journal website, detailing the organization’s successes in on-site articles and in its newsletter.

Please make plans to join us on Nov. 5 for what’s sure to be an illuminating and fruitful discussion. It should provide an opportunity to enhance the morale and dedication of your organization’s personnel, and also remind TCC’s attendees of the joys and satisfaction that come with volunteering your time to improve others’ lives.