Home 40 Under 40 Archive by category The Class of 2014 (Page 2)

The Class of 2014

40 Under 40 The Class of 2014
Chief Financial Officer, Department of Veterans Affairs, age 33

Andrew-McMahon-01Sept. 11, 2001 changed many lives — Andrew McMahon’s included.

“I was in school and working a summer job cleaning air ducts,” he recalled. “The last job I worked was at the end of August; I was in New York City for a few days, working in the World Trade Center.”

Two weeks later, those towers were gone, America was shaken, and McMahon was reflective.

“I felt there was more that I could do. So, with some other guys at school, I joined the Air Force,” he said. “But there was a rush to get into the Air Force at that time, and it was hard to pick your job. I wanted to go be a fireman or an aerial gunner or something cool on the front lines, but I went in saying, ‘whatever you can give me.’”

Because of his accounting and business education, he was placed in a finance position — not exactly what he’d envisioned. But it turned out to be a good fit, and he managed, among other things, the finances of a special-operations unit — certainly a critical role.

Years later, working at Fort Bragg, McMahon and his wife had a son and wanted to return to their Western Mass. roots, where they both had extended families. So he became a reservist in the Air National Guard and took a job at Kollmorgen in Northampton, as a financial analyst working on defense contracts.

Three years later, he was hired by the VA Medical Center in Leeds, “which was more in line with all my training and would allow me to serve veterans in that capacity.” Veterans were close to his heart, especially because his brother — who did, in fact, end up with a ‘cool’ Air Force job, as a paratrooper — came home with a Purple Heart.

At the VA, McMahon manages close to $170 million in taxpayer funds. He has spearheaded efforts to centralize data, rebalance workloads, and automate processes, building the leanest fiscal department among all six VA medical centers in New England, and mentoring other managers in the organization to transform their service lines as well.

“I have a finance job, which I happen to be technically good at,” he said, “but I enjoy the fact that I’m still contributing to veterans, guys that served.”

— Joseph Bednar

40 Under 40 The Class of 2014
Chief Operating Officer, Northeast Security Solutions Inc., age 27

David-Condon-01It’s not easy having a Roman numeral at the end of your name.

That’s one of the things G. David Condon IV has found out during his career, and somewhat the hard way. Indeed, while with family members and very close friends he goes by George, to the rest of the world he’s David, his middle name. And this has come about far more out of necessity than choice, because he works in a family business, just down the hall from George David Condon III.

“Customers would call looking for George,” he explained. “We’d ask, ‘which one?’ They’d reiterate, ‘George Condon,’ and we’d again say, ‘which one?’ They’d say, ‘Big George,’ and we’d say, ‘do you mean the older George or the taller George?’ To clear it all up, I started going by David.”

By whatever name he’s called, Condon is a rising star in the local business community, and now a 40 Under Forty winner. He is working with his father to expand and diversify the family business, Northeast Security Solutions Inc., while also rising within the ranks of the local Rotary Club district, and even finding time to play on the road and in studio with a garage band known as Scrap Iron Sun.

With the company, which he joined in 2008 after graduating from UMass Amherst’s Isenberg School of Management, and now serves as COO, he sums up his duties with the phrase ‘everything else.’ “You have a bookkeeper, you have technicians, and an office manager, and I’m kind of everything else.”

He was one of the youngest people ever to join the West Springfield Rotary Club, then was its youngest president, and now he’s one of the youngest assistant district governors for District 7890, acting as a liaison of sorts between several of the area clubs and the district.

He and his wife, Michaelan, are expecting their first child in August. They don’t know the gender yet and don’t want to know. What they do know is that, if it’s a boy, he won’t be named George David Condon V.

“As someone who has had to go through the frustration of having the same name as someone else,” he said, “I’m ending the streak by not putting my kid through that.”

— George O’Brien

40 Under 40 The Class of 2014
Business Insurance Broker, John M. Glover Agency, age 28

Kyle-Sullivan-01Kyle Sullivan’s photo shoot for 40 Under Forty includes a random assortment of props — or perhaps not so random, in the way they reflect his many priorities.

The blue stuffed bear signifies his son, expected in July. The silver clock was an award for being named ‘most valuable participant’ at the Hartford School of Insurance last year while receiving his commercial lines specialist designation. And the coffee mug is from his close friend Terra Missildine, owner of Beloved Earth, an environmentally friendly cleaning company he helped navigate the insurance landscape.

But Sullivan doesn’t like to think of himself as a salesman. “I’m someone who builds relationships with clients,” he said. “I provide business insurance, and I work with people who buy homes, rental properties, auto — any insurance besides health and life.”

He focuses mainly on commercial lines, however, and he’s working toward his certification as a construction risk insurance specialist. “That gives me more specific knowledge to work with contractors, which is something I like to do. I hit it off with them; our personalities just mesh.”

Sullivan is a third-generation member of this family business, which was started by his grandfather. But growing up, he wasn’t sure whether he wanted to follow the family path. Instead, he had a passion for entrepreneurship.

But his current role gives him a satisfying foothold in that world. “I like to learn about people’s businesses, and there aren’t many fields where you can learn about businesses in depth the way I do,” he said. “I need to understand a business to a great extent to make sure I have the right coverage for what they’ve built. I like to think, ‘they’ve put the last 10 years of their lives into this business. If they lost it all, do they have the right coverage to continue to be in business?’”

Sullivan helps people in other ways as well, through civic involvement that includes Western Mass. Junior Achievement, the Holyoke Blue Sox board, the Young Professional Society of Greater Springfield, and Leadership Pioneer Valley — all with a focus on building the region’s economic future.

“We’re doing anything we can do,” he said, “to better to the Pioneer Valley and build leadership skills and connect people in the Valley who are emerging leaders.”

— Joseph Bednar

40 Under 40 The Class of 2014
Attorney, Bacon Wilson, P.C., age 39

Kevin-Maltby-01Kevin Maltby remembers being in a courtroom watching a judge trying to give some advice to a pro-se litigant in a debt-collection matter — someone representing herself because she couldn’t afford to hire an attorney — and deciding that there was something definitely wrong with that picture.

“The judge isn’t supposed to give advice,” said Maltby, a litigator and employment-law specialist with Springfield-based Bacon Wilson, P.C. “And I knew she would wind up in the clerk’s office. The clerks aren’t supposed to give advice either, but they do, and that’s nice, but I sat there and said, ‘there should be somewhere for this person to go to get the answers they need in a relatively short period of time, for free, to get them on course.’”

That’s essentially how the District Court Lawyer for a Day Program was launched. It took some doing, and there are many parties and volunteers involved, but it was Maltby who got the ball rolling and kept it rolling. At last count, more than 250 individuals had received assistance from the initiative, which, as the name suggests, places volunteer lawyers in the District Court to assist pro-se litigants in non-criminal matters.

The program has been so successful that, in 2012, the Hampden County Bar Assoc. presented Maltby with its Access to Justice Pro Bono Publico Award for its efforts. That’s just one of many accomplishments inside and outside the courtroom for Maltby, an accomplished litigator who is a five-time recipient of the Super Lawyers Rising Star award from Boston magazine, and has also been honored by the Mass. Bar Assoc. as the 2013 recipient of its Community Service Award.

He earned that designation through a long list of contributions within the community. At the top of that list is work he and his wife, Eliza, undertook to create the Children’s Hemiplegia and Stroke Support Group of Western Mass. and take part in other initiatives to raise awareness of pediatric strokes.

“They happen right when children are born or right after, and they often go undiagnosed,” Maltby said. “Work in these areas has opened my eyes to a lot of things, and made me realize that we can make a difference if we just try.”

Suffice it to say that he does more than try.

— George O’Brien

40 Under 40 The Class of 2014
Clinical Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Practice, Western New England University College of Pharmacy, age 37

Isabela-Collier-01Izabela Collier has a passion for diabetes treatment — but an even greater one for making sure people never need that treatment.

At Western New England University, her advisor suggested studying pharmacy because of her strong background in science. But after graduation, working for Baystate Health, she was unsure how she wanted to focus that degree. “Relentlessly, I would be asking my manager to switch me around to different areas of pharmacy.”

At the same time, she began to realize how many patients had diabetes — and, more significantly, how many people might be able to avoid it if they just understood how. “I really wanted to be on the other side of the spectrum, not just to be there to help them with crisis management, but to provide them with education so they never get to that stage,” Collier said.

So she became a certified diabetes instructor. She met a nurse and a dietitian who were as driven about the issue as she was, and together they launched the Diabetes Center of Western Massachusetts. “It was a fantastic opportunity from a business perspective, but it was very time-consuming.”

After three years, a different opportunity opened up at WNEU — this one as a clinical assistant professor of Pharmacy Practice. “I enjoy educating, and I really wanted to educate students. The teachers there made a tremendous difference in my life. Now I can give back what was given to me.”

Meanwhile, Collier established diabetes pharmacy clinics at two Veterans Affairs healthcare systems, in Springfield and Leeds, the success of which was recognized by the American College of Clinical Pharmacists in its Ambulatory Care Survival Guide. She also received a grant from the National Assoc. of Chain Drug Stores to provide community health screenings for the public, and she’s a founding member of the West Local Networking Group, a local chapter of the American Assoc. of Diabetes Educators.

“I’m passionate about working one-on-one with patients, focusing on chronic disease management and the pharmacist’s role in it,” said Collier, a native of Poland. “It’s not just medication dispensing, but re-education for chronic disease management. There’s a lack of education out there, and the pharmacist can provide that link between provider and patient.”

— Joseph Bednar

40 Under 40 The Class of 2014
Owner and Performance Coach, Continuum Performance Center, age 32

Geoff-Sullivan-01Geoff Sullivan is all about performance. It’s in his title and his company’s name, after all. But it took a few career stops before he set his eyes on his most challenging goal — entrepreneurship.

After studying exercise science at UMass Amherst, and a stint in the Corporate Wellness division of Yankee Candle, he became a fitness director for Healthtrax. At the time, Healthtrax was partnering with Altheus, an innovative business model for personal coaching. “I loved what they brought to the table,” he said.

In fact, he assisted in implementing the Altheus model in 12 Healthtrax facilities in seven states, growing fitness-related revenues by more than 600% in the process. He also created and implemented what’s known as the Small Group Coaching model in 15 facilities.

Eventually, he felt like he could bring his skills and knowledge to his own enterprise, so he left Healthtrax and opened Continuum Performance Center in East Longmeadow in 2011. It proved to be a smart decision, as the business has quadrupled in size since then.

“We are very, I don’t want to use the word ‘prideful,’ but if we are attaching our name to a fitness program, we’re going to give the best we have; we’ll give extra time, do something that wasn’t agreed upon, to reach our goals,” he said. “Our success comes quite literally from the fact that we put the program first, and people achieving the results they want.”

His business also pours energy into the Season of Giving, an annual effort around the holidays that raises money for organizations like Toys for Tots, the Western Massachusetts Food Bank, the Red Cross, and Habitat for Humanity. Sullivan gives of his time, too, such as working with his employees on a Habitat house build and visiting regions affected by Hurricane Sandy to assist with cleanup efforts.

That’s gratifying, Sullivan said, but so is his everyday work, because it changes lives.

“Each time someone achieves something they always wanted to but didn’t think they could, you see the pure elation on their face,” he said. “You were an integral part of that — you mapped it out for them — but they were the ones who accepted the challenge and put in the work and accomplished their goal.”


— Joseph Bednar

40 Under 40 The Class of 2014
Assistant Director, Miller Worley Center for the Environment, Mount Holyoke College, age 33

Ruby-Maddox-01Ruby Maddox has always had a heart for the environment. These days, she’s trying to put it at the heart of every student’s experience at Mount Holyoke College.

Her role at the college’s Miller Worley Center for the Environment involves coordinating partnerships with the various academic departments, the community, and national organizations to create on-campus programs, community projects, and learning opportunities for students centered on environmental literacy.

“Our goal is to help students connect to the environment regardless of what academic discipline they’re in, so they understand the implications of their subject of study,” she said. For example, a political science student might learn about land rights, deforestation policy, and other issues. “All these things intersect with the environment so students can have a true liberal-arts education.”

Perhaps more significantly, Maddox spearheaded the creation in 2002 of a youth gardening program in Springfield that evolved into an entity known as Gardening the Community, which is centered on urban agriculture, sustainable living, and youth development.

At the time, she was a theater major at Holyoke Community College, but she was active in community service, and was inspired by a professor’s recommendation to start the gardening program.

“We operate in the Mason Square area and teach kids how to grow food on vacant and abandoned lots,” Maddox said, adding that the program, which also emphasizes building healthy communities and developing youth leadership, recently received a grant from the Mass. Department of Agriculture, and is one of the only urban community-supported agriculture programs in the area. “We employ about 30 youth each summer. It exposes them to the fact that building community is possible, and that they can be producers and not just consumers.”

Today, she still serves as chair of the GTC board of directors, while also maintaining a blog, thecbosector.wordpress.com, that focuses on community-based organizations with an emphasis on urban philanthropy. She has also volunteered with Habitat for Humanity and was an organizing committee member for the Undoing Racism Organizing Collective in Springfield.

In other words, Maddox believes in helping urban young people build a healthier future, in every way.

“My big thing is experiential learning, both for youth and adults,” she said. “I love my work.”

— Joseph Bednar

40 Under 40 The Class of 2014
Owner, Right at Home of Western Massachusetts, age 29

Nick-Colgin-01Nick Colgin was asked what he liked about mountain climbing, and especially about leading veterans, many of them disabled, on such expeditions.

He started with some levity — “you can’t get cell-phone reception where we go, and that’s usually a good thing” — but then turned quite serious.

“Having served in Afghanistan as a medic at a young age, you become numb to a lot of things,” said Colgin, who was awarded a Bronze Star for saving the life of a French soldier under fire in that conflict, but obviously saw many people die or suffer horrific injuries.

“Things that used to make me really happy and put a huge smile on my face don’t have the same effect anymore; when you lose a lot of people in your early 20s as patients, it tends to harden you a bit,” he went on. “But when I get individuals who may be blind or disabled and they’ve never climbed a mountain before and I take them up — they’re excited, they’re happy, and I can really feed off that emotion.”

Colgin has had several opportunities to do that in recent months — he just led some ice climbs in North Conway, N.H., for example — but now has some serious competition for the time he spends leading such excursions.

For starters, there’s the business venture he started just last fall, Right at Home of Western Massachusetts, a home-care outfit that has quickly expanded to 22 employees and a number of promising accounts. There’s also a growing number of speaking engagements, like the one at West Pharmaceuticals in Pennsylvania recently, which center on the issue of hiring veterans, and how companies can, and must, become better at that assignment.

Colgin has become a national figure on the subject of hiring veterans — he was put in the spotlight after remarks to Congress about his inability to find work in his chosen field of healthcare after returning home from the war — and has been mentioned by President Obama in several speeches on that matter.

And then, there’s his best friend and companion, an English pointer named Dixie. He finds time for all of the above, because they’re all vitally important to an intriguing life story that’s still being written.

— George O’Brien

40 Under 40 The Class of 2014
Attorney, Fitzgerald Attorneys at Law, P.C., age 37

Seth-Stratton-01Seth Stratton’s values are so important to him that he gave up a position with an international law firm that employed 1,100 attorneys and joined a firm in East Longmeadow with four lawyers.

“The work I do now is a lot more interesting and rewarding than working for Fortune 200 or 100 companies where I dealt with in-house lawyers for other firms,” he said. “Big firms are very lucrative, but you work all the time, and I came to realize that life is more than just working hard.”

Stratton grew up in East Forest Park in Springfield and earned a bachelor’s degree at Colgate University in New York, where he broadened his perspective by meeting people from many cultures, then received a master’s degree from UMass Boston and graduated magna cum laude from Suffolk University Law School.

After passing the bar exam, Stratton was hired by Brown Rudnick LLP in Boston, where he did business and commercial litigation. But seven years ago, Stratton and his wife, Jennifer, decided to move back to Western Mass. because they had an 8-month-old son and wanted to live closer to their families. He transferred to Bingham McCutchen LLP’s Hartford office, but found that the long hours and long commute prevented him from becoming part of the professional community in Greater Springfield.

So Stratton left Bingham McCutchen to work at Fitzgerald Attorneys at Law, P.C. He said there were challenges in moving from a big-city firm, because he no longer had hundreds of colleagues to collaborate with, but today he takes pride in representing local business owners — balancing work and family time (with his wife, Jennifer, and their children, Nolan and Caitlin) — and being involved in the community.

That’s an understatement, actually; he’s a board member of the World Affairs Council of Western Mass., on the board of trustees for First Church of Christ in Longmeadow, and a member of the leadership committee for Community Legal Aid’s Access to Justice Campaign 2013. He has also done work for Lawyers for Children America in Hartford.

Among its clients, Stratton’s firm represents MGM Resorts International’s Springfield casino project, and he is working again with attorneys from Brown Rudnick in Boston. “I’ve come full circle,” he said.

— Kathleen Mitchell

40 Under 40 The Class of 2014
CEO, Angela Lussier Enterprises, age 33

Angela-Lussier-01Angela Lussier wanted to be a leader from the time she was a young child. But she was shy and six feet tall by age 13, which affected her self-esteem. “I was ashamed of who I was and afraid to take a leadership position because I didn’t want to speak in front of people,” she said.

Lussier finally overcame that fear and found her voice after joining Toastmasters International in 2006. “I had something to say, started talking, and people starting listening,” she recalled. Today, she uses her strength and personal story to help others realize their potential.

“Success isn’t about talent — it’s about courage. Living a mediocre life shouldn’t be an option,” she said. “But so many people are waiting for their life to start, rather than creating what they want.”

Lussier believes everyone has a gift, and encourages people to move forward by thinking about how they can use it to solve a problem and “become an asset to a company or to the world.” That philosophy lies at the core of her book, The Anti-Resumé Revolution, and her advice has been featured on Yahoo!, NBC, ABC, The Ladders, About.com, and CBS Money Watch.

“We all deserve a happy, fulfilling life, but people have to get out of their comfort zone and try new things that lead to different thought patterns,” she said, adding that she shared her own story during a 2010 TEDx talk in Washington, D.C. She also does public speaking and personal coaching, leads a ‘mastermind’ group, is working on a second book, blogs for Virgin.com, and is a monthly columnist for Lioness magazine.

Lussier has won many awards, including first place in the Division E Humorous Speech Contest of District 53 Toastmasters International in 2009, and she was featured in Billboard magazine’s “Transcending the Ordinary” in 2006. She serves on the board of directors of Junior Achievement of Western Mass., sits on the Business Advisory Council for the Mass. Rehabilitation Commission, and is a mentor with Valley Venture Mentors.

“It’s time to stop waiting for the future to change,” she told BusinessWest. “It’s time to start creating it.”

— Kathleen Mitchell