Home 2012 April
40 Under 40 The Class of 2012
Director of Public Relations, Yankee Candle Co.

Woods-KarenMarieIn her nine years at Yankee Candle, Karen Woods has worked in a number of capacities, from human resources to wholesale to public relations. It’s that current role, she said, that most lights her fire.
“I have the opportunity to share the company’s history and products, and create campaigns that resonate with consumers,” Woods said, adding that she also oversees Yankee Candle’s charitable and philanthropic efforts.
“I truly believe I represent a product that evokes memories; it’s an emotional product that makes people feel good. Candles bring light and fragrance, and so many consumers say Yankee Candle fragrances hold real meaning for them. It’s not just a product on the shelf, but it actually brings happiness to people.”
Woods brings that same spirit to her civic involvement, particularly in her extensive work for the American Heart Assoc., including leadership in the annual Go Red for Women luncheon.
“Although I sit on the executive leadership team, I’m more than just a person sitting there,” she said. “It’s not just something for my résumé; it certainly has meaning to me, and I take pride in it.”
That’s because heart disease runs in her immediate family, and that of her husband. “A lot of people have been touched by heart disease in my family. And, although I can’t change my genetic makeup, I can make changes in myself,” she said, which is why she makes an effort to promote a healthy lifestyle both through the AHA and in her own life. “Most people don’t know that heart disease is the number-one killer of women, and they don’t know their numbers and their risks.”
She’s also involved in Link to Libraries, promoting early literacy, and autism-awareness efforts, among other activities.
“Giving back to the community is who we are as a family,” said Woods, who welcomed her first child with her husband, James, earlier this year. “If I can make a difference in one person’s life, it’s worth all the time and effort. It’s not a job, or just a meeting I have to go to; it’s part of my lifestyle.”
— Joseph Bednar

40 Under 40 The Class of 2012
Senior Environmental Scientist, Tighe & Bond

Rukakoski-DanAs a first-year student at UConn working toward a degree in business, Dan Rukakoski said he had a moment of insight into his future.
“I got to thinking about what I was studying for,” he remembered, “and I asked myself, ‘do I want to be sitting at a desk my entire life?’ So I took a look at my own values and interests to see what I could do that would ultimately keep me from burning out on a career.”
This exercise in introspection led to a profound change of course into natural-resources management. Straight out of college, he took a job with TRC, an environmental-engineering firm in Connecticut, and there he fine-tuned his environmental-science background into the field of wetlands management. When the opportunity arose to move to Westfield-based Tighe & Bond to become a wetlands scientist, he dove right in. In the five years that he’s been there, Rukakoski has quickly risen to the position of manager for Wetlands and Ecological Management Services.
The president of Tighe & Bond credits him as a key contributor to the company’s development in areas of complicated environmental permitting. But others are also happy he made that move to Western Mass. A resident of Southampton, he’s been a member of that town’s Conservation Commission, and is currently consulting on the Greenway Committee in town on efforts to transform and link an old rail spur into the network of bike paths across the region.
But that memory of the student who was unsure of his future also informs his daily life, and Rukakoski is an active speaker in sophomore Environmental Science seminars at UMass Amherst on the employment marketplace for graduates in the field. “I had no idea what I was going to do after I graduated,” he said. “Those options weren’t laid out to me. The seminar is an opportunity to let students know what they could be doing right now to ready themselves for the workforce marketplace.”
In other words, he’s helping the next generation to get their feet wet — literally and figuratively.
— Dan Chase

40 Under 40 The Class of 2012
Assistant Dean for Student Affairs, Western New England University College of Pharmacy

Spooner-JoshFor Joshua Spooner, taking a position at the nascent WNEU College of Pharmacy was a chance to get closer to home, as he and his wife both grew up in New England.
“I was working at the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy when I learned they were going to open a college of pharmacy here at Western New England, and I was very excited about that,” he said.
Once on board, he was part of a group that built the program from the ground up. He helped develop the faculty-student advising program, the student handbook and college organizations, and various marketing and promotional materials. More recently, “my role focuses on the admissions aspects, developing criteria for evaluating candidates for admission,” resulting in an initial class of 75 last fall.
“I also teach a couple of classes to first-year students: Introduction to Pharmacy, showing the different career avenues a doctor of Pharmacy degree can provide for them, and I also teach Health Policy and Delivery, which ties into my master’s degree in Health Policy,” he noted.
Spooner finds time for civic involvement, including support of food drives at his church, where he’s an assisting minister, and he also runs a sports Web site. But he devotes most of his time to building on the early promise of WNEU’s newest major.
“I have fun. No two days are the same,” he said. “I love being with the students — their energy is infectious. I’m not that old myself, but being around them keeps me feeling young and vibrant.”
He also recognizes the vibrancy of his chosen field; the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts the need for an additional 70,000 pharmacists over the next decade, a 25% increase. That potential can’t hurt his efforts to draw top pharmacy students to WNEU.
“I’m very happy where I am right now,” he said, noting that health care in general is heading into a challenging but exciting new era. “As the population ages, there’s always going to be demand for skilled individuals in the health care field, whether it’s in pharmacy, medicine, nursing, whatever.”
— Joseph Bednar

40 Under 40 The Class of 2012
Director of Public Relations and Social Media, Winstanley Partners

Stevenson-JacklynJaclyn Stevenson knew she would be a writer when she grew up.
“As soon as I was old enough to put sentences together, that’s what I wanted to do,” she said. “I had a little typewriter, and I was always making storybooks and newsletters. I had my mom take me to the store to make copies so I could deliver them to all my relatives.”
Indeed, the press passes she has collected over her career testify to one adventure in writing after another, whether covering Lebowskifest in Kentucky, chronicling Boston College’s first Frozen Four hockey title since 1952, or interviewing the likes of chef Anthony Bourdain or legendary hoops coach C. Vivian Stringer. Last year, the Mass. Council on Compulsive Gambling tapped Stevenson as a blogger for the National Conference on Problem Gambling, held in Boston at the peak of the casino debate.
As an English major, she heard all the warnings that writing wasn’t the best path to a secure career. “But it’s completely different now,” she said. “People with communication skills are in higher demand than ever before. I was able to become a writer, and even though my current position title isn’t specifically writer anymore, it’s still a huge part of what I do.”
A frequent speaker on blogging, social media, and other topics, Stevenson calls herself an early adopter of social-networking tools like blogging, Twitter, and Flickr, and they’re a big part of her work for Winstanley Partners, where she increased public-relations business for the firm by 117% from 2009 to 2010.
She also co-founded and organizes PodCamp Western Mass., a yearly conference that attracts the brightest lights on the new-media scene, and hosts Social Media Circuit, a biweekly Web broadcast on the Businews Channel.
In short, Stevenson — whose creative journey also included a stint as vocalist, violinist, and songwriter for the Cape Cod band Singer Bad Dancer — continues to find plenty of outlets for her boundless energy.
“As a kid,” she said, “I was a dreamer. I daydreamed and imagined things, and whatever was in my brain, I’d put on paper. And I still do that.”
— Joseph Bednar

40 Reasons to Feel Good About the Future

When BusinessWest started its 40 Under Forty Program just over five years ago, there were expectations — and also some trepidation.
We knew we could identify some rising stars in the region’s business, nonprofit, and entrepreneurship realms, but there were always whispers — and sometimes loud doubts — about just how deep the talent pool was.
As we introduce the sixth class of 40 Under Forty winners, it’s clear that the pool is quite deep — and also very inspiring. For those looking for positive signs that this region will have the young leadership it will need to grow and take on the many challenges facing municipalities in this global, information-based economy, the profiles beginning on page A6 should provide them.
Each of these stories is unique, but there are many common denominators, especially the twin desires to excel and make a difference in the community. Here are just a few examples:
• Carla Cosenzi, the high scorer among the more then 100 nominees. In business, she and her brother, Thomas, are not only continuing the legacy established by their father in the automobile industry, but they’re building upon it with the addition of a Volkswagen dealership in Northampton. In the community, she’s continuing another tradition — the Thomas E. Cosenzi Driving for the Cure charity golf tournament (named after her father, who succumbed to cancer several years ago), which has to date raised more than $200,000 in support of brain-cancer research;
• Ben Einstein, the serial entrepreneur who is devoting considerable time and energy to the cause of helping others get businesses off the ground and to the next level though his involvement with the Idea Mill conference, which is likely to become an annual event in this region;
• Eric Hall, the Westfield police sergeant who became the first law-enforcement officer to join a 40 Under Forty class. His passions are fighting and preventing crime, and helping young people make smart choices. He can often be seen sharing lunch with elementary-school students, and is now chairman of the board at the city’s YMCA;
• Jason Tsitso, who has helped R&R Windows battle back from the rough patch resulting from the Great Recession and its crippling impact on the construction sector. In the community, he took his passion for bicycling and channeled it into a fun — and highly successful — fund-raiser for Habitat for Humanity called Trails for Nails.
• State Sen. James Welch, one of the few public-sector leaders to become a 40 Under Forty winner. He has mastered the art and science of constituent service, especially in the wake of the June 1 tornado, the path of which closely approximates the district he represents.
• Sheila Moreau, who, with her mother, has helped shape MindWing Concepts into one of the more intriguing entrepreneurial success stories in recent years. What’s more, she’s making good on a commitment to serve the community in a number of ways, especially as a volunteer with the Holyoke St. Patrick’s Day parade. She even sings the national anthem at sporting events and community gatherings.
The other 34 stories are equally compelling, but these are representative of this year’s class. You won’t find the word in every profile, but the trait these young men and women share is passion — to achieve excellence, to innovate, to help others within our community, and, most importantly, to lead.
After reading these stories, you should feel at least a little better about the future of this region. Thanks to them, it looks very bright.

40 Under 40 The Class of 2012
Branch Manager, Raymond James Investments

Petrangelo-VincentVincent Petrangelo derives great satisfaction from helping people achieve their financial goals through investing. He also enjoys meeting people from all walks of life and building relationships with them and their families.
In addition to his role as branch manager at Raymond James Investments, he is a partner at DeVillier Petrangelo Wealth Management of Raymond James in Springfield. “It’s gratifying when people are faced with an obstacle or challenge and I can help them,” he said, adding that the knowledge he shares gives them “one more tool in their toolbox of life skills.”
Petrangelo is also vested in the city of Springfield. “I want our microcosm to become self-sufficient and successful, and want to help to break down walls and bring people together,” he said.
That goal, coupled with his desire to help young people, inspires his work on the Advisory Board of the YMCA of Greater Springfield. “The Y is about human development and learning life skills. As a parent, it’s important to me that people realize the depth and breadth of the Y and what it can do for every child,” said the father of Jake, 6, and Mia, 4. In that arena, he is also an active member of a committee tasked with building a new Y Express in Agawam, where he grew up.
Petrangelo also volunteers his time and expertise to Junior Achievement’s annual Stock Market Challenge each year. “Children are lacking in the area of basic financial management, and although this is a small sliver of the topic, it gives them a chance to become exposed to the stock market and how it works.”
He is a 3rd-Degree Master Mason at Elm Belcher Lodge, a volunteer and a title sponsor for the Western Mass 911 Tribute Golf Tournament, a member of Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity, and a former member of the Young Professional Society of Springfield.
Since childhood, he has enjoyed riding ATVs, dirt bikes, and other four-wheel vehicles. Today, his passion for motors and speed still runs strong — so he balances his conservative role at work by riding snowmobiles and motorcycles.
— Kathleen Mitchell

40 Under 40 The Class of 2012
Medical Director, Center for Human Development

Somers-NateSince being board-certified in both general adult psychiatry and child and adolescent psychiatry, Dr. Nate Somers has worked at some of the area’s most noted mental-health hot spots, from Providence Behavioral Health Hospital in Holyoke to the Carson Center in Westfield.
But his role as medical director of the Center for Human Development, which offers a variety of social and health services at numerous locations across Western Mass., has been his most challenging assignment yet — and one he has relished since accepting the job last fall.
As a doctor, he deals with patients — mostly young people, but adults as well — struggling with a variety of issues, from mental illness to substance abuse. “But, in terms of my administrative role, I’m trying to take this big agency and help everyone communicate internally better so we can coordinate services and serve people more effectively,” he said.
“What I find gratifying about this work is that we’re able to help people who have significant needs find a way to get through their lives in the face of very significant challenges,” Somers added. “It’s a good feeling when someone comes into my office and they’re clearly struggling, in tears, and they talk to me about the whole litany of difficult goings-on in their life, and I’m able to listen and get them some support and help them think through some ways they can make things better.”
Somers also stays busy with four children of his own, as well as teaching Sunday school at his church and coaching first- and second-grade basketball and teeball teams in West Springfield — in other words, impacting lives in a positive way outside of work as well.
Meanwhile, he takes a hopeful view of his job. “Many times, people leave my office feeling they can get through the next day, the next two days, the next week … they leave with some hope that things will get better for them over time.”
If he didn’t have the optimism to expect such outcomes, “I wouldn’t be able to do this every day,” he said. “It’s a very difficult job.”
— Joseph Bednar

40 Under 40 The Class of 2012
Project Manager, R & R Windows

Tsitso-JasonJason Tsitso has worked on countless projects large and small during his decade-long tenure with R & R Windows, but there was noting quite like the work undertaken at Springfield College last year in the weeks after the June 1 tornado roared through the campus.
Facing tight and extremely challenging deadlines, the Easthampton-based company, with Tsitso acting as project manager, played a critical role in enabling International Hall, a 12-story dormitory damaged extensively by the twister, to reopen on time for the fall semester.
The International Hall project, as well as Tsitso’s ongoing contributions to the company’s recovery from several years of struggle in the wake of the Great Recession, help explain why he is a member of this 40 Under Forty class and now part of several teams of spouses to earn the distinction (his wife, Sarah, was a member of the first class in 2007). But his exploits in business tell only part of the story.
Another intriguing chapter — one still being written — is his extensive work within the community. Perhaps the best example is his work to take his passion for bicycling and shape it into a successful fund-raiser he created and managed for Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity. Called Trails for Nails, the initiative, started in 2009, involves a mountain bike ride through Robinson State Park, with riders securing pledges for the miles they ride.
Through Tsitso’s leadership, the event has grown tremendously in each subsequent year, in terms of both ridership and dollars raised. In 2011, he took it to another level, creating a series of family-friendly activities known as Fitness for Families. These include the Hike for Habitat (to the top of Mount Tom); Trails for Nails, which now includes a 5K run as well as the 20-mile bike ride; and the Tour de Habitat, a 25-, 50-, and 100-mile road bike race. For all of this, Tsitso, now a board member for Habitat, was named the organization’s Volunteer of the Year for 2011.
Given the line of work he’s in, you could call all this a reflection of his strong commitment to the community.
— George O’Brien

40 Under 40 The Class of 2012
Principal, Elias Brookings Museum Magnet School

Powe-TerryThe signature statement on Terry Powe’s e-mail is “teamwork makes the dream work.” It’s a principle she believes in and one she heard frequently from her father as a child.
Powe employs the concept in every aspect of her life, which is devoted to helping children succeed.
The decision to leave her job as a literacy coach for the Springfield school system in its reading program and become principal of Elias Brookings Museum Magnet School in 2009 was difficult due to its history and the challenges she knew she would encounter. When she took the job, the school was deemed underperforming by state standards. But this year, double-digit gains in math as well as significant gains in English-language arts raised its status to ‘adequate’ for the first time in eight years.
It has not been an easy task, and Powe’s days are filled with difficult decisions. “But everyone who knows me knows that I get my strength from the Lord Jesus Christ,” she said, explaining that her father was a minister and she grew up in the church.
Her strong spiritual core has helped make her an “adventurous and multi-dimensional person,” evidenced in the variety of civic and volunteer activities she has engaged in.
Powe is a basketball coach for the Longmeadow Parks and Recreation Department, and was director of a Better Chance program in Longmeadow. In that capacity, she and her family — her husband, Maurice (a 40 Under Forty honoree in 2011), and children Tamira, Maurice Jr., and Maya — joined other members in giving young inner-city youths from New York and New Jersey a home while they went to school in Longmeadow.
She has also been involved in the Leadership Emergence and Development Program in Springfield that connects professionals with nonprofit volunteer opportunities, was a Cornerstone Coach, and has conducted school reviews across the nation.
“I dedicate a lot of my time and energy to helping children,” she said. ”It’s been a passion from the time I was little. I’ve always loved to help little people.”
— Kathleen Mitchell

40 Under 40 The Class of 2012
Massachusetts State Senator, First Hampden District

Welch-JamesThe tornado that roared through Western Mass. last June passed through several communities and neighborhoods. A common denominator for many of them is the fact that they lie in the First Hampden District.
That’s Sen. James Welch’s district, only he would never call it that. He contends that such positions belong to the people, not those who occupy them for two terms or even 20. And this is the attitude he’s taken with him through a career in public service that has also included stints as West Springfield city councilor, state representative (6th Hampden District), and as aide to former state Sen. Stephen Buoniconti before succeeding him in that role.
And while he’s seen and done a lot in public service, nothing fully prepared Welch for what transpired June 1, 2011 — although every career stop helped make him ready to effectively serve his constituents that were affected. And there were many of them. Indeed, the First Hampden District includes all of West Springfield, a community that was hit hard, as well as Springfield’s South End, Forest Park, and other sections that fell in the tornado’s path.
Welch said the twister and its aftermath provided many indelible images of devastation, but also innumerable — and inspiring — examples of people rising to the occasion and working together to help communities overcome adversity. And while he’s proud of the work he and others in the Legislature have done and continue to do to help people get back on their feet, he says his focus is always on the day-to-day aspects of his job description.
“What probably keeps me going every day is the interaction and constituent service,” he explained, adding that it’s been this way since he was a legislative aide. “And when I first got into public service, I didn’t necessarily understand what constituent service was. I’ve learned that it means being as accessible as possible to people when they do have an issue or a problem.”
Succeeding in that mission has made him an effective leader on Beacon Hill — and a member of the 40 Under Forty.
— George O’Brien