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SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Regional Chamber will hold its monthly [email protected] on Wednesday, March 2 at Chez Josef in Agawam. The keynote address, “The Human Wake-up Call,” will be delivered by 9/11 survivor Mike Jaffe.

Networking begins at 7:15 a.m., and the program begins at 7:55 a.m. The chief greeter will be Ed Nunez of Freedom Credit Union. [email protected] events aim to provide business and community leaders with a morning networking opportunity and educational topic.

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SPRINGFIELD — Marian Kent has joined American International College (AIC) as director of grants for institutional advancement. Kent is an attorney and professional writer whose career has focused on relationship building and fund-raising in the nonprofit sector.

Kent, who began her career in legal services, has long been committed to work in the social-justice arena. She previously served as executive director of Safe Passage in Northampton. She was a member of the annual fund team at Amherst College and, most recently, worked as grant writer for HAPHousing in Springfield. She earned her undergraduate degree and juris doctorate at the University of Pittsburgh.

Of making the transition back to higher education, Kent said, “I love working in the college atmosphere, and I’m behind the mission of AIC. The college has a dynamic student body along with faculty and staff who are both engaged and engaging.”

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GREENFIELD — The Connecticut River Watershed Council and Art for Water are creating a ‘river of words’ to draw attention to the federal re-licensing of five major hydroelectric facilities from Turners Falls to north of Hanover, N.H. This public-participation, community art project will tell stories to improve the ecological health and recreational opportunities of the Connecticut River. The public is invited to add their voice at Great Falls Discovery Center, 2 Avenue A, Turners Falls on Saturday, March 5 at 1 p.m.

“We are working together to bring a public-opinion art installation to the state and federal government,” said Andrew Fisk, executive director of the Connecticut River Watershed Council, noting that the government is in the process of making decisions about how these dams will operate over the next 30 to 40 years. “You have a unique opportunity to influence how 200 miles of the Connecticut River and its tributaries … will be managed, restored, and improved.”

At the art installation, he added, “we are building an inspiring and influential art exhibit that is made up of your stories and aspirations for our rivers. It’s called ‘The Power of Water, The Power of Words’ because our voices do have the power to influence positive change.”

To learn more about presentation, call (413) 772-2020, ext. 206.

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BOSTON — Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito announced $9.3 million in workforce skills equipment grants to 35 high schools, community colleges, and vocational training providers across the Commonwealth for vocational-technical education and training equipment purchases that connect Massachusetts students and residents to economic opportunities in high-demand industries.

“Workforce skills education and training plays an enormous role in economic and personal development by helping residents acquire the skills they need to connect with promising careers,” Baker said. “These vocational-technical education equipment grants will help build stronger communities and a more competitive business environment that ensures more residents have the skills they need to succeed in and support the Commonwealth’s economic future.”

Added Polito, “these workforce-development grants will build bridges between residents seeking careers to build a future on and the employers who need a skilled workforce to grow the state’s economy. Today, too many good-paying jobs are going unfilled because employers are struggling to find skilled employees. This investment in training equipment will enable high schools and community colleges across the Commonwealth to equip students with the skills they need to secure a bright future.”

The Workforce Skills Capital Grant Program is a new initiative of the Governor’s Workforce Skills Cabinet, which seeks to align education, workforce, and economic-development strategies across the state.

Western Mass. recipients of the new round of grants include:

• Berkshire Community College, Pittsfield, $465,119 to upgrade and modernize its manufacturing and engineering program, utilizing new hydraulics, pneumatics, electrical controls, materials testing, CNC, and 3-D printing equipment to train students and adult learners for careers in advanced manufacturing, engineering, and biotechnology;

• Dean Technical High School, Holyoke, $393,156 to transform its existing machine technology shop into an advanced-manufacturing shop that aligns with current industry practices and technologies, in order to connect Holyoke students to career opportunities in the Pioneer Valley’s skilled manufacturing workforce;

• Franklin County Technical School, Montague, $52,500 to revamp its computer programming and web-design programs and expand the programs’ capacity to reach adult learners;

• Lower Pioneer Valley Educational Collaborative, West Springfield, $257,100 to expand the capacity of its recently-founded high school Machine Technology Program, and to extend programming to adult learners, including unemployed and underemployed individuals facing barriers to employment;

• McCann Technical School, North Adams, $121,128 to revamp its welding and metal-fabrication equipment to train students for careers in Berkshire County’s aerospace, defense, commercial, medical-device, and power-generation industries, and enable re-training for unemployed workers;

• Roger L. Putnam Vocational Technical Academy, Springfield, $441,500 to launch a new program to equip students with the skills to enter the construction workforce, including training with heavy equipment; and

• Springfield Technical Community College, $499,785 to enhance training in its Laser Electro-Optics and Advanced Manufacturing Engineering Technology programs by creating an advanced-laser-machining laboratory and a one-year Laser Materials Processing Certificate of Completion, in order to meet the needs of the Commonwealth’s rapidly growing laser-manufacturing industry.

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EASTHAMPTON — Matthew Sosik, president and CEO of bankESB, announced that Kirsten Barkman has joined the bank as assistant vice president, portfolio manager.

Barkman most recently served as a portfolio manager at Chicopee Savings Bank, where she had been working since 2012. She has more than 15 years of experience in the financial industry. She earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Tufts University. She has also passed Level 1 and Level 2 of the Chartered Financial Analyst examinations, and she is a Risk Management Assoc. member.

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AGAWAM — Howard Bruck has been named president and CEO of Farm Credit Financial Partners Inc. (FPI). With 30 years of experience in general business and financial services, Bruck was most recently chief information officer with Sterling National Bank in New York, responsible for information technology and banking operations.

“The breadth and depth of Howard’s business and technology experience and expertise will bolster our collective and individual efforts to better serve our customers and continue to evolve our organizations,” said Bob Bahl, chairman of the board. “His vision builds on FPI’s 21-year history of providing technology to the Farm Credit System.”

Bruck has an MBA in accounting from Fordham University and a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Long Island University. He also served as an adjunct professor at Fordham University, teaching technology, information-management systems and security, and project and operations management for the past 10 years. He has also advised major corporations, investment managers, and technology providers in those areas.

“FPI has an impressive history of providing important technologies to the Farm Credit System for over 20 years,” Bruck said. “I am honored to have the opportunity to lead the organization as we embark into an exciting era of business-technology transformation. Realizing the opportunity to strengthen our products and services and support the business objectives of our customers will require us to be innovative, proficient, and competitive. A big part of my job will be to insure that we focus on creating and delivering great solutions and be recognized as thought leaders and valued partners.”

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SPRINGFIELD — Peter Pan Bus Lines welcomes Danielle Veronesi as its new marketing director. She will be responsible for overseeing Peter Pan’s Marketing Department, which includes but is not limited to creating digital advertising in multiple markets through multi-media platforms.

Veronesi brings more than 15 years of experience in the marketing and promotions industry. She previously worked at iHeartMedia, where she served as the company’s Marketing and Promotions director.

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HOLYOKE — They’re calling the event “A Night of Passion.” That’s a phrase that applies to both support for efforts to promote childhood literacy and a fondness for a particular food or beverage.

These various passions will come together April 5 at the Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House in Holyoke at Link to Libraries’ biennial fund-raising event. Proceeds from all ticket sales will go to Link to Libraries.

More than 500 people are expected to attend the event, which will be a celebration of all that Link to Libraries has accomplished since it was created in 2008 — including the donation of nearly 500,000 books to area schools and organizations — and how it intends to continually expand its mission in the years to come.

As for those passions for specific foods and drinks, they will be a focus of the night, provided by a host of area celebrities and business leaders, including Mike Mathis, MGM Springfield president and chief operating officer; Kevin Rhodes, Springfield Symphony Orchestra conductor; Spiros Hatiras, Holyoke Medical Center president and CEO; Delcie Bean IV, CEO of Paragus Strategic IT; Mick Corduff, executive chef and co-owner of the Log Cabin; Amy Royal, founding partner of Royal, P.C., and many more.

As for their passions, well, those are carefully guarded secrets at this point.

Those who would like to experience these passions and support Link to Libraries — which supplies books to schools and other organizations across Western Mass. and Northern Conn., and promotes read-alouds that put area business and civic leaders in area classrooms — can buy tickets for $40 each by sending checks to: Link to Libraries, Attn. Karen Blinderman, P.O. Box 958, West Springfield, MA 01090. All beverages are included in the ticket price. Food and beverages are donated by the Log Cabin.

Sponsors for “A Night of Passion” include lead sponsors Health New England and Rediker Software, and event sponsors Bacon Wilson, Bank of America – U.S. Trust, the Frank Stanley Beveridge Foundation, the Irene E. & George A. Davis Foundation, James Vinick, Monson Savings Bank, PeoplesBank, Peoples United Bank, the Springfield Falcons, and United Bank.

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SPRINGFIELD — The annual Melha Shriners Oriental Band Pasta Supper will be held on Saturday, Feb. 27 at 6 p.m. at the Melha Shriners Butterfield Auditorium. The event will include entertainment by the Interlude Duo, prizes, raffles, dancing, a cash bar, and more.

This event is open to the public, with tickets costing $15 per person or $25 per couple. Proceeds support the many works of the Melha Shriners Oriental Band. For more information or to purchase tickets, call Debbie at (413) 736-3647 or visit www.melhashriners.com/events/pastanight.

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SPRINGFIELD — Wolf & Co., P.C. announced the promotion of Ryan Gorman, CPA, to member of the firm. He has 15 years of experience in providing audit, review, and business-advisory services to middle-market businesses within various industries and ownership structures.

A significant focus of Gorman’s practice includes private-equity and family owned manufacturers, distributors, retail, and service organizations. In addition to his private-company practice, he also works with publicly traded companies and performs audits of employee benefit plans.

Gorman, a graduate of Stonehill College, is a founding member of Wolf’s audit quality task force, a committee established to ensure the company is equipped with the appropriate training, tools, and techniques to deliver effective, quality services.