Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — The Advertising Club of Western Massachusetts’ trustees of the Order of William Pynchon announced their selection of four local residents as recipients of this year’s Pynchon medal.

“Our choice of these four remarkable individuals represents a collective concern and dedication to the past, present, and future of our region,” said Mary Shea, chairman of the Pynchon trustees.

Slated to receive the Advertising Club’s Pynchon Medal on Oct. 18 at the Log Cabin in Holyoke are: Craig Carr, one of the original incorporators of the Ronald McDonald House of Springfield; Sally Fuller, a tireless advocate for early childhood literacy; Robert McCarroll, a noted historic preservationist; and Ronald Weiss, who was instrumental in the creation of the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts.

The Advertising Club confers the Order of William Pynchon and the Pynchon Medal upon citizens of Western Mass. who have rendered distinguished service to the community. Recipients are nominated each year by members of the community, and are chosen by unanimous decision of the Pynchon trustees, who are Ad Club’s current and five past presidents.

Since 1991, Springfield’s Ronald McDonald House has hosted more than 12,500 families from around the globe, and since that time, Craig Carr has been maintained a consistent and dedicated commitment to the organization. In his letter nominating her for the Pynchon medal, Jack Dill, himself a Pynchon medalist (2016), noted that “there is little doubt that, without Craig’s formative and ongoing commitment, this facility, of such great importance to so many families, would neither exist nor have prospered over the past 30 years.”

Carr established the initial relationship with Ronald McDonald House Charities and helped organize the founding board of directors for the house and played an integral part in engaging Shriners Hospitals for Children and Baystate Health with the project. She was instrumental in raising the $2.3 million needed to establish the local Ronald McDonald House, and has been a tireless advocate for the house ever since. She is also secretary of the Ronald McDonald Charities Board of Western Massachusetts and Connecticut.

It should come as no surprise that the daughter of a high-school English teacher would value literacy. Or that before she spent more than a decade working with the Irene E. and George A. Davis Foundation on childhood-literacy projects such as Cherish Every Child and the Read! Reading Success by 4th Grade initiative. Sally Fuller has also been an active volunteer at local family- and community-oriented organizations such as WGBY, the Springfield Mentoring Partnership, the Pioneer Valley Girl Scout Council, Square One, Springfield School Volunteers, and the Ronald McDonald House.

The Cherish Every Child initiative aims to prime Springfield children for success as they entered kindergarten. Under her leadership, this was accomplished by creating an environment where educators, business leaders, elected officials, and others worked together, to, in part, ensure quality education for children under age 5, improve services provided to families, and create beneficial health programs for those children and their families.

Robert McCarroll has been described as the “protector of Springfield’s built environment,” and indeed, over the past four decades, with a career as city planner, and long-time volunteer with the Springfield Preservation Trust, Springfield Historical Commission, and Mattoon Street Arts Festival, he has worked tirelessly to make a measurable difference in the quality of life in Springfield while promoting the city he loves.

As a member of the Springfield Planning Department, he was instrumental in the creation of five of Springfield’s local historic districts, protecting more than 1,000 buildings; later as a member of the Springfield Historical Commission, he spearheaded the creation of four additional districts. He also successfully fought to preserve several historic buildings at the site of the MGM Springfield casino. He has instituted house tours, walking tours, and programs, as well as lecturing and leading public meetings introducing residents to the value of Springfield’s built environment and the economic benefit from its restoration and preservation.

For more than 30 years, Ronald Weiss has applied his talents to issues confronting area civic, artistic, charitable, economic, and religious organizations, and worked toward creating viable solutions that benefit the entire region.

Along with area banking, business, and civic leaders, Weiss formed the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts in November 1990. He authored the trust agreement that formed the foundation, creating a unique structure that allows the foundation to directly receive, administer, and distribute funds, and also allows financial institutions that are private foundation trustees to remain as trustees after their foundations become part of the community foundation. Since its founding, the foundation has grown to include total assets of more than $150 million, with nearly 2,000 contributions totaling $10.7 million in 2017. Foundation distributions in 2017 included $2.1 million in scholarships and loans to 800 students, and nearly 1,500 grants totaling $6.9 million.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — The deadline to nominate an individual or organization for the second annual Healthcare Heroes awards is today, July 9, at 5 p.m. To nominate someone, visit healthcarenews.com or businesswest.com, click on ‘Our Events,’ and proceed to ‘Healthcare Heroes.’

This recognition program involving the Western Mass. healthcare sector was launched last spring by HCN and BusinessWest. The program was created to shed a bright light on the outstanding work being done across the broad spectrum of health and wellness services, and the institutions and individuals providing that care.

Nomination categories include ‘Lifetime Achievement,’ ‘Emerging Leader,’ ‘Patient/Resident/Client Care Provider,’ ‘Innovation in Health/Wellness,’ ‘Health/Wellness Administrator,’ and ‘Collaboration in Healthcare.’ Winners will be profiled in both magazines in September and feted at the Oct. 25 gala at the Starting Gate at GreatHorse in Hampden.

Healthcare Heroes sponsors include American International College (presenting sponsor), National Grid (partner), and supporting sponsors Renew.Calm, the Elms College MBA program, and Mercy Medical Center/Trinity Health Of New England.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Valley Venture Mentors CEO Liz Roberts announced that she will be leaving her position as of July 13, at which time current chief operating officer Kristin Leutz will take the helm of the organization that has been dedicated to nurturing entrepreneurship in Western Mass.

Roberts plans to depart after a period of growth for Valley Venture Mentors (VVM). During her tenure, she launched the Startup Accelerator program, in which entrepreneurs receive five months of training, mentoring, office space, and access to equity-free funding. Entrepreneurs who graduated from all VVM programs generated $51 million in revenue and fundraising during the past three years, and created 500 full-time and part-time jobs over the course of 2017. The Startup Accelerator program earned recognition as a model rural accelerator by the Obama administration.

“I’ve always said that leadership is not a sprint, and it is not a marathon,” Roberts said. “It is a relay, and it is smart to pass the baton at just the right time. It’s not only the right time, but Kristin Leutz — with her expertise in management, passion for entrepreneurship, and commitment to Western Massachusetts — is absolutely the right person.”

Prior to joining Valley Venture Mentors as COO in 2017, Leutz served as vice president for Philanthropic Services at the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts, where she helped create programs such as Valley Gives. Leutz also aided entrepreneurs at VVM as a volunteer mentor for many years before joining the team. She has had a career in global philanthropy and business leadership spanning organizations like MassMutual and RefugePoint, a Cambridge- and Nairobi-based, globally recognized social-impact startup. She has led operations, fundraising, and marketing, and brings decades of experience to her role at VVM.

“I’m deeply honored to be given this opportunity,” said Leutz, “and I’m excited to work even closer with the amazing community of entrepreneurs and mentors that Liz Roberts has cultivated and engaged at VVM.”

The team includes Ronald-Molina Brantley, the former senior program manager for the city of Springfield, VVM’s vice president of Operations; Dorota Glosowitz, vice president of Programs, overseeing the Mentorship and Startup Accelerator programs; Stephannie Kirby, an alumna of VVM’s Collegiate Accelerator, as Program Manager; and Christian Setian, formerly of the Miami Dolphins, as the new Partnerships and Events assistant, working with VVM’s sponsors and volunteers from the community.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Thunderbirds were honored by the American Hockey League with four Team Business Service awards at a gala reception during the board of governors’ annual meeting at Hilton Head Island, S.C.

As part of its Team Business Services program, the AHL honored one club from each conference for top revenue growth in four areas during this past season: overall ticket sales, season-ticket sales, group-ticket sales, and corporate sponsorship sales. 

For the 2017-18 season, the Thunderbirds took home two Awards of Excellence in the areas of season-ticket sales growth and corporate sponsorship sales growth. This marked the second consecutive season that Springfield captured these awards.

“After an extremely successful first season, it was a lofty goal and challenge within our organization to achieve an award-winning second season,” said Thunderbirds President Nathan Costa. “These awards of excellence would not have been possible without the tireless efforts of our front office, but they also would not have come to fruition without the continued support of our fans and corporate partners. Their involvement with the Springfield Thunderbirds is pivotal to the success of our entire organization, and we are privileged to be able to share these honors with them.”

These awards came just weeks after the Thunderbirds received numerous honors at the 2018 AHL Marketing Meeting presented by ExteNet Systems in Des Moines, Iowa. At that meeting,the Thunderbirds received the AHL award for Most Unique Community Relations Promotion. This past March, Thunderbirds player Eddie Wittchow approached team management with the idea of presenting loyal season ticket holder Katrina King with specialty glasses that would allow Katrina, a legally blind fan, to have the ability to see the action — through her own eyes — for the first time in her life. 

Springfield was also recognized for achieving a greater-than-15% increase in per-game full-season equivalents, a statistic that tracks the combined sales of all ticket packages. The Thunderbirds’ corporate sales team also was recognized for having a greater-than-15% growth in corporate cash sponsorships generated in the market. The organization also was honored for reaching the benchmark of a greater-than-15% growth in per-game group-ticket-sales revenue for a second straight season.

On an individual level, Thunderbirds Senior Account Executive Matthew McRobbie beame the first Thunderbirds sales representative to be recognized as the Eastern Conference’s Top New Season Ticket Sales Executive. 

“It is fantastic that the Springfield Thunderbirds continue to be such a resounding success story in just two seasons,” said Thunderbirds Managing Partner Paul Picknelly. “These honors continue to validate the hard work of so many people who strive to make the Thunderbirds a must-see entertainment attraction in the city of Springfield. We want to thank our sponsors and fans for their continued loyalty to this team and this city.”

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Kimberley Lee, a recognized leader in the nonprofit sector of the Western Mass. region, has joined the staff of MHA, a nonprofit provider of residential and support services to people impacted by mental illness, developmental disabilities, substance abuse, and homelessness. Lee is taking on the newly created role of vice president of Resource Development and Branding for MHA.

“Kim Lee is the first member of our leadership team whose primary focus will be to develop our organization’s face to the community,” said Cheryl Fasano, president and CEO of MHA. “She is well-known to leaders of government, media, and business state-wide, and her achievements in building strategic alliances have resulted in new resources and innovative solutions delivered through nonprofit businesses. We are excited to have her on our team at MHA.”

Lee previously served in communications and development roles in several local nonprofit organizations, including CHD, Square One, the Basketball Hall of Fame, and the Community United Way. She has advanced these organizations and the people they serve with an active voice in the community and through vigorous advocacy achieved by constant policy influence at the local, community, and state level.

A lifelong resident of Western Mass., Lee earned her bachelor’s degree in mass communication from Westfield State College.