Daily News

BOSTON — New technologies aimed at improving prostate-cancer diagnosis, enhancing employment services for job seekers with disabilities, and optimizing clinical-use treatments for melanoma patients could get closer to market thanks to $250,000 in seed funding announced by the University of Massachusetts.

Ten faculty research projects will each receive up to $25,000 from the Technology Development Fund, an initiative which helps to commercialize scientific breakthroughs throughout the five-campus UMass system. The fund is overseen by the Office of Technology Commercialization and Ventures (OTCV) at the UMass President’s Office in Boston.

The Technology Development Fund awards provide supplemental funding to help close the gap between UMass research discoveries and proven technology that address local, national, and global challenges.

“These faculty innovations showcase how UMass continues to realize long-term growth and achievement in its commercialization enterprise,” said Carl Rust, executive director of Industry Engagement and Business Development, who oversees the OTCV initiative.

Click here for more information about the awards and this year’s recipients.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — The Healey-Driscoll administration and MassTech have awarded Western New England University (WNE) a $1.37 million Tech and Innovation Ecosystem grant to establish an incubator that will drive innovation in financial technology, or fintech.

WNE’s new Springfield-based fintech incubator will bolster talent development in the growing tech sector; fund new, on-campus computing infrastructure for hands-on learning opportunities; and allow faculty and students to work directly with private-sector companies and other financial-sector organizations on real-world challenges.

The new incubator, a two-year, $2,125,000 project, will become a technical resource for fintech startups across the state, with an initial focus on those located in Western Mass. The $1.37 million state grant comes from the state’s Technology & Innovation Ecosystem Awards program, an initiative launched in 2022 and administered by MassTech to provide capital support for innovative projects like the fintech incubator.

“We want to make Massachusetts a more competitive place to live, work, and do business, and need to do everything we can to support the sectors where we are already leading, like financial services and technology,” Gov. Maura Healey said. “WNE’s new fintech incubator will help us connect the strong fintech assets that exist in Western Massachusetts to help accelerate the growth of existing companies, help new companies form, develop cutting-edge fintech tools, and prepare talented students for the workforce.”

The incubator will be managed by a team of WNE faculty who are deeply entrenched in the fintech space, which will allow them to quickly execute on the goals for the new facility, including establishing the incubator as an affordable option for fintech services and capabilities for small to mid-size businesses; working with businesses and nonprofits on fintech projects; assisting fintech startups in establishing their businesses in Massachusetts; increasing the number of graduates prepared for fintech careers, offering enhanced coursework and experiential learning; increasing fintech awareness in the existing workforce via professional-development courses and certificates for would-be entrepreneurs; and hosting an annual fintech innovation programming session across the state.

Daily News

LENOX — On Tuesday, June 20 at 7:30 p.m., Jewish Federation of the Berkshires will celebrate its work in the community at its 83rd annual meeting, which will be held this year at Shakespeare & Company’s Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre. A review of accomplishments from the past year will be shared, as well as a look forward to plans and goals for the year ahead.

Community members are invited to a celebratory reception, followed by a brief business meeting, board elections, and the presentation of the Simkin Schiller Scholarship to Jewish high-school seniors who demonstrate high academic achievement and leadership in the Jewish and broader communities.

The guest speaker will be Rabbi Aaron Fine, executive director of UMass Amherst Hillel, who will share his insights on “The State of Jewish Life on Campus.”

This event is free and open to all members of the Jewish community. The Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre is located at Shakespeare & Company, 70 Kemble St., Lenox. Visit the calendar of events at jewishberkshires.org for further details about this event.

Daily News

NORTHAMPTON — For the second year in a row, Cedar Chest, the anchor store in Thornes Marketplace on Main Street in downtown Northampton, will partner with food-justice organization Grow Food Northampton to ensure that community members grappling with food insecurity and hunger are able to access healthy, local farm foods all year long at Grow Food Northampton’s farmers markets, Tuesday Market, and Winter market.

The Grow Food Northampton SNAP Match program allows community members who use SNAP (formerly called food stamps) to more than double their purchase of nutritious local produce and other farm products at the weekly Tuesday Market farmers market behind Thornes Marketplace, and in the winter at the Winter Market at the Northampton Senior Center.

The ‘give $10, get $10’ promotion, beginning June 12, allows Cedar Chest customers to donate $10 to Grow Food Northampton’s SNAP Match program and, in turn, receive a $10 gift card to spend at Cedar Chest.

“The ‘give $10, get $10’ program is a fun way to collaborate locally and support the incredible work of Grow Food Northampton,” Cedar Chest co-owner Alex Feinstein said. “We welcome customers to join us in making a positive impact by simply giving $10 and, in return, receiving a $10 gift card. Together, we can nourish our community while enjoying everything Cedar Chest has to offer.”

Alisa Klein, executive director of Grow Food Northampton, added that “we are committed to ensuring that every member of our community, no matter their income level, has access to healthy, locally grown produce. We’re so grateful to Cedar Chest. Every dollar our SNAP Match program shares with community members who are food-insecure comes from generous business sponsorships and collaborations like this with Cedar Chest.”

Healthcare News

Introducing the Area’s 2023 Nursing Graduates

Hundreds of nursing students recently graduated from the area’s colleges. American International College, the American Women’s College at Bay Path University, Elms College, Holyoke Community College, Springfield Technical Community College, and UMass Amherst have announced the names of their 2023 nursing graduates. BusinessWest congratulates all of the graduates on their success.


Bachelor of Science in Nursing
Banyatie BahTraore
Kendal Bates
Rileigh Berneche
Abigail Carney
Erin Chase
Valery Cortes
Catherine Desrochers
Shannon Dion
Sean Dziuba
Brianna Fontaine
Briahna-Mary Hersom
Sophia Hess
Sara Howard
Yvonne James
Meghan Kalbaugh
Liza Lapko
Mildred Lefebvre
Ariana Martel


Phuong Mazza
Debi McEnaney
Morgan Miller
Jade Mitchell
Laura Moya Mejia
Maria Navarro
Sarah Newsome
Madison Paul
Alyx Pollard
Courtney Provencher
Julitza Rivera
Shannon Santos
Michael Shvetsov
Danielle Sica
Jennifer Tousignant
Genesis Vasquez
Luigi Zebrowski

Master of Science in Nursing
Amanda Allegra
Janessa Andrews
Cherise Antoine
Nicole Bagge
Kerilyn Barrios
Katherine Bean
Danielle Brouillette
Tamia Cheeks
Amanda Chen
Annmarie Goulas
Ashley Graveline
Bertram Henry
Christina Latorra
Joel Leconte
Emily Mendez
Christine Murphy
Judy Nham
Claribel Parra
Katherine Pawlowski
Muoi Petruff
Alycia Piedra
Kristen Robertson
Victoria Rondinelli


Bachelor of Science in Nursing
Angela Abbatemarco
Bethanie Deleon
Thea Gallagher
Shenell Gayle
Winnie Lopez Sanchez
Jane Marozzi
Christina Mbabazi
Jaime Richter
Samantha Sardella
Karen Scott
Salifyanji Thomas


Doctor of Nursing Practice
Colleen Barker
Monique Brunelle
Sylvia Darko
Hyemi Kim
Jill Kordas
Elizabeth Nantaba
Jason Reyes
Jenna Tymkowiche


Bachelor of Science in Nursing
Dianelise Acevedo
Courtney Adams
Rebecca Adjei-Nyame
Emma Agli
Priscilla Akuffo
Stephanie Alden
Gabriel Asare
Jonathan Bailey
Leah Barr
Marie Basil
Reyna Bautista
Yelena Bazukina
Chelsea Bergeron
Maggie Berrier
Jillian Russell Buendia
Anna Burgener
Nicholas Butera
Miranda Cadena
Sara Campbell
Alexandria Carmon
Madison Carra
Gabriela Chavez
Daisy Chege
Kristen Chianese
Emily Christie
Brian Cintron
Kelly Clare
Kathreen Collado
Danielle Collette
Dominic Colucci
Sarah Congden
Mikayla Costello
Rosemary Costello
Ashley Cronkhite
Cynthia Davis
Autumn DeBlois
Nicole DeFeo
Alyssa Dunham
Monica Esten

Adriana Ewig
Krystal Fitzgerald
Hayleigh Gagne
Emily Gay
Jennifer Girard
Ashley Girouard
Samantha Goncalves
Abigail Goodnow
Julia Grando
Tori Grano
Aleesha Grochoweski
Victoria Guay
Sara Guijarro-Sines
Lily Gyasi-Denteh
Maria Hernandez
Sydney Howard
David Ivanov
Taylor Johnson
Katie Jones
Miranda Kamukala
Alfiya Khuzhakhmetova
Caroline Kirk
Matthew Kisiel
Agata Kluk
Emily Krasinkiewicz
Connor LaFlamme
Rachel Lambert
Samantha Landry
Rheanna Lannon
Jayla Latham
Brittany LaVigne
Miranda Lebel
Michael Maggipinto Jr.
Taylor Malinowski
Flavia Marques
Jemma Marsh
Margaret Mathon

Kiana McDonald
Nicholas McElroy
Madison McGinnis
Kelsey Doray McMorrow
Mary Michaud
Lainey Mwangi
Sarah Nguyen
Ruth Njaaga
Caroline Njenga
Dekyong Nyandak
Solomon Tomeka
Parslow Oneka
Peter Otiende
Chynna Pacheco
Kayla Pasquel
Karlie Petlock
Meaghan Petty
Amber Piedra
Amy Pont
Danielle Poppel
Madison Quinn
Gabriela Rasuk
Michelle Redenz
Victoria Ricciardi
Deviyana Rivera
Kiara Rivera
Jocelyn Rodriguez
Mia Rotatori
Amanda Santerre
Shana Spratt
Daisia Stinson
Cassidy Sweeney
Alexander Szarkowski
Hanna Ton
Dawa Tsering
Josephine Yeboah
Yitian Zhang


Master of Science in Nursing
Jessica Abisla
Melinda Behrens
Lindsey Bowen
Tracina Brown
Kerrin Conceicao
Ann Covey
Erika Cisneros Cullen
Jessica Douglas
Michelle Ewing
Pamela Garrity
Rena Gilliam
Elaine Kalinowsky
Cassandra Keller
Kirsten Kennedy-Alvarado
Melissa Stewart Laws
Lia Long
Alexandra Marques
Caroline Mechan
Georgeann Natale
Pamela Neleber
Beth Osha
Courtney Peets

Deborah Pipan
Tara Schiller
Fawne St. Pierre
Ashley Stazzone
Nicholas Taylor
Brian Toia
Susan Williams

Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study in Nursing
Samantha Gilpatrick
Lori Gramolini
Carly Masse
Claudia Palframan

Graduate Certificate
Sandra Neubig
Fawne St. Pierre
Nicholas Taylor
Susan Williams

Doctor of Nursing Practice
Anne Albano
Louisa Asianmah
Jaime Caron
David Chastain-Stultz
Lacey Harding
Marina Hoag
Beata Kubacka
Yolanda Marrow
Laura Monette-Currie
Kathleen Pont
Lou Rios
Abigayle Sidur
Jennifer Stebbins
Melecio Tan Jr.
Jennifer Tarczali
Lynda Tenorio
Catherine Thresher
Ashley Williams


Associate of Science in Nursing
Latisha Abraham
Ahmed Aljanabi
Matthew Aube
Paris Beaudette
Ash Berman
Jessica Boulanger
Kathryn Cardin
Enette Claxton-Toliver
Michelle Cosme Serrano
Jacquelyn Crosler
Chelsea Daniels
Leigh Montemagni
Rosemary Dennis
Makailah Desharnais
Elissa Dingman
Lillian Doherty
Amber Doucette

Monica Drew
Yana Dyurteyeva
Samuel Farinloye
Madeline Fenderson
Jose Flores
Noelle Fournier
Alison Hansen
Lindsay Hawley
Billie Jackson
Jessica Tynea Johnson
Kaye-Loni Johnson
Tanner Johnson
Victor Koskey
Jenafer Kularski
Valeriy Kuznetsov
Jennifer Lagoy
Laura Levin

Becky Lexial
Vadym Malenkyy
Shelley Mather
Sam Methe
Courtney Munns
Kerry Jo Nagle
Crystal Pares
Maurice Ramogi
Jennifer Rivera
Jamie Schmitt
Amarilys Sepulveda
Briana Silva
Ryan Skowron
Jocelyn Soto
Jackie Tran
Mildred Velez
Evans Wangari
Megan Williams


Associate of Science in Nursing
Julia Bihler
Natia Bledose
Lori Borrego
Chase Boudreau
Olga Caraballo
Sharon Velazquez
Rossana Chum
Hope Connaughton
Chloe Connery
Brittany Cortis
Sandi Croteau
Leah Daisy
Alesya Danyuk
Julie Demoracski
Rebecca Ellis
Mariah Flores
Di Fu
Janice Garcia
John Graham

Savannah Granger
Madelyne Grunden
Rachael Hawley Gutierrez
Jameson Kebba
Ashlyne Khayesi
Maria Lajara-Cris
Diana Lane
Jasmin Lantigua
Elizabeth Lombardi
Taylor Lukas
Dana Lund
Ashley Maldonado
Alyssa Mansfield
Paskel McDonald
Danasha McKenzie
Robin Molina
Kayla Monroe

Leah Muise
Kristin Nothe
Dorothy Atieno Omondi
Janet Perez-Rivera
Brenda Pomeroy
Jessica Provenzano
Matthew Przybyszewski
Adam Quinn
Zachary Rajpold
Kavya Rejikumar
Joleen Rettura
Tifanie Rivera
Alexander Rokosz
Christopher Singer
Pavel Slivka
Waniekie Stewart
Melissa Stokowski
Samantha Trace
Thea Yvon
Anna Zelasko


Bachelor of Science in Nursing
Rachel Aalto
Brendan Barrie
Patrick Bartosiewicz
Emma Becker
Makayla Belfiore
Laura Berry
Allison Brightman
Andrea Callahan
Allison Cebollero
Alana Connelly
Alexa Cruz
Alex Dai
Ria Deshpande
Tess Downes
Robin Dupre
Anna Duquette
Kevin Farwell
Katerina Filipova
Jillian Flynn
Marcus Friedel
Lauren Gusmini
Casey Heinrich
Jackson Hicks

Caroline Kennedy
Jennifer Kovarik
Andrew Lachtara
Joyce Li
Piper Lieto
Sarah Los
Jenelle Marius
Lauren McGrath
Alyssa Mello
Sophie Meltzer
Cailyn Merrill
Victor Mora
Tiffany Nguyen
Julie Obeng-Nyarkoh
Galen Oey-Langen
Luna Peary
Julie Pehlert
Jason Pham
Christina Phillips
Tessa Robertson
Jessica Rodrigues
Emily Schroeder
Grace Seaborn
Matthew Serdy
Brianna Shepherd
Aaron Sherck

Jessica Smith
Zuzanna Stepnowski
Olivia Teh
Holly Tremblay
Kylene True
Jefferson Wermuth
John Wilson
Samantha Yee
Joshua Zelikman

Accelerated BSN
Denise Anderson
Hannah Buckley
Devante Clarke
Danielle Culver
Karla Garcia
Todd Ruby

Ronald Cruz
Robert Erardy
Michelle Gingras
Maryblessing Nnodim
Michele Ragston

Doctor of Nursing Practice
Olivia O’Brien Bass
Rebecca Brady
Mara Clawson
Christopher Diaz
Katherine Doherty
Alicia Ellis
Cori Fappiano
Alyssa Freeman
Stephanie Henry
Lorraine Howlett
Lucky Igbokwe
Sophia Khalifa
Kendra Lehman
Tara Moseni
Daniel Njuguna
Ronald Rollon
Emily Thomas
Mildrine Tulysse

Community Spotlight

Community Spotlight


Jennifer Nacht

Jennifer Nacht says Lenox’ tourist economy largely rebounded in 2022.


Heading into the high season for tourism in Lenox, Jennifer Nacht didn’t believe this community, home to Tanglewood and dozens of other popular cultural institutions, could do much better than it did last year when it came to filling up rooms at its large portfolio of hotels and inns.

Turns out, she was wrong.

Indeed, a seemingly insatiable appetite on the part of the public for some fun time off away from home, coupled with the relaxing of three-day minimums at many of those lodging facilities, has pushed the numbers even higher, said Nacht, executive director of the Lenox Chamber of Commerce, adding that, in many respects, Lenox started turning the clock back to 2019 last year.

“Last year was so busy,” she said, to the point where she wasn’t sure if 2023 could surpass it, but things are trending that way. “In talking with the inns, everyone is booked; they’re finding that people are waiting a little longer to book, but by Wednesday of the weekend ahead, the inns are getting completely booked up.”

Still, while the inns and hotels, many of the restaurants, and nearly all of the numerous outdoor attractions staged a full recovery in 2022, many of the theaters and galleries continue to make their way back, said Jaclyn Stevenson, director of Marketing and Communications for Shakespeare & Company, which operates on 33 acres in Lenox.

“In talking with the inns, everyone is booked; they’re finding that people are waiting a little longer to book, but by Wednesday of the weekend ahead, the inns are getting completely booked up.”

She told BusinessWest that most theaters struggled somewhat last year, with few if any sellouts, as the public was still wary about COVID-19, especially early in the summer.

“We didn’t have terminally light crowds, but the people just weren’t here — it was still a building year for theater,” said Stevenson, who also sits on the Lenox Cultural District Steering Committee. “Visitors were coming back to the Berkshires — outdoor recreation had a banner year — but a lot of the theaters and music venues still struggled; it didn’t feel like we were fully back to normal and where we wanted to be. It felt like we were at 75%.”

Early indications are that theaters will likely improve on last year’s numbers, she said, adding that ticket sales are climbing higher.

“We had a good year in 2022, but it was a rebuilding year,” she explained. “I’m feeling better about 2023 — our ticket-sale numbers are mirroring 2017, which was a good year for us.”

As summer commences, Lenox will look to build on the momentum it gained from last year, while also leaning on the lessons learned during the pandemic and the opportunities created by it, especially in the broad realm of outdoor dining, which was in many ways new to the community and came of age during that time.

Meanwhile, the chamber will continue to build on its multi-faceted efforts to market the community and bring people to it by spotlighting the myriad things to do and many ways one can fill a day — or several days — while visiting (much more on that later).

For this, the latest installment of its Community Spotlight series, BusinessWest takes an in-depth look at Lenox and how its economy, dominated by tourism, has made it most of the way back from the depths of the pandemic and is looking to set the bar still higher in the months and years to come.


Coming Attractions

Nacht knows all about being a business owner in Lenox. She was “one of the gang,” as she put it, the owner of the Scoop, an ice-cream and candy shop on Church Street, which she eventually sold to cryptocurrency tycoon Ryan Salame in 2021; he now owns several businesses in the community.

“I had skin in the game,” she noted, adding that, by then, she was already managing the chamber as well, putting the 40-year-old institution back on a path to better fiscal health and a more effective execution of its mission, which she described this way: “to be a full-service marketing firm for our members.”

And when she says full-service, she means it.

Shakespeare & Company

Shakespeare & Company has a robust slate of performances scheduled for 2023.

“If a member comes in and needs help with graphic design, we’ll do that, too,” she said, adding that, mostly, this work as a marketing firm involves promoting the community, its events, its cultural institutions, and a whole lot more. It does this in a number of ways, including a weekly email blast sent to a growing list of subscribers now numbering more than 1,700.

A quick look at the most recent missive, under the headline “All the Good Stuff to Know This Week from the Lenox Chamber of Commerce and Its Members,” reveals just how much is going on in this community as summer beckons.

There’s the start to the Lenox Farmer’s Market on Church Street, the Lenox Loves Music Sunday series in Lilac Park, the Lenox Wine Fete, which took place on June 3, the Summer Lenox Art Walk, set for June 10-11, a Community Conversation at the Lenox Library titled “The Impact of the Pandemic on Mental Health and How to Manage Moving Forward,” a performance of Dear Jack, Dear Louise at Shakespeare & Company, the Berkshire Mountain Distillers’ Summer Food Series, and performances of What the Constitution Means to Me, featuring two-time Tony Award-nominated actor Kate Baldwin, at the Berkshire Theatre Group’s Unicorn Theater in Stockbridge.

Then there are reminders about some of the region’s attractions, many opening for the summer, including the Mount, Edith Wharton’s home; the Wit Gallery; and ‘ghost tours’ of Ventfort Hall in Lenox, home to the Gilded Age Museum, as well as looks ahead to the Jackson Browne concert on Aug. 31 at Tanglewood (tickets went on sale June 1) and other events.

“We had a good year in 2022, but it was a rebuilding year. I’m feeling better about 2023 — our ticket-sale numbers are mirroring 2017, which was a good year for us.”

The list goes on and on. There’s even a reminder about wellness clinics offered by the Berkshire Humane Society.

The email blasts are part of just part of the chamber’s work to bring people to the region, said Nacht, adding that, while there are some service businesses and representatives of other sectors, the vast majority of the chamber’s 136 members are focused, on one level or another, on tourism and hospitality. They include hotels and inns, restaurants and taverns, theaters, art galleries, bookstores, summer camps, and more.

And while most of the chamber’s work on behalf of these members falls into the category of marketing, there are other initiatives as well, said Nacht, including work with town officials on business-related issues, such as a WiFi bylaw, quarterly meet-and-greets held in conjunction with the chambers in Lee and Stockbridge, and a recently staged job fair designed to help businesses navigate a still-difficult workforce environment.

Lenox at a glance

Year Incorporated: 1767
Population: 5,095
Area: 21.7 square miles
County: Berkshire
Residential Tax Rate: $9.16
Commercial Tax Rate: $13.03
Median Household Income: $85,581
Median Family Income: $111,413
Type of Government: Board of Selectmen, Open Town Meeting
Largest Employers: Canyon Ranch, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Kimball Farms
* Latest information available

“We had 20 tables of members who were looking for summer help, temporary help, permanent help,” she recalled. “And we had more than 100 people show up; it was really successful event — many of our members actually hired people from the job fair.”

Overall, though, most members are successfully “staffed up,” as she put it, thanks to returning college students and other applicants. And they will need to be as a summer that promises to be even better, from a business standpoint, is poised to begin.


Staging a Comeback

For the theaters and music venues, there is still some rebuilding to do from the pandemic, Stevenson told BusinessWest, adding that, while 2022 provided some steps in the right direction, there is certainly room for improvement in the upcoming season.

“Last year was tough,” she said, “and there was a lot of guesswork throughout the season: ‘who are we talking to?’ ‘Who’s here?’ Who wants to come?’”

Elaborating, she said COVID was still on the public’s mind, especially earlier in the summer, when the numbers of cases were still running high. Meanwhile, and as noted earlier in that rundown of all that is happening in Lenox and surrounding towns, there is a lot to do there, and individual venues and attractions are competing with one another for the time and interest of residents and visitors. And in 2002, “it felt like the crowds we were competing for were small and finite.”

There were other issues last summer, including weather — a windstorm cost Shakespeare & Company two performances, Stevenson said, adding quickly that the outlook for 2023 is positive, not just for theaters and other performance venues, but the region in general, as visitation continues to rebound from the COVID years.

Shakespeare & Company recently launched its new season with the two-person show Dear Jack, Dear Louise, she noted, adding that there is a full and intriguing slate of performances slated for this year. The first Shakespearian offering is a rendition of Henry VI Part 2, billed as The Contention. “Henry VI is said to be the inspiration for Game of Thrones, so we’ve been leaning on that a lot.”

Coming later in the summer are August Wilson’s Fences, featuring horror-movie icon (think Candyman) Tony Todd; Golda’s Balcony, a play about Golda Mier; a stage reading of Hamlet featuring Christopher Lloyd; and, in the outdoor theater, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, with a “late-’70s music spin,” she added.

Overall, there is a little something for everyone, a well-worn phrase that could also be applied to Lenox itself, said both Stevenson and Nacht, noting many new restaurants downtown and, overall, a calendar full of events and things to do.

In short, a community that took some huge strides toward making a full recovery from COVID is looking to take even more in the year to come.


Courting an Opportunity

Zelda Harris

Zelda Harris sees WNE Law as a natural progression in her career and mission.

Zelda Harris says she was already aware that Western New England University (WNE) was looking for a dean for its law school — a search firm had reached out to her.

But when a former student and mentee, who is working as associate dean of Law Student Affairs at WNE School of Law and was on the search committee to find the next dean, reminded her that the job was open and that she should look into the position, she took even more interest.

And her interest was already piqued because she already knew quite a bit about WNE and its law school — and saw the dean’s position as a unique opportunity, one that would eventually prompt her to leave the Windy City and the Loyola University Chicago School of Law, where she has taken on a number of positions, including interim dean, a post she held for a year until July 2022, and her current role as director of the Dan K. Webb Center for Advocacy.

Specifically, it’s an opportunity to work for a school that has “a great mission” that aligns with her work, specifically in the broad and important realm of experiential learning.

“Most of my experience, as a litigator, a practitioner, and an educator, have been in that space, making sure that students are prepared for practice by ensuring that they have quality experiential courses within the law school,” she explained.

Elaborating, she said that, while at the University of Arizona’s James E. Rogers College of Law, she “ran a law firm within the law school,” one that was dedicated largely to domestic violence but that also took on a number of other issues ranging from child-welfare matters to immigration to criminal defense.

“Western New England has a laser focus on experiential learning opportunities that are carried out through the clinics that are internal to the law, but also the amount of community engagement.”

“That’s experience that employers don’t necessarily want to pay the students for on the job,” she explained. “So if you can get them trained up on how to litigate or understand the professional dynamics of practice … that is what a modern law school not only should strive to do, but is required to do under our accreditation standards.”

Some schools do it better than others, and Western New England has developed a strong reputation in that realm, especially through the creation in 2019 of the WNE School of Law Center for Social Justice, which, through pro bono initiatives, assists marginalized, underserved, BIPOC, low-income, women, LGBTQ+, and immigrant communities.

Harris said she intends to continue and build upon a strong track record of excellence when it comes to the center’s efforts to strengthen collaborative efforts between the law school and the local region to work toward a more just, equitable, and inclusive society.

Harris, who is slated to start at WNE later this summer, although she is onboarding now and meeting with the law school’s leadership team on a weekly basis, takes the helm at a time when enrollment at law schools nationwide is at a crossroads of sorts.

There was a period of decline roughly a decade ago, but then a bump that coincided with the pandemic and the wave of social unrest that swept the country, she said, noting that many “felt that going to law school was a way to address issues of systemic inequity that was brought to the forefront.”

By most accounts, that bump is over, she said, adding that there are question marks concerning where the numbers will go in the months and years to come.

Meanwhile, there is evidence of growing need among those in many different sectors for the skills that law-school education can provide, she said, adding that there are master’s degree programs at many law schools that meet that need and have become increasingly popular, and she would like to bring them to WNE (more on that later).

For this issue and its focus on education, BusinessWest talked at length with Harris about this opportunity she’s seized and how she intends to build on the already-solid foundation at WNE Law.


Case in Point

Harris, a graduate of Washington University School of Law in St. Louis who began her practice as an attorney at the Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation in Alton, Ill., brings more than 30 years in law-school education and administration to her new role at Western New England.

She started at the Northwestern University Law School in 1992, where she was a senior lecturer, staff attorney, and adjunct faculty member. Later, at the University of Arizona and its James E. Rogers School of Law, she served as a clinical professor of Law and director of the Domestic Violence Law Clinic, a multi-disciplinary clinical program. She also co-directed the Child and Family Law Clinic.

“The number of people who are interested in law school, nationwide, are down in comparison to those pandemic years. But if you compare them to 2019, they’re level, and we’re even a few points ahead when it comes to interest at Western New England.”

At Loyola University Chicago School of Law, she has held numerous positions, but is perhaps most noted for her work overseeing all aspects of the Center for Advocacy, including work in collaboration with others to develop programs and curriculum in the areas of trial and appellate advocacy and alternative dispute resolution, while also overseeing curriculum development in both the JD certificate and LLM programs in advocacy.

She served as associate dean of Academic Affairs from 2018 to 2021 and, as noted earlier, served for a year as interim dean, overseeing all aspects of operation for the law school, which at the time had more than 1,200 students (undergraduate and graduate); 150 full-time faculty, staff, and administrators; and a $54 million operating budget.

The position at WNE represents an opportunity to come home, in some respects, said Harris, noting that both she and her husband are from Massachusetts (Newton and Cambridge, respectively) and were married in Williamstown. Beyond that, it’s an opportunity to take her career, and her ongoing work in experiential learning, in an intriguing new direction.

“Western New England has a laser focus on experiential learning opportunities that are carried out through the clinics that are internal to the law, but also the amount of community engagement — sending the law students out into the legal community, mostly in Springfield, to practice under the supervision of other practicing attorneys — and there’s an academic component as well, so the students are receiving academic credits.

“But they’re also providing a key service to the community because, as in all communities, there’s high demand and unmet legal needs among people who are unable to afford legal representation in the private market,” she went on, adding that it will be her goal and mission to continue and build on these initiatives.

Returning to the subject of enrollment, Harris said things have certainly “settled” since the sharp declines witnessed a decade or so ago, a phenomenon that, coupled with the retirement of many Baby Boomer lawyers, created severe challenges for firms looking to hire, challenges that persist today on many levels.

There was that surge that accompanied the pandemic, she noted, but recent data shows numbers returning to where they were in those years before COVID arrived.

“The number of people who are interested in law school, nationwide, are down in comparison to those pandemic years,” she noted. “But if you compare them to 2019, they’re level, and we’re even a few points ahead when it comes to interest at Western New England.”

As for who is going to law school these days, she said most are coming right from an undergraduate institution, although some are finding their way there after a few — or, in some cases, more than a few — years of work in various fields.

That’s the case at Western New England, she said, which has a robust part-time program that is attractive to working professionals that tend to be somewhat older than the mean for incoming law-school students — the mid-20s.

Meanwhile, there is, as noted earlier, growing interest in the skillsets provided by a law-school education, she said, adding that such training, through those master’s degree programs, is contributing to the professional development of those in many fields, while also opening doors career-wise.

“Take, for example, someone in the healthcare insurance industry — a field that’s adjacent to the law, if you will, but that person wouldn’t need a full law degree,” Harris noted. “Another example would be a social worker, such as those involved in the criminal-justice system; they don’t need to be a lawyer, but they do need to have legal knowledge in order to move up the ladder in their career or just be better practitioners for their clients.

“Those types of master’s degrees are not currently part of the programs at Western New England, but it’s something that I would like to explore,” she went on. “We’ve had great success with them here at Loyola; in fact, we offer them in an online format to make them more accessible to the working professional.”


Bottom Line

Creating such programs will require planning and resources, Harris said, adding that this will be one of many priorities she will address upon arriving later this summer.

Overall, she intends to do a needs assessment for the region, determine how the region’s only law school might address those needs, and then create a new business plan moving forward.

Her broad intention is to build on an already impressive record of success and set the bar — that’s an industry term — even higher.

Healthcare News

‘I Need to Be a Nurse’

Meghan Kalbaugh

Meghan Kalbaugh plans to progress toward her master’s degree while working full-time as a nurse.


Meghan Kalbaugh’s mother was a nurse who worked in emergency rooms and on patient floors at local medical centers, including Baystate, Mercy, and Holyoke. Her example was a quiet one.

“Surprisingly, we never really talked about it growing up,” said Kalbaugh, who graduated from American International College (AIC) this spring with a bachelor of science in nursing degree. “It was always just my mom; she was a nurse, and she would come home, and I didn’t really have it in my mind to be a nurse.”

But in high school, Kalbaugh participated in a healthcare-careers program, thinking she wanted to be a veterinarian. She eventually realized that wasn’t for her, but she stayed in the program because her parents convinced her to follow through and finish it.

“So, my last year, I became a CNA because the final year of the program is doing a CNA course that’s completely paid for because it was dual enrollment with Holyoke Community College,” she recalled. “Throughout the course, I fell in love with taking care of people and forming a really special bond with my patients. I came home one day, and out of the blue, I was like, ‘I need to be a nurse. I love this, and I want to further my education.’”

Kalbaugh’s original goal when she enrolled at AIC was pediatrics, and she still loves that work, but a labor and delivery rotation changed her mind, and that has become her preferred setting down the road. “But I’m actually starting my nurse residency at Baystate on July 24, and I’ll be in the heart and vascular unit, because labor and delivery wasn’t hiring new graduates. I figured going to a different unit will still provide me with valuable skills and experience. So I’m really excited; I’ll get some heart and vascular experience and then hopefully, within a year, move over to labor and delivery.”

The past four years weren’t easy for Kalbaugh and her classmates, she said, due to the disruptions caused by the pandemic.

“What draws me in is how rewarding it is, knowing I’m helping people and making an impact in their life and changing lives every day; I absolutely love that.”

“It was really, really hard doing it all online from home, especially not seeing the professors in person and not having lectures in person, and just being alone. The coursework was challenging, and that was a time when we all really needed each other, and we couldn’t be with each other. So it was hard, honestly, managing like the isolation from everyone. I’m a very social person, and I just wanted to be around my peers so we could help each other and talk about concepts and be able to like connect with our professors.”

That said, “I’m happy we got through it as a class and were able to come back in person. I was so relieved. I remember the day that they told us we could come back, and I was so excited. I thought, no more of this awful being alone.”

After all, Kalbaugh is, as she noted, a people person, and she values the connections she can make as a nurse.

“What draws me in is how rewarding it is, knowing I’m helping people and making an impact in their life and changing lives every day; I absolutely love that.”

That’s not the only draw for nurses these days. As hospitals and organizations struggle to fully staff and retain their nursing teams, career opportunities abound.

“Everyone is hiring, and they’re offering great incentives, sign-on bonuses, and there are lots of new positions opening,” Kalbaugh said. “There’s a lot of room for growth in healthcare, too, whether that’s climbing up to manager or supervisor or advancing your practice, like becoming a nurse practitioner. There’s a lot of room for growth.”

That’s why she’ll be back at AIC in the fall to start pursuing her master’s degree: to open up new avenues for career growth.

With a degree beyond the BSN, she noted, “you get to be an advanced-practice provider … and, obviously, there’s a better paycheck, and you have more autonomy. So I’m definitely going to keep going because I can see myself doing that, and I believe I have the capability.”

The three-year master’s program is fully online, except for clinical experiences, she explained, an ideal model for people who are actively working full-time or have children and families and other responsibilities.

“I like how it’s broken into one class at a time to make it more easily manageable for people who are working full-time like me,” she said. “So I’ll be working full-time at Baystate and doing this. My unit manager is pretty awesome; I told her I was going to keep going, and she seems like she’ll be very flexible with my schedule and hours, which is good.

“It’s a great way to keep people moving up and progressing as they learn because so much help is needed,” she added. “I mean, you need nurses working, but you can actually continue your education as well. That’s a cool model. And after my first year at Baystate, they’ll give me some tuition reimbursement as well, which is amazing.”

In short, Kalbaugh is a woman with a plan.

“I’m very excited, and also very nervous because it’s going to be a lot. But challenge hasn’t stopped me before, so I’m excited.”


—Joseph Bednar

Healthcare News

‘I Love the Profession’

Ashley Girouard

Ashley Girouard is gaining experience through Baystate’s SNAP program for new nurses.


To Ashley Girouard, seeing patients isn’t just treating them and sending them on their way. There’s a connection to be made in each encounter.

“I love making connections with my patients,” she said of her current work in an orthopedic unit at Baystate Medical Center. “A lot of these patients come in for routine hip and knee surgeries, and they’re healthy. And I love being able to talk to them. We’ll talk about sports, we’ll talk about their lives, their family, and I think it’s great. I love making those connections by talking to them.”

At Elms College, where she recently earned her bachelor of science in nursing degree and will soon add the title of registered nurse, Girouard followed in the footsteps of her mother, who made nursing her profession as well.

“I’ve always looked up to her. I see what she does day in and day out,” she said. “I know that I love caring for everybody around me, so I just decided to go into this profession … and I love it.”

Girouard currently works in the Student Nurse Associate Program (SNAP) at Baystate. SNAP nurses function in a supportive role to a registered nurse and work collaboratively with the healthcare team in the management of patient care. This position allows the student to gain experience in providing care to a diverse patient population and to develop strong communication and organizational skills.

Meanwhile, they perform direct patient care, obtain and record vital signs, collect laboratory specimens, document intake and output, communicate with patients and staff, promote patient safety, and function as a team member within the health system. Girouard appreciates the experience she’s getting through the program, not only in the specifics of orthopedics, but how to relate to patients. And she intends to keep learning, in a variety of settings.

“I want to get some med-surg experience, and I’ve always been interested in intensive care. And then I definitely want to go back to school,” she said, looking to move on to a master’s program. “My goal is to be a nurse practitioner.”

When asked why she strives for an ICU role, she said the “go, go, go” of the setting appeals to her. “These patients are very critical, and I’d like to be able to help them in any way possible, and just get them even a little better than they were in the morning.”

Taking classes and gaining learning experiences through the COVID-19 years was difficult, she admitted. “I’m a very hands-on visual learner, and having to learn from home in my room on a desk was not ideal at all.

“But we had amazing professors at Elms,” she added. “And they helped so much, all the time. They would have hourly extra time when you could go on Zoom with them, and if you needed help, they were always willing to help. I think the professors really made a difference. After all, they had to adjust to this big change as well.”

Even a period of mask wearing in class was a reminder that the pandemic wasn’t quite over, so being able to attend classes without masks this past year — and, more recently, work clinical rotations without them — have been pleasant reminders that life has returned to normal.

For health systems, of course, it’s still a very challenging time because of nurse shortages, as all the recent graduates we spoke with told us. And that means greater career opportunities for those entering the field, who are able to write their own tickets — with the right degrees of course.

“Even if there weren’t so many jobs out there, I still would be interested in nursing. I love the profession,” Girouard said. “But I think a lot of people want to go into nursing because they know they can go into deeper specialties like ICU or PICU, things like that.”

The work certainly requires certain traits, she said. “Definitely caring, for sure. And patience. If you don’t have patience, I don’t think this would be a good career choice for you; a lot of patients can be very difficult. And you need to be careful, too. A lot of errors can happen, and we learn in nursing school how important it is to prevent errors. It’s so easy to make a mistake.”

So, as Girouard ponders what might be next for her, both in the work setting and eyeing the next steps in her education, she’s walking into a world of opportunities as an RN with a healthy sense of caution and care, but not anxiety.

“I’m just so excited,” she said. “The last four years were so difficult, especially with COVID and working in the hospital during COVID. And now I get to go to work and not wear a mask. And I’m going to be a nurse, and actually take care of patients and be a difference maker.”


—Joseph Bednar

Healthcare News

‘I Always Wanted to Help People’

Jane Marozzi

Even after many fulfilling years in nursing, Jane Marozzi’s dream was to earn a BSN, so she did.


When Jane Marozzi says she’s been looking forward to earning a bachelor of science in nursing degree for a long time, she means it.

Because in her case, the BSN isn’t just the culmination of four years of college, but a highlight of a career that has spanned almost four decades.

Still, like other, more traditional graduates of area programs, her interest in a nursing career started early.

“I have a picture of me with a stethoscope at Christmas time when I was little,” Marozzi recalled. “I felt a natural draw to the field.”

So, after high school, she enrolled in a three-year diploma program at St. Francis Hospital School of Nursing in Hartford, Conn. and started her nursing career at its affiliate hospital, now operated by Trinity Health Of New England, in 1985.

Thirty-eight years later, she is celebrating earning her BSN at Bay Path University.

“I always wanted to help people,” she said of her long career, spent exclusively at St. Francis, first on the cardiac floor and then in maternity.

“Throughout that time, I got married and had children,” she said, but throughout her career, “I always wanted to get my BSN. After my parents had passed in 2018, I said, ‘I’m going to do it.’ Bay Path gave me such great flexibility, to be able to do it online five days a week. It was a lot, but it was doable.”

While nothing could replace a lifetime of caring for patients, “the nursing program taught me so much about wellness, diversity, nursing research, and community health, which was huge because I did not get that in my diploma program. I became a better writer. My leadership skills grew.”

Marozzi graduated in December 2022, and on Jan. 1, BSN in hand, she was offered the nurse manager position in the maternity unit at St. Francis.

With a few months in that role under her belt, and just a few months short of her 60th birthday, she’s glad she made the effort to earn that degree.

“I said to my husband, ‘why am I doing this? I’m 59.’ And he said, ‘you wanted this. Keep going.’ So there were professional reasons, but a lot of personal ones too.”

“I felt like the BSN nurse was looked at a little differently. It became my personal goal to strive for this, and as I got close to the end, I saw I had an opportunity to become a nurse manager,” she said. “I said to my husband, ‘why am I doing this? I’m 59.’ And he said, ‘you wanted this. Keep going.’ So there were professional reasons, but a lot of personal ones too.”

In both the cardiac unit early in her career and the maternity unit later on, she had opportunities to learn and grow into leadership roles; her last position before becoming nurse manager was senior clinical advisor, which was a mix of bedside and office duties.

As for that bedside role, she said it has changed a great deal over the years.

“The amount of computer charting, I think, has removed the nurse from the bedside. When I was first a bedside nurse, we gave backrubs — there was so much care we did. Now that kind of care is either missing or is in a nursing assistant role. There’s so much documentation now.”

She is intrigued by a ‘virtual nurse’ technology being introduced by Trinity Health at St. Francis later this summer, through which patients can be observed via a TV screen by a remote nurse, who can respond to needs right away and summon the right personnel into the room.

“I still jump out there if the staff needs me, to keep up on my bedside skills. I don’t want to forget what it’s like to be at the bedside.”

“I find that fascinating,” Marozzi said, but responding to patients’ needs has always been the heart of the nursing life for her. “I still jump out there if the staff needs me, to keep up on my bedside skills. I don’t want to forget what it’s like to be at the bedside.”

And her hospital, like so many others, needs nurses at the bedside.

“We’re getting graduate nurses, and we have a great training program here,” she added. “We try to bring them in early in their careers — student nurses, interns … we get them in, get them some skills, and maybe they will be interested in becoming a nurse.”

With nurse shortages a national concern, Marozzi is intrigued by the fact that hospitals are even bringing in LPNs for roles that previously required an RN.

“They don’t have the amount of nursing candidates that they need; it’s quite a different world right now. They’re looking for nurses,” she said. “Hospitals, we were told 10 years ago, didn’t take anyone unless they had the BSN. My whole capstone project was on how LPNs and team nursing are coming back. You need a team to get it done. And the LPNs have been just fabulous, giving medications, doing treatments, taking the pressure off registered nurses.”

Clearly, career possibilities abound in nursing — no matter one’s age.

“It’s definitely a great time to be a nurse,” Marozzi said. “There are so many opportunities for growth, and hospitals need so many nurses.”


—Joseph Bednar

Home Improvement

Reflecting on a Legacy

From left, partners Steve Girard, Jennifer Gagnon, and Bob Girard.Photo by Market Mentors

From left, partners Steve Girard, Jennifer Gagnon, and Bob Girard.
Photo by Market Mentors


To build a company and steer it to three decades of growth, one needs to be future-focused. But Steve Girard has been thinking a lot about the past, too.

“When you get to my age, you start thinking about your legacy,” said Steve Girard, president of Girard Heating and Air Conditioning, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2023. “I’m proud of the guys I’ve trained over the years who are doing great things in the industry — they can track their lineage back to me, and that means a lot. The other thing is, we’ve got customers who are grandparents, and we took care of their kids and then their grandchildren. I look at the generations of people we’ve helped, and in some instances, they almost feel like part of the family.”

Since opening his doors in Westfield in 1993, Girard said, the company has become the premier installer of ductless Mitsubishi Electric cooling and heating systems and has consistently provided service that exceeds customer expectations. It’s a legacy — there’s that word again — he says he’s continuing from previous generations.

Indeed, Girard began his career during his middle-school years when he worked for his grandfather, who owned a heating and cooling company. “I didn’t realize I was learning anything,” he said. “I thought I was just hanging out with my grandfather.” 

After enrolling at Westfield State University, Girard continued working during school breaks for the person who bought his grandfather’s shop. Realizing how much he knew about the industry, he took a summer job at Westside Air Conditioning. 

“It’s not like we came up with a recipe 30 years ago and just rode it out. We come up with a plan for three or four years, then we have to scrap it and come up with a new one.”

“I had a great summer and loved what I was doing,” he recalled. “I decided to continue working, and did not go back to college.” 

After being employed as an installation foreman for another company, Girard decided to start his own business. He brought his brother, Bob Girard, and his cousin, Jennifer Gagnon, into the business, and about a decade in, the three became partners in the company. 

“Having been a part of the business since its inception, I am so proud to see Girard thrive over the past 30 years,” Bob Girard said. “I’m excited to see what future successes lie ahead for our business.”

Steve Girard said one of the biggest changes he’s witnessed in the industry has been technology. “There’s just so much going on now with technology, connectivity, smart systems, and everything else. It can be daunting at times.”

He added that, over the past three decades, he’s had to adapt the business many times to meet consumer demands and trends, such as the recent interest in heat pumps (see related story on page 43).

“It’s not like we came up with a recipe 30 years ago and just rode it out,” he concluded. “We come up with a plan for three or four years, then we have to scrap it and come up with a new one.”