Nominations Sought for Difference Makers Class of 2017

Building on a Legacy


It was a moment — actually, several moments — that no one in attendance would soon, if ever, forget.

David and Marisa Balise had moved to the microphone at the Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House to offer reflections on how their father, Mike, who had succumbed to stomach cancer just a few months earlier, had lived a life dedicated to family, the New England Patriots, and philanthropy.

“It was a special moment for everyone,” said BusinessWest Associate Publisher Kate Campiti. “Several people had already talked about Mike’s contributions to the community and the myriad ways he gave back, but no one did it in a more powerful, more thought-provoking way than his own children.”

There were a number of powerful moments at the Difference Makers celebration staged last March, such as the introduction of retiring Hampden County Sheriff Michael Ashe, which was punctuated by a rousing standing ovation from those in attendance, including many members of the area’s law-enforcement community. And then, there was the tribute to Bay Path University President Carol Leary, marked by the passage “no one has been a more effective, more impactful, and more important leader for their organization.”

There have been countless other memories like these since BusinessWest inaugurated its Difference Makers recognition program eight years ago. And now, it’s time to begin the process of making some more.

Indeed, nominations (HERE) are now being sought for the class of 2017, members of which will be feted at the Log Cabin late next March.

Nominations, which must be submitted to BusinessWest by Nov. 16, should, in very simple terms, explain why the individual or group in question is a Difference Maker within the community called Western Mass.

And as the list that follows reveals, there are many ways to fit that description. Last year’s class of honorees, which also includes Big Brothers Big Sisters and John Robison, president of Robison Service and advocate for individuals on the autism spectrum, provides ample evidence of this. But over the years, those honored include other college presidents, leaders of a host of nonprofits, and business leaders known as much for what they do within the community as for their respective companies.

“We chose that name ‘Difference Makers’ for a reason,” said Campiti.  “It speaks to what these groups and individuals do, of course, but it doesn’t put any limitations on how those words can be interpreted.

“As we’ve seen over the years, there are countless ways to make a difference,” she went on. “The common denominator is that these individuals and and groups make this region a better place to live, work, and conduct business.”

Submissions will be reviewed by the team at BusinessWest, with the class of 2017 to be introduced in late January.

Details on the March Difference Makers celebration will be presented in upcoming issues of the magazine.

For the record, go HERE for a list of previous honorees.


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