Daily News

Amherst Area Chamber to Celebrate A+ Awardees on Nov. 17

AMHERST — The Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce will present its 2022 A+ Awards on Thursday, Nov. 17 from 5 to 8:30 p.m. at the UMass Student Ballroom at UMass Amherst, with returning presenting sponsor Peoples Bank and major supporting sponsor UMass Amherst.

Each year, the Amherst Area Chamber bestows A+ Awards to individuals and organizations that enrich the life of the community through their work in business, education, and civic engagement across the area that the chamber serves: Amherst, Belchertown, Hadley, Leverett, Pelham, Shutesbury, Sunderland, and the Pioneer Valley as a whole.

“Our 2022 A+ awardees make us a better community and a better chamber,” said Claudia Pazmany, the chamber’s executive director. “Individually, they all choose to make contributions that improve our daily quality of life, and collectively, they remind us why building business and building community makes this the place we choose to live, work, and play.”

This year’s Legacy Award honors the United Way Franklin & Hampshire Region for a century of giving of an estimated $50 million through the Great Depression, World War II, the social upheaval of the sixties, the energy crisis, the Great Recession, and the COVID pandemic.

The Lifetime Achievement Award honors Angelina Ramirez for her significant contributions to Stavros Center for Independent Living of Amherst. Ramirez has led Stavros since 2019 as its CEO and has spent more than 30 years advocating for the Stavros community. She remained a steady force through the pandemic, ensuring Stavros never closed its doors.

The Leader in Innovation Award recognizes Joshua Rousseau as founder of Amherst Intelligent Security (AIS). As a UMass graduate and CEO and founder of AIS, he has consistently set the bar for great communication, creative solutions to problems, and encouraging the growth and success of individuals and businesses in the Valley. His software and team are changing the way companies work.

The Young Professional Award honors Taylor Robbins of the UMassFive College Credit Union. She has served as a big sister for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampden County and mentored through Entrepreneurship for All. Robbins is an active volunteer with the Clean River Conservation, the Hugh O’Brien leadership Group, the Cancer Walk at Polar Park, Dakin Humane Animal Shelter, and Amherst Survival Center.

The Community Service Award honors Sean Barry of Four Seasons Wines & Liquors of Hadley for his significant contributions to the community around food insecurity. He has been a supporter of Monte’s March in support of the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts for many years. In addition, he has supported Cancer Connection, Pioneer Valley Jazz Shares, Fragile X Foundation, Amherst Survival Center’s Empty Bowls event, the Porter Phelps Concert Series, local veterans, and the first-ever Ireland Forever Festival held in Northampton this year.

The Chamber MVP Award recognizes Kyle Dumas of Greenfield Savings Bank for his significant contributions to the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce, including his role as an essential member of the Margarita Madness committee. Beyond his work at the chamber, Dumas has been committed to his community, volunteers in many capacities, and exemplifies building business and building community.

Balazs Buszynak of Video Production by MVRK Productions, Powered by Seven Roads Media, is returning to create video tributes for each awardee.

The chamber will also honor its 2022 Cooley Dickinson Health Care & Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce $1,000 Scholarship Award recipients. Cooley Dickinson’s contribution ensures the scholarships go to four deserving seniors from Amherst Regional High School, Hopkins Academy, Belchertown High School, and Frontier Regional School pursuing business- and/or healthcare-related studies at an institution of higher education.

The 2022 A+ Awards are also made possible by committee members Heidi Flanders, chair, Integrity Development & Construction; Nancy Buffone, UMass Amherst; Joan Dahl Lussier, Homewood Suites; Jonathan Scully, Cooley Dickinson Health Care; Jessica West, bankESB; Lynn Gray, Hampshire Mall and Holyoke Mall; Kishore Parmar, Pioneer Valley Hotel Group; and Michael Gay, PeoplesBank.

Tickets cost $90 per person and $700 for a table of eight, and registration is open at amherstarea.com.