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Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — It will be “Cherry Blossoms Under the Moonlight” for the 2021 City of Bright Nights Ball on Saturday, Nov. 13, when the event returns to MGM Springfield for the third time.

This morning at MGM Springfield, Spirit of Springfield President Judy Matt joined Shawn Pace, site manager for Eastman’s Springfield plant; Mayor Domenic Sarno; Chris Kelley, president and chief operating officer of MGM Springfield; Dennis Duquette, president of the MassMutual Foundation and head of Community Responsibility for MassMutual; sponsors; committee members; and members of the Spirit of Springfield board of directors to announce Shawn Pace as the gala’s chair and Eastman as the sponsor.

“We believe that supporting the Spirit of Springfield’s efforts to bring the community together in celebration, especially during these difficult times, is important,” said Pace, Eastman Indian Orchard site manager. “In addition to our other community contributions, we are proud to serve as sponsor of the 2021 City of Bright Nights Ball.”

Additional support for the City of Bright Nights Ball is provided by MassMutual, which was the lead sponsor of the 2019 gala and will serve as this year’s Chairman’s Reception Sponsor. Golden Circle Sponsors include American Medical Response, Baystate Health, the Colvest Group, Comcast, Country Bank, FR Investment Group, Gleason Johndrow Landscaping, Health New England, MGM Springfield, MP CPAs, New England Business Machine, Sheraton Springfield, and the Springfield Business Improvement District.

“We are gratified by the response from our sponsors and supporters who are happy that this unique event will happen again,” Matt said. “As with Bright Nights itself going forward last year, there is a feeling that people need a time like this, to come together safely and celebrate all that is good in Springfield and to continue to support the smiles that Bright Nights has generated. We are grateful for Eastman’s ongoing commitment to our community and the new relationship we are building with this international company.”

The décor and dinner will be themed with cherry blossoms. Andrew Jensen from JX2 Productions and Dan Stezko with his team at Flowers, Flowers! have been hard at work designing the look in flowing pinks and flowers. The culinary team at MGM Springfield, led by Executive Chef Chris Smigel, will serve a dinner featuring braised short ribs, pan-seared diver scallops, seared trumpet mushroom ‘scallops,’ and a dessert complete with a touch of cherry cotton candy.

For information about being a sponsor of the City of Bright Nights Ball or purchasing tickets, contact the Spirit of Springfield at (413) 733-3800 or [email protected].

Daily News

NATICK — Barr & Barr, a national construction-management firm, announced the appointment of Michael Moran as the new executive vice president and director of Operations for the New England Region.

Moran brings more than 30 years of experience in executive leadership, construction, real-estate development, and operations from multiple industries to Barr & Barr. He began his career after graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy and was commissioned in the Civil Engineer Corps (Seabees) of the U.S. Navy. He has worked in recreation, hospitality, health and wellness, and healthcare, where he last served as president and chief administrative officer of Baystate Health’s Eastern Region.

Stephen Killian, the current director of Operations of the New England Office for more than 18 years, strategically grew the company within the New England Region. He will be staying on to assist Moran in the transition, and will focus on key projects in the region.

Killian has personally known Moran for 18 years and assures clients and colleagues that Moran personifies the Barr & Barr core values of honesty, integrity, accountability, and passion. Moran is well-known as a leader, team builder, problem solver, strategist, and improvement specialist. From his past roles, he brings an owner’s perspective, as well as a future-focused vision, to the company.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Travelers heading to see relatives for the holidays between Maryland and New York City, or to do some sightseeing north or south, can now find Peter Pan Express service from Greenbelt, Md. to New York City in both directions.

This new Express service will give travelers a sigh of relief since the same route was abandoned by two other bus companies. As travelers get rolling again during the pandemic, Peter Pan offers safe and sanitized rides according to CDC protocols and contact-free boarding to key destinations. This could be a big deal for those who have stayed home because of the pandemic.

This service includes other stops along the way, running through Washington D.C.; Silver Spring, Baltimore, and Greenbelt, Md.; and New York City.

Tickets must be purchased in advance via the free Peter Pan mobile app at www.peterpanbus.com/app or online at www.peterpanbus.com. Information for the Greenbelt Metro Station can be found at www.peterpanbus.com/locations/maryland/greenbelt.

Peter Pan offers guaranteed reserved seating, mobile boarding instead of paper tickets, free onboard WiFi, multi-pass options for frequent travelers (www.peterpanbus.com/multipass), and 15% senior discounts (call 800-237-8747, ext. 1022).

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Throughout the month of August, Freedom Credit Union collected cash donations at all its branches throughout Western Mass. to benefit Unify Against Bullying, raising a total of $955.49 in support of the group’s mission to bring an end to bullying through the celebration of true diversity. The Springfield-based nonprofit organization provides grants to those who are in the best position to make a difference — children, parents, teachers, and administrators.

“Great strides have been made to shine a light on the problem of bullying, which affects children of every shape, size, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or physical ability,” Freedom Credit Union President Glenn Welch said. “We are proud that our members and staff came together to support the important work being done by Unify Against Bullying to understand and eradicate the stigmas surrounding differences that fuel the majority of bullying.”

Unify Against Bullying works to provide grant funding for schools and other programs where individuals are on the frontlines of potential bullying every day. By providing added resources, they hope to promote awareness and acceptance, show children that the days of ignoring or tolerating bullying are over, promote the celebration of differences, and come together as one community.

Debra Mainolfi, Freedom’s West Springfield branch manager, is a member of the board of directors for Unify Against Bullying.

Freedom’s September Month of Giving Campaign focuses on awareness and research for Alzheimer’s disease. Cash donations are being collected at all branches through Sept. 30 benefit the Alzheimer’s Assoc. Walk to End Alzheimer’s.

Daily News

HOLYOKE — Today, Sept. 23, BusinessWest will stage its annual 40 Under Forty Gala at the Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House in Holyoke.

Given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, a series of steps are being taken to help ensure the health and safety of all those who will be attending the 40 Under Forty Gala. The overriding goal is to create an event that will recognize these rising stars in the manner they deserve, but in a way that addresses the health and safety concerns related to COVID for attendees and Log Cabin employees alike.

Masks must be worn by all attendees when not eating or drinking or seated at their assigned table. All registration and check-in will be conducted outdoors, outside the main entrance. The popular VIP reception hour prior to the event will take place outdoors on the terrace located directly outside the Grand Edna Ballroom.

Finally, both indoor and outdoor seating will be utilized to create the ability for social distancing and spacing between tables: indoors in the Grand Edna Williams Ballroom and the Southampton Room; and outdoors (all tented) on the Grand Edna Terrace, the Southampton Room Terrace, and the Upper Vista (the event space above the Log Cabin that comes complete with breathtaking views of Mount Tom and the valley below).

The plan is to bring portions of the announcement of the 40 Under Forty class live to those in both the indoor and outdoor spaces. Streaming of the proceedings will be available to all those gathered at the Log Cabin and those wishing to join remotely (click here).

Daily News

LONGMEADOW — Bay Path University’s ninth annual Cybersecurity Summit will be held virtually on Friday, Oct. 8 from 9:30 to 11 a.m.

This year’s featured speaker will be Jessica Bair, director of Cisco Secure Technical Alliance. The topic of her presentation will be “You Have the Power to Design Your Life: How I Used a Career in Cybersecurity to Design Mine.”

To register, click here. Registration for this event is required, and details on how to join the webinar will be sent to registered participants before the event.

The focus of the presentation will be on how to enter, build, or enhance a career in the cybersecurity space. It will cover the skills required to start a successful career; the current career options in cybersecurity; the building blocks to grow a cybersecurity career path, including current certificates and education options; the mindset needed to navigate a constantly changing field; and strategies to cultivate mentorship relationships and expand networks.

Bair has more than two decades of leadership experience in security. As the director of Cisco Secure Technical Alliance, she and her team focus on building open ecosystems for SecureX and more than a dozen security product offerings. She also manages the Cisco team in the Security Operations Centers for the RSA Conferences and Black Hat global conferences. She began her career as a special agent and computer forensics examiner in the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command. She earned an MBA from Pepperdine University.

The Cybersecurity Summit is sponsored by Bay Path University, which offers undergraduate degrees in computer science, computer security, digital forensics, and information assurance, as well as a master of science program in cybersecurity management; and also by the Western Massachusetts Economic Development Council.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Today, Sept. 23, Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito will join Springfield Prep Charter School students, families, faculty, and partners for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the site of its newly renovated facility in Springfield.

The $20.4 million project will serve nearly 500 students each year from throughout the city of Springfield. The new, 50,000-square-foot location offers students and faculty access to facilities that support a college-preparatory curriculum, including classrooms designed for its unique two-teacher model, breakout rooms for small-group instruction, a full gymnasium with a stage for performances, and dedicated science, art, and dance rooms.

Baker and Polito will tour the school at 12:30 p.m. with a small group of school leaders and students. The formal ribbon-cutting ceremony will begin at 12:45 p.m. with a keynote address from Baker, followed by remarks from Polito. Addresses from the executive director, a student, a faculty member, and a board member will follow.

The school is located at 2071 Roosevelt Ave., Springfield. Parking is available in the school’s main parking lot (enter from Memorial Drive). The event will be held outdoors or in the school’s gymnasium in the event of rain. Masks will be required for all attendees, and seating will be spaced to allow for social distancing between attendees.

Daily News

HADLEY — Hampshire Mall and PiNZ are partnering with the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce to host the chamber’s September After Five networking event at PiNZ on Wednesday, Sept. 29 from 5 to 7 p.m.

Everyone is invited to come out for a night of networking and team building by engaging in some friendly competition with social activities like ping-pong, billiards, axe-throwing, bowling, and arcade games. Attendees will also be able to sample food from PiNZ’s new holiday menu and book their holiday parties at a discounted rate. A cash bar will be available.

“Our Amherst Area Chamber is thrilled to be able to return to PiNZ to host an evening of networking after nearly a year of closure,” said Claudia Pazmany, executive director. “Together, we will celebrate reconnection, reopening, and rebuilding.”

The featured local nonprofit for the evening will be Community Action Pioneer Valley. Tickets are $10 for chamber members and $15 for non-members. Advanced registration is available by clicking here.

Daily News

HOLYOKE — Many pre-retirees focus solely on their 401(k) and pension when deciding when to retire, but neglect to consider how they will find purpose and fulfillment in the next chapter of their lives. A person who retires at age 65 will be active for 20 years or more after leaving their full-time job. How will they fill those 2,000-plus hours they have previously devoted to their career?

Holyoke Community College (HCC) is offering a three-hour workshop on Wednesday, Oct. 27 that will address this major life transition. “Rewire: Finding Purpose and Fulfillment After Retirement” will meet in person from 6 to 9 p.m. in the Kittredge Center for Business and Workforce Development on HCC’s main campus, 303 Homestead Ave. The workshop will be facilitated by former career counselor Barbara Foster.

“Retirement is a transition not unlike a career transition where people need to reflect on their interests, preferred skills, and values to determine a new direction in their lives,” Foster said. “Today’s retirees are finding new interests and hobbies, volunteering, establishing new businesses, and pursuing new learning in this third chapter of their lives.”

The workshop will offer a series of exercises and self-assessments, as well as time to reflect, brainstorm with others, and develop goals and a vision for this new chapter of life. Participants will also leave with an extensive list of resources to explore.

To maintain safe social distancing, space is limited, so advance registration is required. To register, visit hcc.edu/rewire, or call (413) 552-2500 for more information. Note that masks are required in all HCC campus buildings regardless of vaccination status.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Significant funding for lead hazard control and abatement projects have been unused, and the city of Springfield and the Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts are alerting homeowners about the available grants and forgivable loans.

The program is aimed at removing lead from homes with children under age 6 and is available to homeowners and landlords as long as the tenants for the units qualify. Information on the program can be accessed by calling (413) 787-6500 or visiting www.springfield-ma.gov.

The Lead-based Paint Hazard Reduction Program provides funds to Springfield residents in the form of grants to single-family homeowners and forgivable loans for investor-owned properties. The city procures a licensed lead-abatement contractor for the work to be done and manages the project from start to finish, assisting the homeowner in overseeing completion. Work will result in a Letter of Full Deleading Compliance.

Lead paint is a major health hazard, especially for young children. Springfield is one of the highest-risk communities in Massachusetts for lead poisoning, based on the number of children identified as having elevated blood lead levels, the percentage of families living below 200% of the poverty threshold, and the percentage of housing built before 1978. The Massachusetts Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program assesses a community’s risk level annually.

The city-wide lead-abatement program is made possible through grant funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to the city of Springfield in order to create affordable, lead-safe, and healthy housing in the city to maximize the number of young children protected from lead poisoning.

“As a first-time homebuyer of a two-family home, I wanted to do some work to prepare the rental unit for occupancy,” said Wesley Swan, a Springfield homeowner. “Participating in the lead-abatement program allowed me to not only fast-track that rehab I had in mind, but also opened up the pool of tenant applicants I could move in. There’s a real benefit to removing concerns about future liability and just the peace of mind knowing that it’s lead-safe.”

To qualify for these lead-abatement funds, the homeowners for single-family homes, or tenants of investor-owned properties, must be income-eligible and have a child under age 6 or a pregnant woman residing in the unit or home.

For owner-occupied single-family homes, grants are given to approved applicants up to $20,000 for lead abatement. For investor-owned properties, approved landlord applicants are given funding in the form of zero-interest, forgivable loans, up to $13,000 per unit. The homeowner must remain in the home or continue to rent to qualified families for at least three years after work is completed.

According to Geraldine McCafferty, director of Housing for the city of Springfield, “the federal government continues to demonstrate its support for lead-paint-abatement services for low-income families, and it’s great to be able to share these resources with families in need with the funds the city now has available.”

As part of the outreach to Springfield residents about the lead-abatement program, the city and the Public Health Institute are also raising awareness about the dangers of lead paint when homeowners do renovation work themselves. Lead dust — not lead paint — is the top cause of lead poisoning. Any cut made into a surface painted with lead paint, even if the paint is covered by layers of newer paint, risks exposure to hazardous lead dust.

“Lead poisoning leads to long-term health impacts for children and for adults. During the pandemic, many people have started home-renovation projects not anticipating that they may be risking exposure to hazardous lead dust,” said Sarita Hudson, director of Programs and Development for the Public Health Institute of Western Massachusetts.

For information on how to protect yourself and your family during home renovations, visit springfieldhealthyhomes.org/lead. For more information and to apply for the lead-abatement program, call (413) 787-6500 or e-mail [email protected].

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — United Way of Pioneer Valley is holding volunteer signups for Day of Caring 2021, which takes place on Friday, Sept. 24. Volunteers may sign up at uwpv.org/doc21-events.

“There is a greater need than ever for kindness, good deeds, and building our sense of community this year,” said Paul Mina, president and CEO of United Way of Pioneer Valley. “I implore anyone with free time on or around Day of Caring 2021 to sign up and do good with us. Help our nonprofits, who have struggled greatly through the COVID-19 pandemic, and you will start your last weekend of September with the best night’s sleep you can find — knowing you’ve done a good thing when it was needed most.”

This year, Day of Caring sites include Chicopee Boys & Girls Club, Chicopee Child Development Center, Stanley Park in Westfield, Habitat for Humanity, Westfield Schools, Springfield Boys & Girls Club, Gray House, and YMCA of Greater Springfield, among others. Volunteers will be instructed to follow COVID-19 safety protocols at each location.

Learn more about Day of Caring, the United Way’s annual day of giving back, at uwpv.org/day-of-caring, or donate at uwpv.org/donate.

Daily News

HADLEY — UMassFive College Federal Credit Union introduced the two newest additions to its senior management team: Jeff Resnikoff, vice president of Lending, and Theresa Raleigh, vice president of Human Resources.

Resnikoff comes to UMassFive with more than 13 years of experience in the credit-union world following his long tenure at Hudson Valley Credit Union in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. Over his 13-year career there, he rose from Contact Center representative to eventually become the assistant vice president of Consumer Lending. He holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from State University of New York at New Paltz. Resnikoff takes over a loan portfolio of $400 million and will oversee all functions of the Consumer Lending department at UMassFive.

“In my view, the lending team exists to serve members by offering competitive products that meet the needs of the UMassFive community while simultaneously ensuring the financial stability of the credit union,” he said.

Raleigh comes to UMassFive from SeaComm Federal Credit Union in upstate New York, where she served as vice president of Human Resources for the past 16 years. She holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing from the State University of New York at Plattsburgh. She will oversee all employee hiring, training, recognition, and diversity program efforts at UMassFive.

“I believe great employees are critical to the success of the credit union and its member-first mission, and I’m thrilled to be a part of furthering UMassFive’s culture with such an engaged group,” Raleigh said.

Daily News

HOLYOKE — Dalkia Aegis, EDF Group, a leading provider of co-generation technology in the Northeast, hired Kim Lyons for the role of Client Relations manager. In this position, she will help Dalkia Aegis build and maintain relationships with current customers to better understand their goals and manage client needs. She joins the team with more than 15 years of experience in client-management positions.

“Kim’s advanced knowledge of how to provide for clients and an impeccable understanding of how best to handle customer service is what makes her a great match for this position,” said Lee Vardakas, president of Dalkia Aegis. “With her on the team, we look forward to strengthening our relationships with the customers we have, fulfilling and even anticipating their needs. Kim’s dedication to our clients is already apparent, and we can’t wait to see what she can accomplish in this role.”

Lyons is a graduate of UMass Amherst with a degree in psychology and sociology. She spent more than 15 years as a strategic accounts executive serving the automotive industry, providing advanced consultative needs analysis, sales, and long-term service. In her new role, she will manage the current accounts of Dalkia Aegis, helping clients achieve and maintain the best results from their investment.

“This opportunity allows me to flex my strengths and ensure optimal service for all existing clients,” Lyons said. “I am ready to take on this challenge and thrilled Dalkia Aegis has allowed me the chance to succeed.”

Daily News

BOSTON — The presidents of the 15 Massachusetts community colleges announced that students, faculty, and staff at the colleges must be fully vaccinated by January 2022.

“During the last 18 months, the Massachusetts community colleges have prioritized the health and safety of our communities while also recognizing that many of our students have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the presidents said in a statement shared with their campuses. “While a significant number of students, faculty, and staff are already vaccinated or are in the process of becoming vaccinated, the 15 colleges are seeking to increase the health and safety of the learning and working environment in light of the ongoing public health concerns and current guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Massachusetts community colleges are committed to ensuring vaccination status is not a barrier to students and will continue offering a range of virtual learning opportunities and services.”

The announcement comes amid a rise in the number of new cases of COVID-19 across the Commonwealth, the increased access and availability of vaccines, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s full and pending approval of available vaccines, and CDC guidance that the COVID-19 vaccine has been proven to be extremely safe and highly effective at preventing infection, severe disease, hospitalization, and death. The requirement is aimed at ensuring the safest learning and working environment possible for the more than 135,000 students served by the community colleges each year.

“The 15 community colleges across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts decided that this requirement was necessary given the changing conditions of COVID-19 and the Delta variant,” Holyoke Community College (HCC) President Christina Royal said in a message to the HCC community. “While there is no ironclad defense against coronavirus, extensive public-health research has shown that vaccination greatly reduces the risk of hospitalization and death.”

All Massachusetts community colleges will continue to make vaccine clinics available on their campuses for students, faculty, and staff.

HCC will continue to offer free COVID-19 vaccinations for the foreseeable future on its Homestead Avenue campus every Tuesday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. The college also offers COVID-19 testing six days a week on campus through the Holyoke Board of Health. Both vaccinations clinics and testing are available in parking lot N outside the Bartley Center for Athletics and Recreation.

Further, the colleges are committed to ensuring vaccination status is not a barrier to students and will continue offering a range of virtual learning opportunities and services, the statement said.

Students who seek to register for courses that do not include any in-person component, and who do not plan to come on campus for any reason for the spring 2022 semester, will not be required to provide documentation of vaccination. All employees will be required to be vaccinated.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Western New England University (WNE) will host a college fair sponsored by the New England Assoc. for College Admission Counseling on Tuesday, Oct. 5 from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Caprio Alumni Healthful Living Center located at 1215 Wilbraham Road, Springfield.

Representatives from more than 100 colleges and universities will be available to speak with high-school students and their parents about their respective institutions and the college-admission process. The event is free and open to the public. Masks are currently required.

Prior to the start of the fair, the university will host a free 45-minute College and Financial Aid Awareness workshop beginning at 5 p.m. in the Center for the Sciences and Pharmacy. “This workshop will give parents and students a great introduction into the entire college-search and financial-aid process — a process that can get confusing,” said Bryan Gross, vice president for Enrollment Management and Marketing at WNE. No registration is required to attend the free workshop.

All high-school students are encouraged to attend this college fair, the largest to be held in Western Mass. this fall. An up-to-date list of the colleges that have confirmed attendance can be found at www1.wne.edu/become-a-student/visit/college-fair.cfm.

Daily News

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. — American Eagle Financial Credit Union (AEFCU) announced $5,000 in total donations for two organizations based in Hampden County — American Eagle’s first service area outside of Connecticut. The Ronald McDonald House of Springfield and Springfield Partners for Community Action have each been selected to receive $2,500 grants from American Eagle’s donor-advised fund at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving.

“A few short years ago, American Eagle became the first Connecticut credit union to expand into Massachusetts, and we made a commitment to play the same active role within this community as we do in the rest of our member service area,” said Dean Marchessault, president and CEO of AEFCU. “The Ronald McDonald House of Springfield and Springfield Partners for Community Action provide tremendous assistance, care, and resources to Hampden County families. It’s our hope these grants will bolster their efforts and serve as a reminder of our team’s admiration for the organizations.”

Michelle D’Amore, executive director of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Connecticut & Western Massachusetts, noted that “we are deeply grateful to American Eagle Financial Credit Union for their support of the programs at the Ronald McDonald House of Springfield. This gift will truly make a difference for our children and their families who will need our ‘home away from home’ while being treated at area children’s hospitals.”

Added Paul Bailey, executive director of Springfield Partners for Community Action, “on behalf of the low-income residents that we serve in Springfield, we would like to thank American Eagle Financial Credit Union for their generous donation. The funds will be used to support our scholarship-program efforts, where for the past 18 years we have awarded 12 $1,000 scholarships to low-income high-school seniors and adult learners.”

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — State Sen. Eric Lesser recently joined state Sen. Adam Gomez, state Reps. Carlos Gonzalez and Orlando Ramos, and Margaret Tantillo, executive director of Dress for Success Western Massachusetts, to announce $25,000 in funding for the organization’s workforce-development program. As lead budget sponsor, Lesser secured this earmark in the FY22 budget that was passed by the Senate and House and signed into law by Gov. Charlie Baker in July.

Dress for Success’ workforce-development programs and services improve the employability, employment placement, and self-sufficiency of women who are unemployed and seeking to enter or re-enter the workforce.

“The pandemic has had a massive economic impact on women, and in particular, women of color. This past year, female workforce participation dropped to 56% — the lowest it’s been in over 30 years,” Lesser said. “Dress for Success Western Mass. helps women prepare for interviews, outfits them in professional attire, trains in digital literacy, and develops soft skills — things that we take for granted. The demand has never been greater. This funding will help them continue their mission, a mission that has never been more urgent.”

This funding will aid workforce-development programs that include employment suitings to provide applicants and newly employed women with professional attire; career-coaching and digital-mentoring programs that are designed to bridge access and knowledge gaps for each individual woman served based on her specific needs and obstacles preventing her from joining the workforce; and workforce-readiness curriculum that includes soft-skill development, professional and personal brand, social-media presence, task management and goal setting, interviewing techniques, and more.

“Dress for Success helps women in our community who are unemployed or looking to enter or re-enter the workforce. Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve shifted to a virtual format and added innovative ways to help our women gain access to technology and connectivity so they can succeed in our new digital world,” Tantillo said. “We are grateful for Senator Lesser’s continued support and for championing our women and helping to secure state funding to support our programs.”

Daily News

HOLYOKE — The Dowd Agencies, a leading insurance provider serving New England for more than 120 years, has acquired the Wilcox Insurance Agency, founded in 1923. The two organizations have merged their operations and will now be known as Wilcox-Dowd Insurance. This acquisition adds two more branches in Westfield and Feeding Hills, expanding Dowd’s locations throughout the Pioneer Valley to eight offices.

“We are excited that Wilcox Insurance has joined our team,” said John Dowd Jr., president and CEO of the Dowd Agencies. “They have a terrific reputation and a very similar past to ours as a family-owned agency for almost 100 years. Their approach of putting customers first and providing high-level insurance advice and counsel is consistent with the Dowd Agencies’ approach.”

Wilcox Insurance Agency was founded as Westfield Mutual Insurance Agency in 1923 by Raymond Wilcox, who was eventually joined by son Malcolm, grandson Scott, and great-grandson Robert, who now leads the agency under the Dowd Agencies umbrella.

“It is special to see two family centered-agencies merge together, keeping their important values intact,” added David Griffin Jr., vice president of the Dowd Agencies. “We want to give people and businesses the opportunity to have that small-town feel with big-agency experience when it comes to their insurance and finances, and the two Dowd-Wilcox locations will allow us to do that in more communities than ever before.”

The offices in Westfield and Feeding Hills are full-service insurance agencies providing personal, commercial, wealth-management, and employee-benefits products and services.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Thunderbirds and the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority announced a new lease agreement between the parties that will keep the MassMutual Center as home base for the Thunderbirds over the next four years, with the opportunity for a one-year extension.

“We are proud and excited to keep the MassMutual Center, a/k/a ‘the Thunderdome,’ as our home for the foreseeable future,” Thunderbirds Managing Partner Paul Picknelly said. “The past four seasons have seen the building host some of the greatest nights in Springfield hockey history, and we could not be more excited to create even more memories for our community in the years to come.”

The Thunderbirds, who will be entering their first season of a new long-term NHL affiliation agreement with the St. Louis Blues, will make their return to the ice for the 2021-22 season at the MassMutual Center on Saturday, Oct. 16 against the Hartford Wolf Pack. The opening-night festivities will begin with a pregame block party on Court Square from 4 to 6 p.m. featuring a live music performance from Trailer Trash. The Thunderbirds’ fifth-anniversary season then gets underway inside the MassMutual Center at 7:05 p.m., and all fans in attendance will receive a commemorative rally towel and be treated to a special pregame, full-team introduction. Tickets are available online and at the box office.

“We are proud and excited to continue our partnership with the Springfield Thunderbirds in the years ahead,” said David Gibbons, executive director of the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority. “For decades, the MassMutual Center has been hockey’s home in Springfield, and our partnership with the Thunderbirds continues a tradition of winning on the ice and in the community.”

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Since it was first published in 1983, Best Lawyers in America has become universally regarded as a definitive guide to legal excellence. The nationwide list of attorneys included in the upcoming 28th edition is based on more than 4.3 million confidential and detailed evaluations from more than 41,000 leading attorneys on the legal abilities of other lawyers in their practice areas.

This year, Best Lawyers recognized attorney Christopher Myhrum in the categories of environmental law and litigation – environmental. He has received this prestigious recognition every year since 1991.

Myhrum works with environmental consultants; federal, state, and municipal officials; and other lawyers seeking opportunities for learning and collaboration rather than acrimony and contention.

He is a magna cum laude graduate of Boston College Law School and a cum laude graduate of New York University. He is a board member of Westmass Area Development Corp., where he serves as a director and land inventory committee member.

Daily News

LONGMEADOWU.S. News & World Report’s 2022 Best Colleges ranks Bay Path University as a top-performing school for both social mobility and innovation in the Regional North Universities category.

In the report released on Sept. 13, Bay Path is ranked 26th in Social Mobility, increasing its standing by 42 spots from 2021. Social mobility recognizes the university’s strength at helping economically disadvantaged students succeed and graduate.

Bay Path also ranks ninth, moving up three spots, on the 2022 Best Colleges list of Most Innovative Universities in the North Region. In both of these categories, Bay Path was selected from a pool of public and private colleges and universities from New England, New York, and New Jersey.

“Bay Path University is about to celebrate its 125th anniversary. Our success — and longevity — has been directly tied to our commitment to provide our students with career-focused education that is innovative and relevant,” Bay Path President Sandra Doran said. “Many of our students are the first in their families to attend college, and our community — trustees, alumni, faculty, staff, and supporters of the university — work in concert to make sure our students are able to reach their goal of a college degree.”

The social-mobility rankings are calculated by assessing the six-year graduation rates of students who received federal Pell Grants compared with the graduation rate of other students. Those grant recipients generally come from households with annual incomes under $50,000. In 2020, 58.3% of Bay Path’s traditional undergraduate students were identified as Pell-eligible.

Bay Path has long been committed to fostering an environment that is supportive and inclusive, reflecting the diversity of its students. For the 2021 incoming fall class of traditional students, 55% are the first in their family to attend college, and 60% are diverse. The university offers numerous scholarship opportunities, as well as academic assistance and other supports, such as the ALLI program, which helps young women transition from high school to their first year as a university student, and an extensive peer-tutoring support system.

The Most Innovative Schools ranking recognizes institutions that have made “innovative improvements toward curriculum, faculty, students, campus life, technology, and facilities.” These rankings are provided by top college officials who select schools that the public should be watching because of cutting-edge changes they are making on their campuses. Universities must have received at least seven nominations to be recognized in this category.

Bay Path has offered a long list of innovative programs — including Women as Empowered Learners and Leaders, the Center of Excellence for Women in STEM, and the Center for Excellence in Information Assurance and CyberDefense — that prepare Bay Path students for future personal and professional success.

Business Talk Podcast Special Coverage

We are excited to announce that BusinessWest, in partnership with Living Local, has launched a new podcast series, BusinessTalk. Each episode will feature in-depth interviews and discussions with local industry leaders, providing thoughtful perspectives on the Western Massachuetts economy and the many business ventures that keep it running during these challenging times.

Episode 80: Sept. 20, 2021

George Interviews Delcie Bean, CEO of Paragus Strategic IT and the presenter for a recent BusinessWest Webinar

Delcie Bean

BusinessWest Editor George O’Brien has a lively discussion with Delcie Bean, CEO of Paragus Strategic IT and the presenter for a recent BusinessWest Webinar, sponsored by Comcast Business, called ‘Automation: The Time is Now.’ The two talk about the many ways businesses can benefit from automation of processes, everyday tasks, and more — especially during the ongoing workforce crisis — and how to get started. It’s must listening so join us on BusinessTalk, a podcast presented by BusinessWest in partnership with Living Local.

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Daily News

AMHERST — UMass Amherst announced it has received a gift of $21.5 million from the Elaine Nicpon Marieb Charitable Foundation. The university’s College of Nursing will become the Elaine Marieb College of Nursing, named for the late UMass Amherst nursing alumna and bestselling textbook author Elaine Nicpon Marieb.

The gift will advance the university’s innovative nursing engineering center and also provide support for student scholarships, an endowed professorship, and mentorship and research initiatives designed to further access, equity, and excellence in nursing education.

This is the largest cash gift in UMass Amherst history and comes after Marieb had previously made gifts of more than $2 million for campus-wide scholarships, totaling more than $23.9 million given to the university by her and in her name.

“We are deeply grateful for this extraordinary gift from the Elaine Nicpon Marieb Charitable Foundation,” UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy said. “This gift is an endorsement of the vital role that our College of Nursing plays in preparing nurses for leadership in healthcare. It comes at a time when our society is confronted with unprecedented challenges — challenges that we strive to overcome through innovation, learning, and discovery inspired by one of our most distinguished and beloved graduates, Dr. Marieb herself.”

Martin Wasmer, Elaine Nicpon Marieb Charitable Foundation trustee, added that the foundation “is excited to expand the legacy of Elaine Marieb by partnering with UMass Amherst in naming the Marieb College of Nursing. The innovative nursing engineering program currently being launched at the university was clearly the catalyst for capturing the interest of the foundation and is consistent with Elaine’s own spirit of innovation in learning.”

According to College of Nursing Dean Allison Vorderstrasse, “the Elaine Marieb College of Nursing at UMass Amherst will shape the future of nursing in bold new ways. We know that, in order to transform care, we must first transform education. As a center of discovery — and true to our namesake — the Elaine Marieb College of Nursing will inspire individual and collective growth as we help prepare tomorrow’s leaders and advance the field. The foundation’s gift is evidence of the stature of our program and the impact we have on our students and the community.”

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — A subsidiary of MassMutual has agreed to pay a $4 million fine to resolve accusations involving Keith Gill, the former employee who gained notoriety under the name “Roaring Kitty” on YouTube for his astronomical gains during the GameStop stock rally earlier this year, the Boston Globe reported.

MassMutual also agreed to overhaul its social-media policies to better detect whether its employees are in compliance with company rules on social media as part of an agreement with the office of Secretary of State William Galvin.

In an 18-page consent order signed on Tuesday, Galvin’s office portrayed MassMutual as repeatedly failing to detect Gill’s many social-media activities, including more than 250 hours of YouTube videos in which he detailed investment strategy.

Until his termination in January, Gill, a licensed broker-dealer, was responsible for creating educational material used by MassMutual as a marketing tool to attract new customers, the consent order says.

At the same time, Gill, in his spare time, used a half-dozen social-media platforms “almost exclusively” for “discussing, analyzing and promoting GameStop,” a brick-and-mortar video game, consumer electronics, and gaming merchandise retailer, the order says.

“Gill had gained tens of thousands of followers … and his social-media posts were oft-cited as a driving force behind the market volatility surrounding GameStop in late January,” the order continues.

MassMutual prohibits its broker-dealers from discussing generic securities and company business on social media. Gill made at least 590 security-related statements on Twitter, the order says.

According to the Globe, the secretary of state’s office also said MassMutual “failed to monitor or detect nearly 1,700 trades effected by Gill in the accounts of three other individuals,” an apparent violation of company rules, the order says.

In addition, the secretary of state’s office said MassMutual failed to detect that Gill made two transactions in amounts that exceeded the company’s limit of $250,000, the order says. Those two transactions totaled almost $1.5 million.

Galvin, in his office’s press release, noted that “MassMutual was not as diligent as it should have been in supervising its employees. It took the media less than a day to identify the person behind the Roaring Kitty posts, while his own employer took no notice of his online persona.”

Daily News

WASHINGTON, D.C. — At an event with U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Martin Suuberg, Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, and other local officials, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox announced a $250 million Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan to the Springfield Water and Sewer Commission. This loan will help improve water quality and reliability by rehabilitating aging infrastructure throughout the system while restoring a hydropower facility that will deliver renewable energy to the Springfield water-treatment plant.

“EPA is proud to partner on this project that will support a cleaner, safer, and greener Springfield while creating more than 1,700 jobs. With EPA’s WIFIA funding, these benefits will be realized years sooner than otherwise possible,” Fox said. “These wins for water quality, air quality, public health, and the local economy illustrate how the bipartisan infrastructure deal will accelerate needed upgrades to revitalize communities across the country.”

Neal added that “an investment in infrastructure is an investment in our future, and today’s announcement reinforces that. I am proud that the Springfield region is the first in the state to benefit from the highly competitive federal Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, receiving one of the largest awards from the EPA in the nation. This unprecedented investment will help build back our region’s drinking water and wastewater systems to be more sustainable and resilient in the face of climate change, protect public health and our environment from the risk of infrastructure failure, and maintain the long-term affordability of these critical services.”

The Springfield Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Renewal Program will increase system reliability and ensure that drinking water is safe and wastewater is safely returned to the environment by rehabilitating, replacing, and upgrading drinking water and wastewater-treatment processes. The program includes 30 integrated water and wastewater infrastructure projects that will support system reliability, resiliency, and regulatory compliance by removing disinfection byproducts and meeting new water-discharge limits. The project also enables the water-treatment plant to be powered by 100% renewable, self-generated energy by rehabilitating the hydropower facility, providing a green power source for the system.

EPA’s WIFIA funding allows the Springfield infrastructure renewal program to accelerate these essential system updates by approximately 15 years.

“We are facing an unprecedented and unavoidable need for reinvestment in our century-old drinking water and wastewater systems,” said Josh Schimmel, the commission’s executive director. “We view the WIFIA program as an innovative means to renew and adapt our utility to 21st-century challenges in an affordable and sustainable manner. The unique and flexible terms of the WIFIA program offer a once-in-a-generation opportunity to modernize all of our water infrastructure on an accelerated basis in order to reduce risks presented by 21st-century challenges such as climate change and regulatory compliance.”

The project will cost $550 million, and the WIFIA loan will finance nearly half of that figure. The remaining project costs will be funded by a combination of a $200 million loan from the Massachusetts Clean Water State Revolving Fund and system funds. The Springfield Water and Sewer Commission will save approximately $60 million from financing with a WIFIA loan, which enables the commission to continue to support residents in need through its customer-assistance programs. Project construction and operation are expected to create more than 1,700 jobs.

With this WIFIA loan closing, EPA has announced 59 WIFIA loans that are providing over $11 billion in credit assistance to help finance approximately $24 billion for water infrastructure while creating approximately 69,000 jobs and saving ratepayers more than $4 billion.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Regional Chamber (SRC) will partner with MassHire BizWorks, a division of the MassHire Department of Career Services’ Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, to offer a free educational webinar for businesses. On Tuesday, Oct. 5 from 8:30 to 10 a.m., participants will meet leading authorities and learn how the state’s economic-development programs can be applied to their businesses.

SRC will offer the webinar in collaboration with all chambers throughout Western Mass., including 1Berkshire, Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce, Greater Chicopee Chamber of Commerce, Greater Easthampton Chamber of Commerce, East of the River Five Town Chamber of Commerce, Franklin County Chamber of Commerce, Greater Holyoke Chamber of Commerce, Greater Northampton Chamber of Commerce, Quaboag Hills Chamber of Commerce, Greater Westfield Chamber of Commerce, and West of the River Chamber of Commerce. The webinar will outline the tools and resources that are available through MassHire BizWorks and local chambers of commerce to assist business owners.

Since its inception in 2012, MassHire BizWorks has enhanced and aligned the resources and services available to businesses throughout Massachusetts. BizWorks partners with agencies in workforce development, economic development, and education to help businesses grow and thrive. The BizWorks model offers assistance to employers for every stage of the business cycle. Services are available for business growth, expansion, maintenance, and downsizing.

“In this time of recovery, it’s critical that our business community take advantage of all the resources the Commonwealth has to offer, from job recruitment to hiring incentives; tax credits to workforce training, grants, and money-saving initiatives; and everything in between,” Springfield Regional Chamber President Nancy Creed said. “We’re thrilled to involve our members, along with members from neighboring regional chambers, so they can benefit from several money-saving services that are offered by Massachusetts and free for all businesses. Over the years, thousands of companies have profited, grown, and thrived because of BizWorks’ dedication.”

Ken Messina, of both BizWorks and the Department of Labor’s National Rapid Response Workgroup, will lead the webinar’s presentation. Messina has been with MassHire BizWorks since its inception and has started several initiatives, including the first Regional Rapid Response Summit and the Rapid Response Set Aside Fund program, and he developed the Massachusetts Rapid Response model that ensures consistency is maintained statewide. This model has been recognized nationally and duplicated in many other states. In his 30 years of experience, Messina and his team have served more than 12,000 companies, assisting with closings or layoff events that have affected more than a half-million employees.

To register for the free Oct. 5 webinar, click here.

Daily News

WEST SPRINGFIELD — The West Springfield Board of Health instituted a mask mandate for the city starting Friday morning — the same day the Big E opens its 17-day fair, the Republican reported.

The mandate requires face coverings in all indoor public places, as well as private places open to the public, regardless of vaccination status, for those age 2 and older.

“The Big E is not the only big event in this town,” said Dr. Heather Sankey, a Baystate Health obstetrician and Board of Health member, according to the Republican. “We have people traveling from other states to come to Costco or the hockey arena or whatever event we are doing, and it’s very important that we protect everybody throughout all of this.”

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Due to the ongoing pandemic, the Springfield Museums will postpone the 30th annual Ubora Award and Ahadi Youth Award ceremony, originally slated for Saturday, Sept. 18, until further notice.

“We would very much like to meet in person for this celebration,” said Gwen Miller, chair of the African Hall Subcommittee, which confers these prestigious awards. “We had a wonderful experience with a virtual award ceremony last year, but we are going to hold on until we can have a social gathering in person.”

The winners of the 2021 Ubora and Ahadi Youth awards for African-Americans with exemplary leadership in Springfield are Robert “Cee” Jackson and Tigist Dawit Terefe.

The African Hall Subcommittee is a volunteer group comprised of educators, business people, and community leaders from the African-American community. The group has administered this annual award since 1992.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Western New England University (WNE) has been ranked fourth in Top Performers on Social Mobility among National Universities in Massachusetts by U.S. News & World Report’s 2022 edition of America’s Best Colleges, an in-depth look at more than 1,800 institutions of higher education nationwide.

“This is a brand-new category for Western New England, and we couldn’t be prouder of this distinction,” said Bryan Gross, vice president for Enrollment Management and Marketing.

The Top Performers on Social Mobility ranking measures the extent that schools enrolled and graduated students who received federal Pell grants (those typically coming from households whose family incomes are less than $50,000 annually). According to U.S. News & World Report, economically disadvantaged students are less likely to finish college, and some colleges are more successful than others at advancing social mobility by enrolling and graduating large proportions of disadvantaged students who are awarded Pell grants.

“This category looks at the percent of entering students who are Pell-eligible and our six-year graduation rate among those receiving the Pell funding,” Gross said. “Our number was 32% on the entering class and 58% on six-year graduation rate, which is a solid number compared to our national peers.”

The U.S. News rankings focus on measures of academic excellence, with schools evaluated on hundreds of data points covering up to 16 measures of academic quality. Individual colleges and universities are compared with institutions that share similar characteristics and academic missions.

“Having moved from the Regional to National University category in 2020, I am pleased to see Western New England climbing the ranks and now competing at a much higher level with some of our prestigious neighbors — Harvard, Yale, and Northeastern,” said WNE President Robert Johnson. The university improved its overall ranking to 213th in the nation this year, moving up 14 places from 2021.

Western New England University College of Engineering continues to be top-ranked in the Undergraduate Engineering (no doctorate) program category. The ranking is based on survey results conducted by U.S. News of deans and faculty members of undergraduate engineering programs at peer institutions accredited by ABET, the engineering accrediting body.

“A university educates leaders, problem solvers, and lifelong learners that will adapt, compete, and thrive in careers yet to be imagined,” Johnson said. “As a national university, we offer the breadth and depth of a comprehensive institution, supported by individualized attention preparing graduates to be not only work-ready, but also world-ready as well. WNE is a quintessential model of the new traditional university.”

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Award-winning fiction writer and Springfield College Associate Professor of English Justine Dymond will read from her short-story collection, The Emigrant and Other Stories, on Thursday, Sept. 23 at 7:30 p.m. in the Forum, located inside the Harold C. Smith Learning Commons. The event will include a Q&A session with the author. This event is free and open to the Springfield College community and the public.

Described as “smart and subversive” and “a masterful collection from a gifted stylist,” The Emigrant & Other Stories ranges widely in setting and era, including France during World War II, Maine in the early 18th century, and Tennessee in the 21st century.

The Emigrant and Other Stories won the 2018 Eludia Award from Hidden Rivers Arts. In advanced praise for the collection, novelist Allison Amend noted that “her stories’ astonishing breadth in style, time, and place allow Dymond to examine from all angles the powerful drive that propels us away from the familiar.”

Dymond’s other awards and honors include a 2020 Mass Cultural Council finalist grant, second place in the New South prose-writing contest for her memoir about breast cancer titled Brave of Worms, a 2007 O. Henry Prize, a “distinguished” story in The Best American Short Stories 2006, two Pushcart Prize nominations, and a nomination for The Best American Travel Writing. Her stories have appeared in Pleiades, Massachusetts Review, Briar Cliff Review, Meat for Tea, Lowestoft Chronicle, and Cargo Literary.

Her co-edited collection Motherhood Memoirs: Mothers Creating/Writing Lives was published in 2013. She has been honored with grants and residencies from the Vermont Studio Center, Writers OMI at Ledig House, and Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing. On faculty in the Department of Literature, Writing, and Journalism at Springfield College since 2008, she is currently working on a novel based on the life of a woman who was tried for infanticide in Boston in 1733.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Delcie Bean says business owners have always had good reason to consider automation and what it can do for their employees — and their bottom lines.

But today, they have more reason than ever, he told BusinessWest, adding that technology and urgency combine to make this a time for business owners and managers to stop talking about automation and commence doing it.

“The labor market is so terrible right now that many organizations, in addition to trying to hire and figure that out, are also just having to figure out how to be leaner and how to be more efficient,” said Bean, CEO of Hadley-based Paragus Strategic IT. “So as you look at the state of the economy and the state of the job market, you have to ask: ‘how can I do more with less?’”

These sentiments comprise the main thrust of a virtual seminar to be presented by Bean, in conjunction with BusinessWest and Comcast Business, today, Sept. 15, at 11 a.m. To sign up for the event, visit businesswest.com/businesswest-virtual-webinar.

The program is titled “Automation: the Time Is Now,” and subtitled “How Automation Can Streamline Your Business and Offset the Labor Shortage,” and those words effectively and succinctly describe the material to be covered.

Indeed, the 60-minute presentation will focus on the benefits of automation and the ways it can be utilized to save businesses time, trouble, and expense, said Bean, adding quickly that many business owners and managers are not fully aware of the many ways automation can benefit them.

“In the small-business space, it’s usually the most boring, unattractive tasks you can think of,” he said. “But it’s the things that have to get done behind the scenes that you never really pay much attention to but take up a fair amount of time and energy.”

As examples, he listed everything from the many steps involved in onboarding a new employee or client to the information that has to be gathered when someone signs up for something on a website and then moved to another system, to the steps involved in the approval process when employees want to request a new computer.

All of this should be automated, Bean said, and with emerging technology, specifically the Microsoft 365 platform, it can be, to the point where these tasks and functions now take a fraction of the time they once did.

But technology is just part of the reason why now is the time to automate, he added, noting that the ongoing labor shortage has given more urgency to such matters.

“Rather than sacrificing quality or increasing stress and risking burnout, which can lead to even more turnover, businesses need to ask how they can leverage technology to help them solve some of this problem,” he said. “Reacting to the current situation, there’s never been a better time, both from the availability of the technology and the demand and the urgency of the situation, to look for ways to automate things.”

Overall, the virtual presentation is designed to educate and empower business owners to first identify those tasks and processes that can be automated and then take the steps to go about doing it, said Bean, adding that the program is targeted for businesses with 15 to 250 employees, which encompasses most of the companies in Western Mass.

“There is not an industry that isn’t applicable,” he concluded.

Daily News

NORTH ADAMS — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts’ continued commitment to an excellent, affordable education is reflected in the 2022 U.S. News & World Report rankings. The college has risen to seventh on the list of Top Public Colleges, and to 21st as a Top Performer on Social Mobility and first among all Massachusetts schools. MCLA also continues to appear on the list of Top National Liberal Arts Colleges.

MCLA has appeared on U.S. News’ list of Top Public Colleges for nine of the past 11 years. The college has also appeared on the publication’s list of National Liberal Arts Colleges for Social Mobility since the organization adopted this ranking in 2019. This list measures how well schools graduate students who receive federal Pell Grants, typically awarded to students whose families make less than $50,000, though most Pell Grant money goes to families with income below $20,000.

More than 45% of MCLA undergraduate students receive Pell Grants, and more than 40% are the first in their families to go to college. Nearly 85% of students receive some kind of financial aid.

The 2022 rankings represent a march upward for the college. In 2021, MCLA was ranked ninth on the list of Top Public Colleges, and appeared in the top 50 National Liberal Arts Colleges for social mobility.

“I am proud to see MCLA recognized again as a Top Public College, but I am more proud of the work we’ve done to continue to climb these rankings for nine of the last 11 years,” MCLA President James Birge said. “We have an excellent faculty body with expertise and dedication to a liberal-arts education. We have staff dedicated to student outcomes at every level and in every department. We have incredible programs that contribute to social mobility, helping our under-resourced students achieve a college education, which will help them earn more in their lifetimes, find fulfilling careers, and live meaningful lives. Public colleges help contribute to furthering economic equity every day, and we are proud to make this part of our mission as an institution.”

In recent years, MCLA has added new programs that help bolster student support. The TRiO Program, founded in 2020 and supported by a $1.2 million federal grant, works toward increasing the retention, good academic standing, and graduation rates of low-income and first-generation students, as well as students with disabilities. This program serves up to 160 students each year.

In 2020, in response to economic uncertainties brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, MCLA established the Resiliency Fund, which has to date distributed nearly $300,000 to 296 students in need. The college maintains a robust food pantry to combat student food insecurity, supported with student volunteer work and donations. The college also boasts more than 100 of its own private scholarships, including five new additions in 2020.

U.S. News ranks colleges based on indicators that reflect a school’s student body, its faculty, and its financial resources, along with outcome measures that signal how well the institution achieves its mission of educating students.

Daily News

HOLYOKE — Thousands of voters chimed in recently for the Daily Hampshire Gazette’s Readers’ Choice consumer polls, and PeoplesBank was named a winner in several categories, including Best Local Bank, Best Local Online Banking, Best Mortgage/Home Loan Provider, Best Green Business, and Best Place to Work.

“PeoplesBank is proud to play a role in making this a better place to live and work,” said Matthew Bannister, senior vice president, Marketing and Corporate Responsibility. “We truly thank our customers for their votes.”

PeoplesBank has made significant investments in customer service in recent years, adding new digital and contactless banking opportunities such as VideoBankerITMs as well as expanding its banking-center network in Northern and Central Connecticut. In each market it serves, the bank is well-known for its charitable and civic support.

Meanwhile, at the other end of Massachusetts, the Boston Business Journal named PeoplesBank a Top Corporate Charitable Contributor again in 2021.

“I really think what we do for the community, how active we are in the community, what we do for the environment, the level of engagement with employees — it shines, and it shows what an amazing place it is here at PeoplesBank,” said Michael Gay, vice president, regional manager.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — The Enterprise Holdings Foundation donated $12,143 to Square One in support of its Campaign for Healthy Kids.

The contribution is a piece of the Enterprise Holdings ROAD Forward commitment to allocate $35 million to more than 70 global Enterprise operating teams to drive local impact as part of its broader commitment to donate $55 million over five years to organizations that advance social and racial equity in the communities where it operates. The local grants program empowers employees to take the lead on identifying organizations that are best equipped to address social and racial equity gaps in their own communities across three areas: early-childhood development, youth health and wellness, and career and college preparation.

“We are proud to support Square One in its commitment to providing opportunities for children and families in Greater Springfield,” said Shawn Fleming, Group Human Resources manager. “Advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion is a company-wide priority for Enterprise Holdings, and we’re committed to strengthening our community with the help of outstanding organizations like Square One.”

This summer, Enterprise Holdings awarded its inaugural local ROAD Forward grants to nearly 700 nonprofits addressing social and racial equity gaps facing youth and families in local communities. Combined, the grants total more than $7 million.

“We were beyond excited to learn that Enterprise selected Square One to receive this very generous gift,” said Kristine Allard, vice president of Development & Communication for Square One. “Our success in serving the children and families in our region is dependent upon the generosity of business and individuals who recognize the need to support our important work. We are so grateful to the Enterprise Holdings Foundation for this amazing gift.”

The Campaign for Healthy Kids is a multi-year fund-development initiative focused on Square One’s commitment to providing healthy meals, physical fitness, social-emotional well-being, and a healthy learning environment. All funds raised will directly support the children and families who rely on Square One to help meet their early-learning and family-support service needs. The campaign includes numerous opportunities for businesses and individuals to become involved as donors and partners.

Square One currently provides early learning services to more than 500 infants, toddlers, and school-age children each day, and family-support services to 1,500 families each year, as they work to overcome the significant challenges in their lives. To make a donation, visit www.startatsquareone.org, or e-mail Allard at [email protected].

Cover Story Healthcare Heroes

Since BusinessWest and its sister publication, Healthcare News, launched the new recognition program known as Healthcare Heroes in 2017, the initiative has more than succeeded in its quest to identify true leaders — not to mention inspiring stories — within this region’s large and very important healthcare sector.

The award was created to recognize those whose contributions to the health and well-being of this region, while known to some, needed to become known to all. And this is certainly true this year.

Indeed, while some of the individuals, programs, and concepts highlighted in the stories below are known to familiar to many in this region, others are not, and they should be.

Collectively, these stories come down to a single word: passion. These individuals and groups have a passion for helping others in need. Their individual stories vary, but the common denominator is a willingness to step in, step up, be counted, and work tirelessly toward making a difference in the lives of others. We find these stories to be compelling and inspirational, and we’re sure you will as well.

Download the digital flipbook of the 2021 Healthcare Heroes HERE

We’re excited to celebrate our Healthcare Heroes on Thursday, Oct. 21 at the Log Cabin in Holyoke. Details on the protocols for that event will be announced in the coming weeks.

The Healthcare Heroes program is being sponsored by: presenting sponsors Elms College and Baystate Health/Health New England, and partner sponsor Trinity Health Of New England/Mercy Medical Center.

Presenting Sponsors

Partner Sponsors

Insurance

Expanding the Footprint

 

Berkshire Hills Bancorp Inc. and Brown & Brown Inc. recently announced the execution of a definitive agreement for the sale of the assets and operations of Berkshire Insurance Group Inc. (BIG), a subsidiary of Berkshire Hills, to Brown & Brown of Massachusetts, LLC, a subsidiary of Brown & Brown. The transaction is subject to customary conditions and is expected to be completed in the third quarter.

BIG has been providing insurance coverage to customers across the Northeast since its inception in 2000, growing into one of the largest insurance agencies in Western Mass. It provides personal and commercial property and casualty insurance solutions.

Sean Gray

Sean Gray

“Berkshire has entered into an exciting partnership with Brown & Brown through which we will be able to serve our customers better with an expanded offering of insurance solutions.”

“Consistent with Berkshire’s Exciting Strategic Transformation (BEST) program, this transaction allows us to simplify our operating model, repurpose valuable resources, and redeploy capital to support core businesses and strategic initiatives that will enhance long-term stakeholder value,” Berkshire Bank CEO Nitin Mhatre said. “As a result of this transaction, we will record a net gain on sale of approximately $0.55 per share on a GAAP basis in the third quarter, and anticipate $0.02 lower earnings per share in the second half of 2021.”

Sean Gray, president and COO of Berkshire Bank, added that “Berkshire has entered into an exciting partnership with Brown & Brown through which we will be able to serve our customers better with an expanded offering of insurance solutions. I also want to thank the dedicated team of employees at BIG, whom I’ve had the privilege of working alongside for the past 10 years, for their contributions to Berkshire and all our communities. I know they will continue to serve Berkshire customers well in their new roles with Brown & Brown.”

Brown & Brown has offered positions to existing BIG employees, resulting in no job eliminations. Following the acquisition, BIG will become a new standalone operation within Brown & Brown’s retail segment under the leadership of John Flaherty.

BIG’s offices in Greenfield, Longmeadow, Pittsfield, Stockbridge, and Westfield will continue to operate from their current locations, and its other locations will physically combine with existing Brown & Brown offices. In addition, through a partner relationship, Berkshire Bank will continue to refer customers to Brown & Brown. Don McGowan, a regional president in Brown & Brown’s retail segment with responsibility for various offices in Massachusetts and the Northeast, will oversee the new combined operations.

Don McGowan

Don McGowan

“This transaction allows us to further expand our footprint in Massachusetts with several new strategic locations that we believe enable us to better serve our customers.”

“This transaction allows us to further expand our footprint in Massachusetts with several new strategic locations that we believe enable us to better serve our customers,” McGowan said. “We are excited to welcome all of the talented BIG teammates to the Brown & Brown organization and look forward to finding fresh opportunities to offer a wide range of insurance products and services to new and existing customers.”

RBC Capital Markets is acting as financial advisor to Berkshire, and Luse Gorman, P.C. is acting as legal advisor to Berkshire on this transaction.

Berkshire Hills Bancorp is the parent of Berkshire Bank. Headquartered in Boston, the bank has $12.3 billion in assets and operates 115 banking offices, primarily in New England and New York. Brown & Brown Inc. is an insurance brokerage firm delivering risk-management solutions to individuals and businesses, and boasting more than 300 locations across the U.S. and select global markets.

Picture This

Email ‘Picture This’ photos with a caption and contact information to [email protected]

 


Stepping Up to the Plate

Pellegrini, Seeley, Ryan & Blakesley (PSRB) announced a corporate sponsorship with the Worcester Red Sox, geared toward providing support to the team’s charitable efforts throughout Greater Worcester and sponsorship of its community calendar. The firm shot new television commercials on Aug. 16 on the field at Polar Park, and also announced the continuation of its relationship with Red Sox legend Dwight Evans as PSRB’s spokesperson. Pictured, from left: Charlie Casartello, the firm’s managing partner; Evans; and Patrick McHugh, a partner at PSRB.

 


 

Local Legal Lights

 

 

 

The Hampden County Bar Assoc. (HCBA) held its annual meeting, vendor show, and dinner on Aug. 12 at the Springfield Sheraton Hotel. Pictured top: Joseph Pacella is sworn in as president of the association for 2021-22 by District Court Judge Philip Contant. Bottom: Tahirah Amatul-Wadud (center) is presented with the Massachusetts Bar Assoc. (MBA) Community Service Award by MBA President Denise Murphy and HCBA President Thomas Wilson. Fifty-year members of the bar were also recognized during the evening.

 

 


 

Agenda

Rally in the Alley

Every Thursday: Downtown Springfield will be the site for Rally in the Alley, a month-long outdoor ping-pong points league held on Market Street in collaboration with the Springfield Thunderbirds, NOSH Café, and Sweet Ideas Café. The first event of its kind hosted in the heart of the city, it will take place every Thursday from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. The event is free to participate in, and open to all ages. The matches will be round-robin style, one-on-one. Prizes will be given out each week, including Springfield Thunderbirds game tickets, downtown restaurant gift cards, Springfield merch, and much more. NOSH and Sweet Ideas Café will be open, serving dinner and drinks. Participants can sign up beforehand by visiting springfielddowntown.com or at the event. The Springfield Thunderbirds are the presenting sponsor, and Blue Haus Group is co-hosting the event.

 

Willie Ross School Grand Reopening

Sept. 17: Willie Ross School for the Deaf (WRSD) will hold a grand reopening and ribbon cutting for the newly completed renovation and expansion to its Sidney Cooley Administration Building from 10 a.m. to noon at 32 Norway St., Longmeadow. WRSD President and CEO Bert Carter; Dr. J. Robert Kirkwood, chair of the WRSD board of trustees; and George Balsley, vice chair of the board, will offer remarks at the event, which will also offer light refreshments and tours of the new space. The $2.5 million renovation and expansion took two years to complete and added a second story to its administration building that features new space for interpreters, an updated audiology center, a redesigned main entrance, improved wheelchair access, new space for the school’s Work Study Program, and upgraded administrative technology. The comprehensive renovation also included new landscaping of the property and replacement of windows and insulation to increase energy efficiency.

 

Community Shred Day

Sept. 18: Freedom Credit Union will once again to offer the opportunity for Western Mass. residents to securely purge unwanted paperwork. In cooperation with PROSHRED Springfield, Freedom is offering a free community shred day at two of its branches in Springfield and West Springfield. The event is slated for 9 to 10 a.m. at 296 Cooley St. in Springfield, and 11 a.m. to noon at 58 Union St. in West Springfield. The public is invited to bring old bills, bank statements, tax returns, and other sensitive documents for free, quick, and secure on-site shredding. Members and non-members alike may bring up to five file boxes or paper bags (per vehicle) to the events. Masks are not required for those who are vaccinated.

 

YMCA of Greater Springfield Golf Tournament

Sept. 21: The YMCA of Greater Springfield announced it will hold a golf tournament at the Longmeadow Country Club. The funds raised will support youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility through access to the YMCA. In addition to a round of golf, golfers will enjoy a grilled lunch at 11 a.m. and a dinner following the tournament. To learn more about registration and sponsorship opportunities, e-mail Donna Sittard, Development director at the YMCA, at [email protected], call (413) 739-6951, ext. 3110, or visit www.springfieldy.org.

 

Golden Bear Athletics Golf Classic

Sept. 20: The Department of Athletics at Western New England University will host the 22nd annual Golden Bear Athletics Golf Classic at Twin Hills Country Club in Longmeadow at 12:30 p.m. The cost for individual participation is $175 per person. Foursomes are welcome. The tournament will be a scramble format, and golf carts will be provided. Competitions during the day will include closest to the pin, straightest drive, and longest drive. There will also be mulligan tickets, a raffle, and a putting contest throughout the day. Each year, the Classic honors outstanding individuals who have made a positive impact on Western New England University and its athletics family. This year’s honoree will be WNEU President Robert Johnson. A cocktail reception and luncheon honoring him will take place upon tournament completion. For more information and registration or to learn about sponsorship opportunities, visit wnegoldenbears.com/landing/index.

 

40 Under Forty Gala

Sept. 23: BusinessWest’s 15th annual 40 Under Forty gala will take place at the Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House in Holyoke. The class of 2021 was introduced to the region in the magazine’s May 12 issue, and the profiles may be read online at businesswest.com. Event sponsors include Comcast Business, Health New England, the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst, Mercedes-Benz of Springfield, PeoplesBank, and Venture X..

 

United Way Day of Caring

Sept. 24: The United Way of Pioneer Valley has opened volunteer signups for Day of Caring 2021. Volunteers may sign up at uwpv.org/doc21-events. “There is a greater need than ever for kindness, good deeds, and building our sense of community this year,” said Paul Mina, president and CEO of the United Way of Pioneer Valley. “I implore anyone with free time on or around Day of Caring 2021 to sign up and do good with us. Help our nonprofits, who have struggled greatly through the COVID-19 pandemic, and you will start your last weekend of September with the best night’s sleep you can find — knowing you’ve done a good thing when it was needed most.” Learn more about the United Way Day of Caring at uwpv.org/day-of-caring, or donate at uwpv.org/donate.

 

Brew at the Zoo

Sept. 25: The Zoo in Forest Park will host its fourth annual Brew at the Zoo, presented by PDC Inc., from 1 to 5 p.m. Beer enthusiasts will enjoy a day at the zoo complete with unlimited beer samples from local craft breweries, a home-brew competition, food trucks, live music, games, and animal interactions. All the money raised through this event goes directly to support the 250 animals that call the zoo their home year-round. The event, which was canceled last year due to the pandemic, offers three ticket types: VIP, general admission, and designated driver. Attendees with a VIP ticket will enjoy an extra hour of sampling beginning at noon, the opportunity to participate in up-close animal encounters, and grain to feed the animals. This event is 21+. The zoo will be closed to the public on Sept. 25. Advance tickets are required, and IDs will be checked at the door. For a list of participating breweries and to purchase tickets, visit www.forestparkzoo.org/brew. Limited tickets are available.

 

Leadership Training Program

Sept. 28-30: Giombetti Associates, a leadership institute providing behaviorally based talent-development and acquisition services, will host the second of three three-day leadership training programs for 2021 at the Delaney House in Holyoke. This intensive course covers the power of Performance Dynamics and how it can help participants know themselves better; different leadership styles and what makes them effective or ineffective; the importance of being vulnerable and transparent; how to build interpersonal relationships; what effective onboarding is and how it will help participants’ organizations and employees; how to be an efficient communicator; the best way to deliver developmental feedback; building teamwork and the value of team building; and trust, integrity, and more. Prior to training, each participant goes through Performance Dynamics, an assessment that consists of three personality inventories designed to identify 17 different traits that drive personality and behavior. Then, in an interactive, one-on-one feedback session, the participant develops a newfound self-awareness of their behavioral strengths, learns how to manage their personality more effectively, and gains an understanding of how their personality impacts others. Throughout the three-day training, the participant is encouraged to constantly refer to and link their personality to the leadership issue being discussed. All the subject matter is wrapped around individual personality and how it affects behavior in different situations, yielding a unique experience of self-exploration. To learn more about the three-day leadership program, which has an additional session scheduled in November, visit giombettiassoc.com/three-day-leadership-training-program. Registration is now open for both sessions.

 

HCC Women’s Leadership Luncheon Series

Sept. 29, Oct. 27, Nov. 24: Holyoke Community College (HCC) will continue its monthly Women’s Leadership Luncheon Series this fall. During each session, participants will join prominent women leaders for discussions on relevant topics and ideas to help their leadership development. They will also have the opportunity to form a supportive network to help navigate their own careers. The fall dates and topics are:

• Sept. 29: “Do Something Every Day that Scares You” with Pattie Hallberg, CEO of Girl Scouts of Central and Western Massachusetts;

• Oct. 27: “Just Go for It,” with Helen Gomez Andrews, co-founder and CEO of the High End; and

• Nov. 24: “Journey to and from Exit Zero,” with Sharale Mathis, vice president of Academic and Student Affairs at HCC.

The cost of each session is $25, with the exception of the three-part Vision Board class with Turner, which costs $99. The cost for the full, six-session series is $120. Cost, however, will not be a barrier to participation. If pricing is an issue, contact Michele Cabral, HCC’s executive director of Business, Corporate and Professional Development, at [email protected] Space is limited, and advance registration is required. To register, visit hcc.edu/womens-leadership.

 

People on the Move
Dr. Lynnette Watkins

Dr. Lynnette Watkins

Dr. Lynnette Watkins, an ophthalmologist and healthcare administrator and leader, has been named president and CEO of Cooley Dickinson Health Care. Currently the group chief medical officer for the Baptist Health System/Tenet Healthcare – Texas Group, she will begin her new role at Cooley Dickinson on Sept. 27. Since joining Baptist Health System/Tenet Healthcare in 2017, she has been a member of a team that has provided executive oversight for the multi-hospital system that stretches across the state, with more than 3,600 beds and $3.45 billion in patient revenue. She also has significant leadership experience in community-hospital settings. In addition, Watkins has ties to Massachusetts and the Mass General Brigham system, having completed her residency at Massachusetts Eye and Ear, where she began her clinical career in ophthalmology and oculoplastic surgery and served on the faculty of Harvard Medical School. Before joining the Baptist Health System, Watkins held the position of chief medical officer and chief operating officer at Paris Regional Medical Center in Paris, Texas. She has also served as chief medical officer in Tenet’s Abrazo Community Health Network in Arizona. Her career as a healthcare executive began in Mishawaka, Ind., where she was vice president and chief medical officer for the Saint Joseph Health System/Trinity Health. Watkins earned her undergraduate and medical degrees at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and completed her internship in internal medicine at Truman Medical Center in Kansas City before coming to Boston in 1995 as a resident in ophthalmology at Massachusetts Eye and Ear. After residency, she completed a fellowship in oculoplastic surgery at the University of Iowa, then returned to Massachusetts Eye and Ear, where from 1999 to 2004 she directed the emergency ophthalmology service and walk-in clinic and was an attending physician in the Ophthalmic Plastic Surgery Service.

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Brian Rucki

Brian Rucki

Amanda Carpe

Amanda Carpe

Bacon Wilson announced that Brian Rucki and Amanda Carpe have joined the firm as associate attorneys. Rucki is a member of the real-estate team, and Carpe has joined the probate and estate-planning department. Prior to joining Bacon Wilson, Rucki spent five years practicing law in Westfield, where he worked on all aspects of real-estate transactions including purchases, sales, refinances, and title work, as well as estate-planning matters. Previously, he also served as a clerk in the solicitor’s office for the town of Agawam, where his work focused on municipal law. He attended Western New England University School of Law, earning his juris doctor laude in 2016. He earned a bachelor’s degree from UMass Amherst in 2013. Carpe comes to Bacon Wilson with five years of experience in estate planning, estate administration, guardianship, conservatorship, and residential real estate. She previously practiced in Ludlow and Worcester. In addition to her work in estates and probate, she clerked for the Hampden County Juvenile Court and interned with the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families, where her work focused on juvenile and child-welfare law. She earned her juris doctor in 2016 from Western New England University School of Law, and a bachelor’s degree from Wilkes University in 2013.

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Joseph Deady

Joseph Deady

Kaitlyn Malin

North Brookfield Savings Bank announced the promotions of Joseph Deady and Kaitlyn Malin within the Operations department. Deady has been promoted to Digital Services manager/fraud analyst. He will be responsible for ensuring the bank is using all possible digital products to align with its strategic goals and the needs of our customers, while overseeing account fraud. He joined the bank as a teller in 2011 and has held various roles, including supervisor and management roles and finally fraud analyst in the Operations department in 2015. Most recently, he held the title of Operations specialist and fraud analyst, handling debit-card fraud claims and account compromises and processing and reviewing international wires. Deady has more than 10 years of professional banking experience and holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. He is also ACH-certified. He supports his local communities by volunteering his time and attending fundraising events for local, community-focused organizations like Camp Putnam in New Braintree. Malin has been promoted to Operations specialist. She holds an associate degree from Mount Wachusett Community College. She previously held the position of Operations customer service representative, where she was tasked with answering customer calls and connecting customers and non-customers with appropriate staff to assist them. She also was responsible for reviewing all daily Operations reports. Before coming to the bank in November 2020, she worked as a teller at Athol Savings Bank. In her three years, there she assisted customers with transactions, concerns, and other inquiries. In her new role, Malin will be responsible for reviewing reports to mitigate fraud and risk for both the bank and customers as well as servicing customers’ online banking needs and completing account modifications such as travel notifications.

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J. Williar Dunleavy, chairman of Berkshire Bank and its parent company, will retire in September, the bank announced. He will be succeeded on the board of both the bank and Berkshire Hills Bancorp by David Brunelle, currently vice chairman. Brunelle is co-founder of Northe Pointe Wealth Management in Worcester. He has been on the board since 2017. Dunleavy took over as chair of the board in late 2019, when Bill Ryan, formerly the chief exective of Banknorth, gave up the position for health reasons.

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Joseph DaSilva

Joseph DaSilva

Richard Glejzer

Richard Glejzer

Jeannette Smith

Jeannette Smith

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) recently welcomed three new vice presidents to its executive team: Joseph DaSilva, vice president of Administration and Finance; Richard Glejzer, vice president of Academic Affairs; and Jeannette Smith, vice president of Student Affairs. DaSilva has worked in public higher education for more than 28 years, the last 21 at Springfield Technical Community College (STCC). During his tenure as vice president of Administration and chief financial officer, he provided executive-level vision, leadership, planning, and direction, and managed all aspects of fiscal operations, facilities management, Campus Police, Information Technology, Student Financial Services, and Human Resources/Employee Benefits and Operations Center. Glejzer was most recently the interim dean of Graduate Studies at Muhlenberg College, and previously served as provost and dean of Faculty at Marlboro College for 10 years. Prior to joining Marlboro, he served as professor and chair of English at North Central College and as chair of the college’s academic programs and policy committee. Among his other institutional duties, he served on the college’s steering committee and the dean’s academic advisory committee. He was a faculty liaison to the board of trustees. Earlier in his career at North Central, Glejzer revised the composition program as the director of Writing. Smith is a scholar-practitioner with 16 years of work experience in higher education, having worked most recently as the associate dean of Student Affairs and Engagement at Evergreen State College. She was previously employed at Truckee Meadows Community College, the University of Nevada Reno, and Elmhurst College. Her practice areas of experience include student unions, residence life and dining, academic advising, financial aid, shared governance, and student employment. Her scholarship areas of interests include policy, equity, financial aid, and student development.

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Sam Einzig

Sam Einzig

UMassFive College Federal Credit Union recently introduced Sam Einzig as the newest member of UMassFive’s Retirement Planning and Investments team available through CUSO Financial Services, L.P. He supports the credit union’s team of CFS financial advisors by scheduling appointments, sending appointment reminders, and helping with advisor administrative duties and service work. As an advisor assistant, he is also now the primary contact for current and prospective clients looking to work with the credit union’s trio of financial advisors. Einzig has worked at UMassFive as a member service specialist since September 2018, prior to taking on his latest role with the Retirement Planning and Investments team. He is licensed as a producer of life insurance and accident and health or sickness insurance in Massachusetts, and is currently pursuing his FINRA Series 7 and 66 securities licenses. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Berklee College of Music in Boston, where course studies in music business and taxation in the music industry kindled his interest in the financial world, as well as helping people.

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Country Bank announced several recent staff promotions. Julie Yi has been promoted to senior vice president, controller and Operations. She has extensive experience in finance and operations and serves on Country Bank’s senior management team. She holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Nevada Las Vegas and is a certified public accountant. Justin Calheno has been promoted to assistant vice president, Retail Lending. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business management from Westfield State University and is a graduate of the New England School for Financial Studies. He serves as a board member for the Ludlow Boys and Girls Club. Lisa Saletnik has been promoted to assistant vice president, Business Systems. She holds an associate degree in health science from Bay Path University and is a graduate of the New England School for Financial Studies. Mackenna Hogan has been promoted to Commercial Banking Administration officer. She holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from UMass Amherst. Antonio Palano has been promoted to assistant vice president, Retail Lending. He holds an associate degree in business administration from Springfield Technical Community College. Newly appointed officers include Sam Pursey, Erin Skoczylas, Ashley Swett, and Sarah Yurkunas. Pursey has been promoted to Relationship Management officer. He holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from UMass Amherst. Skoczylas has been promoted to assistant controller. Erin holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Western New England University, an associate degree in business administration from Springfield Technical Community College, and is a graduate of the New England School for Financial Studies. Swett has been promoted to Customer Care Center officer. She is a graduate of the New England School for Financial Studies. Yurkunas has been promoted to Relationship Management officer. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business from Bay Path University, a certificate from the Massachusetts Bankers Assoc. in Fundamentals of Credit Analysis: Intro to Commercial Lending, and is currently enrolled in the New England School for Financial Studies.

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Mary Cate Mannion

Mary Cate Mannion

Garvey Communication Associates Inc. (GCAi) announced that veteran ABC News affiliate reporter and anchor Mary Cate Mannion has joined the team as a digital PR analyst and will be responsible for planning, producing, and editing video content; photo supervision; and writing posts for digital dissemination on platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and the Google Ads Display Network, but not Tik Tok, as well as working directly with media publications. She is working in GCAi’s Springfield edit suite with award-winning video producer Darcy Young and planning digital campaigns with award-winning digital marketer James Garvey, who is based in GCAi’s Marina del Rey, Calif. office. Mannion is an award winner in her own right, receiving a Broadcasters Award and two Emmy nominations during her tenure as an anchor and energy-news reporter with NBC News affiliate KFYR-TV. Her reporting was also used in an investigative segment by John Oliver on HBO’s Last Week Tonight, and she has served as a correspondent for Headline News. She earned a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism from Emerson College. She crossed paths with Young during her time at Western Mass News, when she emceed the Springfield Colleen Contest, for which Young is a long-time volunteer. Mannion also her singing skills during an American Idol audition in Boston and was successful for six rounds. Mannion has also achieved considerable success as a competitive Irish dancer, something she is still enthusiastic about today as a member of Springfield’s Claddagh School.

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Mercedes Maskalik, formerly the director of Marketing at CUE Inc., a membership and professional-development nonprofit organization, has been appointed assistant vice president for Marketing and Communication at Western New England University. In her new role, Maskalik will oversee the university’s Division of Marketing and External Affairs, whose mission and purpose is to broadly and creatively share the story of Western New England University regionally, nationally, and internationally. In her previous position as director of Marketing at CUE, Maskalik was responsible for the development, coordination, and management of all marketing and communications efforts to promote the CUE brand, the professional learning community, and the professional learning events. She received her master’s degree in organizational communications from Central Connecticut State University and a bachelor’s degree in English from Southern Connecticut State University. An active member of a number of international associations, Maskalik’s professional affiliations include the American Marketing Assoc., the Public Relations Society of America, and the European Assoc. of Communications Directors. She is the co-author of Social Marketing Environmental Issues, a theoretically grounded text on social-marketing strategies for influencing environmental behaviors.

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Bryan Czajkowski

Bryan Czajkowski

Market Mentors, a marketing, advertising, and public-relations agency, announced the addition of Bryan Czajkowski as director of Production and Technology. He brings more than 25 years of experience to the newly created position, in which he oversees the agency’s web, design, video, and production operations. Czajkowski most recently served as chief technology officer for Rebel Interactive Group in Southington, Conn. Through this and previous positions, he has gained extensive experience working with international and national organizations across diverse industries, from finance and insurance to automotive and aerospace. The opportunity to integrate his various professional skills and interests is something that drew Czajkowski to the Market Mentors position.

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Bulkley Richardson announced that Mike Sweet has joined the firm as a partner in the Business and Finance department. Sweet started his career at a Wall Street-based law firm and has been practicing in Springfield for the past 25 years. His practice focuses on representing businesses and the people that own and manage those businesses through all stages of their business cycle, as well as in their personal lives. “This is an exciting development for the firm and furthers our goals for continued growth and talent acquisition,” said Dan Finnegan, managing partner. “Mike has established longtime relationships with his clients and continues to achieve successful results for them. He has earned the reputation of a great lawyer, and we feel honored to have him on our team.”

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Vanessa Smith

Vanessa Smith

Vanessa Smith, senior vice president and chief legal officer for Baystate Health, has been appointed to the Holyoke Community College (HCC) board of trustees by Gov. Charlie Baker. The term will run until March 1, 2025. “I am passionate about education and its ability to empower, inspire, break down barriers, and create pathways to opportunity,” Smith said. “I am honored to begin my service as trustee during Holyoke Community College’s celebration of its 75th anniversary, and I look forward to helping shape its bright future.” Smith has worked for Baystate Health since 2016 as associate general counsel, vice president, chief general counsel, and now senior vice president and chief legal officer. Prior to that, she was a partner in the law firm Bulkley, Richardson and Gelinas, LLP in Springfield. She has also worked as an assistant attorney general in the New York Attorney General’s Office in Syracuse and as a court attorney for the New York State Court of Appeals. She holds a law degree from Syracuse University College of Law and a bachelor’s degree in French from Wells College.

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Bulkley Richardson partners Michael Burke and Mark Cress were named 2022 Lawyer of the Year in their respective practice areas by Best Lawyers in partnership with U.S. News Media Group. Burke was recognized for his work in personal-injury litigation, and Cress was recognized for his work in corporate law. Burke and Cress have been named by Best Lawyers since 2001 and 2003, respectively. Lawyer of the Year rankings are awarded to one lawyer per practice area in each region, making it a distinguished accolade. Honorees receive this award based on their extremely high overall peer feedback within specific practice areas and metropolitan regions.

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Michael Cardaropoli

Michael Cardaropoli

Attorney Michael Cardaropoli, a partner in the law firm Pellegrini, Seeley, Ryan and Blakesley, has been appointed to serve on the board of directors of Springfield Habitat for Humanity. “I’m proud of the opportunity to serve on the board of this incredible organization,” he said. “We have a rich history as a firm of charitable connections to the community. I had first-hand experience with the Habitat for Humanity team as we worked on the SGT Sullivan house, and I am so pleased to now be a part of their ongoing efforts.” Twelve staff members from Pellegrini Seeley, Ryan and Blakesley donated a total of nearly 100 man hours to kick off the Gunnery Sgt. Thomas J. Sullivan project on the first build day in 2018. The firm also contributed $2,500 to the effort. “As a firm, we are committed each day to help make the lives better for the residents of Springfield,” Cardaropoli said.

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Bacon Wilson announced that eight of the firm’s attorneys have been named to Best Lawyers in America 2022. Kenneth Albano, the firm’s managing partner, was recognized in Best Lawyers for business organizations, including LLCs and partnerships; Michael Katz for bankruptcy and reorganization; Stephen Krevalin for family law; Hyman Darling for elder law; Gary Breton for banking/finance law and business organizations; Gina Barry for elder law; Mark Tanner for real-estate litigation; and Peter MacConnell for real-estate law. In addition, MacConnell was named 2022 Lawyer of the Year for real-estate law in Springfield, a designation presented to a single outstanding lawyer in each practice area for each region. Bacon Wilson, P.C. is one of the largest Pioneer Valley firms, with 43 attorneys and approximately 80 paralegals, administrative assistants, and support staff. The firm has five locations, in Springfield, Amherst, Hadley, Northampton, and Westfield. First published in 1983, Best Lawyers is regarded as one of the definitive guides to legal excellence. There is no opportunity to pay for a listing; rather, lists are based entirely on peer review.

Company Notebook

Gift of $50 Million from Robert and Donna Manning Is Largest in UMass History

BOSTON — The University of Massachusetts announced it will receive a cash gift of $50 million from Robert and Donna Manning. The gift, the largest of any kind in the university’s history, is aimed at increasing access and opportunity across the five-campus university system. The first distribution of the $50 million will be $15 million to endow the UMass Boston Nursing program, which will become the Robert and Donna Manning College of Nursing and Health Sciences. The funds will be focused on supporting student diversity and ensuring that the new cohort of nursing professionals are champions of equitable patient care. Donna Manning’s 35-year career as an oncology nurse at Boston Medical Center inspired the decision to focus the gift on nursing at UMass Boston. Known for her dedication to patients, Manning donated her salary to the hospital each year. The College of Nursing and Health Sciences is the fastest-growing college at UMass Boston and offers the only four-year public programs in Nursing and Exercise and Health Sciences in the Greater Boston area. The undergraduate and graduate population of approximately 2,100 students in the college is 19% black, 12% Latinx, and 11% Asian-American Pacific Islander. In the coming months, the Mannings plan to announce distributions from the overall gift to improve access and opportunity on the other UMass campuses in Amherst, Dartmouth, Lowell, and Worcester. Robert Manning is chairman of MFS Investment Management and the long-time chair of the UMass board of trustees. The Mannings were already among UMass’ greatest supporters, having committed more than $11 million to UMass Lowell, where the Manning School of Business bears their name. On the Lowell campus, they have endowed several faculty chairs, sponsored a nursing simulation lab, and established the Robert and Donna Manning Endowed Scholarship Fund. The Manning Prize for Excellence in Teaching is awarded to faculty on all five UMass campuses for high-impact teaching.

 

MGM Unveils Two Sports Lounges

SPRINGFIELD — MGM Springfield marked its third anniversary by unveiling two widescreen luxury sports lounges. MGM Springfield President Chris Kelley recently led a tour of the new lounges, which he said reinforces the resort’s position and commitment as the market’s leading destination for sports and entertainment. The new, multi-million-dollar MGM Springfield Sports Lounge will be positioned on the casino floor and feature a 45-foot, state-of-the-art HD viewing wall, inviting fans to watch multiple sporting events at once, along with more than 70 individual lounge seats. The venue is designed to seamlessly incorporate sports betting via the BetMGM platform should Massachusetts lawmakers pass future legislation. The property also unveiled a new VIP Sports Lounge within TAP Sports Bar. This second viewing destination will offer a more intimate experience with an HDTV wall, couches, and a special culinary menu crafted by TAP chefs.

 

UMass Announces $175 Million Gift to Its Medical School

WORCESTER — The University of Massachusetts has announced a history-making $175 million donation from the Morningside Foundation to UMass Medical School. The transformational gift is unrestricted and will more than double the medical school’s endowment. It comes as the medical school celebrates its 50th year of educating future physicians, nursing leaders, and biomedical scientists and as its Nobel Prize-winning research enterprise has grown to $400 million. In recognition of the gift and of the commitment to education, research, and healthcare by the Chan family of investors, entrepreneurs, and philanthropists, UMass Medical School will be renamed the UMass Chan Medical School. Its three graduate schools will be renamed the T.H. Chan School of Medicine, the Tan Chingfen Graduate School of Nursing, and the Morningside Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. T.H. Chan, for whom the School of Medicine will be named, is the late patriarch of the Chan family, who was deeply committed to supporting higher education. The Graduate School of Nursing will be named for the family’s matriarch, Tan Chingfen, a nurse who, the family recalled, administered vaccines to neighborhood children in the 1950s. The choice of Morningside for the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences reflects the name of the family’s investment group and foundation.

 

EforAll/EparaTodos Holyoke Looking for Volunteers

HOLYOKE — EforAll/EparaTodos Holyoke is actively seeking both English- and Spanish-speaking volunteers to participate as mentors in the winter 2022 business accelerator program. Accelerator mentors come from a variety of backgrounds and use their business and leadership experience to guide new entrepreneurs through the process of turning their idea into a growing business. Mentors work in teams of three and are matched with an entrepreneur based on schedule availability and the desire to work together. The team meets as a group to help reaffirm topics and themes raised during classes, while also strategizing with the entrepreneur on how to reach their specific goals during the program. This is a high-touch, year-long commitment. Mentor teams have weekly 90-minute virtual meetings for three months and then meet once a month for the following nine months. Spanish speakers are especially needed. Anyone looking for an interactive and meaningful volunteer opportunity and interested in learning more about EforAll should e-mail [email protected]

 

SERVPRO of Hampshire County Celebrates 25 Years in Community

BELCHERTOWN — SERVPRO of Hampshire County, a cleanup and restoration company, is recognizing its 25th anniversary in the local business community. The company will celebrate its milestone with an open house on Thursday, Sept. 16 at its offices at 50 Depot St. in Belchertown. Fall has been in business since Aug. 16, 1996. SERVPRO clients include insurance companies seeking restoration services, as well as commercial and residential property owners who require routine cleaning services. With more than 50 years of experience, the SERVPRO system’s time-tested techniques and proprietary cleaning products have earned its franchises a spot as a leader in the restoration and cleaning industry. SERVPRO of Hampshire County is capable of cleaning and restoring a fire-, mold-, or water-damaged building and its contents, including wall, ceiling, and floor surfaces; furniture; fabric; fixtures; and more. Many franchisees also offer cleaning and restoration of special items, such as HVAC duct systems; building exteriors; electronic equipment, including computers; and documents that have sustained water damage.

 

Freedom Credit Union Raises $2,710 for Food Bank

SPRINGFIELD — Throughout June and July, Freedom Credit Union collected cash donations at its branches throughout Western Mass. to benefit the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, which leads the fight against food insecurity throughout Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin, and Berkshire counties. It raised $2,710 thanks to the generosity of members and staff. Since 1982, the Food Bank has helped provide much-sneeded food to area residents. It sources its products from donations and then supplies it to participating pantries, meal sites, and shelters throughout the region.

 

Whalley Computer Associates Announces Partnership with Cynet

SOUTHWICK — Whalley Computer Associates has joined forces with cyberattack defender Cynet to offer customers an enhanced layer of protection with an autonomous breach platform. The joint venture between the two IT solution providers offers customers another cybersecurity option to keep data safe with state-of-the-art prevention and detection. Cynet pioneered the autonomous breach-protection platform and offers cybersecurity to organizational security teams already stretched thin by the resources demanded to integrate and employ disparate solutions across frequently complex and wide-ranging security needs. The Cynet 360 platform secures organizations of every size, deploying and integrating across thousands of endpoints in hours, and providing all the fundamental capabilities of NGAV, EDR, UEBA, Network Analytics, and Deception solutions, plus backing through its frontline CyOps, a team made up of SOC experts available 24/7.

 

Paragus IT Named to Channel Futures MSP 501 List

HADLEY — The Channel Futures annual MSP 501 list is a definitive ranking of the most influential and fastest-growing managed service providers (MSPs) around the world. This year, Paragus IT ranked seventh in Massachusetts and 15th in New England, making it one of the top-ranked MSPs in Western and Central Mass. Channel Futures is a media and events platform serving companies in the information and communication technologies channel industry with insights, analysis, information, and in-person events. Its annual 501 list serves as a critical benchmarking tool and speaks to the rapidly evolving IT-channel ecosystem and its diversity of business models.

 

Monson Savings Donates $1,000 to Town’s Christmas Lights

MONSON — Monson Savings Bank recently donated $1,000 to the town of Monson’s Christmas lights display to honor the hard work and long careers of John Malo and John Morrell. Malo recently was recognized by the town of Monson for his 50 years of service to the town’s post office, and he has no plans to retire. On July 23, family members, friends, and town residents gathered together at the Post Office to celebrate his long and successful career. In November 2020, Morrell celebrated 53 years of service to the Monson Highway Department as the Monson highway surveyor. He started his career with the town in 1968 as a truck driver and spent many years working hard to keep the townspeople safe.

 

Rachel’s Table, Food Bank Join Forces to Fight Hunger

SPRINGFIELD — Rachel’s Table, the food rescue and redistribution program of the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts, and the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts are joining forces to fight hunger. Rachel’s Table, with its 200 volunteer drivers, will transport food directly from designated grocery stores to Food Bank agencies, filling the gap where agencies lacked transportation or when its volunteers were needed elsewhere. Rachel’s Table’s partnership with the Food Bank began pre-pandemic in Westfield and has become revitalized during the past several months. Together, Rachel’s Table and the Food Bank are serving seven agencies, with 13 volunteer drivers from Rachel’s Table rescuing nutritious food from eight donors in Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin counties. Starting slowly but deliberately, more than 15,000 pounds of healthy meat, produce, and dairy have been delivered since the program began, and there is more to come. People interested in driving for Rachel’s Table, or who know of food from a local restaurant, bakery, or grocery store that is going to waste, can contact the organization at www.rachelstablepv.org.

 

New Community Center, Housing Coming to Carriage Grove

BELCHERTOWN — MassDevelopment and the Belchertown Economic Development and Industrial Corp. (BEDIC) announced the selection of Brisa Ventures, LLC to develop a 12-acre parcel of land at Carriage Grove into a new mixed-income residential community featuring approximately 100 units of housing. Brisa Ventures will also preserve and redevelop the existing former Belchertown State School administration building into a community center, museum, cultural space, meeting space, and either a restaurant, brewery, or distillery. Construction of the development is projected to begin by the end of 2022 and is expected to be complete within 18 to 24 months. The sale of this BEDIC-owned parcel and building to Brisa Ventures will represent the first phase of a multi-phased, mixed-use project under negotiation with the company intended to include additional commercial, residential, and community-oriented investments. The new rental housing units will be designed as a mix of two- and three-story apartment- and townhome-style residences and built to ultra-low energy-use standards; they are planned to use solar energy to meet net-zero energy use. The development will also include extensive common green areas with play areas, community gathering spaces, and pathways that connect the housing units to each other and to the neighboring trail network.

 

Home City Development Secures Permit for Affordable-housing Development in Pelham

PELHAM — Home City Development Inc., a Springfield-based affordable-housing developer, has received a comprehensive permit from the Pelham Zoning Board of Appeals for the construction of 34 mixed-income rental units. On Aug. 10, the Zoning Board approved the comprehensive permit for the property to be known as Amethyst Brook . This is the first affordable-housing development approved in the town of Pelham and the first time the Zoning Board of Appeals has awarded this type of permit. Two new buildings will be constructed at 20-22 Amherst Road; 22 Amherst Road will be designed to ‘passive house’ standards, which includes energy-efficiency specifications that drastically reduce the building’s ecological footprint. Notable additions to the site construction include a stormwater-management system and electric-vehicle charging stations. Next, Home City Development will finalize project financing, and construction is expected to be completed within 12 to 14 months after the start date, to be announced. The design team is led by Architecture Environment Life of East Longmeadow. Berkshire Design Group of Northampton will conduct civil engineering and landscape design.