What’s in a name — or a brand?
Sometimes, very little, especially when it comes to government agencies, state or federal offices, or administrative programs. Changes in names and titles undertaken to eliminate confusion and generate progress rarely succeed in those missions.
We don’t believe that will the case with the state’s decision to rebrand, if you will, its many workforce-oriented agencies under the umbrella name MassHire. For example, the Regional Employment Board of Hampden County is now the MassHire Hampden County Workforce Board; CareerPoint in Holyoke is now the MassHire Holyoke Career Center. Springfield-based FutureWorks is now the MassHire Springfield Career Center; you get the idea.
There are 29 career centers and 16 workforce boards across the state, and they are now all unified under the MassHire brand, replacing what were 45 different names.
It sounds like a simple bureaucratic initiative perhaps designed to save money. But it’s much more than that; it’s an effort to simplify matters for job seekers and employers alike and bring more focus and energy to what is easily this state’s biggest and most vexing ongoing issue when it comes to business and economic development — creating and sustaining a large and effective workforce.
Rebranding to MassHire won’t solve all the problems, but it will make the system that’s been created — and it is a very good system, to be sure — far more user-friendly and reduce a great deal of confusion about where employers, employees, and job seekers should turn for help.
And a good deal of help is needed when it comes to each of those constituencies.
For employers, these are very intriguing times, as we’ve noted on many occasions and in several different ways. The economy is chugging along and doing very well in most respects. Many companies across a number of sectors are in a growth mode, but they are challenged — as in severely challenged — to find talented help that will enable them to achieve that growth.
Rebranding to MassHire won’t solve all the problems, but it will make the system that’s been created — and it is a very good system, to be sure — far more user-friendly and reduce a great deal of confusion about where employers, employees, and job seekers should turn for help.
It’s a numbers game, and it’s reaching a critical stage as unemployment rates continues to fall, even in urban markets such as Springfield and Holyoke, where they have been consistently higher than the state and national averages. In fact, in many states, and in this one, according to most accounts, we’re at what’s known as full employment.
That’s a technical term to describe a situation where, by and large, everyone who needs a job, and is qualified to hold one, has one. Full employment is a good thing, in most respects, but it’s also a dangerous state, because employers are under more duress as they look to fill their ranks.
Meanwhile, this situation is made much worse by the huge numbers of Baby Boomers that are retiring each year.
The phrase you hear most often these days, whether it’s the manufacturing sector (that’s probably where it’s heard most) or healthcare, or even financial services, is that candidates ‘lack the skills’ companies require. The career centers and workforce boards were created to help people acquire those skills and make them workforce-ready.
But because each one had a different name, there was often confusion about just where employers and employees should turn to get the help they needed.
As we said, rebranding to MassHire is not, by itself, going to solve the many workforce challenges facing this state. But it is a big step forward in many respects.
What’s in a name? In this case, plenty.
By Suzanne Parker
Politics affects nearly every aspect of our daily lives. But for some groups, including women and girls, what happens politically has a disproportionate impact on their health, safety, and well-being.
Many of the issues heavily debated right now — the economy, healthcare, gun control, and education — carry tremendous consequences for those most vulnerable and with the least amount of political power due to factors such as gender, age, race, and ethnicity.
This is why it’s so important for girls to be civically engaged as early as possible. Through the Girls Inc. ‘She Votes’ initiative, girls realize the power of their voices, learn about the structure and role of the U.S. government, and are inspired to lead and become future female leaders.
Through ‘She Votes,’ girls research candidates, hold mock debates, meet with elected officials, visit polling places, and even help register voters.
Building a more equitable society means educating and empowering girls to be actively involved in civics and the political process. Three key reasons why it matters right now:
1. Starting early means greater likelihood of voting
We know there is a relationship between youth civic education and their political engagement and future voting. When we help young people understand early on why voting is important, how the political process works, voting rights, and their local government, they build a lifelong commitment to being civically engaged. During the 2014 midterm elections, only 12% of eligible 18- to 21-year-old college or university students voted.
2. Women are still very underrepresented in public office
Women remain underrepresented among state governors, in Legislatures, and in local office. Women of color are further underrepresented as elected officials. While women make up more than half the U.S. population, they are represented by a Congress made up of 80% men. Educating girls and young women about this reality can empower them to change it. A government cannot represent the will of the people unless it reflects their diversity.
3. The 2018 midterm elections
On average, voter turnout is about 60% in a presidential election years, but only 40% during midterm years. Yet Congress (as well as local leaders) determines many of the policies that impact our daily lives. With a number of key issues affecting women and girls on the legislative agenda, this year’s election will play a critical role in determining whether girls in this country have the rights and opportunities they need to grow up healthy, educated, and empowered.
At Girls Inc., we believe the recruitment of women into political and other forms of leadership must start with girls. We encourage area residents and business leaders to use this year’s election season to engage and empower the girls in your lives — and make sure you vote, too.
Suzanne Parker is executive director of Girls Inc. of Holyoke; [email protected]
The following is a compilation of recent lawsuits involving area businesses and organizations. These are strictly allegations that have yet to be proven in a court of law. Readers are advised to contact the parties listed, or the court, for more information concerning the individual claims.
CHICOPEE DISTRICT COURT
Lisa Cupillo v. The Home Depot Inc.
Allegation: Negligence; poorly stacked tile causing personal injury: $1,367
HAMPSHIRE DISTRICT COURT
Zoe Zeichner v. Steve Lewis Subaru Inc. and Subaru of America Inc.
Allegation: Breach of implied warranty, breach of express warranty, negligence
HAMPSHIRE SUPERIOR COURT
Francois Haba v. ServiceNet Inc.
Allegation: Employment discrimination
Erin Menard individually and as guardian for Zachary Menard v. Town of Southampton and Eversource Energy
Allegation: Negligence; falling tree limbs causing personal injury: $9,611.33
Tammy Lequillo v. Staples the Office Superstore East Inc., Dennis Gaspie, Carl Rohrberg, Ron Lindhorst, Michael DeSantos, and Bruce Christian
Allegation: Age discrimination: $1,000,000
Mi-Hyun Park v. University of Massachusetts Amherst and Richard Palmer
Allegation: Tenure denied for unlawful, discriminatory reasons: $100,000+
Michael Kneurr v. Qionglong USBoston, LLC
Allegation: Negligence at Cold Spring Country Club causing personal injury: $363,050
Joseph Whalen v. Walter J. Gazda, D.M.D.
Allegation: Dental malpractice: $26,200
David R. Knightly v. Town of Amherst and Amherst Police Department
Allegation: Employment discrimination: $25,000+
Future Tense Lecture
Sept. 20: The third installment of the BusinessWest lecture series Future Tense, titled “Change Considerations: An Examination of Lean Process, Market Disruption, and the Future of Your Business,” will take place on Thursday, Sept. 20 from 8 to 9:30 a.m. at Tech Foundry, 1391 Main St., ninth floor, Springfield. The lecture, open exclusively to CEOs and business owners, will be delivered by Mark Borsari, president of Sanderson MacLeod. The cost is a $25 donation to Tech Foundry. Event sponsors include Paragus IT, the Jamrog Group, and Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C. With increasingly automated business processes, AI, and machine manufacturing, lean concepts are becoming more important than ever in terms of staying competitive. Borsari will discuss change and innovation through lean concepts and focus on resulting cultural considerations. The presentation will also address already-active market disrupters that will affect business processes in various industries. To register, visit businesswest.com/lecture-series.
Free Legal Help Hotline
Sept. 20: The Hampden County Bar Assoc. will hold a Legal Help Hotline in conjunction with Western New England University School of Law from 4 to 7 p.m. at the law school, 1215 Wilbraham Road, Springfield. The volunteers will provide legal advice on a variety of topics, including divorce and family law, bankruptcy, business, landlord/tenant, and real estate. Spanish-speaking attorneys will be available. Individuals needing advice should call (413) 796-2057 to speak to a volunteer.
‘Hacks for Your Hindrances’
Sept. 21: The Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley (FBCPV) will present a workshop by business coach Julia Mines, called “Mindset: Hacks for Your Hindrances.” Attendees will learn how to gain some control over their amygdala, set better boundaries, be more courageous, stop procrastinating, and increase their self-esteem and happiness. Attendance is free for members and strategic partners of the FBCPV and $30 per person for others, who are owners and key managers of Western Mass. closely held and family owned companies. Contact Ira Bryck at [email protected] to register or for more information.
‘Paradigm Shifting in Healthcare’
Sept. 28: Bay Path University will host its first-ever healthcare summit, aimed at addressing current trends and best practices across the many disciplines of the field. The summit, “Paradigm Shifting in Healthcare,” will be held at the Philip H. Ryan Health Science Center, 1 Denslow Road, East Longmeadow, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event’s keynote speaker is Steve Walsh, president and CEO of the Massachusetts Health & Hospital Assoc. (MHA). A member of the American College of Health Care Executives, he has extensive career experience in working with executives from Massachusetts healthcare institutions to promote and drive innovative change in healthcare delivery, policy, and regulation, and is credited with overseeing the drafting and passage of the Commonwealth’s 2012 landmark healthcare payment-reform law, Chapter 224. At the Summit, he will discuss what is driving and influencing the transitions in healthcare delivery models. Other sessions include: “Telemedicine and Its Effect in the Field of Genetic Counseling,” presented by Susan Capasso; “Assessing and Treating Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder,” by Mark Benander; “Best Practices for Caregivers of Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias,” by Cheryl Boucakis; “The Social Determinants of Health and How They Impact Healthcare,” by Marie Meckel; and “Self-Care for the Healthcare Practitioner,” by Kristina Hallett. This event is free to the public, but registration is required. Continental breakfast and lunch will be served. Learn more at www.baypath.edu/healthcaresummit.
Source to Sea Cleanup
Sept. 28-29: Registration is now open for the Connecticut River Conservancy’s (CRC) Source to Sea Cleanup. This annual event, now in its 22nd year, has grown into New England’s largest river cleanup, winning an American Rivers award for most miles cleaned in 2017. There are three ways for volunteers to get involved in the Source to Sea Cleanup this year: report a trash site in need of cleaning, find a cleanup group near you to join, or organize and register your own local cleanup group. For more information or to register for the event, visit www.ctriver.org/cleanup. The annual Source to Sea Cleanup is a two-day river cleanup coordinated by CRC in all four states of the 410-mile Connecticut River basin. Each fall, thousands of volunteers of all ages and abilities clean the Connecticut River and its tributaries on foot or by boat. Volunteers remove trash along rivers, streams, parks, boat launches, trails, and more. In 2017, more than 2,500 volunteers hauled more than 46 tons of trash from riverbanks and waterways in the four river states. Volunteers remove everything from recyclables, fishing equipment, and food waste to tires, televisions, and refrigerators. To date, volunteers have removed more than 1,043 tons of trash from our rivers. If your group wants to get involved but needs a cleanup site, if you have questions, or if you know of a trash site in need of cleaning, contact CRC Cleanup Coordinator Stacey Lennard at [email protected] Learn more about the event at www.ctriver.org/cleanup.
HCC 24-hour Theater Festival
Sept. 29: Holyoke Community College theater alumni, together with students from the HCC Theater Department, will gather once again this fall to put on an evening of one-act plays written in just 24 hours. The 24-hour theater festival, renamed the HCC Phillips Festival this year in memory of Leslie Phillips, the late HCC drama teacher who inspired the festival’s creation, will be presented at 8 p.m. in the Leslie Phillips Theater in HCC’s Fine & Performing Arts Building. Like the previous two festivals, the third is a benefit show, and all proceeds will go toward the Leslie Phillips Fund for Theater Arts and Education at Holyoke Community College. HCC alumni along with current HCC students will meet on Friday, Sept. 28 to begin writing and rehearsing the one-act plays they will perform the following night. Anyone who would like to participate in this year’s festival can contact the HCC Alumni Players at [email protected] or on the group’s Facebook page. Tickets for the show are $15 for general admission and $10 for students, seniors, HCC faculty, and staff. To order tickets, call (413) 552-2485 or visit hcc.edu/alumnievents.
Drone Pilot Certification
Sept. 29 to Oct. 20: Holyoke Community College (HCC) will again offer a hands-on program for individuals who want to become FAA-licensed drone pilots. “Flying Drones for Profit, Public Safety, and Commercial Applications” will run on four consecutive Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the main campus of HCC, 303 Homestead Ave., Holyoke. The course will prepare individuals to take the Federal Aviation Administration Remote Pilot in Charge exam, which they must pass to become licensed drone operators. All classes will be taught by Larry Harmon, co-director of the GeoGraphics Laboratory at Bridgewater State University and an industry consultant on small, unmanned aircraft systems. The lecture portion of the course will meet in the HCC Kittredge Center for Business and Workforce Development on the main campus. Students will fly drones outside on the college sports fields. The course focuses on all content required to pass the FAA test, including regulations, national airspace system rules, weather, aircraft loading, aircraft performance, and flight operations. The cost for the four-week, non-credit course is $315. Space is limited. Drones will be provided for use in class. Participants can bring their own, but that is not necessary.
HCC Foundation Golf Classic
Oct. 16: Postponed from an earlier date by rain, the 31st annual Holyoke Community College Foundation Golf Classic will be held at Springfield County Club in West Springfield.Proceeds from the tournament will support the HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute, the home for culinary-arts and hospitality-management training programs. The HCC Foundation, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, is the nonprofit fundraising arm of Holyoke Community College. Over 30 years, the annual HCC Foundation Golf Classic has raised more than $500,000 for HCC scholarships and educational technology for HCC classrooms. As before, the program begins with buffet lunch followed by a 12:30 p.m. shotgun start. The $185 fee includes greens fees, golf cart, lunch, dinner, and refreshments on the course. After an afternoon of golf, participants can enjoy cocktails on the clubhouse porch and dinner, and will have the opportunity to enter raffles and bid on dozens of items, including restaurant gift certificates, Red Sox memorabilia, wine baskets, and more. Participants can arrange their own foursomes or sign up as singles. To register or sponsor the golf tournament, visit www.hcc.edu/golf.
Oct. 25: The second annual class of Healthcare Heroes will be honored at the Starting Gate at GreatHorse in Hampden from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Healthcare Heroes, a recognition program involving the Western Mass. healthcare sector, was launched last spring by BusinessWest and HCN. The program was created to shed a bright light on the outstanding work being done across the broad spectrum of health and wellness services, and the institutions and people providing that care. The seven winners were profiled in the Sept. 4 issue of BusinessWest and the September issue of HCN, and will be feted at the Oct. 25 gala. Tickets cost $90, and tables of 10 are available. To order tickets, call (413) 781-8600, ext. 100, or visit www.businesswest.com. call Healthcare Heroes sponsors include American International College (presenting sponsor), Baystate Health/Health New England (presenting sponsor), National Grid (partner), and supporting sponsors Renew.Calm, the Elms College MBA program, Bay Path University, and Mercy Medical Center/Trinity Health Of New England.
• Oct. 17: Chamber Nite, 5-7 p.m., hosted by Hillcrest Commons, 169 Valentine Road, Pittsfield. Chamber networking event. Free for members.
• Oct. 24: Good News Business Salute, featuring Women in Business Month, 5-7 p.m, hosted by Seven Hills Inn, 40 Plunkett St., Lenox.
• Oct. 28: Berkshire Young Professionals Event, 4-8 p.m., hosted by St. James Place, 352 Main St., Great Barrington.
AMHERST AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
• Oct. 4: A+ Awards Banquet, 5-9 p.m., hosted by UMass Student Ballroom, 280 Hicks Way, Amherst. Each year, the chamber takes a moment to collectively celebrate the outstanding achievements of community members and entities that contribute to the growth and well-being of the place we choose to work and live. Cost: $80, $75 for a table of 10. Register at amherstarea.com.
• Oct. 24: Multi-chamber Oktoberfest, 5-7 p.m., hosted by Hadley Farms Meeting House, 41 Russell St., Hadley. Register at amherstarea.com.
• Oct. 25: Legislative Breakfast, 7:30-9:30 a.m., hosted by Lord Jeffery Inn, 30 Boltwood Ave., Amherst. The annual legislative breakfast brings together legislators, local officials, and business leaders to network and discuss current and upcoming policy issues. Cost: $20 for members, $25 for non-members. Register at amherstarea.com.
GREATER CHICOPEE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
• Sept. 19: Salute Breakfast, 7:15-9 a.m., hosted by Tru By Hilton, 440 Memorial Dr., Chicopee. Chief greeter: Tony Cignoli. Keynote speaker: state Rep. Joseph Wagner. Series sponsored by United Personnel, Westfield Bank, Holyoke Medical Center, Polish National Credit Union, Gaudreau Group, Spherion Staffing Services, PeoplesBank, and Interstate Towing Inc. Cost: $23 for members, $28 for non-members. Sign up online at www.chicopeechamber.org/events or call (413) 594-2101.
• Sept. 28: Chamber Seminar: “Authenticity in Leadership,” 9-11 a.m., hosted by Residence Inn, 500 Memorial Dr., Chicopee. Presenter: Lora Wondolowski of Leadership Pioneer Valley. Presented by Westfield Bank. Cost: $15 for members, $20 for non-members. Sign up online at www.chicopeechamber.org/events or call (413) 594-2101.
• Oct. 2: Multi-chamber Business Table Top Expo, 4:30-7 p.m., hosted by Castle of Knights, 1599 Memorial Dr., Chicopee. Sponsored by LaQuinta Inns & Suites, Holyoke Medical Center, Westfield Bank, BusinessWest, and Polish National Credit Union. The Greater Chicopee, Greater Holyoke, South Hadley & Granby, Springfield Regional, and Quaboag Hills chambers of commerce will host more than 100 vendors in this networking event. Vendor tables are booking now at $125, with a $25 charge for electricity. Light refreshments and a cash bar will be available. Sponsorship packages are still available. Free to the public to attend. Register a vendor table online at chicopeechamber.org/events, and ask about the new-member discount.
• Oct. 17: Salute Breakfast, 7:15-9 a.m., hosted by MassMutual Learning & Conference Center. Featuring a community planning update. Chief greeter: Lee Pouliot, city of Chicopee. Keynote speaker: Tim Brennan, Pioneer Valley Planning Commission. Sponsored by United Personnel, Westfield Bank, Holyoke Medical Center, Polish National Credit Union, Gaudreau Group, Spherion Staffing Services, PeoplesBank, Lisa Vachon, CPA, and FutureWorks. Cost: $23 for members, $28 for non-members. Sign up online at chicopeechamber.org/events.
GREATER EASTHAMPTON CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
• Sept. 23: Breakfast, 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m., hosted by Springfield Country Club, 1375 Elm St., West Springfield. The Greater Easthampton Chamber of Commerce joins with other area chambers to provide information concerning the nursing ballot initiative. There will be a continental breakfast and networking beginning at 7:30 a.m., folllowed by a panel discussion beginning at 8 a.m. For more information and to register, visit www.easthamptonchamber.org or call the chamber at (413) 527-9414.
• Sept. 28: Women & the Art of Risk, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., hosted by the Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House, 500 Easthampton Road, Holyoke. A women’s leadership event featuring workshops, discussions, and career-development opportunities, all led by distinguished women from the Pioneer Valley. Hear personal and professional stories of how taking calculated risks led these women to new adventures and made them stronger leaders. The keynote speaker is Dr. Valerie Young, an internationally recognized expert on impostor syndrome. Cost: $119, or $875 for a table of 10. Pre-registration is a must. For more information, a schedule of the day’s events, and to register, visit www.easthamptonchamber.org or call the chamber at (413) 527-9414.
• Oct. 2: “The Story Behind the Grand Bargain,” 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., hosted by the Log Cabin, 500 Easthampton Road, Holyoke. A joint event with the Springfield Regional Chamber and 1Berkshire. Lunch will be 11:30 a.m. to noon, and the program will follow from noon to 1 p.m. Nancy Creed, president of the Springfield Regional Chamber, and John Regan, executive vice president of Government Affairs at Associated Industries of Massachusetts, will explain the details of the compromise bill and what it means for businesses. You will learn how they negotiated the compromise with a grassroots coalition and what that process could mean for future hot-button issues and how they affect business. Cost: $30 for members, $40n for non-members. Register at www.springfieldregionalchamber.com. Greater Easthampton Chamber members register with code GBE18.
• Oct. 11: Networking by Night, 5-7 p.m., hosted by Abandoned Building Brewery, 142 Pleasant St., Unit 103A, Easthampton. Sponsored by Tunnel 7 and Fran’s Fine Editing. Food and door prizes will be available, along with a cash bar. Cost: $10 fir members, $15 for non-members. Pre-registration is suggested. For more information and to register, visit www.easthamptonchamber.org or call the chamber at (413) 527-9414.
GREATER HOLYOKE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
• Sept. 19: Chamber After Hours, 5-7 p.m., hosted by Gateway City Arts, 92 Race St., Holyoke. Join us for our first After Hours of this fiscal season. The team down at Gateway City Arts is excited to host this networking event in its Biergarten and Bistro. Cost: free to members who register in advance, $10 at the door and for non-members.
• Sept. 21: Now in its 30th season, the chamber and Holyoke Community College present Leadership Holyoke, to be held over a series of eight days. Faculty members from HCC will participate as instructors and facilitators, and community leaders will participate as speakers and discussion leaders. Cost: $600 for all eight sessions. Sign up at holyokechamber.com.
• Sept. 28: Women and the Art of Risk, hosted by the Log Cabin, 500 Easthampton Road, Holyoke. A women’s leadership event, in conjunction with the Greater Easthampton Chamber of Commerce, featuring workshops, discussions, and career-development opportunities, all led by distinguished woman from the Pioneer Valley. Hear personal and professional stories of how taking calculated risks led these women to new adventures and made them stronger leaders. Sign up at easthamptonchamber.org.
GREATER NORTHAMPTON CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
• Oct. 2: October Arrive @ 5, 5-7 p.m., a networking event and chamber open house hosted by the Greater Northampton Chamber of Commerce. Sponsored by Pioneer Training. Cost: $10 for members.
GREATER WESTFIELD CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
• Sept. 20: Workshop: “Cybersecurity for Cloud-based Solutions: Emphasis on Endpoints in the Data Center,” 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., hosted by Tekoa Country Club, 459 Russell Road, Westfield. Presented by Norhals Group LLC, Carbon Black, and VMWare’s Cloud Force Security. Continental breakfast and lunch will be served. Cost: $45. For sponsorships or registration questions, e-mail [email protected] or call (413) 568-1618. To register, visit www.westfieldbiz.org/events.
• Sept. 21: September Breakfast, 7-9 a.m., hosted by 104th Fighter Wing ANG, 175 Falcon Dr., Westfield. Platinum event sponsor: Baystate Noble Hospital; gold sponsors: Savage Arms, United Bank, and Westfield Gas & Electric; silver sponsor: A Plus HVAC Inc; bronze sponsors: Armbrook Village, Governor’s Center, Micro Abrasives Corp., and Rehab Resolutions. Join us to hear from keynote speaker Tim Brennan, executive director of the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission. Immediately following breakfast, we will take the 2019-20 directory centerfold photo, and those who have the time can take a tour of the base. Cost: $25 for members, $40 for non-members. For sponsorships or registration questions, e-mail [email protected] or call (413) 568-1618. To register, visit www.westfieldbiz.org/events.
• Sept. 28: Workshop: “Social Media in the Workplace,” 8:30-10 a.m., hosted by Holiday Inn Express, 39 Southampton Road, Westfield. Presented by attorney Timothy Netkovick of Royal P.C. Cost: free for mmembers; $30/non-members (Paid in Advance). For sponsorships or registration questions, e-mail [email protected] or call (413) 568-1618. To register, visit www.westfieldbiz.org/events.
• Oct. 1: Mayor’s Coffee Hour with Westfield Mayor Brian Sullivan, 8-9 a.m., hosted by Armbrook Village, 51 North Road, Westfield. Free and open to the public. Sign up online at www.westfieldbiz.org/events or call the chamber at (413) 568-1618 to register so we may give our host a head count.
• Oct. 4: Multi-Chamber Lunch & Learn, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., hosted by Storrowton Tavern Carriage House, 1305 Memorial Ave., West Springfield. Rick Lord, president and CEO of Associated Industries of Massachusetts, will offer a barometer of the regional business climate and the historic ‘grand bargain’ legislation that promises to have profound effects on businesses and employees. Cost: $30 for members, $40 for non-members (cash or credit paid at the door). Sign up online at www.westfieldbiz.org/events. For sponsorships or more information, call the chamber at (413) 568-1618.
• Oct. 4: Ticket to Ride, hosted by the Holyoke Merry-Go-Round, 221 Appleton St., Holyoke. In honor of Manufacturing Month, manufacturers are invited to don casual business attire for a ride down the rails to the Merry-Go-Round in Holyoke. Aboard, you will be treated as a VIP, with an open bar and free hors-d’oeuvres. Non-manufacturers welcome as well. Space is limited. This event is free and open to the public. Sign up online at www.westfieldbiz.org/events or call the chamber at (413) 568-1618 to register.
• Oct. 10: October After 5 Connection, 5-7 p.m., hosted by Chester Railway Station, 10 Prospect St., Chester. Refreshments will be served, and a 50/50 raffle will benefit the chamber’s scholarship fund. Bring your business cards and make connections. Cost: free for members, $10 for non-members (cash or credit paid at the door). Sign up online at www.westfieldbiz.org/events. For sponsorships or more information, call the chamber at (413) 568-1618.
FRANKLIN COUNTY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
• Sept. 28: Monthly Breakfast Series, 7:30-9 a.m., hosted by Franklin County Technical High School, 82 Industrial Blvd., Turners Falls. Full breakfast will be served during the program, which will feature the kickoff of the United Way of Franklin County’s fundraising campaign. Register at franklincc.org or e-mail [email protected]
SPRINGFIELD REGIONAL CHAMBER
• Oct. 2: “The Story Behind the Grand Bargain,” 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., hosted by the Log Cabin, 500 Easthampton Road, Holyoke. Cost: $30 for members, $40 for non-members, $45 at the door. Register by visiting www.springfieldregionalchamber.com, e-mailing [email protected], or calling (413) 755-1310.
• Oct. 2: Multi-chamber Business Table Top Expo, 4:30-7 p.m., hosted by Castle of Knights, 1599 Memorial Dr., Chicopee. Presented in collaboration with the Greater Chicopee, Greater Holyoke, Holyoke, Greater Westfield, and Quaboag Hills chambers. Cost: $125 for exhibitors. Register by visiting www.springfieldregionalchamber.com, e-mailing [email protected], or calling (413) 755-1310.
• Oct. 17: Deadline for Super 60 reservations. Register by visiting www.springfieldregionalchamber.com, e-mailing [email protected], or calling (413) 755-1310.
• Oct. 26: Super 60 Awards Celebration, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., hosted by Chez Josef, 176 Shoemaker Lane, Agawam. Join us as we celebrate the success of the fastest-growing privately held companies in the region. Cost: $60 for members, $75 for non-members, $100 at the door. Register by visiting www.springfieldregionalchamber.com, e-mailing [email protected], or calling (413) 755-1310.
WEST OF THE RIVER CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
• Sept. 18: September Legislative Breakfast, 7-9 a.m., hosted by Chez Josef, 176 Shoemaker Lane, Agawam. Join us as we listen to an informative panel discussion with our elected officials. State senators, state representatives, and local mayors will update guests on all things politics. The presenting sponsor is Horizon Services; premier sponsors include the Insurance Center of New England, Health New England, Polish National Credit Union, and Republic Services; and preferred sponsors include Reliable Temps, Spherion Staffing, Westfield Bank, and Partners Restaurant & Catering. Register online at www.westoftheriverchamber.com.
• Oct. 4: Multi-chamber Lunch & Learn, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., hosted by Storrowton Tavern, 1305 Memorial Ave., West Springfield. Enjoy lunch while learning about the future of our business climate with guest speaker Richard Lord, CEO of Associated Industries of Massachusetts. Cost: $30. Register online at www.westoftheriverchamber.com. For more information, contact the chamber office at (413) 426-3880 or [email protected]
• Oct. 18: Networking Lunch, noon to 1:30 p.m., hosted by Crestview Country Club, Agawam. You must be a member or guest of a member to attend. Enjoy a sit-down lunch while networking with fellow chamber members. Each attendee will get a chance to offer a brief introduction and company overview. The only cost to attend is the cost of your lunch. Attendees will order off the menu and pay separately the day of the event. We cannot invoice you for these events. Register online at www.westoftheriverchamber.com.
• Oct. 25: Food Fest West, 5:30-8 p.m., hosted by Springfield Country Club, West Springfield. Local restaurants show off their cuisine at this well-attended event, which also features a DJ, raffle, and entertainment. Vote for your favorite restaurant. Proceeds raised by Food Fest West will go toward the Partnership for Education and the WRC Educational Fund, which provides grants to businesses for on-the-job training and continuing-education needs. Cost: $35 in advance, $45 at the door. Tickets may be purchased online at www.westoftheriverchamber.com. For more information about this event, contact the chamber office at (413) 426-3880 or [email protected]
Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C. recently welcomed two new associates to the firm’s Audit and Accounting department: Briana Doyle and Matthew Ogrodowicz. Doyle comes to MBK following a tax internship at a public accounting firm in Westborough. As an accounting associate, she will focus on audit engagements across a variety of industries. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Nichols College. Ogrodowicz will also focus on audit engagements. Before joining MBK, he was a bookkeeper at a Holyoke business. He holds a bachelor of administration degree in psychology from Amherst College and received his master’s degree in accounting from UMass Amherst. He recently joined the Business Development Group at MBK and serves as the treasurer of the board of Historic Holyoke at Wistariahurst and the South Hadley Farmer’s Market. Doyle and Ogrodowicz are the latest in a new class of accounting associates at MBK. Over the course of the next several months, they will be trained extensively in audit, accounting, and taxation and will have an opportunity to bring their unique backgrounds and skill sets to bear in providing accounting work to clients.
Emily Crafts has joined brand-development firm Six-Point Creative, where she assumes the newly created role of traffic manager/administrator. As such, she will be accountable for all workflow within the agency and will provide an information hub for agency projects. Her responsibilities include the scheduling of projects and allocation of resources, and she will also facilitate the internal communication of priorities, project details, and deadlines. Crafts worked most recently as a development, marketing, and communications coordinator for the Center for Human Development in Springfield. She earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Roger Williams University and is pursuing an MBA from Western New England University.
The Greater Holyoke Chamber of Commerce board of directors announced that Barry Feingold has been named chamber president. He will also serve as president of the Greater Holyoke Chamber Centennial Foundation Inc. Feingold is a veteran chamber executive who previously served as the Milford Area Chamber of Commerce’s (MACC) president for 10 years, increasing its membership by 50% and revenue over 35%. Prior to arriving at the MACC, he served the American Chamber of Commerce in Lima, Peru, starting as the administrative and marketing manager and working his way up to executive director. After spending the last four years once again in Peru, where he successfully ran his own hospitality-management business, he decided to move back with his family to his native Massachusetts. Feingold, the chamber’s first bilingual president, replaces Kathleen Anderson, who served as chamber president for six years and recently joined the leadership at Holyoke Medical Center as director of Community Benefits.
American International College (AIC) announced the promotion of Nicolle Cestero to senior vice president for Human Resources and chief of staff. Cestero joined AIC in July 2011 as the associate vice president for Human Resources. Since that time, she has assumed increasing levels of responsibility and scope of duties. In 2012, she was named vice president for Human Resources and Title IX coordinator, and was promoted to senior vice president for Human Resources and Title IX coordinator in 2016. In her new role, Cestero will continue to lead AIC’s Human Resources unit, where she has established best practices in all areas, including staff recruiting and hiring, employee relations, and succession planning. As chief of staff, she will serve as advisor to the president and will play an integral role in the implementation of AIC’s strategic plan. Cestero will oversee the college’s legal matters and support presidential and institutional initiatives to ensure project deadlines are met and targeted outcomes attained. She serves on the president’s cabinet and supports the board governance and nominating committee; the finance, pension, and insurance committee; and the compensation committee of the board of trustees. Earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Mount Holyoke College and a master’s degree in industrial organizational psychology from the University of West Florida, Cestero received certification as a professional in human resources (PHR) and attained the designation of certified professional from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM-CP), which recognizes human-resource professionals who implement policies on strategies, serve as point of contact for staff and stakeholders, and perform operational human-resource duties.
The Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst announced two new directors for the Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship. Gregory Thomas, who brings diverse experience in corporate America, was named the center’s new executive director, while Stephen Brand, who has taught entrepreneurship at colleges and universities across the country, will serve as the new associate director. For the past 20 years, Thomas has held various senior-level global manufacturing, finance, and control roles with Corning Inc. During the last five years at Corning, he was a strategist in the Emerging Innovation Group, focusing on bringing new products, processes, and businesses to market. He has also served as the president of the UMass Amherst Alumni Assoc. board. He will begin his new duties Oct. 1. Thomas, whose experience includes work as a consultant to nonprofit organizations, is a prolific volunteer and an accomplished fundraiser. A 1991 alumnus of UMass Amherst, Thomas earned an MBA in finance and operations management at Clark Atlanta University. In his new role as executive director, he will have overall responsibility for the Berthiaume Center, and will work with external constituents on campus and throughout the region to develop and execute value-adding partnerships in service of the center’s mission. Brand comes well-prepared for this ‘student-facing’ role, having taught entrepreneurship and worked closely with student entrepreneurs at Babson College, Case Western Reserve University, Olin College of Engineering, and others. At Babson, he was co-director of the Summer Venture Program and collaborated with emerging entrepreneurs in Kuwait, Egypt, and Saudia Arabia. Most recently, he was executive director of Global Learning and Development at Bay Path University. Brand holds a bachelor’s degree from Ohio State University, a master’s degree in interactive technology in education from Harvard University, and a doctorate in management from Case Western Reserve University.
Anne Griffin, founder and CEO of Charge Ahead LLC, announced she will soon begin manufacturing her first product, the Solar Foldy, designed to provide portable light and a charge fueled by solar energy to cell phones and tablets. To raise money for the first production run of Solar Foldys, based on the prototype Griffin has developed, Charge Ahead will launch a $150,000 Kickstarter campaign on Sept. 10. Griffin hopes to bring the product to market in the U.S. by the end of the year. A Florence-based business founded in 2013, Charge Ahead has a mission to encourage people to integrate solar power into their daily lives. While working on her prototype, Griffin sought advice and direction from Valley Venture Mentors of Springfield, the Small Business Development Center of Springfield, and SCORE, a nonprofit organization offering small-business advice. The Solar Foldy is pocket-sized and offers a USB input for charging devices as well as four modes of light — bright light, super bright light that is two times stronger, a night-light setting, and a flashing SOS mode. The Solar Foldy provides up to 200 hours of light on a single eight- to 12-hour solar charge. It can also be charged in an outlet, if necessary. In the future, Griffin hopes to introduce a companion product that will provide four modes of light only, with colored LED settings.
Local law firm Shatz, Schwartz and Fentin, P.C. announced that eight of its attorneys were listed in The Best Lawyers in America for 2019. They include:
• Shareholder Michele Feinstein, in the fields of elder law and trusts and estates;
• Shareholder Gary Fentin, banking and finance law and commercial transactions/Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) law;
• Shareholder Carol Cioe Klyman, elder law;
• Managing Partner Timothy Mulhern, corporate law and tax law;
• Shareholder Steven Schwartz, business organizations (including LLCs and partnerships), closely held companies, and family business law, as well as corporate law;
• Shareholder James Sheils, commercial transactions/Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) law;
• Shareholder Ann Weber, elder law; and
• Shareholder Steven Weiss, bankruptcy and creditor-debtor rights/insolvency and reorganization law.
In addition, Weiss and Mulhern were both recognized as 2019 Lawyers of the Year — Weiss for his work in the field of bankruptcy and creditor-debtor rights/insolvency and reorganization law, and Mulhern for his work in the field of corporate law.
The Law Office of Christopher B. Myhrum announced that Chris Myhrum was selected for the 2018 edition of Best Lawyers in America in the practice areas of environmental and environmental litigation. This is the 27th year Myhrum has been selected for this honor. He has also been recognized by his peers for the highest level of professional excellence as AV Preeminent (2002 to present) and as a Massachusetts Super Lawyer (2001 to present).
Brand-development firm Six-Point Creative has added MJ Hyndman-Benander as director of Client Services. In her new position, she oversees all client services for the agency, providing new client onboarding, client budget and planning oversight, key-account service, and oversight of Six-Point’s team of client advocates. Hyndman-Benander brings to Six-Point 20 years of marketing experience working with global institutions in Manila, Philippines, for which she spearheaded high-profile events, managed international licensing agreements, and forged international alliances with blue-chip companies and entertainment giants such as Disney, Nickelodeon, and Warner Brothers. She has held marketing positions in the Philippines at BDO, Unibank Inc., Globe Telecom, SM Supermalls, and Citibank, N.A., where she received two Chairman’s Awards for programs leading to innovation and revenue contribution. Most recently, she worked for Bay Path University in Longmeadow as a recruitment and enrollment specialist for the International Graduate Admissions and Multicultural Affairs department. Hyndman-Benander holds a bachelor’s degree in advertising and public relations from Assumption College, Makati City, Philippines, where she received a College Leadership Award.
William O’Neil and Gayle Rae, owners and founding partners of Industrial Steel & Boiler Services Inc., announced a change in company management, as Alex Korobkov has become sole owner and president of ISB. Korobkov has been employed by ISB for 17 years, beginning his career as a welder/boilermaker. He has steadily increased his responsibilities and expertise to become the operations manager for the last several years. Korobkov has appointed Debbie Salamon, who has been with the company since its beginning, and has been in the office manager position for 27 years, to serve as treasurer. ISB was incorporated in 1991 and is engaged in industrial power-plant services throughout the Northeast. The company is well-known in the industry for its work in boiler repair, valve repair, steel fabrication, pressure vessel fabrication, and code repairs to ASME vessels. ISB also holds many ASME and NBIC stamps.
Catherine Iannucci has taken over as member advocate at Click Workspace, a co-working space in downtown Northampton. Iannucci, an Emerson College graduate, moved to Northampton this summer. She has worked at nonprofit organizations since her senior year at college and comes to Click with hopes to play an active role in her new community. “I try to be an enthusiastic participant in any community I am living in,” she said. “There is no feeling more gratifying than enhancing your community and being an asset to those around you. Being a part of Click is a great way to do that for me. I get to meet and interact with local entrepreneurs, artists, and other nonprofits.” Click is a nonprofit that brings together creative professionals, space, and resources while producing artistic, cultural, and educational programming that enriches the region. Iannucci can help anyone become a member at Click, and can be reached by e-mailing [email protected] More information about becoming a member can be found at www.clickworkspace.org.
Elms College Launches Student Leadership Institute
CHICOPEE — To expand its offering of leadership-development opportunities to all students, the Elms College will launch the Elms College Student Leadership Institute (SLI) at the start of the fall 2018 semester. SLI — run by the Office of Student Engagement and Leadership — encourages leadership development by hosting dynamic workshops and seminars; establishing mentoring relationships with faculty, staff, and students within the campus community; creating opportunities for community service by partnering with local organizations; and sparking discussions with peers about important personal and social issues. Fall 2018 SLI sessions include offerings centered around the college’s core values of faith, community, justice, and excellence. Participants may choose to attend individual sessions for personal enrichment, or take part in a series of sessions to earn a certificate in values-based leadership. This certificate is awarded to students who complete all eight of the SLI programs offered each year. The new institute is an extension of Elms College’s existing Sophomore Leadership Program, which will continue to be offered this year as a part of SLI to encourage second-year students to engage in deep development of their leadership qualities and potential. Through leadership programming, workshops, and activities, sophomores will self-reflect, develop skills, and make changes through action.
Colony Hills Capital Sells Mobile Five Portfolio for $134.3M
WILBRAHAM — Colony Hills Capital announced that it recently sold the 2,013-unit Mobile Five portfolio for $134,300,000. The sale of the multi-family apartment portfolio, purchased for $98 million in May 2013, produced a healthy, double-digit return for the firm’s investors. This sale is the latest example of Colony Hills’ ability to source investment opportunities to which it can add substantial value through strategic capital investments and optimizing on-site management. This profitable investment also highlights how Colony Hills can enter various markets and capitalize on opportunities that others may overlook. Colony Hills recognized that Mobile, Ala. was an underappreciated market for multi-family investments and purchased the portfolio prior to the arrival of major employers like Airbus, Whole Foods, SSAB, and Amazon, as well as the major expansion of Austal, USA. Colony Hills Capital is a real-estate investment company specializing in the acquisition and management of value-add multi-family properties. The investment targets are typically sourced ‘off-market,’ and at the time Colony Hills acquires them, they are underperforming relative to their peers in the marketplace. The Mobile Five portfolio was identified as an ideal investment by President David Kaufman, due to it being mismanaged, undercapitalized, and lacking a clear business plan. The portfolio consists of five separate communities comprising a variety of vintages and styles, which catered to a wide spectrum of renters. The properties are Yester Oaks (587 units), Crossings at Pinebrook (545 units), Windsor Place (384 units), Sandpiper Townhomes (253 units), and Pathways Apartments (244 units). The portfolio is also geographically diversified, from east of Interstate 65 to the western suburbs, and further diversified in product quality ranging from class-A to class-C apartments, demonstrating that Colony Hills has the capability to manage assets of varying classes and in diverse locations. While under Colony Hills’ ownership, the properties benefited from a $4 million capital-improvement program which focused on upgrading unit interiors, modernizing outdated clubhouses, adding resident amenities such as fitness centers and dog parks, and enhancing existing resort-size pools with new furniture and grilling centers. Colony Hills also rebranded the communities with new signage and landscaping, and added management systems to optimize the marketing and sales execution. As a result of these improvements, average rents rose considerably. The neighborhoods surrounding the communities improved as well. A new Whole Foods market moved in a short distance from Crossings at Pinebrook. The city of Mobile garnered a number of awards for the business climate created by the addition of Whole Foods, Airbus, Amazon, and SSAB.
Bay Path’s Online Liberal Studies Program Earns National Accolades
LONGMEADOW — The American Women’s College at Bay Path University has been helping women complete their bachelor’s degrees at twice the rate of the national average since its inception in 2013, thanks to its digitally enhanced learning model, SOUL (Social Online Universal Learning). This innovative approach to education has placed its bachelor of arts degree in liberal studies among the 50 best in the nation, as ranked by TheBestSchools.org, which ranked colleges based on six major categories: academic excellence, strength of faculty scholarship, reputation, financial aid, range of degree programs, and strength of online instruction methodology. The university’s program placed 21st on the list, in which the editor highlighted the freedom it provides to students, particularly adult women who have other responsibilities, including family and work obligations, to design an academic program to suit their needs and schedule. The SOUL model uses data-driven intervention strategies to help mitigate achievement gaps, and has been recognized with more than $5 million in support from industry thought leaders and organizations. SOUL was developed after the American Women’s College was awarded a grant through the First in the World competition administered through the U.S. Department of Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE). The four-year, $3.5 million award was used to develop — and continually hone — the program by improving educator access to learning data, allowing for targeted feedback and personalized guidance. SOUL has been recognized with several other grants and awards from national foundations, the federal government, and awarding agencies.
PV Financial Group Makes $5,000 Donation to MHA
SPRINGFIELD — Ed Sokolowski, managing partner of PV Financial Group in Ludlow, presented a $5,000 donation to MHA on Sept. 6. “At PV Financial Group, we are committed to giving back to our community and demonstrating leadership through philanthropy,” said Sokolowski. “Instead of spending money on traditional marketing efforts, we choose instead to invest dollars directly into organizations that support the future growth of our community. MHA is close to our hearts because the organization’s ideals of integrity, respect, and compassion are directly aligned with our values at PV Financial Group. While our organizations may have different clients, we believe they all deserve to be treated with the same level of care.” Cheryl Fasano, president and CEO of MHA, noted that the funds will be directed to the agency’s efforts to launch a new outpatient behavioral-health clinic in Springfield this January.
First Connecticut Bancorp Issues Quarterly Dividend
FARMINGTON, Conn. — First Connecticut Bancorp Inc. announced that its board of directors has voted to pay its quarterly dividend of $0.17 per share. Dividends will be payable on Sept. 17 to all shareholders of record as of Sept. 7. First Connecticut Bancorp is the holding company for Farmington Bank, a full-service community bank with 25 branch locations throughout Central Conn. and Western Mass., offering commercial and residential lending as well as wealth-management services. Farmington Bank has assets of $3.3 billion.
Bay Path Recognizes Springfield JCC with Award
LONGMEADOW — Springfield Jewish Community Center was recognized with Bay Path University’s first-ever Community Partnership Spirit Award, which is bestowed upon an individual, team, or organization that has demonstrated a long-term commitment to the Bay Path community, students, and mission by playing an integral role in student success through mentorship, leadership, and fostering career development. The Springfield JCC was selected as this year’s award recipient from a pool of nominations submitted by faculty and staff at Bay Path throughout the spring. The process was thorough, requiring that nominations include a narrative explaining the impact of the partner on Bay Path’s mission and students. A selection committee reviewed submissions and made the final decision. “Students from our occupational therapy, psychology, and education programs have held internships, volunteered, and engaged in service learning projects with the organization,” Bay Path President Carol Leary said. “Most recently, our master’s in occupational therapy faculty and students collaborated with the JCC Kehillah program for individuals with special needs to develop a ‘SensiPlay’ program for children with various disabilities.”
Bulkley Richardson Launches Cannabis Practice
SPRINGFIELD — As the legalization of marijuana continues to roll out in Massachusetts, attorneys at Bulkley Richardson saw an opportunity to meet the unique needs of businesses within the cannabis industry. The firm assembled a group of cross-disciplinary lawyers to form a cannabis practice group. To help launch this new practice, Bulkley Richardson recently sponsored a conference, “That Cannabis Show,” at the MassMutual Center, where the firm’s panel discussed from a legal perspective how cannabis is both like and unlike any other business. The Cannabis Group is led by attorneys Scott Foster, chair of the business and finance group and co-founder of Valley Venture Mentors (VVM), and Andy Levchuk, chair of the cybersecurity group and a 24-year veteran of the Department of Justice. The group also includes Ron Weiss, Kathy Bernardo, Mary Jo Kennedy, Sarah Willey, and Ryan Barry. “When doing business in a highly regulated industry, a rapidly changing legal landscape exists that requires a team of attorneys to collaborate across practice areas,” Foster said. “Bulkley Richardson understands the unique legal needs of cannabis businesses operating in Massachusetts and has developed a comprehensive practice group to specifically meet the many challenges within the cannabis industry.”
Unify Against Bullying Accepting Grant Applications
SPRINGFIELD — Unify Against Bullying Executive Director Christine Maiwald announced that the organization is accepting grant applications online. The organization will be awarding $15,000 in microgrants, which can be anywhere from $500 to $2,000. Paul Mitchell and its Neon product line will award an additional $1,000 grant. “Our number-one goal is to inspire youth of all ages and to ignite their ideas as to how to prevent bullying,” Maiwald said. “We encourage parents, guidance personnel, teachers, administrators, and charity partners to also apply. Their programs must be dedicated to anti-bullying education and furthering the Unify mission: to bring an end to bullying through the celebration of true diversity.” In addition to providing the seeds for children to come up with ideas on how to prevent bullying, Unify’s high-school students attend events and are given the opportunity to speak with younger students on the value of celebrating differences. The students are also bringing education to their younger peers in school to explain what bullying is and the effects it has on an individual. The organization has a committee of volunteers who will select the applicant initiatives that best reflect and advance the organization’s mission.
Opioid Overdose Deaths Decline in Massachusetts
BOSTON — Opioid-related overdose deaths in Massachusetts have fallen steadily over the past three quarters even as the presence of fentanyl in overdose deaths reached an all-time high. The presence of fentanyl in the toxicology of those who died from opioid-related overdose deaths rose to nearly 90% in 2018, underscoring its impact as the driving force behind the opioid epidemic in Massachusetts, according to the latest quarterly opioid-related deaths report released by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH). The report illustrates the changing nature of the epidemic, with cocaine now surpassing heroin in the toxicology for opioid-related deaths, beginning with the fourth quarter of 2017 (October through December). DPH officials reissued a June clinical advisory to all medical providers to warn them about the increase of fentanyl in cocaine. Overall, 2017 saw a 4% decrease in opioid-related overdose deaths from 2016. The data also shows that the Commonwealth has experienced a 30% decline in opioid prescriptions since the launch of the Massachusetts Prescription Monitoring Program (MassPAT) in August 2016. Between April and June 2018, searches by registered prescribers to MassPAT increased by 100,000 searches over the previous quarter, making it the largest increase in searches conducted in a single quarter.
Teach Western Mass Awarded License to Certify New Teachers
SPRINGFIELD — Teach Western Mass (TWM) was recently approved as a sponsoring organization for teacher licensure by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to train and certify new teachers in the region through the Teach Western Mass Residency. TWM completed a rigorous program-approval application process that demonstrated it is able to meet all the requirements for teacher-preparation programs, and expects to certify 20-50 aspiring special-education and ESL teachers annually to serve in partner schools in Holyoke and Springfield. Launched in 2015, TWM represents a network of 29 schools serving more than 11,000 students in Western Mass. Collectively, TWM and partner schools work to recruit, prepare, and support effective teachers in the region. The TWM Residency was established in 2018 in partnership with the nonprofit education organization TNTP and funded by a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to help build high-quality, diverse teacher pipelines for hard-to-fill teaching positions. An accelerated, affordable alternative to traditional certification programs, the program targets recent graduates, career changers, and professionals already in the education sector, including paraprofessionals and substitutes, seeking to earn their initial teacher certification. Once accepted into the program, participants will complete an intensive summer training and teach in classrooms under the guidance of an experienced coach. Their training is focused on the most important skills they’ll need to be successful in their first year of teaching and beyond. Only those who show that they’re on the way to mastering those core instructional skills at the end of training will be recommended for certification. The application for the 2019 cohort launches on Nov. 1. Aspiring teachers can apply for the program by visiting www.teachwesternmass.com.
Institute for Applied Life Sciences Boosts Industry Relationships
AMHERST — In addition to directing the Human Testing Center at UMass Amherst’s Institute for Applied Life Sciences (IALS), Michael Busa is managing the new class of research relationships emerging for the state’s largest public university campus, with corporate partners in biotech and healthcare. “It’s a new world for research academics,” said Busa, “because, even though we are a public university, when companies come to us looking for research support, they want to retain their intellectual property. There are new rules, and we now have an example of successfully navigating those new rules and relationships.” He is referring to a recent collaboration with Novartis that will see IALS researchers use the Human Testing Center’s living-science, sleep-monitoring, human-motion, and other facilities to evaluate behavior- and movement-monitoring technologies now in development. He says it is the first of what he expects to be many “big collaborations” between IALS and biotech and healthcare firms. Specifically for the Novartis collaboration, IALS researchers will assess the validity of a Novartis device in capturing detailed aspects of human motion and behavior such as walking, balance, and sleep. Busa, who has a Ph.D. in kinesiology and training in mechanical engineering, exercise physiology, biomechanics, and physical activity, will work with kinesiologists Katherine Boyer, John Sirard, and Stuart Chipkin; neuroscientist and sleep expert Rebecca Spencer; and 10 supporting students and staff.