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40 Under 40

Class of 2018 Company Notebook

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.”

40 Under 40 Class of 2018

Scenes From the June 21 Event

40under40-logo2017aThe class of 2018 was celebrated at the annual 40 Under Forty Gala on Thursday, June 21 at the Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House in Holyoke.

More than 700 people converged on the Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House in Holyoke on June 21 to welcome another 40 rising stars to one of the most prestigious clubs in the region — the one comprised of 40 Under Forty honorees. The annual gala was marked by perfect weather and high energy — very high energy. After some networking, the first order of business was announcing the winner of the coveted Continued Excellence Award, which this year went to Samalid Hogan, regional director for the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center Network and editor of Innovate413, and a 40 Under Forty honoree in 2013. After that, it was time to honor the class of 2018. The event, captured in photo montages over the next several pages — was made possible by its sponsors, especially presenting sponsors Northwestern Mutual and PeoplesBank. Other sponsors this year were Development Associates, Health New England, Isenberg School of Management, Mercedes-Benz of Springfield, the MP Group, Renew.Calm, and event partner YPS.


Photography for this special section by Leah Martin Photography

 

Presenting Sponsors

nortwestern-mutual peoplesbank-logo

Sponsors

hne_logo_cmyk_stack-page-001 isenberg
renew-calm-logo-002

Partner

yps

40 Under 40 Class of 2018 Cover Story

Announcing the 12th Annual Cohort of 40 Under Forty Honorees

40under40-logo2017aWhen BusinessWest launched a program in 2007 to honor young professionals in Western Mass. — not only for their career achievements, but for their service to the community — there was little concern that the initial flow of nominations might slow to a trickle years later.

We were right. In fact, 40 Under Forty has become such a coveted honor in the region’s business community that the flow has turned into a flood, with more than 180 unique nominations arriving this year, making the job of five independent judges tougher than ever.

They did their job well, however, as you’ll find while reading through the profiles on the coming pages. The format is a bit different this year — instead of being interviewed, the winners were free to craft and write out their own thoughts — but, collectively, they speak of a wave of young talent that is only getting larger during what can only be described as an economic renaissance in Western Mass.

As usual, they hail from a host of different industries, from law to banking; from education to healthcare; from media to retail, just to name a few. Many are advancing the work of long-established businesses, while others, with an entrepreneurial bent, created their own opportunities instead of waiting for them to emerge.


40 Under Forty Class of 2018

Amanda Abramson
Yahaira Antonmarchi
Lindsay Barron
Nathan Bazinet
Andrew Bresciano
Saul Caban
Jamie Campbell
Crystal Childs
Nathan Costa
Jamie Daniels


But there are, as always, some common denominators, including excellence within one’s profession, a commitment to giving back to the community, dedication to family and work/life balance, and a focus on what else they do in each of those realms.

The class of 2018 will be celebrated at the annual 40 Under Forty Gala on Thursday, June 21 at the Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House in Holyoke. A limited number of tables are available, and a number of individual seats and standing-room-only tickets are available as well — but they will sell out quickly.

The gala will also feature the announcement of the winner of the fourth annual Continued Excellence Award, a recognition program that salutes the 40 Under Forty honoree who has most impressively added to their résumé of accomplishments in the workplace and within the community, as chosen by a panel of judges. Nominations are still being accepted through Monday, May 14 at businesswest.com/40-under-forty-continued-excellence-award.

Speaking of judges, we thank those who scored the more than 180 nominations for this year’s 40 Under Forty competition (their story HERE). They are:

Ken Carter, member of the UMass Amherst Polymer Science and Engineering Department;
Mark Fulco, president of Mercy Medical Center;
Jim Hickson, senior vice president and commercial regional president for the Pioneer Valley and Connecticut for Berkshire Bank;
Angela Lussier, CEO and founder of the Speaker Sisterhood; and
Kristi Reale, partner at Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C..

Presenting Sponsors

nortwestern-mutual peoplesbank-logo

Sponsors

hne_logo_cmyk_stack-page-001 isenberg
renew-calm-logo-002

Partner

yps


Photography for this special section by Leah Martin Photography

40 Under 40 Class of 2018

Realtor, Cohn & Co. Real Estate; Age 31; Education: BS, Keene State College

Amanda Abramson

Amanda Abramson

Abramson grew up on a 100-acre sheep farm and was involved in 4-H throughout her life. She attended high school at Northfield Mount Hermon and college at Keene State. Abramson has always felt the need to be involved in her local community and has carried that sentiment through to her career as a local Realtor, where she was Top Producer of the Year at Cohn & Co. in 2017. She currently lives on a farm in Greenfield with her husband, Sam, and two dogs.

What did you want to be when you grew up? A professional athlete.

How do you define success? Being financially stable while living the life I love.

What three words best describe you? Passionate, energetic, determined.

What do you like most about Western Massachusetts? The beautiful landscape.

Who has been your best mentor, and why? My father. He has an unbelievable moral compass and work ethic, and loves his community.

What actress would play you in a movie about your life? Jennifer Lawrence.

What are you passionate about? Animal welfare.

Whom do you look up to, and why? My older sister. She is the wisest, most grounded person I know.

What will work colleagues say at your funeral? It’s so quiet now.

What person, past or present, would you like to have lunch with, and why? Jane Goodall. Her work in animal advocacy is amazing, and she has acted on her passion for animal welfare all over the world.

40 Under 40 Class of 2018

Director of Community Relations, the Law Offices of Mark E. Salomone; Age 33; Education: Associate degree, Holyoke Community College; BA, Elms College

Yahaira Antonmarchi

Yahaira Antonmarchi

Antonmarchi was born in Puerto Rico to military parents; her mother was in the Air Force, and her father in the Army. When her parents retired from the military, the family settled in Western Mass., where Antonmarchi attended school mostly in South Hadley before graduating from Holyoke High School. Afterward, she went right to work in a small administrative office, after which she was hired at the Law Offices of Mark E. Salomone. While working for the firm full-time, she earned degrees from HCC and Elms College, and obtained a license to sell real estate.

What did you want to be when you grew up? My upbringing was very strict and disciplined, and the value of hard work was instilled in me from an early age. Although I can’t recall having an interest in any specific profession, I know I always wanted to work hard. I remember being a young girl and thinking that women in business suits seemed so powerful, like they had worked their asses off to get where they were, and they demanded respect for it. I thought that was so impressive. I wanted to be a woman in a business suit — or perhaps just the embodiment of what a woman in a business suit conveyed to me at the time.

How do you define success? I think being successful isn’t so much about your own accomplishments, but what you inspire others to accomplish. To be told that I have motivated someone or that someone looks up to me makes me feel far more successful than any degree, award, or accolade ever will.

What are you passionate about? I’m passionate about the advancement of individuals or groups for which advancement may seem unlikely — those who have the cards stacked against them. As a minority woman from a low-income background, I know what it is to be the underdog. It is truly inspiring to see disadvantage turn to motivation, motivation to action, and action to advancement.

Whom do you look up to, and why? Growing up, I saw my father walk from our home in Holyoke to work in West Springfield and back every day to provide for our family. The sacrifices that my mother has made for the sake of my two brothers and me almost make me question whether I could ever be even half the mother she is. The answer to this question will forever be my parents.

40 Under 40 Class of 2018

Loan Originator, Applied Mortgage; Age 28; Education: BA, UMass Commonwealth College; MBA, Western New England University

Lindsay Barron

Lindsay Barron

A proud Western Mass. native, Barron was raised, educated, and currently lives and works in Hampshire County. Her career in the mortgage industry provides a unique view of the economy. Having built a network of peers, clients, partners, and friends, she strives to nurture those connections to enable collaboration to achieve common, community-oriented goals. She is also committed to working with the next generation of leaders. Barron volunteers on committees for various fundraising events, serves on the Greater Northampton Chamber of Commerce board, is a founding board member of Young Professionals of Amherst, and is campaign co-chair for United Way of Hampshire County.

What did you want to be when you grew up? An adult. Seriously! I have been dying to be 30 since I knew what 30 was, and here I (almost) am.

How do you define success? To me, there are many categories of success — family, career, overall comfort in life. I guess, at the end of it all, I define success as the number of people who remember how you positively influenced their life in one way or another.

What three words best describe you? Goal-oriented, efficient, planner.

What do you like most about Western Massachusetts? We have it all: the hometown feel, amazing restaurants, access to healthcare and education, and beautiful natural attractions.

Who has been your best mentor, and why? My parents. They are an amazing team who support me in anything and everything I want to do and encourage me to be the best I can be every day.

What actress would play you in a movie about your life? Apparently, Mandy Moore, because someone just stopped me in the store and said I look like her — but I haven’t heard that before!

What are you passionate about? Family, friends, work, and maintaining a vibrant economy here in Western Mass. We are all in this together. Our community is as good as those around us, and helping each other helps everyone.

What person, past or present, would you like to have lunch with, and why? My Grandma Joan. I didn’t get to know her past my young childhood, and I would love to have a chat with her now as an adult.

40 Under 40 Class of 2018

Director, Annual Giving & Grants, Cooley Dickinson Health Care; Age 33; Education: BS, Westfield State University; UMass Dartmouth

Nathan Bazinet

Nathan Bazinet

Bazinet’s background includes work in healthcare philanthropy, nonprofit management, and small-business operations. He is an active volunteer for the Zoo in Forest Park and Education Center, where he served as interim executive director for the 2017 season, before transitioning into president of the Forest Park Zoological Society, the zoo’s managing board. He also serves as president of his condo association. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with Orion and Aurora (the Zoo’s timber wolves), road trips, running, and Neil Diamond concerts.

What did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to own Jurassic Park, be a government agent (James Bond), and have a side job as an architect. The first two are still life goals.

Who has been your best mentor, and why? Diane Dukette has played the greatest role in helping to define and shape my career path. She is a patient teacher, a model for acting with integrity, and the definition of a strong support system — always reminding me to never change who I am, professionally or personally. Her support as a mentor, and the opportunity to work under her leadership at both Mercy Medical Center and Cooley Dickinson, has been critical to many of my career successes.

What are you passionate about? Giving back. The zoo is my current volunteer priority, and has been for several years. Having the chance to work with an amazing team and board to completely restructure and reinvigorate this Springfield icon was both challenging and incredibly fulfilling. Bonus: who wouldn’t love hanging out with timber wolves on the weekend?

Whom do you look up to, and why? My mom, for teaching me about life, and the importance of wearing sunglasses indoors; Christopher, for showing me safety, trust, and love (never give up); and my best friend, Peter. If I had to embarrass one of them with detail, it’s Peter. He’s a super-smart doctor, an author, and a world-renowned ethicist. More than that, as I’m an only child, he’s the closest I’ve had to a brother for longer than I can remember. Thanks for always having my back (and for putting up with my innumerable shenanigans).

What will work colleagues say at your funeral? Probably my mantra — “every day’s a great day!”

40 Under 40 Class of 2018

Vice President, Commercial Loan Officer, Greenfield Savings Bank; Age 37; Education: BA, Isenberg School of Management, UMass Amherst

Andrew Bresciano

Andrew Bresciano

Bresciano was born and raised in Greenfield. Growing up, he worked alongside his father in a family catering business. Being involved in the family business for more than 20 years instilled a strong work ethic and an understanding of the importance of entrepreneurs and small businesses in the community. In 2005, he joined Greenfield Savings Bank, and in 2013 was promoted to vice president of Commercial Lending. Bresciano currently serves as a director and officer of the Rotary Club of Franklin County, the Franklin County Community Development Corp., and Greenfield YMCA. He lives in Turners Falls with his wife and two children.

What do you like most about Western Massachusetts? The fact that we are home to so many small businesses owned by individuals who have unrivaled passion for what they do. Also, the fact that this community has the ability to support so many nonprofit organizations seeking to make an impact in the lives of our community members.

Who has been your best mentor, and why? My mother, who taught me how to be a compassionate and caring individual, and my father, who taught me that hard work is rewarding and worth every minute.

What are you passionate about? Continuing to make our community a better place to live, work, and raise a family.

What goals have you set for yourself? Instilling strong values in my children and teaching them the importance of giving back to their community, wherever they live.

Whom do you look up to, and why? My wife, Kathy. She is a smart, strong, and loving person who has extraordinary passion for our family. Kathy is always eager to support me, even in times when I knowingly take on too much. Without her, I would not be able to give the time and effort it takes to make a difference in our community.

40 Under 40 Class of 2018

Youth Counselor and Operations Coordinator, CareerPoint; Age 25; Education: BSW, Westfield State University

Saul Caban

Saul Caban

Caban grew up in a tough section of Holyoke, and early on knew he wanted to be a role model for at-risk youth and others like himself. He is passionate about service and excited to be back working in the Youth Department at CareerPoint, where he continues to deliver intensive counseling to young people in his community, helping them gain awareness of their skills and interests and guiding them on a path to success in the workforce and beyond. The second youngest of six siblings in a first-generation family, Caban was the first to graduate high school, the first to graduate from college, and the first to be admitted to graduate school. He is now working on the completion of an MPA in nonprofit management at Westfield State University.

What did you want to be when you grew up? Growing up, I wanted to be a lawyer, but now I’m still working on my plan to pursue a leadership career in higher education and/or workforce development.

How do you define success? To me, success is when I am performing well and satisfied with my position. It is knowing that my work and efforts are adding value to my company, but also to my overall life and the lives of other people.

What three words best describe you? Outgoing, witty, efficient.

What do you like most about Western Massachusetts? I love the people.

Who has been your best mentor, and why? I’ve had several amazing mentors come into my life, including my current supervisor, Gladys Lebron-Martinez (pictured); Steve Leiblum, former director of the NEARI Jump Start after-school program; and Holyoke legend Steve Dubilo, who left his legacy behind, and I’m proud to have been his ‘son’ for many years before his death. These three have introduced me to amazing people and the resources that I need to be successful in an ever-evolving world.

What goal do you set for yourself at the start of each day? To bring out the best in someone, so that they, in turn, bring out the best in the next person.

What will work colleagues say at your funeral? Saul brought a lot of energy and positive spirit, and he could always be counted on.

What person, past or present, would you like to have lunch with, and why? My mom. Because I don’t get to see her as much as I want to.