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Class of 2023

Class of 2023 Cover Story

Introducing the Class of 2023

It is perhaps the best thing about a 40 Under Forty class. And also the most challenging thing for the judges who ultimately decide its makeup.

Each of the nominees has a different background, a different story, a unique set of challenges to overcome, a different path that brought them to where they are, a distinctive set of accomplishments.

This variety, this diversity, makes it difficult for judges, who are asked to weigh the merits of entrepreneurs, professionals, nonprofit managers, public servants, college administrators, and many more — and some who fall into several of these categories at the same time — and score them against one another.

It’s difficult for them, but for the rest of us … it’s what makes this program so special. It’s a salute to the rising stars in this region, and each year, the list of honorees is both a revelation and a celebration.

And the class of 2023 is no exception. It is diverse in every way imaginable.

Each story is, indeed, different, 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 how they can make this region better for all those who live and work here.

The judges for this year’s program — spotlighted below — reviewed more than 120 nominations, a number that speaks to the continued vibrancy of this program and the dedication of the region’s rising stars.

The class of 2023 will be celebrated on Thursday, June 15 at the annual 40 Under Forty Gala at the Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House in Holyoke. That gala will also feature the announcement of the winner of the ninth annual Alumni Achievement Award, a recognition program that salutes the past 40 Under Forty honoree who has most impressively added to their accomplishments in the workplace and within the community, as chosen by a panel of judges.

Tickets for this year’s 40 Under Forty event are sold out!

Go HERE to nominate a 40 Under Forty for next year.

2023 Presenting Sponsor

2023 Partner Sponsors

2023 Presenting Sponsor Alumni Achievement Award

Meet Our Judges

Raymond BerryRaymond Berry is founder and general manager of White Lion Brewing Company, the first craft beer company post-prohibition to recognize the city of Springfield as its home. Berry, a Forty Under 40 member, class of 2010, is currently a board member at Springfield College and Blues to Green, and an attorney general appointee to the Commonwealth’s Cannabis Regulatory Committee. He also sits on the Basketball Hall of Fame Finance Committee, Diversity & Inclusion Committee for the Mass. Brewers Guild, and Philanthropic Committee for the National Brewers Assoc. Berry earned his BS from American International College, MBA from Springfield College, and a graduate certificate from Tufts University. He was a graduate in the region’s inaugural Leadership Pioneer Valley LEAP class. He has received the Spirit Award from the local housing authority, the Affiliated Chamber of Commerce’s Community Leadership Award, the Assoc. of Black Business & Professionals’ Business of the Year Award, and a Martin Luther King Social Justice Award. He has also been recognized as one of the region’s Top 100 Men of Color.

Latoya BosworthLatoya Bosworth is a life coach, author, and program officer for Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities. She worked in Springfield Public Schools for 18 years, first as a special educator and then as a behavior specialist. When she is not facilitating workshops for nonprofit and corporate clients or inspiring others with her speeches and self-published books, she is giving back to her community with through mentoring and collaboration. She was a member of the 40 Under Forty class of 2016, and one of BusinessWest’s Women of Impact for 2022.

Brian CaninaBrian Canina is executive vice president, chief financial officer, and chief operating officer at Holyoke-based PeoplesBank. He has more than 20 years of experience in the finance industry. He is a graduate of Bryant College and is a certified public accountant. He is also a graduate of the ABA Stonier Graduate School of Banking and is a recipient of the Wharton Leadership Certificate. He is president of the Finance and Accounting Society of New England. He serves on the board of directors for Helix Human Services.

Jessye DeaneJessye Deane is the executive director of the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce and Regional Tourism Council, and is the owner of two award-winning fitness studios, F45 Training Hampshire Meadows in Hadley and F45 Training Riverdale in West Springfield. She was a member of the 40 Under Forty class of 2021, Franklin County Young Professional of the Year in 2020, and the 2019 Amherst Chamber MVP. She has serves on more than a dozen community-based committees, and is this year’s campaign co-chair for the United Way of Franklin & Hampshire Region. 

Aundrea PaulkAundrea Paulk is the Marketing and Communications director at Caring Health Center. She is also the founder and creative force behind Soiree Mi, LLC, an event-planning and design business. Soiree Mi offers creative and personalized services for private and corporate clients. She is a member of the 40 Under Forty class of 2022. A graduate of Bay Path University, her areas of expertise include marketing, branding, communications, event planning, social media, and website content management.

Alumni Achievement Award

Read about past Alumni Achievers.

Please nominate for this year HERE

Alumni Achievement Award Judging Underway

When BusinessWest launched its 40 Under Forty program in 2007, it did so to identify rising stars across our region — individuals who were excelling in business and through involvement within the community — and celebrate their accomplishments. 

In 2015, BusinessWest announced a new award, one that builds on the foundation upon which 40 Under Forty was created. It’s called the Alumni Achievement Award. As the name suggests, it is presented to the 40 Under Forty honoree who, in the eyes of an independent panel of judges, has most impressively continued and built upon his or her track record of accomplishment. 

Past winners include: 2022: Anthony Gleason II, president and co-founder of the Gleason Johndrow Companies (40 Under Forty class of 2010); 2021: Anthony Gulluni, Hampden County district attorney (class of 2015); 2020: Carla Cosenzi, president, TommyCar Auto Group (class of 2012), and Peter DePergola, director of Clinical Ethics, Baystate Health (class of 2015); 2019: Cinda Jones, president, W.D. Cowls Inc. (class of 2007); 2018: Samalid Hogan, regional director, Massachusetts Small Business Development Center (class of 2013); 2017: Scott Foster, attorney, Bulkley Richardson (class of 2011), and Nicole Griffin, owner, ManeHire (class of 2014); 2016: Dr. Jonathan Bayuk, president, Allergy & Immunology Associates of New England (class of 2008); and 2015: Delcie Bean, president, Paragus Strategic IT (class of 2008). 

This year’s program is presented by Health New England; nominees will be weighed by three independent judges, including last year’s honorees. They are: 

 Anthony Gleason IIAnthony Gleason II is the president and co-founder of the Gleason Johndrow Companies, which provides commercial landscape and snow-removal services, property management, real-estate development, and leasing, as well as self-storage. Under Gleason’s leadership, the company has grown into one of the largest snow-removal contractors in the country. It now boasts a number of large contracts, including the city of Springfield (250 locations), UMass Amherst and its 157 parking lots, Western New England University, and many others. Gleason was part of the 40 under Forty class of 2010, and the 2022 recipient of the Alumni Achievement Award. Gleason and his company are strong supporters of Spirit of Springfield and many other local community organizations. 

Ashley BogleAshley Bogle is assistant general counsel and director of Legal Services for Health New England. In these roles, she manages the day-to-day operations of HNE’s Legal Department which includes a wide range of duties, from reviewing contracts to providing regulatory guidance and maintaining licenses and accreditation. A 40 Under Forty honoree in 2021, she is a founding member of HNE’s Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) Committee, which guides the organization toward its goals of embedding DEIB and health equity into its strategic plan, mission, operations, community outreach, and member community. She currently serves as president of Art For The Soul Gallery’s board of directors in addition to working on other community projects. A proud UConn Husky, she received both her juris doctor and her bachelor of Arts degrees from the University of Connecticut.

Payton ShubrickPayton Shubrick is a Springfield native and graduate of Springfield Central High School, College of the Holy Cross, and Bay Path University. A member of the 40 Under 40 Class of 2019, she’s an entrepreneur, and started 6 Brick’s, a cannabis dispensary, with the help of her parents and sister. 6 Brick’s opened in September of 2022, and has already garnered ‘Best Massachusetts Recreational Dispensary’ honors at the New England Cannabis Community Awards. Shubrick she is an adjunct professor at American International College, teaching graduate cannabis courses, a coach in the CT Social Equity Accelerator Program, and was recently named Young Entrepreneur of the Year for her leadership and success in her industry. 

40 Under 40 Class of 2023

Executive Director, Springfield Creative City Collective: Age 29

Tiffany Allecia“When preparedness meets opportunity, amazing things can happen.”

That’s how Tiffany Allecia described the events that led to the Springfield Creative City Collective.

To address chronic poverty in the Black and Brown community, Allecia and five others who shared her concerns determined that promoting a cultural and creative economy would be an effective way to help people now and build toward long-term success.

As one colleague put it, Allecia is an “amazing grant writer,” who applied for and won a $530,000 MassDevelopment grant to establish the collective last July. While that was an important start, Allecia recognized that launching a creative economy in Springfield required access to resources and key stakeholders.

“Through my work with two arts and culture organizations, I saw millions of dollars pour in to large, predominantly white, established businesses that didn’t reflect our community,” she said. “The small businesses in my community didn’t know how to get access to these resources.”

Allecia sees her role, and that of the collective, as a connector to support the development and growth of minority-owned businesses in Springfield. Early successes include a partnership with Berkshire Bank on a financial-literacy academy. The six-week course covered personal finances as well as small-business management.

“We’re working to connect mainstream organizations with our community members who have been overlooked for years,” she said. “The idea is to raise the game of Black and Brown businesses so they can succeed and grow.”

Coming soon are a creative entrepreneurship conference and a hiring fair.

“I believe there are plenty of resources out there, but we often operate in silos,” Allecia said. “The different individuals who could benefit from collaborating aren’t in the same room together. It’s my goal to bring them together.”

Part of that goal involves what she calls a “reimagining” of how resources are allocated in the community by first investing in what currently exists.

“It’s like a grandparent saying, ‘take care of what you have before you can get some more,’” she explained. “That’s where we are in the city right now, and it’s a beautiful and dynamic place.”

A lover of knowledge, Allecia stays grounded with the Socrates quote: “I know that I know nothing.”

“That phrase inspires me because it helps me remain humble,” she said. “I’ve learned a great deal, but I refuse to stop growing, and I refuse to stop learning.”


—Mark Morris

40 Under 40 Class of 2023

Vice President and Commercial Loan Officer, Greenfield Northampton Cooperative Bank: Age 34


Adam BakerAs a commercial lender at Greenfield Northampton Cooperative Bank, Adam Baker led all team members in both number of loans originated and dollar amount closed. Not just one year, but in seven consecutive years, from 2016 to 2022.

Not bad for someone who found himself in an accidental career.

“I took a summer job as a teller and got promoted,” he said, a story that’s not uncommon in the banking world. As in many other cases, Baker found he not only had a knack for the work, but a passion for it, too.

“I’m a commercial lender, so I work with people buying investment properties. I get to help people follow their dreams, start businesses, reach their financial goals, or further their businesses,” he explained. “As a local bank, we know all our customers; they’re not just numbers, they’re people. We get to interact with them on a personal level and give them a higher level of service.”

As a leader of his institution who helped the bank achieve some of its strongest growth and profitability over the past six years, he also came through during challenging times, helping to lead the Paycheck Protection Program during the pandemic, and making sure hundreds of local businesses received a needed influx of cash so they could keep their teams employed.

Baker is also a managing member and owner of Alpal Properties LLC, which owns and manages more than $1 million in investment real estate.

Heavily involved in the community, he’s the treasurer and chair of the finance committee, as well as a member of the building committee and board of directors, for Lighthouse Personalized Education for Teens in Holyoke. He’s also on the board of directors for Empty Arms Bereavement Support in Florence and serves on its Syrup Stampede 5K fundraiser committee. He also devotes time to Horizons for Homeless Children in Springfield — volunteering more than 100 hours annually, in fact, with homeless children.

“These things are very important to me because I feel like I get to help these great organizations that do all the hard work,” Baker explained. “For example, Lighthouse is helping children, and I’ve always had a passion for helping kids in whatever way I can. My position as vice president of the bank allows me to be a treasurer at some of these places and make a difference; it’s one of the most gratifying things in my life.”


—Joseph Bednar

40 Under 40 Class of 2023

Fitness Coach and Owner, BuildEmUp: Age 29

Emily Banerjee

Emily Banerjee

One of the many people who nominated Emily Banerjee for the 40 Under Forty class of 2023 called her “the living model of leading by example.”

That’s because Banerjee grew up in Springfield, earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Elms College, then stayed in the area “to motivate and inspire folks of all demographics,” the nominator wrote.

She does so through BuildEmUp, her health and wellness business focused on personal training and group classes. With hundreds of clients, Banerjee’s reputation is growing as a coach and trainer, but also as a compassionate business owner who responds enthusiastically to community needs.

Like a project she spearheaded this past holiday season to collect $13,000 worth of clothes, toys, and necessities and donate them to women and children through the YWCA. She has also spearheaded projects that have resulted in large monetary donations to diabetes organizations, friends with cancer, and other recipients.

But Banerjee doesn’t have to look outside the walls of her fitness center to change lives; she’s doing that every week through a business she started thinking about while working for Baystate Health after graduation, gradually building up a clientele through social media and word of mouth.

“Our model is strong, not skinny,” she said, explaining a model that’s less about weight lost and more about strength — and quality of life — gained. “Being healthy is the bottom line; everyone can understand that.”

During the pandemic, Banerjee offered virtual training to her clients so they could continue living the healthiest life they could. After things started to open back up, she brought clients back to the gym but made sure it was a safe environment for everyone, with individual pods so that members could work out in the same room with confidence.

These days, her average demographic is ages 18 to 50, and most are minority women. She offers about 20 different class times a week, and is already thinking down the road to a possible move out of the ninth floor of 1350 Main St. in downtown Springfield to a larger, more accessible location for clients. After all, they’re what motivates her to be her best self.

“The best part about this is the people,” Banerjee said. “They come to us because they want to; it’s a choice to enter the gym with a positive attitude, and that’s good for me, too. Empowered women empowering women — that’s the goal.”


—Joseph Bednar

40 Under 40 Class of 2023

Senior Clinician, Behavioral Health, Commonwealth Care Alliance: Age 38

Jennifer BellBy her own admission, Jennifer Bell was born to be a helper.

“While I picked social work as a career, I think it also picked me,” she said. “Even in my personal life, I always want to help people.”

From her high-school days, visiting her Noni, who was receiving care, Bell found herself also interacting with the other patients in the facility. These days, she leads a team at Commonwealth Care Alliance (CCA) on an innovative approach to provide medical and mental healthcare to people with non-traditional needs.

“Many of our patients haven’t always had the best experience with the health system in the past,” she said. “We’re here to show that we’re different.”

Using a wrap-around model of care, Bell and her team bring together a patient’s primary-care doctor and therapist to prevent any gaps in treatment. The CCA team is also involved in helping with a patient’s housing and food needs, as well as assisting with tasks such as filling out paperwork.

“My role is to help with the behavioral-health piece, breaking down the barriers that might prevent a person from connecting to mental-health and substance-use-disorder programs,” she said, adding that CCA’s professionals often make house calls for patients who can’t get out.

Trust is an essential part of caring for non-traditional patients, she added, and building that trust starts with showing up. “Sometimes, just having someone consistently show up makes a difference. So, I show up.”

Bell is proud that so many people are comfortable saying, “oh, I can call Jenn,” whether it’s on the job or in her voluntary work.

From serving as a mentor in the Sibling Connections program which reunites siblings placed apart in the foster-care system, to volunteering with her dog, Leila, in a program to help children build their reading skills and confidence by reading aloud to certified therapy dogs, Bell finds helping others to be rewarding work, even outside her day job.

“I have an ability to engage people who have a history of not wanting to be engaged. I feel it’s my main strength,” she said. “I bring a level of energy to the work because I enjoy meeting people from all different walks of life who are on many different paths. I let them know that I’m here for them.”

That’s why so many people know they can call Jenn.


—Mark Morris

40 Under 40 Class of 2023

Owner and Chef, HighBrow Inc.: Age 37

Andrew BrowWhen asked what he likes about the restaurant business, Andrew Brow gave a quick, resounding answer: ‘everything.’

“I love the hustle and bustle; I love creating beautiful food; I love building relationships with farmers, butchers, and seafood people, and finding cool things I’ve never worked with before,” he explained. “And I like to learn and bring new ideas to reality.”

Brow is doing a lot of all this as …. the term would be ‘serial restaurateur.’ He owns, operates, and cooks at HighBrow Wood Fired Kitchen and Bar in Northampton, as well as Jackalope Restaurant and the Kitchen by HighBrow at White Lion Brewing Co., both in Springfield. And soon, there will be another location at White Lion’s new brewery in Amherst.

This is the growing enterprise that Brow has created and now nurtures. His is an inspiring story of determination and entrepreneurship that begins “in the projects in Northampton,” as he put it, where he grew up with his mother, a single parent, and became determined to find work so he could buy better clothes.

He found it at Dunkin’ Donuts when he was only 15. Meanwhile, after a tour of Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School, he became intrigued by its culinary-arts program, took that course of study, and, upon graduation, started working at restaurants within the Spoleto Group.

Eventually, he wanted to have his own eatery, and in the fall of 2019, he opened HighBrow in Northampton — just four months before the start of the pandemic, which forced all restaurants to close for some time, then reopen for takeout and delivery, and, essentially, reinvent themselves.

“It was quite frightening,” he recalled. “I was at a point where I was going to board up the windows and lock all the liquor away — there was a lot of fear.”

But he persevered, and has not only added more restaurants, but become heavily involved in the community, serving as an advisor to both the Smith and Holyoke Community College culinary-arts programs, while also supporting nonprofits such as Ronald McDonald House, the Treehouse Foundation and its Stir Up the Love fundraising event, and many others.

As he talked about those perilous early days, Brow used words and phrases that capture his intensity, drive to succeed, and considerable entrepreneurial spirit.

“I finally got the opportunity to open my business and work for myself, and I said to myself, ‘I’m not going to lose it.’ I put my head down, and I just started busting my butt.”


—George O’Brien

40 Under 40 Class of 2023

Owner, Madison Bull, LMHC: Age 36

Madison BullMadison Bull, as one of her several 40 Under Forty nominators noted, wears a number of hats.

She’s a psychotherapist who opened a private practice in October 2019. She’s also an adjunct psychology professor at Holyoke Community College (HCC); a trainer, speaker, and educator for Pathways for Parents, helping families access mental-health resources for children; and a wife and mother who’s active in her 6-year-old daughter’s life as an elementary-school PTO president and soccer coach.

Bull was working for small group practice before deciding to branch out on her own. She is a certified hypnotherapist and trained in perinatal mental health, but works with a wide range of clients.

“I see a variety of ages, but I mostly focus on girls and younger women. A lot of my focus is on anxiety and OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder),” she said, noting that opening the practice when she did, just five months before COVID turned the world on its ear, was a challenge because of the restraints it put on seeing clients in person.

“I did a lot of Zoom sessions, did it virtually, but I like one-on-one, in-person interaction, when you can really get to know someone’s story. That was a little difficult,” she recalled. “But I found people still needed the services. Everyone was definitely thrown for such a loop.”

She said her mission for her practice is to be completely relatable, and to create a safe, comfortable setting for those who come in. “I want people to know who I am; I want that welcoming feeling and for people to know that I am human too.”

As an adjunct professor at HCC, she has taught there on an as-needed basis for a dozen years. She also volunteers in the community, with a special focus on animal welfare, donating time and resources over the years to animal shelters. “My family and I have always been animal people,” she said.

As for involvement in her daughter’s school, well, it’s important for Bull to make time for that, but it’s also a pleasure.

“There’s so much bad on the news and social media. Let’s find things in the community that get people excited, things that keep people hopeful,” she said, adding that, in the case of the PTO, “planning comes easy to me. It’s not super stressful. Somebody’s got to do it. So why not someone who likes it, who enjoys it, and is motivated?”


—Joseph Bednar


40 Under 40 Class of 2023

Executive Director of Finance, MGM Springfield; Age 37

Arlen CarballoArlen Carballo’s career in the casino industry provides ample proof that, once someone enters this field, there is no telling where the business may take them.

Indeed, Carballo, who was born and raised in Costa Rica and came to this country with her mother when she was in high school, graduated from the MGM Resorts Management Associate Program in 2008 and, since then, has taken on a variety of roles at several different MGM resorts.

“It’s a very large company, and we have almost every job title under the sun,” she told BusinessWest. “There are a lot of opportunities … you just have to take them.”

And she has.

She started at the Bellagio in Las Vegas as a housekeeping supervisor before shifting her focus to the finance side of the equation. At Mandalay Bay, also in Las Vegas, she served as executive housekeeper, responsible for more than 800 employees and 4,000 rooms. During her time there, she also played a key role in rebranding the hotel to ‘Delano,’ a project that included the remodeling of 1,000 rooms and successful training of the entire housekeeping staff.

Later, she was part of the opening team for MGM National Harbor in Maryland, a $1.68 billion resort and casino located just outside Washington, D.C. Serving as manager of Financial Planning and Analysis, she managed the pre-opening budget, including payroll schedules. During her time there, she also established the analytical reporting framework for the property, which has become one of the most profitable regional casinos in the country.

Carballo has been part of the MGM Springfield team since the property opened in 2018, serving as the resort’s first director of Financial Planning.

This is a broad role, in which she serves as a key business partner to all operations and strategic functions, while directly overseeing casino accounting, financial planning and analysis, cage and count operations, warehouse, and purchasing.

She said the casino has faced a number of challenges since opening, especially COVID, but she believes it is “hitting its stride — we’re heading the right direction.”

During her time in Springfield, she has made her mark in several ways. Professionally, she was a recipient of the HACR Young Hispanic Corporate Achievers Award, a program that spotlights young Hispanic professionals in corporate America. Meanwhile, in the community, she is a mentor with Dress for Success and serves on the board of trustees for American International College, becoming the first Latina to join the board.


—George O’Brien

40 Under 40 Class of 2023

Lead Pastor, All Nations Church: Age 39

Robert CarterRobert Carter’s career in IT and robotics has taken him to a number of positions, ranging from 11 years at MassMutual, where he worked his way up to robotics process automation developer — tech lead, to CVS Health, where he currently leads a team of developers as a robotics process automation consultant.

As an immigrant from Jamaica 17 years ago, he’s gratified by all of that. “My life and journey is multi-faceted. I’m very proud of what I do in corporate America, being able to rise up to where I’m leading teams, leading projects that impact many people across the country. I’m proud of those accomplishments.”

But he also has a passion for ministry, and for lifting others up, through his work at All Nations Church, where he transitioned from a congregation member into leadership roles and eventually lead pastor. He oversaw the church’s move to a 20,000-square-foot facility on Leete Street in Springfield when it outgrew its previous, 5,000-square-foot site, while expanding ministry outreach programs.

Committed to life-long learning, Carter is currently working on a doctor of ministry degree at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary, with a focus on leadership in a changing church culture. His wife, Rebekah, is All Nations Church’s minister of worship.

Carter has long been community-minded, from his volunteer work on the board of Martin Luther King Jr. Family Outreach Center, to his work advising, mentoring, and financially supporting young people and budding entrepreneurs. So it’s natural that his ministry leadership would be similarly outward-looking, not confined to within the church walls.

“I’ve recognized that the church has to be a bit more involved in the community — not to go out with a messiah complex, to save the community, but recognizing that we exist within a community and we should engage with the community and be part of that,” he said. “What, specifically, does the 01108 need?”

One issue in the Forest Park neighborhood is food insecurity, so the church has operated a food pantry for the past two decades, distributing close to 400,000 pounds of food. Carter envisions a time when All Nations might create its own nonprofit, a separate entity from the church, to tackle a host of community needs, from drug use to immigration issues to broken homes.

“It’s a low-income area; we don’t want to deal with just the symptoms of hunger, but why is there hunger in the neighborhood? What we’re aiming to do is strategically engage with the community and help them where they are.”


—Joseph Bednar

40 Under 40 Class of 2023

Director of Athletics, American International College: Age 35

Jessica ChapinJessica Chapin was a decorated collegiate athlete. In 2010 alone, she was named the University Athletic Assoc. Women’s Basketball Player of the Year, the Brandeis University Female Athlete of the Year, and a State Farm Women’s Basketball All-American; in 2018, she became a New York State Section 5 Basketball Hall of Fame inductee.

And then she went to law school, aiming to be an attorney.

But while coaching basketball during that time, she had a realization: that her passion was really in athletics. So, she changed course, enrolled in Springfield College, where she earned a master’s degree in Athletic Administration, and eventually found herself running the Athletics Department at American International College (AIC).

There, Chapin provides leadership for a department of 25 intercollegiate and four club sports, overseeing nearly 45 full-time coaches and another 20 staff members and more than 650 student athletes. She’s responsible for the strategic direction, administration, and supervision of all phases of athletics, including budget management, alumni engagement, fundraising, marketing, enrollment management, personnel management, long-term vision and strategic planning, crisis management and discipline, Title IX and gender equity, facilities, and more.

“Athletics was something I missed, something that was the foundation of my life,” she said of her decision to leave law school, and she’s gratified when student-athletes at AIC make similar journeys of self-discovery. “I love seeing a light go off in the minds of young adults who often come to college not necessarily knowing what they want to do, being able to work with them, seeing the struggles, but then seeing them come out on the other side.”

Chapin also serves with the NCAA on its Division II Management Council, the highest appointment in the organization’s governance structure outside of the President’s Council. In that role, she’s an active participant in the division’s decision making.

She’s also a believer in the value of the athletic experience as a character-building exercise, saying student-athletes possess qualities many others do not, which can serve them well over a lifetime in whatever career they choose.

“It’s definitely gratifying to be a part of all this,” she said. “Sports generally teaches us things that we don’t get to experience otherwise: being on a team, the importance of teamwork, of collaboration, so many things. I feel like, when students are taught by coaches, they learn lessons they might not learn any other way.”


—Joseph Bednar

40 Under 40 Class of 2023

Vice President and Building Services Business Line Leader, Tighe & Bond: Age 35

Jason Curtis

Jason Curtis

Jason Curtis said he’s always been fascinated with the built environment.

“In elementary school, when some kids were playing computer games, I was drawing floor plans on an architectural drafting program on my parents’ desktop computer,” he recalled. “And when I was in high school and college, I did carpentry work as a summer job and on school breaks, and I always found that work to be quite rewarding.”

But what really cemented his desire to be an engineer was his coursework at Union College, where he started to see engineering as a way to make a difference in the world through sustainability, energy efficiency, and high-performance buildings.

In his multi-faceted role at Tighe & Bond, Curtis develops strategic direction, oversees day-to-day operations, and tackles business-development efforts, and has led a wide variety of projects for schools and colleges, municipal buildings, industrial facilities, and multi-family residences.

“Every project is different. As consulting engineers, we say every project is a prototype. Everything is tailored to the particular needs and constraints of each project and client,” he said, with one common thread being energy and sustainability efforts. “With the various challenges of the world we live in today, we always try to bring those things to the forefront. Whether it’s efficiency or greenhouse gases or fossil-fuel reduction or cost effectiveness or resiliency, those are all things we’re constantly talking about and thinking about, and I try to be our client’s trusted advisor.”

Active in the community, Curtis serves on the town of Deerfield’s energy committee, and, as an advocate of mentorship, he has been part of the Hartford, Conn. chapter of the Architecture Construction Engineering (ACE) mentorship program, which assigns STEM-related projects to students. He’s also working with others at Tighe & Bond to revive the ACE mentorship program in Springfield schools.

“I wouldn’t be where I am without the mentorship I received over the years. That is something that Tighe & Bond is very cognizant of,” he said, noting that his workforce-development efforts at the company extend to participation on the diversity, equity, and inclusion committee and leadership of the anti-racism subcommittee.

“The firm has been around more than 100 years. For a firm to have that kind of staying power, we know how to transition leadership,” he said. “We want to be around another 100 years, so everyone in a leadership role appreciates that, and everyone invests in developing the next group of leaders for the firm.”


—Joseph Bednar

40 Under 40 Class of 2023

Program Chair, Early Childhood Education, Springfield Technical Community College: Age 39

Aimee Dalenta

Aimee Dalenta

Aimee Dalenta has dedicated her life’s work to enriching people through education.

After earning a bachelor’s degree from Springfield College and a master’s from Western New England University, Dalenta taught fifth grade in Longmeadow. After marriage and having her first two children close together, she left the workforce for a short time. Her first re-entry was running a small childcare center in East Longmeadow. Shortly after that, Springfield College offered Dalenta an instructor’s position in its Education Department.

“So I went from working with little kids to big kids,” she said.

In her current role at Springfield Technical Community College, Dalenta’s students range from those just out of high school to older adults seeking a career change. “Students in the course can be in their 50s and 60s, and they will collaborate with a 21-year old,” she noted. “They learn from each other, and I’m learning from them. It’s a cool environment.”

Dalenta ranks her proudest professional moments as earning her doctorate and how well she has navigated through the starts and stops along the way.

“I will never regret leaving the workforce to become a mom, but it was one of the scariest decisions I’ve ever made,” she said. “Then, re-entering and navigating my way after not working for five years was terrifying.”

While she enjoyed her time at Springfield College as an instructor, she knew she would need a doctorate to remain in higher education. She enrolled at American International College for its doctoral program even though her youngest child was a toddler.

“It was four grueling years to earn the doctorate, but it was a labor of love,” she said, adding that she is grateful for all the support her family gave her.

She also found inspiration from Pat Summit, the late, legendary women’s basketball coach for the University of Tennessee, who coached her players: “left foot, right foot, breathe, repeat.”

“It’s a simple mantra that helped me get through my doctoral work,” Dalenta said. “I only need to do the thing in front of me. I still use it to center myself when things get difficult.”

While proud of her role as program chair and professor, Dalenta still considers herself a teacher. “I’m inspired by my students as they persevere through life’s challenges. Teaching has always been there to ground me and help me to grow as a professional and as a person.”


—Mark Morris

40 Under 40 Class of 2023

CEO, LaunchSpace Inc.: Age 39

Brianna Drohen

Brianna Drohen

When Brianna Drohen’s career path brought her back to Western Mass. in 2013, she met Jack Dunphy, owner of the Orange Innovation Center, and her passion for the region was rekindled.

After learning about Dunphy’s vision, Drohen got to work helping him develop resources, training, and support for entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses. In the next two years, she brought the building to 90% occupancy and hosted classes and workshops to educate the tenant businesses in specific areas. She also secured grants for a new parking lot and a water-filtration system.

“It’s incredibly gratifying,” said Drohen, who grew up in Wendell and earned degrees at Greenfield Community College and UMass Amherst. “This is a very community-centered place; I grew up with that backbone. When I moved back here, I fell into this work, and I love it.”

But Drohen’s role would soon expand in intriguing ways. In 2016, Dunphy was looking to bring a vacant portion of the building back to life. When Drohen toured a facility in Columbus, Ohio that had similar characteristics as the Orange Innovation Center, she had a ‘eureka!’ moment when she saw businesses, a maker space, and artisans thriving together, revitalizing the neighborhood.

So, in 2017, she and Alec MacLeod co-founded LaunchSpace, a nonprofit organization providing opportunities to upskill, collaborate, and develop new businesses in the local Orange economy. Drohen took over as CEO in 2021.

LaunchSpace also acquired the 24,000-square-foot Pleasant Street School in Athol, intending to drive the local economy by repurposing the kitchen into a working, shared-use commercial kitchen and the classrooms into business-incubation suites and retail outlets, as well as a childcare facility.

LaunchSpace plans to host and support on-site agriculture, value-added food businesses, training and incubation, and community wellness at the former school, providing opportunities to support food sustainability in the region, as well as continuing to develop talent and create jobs for the local economy.

In 2021, Drohen also led a partnership with Greenfield Community College to launch an entrepreneur program to support creative businesses. In 2022, LaunchSpace, GCC, and Greenspace CoWork received funding to pilot a six-month acceleration program focused on the underserved residents of Greater Franklin County.

“I’m driven,” she said. “Some people call me aggressive, but I’m definitely driven by this idea that we can not only reuse old buildings, but we can create micro-economies that support these Western Mass. communities. I would love to have the LaunchSpace model replicated in other communities as well.”


—Joseph Bednar

40 Under 40 Class of 2023

Chief Operational Officer, Franklin First Federal Credit Union: Age 38

Sarah ErmanSarah Erman didn’t attend college to prepare for a financial-services career. In fact, her focus as an undergraduate at MCLA was photojournalism.

“I worked with some local newspapers, and I did some freelance with the Greenfield Recorder until I got my job here at the credit union,” she recalled. “My student loans were coming due, and I needed to actually have a job that supported me for the payment of those loans. And there was an opening at Franklin First.”

Starting as a teller, Erman moved into member services and eventually became operations manager and then chief operating officer.

“This was not where I initially saw myself,” she said. “But the more time I spent at the credit union, the more I saw my future there, helping to provide new experiences for our members and staff. The philosophy of the credit union is people helping people, and that’s what really got me to stick around. Once I understood the philosophy, I really fell in love with the credit-union world.”

Erman said she wears many hats, including day-to-day operations, facility management, compliance, and security, and she acts as the institution’s Bank Secrecy Act officer.

She also earned praise from President and CEO Michelle Dwyer for bringing Franklin First up to date with modern technological standards that helped it navigate the pandemic seamlessly. “Had these operational improvements not been made,” Dwyer said, “our credit union would not have been able to continue meeting the needs of our membership.”

Active in the community in numerous ways, Erman has served on the board of directors for Root to Rise, volunteers at the credit union’s financial-education events, and helps nonprofits that reach out to Franklin First for assistance with creating new events.

Notably, she’s heavily involved with the Children’s Advocacy Center of Franklin County and North Quabbin, serving for the past four years on the fundraising committee that enables three large events each year: the Hope and Healing Breakfast, the Race to End Child Abuse, and the Chipping Away at Child Abuse golf tournament.

“It’s unfortunate those services have to be provided, but they’re such necessary services,” she said. “I feel like I’m able to give back to these kids and the community by helping these committees raise awareness and raise funds for such an important, deserving organization. Those community events are critical to the operations they provide for kids in the community.”


—Joseph Bednar

40 Under 40 Class of 2023

CEO, Fontaine Bros. Inc.; President and CEO, F2 Ventures LLC: Age 34

Dave Fontaine Jr.Dave Fontaine Jr. said it was probably only minutes after the sign went up on the door at the White Hut in West Springfield announcing that it was closed that he was on the phone to Andy Yee, saying something had to be done.

Yee, the leader of the Bean Restaurant Group, who passed away in 2021, told Fontaine that he was essentially already on it. The two would join a host of other partners in saving what Fontaine called an “institution — a place none of us wanted to see closed.”

This involvement with the White Hut is just one line on Fontaine’s ultra-impressive résumé, one that includes several accomplishments with the family business, the construction firm Fontaine Bros. Inc.; with F2 Ventures LLC, through which he invests in and advises existing and early-stage companies across various industries; and within the community.

Let’s start with Fontaine Bros. There, Fontaine has orchestrated spectacular growth, taking the fourth-generation company from $65 million when he joined in 2011 to more than $280 million today. This has been accomplished through new business divisions, including a construction-management unit; expansion into new regions, such as Worcester; and a slew of new projects — from the Court Square project in Springfield to a new, $260 million high school in Worcester (the largest project in the company’s history) to the new DeBerry-Swan elementary-school project in Springfield.

As for F2 Ventures, Fontaine is involved a number of startup and developing businesses, ranging from Trade Hounds, a social-media platform focused on the hiring process for construction tradespeople, to Otto Technoloigies, a ladder-safety company using AI and machine-learning technologies to predict and prevent ladder accidents, to SkillSignal, a construction technology platform that makes safety, compliance, and risk control simple by digitizing worker certificates, safety orientations, and more.

Meanwhile, within the community, Fontaine was instrumental in the creation of the Fontaine Community Foundation, which supports worthy causes across the region and across the state. The foundation has a unique, employee-directed component to encourage philanthropy and community involvement among employees.

Fontaine and his, wife, Sara, are active supporters of many worthy causes, including Link to Libraries, efforts to combat diabetes (one of their daughters was recently diagnosed with the disease), a school game day, by which thousands of children get to attend a Springfield Thunderbirds game, and much more.

Summing it all up, he said matter-of-factly, “I’m an entrepreneur who ended up in a great family business.”


—George O’Brien

40 Under 40 Class of 2023

Director of Development, Springfield Symphony Orchestra: Age 39

Heather GawronHeather Gawron is nearly 15 years removed from her days as an elementary-school teacher, and there have been many career stops in many places — from Paris to American International College — since then.

But she still takes lessons from those teaching days, and from her degree in education, and applies them to all facets of her life.

“I think it shapes so much of what I do now organizationally, experience-wise, and knowing how to communicate with all different types of people,” she said of her work today, which takes place on both sides of Main Street in downtown Springfield.

On one side is the Springfield Symphony Orchestra (SSO), which she serves as director of Development. On the other side is SkinCatering Inc., a salon and spa she serves as ‘chief impact officer.’ Last year, she led its efforts to create and launch a new brand of all-natural skin-care products called Weekend Beauty.

Her life and current work is captured neatly in all that she brought to her 40 Under Forty photo shoot, including her two daughters, Maxie and Charlie, a banner for the symphony, some art work depicting Weekend Beauty, a photo of the Eiffel Tower to represent her time in Paris — what she calls her “happy place” — and a picture of her family, including the family dog.

Gawron joined the SSO roughly a year ago, and her responsibilities there are in development, fundraising, marketing, and public relations, work that has been made much more challenging by the ongoing labor dispute with the symphony’s musicians.

“This year, we’ve spent a lot of time trying to reach new audiences, and showing that we’re here and that we’re committed to being an amazing cultural experience in the community, and bringing in a diverse selection of conductors in the hope that this helps us engage with the community and keep what is a pretty cool thing to have in our size city,” she said. “There are many cities larger than ours that don’t have a symphony orchestra.”

At SkinCatering, she handles marketing and branding for the new skin-care brand, which is packaged for travel, she noted. “These skin-care kits have everything you need to keep your routine consistent on the road, whether you’re traveling for business, at the gym every day, or you just want a simple way to spoil yourself at home.”

Meanwhile, Gawron is active in the community, supporting organizations such as Square One and Habitat for Humanity, demonstrating that her passions extend well beyond both sides of Main Street.


—George O’Brien

40 Under 40 Class of 2023

Vice Chair of Clinical Operations for Emergency Medicine,
Baystate Medical Center: Age 37

Dr. Seth Gemme

Dr. Seth Gemme

It wasn’t until late in his undergraduate studies at Westfield State University that Dr. Seth Gemme even thought about having those two letters appear before his name.

In fact, his initial aspiration was to be a meteorologist — he had an internship with Adam Strzempko at WWLP while in high school. But he eventually became an EMT, which brought him into the ER at Baystate Noble, which eventually led to a job there, which eventually led him to develop a fondness for the ER and the desire to be a doctor in that setting … which led him to the University of Buffalo Medical School, where he graduated first in his class.

That led to a residency at Brown University, and — here we can fast-forward a little — eventually Gemme returned to this region and to Baystate Noble Hospital, and then chief of the ED at Baystate Wing Hospital, and now, vice chair of Clinical Operations in the ED at Baystate Medical Center.

It has a been a fast and quite impressive ascent for Gemme, whose job (more of a passion, really) involves a mix of clinical work and administrative duties. When he’s not tending to patients, he’s working to improve processes, reduce wait times, and improve capacity management.

Like most who choose the ER, he prefers to say it found him, and he notes that he likes everything about it, from the pace of the work to the fact that every day, every hour is different.

“I like helping people at their most vulnerable time, and hopefully being someone who can change a life,” he explained.

He described the pandemic years as difficult and exhausting, with a full range of emotions.

“Initially, we were heroes; it was the first time where people stopped yelling at us and brought us food,” he joked, adding that the COVID years provided learning experiences and opportunites to grow professionally on many levels.

While the ER is the focus of his workday, Gemme has many other priorities and pursuits, starting with his family — his wife Chelsie and daughters Harlow and Hanna. There’s also his music — he plays guitar and piano and sings, and appears both solo and in an indie folk trio, the Ship and the Shield. Meanwhile, he’s also one of the team physicians for the Springfield Thunderbirds and a board member for Hilltown Ambulance.

Needless to say, he’s instrumental to the health and wellness of people of this region — in every sense of that word.


—George O’Brien

40 Under 40 Class of 2023

Co-owner, the Naples Group: Age 29

Lucas GiustoWhen you ask Lucas Giusto about the secret to success for the Naples Group, he responds, “we always answer the phone.”

As a college student living off campus, Giusto understood that if he owned property and rented it out to friends, he could live for free.

After receiving a business administration degree from Westfield State University, he acted on his initial idea and began buying college rentals in different parts of Western New England.

After gaining more experience by working with several area realty groups, in 2019, he and a business partner founded Naples Group, which consists of three real-estate-related businesses.

Naples Realty Group is a real-estate brokerage with more than 50 agents. Naples Home Buyers specializes in purchasing distressed properties and improving them for resell. Naples Waste Removal, which opened last year, offers property cleanouts and dumpster rentals. In addition to all that, the group has a rental portfolio with 50 available multi-family units and a goal to grow that to 100 by the end of this year.

Giusto takes particular pride in the home-buyers group because it helps people get out of tough situations. “If someone is being foreclosed on or they have property blight they can’t fix, we can offer them a quick sale. If the house is in good shape, we will list it with the realty group so they can get top dollar.”

With homes in short supply, renovating distressed properties can be a real opportunity for someone looking for a home.

“If our realty group has a potential buyer, we can help them get into a newly renovated home, sometimes even before it goes on the market,” he explained. “A renovated property is a win for the buyer and the agent.”

Giusto emphasizes mentoring and learning as part of the culture at the Naples Group. “We help our people to hit their goals by teaching them how to flip a house, how to buy a rental property, and even when not to buy a property.”

In the community, he has formed a relationship with Bob “the Bike Man” Charland.

“Bob will often go through a property before we renovate it and find items to donate,” Giusto said. “We enjoy supporting his foundation, Pedal Thru Youth, which provides bicycles for kids in need.” Giusto also supports several other local efforts, including Empty Arms Bereavement in Northampton.

By renovating distressed and unwanted properties, Giusto gives them new life for new families — and makes Western Mass a better place to live.


—Mark Morris

40 Under 40 Class of 2023

Owner and Clinic Director, Resilience Physical Therapy and Wellness: Age 28

Daniel GriffinAmid all the physical-therapy practices in the region, Daniel Griffin had a vision for a different approach.

“I wanted to bring a more innovative style to rehabilitation,” he said. “It’s important to look at a patient’s total health — how they eat, sleep, and how the rest of body moves — then tailor their rehab plan so they can return to the social activities they enjoy.”

He opened Resilience Physical Therapy and Wellness in 2019 after completing his doctoral work in physical therapy at Springfield College and immediately began using evidence-based approaches to physical therapy.

“Our youngest patient is age 6, and our oldest is in their mid-90s,” he said. “Having such a diverse age range is rewarding for us as clinicians.”

Part of his business includes providing physical-therapy services to first responders in several area communities. “Whether it’s police, firefighters, or military personnel, we understand what they do from a work standpoint, and we’re just glad to help when they get injured on the job,” he said.

Notably, Griffin and his staff run Resilience’s education program for healthcare students, encompassing students from high school through graduate level who are pursuing health careers. The program is designed to take students through the internship process and show them the day-to-day responsibilities of a physical therapist.

“It’s extremely rewarding to see our high-school students advance to physical therapy or pre-med programs and our undergrad students move into graduate-level training,” he said. “We hire many of our former students. In fact, most of our staff interned with us.”

Griffin said the program can really benefit high-school students by giving them exposure to a health-career pathway, as well as offering interactions for college and graduate students to better understand their experiences.

“We’ve invested a lot of time and energy to create this program,” he added. “We’re happy to see all our slots booked for the summer, and we look forward to a new group of students in the next school year.”

From the first Resilience location in Agawam, Griffin has expanded to Wilbraham and will open a third practice this summer in Suffield. He’s grateful to all those who have helped him along this successful path.

“In the beginning, I had great mentors who helped me get started,” he said. “We continue to grow because I’ve got a great team that works with me.”


—Mark Morris

40 Under 40 Class of 2023

Executive Director, Greater Holyoke Chamber of Commerce: Age 33

Jordan Hart

Jordan Hart

Jordan Hart was attending Holyoke Community College and waiting tables at the Yankee Pedlar in Holyoke in early 2013, not really knowing she wanted to do with her life.

She saw an ad for a part-time administrative assistant at the Greater Holyoke Chamber of Commerce, thought about applying, but didn’t, because she thought the job would interfere with her college schedule. But a chance conversation with the chamber’s director, Kathy Anderson, when she came to the Pedlar for lunch prompted her to change her mind.

And that decision changed the course of her career.

Indeed, a decade and a few different positions with the chamber later, Hart is now in Anderson’s former role. And she’s not just leading the chamber, but leading it through an aggressive and much-needed change of course.

Under her direction, the chamber has become more responsive and also more inclusive, a place for business owners of all backgrounds, languages, and experiences.

“I worked for a chamber for a long time, and over the years, I’d seen how businesses had continued to change, but chambers had not changed with business,” she explained. “We weren’t seeing a lot of young entrepreneurs, we were not getting a lot of new members, and we were seeing members drop out because they felt they were not getting value for their membership. And we also weren’t doing much to engage the Latino business community in Holyoke. So I became really motivated to make sure we were a hub for business support and a bridge between Holyoke and its business community.”

Among her many initiatives, Hart has made the chamber an active part of many events and activities, including Holyoke Pride, the Paper City Food Festival, and the Great Holyoke Brick Race. She has also undertaken a rebranding, giving the chamber a new, more modern logo.

Meanwhile, she has made the agency more responsive to the needs of solo-preneurs and startups, which are a huge part of the Holyoke economy, with one-on-one technical assistance available to members free of charge.

Over the years, Jordan herself has become a fixture in Holyoke, lending time and talent to such initiatives as the food festival, the MIFA Victory Theater Entrepreneurial Strike Team, the city’s 150th-anniversary celebration, and the Holyoke Transformative Development Initiative with MassDevelopment.

When not doing any of that, she may be found playing softball, rollerskating, or bartending at Brennan’s, the legendary bar in downtown Holyoke.

In short, Holyoke has become more than a focus; it’s become a passion.


—George O’Brien

40 Under 40 Class of 2023

Chief Operations Officer, the Jamrog Group: Age 38

Jessica HollowayGrowing up, Jessica Holloway wasn’t exactly sure what she wanted to do for a living.

While earning a degree in finance at the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst, she came to understand two things — she liked helping people, and she was good at math. And she desired a career that would marry those two attributes.

So, following an eye-opening internship at Northwestern Mutual that became a learning experience on many levels, she put herself on a path to a career in financial services … and her current role as chief operations officer for the Holyoke-based Jamrog Group. (Amy Jamrog is the founder and CEO of the company, and also Holloway’s mentor.)

While the business card says COO, Holloway says she’s primarily a financial planner, a role in which she can use her math skills (a little) and that ‘helping people’ trait to a much larger degree.

“What I really love about it is helping clients start to view money as a tool instead of a stressor,” she explained. “A lot of the work I do is helping clients get really tuned into what matters to them — who and what — and then aligning the money accordingly.”

As COO, she has a broad role, one that includes everything from building systems, processes, and workflows (work that has helped the company triple its revenue) to coaching and development of employees, to integrating health and wellness into the group’s culture, leading outside ‘walks and talks’ with staff, and even hosting Zoom Peloton rides with team members.

“As financial planners, we spend a lot of time at our computers, crunching numbers. So we started to integrate a lot more movement, just to encourage both ourselves but also our team members to get up and move during the day,” said Holloway, who, in her spare time, is a board member for the nonprofit Girls on the Run.

Jamrog, a 40 Under Forty honoree herself (in the inaugural class of 2007), nominated Holloway for the same honor.

“As my business partner over the past nine years, Jessica has shown extraordinary growth in her business acumen, leadership among our team, and financial planning expertise,” she said in that nomination. “She has done all this while raising three young boys, volunteering for her kids’ schools, volunteering for board work, and hosting an exchange student from Spain. She is generous, has unbelievable capacity to manage her home, work, and community, and is an overall rock star of a human being.”


—George O’Brien

40 Under 40 Class of 2023

Financial Planner, Charter Oak Financial: Age 37

Terrell JoynerTerrell Joyner describes his life as an ever-expanding journey.

After graduating from Springfield College and earning an MBA at Western New England University, Joyner had planned to open a restaurant.

But before a restaurant could be reality, he had to earn some money. So he began a career in finance with Equitable Life, where he became a retirement specialist for public school systems, and his career possibilities began to diverge from the original menu.

“As I spoke with people, I realized they needed more financial advice than just retirement,” he said. “Clients need a comprehensive plan to know if they are on track with their goals and what changes they may need to make along the way.”

Joyner then moved to Charter Oak and obtained the securities and insurance licenses he would need to better serve his clients. He said he takes an education-based approach to working with them.

“Instead of telling a client what to do, I educate them on the reasons why certain things we recommend are beneficial for their situation,” he explained. “The best compliments I get are ‘you speak to me in laymen’s terms, but you don’t speak to me like I’m stupid.’”

Joyner enjoys the ‘a-ha’ moments when clients realize that following a smart plan made their finances more secure.

He also enjoys volunteering. At Putnam Vocational Technical Academy, he took part in a program to help students act professionally in areas such as job interviews, the way they send email, and community involvement. When the class graduated, one student asked Joyner if he would be his mentor.

“He is the first one in his family to attend a four-year college, so I could not say no to that,” he said. With the student maintaining a 4.0 GPA, Joyner is now helping him apply to Ivy League schools for a graduate program.

“I hope to be a role model for young Black and Brown children who don’t have those role models,” he said. “I want to bring financial education and literacy to the African-American and LGBTQ+ communities. I’m part of both communities, and both are underserved.”

When the journey gets rough, he take it one step at a time, and credits his husband, Dustin, for being his traveling partner. “We have been together for 16 years, and he has been instrumental in my success by continuing to be my cheerleader during tough times and making sure I don’t settle when things are going well. I wouldn’t be where I’m at today without him.”


—Mark Morris

40 Under 40 Class of 2023

Owner, Excel Therapy & Conditioning: Age 38

Sara HulsebergSara Hulseberg tells a story that demonstrates the meaning of a loyal clientele.

When COVID forced her to find a new home for Excel Therapy & Conditioning, the practice she started in 2012, she found a run-down garage and eventually cleaned it up, built it out, and prepared to move the practice and everything in it, thinking moving would take three 12-hour days to complete.

Then the help started to show up — not only her team, but clients. In three hours, she was not only moved in, but totally set up.

The nominations supporting her 40 Under Forty selection explain that loyalty.

“As a patient of Sara’s, I’ve regularly witnessed her reach out to help people under extreme trauma and hardships,” one wrote, sharing her own experience with pain reduction and greater mobility under Hulseberg’s care. “She has been a friend to me, going above and beyond every time — and I’ve seen her do this with every person that comes to her.”

Others talked about her pro bono work, her insistence on not laying off anyone during the pandemic, her donations of time and resources to local charity events, her mentorship and internships for aspiring therapists … the list goes on.

Hulseberg, who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Springfield College and her doctor of physical therapy degree at Northeastern University, said she became frustrated with how patients were being treated in other practices where she worked, and sought to create a different model. “I saw a lot of treatment based solely around what their insurance was or whatever their pain was, not what it stemmed from. It was disheartening.”

She said the immediate gratification she gets from helping people isn’t something one finds in every field of healthcare.

“Someone comes in with a lot of pain, and if you do your job, they leave with significantly less pain and more functionality over the weeks and months. It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to do that for somebody.”

Hulseberg said she was first inspired by the way her father, an ophthalmologist in Holyoke, treats his patients, and asked him, before she launched Excel, why she doesn’t experience the same kind of relationships where she worked.

“I said, ‘I must be in the wrong field,’” she recalled. “He said, it’s not easy, but nothing worthwhile is ever easy. Where there’s a will, there’s a way, but you often have to plow your own way to get there.’”


—Joseph Bednar

40 Under 40 Class of 2023

Nurse Practice Manager of Thoracic Surgery and Nursing Director of the Lung Cancer Screening Program, Mercy Medical Center: Age 38

Ashley LeBlancAshley LeBlanc says it’s “weird to be happy when you find cancer.”

But that’s certainly one of the emotions she experiences when a patient screened for lung cancer is given that heavy dose of bad news.

That’s because, quite often, that cancer is found early, in stage 1 or 2, when it is much more survivable than when found later. Indeed, lung cancer is the deadliest cancer, and finding it early is critical to winning one’s battle against it.

And LeBlanc certainly knows that. She has lost four relatives to lung cancer, several of whom would have qualified for screening had it been available at the time of their diagnosis.

“That’s why this work is so rewarding,” said LeBlanc, who earned associate degrees in both health sciences and criminal justice at Holyoke Community College, but eventually chose a career in healthcare; she has earned an associate degree in nursing from Springfield Technical Community College and a bachelor’s degree from Westfield State University, and is currently working on her master’s in executive nursing leadership at Chamberlain University.

“I’ve loved every second of it,” she said of her work in nursing, adding that she was eventually recruited by physicians in the Thoracic Surgery unit, where she now serves in her dual role. In addition to overseeing the department, she has been instrumental in creating a Lung Cancer Screening Program (LCSP) that has been designated a Screening Center of Excellence.

That program has screened more than 12,000 people since it was created in 2016, and identified cancer in more than 200 of them. In two-thirds of those cases, it was found in stage 1 or 2, which takes us back to where we started — that sensation of being happy to find cancer.

LeBlanc’s passion for lung-cancer treatment and screening is evidenced by her extensive work in the community. She has served as the nurse planner for the American Lung Association’s annual LUNG FORCE education events in Springfield and East Hartford, and spearheaded the creation of the first Springfield LUNG FORCE event after learning there were few lung-cancer continuing-education opportunities for local providers. Prior to the pandemic, she coordinated an annual fundraiser for Mercy’s LCSP to provide ‘scholarships’ for individuals who could not afford a screening.

“It’s so fulfilling to know that others may be spared the heartache of that loss through early detection and a wider variety of treatment options,” she said of her work. “It’s what keeps me going.”


—George O’Brien

40 Under 40 Class of 2023

Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, the Markens Group Inc.: Age 36

Emily Leonczyk

Emily Leonczyk brought a lot of stuff to her Forty Under 40 photo shoot.

She said she needed it all because the various items convey what’s important to her and …well, what makes her tick. Together, they really help tell her story.

You can start almost anywhere, but let’s go with the coffee cup.

“Coffee is really important to me; I run on coffee,” she joked, referencing the mug, which says ‘Mama Bird’ on it, which is a good segue to another item she brought with her, a photo of her blended family, which includes her daughter, Sienna, life partner, Todd, and his two children.

Leonczyk said family is very important to her, and so is getting together with family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors, usually over food … which explains why she also brought to the photo shoot a block quote attributed to Emily Dickinson: “I Tasted Life.”

Then there’s the elephant, which needs some explaining.

“I started a marketing and business-development business called Off the Tusk,” she noted. “The elephant has become quite the symbol for me, and I’ve carried it through my life. It represents the fact that this gigantic animal is so caring and loving. In the wild, they express joy and live for family; it’s a symbol I tie and connect through all I do and everywhere I go.”

Then there’s the computer with the Markens Group logo on it, representing the current stage of her career. She serves as executive vice president and COO of the Springfield-based agency, where she has helped grow sales by 56% since she came on board in 2019.

She has also helped the firm secure its first international client, the International Molded Fiber Assoc., while also leading a team of 20 in its use of EOS (entrepreneurial operating system) to increase efficiency and clear higher bars when it comes to revenue and profit.

Not in the picture (at least not literally) is the nonprofit known as the Willpower Foundation, the namesake of William Michael Burke, who has born with a rare brain malformation. The agency, named one of BusinessWest’s Difference Makers in 2018, provides grants to help families and children with special needs in the Western Mass. region. Leonczyk has been heavily involved with Willpower, serving as executive director and a board member since 2018.

They say a picture’s worth a thousand words. Leonczyk’s 40 Under Forty portrait certainly is.


—George O’Brien

40 Under 40 Class of 2023

Attorney; CEO, Delmarina López Consulting; Chicopee City Councilor: Age 27

Delmarina LópezDelmarina López aspired to be a lawyer — and did, indeed, practice law for a while after earning her juris doctorate at Western New England University School of Law. But she soon found that her passions — and there are several of them — also lay elsewhere.

Starting with her commitment to public service. She has long been active in the city of Chicopee, where she grew up, and in politics in general, and in 2021, she took that involvement to a higher level and ran for the Ward 3 seat on the City Council. She prevailed in that race — becoming the first Afro-Latina elected to any office in Chicopee — and currently serves on several committees, everything from water resources to education to zoning, while also focusing on public safety and working diligently to improve transparency in city government.

“Transparency is lacking; a lot of decisions get made, and people don’t realize why they’re being made or how we got there,” she said, adding that she considers herself an advocate for her constituents, and therefore she often winds up on the opposite side of the majority on many issues.

Meanwhile, another of her passions is helping small-business owners, which is why she is chief consultant for Delmarina López Consulting, an agency she founded in 2021. This venture supports small to mid-sized businesses with all aspects of formation; organizational structure; compliance; operational structure and processes; human resource; diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts and strategies; branding; and more.

“I’m a firm believer that what you’re good at, you’re good at, and you bring onto your team what are not your strengths,” she said, adding that she helps business owners fill in those gaps.

She is also a board member of the YWCA of Western Massachusetts, a former member of the Center for Human Development’s human rights committee, and a member of the paralegal advisory committee at Bay Path University, where she earned a degree in criminal justice studies.

All this explains why López needed a box to carry everything she wanted to bring to her photo shoot. Indeed, she arrived with everything from a gavel to a photo of her grandmother, who inspired her in many ways, especially when it comes to civic engagement, and passed away recently; from a sign from her campaign to some books that mean something to her, and much more.

Those items speak volumes about someone who has always been committed to giving back and getting involved — not just with city government, but in her community.


—George O’Brien

40 Under 40 Class of 2023

President, Digiarks: Age 39

Rob MadridRob Madrid considers himself a marketer who has always used digital marketing as a primary tool.

Armed with an MBA from Western New England University and a bachelor’s degree from Springfield College, Madrid held positions with Weed Man Lawn Care, the American Hockey League, and the Basketball Hall of Fame. Before founding his own business, he was head of client strategy for MassLive.

“I bounced around, not because I was getting fired,” he said. “It was the budding entrepreneur in me getting impatient. Once I developed digital expertise, I felt I could be successful on my own.”

Madrid and a partner started Digiarks, a digital marketing and design firm, in 2021 with the founding principle “honest, smart, experienced digital marketing — no BS.”

“Our slogan is what we’re all about,” he said. “We’re about honesty and transparency on top of knowing what we’re doing.”

Last fall, after buying out his partner, Madrid asked his wife, Sara, to join the firm, bringing skills in content creation and account management. Digiarks also added a remote graphic designer.

“We really have two companies that work hand-in-hand,” he said. “Our graphic designer is the creative arm that compliments the traditional digital marketing company, which executes ad campaigns and other things.”

Madrid has become a popular speaker on digital-marketing topics. His advice for budding entrepreneurs? “Make sure you have a diverse skill set, because you’ll need to wear every hat.”

Another piece of advice is to “segment your time between administrative duties and prospecting, while making quality work the core of what you do. Quality work will turn into more business; that’s certainly been our experience.”

Inspired by the business book Good to Great, Madrid is committed to following the concept of striving to be the best in the world at what he can become the best in the world at, and avoid areas where he won’t be the best.

“We develop wonderful websites, high-quality ad campaigns, SEO marketing, and consulting,” he said. “By emphasizing these core competencies, we can focus on what we do best and make our clients successful.”

To Madrid, nothing is more important than Sara and their three children. While he hopes to see Digiarks succeed and grow, he will not let success compromise his ethics.

“Every day I ask myself, ‘will my kids be proud of me?’ That’s how I want to live and do business. That’s what guides me.”


—Mark Morris

40 Under 40 Class of 2023

President, Marcotte Ford: Age 39

Mike MarcotteHe calls it the ‘Marcotte Ford campus,’ and that name certainly works.

Indeed, where there was once a Marcotte Ford dealership on Main Street in Holyoke, started by his grandfather, Al, and expanded by his father, Bryan, there are now several businesses, including a new, larger dealership, complete with a popular café inside; a commercial truck center; and even a car wash.

Mike Marcotte, the third-generation president of this family business, has been instrumental in its expansion, and in many ways, he is continuing family traditions — of entrepreneurship, success in business, and getting involved in the community.

Like most in family-owned auto dealerships and groups, Marcotte said he “grew up in the business,” learning all aspects of it, from parts to service, as he was being groomed to take a leadership role. His favorite, though, was sales.

Al Marcotte

Al Marcotte

Bryan Marcotte

Bryan Marcotte

“It’s a joy, an experience — a ‘wow’ moment,” he said. “I enjoy seeing people be really happy as they drive away with their new or pre-owned vehicle.”

There have been many ‘wow’ moments for the dealership as well, including those new facilities mentioned above. The café inside the new dealership, called LugNutz, has become a popular eatery in the city, and it has hosted a number of community events for local organizations.

Marcotte is continuing this series of expansion efforts by winning designation as a Model E Certified Elite store, making the dealership one of the first Ford stores in the area to sell electric Ford vehicles. The company will also be investing $1 million in charging infrastructure.

Meanwhile, and as mentioned earlier, Marcotte is continuing and building upon not only a tradition of entrepreneurship, but a tradition of involvement in the community.

That includes everything everything from work at Chicopee Comprehensive High School, where Marcotte established a program where the company mentors, trains, and hires technicians who work at the school, to Holyoke Medical Center, where he serves as vice chair of the board; from the Holyoke Boys & Girls Club — another family tradition; the basketball courts there were recently named in honor of his father, who was on the board for many years — to support of Providence Ministries and especially Kate’s Kitchen, which provides more than 200 meals a day to those in need.

“The city has been so good to us, and we try to be good to the city and give back in every way we can,” he said. “And it’s not just me, but the whole staff.”


—George O’Brien

40 Under 40 Class of 2023

Program Officer, Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts: Age 37

Jeffery Markham Jr.Jeffery Markham Jr. is no stranger to the nonprofit world, having worked with them in many capacities, from volunteer efforts to convening them in a major public-health research project. Now, the tables have turned — literally.

“After working with nonprofits, it feels good to be on the other side of the table, giving dollars away, as opposed to trying to find them,” he said of his latest new role, as a program officer for Community Impact and Partnerships at the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts, spearheading a grant process that will center on community participation in design and distribution of funds.

“We’re shifting our way of thinking toward giving away money in a more trust-based way,” he explained. “The whole school of thought around trust-based philanthropy is, instead of seeking to put some dollars toward a specific goal, the foundation deems it important to give to organizations in a way that puts them at the center of it and allows them to dictate how they want to spend their money.

“In that way, we’re looking to be in a relationship with organizations whose philosophy and overarching values are the same as ours and trust them to steward the money in a way they see fit, and that will have the most impact.”

Markham helps oversee distribution of resources from more than 60 funds at the foundation, delivering more than $3 million to organizations annually.

Before joining the Community Foundation, he was the research project manager for a $2.3 million National Institute of Health-funded research project in the School of Public Health and Health Sciences at UMass Amherst. The community participatory research project investigated the connection between stress and health outcomes in Black men in Springfield and its surroundings.

“It was a community-based resource project that involved community members in the development of the research,” he explained. “All too often, anchor institutions descend on communities, particularly communities of color and low-income communities, and extract information without bringing anything back or having them be a part of the process.”

Markham has also led projects at Caring Health Center and Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services, and has volunteered with Gardening the Community, Men of Color Health Awareness, Democracy Behind Bars, the Western Massachusetts Health Equity Network, and many others.

“I hold dear my commitment to lifting up folks in our community, particularly the young people coming behind me,” he said. “That’s a really important piece of my life — to lift up issues in our community and try to find solutions.”


—Joseph Bednar

40 Under 40 Class of 2023

Technology Assurance Manager, KPMG US: Age: 39

Stephanie O’LearyLongmeadow native and Bay Path University graduate Stephanie O’Leary observed that “I’ve completed all my schooling in a town that’s eight square miles.”

While that’s a fact, it’s also true that she’s really going places.

In her five years with KMPG US, a global network of professional firms providing audit, tax, and advisory services, O’Leary has earned three promotions and has been recognized for her dedication and leadership.

Technology-assurance positions tend to be male-dominated, but O’Leary noted that she was one of three women recently promoted in this area. “This was exciting to see because it shows KPMG’s commitment to advancing women and underrepresented groups.”

Since she joined the company five years ago, she has been involved in mentoring new hires and interns, and was selected as a national facilitator to help develop the next generation of KPMG employees.

“I enjoy helping new associates find their way,” she said. “At the same time, there are others in the company looking out for me.”

O’Leary stays involved with Bay Path, serving as president of the Alumni Assoc. Council and as the youngest member of the university’s board of trustees.

“I’m the first person in my family to graduate from college, and I believe everyone who wants an education should have access to it,” she said. “As a fairly recent graduate, I bring a fresh perspective to the board.”

O’Leary speaks regularly with prospective Bay Path students, helps others prepare for job interviews, and makes recommendations for internships. She also led a project to establish a campus food pantry. “It’s hard to get an education if you’re hungry,” she said.

At the Wildcat Pantry, students who may not have the means can get food and personal items to make it through their day and to graduation “If we can make a small difference in a student’s life on campus, I would like that to be part of my legacy as Alumni Association president.”

When a couple friends were diagnosed with cancer, O’Leary decided to train for the Boston Marathon, raising more than $14,000 for Dana-Farber cancer research.

“I thought I’d be a one-and-done marathoner, but they asked me back,” she said. This year, she had a patient partner, a 4-year old in remission from leukemia, and shattered her fundraising goal, collecting more than $15,000.

“When you run for a cause like this, it gives you a lot of perspective,” she said. “The people you meet are truly inspiring.”


—Mark Morris

40 Under 40 Class of 2023

Owner, Pandolfi Landscape Construction: Age 37

Nick PandolfiBy the summer of 2017, Nick Pandolfi was at a crossroads in his life and career.

He had a day job — working for the state as groundskeeper for the Massachusetts Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Agawam. But he had a side hustle, if you will, on nights and weekends, doing hardscape installation work such as patios, retaining walls, sidewalks, and more.

He was developing a solid reputation with the latter, and it was starting to take up more and more of his free time — to the point where, eventually, he had to decide between one or the other.

So he took the route of an entrepreneur and made Pandolfi Landscape Construction his sole focus — and his passion.

He started with a small crew, some old equipment, and determination to make sure his life decision was the right one.

“We just started getting out there, working hard … word of mouth traveled quickly,” Pandolfi recalled. “We found ourselves hiring more people very quickly and just growing from there.”

The company soon expanded its portfolio of work to a full range of backyard renovations, including firepits, outdoor kitchens, and plunge pools. And it was certainly helped by the pandemic, which canceled vacations and gave people the time, and inclination, to make investments in their homes and backyards.

“That whole outdoor living experience has really taken off,” he said, adding that, three years after the start of the pandemic, business continues to be robust, and these kinds of investments continue. “And seeing that look on people’s faces when a project is done, and making them happy at the end of the day — that’s very rewarding.”

When not working, Pandolfi is usually in his own backyard enjoying time with his family — his wife, Taryn, and children Brody, Luke, and Gwendolyn — and attending the many sporting events involving his children.

He’s also active in the community. He served for several years on the Planning Board in Agawam, and currently donates time, energy, and talent to New Day Church in Enfield, Conn., the West Springfield Police Club, and Shriners Children’s New England. He said giving back is important, and certainly did so when he learned that a local school’s playground toys had been vandalized. That same day, he ordered new equipment, then assembled and delivered it when it arrived.

He did that quietly, just as he’s grown his business into a thriving venture.


—George O’Brien

40 Under 40 Class of 2023

Executive Director, Springfield Redevelopment Authority: Age 36

Amanda PhamAmanda Pham joined the Springfield Redevelopment Authority in 2010, at what would have to be called a watershed moment — for the city, the SRA, and her own career.

Indeed, the long-waited project to redevelop and re-imagine Springfield’s Union Station, built in 1929 but dormant and mostly vacant since the early ’80s, was entering a critical new stage. The pieces — most of them, anyway — were falling in place, and construction was set to commence.

Over the next several years, the clock was essentially turned back at the historic station, and it was returned to not only its former glory, but its former role — as a transportation hub and center of activity for the city.

And Pham, who has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting from Western New England University and American International College, respectively, played a critical role in this $94 million project, coordinating 13 federal, state, and local grants for the project, while also handling lease negotiations and creation of standard operating procedures.

“That was such a big part of my life at the SRA prior to my role as executive director,” said Pham, who has worked for the city of Springfield for 16 years, starting in the School Department and then the Community Development Department. “I got exposure to all the different levels of government; there was managing, tracking, and reporting — relationship building and connecting the dots. I got my first taste of Amtrak, MassDOT, and all those other agencies … it was a great learning experience, and it was great to be part of it.”

The work on the Union Station project not only provided invaluable experience, but it afforded Pham the confidence that ultimately led Mayor Domenic Sarno to appoint her executive director of the SRA in 2021.

She is the first woman to serve in that role, and presides over the agency at a critical time for it and the city, with the SRA taking on a number of important projects, including the redevelopment of several properties directly across Main Street from MGM Springfield, part of the Court Square Urban Renewal Plan, which covers most of the downtown.

Speaking about that project, and the state of the city overall, Pham said, “I felt such great energy before COVID, but then the pandemic pulled everything back. I’m looking to see much more activation. We have so much culture and so much pride in our city; we just need some resources to get back to where we were before COVID.”


—George O’Brien

40 Under 40 Class of 2023

Co-owner, Serendipity Psych: Age 35

Dallas PileckiGrowing up, Dallas Pilecki said, “I always wanted to help people. I had a passion for that.”

Opening Serendipity Psych with his business partner, Ariana Avezzie, put that passion to the test, due to some unfortunate timing: three months after the counseling practice opened in Westfield in December 2019, COVID-19 shut the world down.

It was a challenge, for sure, but also an opportunity. Pilecki, a licensed mental-health counselor, used the time to create free workshops, programming, and resource handouts for the community, and built partnerships with local agencies to provide mental-health services to the elderly. Meanwhile, he started delivering services via telehealth, which has become a permanent option, all in the name of making clients feel comfortable.

“We ask people if they want telehealth, in-person, or a community visit,” he said. “We meet people where they are.”

In the years before opening Serendipity, Pilecki worked for other practices, including Baystate Noble Hospital, where he worked on an opioid task force and organized a large community event in 2019 to raise awareness and break stigma around addiction. He’s still passionate about the value of seeking help.

“Serendipity has grown from us wanting to do things our own way and taking time with people who are going through so much more than what’s diagnosed,” he said of the model he and Avezzie created, which draws on the ‘spirit, mind, and body’ emphasis of Springfield College, where he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

“We’re fortunate to have done some pro bono work, and we work with local agencies on caregiver support; when someone is caring for someone with dementia or terminal illness, we offer help to the caregiver,” Pilecki said, adding that they see a wide range of clients, from children to older adults.

He compared his work to that of an “old-fashioned family doctor,” someone who takes the time to know a family’s whole story. “We want that rapport with clients. We want to know them, their jobs, what their stressors are, how they’re dealing with them. All those things matter to us.”

Getting back to that December 2019 opening, maybe ‘unfortunate’ is the wrong word for the timing. Maybe it’s the opposite of the right word.

“We were able to help people during a time when there was so much uncertainty. People didn’t know how to cope; they didn’t know what was coming next,” Pilecki recalled.

“It’s scary to trust somebody,” he added. “Maybe you’re telling us things you’ve never told anyone, but we’re here, and we’re grateful that people trust us.”


—Joseph Bednar

40 Under 40 Class of 2023

Interim Regional Manager, Families First; Holyoke City Councilor: Age 37

Israel RiveraHolyoke City Councilor Israel Rivera’s pursuit of a master’s degree in public administration from Westfield State University might not sound out of the ordinary, until he tells his backstory.

At age 19, Rivera was incarcerated for five years for drug-related charges. Upon his release, he gravitated to positive places in the community that he’d known since childhood. To get back on his feet, he sought out the Holyoke Boys and Girls Club and the Holyoke Housing Authority.

“I went back to my old roots with the intent on giving back to my community,” he explained.

After earning an associate degree from Holyoke Community College and a bachelor’s degree in sociology from UMass Amherst, Rivera held positions in community engagement and workforce development, before Families First recruited him as interim regional manager. There, he oversees two programs that build stronger families by encouraging parents to connect and network with each other.

“As parents grow their network, they gain confidence,” he said. “If one person is having a problem, another parent will share what has worked for them with a similar problem. It’s a beautiful thing.”

Rivera is proud to be part of this effort to build stronger families in Western Mass. “As a father of three, these programs strengthen my knowledge as a parent and a community organizer.”

In 2021, Rivera was elected to Holyoke’s City Council and now chairs its public safety committee. “When I took office, I did not think the other councilors would appreciate my background,” he said. “But many have been supportive and want to hear my perspective.”

He hopes his life example will start to change societal attitudes about people who made mistakes in their youth but have matured into adults who are positive citizens. “If we allow formerly incarcerated people to be in society, we have to gradually allow them to fully take part in society.”

For example, after a person is incarcerated, they often face legal discrimination when trying to improve their lives, he noted. “I have friends who would like to apply for a liquor license to open a restaurant or apply for a lottery license to open a bodega, but they can’t because of their past.”

Rivera said he shares his own experience to educate and inspire others about what’s possible. “When I was incarcerated, I dreamed about where I am today. So when someone asks how I’m doing, I say, ‘I’m living the dream.’”


—Mark Morris

40 Under 40 Class of 2023

Manager/CPA, Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C.; Age 29

Chelsea Russell“There’s never a dull moment.”

That’s not a phrase anyone not in accounting and auditing would probably use to describe that profession. But Chelsea Russell, who has chosen that field, means it when she says it.

“There’s a lot of variety, a lot of excitement — you can do the grind of the work, but you can also go out and meet people in the community and other business owners,” Russell said as she talked about the sum (that’s an industry term) of everything that goes into her career, especially the networking and relationship building, in addition to the number crunching.

Russell was trending toward business management while at Westfield State University, became inspired by one of her accounting professors to focus her career in that direction, and became further inspired by a talk delivered by Jim Krupienski, now a partner at Meyers Brothers Kalicka, on “a day in the life of an accountant.”

She pursued an internship at MBK, one that led — as these opportunities so often do — to a job at the firm. She currently serves as a manager in the Audit and Assurance Department, where she handles large audits in the not-for-profit, commercial, and employment-benefit-plan arenas.

She has become an emerging leader at the firm, serving as co-leader of the Not-for-profit Division, a member of the mission and vision committee, an internal trainer for the Audit and Assurance Department, a member of the Business Development team, and a mentor to audit and accounting associates.

But maybe her most noteworthy contribution at the firm, one she’s passionate about, is her work to develop its Community Outreach program, through which she has established monthly charitable opportunities for the firm to participate in. She has coordinated drives, awareness campaigns, and service for a wide range of organizations in Western Mass., including Square One, Dakin Humane Society, Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity, the Opera House Players, Friends of the Homeless, Rachel’s Table, and many others.

“It’s become a staple of who we are,” she said of the program. “I always wanted something to make my work more meaningful. I love what I do, and I love my clients … but there was more that we could do with the resources that we have. We’re in Western Mass., and there’s so much need in the community.”

When not working or coordinating support for nonprofits, Russell is engaging in outdoor activities — camping, hiking, kayaking, fishing, and more — with her husband, Tyler, and 8-month-old lab, Copper.


—George O’Brien

40 Under 40 Class of 2023

President, Snow & Sons Landscaping: Age 38

Kyle SnowBy his teen years, Kyle Snow was working hard at landscaping and snow removal — when weekends and summer breaks from school allowed him to. Even before that, at a very young age, he was busy working around the Greenfield shop of his family’s business.

Back then, he was already thinking about an eventual full-time role in the family business, but maybe not envisioning quite how dramatically he would grow the firm as its third-generation president.

Indeed, since graduating from UMass Amherst, where he studied business and landscaping studies, and working his way up the leadership ranks of Snow & Sons, he has led the company to exponential growth — to more than 110 team members, in fact, serving more than 2,000 customers across Franklin and Hampshire counties, as well as southern Vermont and New Hampshire, with landscaping, hardscaping, maintenance, fertilization, irrigation, gardening, and winter snow removal, and earning major contracts with the likes of Mount Snow, Yankee Candle, and many others.

In fact, the firm has become so busy that it has been shifting away from one-time services to full maintenance contracts. He’s gratified by that evolution, but emphatically credits his team for his success.

“They really work hard; they provide good service and a really good experience,” Snow said, adding that he’s proud to see his employees grow and develop in their roles. “We have a strong culture and people who do an awesome job providing services to all the customers — not just quality of landscaping, honestly, but the interactions they have with the customer base. We get the most compliments from customers about our people.”

In addition to his leadership of the landscaping enterprise, Snow has built an impressive real-estate portfolio, purchasing multi-unit residential properties across Franklin County over the past decade. Also, in 2022, he branched out and founded Sugarloaf Gardens, opening an expansive nursery located at the foot of Mount Sugarloaf in Sunderland, specializing in trees, shrubs, and perennials.

Meanwhile, under his leadership, Snow and Sons has expanded its philanthropic efforts, benefiting more than 25 Franklin- and Hampshire-county nonprofits over the past three years. On his own time, Snow also coaches basketball at Deerfield Elementary School, and the company maintains a town garden in its Greenfield hometown, planting annual flowers in three different locations.

“We try to be really involved with different efforts,” he said. “It’s important for us to be a part of the community.”


—Joseph Bednar

40 Under 40 Class of 2023

Evening Anchor, WWLP-22 News: Age 30

Ciara SpellerCiara Speller says she’s always been a storyteller.

At first, and for many years, she told stories through dance, something’s she’s still passionate about today.

“Through the arts, I was always able to tell a story,” she said, but along the way, she found there were other ways to communicate stories — through poetry, the student newspaper in high school, and other vehicles.

“I was moved to see that my words could touch other people and bring their stories to light,” she said, adding that this passion for telling stories, coupled with a long-held interest in watching the news, often with her grandmother, put her on path to broadcast journalism and, eventually, WWLP-22 News, where she currently serves as evening anchor.

She started as a reporter in 2017, arriving in Springfield soon before the story of serial killer Stewart Weldon broke, a case that brought national media to the area and provided Speller with both exposure and learning experiences on many levels.

She joined the anchor desk less than a year later, and there were other big stories to follow — COVID-19, the tragedy at the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke, Jan. 6, and many others. But it’s the day-to-day work of keeping area residents informed that Speller likes most about her work.

She told BusinessWest that she always pictured herself on the anchor desk, noting that there are many responsibilities there beyond reading the news, including writing, editing, deploying crews, proofreading, answering calls, making beat calls to police and fire departments, and, in general, setting the tone for that night’s broadcasts.

“I want to make sure that I’m delivering stories that are important to our community … I don’t want to let my community down,” she said. “They welcome me into their homes at night, and I always want to give it my best.

“I want to be like a conversation,” she went on. “I want it to come off as just having a chat — what’s going on — with my friends.”

Speller’s ultimate goal is to sit behind the anchor desk in a much larger market, but while she’s working in Greater Springfield, she has committed herself to getting involved in the community and making a difference there.

Indeed, she currently serves on the board of directors for Girls Inc. of the Valley, is a corporator for Monson Savings Bank, and has volunteered with the nonprofit I Found Light Against All Odds, which assists at-risk youths and their families through numerous charitable events.


—George O’Brien

40 Under 40 Class of 2023

Owner, The Tatted Professionals; Director, Jill Ker Conway Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center, Smith College: Age 36

Andrea St. LouisAndrea St. Louis has a number of titles and many different … let’s call them jobs, although some of them are more like passions.

She was just named director of the Jill Ker Conway Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center at Smith College. She is also the owner of a business called the Tatted Professionals, through which she takes many different titles — executive coach, writer, business coach, educator, and public speaker.

She’s also the author of the book 40 Days Lighter: A Devotional Journey for Women Determined to Live Free, an adjunct professor, book-club host, and TEDxSpringfield speech coach and emcee. She’s also an ordained minister at the All Nations Church in Springfield, as well as a youth leader and board member at the church. She has also been a board member for the Children’s Chorus of Springfield and a mentor with the Pass the Torch for Women Foundation. She’s also a mother of two.

That’s a lot of ‘alsos.’

But we need them to accurately convey all that St. Louis does professionally and in her community.

In her role at Smith, which recently expanded from entrepreneur in residence to director, she has developed and taught courses on entrepreneurship and facilitated workshops on entrepreneurship, innovation, ideation, effective pitching, and more.

And through her business, the Tatted Professionals, she is an executive coach, writer, business consultant, educator, and speaker who is committed to helping women leaders own their gifts and effectively tell their story.

She is a frequent speaker, having given a talk at the recent Women in Business Summit in Springfield, and also at the Women Business Owners Alliance Social Media Bootcamp, the On the Move Forum for Women Intergenerational Panel, and the 2021 Wellness for the Culture Saturday Wellness Workshop.

St. Louis said there is general theme or tone to her talks.

“I’m often talking about authenticity, what it means to show up authentically, and professionalism,” she explained, adding that these talking points refer back to the name she has given her business. “For me, tattoos are a symbol of how we bring ourselves to wherever we’re going. Tattoos are permanent; I know some people get them removed, but to me they are a permanent reminder to bring all of myself to the work that I do.”

She said she also helps clients, mostly women of color, tell their stories, step out of their comfort zone, and work through challenges. She’s speaking from personal experience, having done all that herself, and that’s why her voice, and her message, resonates.


—George O’Brien

40 Under 40 Class of 2023

Vice President, Northeast IT Systems Inc.: Age 35

Brian SullivanYou might say Northeast IT Systems was on a roll right from the start.

“I met my business partner while we were both in a bowling league,” said Brian Sullivan, the company’s co-founder, with Joel Mollison, and vice president. “We had a shared vision of what Northeast IT could be, and we opened the company in 2012.”

With a computer information systems degree from Holyoke Community College, Sullivan knew he had to convince people he was up to the challenge of making his business a success.

“My mom and dad have a hard work ethic, and that rubbed off on me,” he said, adding that he’s also benefited from a number of mentors through the years.

The company handles business-to-business technology needs, from simple help-desk requests to large projects, such as installing servers and network equipment. Sullivan sees Northeast as a partner for its customers.

“We will even assist companies in developing IT budgets to help them get the most out of their technology,” he said. “We treat every customer network and IT budget like it’s our own.”

He is most proud of partnering with the nonprofit technology training center Tech Foundry to bring interns to Northeast so they can experience what it’s like to work in the field. “It’s a great program to be part of because there was nothing before it that is geared to what we do.”

Sullivan and his colleagues put a priority on mentoring younger team members. “Whether they stay with us long term or not, it’s satisfying to see our team members grow personally and professionally,” he said.

He credits his wife, Shawna, for always supporting his “crazy” ideas. Last year, she suggested a community event to benefit people suffering from Crohn’s disease after she had successfully been treated for it. Sullivan pitched in and applied his experience organizing golf tournaments and other events. The result was the first running of the Movement 5K, raising more than $6,000 for the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation.

Whether in his professional or personal life, Sullivan always tries to live up to the principles of treating others how he’d want to be treated, valuing communication, and delivering on promises. That philosophy seems to be paying off in the reputation of a firm that aims to … well, bowl clients over.

“Integrity is my number-one priority,” he said. “I’m a handshake guy, so your word is everything.”


—Mark Morris

40 Under 40 Class of 2023

Realtor, Turnberg & Swallow Team, Coldwell Banker Realty: Age 36

Erica SwallowErica Swallow’s résumé confuses people because she has worked in journalism, high-tech, and, currently, real estate.

“I have a broad range of interests, but the string that connects them all is feeling rooted to what I’m working on,” she said.

In 2019, she decided to put down roots in Western Mass. because of the high cost of housing in the Boston area. As a remote worker for a Boston-area tech company, Swallow researched houses within a 90-minute driving distance from work and fell in love with Springfield’s Forest Park district.

“I was blown away by the historic homes and having the 735-acre Forest Park next door,” she said.

When her company pulled all its remote workers back to headquarters, Swallow chose to stay in Springfield. After helping her mom sell the family home in Arkansas, then buy one for her in West Virginia, Swallow knew she had her next career.

“I’ve always known real estate was a powerful way for families to build equity and generational wealth,” she said. “I thought if I could help other families, this is where I want to be.”

Though she launched her real-estate career in 2020, her sales production last year led to inclusion in the Coldwell Banker International Diamond Society, placing her among the top 10% of Coldwell Banker agents worldwide.

As president of the Springfield Preservation Trust, Swallow is excited about taking part in her first large-scale building-rehab project at 7-9 Stockbridge St., the third-oldest building in the city’s downtown.

“When I came here, I wanted to build off the history that Springfield has, and this is exactly the kind of project I was hoping for,” she said. Once complete, the trust office will occupy the ground floor and lease the upper floors.

Swallow appreciates how much her life has changed from the days of growing up in poverty, and shared that her personal mantra is a quote by 13th-century poet Rumi, who encouraged people to “live life as if everything is rigged in your favor.”

“When you live from a place of empowerment, anything is possible,” she said.

Swallow used to think that making meaningful change in the world could only happen at the national level, but has since had a change of heart.

“I’ve learned that change gets made when you get involved locally,” she said. “I’ve made more change in my life in Western Mass. than I feel I’ve made in my whole career, and I’m still writing this part.”


—Mark Morris