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The Class of 2010

40 Under 40 The Class of 2010
Media Director, Garvey Communication Associates Inc. Age: 26

As she talked with BusinessWest for this profile, Mary Fallon was thinking about what she might do on her first real outing with Lashanna, her first ‘little sister,’ whom she had just met through Big Brothers Big Sisters.

The list of options — which includes hiking, playing soccer or basketball, shopping, or dog-walking, among others — reveals just some of the things Fallon enjoys when she’s not working as media director for Springfield-based Garvey Communication Associates. Especially the dog-walking part.

Fallon counts her 95-pound weimaraner, Riley, as her best friend. “We do everything together,” she said, noting that the two walk her neighborhood in Springfield for at least an hour a day, more on weekends. Lashanna is apparently a dog lover, so the two should hit it off.

Her current involvement with Big Brothers Big Sisters is the latest example of how Fallon mixes her job responsibilities — which include public relations, media buying, and social media — with civic involvement. A veteran Facebook user, she is also adept in applying Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn, among other vehicles, and is becoming well-known and regarded as a social-media expert. “I do a little bit of everything,” she said, “which makes each day different and my job challenging, but also fun.”

In the community, Fallon has donated time, energy, and expertise to several organizations and causes. She helped lead efforts to collect personal care and clothing items for the homeless for St. Francis Chapel, a downtown Springfield shelter. She recorded a radio public-service announcement, used social-media channels to build awareness of what the chapel was doing, and coordinated media coverage to further spread the word. Fallon is also a volunteer and presenter for Media and Marketing for Middle School, a vocational mentoring program at the Zanetti School in Springfield.

When asked where her career might take her, Fallon said she has yet to think that through. For now, she’s focused on what she and Lashanna might do next weekend, and what route the next walk with Riley might take.
—George O’Brien

40 Under 40 The Class of 2010
This Diverse Group Is a Breed or Several Breeds Apart

The Class of 2010

You could call this a good dog-gone class of 40 Under Forty winners.

Canines are dominant in this year’s photographs, with several breeds, including the basset hound, weimaraner, and rottweiler, among others, represented (apparently cats don’t sit still for this kind of thing). There’s even a cartoon dog that has become a company’s logo. But members of this class are much more than animal lovers — although that’s a good start.

They’re also successful in business and contributors within the community, helping those with two legs as well as four. And, like the three that came before it, the class of 2010 is diverse, with a number of business groups and nonprofit agencies represented. There are entrepreneurs as well, with members starting businesses in the high-tech sector, marketing and public relations, and even motion pictures.

This year’s class has several lawyers, accountants, and bankers, as in previous years, but it also has managers of nonprofits ranging from Springfield School Volunteers to the United Way to Big Brothers Big Sisters. And the contributions within the community are diverse as well, from work (if you call running work) to raise funds for the Jimmy Fund to efforts on behalf of Habitat to Humanity, to initiatives to rescue basset hounds.

Overall, this is an inspiring class, perhaps best exemplified by the story of Nancy Bazanchuk (page A4), this year’s highest scorer. Born with a congenital condition that required the amputation of both legs above her knee, she is now program director of Disability Resources for the Center for Human Development. In that role, she has grown the department exponentially over the past 13 years, and today empowers people with physical disabilities through participation in a number of different sports.

There are a number of stories like Bazanchuk’s over the next 30 or so pages. They involve people who were inspired, and are now inspiring others. People like Natasha Clark, who was reminded daily by her father about the importance of reading and learning. He didn’t live to see her become a respected journalist and, now, program manager for Springfield School Volunteers, but he’s always been a force in her life. Or people like Jill Monson, who says she learned from the death of her mother that one never knows how much time they have, so they have to make the most of each day. She does, and she named the business she started after her mother — sort of. It’s called Inspired Marketing & Promotions because her mother inspired her to start it.

So here are the stories of the class of 2010, and, in many cases, their dogs as well. Read, and become inspired along with us. — George O’Brien

2010
40 Under Forty Winners:
Nancy Bazanchuk David Beturne Raymond Berry Jr.
Maegan Brooks Karen Buell Shanna Burke
Damon Cartelli Daniel Finn Natasha Clark
Julie Cowan Karen Curran Adam Epstein
James
Krupienski
Susan Mielnikowski Owen Freeman-Daniels
Lorenzo Gaines Thomas Galanis Anthony Gleason II
Allen Harris Meghan Hibner Amanda Huston
Kimberly Klimczuk Mary Fallon David Kutcher
James Leahy Kristin Leutz Meghan Lynch
Brady Chianciola Jill Monson Kevin Perrier
Lindsay Porter Brandon Reed Boris Revsin
Aaron Vega Ian Vukovich Thomas Walsh
Sean Wandrei Byron White Chester Wojcik
Peter Zurlino

Meet Our Judges

This year’s nominations were scored by a panel of five judges, who took on the daunting task of reviewing more than 100 nomination forms and choosing 40 winners from that impressive pool.

BusinessWest would like to thank these outstanding members of the Western Mass. business community for volunteering their time to the fourth annual 40 Under Forty competition. They are:

Denise Dukette, associate director of the Western Mass. Enterprise Fund, who serves as director of lending and head of operations for that organization, a nonprofit community-loan fund that works with banks and other lenders to enable financing for businesses that would otherwise not qualify.

Ronn Johnson, president of R.D. Johnson Consulting in Springfield, which specializes in strategic planning and organizational development. Formerly, he served as director of Community Responsibility for MassMutual.

Kathy LeMay, owner and founder of Raising Change, a Florence-based company focused on building bridges between philanthropists and nonprofits. The highest scorer among the 40 Under Forty Class of 2009, she recently completed a book titled The Generosity Plan.

Jeff McCormick, a partner with the Springfield-based law firm Robinson Donovan, and one of the region’s preeminent trial lawyers. He specializes in business litigation, personal-injury law, federal litigation, professional-malpractice law, and legal ethics.

Marla Michel, executive director of Strategic Communications and Outreach at UMass Amherst. In this recently created role, she will help lead efforts to build awareness and understanding of research and scholarly accomplishments among internal and external constituents and to expand the university’s role in local and regional innovation. Previously, she served as director of Research Liaison and Development.

40 Under 40 The Class of 2010
Age 28: Leadership and Development Specialist, Big Y Foods

Lindsay Porter says the new title on her business card reveals quite a bit more about what she does than her old one.

‘Leadership and development specialist’ has replaced ‘employment specialist,’ she said, in a move that is part of a restructuring at Big Y Foods, but also an attempt to better explain Porter’s role — both within the company and also with some of its programs in the community.

Porter handles recruiting and hiring duties for Big Y, as well as other employment responsibilities, but she also coordinates leadership and development programs for store managers.

Meanwhile, Porter is heavily involved with the Springfield Work Scholarship Connection program as one of the company’s management representatives. The initiative helps 40 selected students at Sci-Tech High School in Springfield stay in school and graduate by having youth advocates work with them at school, home, and work. Participants are then eligible for hire by Big Y upon graduation if certain criteria are met.

“We work with the students to help build self-esteem and develop the skills and values needed to get and keep a job; it’s in everyone’s best interest that we do something to help students graduate,” she said, adding that it is Big Y’s desire to expand the program to other schools and communities.

In addition to her duties with Springfield Work Scholarship Connection, Porter gives back to the community in a number of other ways. She’s on the board of the Human Resource Management Assoc. of Western New England, and also on the senior HR roundtable with the Economic Development Council of Western Mass., the youth council of the Regional Employment Board of Hampden County, the Business Advisory Council of Community Enterprises, and the Mass.

Rehabilitation Commission Business Advisory Council, among others. She’s also on the membership and arts committees of the Young Professional Society of Western Mass. and the Women’s Leadership Network of Western Mass., which has, as its mission, the advancement of women of all ages and ability.

Considering all this, Porter’s new title fits her perfectly.

—George O’Brien

40 Under 40 The Class of 2010
Age 37: President and CIO, Berkshire Money Management Inc.

There are many in Berkshire County who are thankful for Allen Harris’ support; most have two legs, but others have four.

At the February Berkshire Job Summit, 200 of the county’s largest and most ambitious employers met to hear Berkshire Money Management’s thoughts — and, specifically, Harris’ — on how they can invest in themselves. “It’s OK to go ahead and start investing in your business,” he told attendees. “Hire that new employee, buy that new piece of equipment, if that’s what will grow your business. While others are hesitant in the marketplace, now is the time to act on some opportunities, instead of waiting too long for those opportunities to pass by.”

It was a hard, direct message in a fearful economy, and by any account, sage advice for all those in attendance. But there is one group that benefits from Harris’ expertise on a daily basis who couldn’t even get in the door that day.

His wife, Stacey Carver, is the president of the New England Basset Hound Rescue, and by extension, he said, “I’m co-president. She holds the title, and I volunteer alongside her.”

Such is the commitment from this avowed animal lover that when BMM opened its new headquarters a few months ago, the site was chosen for its adjacent vacant lot. “We also bought that to put in a playpen of sorts for the dogs,” he said.

“They come to the office and hang out with us.”

A dog’s life, indeed. With close to $240 million under management, BMM is doing quite well. Harris explained that market advice isn’t a commodity — clearly there are winners and losers.

Squarely in that former camp, Harris said that, with his current employee base, he can double his operations without stretching the business. “So that’s our first goal.” But, the animal lover in him asked to end his profile with the same sign-off from his weekly radio program. Attaching equal importance to $240 million in investment management, he said, “don’t forget to spay or neuter your pets.”

—Dan Chase

40 Under 40 The Class of 2010
Age 39: Program Director, ACCESS Springfield Promise Program

Lorenzo Gaines is certainly proud of his 40 Under Forty plaque, but he has a far bigger prize in mind — an Academy Award. And not just any Oscar, mind you, but Best Picture.

He knows that’s a very lofty ambition, but he’s not going to even consider the sentiment that his goal is unrealistic or out of reach. That’s because his day job boils down to help convincing young people that nothing — especially a college education — is beyond their grasp.

That’s the unofficial job description Gaines has as program director for the ACCESS Springfield Promise Program, which provides access to post-secondary opportunities for high-school students in Springfield with Last Dollar Scholarships and information. Its mission? ‘We imagine a day when every young person reaches their full potential by graduating from college regardless of their family’s financial capacity or college experience.’

“That pretty much says it all,” Gaines noted, adding that so does the name he gave to his boutique film-production company: No Sleep Productions.

Gaines has long been involved with film, and as a student at Columbia, his ‘short,’ as they’re called, won the Hallmark Entertainment Producer Development Award, the most prestigious honor for that realm at the school.

Currently, he’s working on a few scripts that he hopes to turn into successful productions. One is a documentary on fathers that’s been in progress for several years now, and the other is a feature film on the life and death of Len Bias, the University of Maryland basketball star who died a day after being drafted by the Boston Celtics in 1986 due to cocaine intoxication.

“That’s when the war on drugs was declared and crack was considered an epidemic,” said Gaines, speaking of the historical significance of Bias’s death, but adding quickly that there was and is a personal element to the tragedy. “That was a watershed in my life; it was like the shot heard ’round the world.

“I believe film can be used as a catalyst to change people’s lives,” Gaines continued, meaning his own, as well.

—George O’Brien

40 Under 40 The Class of 2010
Age 39: Executive Director and Organizer, Pioneer Valley Local First

Daniel Finn never forgot a language lesson from high school.

“I remember learning that the words ecology and economy share the same root word, ‘eco,’ meaning ‘home’” — a fact that helped him see the connection between taking care of both the economy and the planet.

Finn eventually found a way to meld those concepts, launching Pioneer Valley Local First in 2001. The group promotes buying local by emphasizing both the economic benefits of keeping dollars in the region and the lessened environmental impact of doing so.

“We want people to think local first,” he said — and that means looking beyond the price tag at the overall prosperity and self-sufficiency of the region. “Shopping locally makes a lot of sense. We want people to see that it’s in their enlightened self-interest to support businesses here in Western Mass.”

One major accomplishment was the creation of the Pioneer Valley Local Business Guide, a detailed, categorized listing of area businesses that have aligned themselves with the organization’s mission.

Meanwhile, Finn has worked for 13 years as an employment specialist with Riverside Industries, helping people with disabilities develop life skills and procure jobs. He and a client with Down syndrome recently cleaned up a bike path from Amherst through Hadley, Northampton, and Florence, removing more than 1,000 pounds of trash from the path and the surrounding woods.

“If we take care of our home, it’ll take care of us,” he said. “If we don’t take care of our home, watch out.”

Again, it’s that concept of home that helps him bridge a perception gap between the environment and economic growth.

“When I explain this to my environmental friends,” Finn said, “they appreciate business more, and when I say it to business-minded people, it helps them to understand the importance of taking care of our air and water, and having a stable climate.

“We can have great businesses and a beautiful environment,” he continued. “You don’t have to give up one to have the other.”

—Joseph Bednar

40 Under 40 The Class of 2010
Age 26: Media Director, Garvey Communication Associates Inc.

As she talked with BusinessWest for this profile, Mary Fallon was thinking about what she might do on her first real outing with Lashanna, her first ‘little sister,’ whom she had just met through Big Brothers Big Sisters.

The list of options — which includes hiking, playing soccer or basketball, shopping, or dog-walking, among others — reveals just some of the things Fallon enjoys when she’s not working as media director for Springfield-based Garvey Communication Associates. Especially the dog-walking part. Fallon counts her 95-pound weimaraner, Riley, as her best friend.

“We do everything together,” she said, noting that the two walk her neighborhood in Springfield for at least an hour a day, more on weekends. Lashanna is apparently a dog lover, so the two should hit it off. Her current involvement with Big Brothers Big Sisters is the latest example of how Fallon mixes her job responsibilities — which include public relations, media buying, and social media — with civic involvement.

A veteran Facebook user, she is also adept in applying Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn, among other vehicles, and is becoming well-known and regarded as a social-media expert. “I do a little bit of everything,” she said, “which makes each day different and my job challenging, but also fun.”

In the community, Fallon has donated time, energy, and expertise to several organizations and causes. She helped lead efforts to collect personal care and clothing items for the homeless for St. Francis Chapel, a downtown Springfield shelter. She recorded a radio public-service announcement, used social-media channels to build awareness of what the chapel was doing, and coordinated media coverage to further spread the word.

Fallon is also a volunteer and presenter for Media and Marketing for Middle School, a vocational mentoring program at the Zanetti School in Springfield. When asked where her career might take her, Fallon said she has yet to think that through. For now, she’s focused on what she and Lashanna might do next weekend, and what route the next walk with Riley might take.

—George O’Brien

40 Under 40 The Class of 2010

Anthony Gleason II: 24

Owner, Gleason Landscaping;
Commercial and Residential Sales, Roger Sitterly & Son Inc.

At 16 years old, Anthony Gleason was starting his own business while most of his friends were working for others.

It took him only one week of mowing lawns for someone else, he said, before he realized that the money he charged for each of those yards could go directly to his own bank account. “And that’s how it started,” he explained. “I just took it to a new level, growing wherever I could. Currently the company is quite large, in my opinion, and I’m very proud of its success.”

But while Gleason is an employer, he’s also an employee. Indeed, since 2000, he has worked for Sitterly Movers in Springfield, and in that time he has gone from summer, seasonal employee all the way up to the trusted professional overseeing commercial and residential sales for the

company. And Gleason takes that role very seriously. “What’s on the line every day is that I’m the one who’s trying to book jobs,” he said, “so that 12 to 15 of our guys have work and are going to be able to provide for their families.”

But also, he added, “I need to make sure that we’re making enough money so that we can continue our operations, taking the time to think of every decision, because it trickles down the chain within the company to affect every single one of us.”

Not many people his age are so entrusted with and invested in the livelihoods of their co-workers, but Gleason takes it in stride as part of the job. And he approaches his charitable deeds with the same conviction. “Right now, I’m at an age where the only thing I can really do is donate to such organizations as the Jimmy Fund and the Susan B. Komen Cancer Foundation,” he said.

“But I want to participate more,” he added. “And as time goes on, that’s my goal.”—Dan Chase

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40 Under 40 The Class of 2010

Sean Wandrei: 36

Manager of the Tax Department, Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C.

As he talked with BusinessWest for his 40 Under Forty profile, Sean Wandrei was in training for the Boston Marathon. Sort of.

Late March is the busiest of times for any accountant, and Wandrei had many other things on his plate as well, from a class he’s taking at the University of Hartford to a host of duties with the Young Professional Society of Greater Springfield. So that aforementioned ‘training’ amounted to some long runs on weekends, which wasn’t going to be enough for him to be in top condition for one of his favorite events.

But that was OK, because for Wandrei, ‘Boston,’ as runners call it, is a race he runs essentially for fun and to help raise money for Griffin’s Friends, a group named in honor of Griffin Kelleher, who succumbed to childhood cancer several years ago. Wandrei and about 60 others were there in their blue Griffin’s Friends singlets for this year’s race, staged on April 19.

Wandrei has run in about a dozen marathons now, as well as a 50-mile race, and also a relay run between Mount Greylock and Boston to benefit the Jimmy Fund. He says the running, both the races and training, provides a relaxing counter to his fast-based work as manager of the Tax Department for Meyers Brothers Kalicka.

In that capacity, Wandrei, who handles some of the most complicated tax returns for the firm, also functions as one of the lead reviewers of clients’ tax returns, while also performing tax research and serving as a technical resource for clients and staff. He has also been a leader in the development and implementation of a structured technical training program for new hires and entry-level accountants, with special emphasis on the paperless/electronic process. He developed a case study as the basis for this training, and authored a training manual that is used department-wide, and also serves as a training ‘presenter’ at the firm’s annual pre-tax-season ‘technical update.’

Add all of this up (that’s an industry term), and one can see why Wandrei is on the fast track — not in Boston, but everywhere else.

—George O’Brien

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40 Under 40 The Class of 2010


Nancy Bazanchuk: 37

Program Director of Disability Resources,
Center for Human Development

Nancy Bazanchuk says that when individuals with disabilities are competing in sports, they feel like athletes, not individuals who happened to be disabled.

And she should know.

Born with a congenital condition that required amputation of both her legs above the knee, Bazanchuk didn’t let that stop her from becoming a varsity swimmer while attending Bridgewater State University. And she’s making it her life’s work to help others enjoy the experience of competing in the pool, on the ice, or in the gym.

For the past 13 years, Bazanchuk, the highest scorer among this year’s field of 40 Under Forty candidates, has been program director of Disability Resources for the Center for Human Development. Now, as then, this is a department of one full-time employee, but since Bazunchuk — described as not simply the face of the program but its heart and soul — started, Disability Resources has seen exponential growth, from serving 69 individuals to more than 800. They range in age from 3 to 97.

Those numbers speak to her commitment to empower people with physical disabilities through participation in sports ranging from wheelchair soccer to golf; from biking to bowling; from dance to track and field. The most recent addition to that list is sled hockey, with a team — the Western Mass Knights — that recently competed in a tournament in Westfield.

Bazanchuk, who provides case management for 125 people with disabilities every year, played a key role in the creation of that squad, which filled a void after several area young people aged out of a Shriners sled-hockey unit and were looking for a team — and a way to keep competing. And she’s also the goalie.

“How many people get to play sports as part of their job?” she queried when BusinessWest asked about the rewards she takes from her work. She then elaborated, noting that she takes great pride in helping people build self-esteem and feel like they’re part of the community.

While also feeling like athletes.

—George O’Brien

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40 Under 40 The Class of 2010

Meghan Hibner: 30

Assistant Vice President and Controller, Westfield Bank

Meghan Hibner believes the greatest joys in life are found by branching out. “Don’t limit your possibilities,” she says.

It’s a message she is passionate about sharing with young people, and one that reflects her life experience. “I have been very fortunate and have had tremendous blessings,” she said. “A good support system goes a long way. Success doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and it’s only natural to want to give back.”

Hibner graduated from UMass with a degree in Psychology, expecting to go into social work. Instead, she was hired as an accountant at Westfield Bank, which satisfied her love of numbers. She enjoys the work, but found many ways to fulfill her desire to help others.

Hibner volunteers for the Westfield State College Mentor Program and for Southwick Tolland Regional High School’s Business Education Alliance program.

“It’s very rewarding to work with youth in schools,” she said, adding that she tells students to stay focused, become well-rounded, and get involved in their communities.

Hibner is a role model for many with her myriad activities. She volunteers with Brightside for Families and Children, Friends of the West Springfield Public Library Inc., the Noble Visiting Nurse and Hospice Service, the United Way Day of Caring, and the American Lung Assoc. Fight for Air Walk. She makes time for leisure, too; a longtime softball enthusiast, she keeps equipment in her car in case a game arises with family or friends.

The library is very important to her. “It is the center of a community and such an important place to foster a love of reading and values,” said Hibner. In fact, she led a collaboration between the library and the Sisters of Providence Health System to provide books for children at Brightside.

In 2007, she was nominated by Westfield Bank’s senior management team to attend the Springfield Leadership Institute. To her, it was another branch on the tree of life. “I feel very strongly about relating to people in a way that’s effective and produces results,” she said. —Kathleen Mitchell

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40 Under 40 The Class of 2010

Byron White: 30

Owner and Executive Chef, Pazzo Ristorante

Growing up with 11 siblings, Byron White developed a work ethic early on.

“We never got anything for nothing,” he said. “My parents were hard workers, and from a young age, if you wanted a dollar, you had to go out and make it.”

That quality served him well when he stumbled upon the restaurant business, washing dishes at Leone’s in Springfield. “Five minutes in, I knew I wanted to work in restaurants,” he said. “I loved the juice, the pressure. So I worked my way up.”

That journey — White is a self-taught chef who has worked in notable kitchens across the Pioneer Valley and all over the U.S. — eventually led to part-ownership of Pazzo at the Basketball Hall of Fame, where he continues to stir passion into every recipe.

“It’s like performing on stage,” he said. “The kitchen is our stage, and the dining room is the audience. It gets my energy pumping when people sit down in the audience and watch the stage; that’s why I like the cooks working in an open kitchen, so they can see the immediate reactions from people.”

Having returned to “the city that gave me my wings,” White has helped raise funds for groups including Habitat for Humanity, Rebuilding Together Springfield, Springfield Kiwanis Club, the March of Dimes, the Jimmy Fund, Children’s Miracle Network, the Muscular Dystrophy Assoc., and Shriners Hospitals for Children. That’s not surprising, since he sees his entire career as a kind of service.

“Restaurants are a small branch of the hospitality tree,” he said. “It’s not just about providing great food, but great service and ambiance, hitting all five senses and that sixth sense of culinary euphoria.

“It’s about providing people with that thing I call the ‘wow’ factor,” he added. “At the end of the night, our team looks back and says, ‘wow, we put out a great product and gave people a great experience. Let’s pack it up and do it again tomorrow.’”—Joseph Bednar

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40 Under 40 The Class of 2010


David Beturne: 35

Director of Program Services,
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampden County

David Beturne says it’s very simple to make a difference in a child’s life.

It’s a belief he is passionate about, and one that has led him year after year to raise thousands of dollars for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampden County via its annual Bowl for Kid’s Sake.

“Children are the most vulnerable population,” he said, adding that he was lucky to grow up in a nurturing family with parents who were positive role models.

His desire to ensure that every child knows that someone cares inspired Beturne to choose his career field and go above and beyond his job duties. “A lot of times we make things very complicated,” he said. “All I ask folks to do is get involved and have fun with kids. To me, fund-raising is not a big deal. It’s just opening the door for other people to get involved. Someone may not be able to take on the commitment of becoming a volunteer for a year. But they can come and bowl with us, and that will help.”

Beturne knows what it means to be busy. Besides his full-time job, he and his wife, Julie, have two sons, ages 7 and 5; he coaches their soccer teams and his younger son’s tee-ball team. Such involvement led him to create a Lunch Buddies program with his executive director, where the only commitment required is to have lunch with a child for an hour once a week at their school.

Beturne is a Lunch Buddies volunteer himself for a third grader. “We spend our time playing games and having fun. Last week, we played football with all of his friends,” he said.

“I believe in being a role model for children who want or need one. There is nothing more powerful for a child than realizing that someone is in their life because they want to be there, not because they have to do it. That’s where the magic is, when someone cares enough.” —Kathleen Mitchell

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40 Under 40 The Class of 2010

Amanda Huston: 29

Vice President of Operations,
Junior Achievement of Western Mass.

Amanda Huston is a public face of Junior Achievement of Western Mass., often visible at civic events, raising the profile of the organization that educates young people about business.

“My background is in accounting, and I do their accounting work,” she said. “But I also run special events. We have one of the finest golf tournaments in the Valley, a bowlathon, and our signature event, the stock-market challenge.”

The latter event is the largest of its kind in North America, in which more than 500 high-school students compete in teams to see who can most successfully invest $500,000.

“I love the mission of educating students on entrepreneurship and financial literacy,” said Huston, who also operates her own tax business, Back Office. “I realize the necessity of understanding finances and taxes and how it all affects their life.”

And she knows she’s making a difference. As an adjunct professor of Accounting at Elms College, “I had a student come to me and say, ‘I remember you; three years ago you told me about Roth IRAs. I wanted you to know I opened one up.’ You can impact students in so many different ways.

“From Junior Achievement, I see how students need financial education,” she added, “and from the tax side, I see how adults need a better understanding of their own personal finance.”

Huston is also active in many community organizations, including various chambers of commerce, the Young Professional Society of Greater Springfield, and various boards at the Elms and Springfield’s Sci-Tech High School. And she makes time for sports, too — basketball, softball, spinning, and a recent addition, golf.

“I’ve hosted the golf tournament for a few years, and a lot of board members asked me to play,” she said. “I finally joined a tournament last year, and since then, my golf schedule has been booked. I’m getting better … at least somewhat competitive.”

Proving that even someone with a lot to teach doesn’t have to stop learning. —Joseph Bednar

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40 Under 40 The Class of 2010

Chester Wojcik: 39

President, Design Construction Group

Chester Wojcik grew up with a family motto that said, “it is important to put a smile on someone’s face every day.” That principle, combined with his desire to give back to the community and build positive relationships, is a cornerstone of Wojcik’s life.

He devotes a tremendous amount of time to volunteer work and said his understanding of its value was made clear during childhood. “So many people gave to me when I was growing up — coaches, family members, people in church, and business associates in the town,” he said, remembering his first job working for a small company in Agawam.

The construction business formed by the North Carolina State graduate specializes in urban revitalization and historic preservation of buildings. He is passionate about the work and belongs to a variety of related organizations, including Springfield Preservation Trust, which is dedicated to community involvement.

Wojcik’s father was a volunteer for Junior Achievement, and he has followed the family tradition as a volunteer on that organization’s board, which he describes as “a cause very near and dear to my heart.” He has conducted mock interviews for Springfield students and is on JA’s long-term planning committee.

The small-business owner and father of two (son Tyler and daughter Emily) describes himself as a “very hands-on person.”

That comes into play in his work for Habitat for Humanity and United Way. “I am very involved, whether it is doing a local cleanup or working on projects that Habitat and the United Way do together,” Wojcik said.

He loves to fish and is a board member of Marathon Basin Yacht Club. Another group that benefits from Wojcik’s participation is the Young Professional Society of Greater Springfield, where he says members are dedicated to helping each other attain success.

“I really enjoy networking and being involved in social and civic events. What I do comes back to good Christian values and holding myself to a higher standard,” said Wojcik, who is a deacon at First Baptist Church of Agawam. “Building relationships is everything.”—Kathleen Mitchell

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40 Under 40 The Class of 2010

Raymond Berry Jr.: 39

Vice President of Finance and Admistration,
United Way of Pioneer Valley

Raymond Berry says it’s rewarding to know he is making a difference. It’s a mission for him and something he strives to do as an active volunteer in the city of Springfield.

Berry was the recipient of a number of services as a child and took advantage of the after-school programs and athletic opportunities available to him. “I witnessed what it was like to know that I had a safe place to go where I could enjoy myself and where there were individuals who wanted me to succeed,” he said. “So, today, I get great joy from giving back to the community.”

Berry does that both on and off the job at United Way. He is president of the Brethren, a group of professional black men that provides a multitude of services to the community; vice president of the Springfield branch of NAACP, and the director of the American International Alumni Varsity Club. He is a past board member of the Carew Hill Boys & Girls Club, the Martin Luther King Community Center, and Springfield Partners for Community Action.

Berry was also a Springfield Schools consultant for Junior Achievement, a Massachusetts sports official for Little League baseball, and a youth mentor for Dunbar Community Center.

He was appointed as a Springfield Enterprise Community commissioner by former Mayor Michael Albano, and accepted other appointments to a variety of commissions for local and statewide housing groups, using his knowledge and certification as a public-housing manager.

“My activities center around education, health, and financial stability. I do this in my profession and also to assist people. I want to make sure they have a roof over their head and that there is proper funding for activities for young people,” said Berry.

He began volunteering in college, which set the tone for all of his future activity. Berry loves to fish and counts it among his passions, but is also dedicated to fishing for opportunities that can make a difference in the lives of young people.

—Kathleen Mitchell

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40 Under 40 The Class of 2010

Kimberly Klimczuk: 32

Attorney and Partner, Royal & Klimczuk, LLC

Helping people is the motivation behind Kimberly Klimczuk’s professional and personal accomplishments.

She co-owns, with attorney Amy Royal, a Northampton law firm that specializes in labor and employment law. And although Klimczuk represents businesses, such as Troy Industries, which manufactures small-arms components, “there are people behind all of these companies who are trying to follow employment laws and want to do the right thing,” she said. “We develop ongoing relationships with our clients, and there is more of a human connection than people might think.”

As a child, Klimczuk loved the TV shows LA Law and Law & Order. She grew up in a blue-collar family, was the first in that family to graduate from a four-year college, and discovered she wanted to pursue labor and employment law after a stint with a law firm.

Today, Klimczuk uses her expertise on the job and for a number of organizations that benefit people. She has been has been a judge for the Mass. Bar Assoc. mock-trial competition for high-school students, and volunteers for the Dial a Lawyer program.

“I like to share the knowledge I have gained. It is of use to a lot of people,” she said. “Having legal knowledge opens a lot of doors, and I like to help people when I can.”

She has volunteered for the Internal Revenue Service’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program since she was in law school, and is secretary of the board for the Gandara Center, a board member of the Hartford Penn Club, and a mentor for the Pioneer Valley Girl Scouts Lawyers of Tomorrow program.

Klimczuk serves on the board of the Hampden County Bar Assoc., helps organize the annual luncheon it sponsors for Open Pantry’s Loaves and Fishes Kitchen, and recently joined the board of Aditus Inc., which provides employment and residential support to people with developmental disabilities.

She is also proud to be part of a female-owned law firm. “Labor and employment law is something that affects everyone, and I really enjoy it.”—Kathleen Mitchell

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40 Under 40 The Class of 2010

Peter Zurlino: 35

Web Master, Springfield Public Schools; Owner, Atlantico Designs

Peter Zurlino says that his goal when he started out in business was rather simple: “I didn’t want to dread going to work every day.”

But sometimes the best ideas are the most simple, and Zurlino said that, for him, the differentiating factor in his life was to move into a career that provided something interesting that he also loves doing. “I love to design Web sites,” he explained, “and I love knowing that what I’m doing is helping people’s businesses. It also happens to be that I can make a profit doing that.”

Since 1999 he has owned and operated Atlantico Designs, working with and for a growing client base of businesses and organizations. But what Zurlino considers his primary role is as the first-ever Web master for the Springfield Public Schools. Officials there cite his enormous commitment in overseeing a complete Web presence for the school system. For Zurlino, with such responsibility comes a true enjoyment for a job that has him interacting with all facets of the organization.

“I came in with a commercial background,” he explained of his first days on the job. “And I said, ‘I understand what you folks want to do, but we’re going to need to do it a different way.’ I was able to bring my business experience to the School Department and have them see their needs through a different set of glasses.”

And for this Springfield native, becoming one of the first board members of the Young Professional Society of Greater Springfield allowed him to be a catalyst for further involvement in the community. “YPS was a shining star for me. It was an opportunity to get involved with something on the ground floor. And I’m proud of where the group has gone; we’ve done so much.”

Zurlino said that giving back to his hometown is rewarding, but also fulfills that important role of being able to love going to work every day. —Dan Chase

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40 Under 40 The Class of 2010

Maegan Brooks: 30

Attorney, the Law Office of Maegan Brooks

Maegan Brooks’ family has lived in Holyoke for several generations, and she believes in the future of Greater Springfield. But negative perceptions, she said, hinders that potential.

“That’s really our downfall,” said Brooks, who has backed up her confidence by opening a business-law firm in downtown Springfield. “I’m a Western Mass. native; I love Western Mass. The people who decide to stay here do so because they also love it and see the potential here. I want to see Springfield reestablish itself as a thriving city.”

After graduating from Boston University, Brooks returned to her roots and worked for area nonprofits while earning a master’s degree in Organizational Development from Springfield College. She aspired to be an executive director for a nonprofit — but then got an epiphany that led to a law degree from Western New England College.

“I started taking business-law courses, and I realized that the best way to help a community is to help with economic development,” she explained. “So my passion has been in developing small businesses and social enterprises.”

Convinced that the valley is home to an especially creative, hardworking population, Brooks focuses her practice on helping individuals build businesses.

“I meet with people who say, ‘I got laid off from my job, but I’ve had this idea for the past 20 years, and I want to move forward.’ I’m helping people who have thought about and dreamt about something for a long time begin to realize their dreams,” she said.

“It’s great to be a part of that, to encourage people and tell them, ‘yes, you need legal help. You need to do this right so you won’t have issues later.’ And I feel the same way about the nonprofits I see.”

With some creativity — and legal assistance — Brooks thinks those types of people can bring the local economy back. And that brings her plenty of satisfaction.

“I see some attorneys who are miserable,” she said. “But I’m excited about the work I do.”—Joseph Bednar

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40 Under 40 The Class of 2010

David Kutcher: 32

Owner and President, Confluent Forms LLC

When David Kutcher started his first business enterprise, a graphic-arts and Web-design firm, he looked at the strengths of two friends for inspiration.

“A confluence is when three or more rivers come together to form one stronger river,” he told BusinessWest about the inspiration for Confluent Forms. “The idea originally was that we were offering three services: usability and strategic consulting, design branding and graphic-design services, and custom software-development services.”

Since 2002, that company has taken off, and now counts everything from small nonprofit organizations to Fortune 100 firms as clients. But Kutcher is most pleased these days with the success of a Web site he created that’s certainly turning some heads.

After becoming involved in the Northampton Arts Council, he realized the importance of civic involvement. And like any good businessman, he saw an opportunity. The result is the RFP Database, where organizations post their requests for proposals. Interested parties join at little to no cost, and as a result, the site has upwards of 60,000 members, announcing more than 1,400 new RFPs every month, with a total value ranging anywhere from $600 million to $1 billion.

“Being able to push those business opportunities is really a rewarding thing to do,” he said. “And I do hope more people in Western Mass. take advantage of it. With the economy being what it is here, to be able to grab projects from other states and do them here, it’s great.”

Investment in his community is something that has always been important to Kutcher. And as he and his wife, Nicole, expect their first child (besides their dog, Rita) at the end of this month, that means he’ll be more invested than ever. “People used to tell me all the time that, when you have a kid you’re a bigger part of the community,” he said. “It’s exciting to be expecting our firstborn, but also to be more involved than I already am.” —Dan Chase

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40 Under 40 The Class of 2010

Karen Buell: 27

Internet Branch Officer, PeoplesBank

Karen Buell played three sports at Houghton College in Upstate New York — soccer, basketball, and track and field — and she’s still quite an athlete.

She ran in the recent Holyoke St. Patrick’s Day Road Race, and, while her time wasn’t her best (actually, it was her worst) — “it was hot; when you’re training in the winter, when it’s in the 30s and 40s, and then you get 75 on the day of the race, that’s a little toasty” — she was happy to be out there competing.

Maintaining a sharp competitive edge is one of many life lessons Buell took away from her college athletic experiences, and she takes it to work every day as Internet Branch officer at Holyoke-based PeoplesBank.

“Twice in soccer we went to the nationals, so I’ve played at a really high level,” she explained. “You learn a lot from that; there are always challenges to overcome. Teamwork plays a big part in it; you have to rely on team members, and there are going to be people with strengths that you don’t have, and you need them for that, and you might have strengths that they can’t provide.”

Another quality she’s borrowed from sports is discipline. “Being an athlete requires a person to be disciplined,” she explained, “to perfect their talents through practice, and even research the best ways to get results.”

These lessons from athletic competition, plus a strong faith in God, have helped Buell blend success in her profession — she’s risen quickly in the ranks, from assistant manager to mortgage consultant to Internet branch officer — with considerable work within the community, much of it ‘green’ in nature. She has helped coordinate Habitat for Humanity projects, planned a Transportation Day for MassRides to help people find carpool matches, and served as project lead for the second annual Environmental Fair on Earth Day. She also teaches financial literacy to children in local schools, and is vice president of the Northampton Area Young Professionals.

Considering all this, it’s easy to see why she’s considered a winner — on the job and off. —George O’Brien

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40 Under 40 The Class of 2010

James Leahy: 36

Pharmaceutical Sales Representative, Alcon Laboratories; Holyoke City Councilor

James Michael Leahy’s father emigrated from Ireland to South Boston and married the daughter of two Irish immigrants.

“Nothing was handed to them. I saw how hard they worked, and that’s been ingrained in me,” said Leahy, adding that his father admired former Boston Mayor James Michael Curley — so much that he named his son after him. “He told me stories about how this mayor helped immigrant people who were struggling. And I’ve been given so much in life that I feel I should give back.”

Over the years, Leahy has served the community with financial philanthropy and volunteer work for organizations including the YMCA, the Holyoke Children’s Museum, the Holyoke Merry-Go-Round, and the Holyoke Boys Club, as well as overseeing the very well-attended 2010 St. Patrick’s parade and road race. Then there’s the Holyoke City Council; he was first elected at age 24 and is now serving his sixth term.

“I work on quality-of-life issues, safe streets, keeping Holyoke affordable, bringing new business into the city,” he said. He helped the Police Department procure financing for bulletproof vests and is working to get them tasers as well, and he received a proclamation from former Mayor Michael Sullivan for testimony in a notable rape case.

Leahy balances all this with about 50 hours of work each week at Alcon Laboratories, a worldwide leader in vision products. There, he trains new employees and sits on a human-resources diversity board among his everyday responsibilities, which focus on products for glaucoma, allergies, and dry eye.

Considering all those roles, it’s no wonder that he makes family time count. A member of Springfield Country Club, he takes turns bringing his kids (ages 9, 8, and 4) to play a few holes of golf in the evening and then shares some one-on-one time over ice cream.

“That’s my quality time with my children,” he said. But it sounds like Leahy strives for quality with all his time.

—Joseph Bednar

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40 Under 40 The Class of 2010

Shanna Burke: 25

Program Director, Nonotuck Resource Associates

Shanna Burke is all about making connections.

“We match people in the community with people with disabilities to live together,” she said of her role with Nonotuck Resource Associates. “If you have an extra room and want to have someone live with you, we’d match you with someone with similar interests, and they’d be integrated into your life” — an improvement, she said, over the old group-home concept.

“I originally wanted to be a lawyer, but I realized I wanted to help people who don’t necessarily have money,” she said. “I know some law firms do that, but I wanted to work on a more micro level, more person-to-person.”

So she earned a master’s in Social Work at Springfield College, and after a few years working for Valley Psychiatric Service — helping people at or near the poverty line — she saw an opportunity open up at Nonotuck.

“From the first interview, I knew it was a good match,” she said. “I felt the work they do is so important, and their values are so strong. That goes for the whole agency; we do this because we love people. Sometimes I hear people say, when things aren’t going well, ‘I hate my job.’ But I never feel that way.”

Burke also volunteers for Animal Shelter Renovation, a Westfield-area shelter with a no-kill policy, another value in which she believes. And she’ll run in the Hartford Marathon this fall to benefit Sunshine Golden Retriever Rescue, which saved her dog, Fenway.

But this animal lover (she and her husband, 2007 Forty Under 40 honoree Michael Gove, have two dogs, three cats, a hamster, and a rabbit, many of them rescues) endured a scare recently. Hours before this photo was taken, she was out on her morning hike with her dogs when one was attacked by a porcupine. He spent the day at an animal hospital, but made it to the shoot.

“It was horrible,” she said, sounding relieved. “Lesson learned, hopefully.” —Joseph Bednar

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40 Under 40 The Class of 2010

Kristin Leutz: 37

Vice President of Philanthropic Services, the Community Foundation of Western Mass.; Founder and Owner, Home Yoga

Kristin Leutz is a certified Kripalu yoga instructor who practices its tenets on and off the mat, using her talents to serve others and make the world a better place.

“Women and wellness are my passion; I focus all of my philanthrophic and volunteer time on them,” she said. “The health of women is key in making a community thrive, and I believe there is an inherent connection between them.”

Since women do the majority of caretaking for children and families, it’s critical for them to also care for themselves, Leutz says, because what they do has a ripple effect on the community, which eventually extends to the world at large. “So I focus on supporting women, health, and wellness in any way I can.”

To that end, Leutz is a board member of the Unitarian Universalist Society of Amherst, and was an advisory board member for Fit Together of Hadley. She is a pro-bono advisor for the Women’s Fund and a volunteer for Motherwoman, the Women’s Leadership and Policy Institute, and the White House Project.

She was the recipient of a MassMutual Financial Group Human Resources Excellence Award, is a certified conflict mediator, and created a highly successful job-share team at the Community Foundation, which is responsible for a $7 million annual fund-raising program. In her capacity there, Leutz and her team help people provide funds to charitable organizations in the Pioneer Valley.

The ability to share a job allows her to operate her business, Home Yoga, and teach the discipline to individuals in their homes as well as at local businesses.

It’s that balance that allows Leutz to succeed on and off the job. The mother of two is frequently asked to speak at professional conferences, and uses her background in organizational development and psychology to inspire others.

“The work that I do,” she said, “helps me meet my responsibility as a citizen of the world.”—Kathleen Mitchell

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40 Under 40 The Class of 2010

Damon Cartelli: 39

President, Owner, and General Manager, Fathers & Sons Inc.

When he’s not managing auto dealerships, Damon Cartelli likes to take his family out fishing on his boat.

“It’s great to get out there … it’s relaxing, a great way to relieve some stress,” said Cartelli, who acknowledged that there have been quite a few stress-inducers recently for all those in auto sales, including the team at Fathers & Sons, the business his father, Bob, started and that he acquired in September 2008.

“That was just as the economy was collapsing; everyone blamed me for the meltdown,” joked Cartelli, adding that the Great Recession has been a long, ongoing headache for car dealers, but just one of many. For Fathers & Sons, the demise and recent rebirth of Saab, one of several luxury brands the dealership handles, has been a significant issue. Meanwhile, Cash for Clunkers, while it stimulated some sales, also induced considerable red tape and heartburn.

But Cartelli says the family business has steered its way through much of the trouble, and has high expectations for 2010, especially as Saab makes its returns (the first models should be in the showroom in a few weeks) and Audi continues to grow market share. Meanwhile, Cartelli continues the maturation process that is part and parcel to taking on the titles ‘owner’ and ‘president.’

Beyond his time spent on the water fishing, Cartelli also enjoys skiing, another family affair: his son, Jack, is 3 and just getting started, while his daughter, Brynn, 6, is already keeping up with her parents on black-diamond runs at resorts like Stowe.

And, yes, as one might expect, as owner of a dealership that sells high-performance luxury cars, he does get to try out some nice rides for months at a time. Recently, that includes an Audi A-8 and a Porche Cayan, an SUV.

For the next several months, though, his vehicle of choice will be a Ford F-350 pickup, which he needs to tow his boat.

“I don’t have to feel guilty about that, though,” he laughed. “The family owns a Ford store in Greenfield.”—George O’Brien

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40 Under 40 The Class of 2010

Meghan Lynch: 29

Managing Partner, Six-Point Creative Works

Meghan Lynch studied literature in college, but didn’t want to make it her job. Instead, her creative side blossomed in an unexpected career path: advertising. It started with a stint as a receptionist at a Northampton ad agency.

“I became office manager and worked my way up into the production department,” she said, where she did some scriptwriting and other creative tasks. “What started out as a way to get me through grad school wound up being something I loved, and exposed me to things I wouldn’t have been exposed to otherwise.”

Lynch later worked with David Wicks and Marsha Montori for the Momentum Group, and the three eventually formed their own business, Six-Point Creative Works. “I was willing to work with them,” Lynch said, “but instead they gave me the opportunity to own the company with them, which was unexpected for someone as young as I am.”

Her partners say Lynch is “29 going on 50” when it comes to her creativity and professionalism. Indeed, her plate is full; among her numerous roles, she is the primary source of the firm’s new-business development, a force behind its pro-bono and trade-of-service commitments to area nonprofits, its Web-marketing strategist, and even project manager for the company’s new facility. Lynch relishes those varied responsibilities.

“You don’t get many opportunities to be part of a group that’s so collaborative, where everyone is willing to listen to anyone’s idea, regardless of their experience,” she said of the firm, which draws inspiration and levity from its canine mascot, Smilin’ Tom. “I have a chance to grow in a lot of different ways. And I’ve learned so much about the variety of businesses the agency works with.”

She fills in her time with volunteer work for the Springfield Public Forum, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, the Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society, and other groups. “It’s nice to work with organizations that get you excited, that let you see their potential.”

And fulfilling potential is something Lynch knows a lot about.

—Joseph Bednar

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40 Under 40 The Class of 2010

Natasha Clark: 29

Program Manager, Springfield School Volunteers

Natasha Clark says she always manages to keep busy. But the first few months of this year would have to be considered quiet, she said — at least when compared to 2009, or “the year of her life.” So far.

To call ’09 a whirlwind, or life changer, would be to make two huge understatements. In February and March, Clark was in Thailand on a Rotary Group Study Exchange arranged by the East Longmeadow club, an experience she called “simply amazing.” It was also in 2009 that Clark, along with a colleague at Reminder Publications, started mentoring students at Springfield’s Central High School, thus getting an introduction to the work done by Springfield School Volunteers.

Clark became so enamored of the organization and its mission that later in the year she left a budding career in journalism (she was assistant managing editor of the Reminder at the time) to join SSV as program manager. And, in her spare time, she started her own business, the Lioness Group, which handles public relations, writing, editing, Web content, and social-media work for a growing number of clients.

Other than that, 2009 was pretty uneventful.

As for 2010, Clark is growing her own business, becoming more active in Rotary — she’s now a member of the East Longmeadow club — and, as program manager at SSV, overseeing and expanding the Partners in Education Program, which matches the resources of businesses and other organizations with the needs of the Springfield Public Schools.

“I love the fact that we have business owners who encourage their employees to give back to the community,” she said. “I feel that’s very important.”

As she looked ahead to what’s next in her life and career, Clark chose also to look back, to the first chapter book she can remember, The Courage of Sarah Noble, given to her by her father.

“He was an avid reader and was always encouraging me to read and write,” she said. “Unfortunately, he died in 1996, before he knew I was going to do all this for a living. He still inspires me.”

So while ’09 was the year of Clark’s life, she still has many chapters left to write. —George O’Brien

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40 Under 40 The Class of 2010

Brady Chianciola: 27

Assistant Vice President and Regional Manager, PeoplesBank

Brady Chianciola knows the importance of mentoring — from both sides.

After enrolling in the PeoplesBank Management Program in 2005, just before graduating from UMass Amherst, he rose quickly through the ranks, moving from commercial finance to managing a branch to assuming a regional role in 2008, the year he earned his MBA at the Isenberg School of Management.

Now, he’s responsible for the operation of eight branches. “I’m in charge of making sure they provide great customer service, they’re following the policies and procedures of the bank, they’re hitting their sales goals, and that the buildings look good and the customers are happy.”

But Chianciola can also be found in the community, representing bank President Doug Bowen (a 2009 BusinessWest Difference Maker) on that program’s Project Literacy component, or visiting schools to discuss financial literacy — effectively serving as a mentor on an issue close to his heart.

“You can graduate from college without taking one class on personal finance, which blows my mind,” he said. “You take history classes, and you might never need to know history — but everyone needs to know about checking, savings, CDs, IRAs, Roths. If everyone knew about personal finance, we wouldn’t be in this economy. People wouldn’t be getting mortgages they can’t afford. It’s a hot-button issue of mine. I wish more people knew about it.”

Whether it’s working with individual branches or reaching out beyond the bank walls, Chianciola, who also co-founded a book club for employees, said he appreciates not being stuck behind a desk.

“I like going from one branch to another, talking to different sets of people. I like the interaction with the employees. And I like going out into the community.

“Giving back to the community is part of our culture,” he added. “If I didn’t work for Peoples, I probably wouldn’t be doing the things I’m doing, but being here just makes me want to do more.”

And the cycle continues. — Joseph Bednar

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40 Under 40 The Class of 2010

Julie Cowan: 39

Vice President of Commercial Lending, TD Bank

Opportunity.

It’s a prospect that inspires and motivates Julie Cowan in both her professional and personal life. “I’m about opportunity, and what I do professionally and for volunteer service are connected, even though it may not seem that way,” she said.

“My work as a commercial lender is about economic opportunity — giving businesses a chance to expand and grow.”

That extends to her personal life, as Cowan believes it’s important to be involved and walk the walk at organizations she belongs to. She is a board member of the United Way of Hampshire County, co-chair for its 2009-10 campaign year, and an advocate who spends untold hours promoting the organization. Cowan has been a United Way donor since college and a volunteer in Hampshire County since 1996. She chaired its audit committee and served on its funds-allocation committee, acting as its chairperson for three years.

She is also chair of the campus steering committee for Clarke School for the Deaf in Northampton and a committee member of its Perfect Match fundraiser. In addition, she is active in the Greater Northampton Chamber of Commerce and the Northampton Area Young Professionals.

“The Clarke School is about giving a deaf or hard-of-hearing child the opportunity to speak, which opens a world of possibilities,” she said. “And United Way opportunities range from giving a single parent the chance to work, as we offer scholarships for after-school care, to the opportunity for an abused woman to have a safe place to stay, to letting people know where their next meal is coming from.

“I was a Girl Scout because of a United Way scholarship, and now I have an opportunity to give back,” she explained. “When I first started giving, I could only afford $5 a paycheck.”

But that has grown, along with her leadership and commitment. “I give my time and money, and hopefully help build resources for both organizations. It’s what you are supposed to do; it’s what being a citizen is.”

—Kathleen Mitchell

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40 Under 40 The Class of 2010

Jill Monson: 35

Director of Marketing, Adam Quenneville Roofing & Siding

“If you can hear me … go shhhhhhhhh.”

This is, for all intents and purposes, Jill Monson’s ‘line.’ She utters it to quiet people down and get things moving at events ranging from chamber After-5 outings to Springfield Armor basketball games. And she says it often; she has become the region’s preeminent emcee.

But Monson has been doing a lot more than making a name and a line for herself these days. She’s made a career move — actually, two of them. Her new business card announces her as the director of Marketing for Adam Quenneville Roofing & Siding. Meanwhile, she’s taken a major entrepreneurial step, opening her own business called Inspired Marketing & Promotions, which handles everything from consulting work in social media to event planning to public relations.

Monson said she chose that name for a reason: She was inspired by the recent death of her mother at the age of 56. “Her passing showed me that you just don’t know how many days you have left,” she told BusinessWest. “So you have to make the most of each and every one of them.”

Looking back on what she’s done to date, it’s clear that Monson has wasted little, if any, of her time. She has always been busy professionally, mixing a day job — first in radio with several area stations and then in various marketing capacities — with announcing and emcee gigs. And she’s always been extremely active in the community. She’s on the board of the Young Professional Society of Greater Springfield, is an executor for the Springfield Museums, serves as a diplomat for the Affiliated Chambers of Commerce of Greater Springfield, and volunteers as the sales coordinator for the Rays of Hope walk. She’s also active with Keep Springfield Beautiful, Habitat for Humanity, and the Home Builders Assoc. Home Show.

So while she’s becoming known across the region for quieting crowds, Monson is making her mark as an entrepreneur and proponent of Springfield and many of its institutions. And that point is coming across loud and clear. —George O’Brien

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40 Under 40 The Class of 2010

Karen Curran: 39

Financial Consultant, Thomson Financial Management

It was October 2008 when Eva Thomson called Karen Curran asking if she wanted to come to work for her as a financial consultant.

Curran was eager — she interviewed with the Northampton-based company a few years earlier, but Thomson wasn’t ready to take anyone on — and accepted the job, but wondered if the timing was right. After all, the financial markets were in free fall, and many investors were in what could only be described as panic mode.

But Thomson thought it was a perfect time. “She had been mentoring me along without me knowing it,” Curran said of her new boss. “She said, ‘this will be an opportunity to truly learn in this profession; survival in this time will be key to success in the future.’ She knew.”

And, as it turned out, she was right. And what Curran learned is that, even in the darkest of financial times, when people have a financial plan, they need to stick with that plan. “All of our clients had a plan in place, and we felt that these plans had to be dynamic as they related to what the market can offer and also what’s happening with their lives,” she explained. “There were some hard conversations about perhaps having to work longer and adjust certain goals, but we really tried to take the emphasis off investment performance and back to the individual. It was a real learning experience.”

While working to help clients pursue their stated goals, Curran (who offers securities and financial planning through LPL Financial, member FINRA/SIPC) splits the rest of her time between her family — her husband, attorney Joseph Curran, and two boys — and considerable work within the community.

She is currently on the board of the Hampshire Regional YMCA, and was a board member with the Sunnyside Child Care Center Parent Cooperative, which she also served as president and treasurer. She helps raise funds for several organizations, including the UMass Fine Arts Center and the Northampton Education Foundation.

In both her professional work and activity within the community, being a problem-solver has been her MO. That, and providing advice that’s on the money.

—George O’Brien

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40 Under 40 The Class of 2010

Kevin Perrier: 28

President and CEO, Five Star Building Corp.

As far as Kevin Perrier is concerned, Five Star Building Corp. is going to be a household name before long. And listening to the founder of the Easthampton-based construction company explain his trajectory, such lofty aspirations seem like a distinct possibility.

“But I’m not the person who sits down and makes the five-year, 10-year, or even one-year plan,” he explained. “Take it day by day and do the best job you can. I’m the person who never really meets my goals. I set the bar a little higher each time, and that’s what makes my company successful. Sometimes it’s a curse and other times a blessing, but I’m never really pleased with my position — I always feel we can grow bigger, do bigger projects, and that’s been the driving force.”

Perrier started the business 10 years ago with a pickup truck and a whole lot of enthusiasm. Steady growth has been the pattern, and despite a soft economy, an ambitious goal of $10 million in sales has been set for this year, with high-profile jobs at UMass Amherst, Westfield State College, downtown Northampton, Amherst, and his hometown of Easthampton.

Continued growth is his only goal, Perrier said, and when, not if, his company meets $200 million a year, he still won’t be satisfied. “Because I’ll want to be the company that does $300 million,” he said.

In addition to his success in business, Perrier is active with the Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society. Admitting to a soft spot for animals, he helped move the organization to its new home in Springfield, and started the Dakin Charity Golf Tournament, which has raised $45,000 in two years.

While his star continues to ascend, with projects in the eastern part of the state where he hopes to have a greater presence, later this month, Perrier and his fiancée, Amy Milo, are off to Bora Bora to tie the knot. Because that’s what you do when just the ordinary is not enough. —Dan Chase

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40 Under 40 The Class of 2010

Adam Epstein: 39

Vice President of Research & Development, Dielectrics Inc.

Adam Epstein can trace his career to a bet.

When his father dropped him off at the University of Rochester, they came across an “ambiguously worded” ad on campus for a job at an organ bank. His father, who had been through medical school, bet him $10 he couldn’t get the job. Adam won the bet.

“I was nucleating donated organs and skin from cadavers,” he said. “Frankly, I was fascinated by it, and I became interested in medicine. I was studying engineering, and I eventually got a business degree. So my career is an interesting combination of those three elements.”

He’s referring to his role at Dielectrics in Chicopee, where for eight years he has led development and commercialization efforts for numerous breakthrough medical devices, from an automatic CPR unit that increases the survival rate of cardiac-arrest patients to a device used to prevent radiation damage to healthy tissue during treatment of prostate cancer. Two of Epstein’s products — employed in laparoscopic surgery and hernia repair — have actually been used on other Dielectrics employees.

“I like solving problems, and that’s really what we do here,” he said of the contract development and manufacturing company. “We identify a clinical problem, and we try to solve it by the use of innovative technologies. When we get reports back from the field about how effective they have been for people, it gives me a great sense of satisfaction. I love it.”

He’s addressed needs in his wife’s native Ecuador as well, helping to fund and build an infirmary and library for a chain of orphanages in the capital of Quito, as well as sponsoring an English teacher for the elementary-school children.

“When we go back,” he said, “we see the benefits to the folks managing the orphanages and the children, and we appreciate being a part of that.”

In short, Epstein is devoted to identifying and solving critical problems — and it’s a safe bet he’ll continue to do so.

— Joseph Bednar

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40 Under 40 The Class of 2010

Brandon Reed: 33

Owner, Fitness Together

Brandon Reed might be one of the few people to thank Enron for launching their career.

As an accountant for Arthur Andersen, the firm indicted for its role in that historic scandal, Reed said that it was that job, along with a few more years of work in public accounting, that made him realize the profession was not for him. Deciding to become a personal trainer, he said, was the best decision he’s ever made, and the business model followed closely behind.

“It all happened so quickly,” he said. “From the time I decided that I wanted to shift to health and fitness, next thing I knew I was approaching my dad about opening a personal-training studio, which is a very doable entry, in the amount of capital required.” After just under four years, Reed is actively employing six trainers at his Northampton location, with about 75 clients getting the benefit of his expertise.

And they’re not the only ones.

Reed was nominated for this award by numerous people for his role in building a strong community as well. An active member of the Loomis Communities board and the Northampton Chamber of Commerce, and one of the founding members of the Northampton Area Young Professionals, Reed is perhaps most proud of his role as a local business owner.

“Bringing up the quality of business in the area only helps to bring up quality for everyone,” he said of his support of fellow merchants. “I know how hard all the other business owners work, and it’s important for me to be a part of that network.”

The Enron scandal, he said, made him realize the lack of connectedness between clients and professionals. “Here and now,” he continued, “I know the clients personally. It’s hard to put into words, but that’s small business. Being connected with people and seeing the fruits of your labor, that’s the satisfaction that you get as a business owner.”

—Dan Chase

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40 Under 40 The Class of 2010

James Krupienski: 31

CPA Manager, Health Care and Pension Audit Divisions,
Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C.

James Krupienski wears multiple hats at Meyers Brothers Kalicka, serving as CPA manager for two divisions, Health Care and Pension Audits — an uncommon combination.

“Not too many people are in two very diverse areas like that,” he said. “I was hired for an opening in the Health Care Division, and I’ve grown into that role, but before I came here I had quite a bit of experience in retirement plans, so I moved into that area as well. The two have very different reporting periods, so I’m able to work in both throughout the year.”

When Krupienski enrolled in Stonehill College, he said he had no idea what he wanted to do professionally. At the start of his freshman year, he switched from psychology to business management. During that first year, he started working with some accounting professionals on different class projects and eventually chose that as his field.

“I like the variety,” he said of his work. “Even if it’s the same client year after year, there’s always something different for me — different questions, different hot topics, always something new that you need to learn.”

Krupienski also volunteers for the Westfield State College Accountancy Mentor Program, helping to cultivate the next generation of talented accountants.

“A lot of people think I sit behind a desk crunching numbers all day, but it’s not that,” he added. “Sure, the numbers have to be right, but helping clients get there through the course of the year is where the variety comes into play.”

Those challenges pale, of course, compared to the one Krupienski’s family (he and his wife, Megan, have two children, James and Hayley) faced when Megan was diagnosed with breast cancer three years ago at age 28. But they turned that difficult situation into a chance to help others, gathering a large team of walkers and raising significant funds for Rays of Hope, while sharing Megan’s survival story at the event’s kickoff rally.

That’s someone who understands that life adds up to much more than numbers. —Joseph Bednar

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40 Under 40 The Class of 2010

Boris Revsin: 23

Chief Executive Officer, CampusLIVE Inc.

Boris Revsin likes changing established ways of doing things. His first venture into the business world was at age 13, when he created a successful electronic-marketing (e-commerce) site for his grandfather’s printing business.

At age 16, he started a Web-development company and talked local businesses into going online. “I wanted to be able to make money while I slept, and it’s fun creating systems for people that work when you are not there,” he said.

The 23-year-old is co-founder of CampusLIVE Inc., an Internet business with more than 200 colleges and universities that have their own homepages offering students single-click access to every resource they need on and off campus, including restaurants, businesses, parties, events, academic help, and social networking.

“I wanted to put the power back into students’ hands and have a one-stop shopping place for them,” Revsin said.

He received a 2007 Harold Grinspoon Spirit Award for his work, and finished third in the 2008 BusinessWeek Top Entrepreneurs Under 25 competition. Gov. Deval Patrick recognized Revsin with a 2008 Emerging Entrepreneurs Award from the Mass. Office of Business Development, and he was nominated as Entrepreneur of the Year by Enterprise Bank’s Celebration of Excellence.

He has spoken on dozens of radio programs, been featured in more than 40 college newspapers, and uses his creativity and expertise to promote causes he believes in.

“I built and developed a Web site for the Russian Jewish Community Foundation,” he said, adding that he has also donated help to the Mass. Soldier’s Legacy Fund and other community-based groups. “I help them establish self-sustaining systems which will generate income.”

Since establishing CampusLIVE, Revsin has partnered with Paramount Pictures, TV Guide, Weather.com, and other major brands.

“I am really good at getting people to look at things and gain an audience for products and services. But my favorite part of this is to see that thousands of people have looked at something I created and benefited from it.”—Kathleen Mitchell

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40 Under 40 The Class of 2010

Susan Mielnikowski: 38

Attorney, Cooley, Shrair, P.C.

Susan Mielnikowski will tell you that, after working as an attorney for 14 years, if she’s met her professional goals, then she’s not doing her job properly. “I don’t think there’s ever such a thing as being ‘done,’” she told BusinessWest. “The minute I reach a benchmark, I’ll raise the bar and set a new one for myself.”

Within her purview as an elder and estate-planning attorney, Mielnikowski sees her role not only as a source of information not only for her clients, but also for the community at large. “For anyone who needs the assistance — insurance agents, financial planners,” she explained, “I consider myself a good resource.”

And many would agree. From her work at the Mason-Wright Foundation retirement community, which she called “a fantastic gem,” to her particular passion, which is Planned Parenthood, Mielnikowski continues to push herself professionally and personally. But there is one interest that, sadly, will be unable to return to this year.

“But only because my daughter didn’t want to play tee ball any longer!” she said with a laugh, explaining why she will be unable to return to the coaching role she held last year in her hometown of Agawam.

While her son’s athletic exploits will still demand some of her time — “he was on the all-stars last year,” she said — work in the community and in the office continues. From starting her own firm years ago, on up to her current position with Springfield-based Cooley-Shrair, where she hopes someday soon to become partner, her work has always been defined by her focus on keeping herself an integral component of the region.

With time opened up from her brief sporting career, she said that pushing her benchmarks can proceed with earnest. “Three years from now, I’d like to be offering the same level of support. Five years ago, my clientele had different concerns than they do today, and I’m sure I’ll change with the times.

“I’m hitting my stride professionally,” she said with confidence. —Dan Chase

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40 Under 40 The Class of 2010

Aaron Vega: 39

Co-director, Vega Yoga & Movement Arts;
Holyoke City Councilor

Aaron Vega said he never considered himself to be the “big entrepreneur type.”

After years of freelance video editing in New York City, though, Vega knew that the time had come to make a change. An avid practitioner of yoga, he thought that teaching the movement art would be a good fit. And for a few years, working for other people, it was. At colleges, gyms, and independent studios, Vega continued the freelance lifestyle. But, he said, you can only do that for so long.

“You’re not in control,” he said, ironically, about an activity that is all about discipline. “I’d have ideas about what a studio should be doing, and the other studios I’d work at would say ‘that’s great,’ but then would never do anything with those ideas.” Perhaps as a result of all those years of freelancing, Vega knew that he was, essentially, his own boss all the while.

“That’s the only option,” he said, “and the best possible option.”

In addition to starting the first yoga studio in Holyoke, Vega proudly joined the ranks of political leadership in his hometown this past year. And with his role on the mat, so to speak, he has big hopes for the city. “Holyoke is the kind of place where you can be active in the community, see a difference, and make change happen,” he said.

“There are a lot of people talking about revitalization of urban centers,” he continued, “but who is actually doing it?”

Vega Yoga, for one. His hopes in the coming years are to solidify his role in the business community, becoming an employer offering benefits and full-time work for his future staff, which at present consists solely of him and his wife, Debra.

“Before I ran for office, I saw that Holyoke is dealing with the same issues that they have been dealing with for the past 20 years,” he said. “I think that there is a lot of new momentum and new energy to push the city forward.”

—Dan Chase

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40 Under 40 The Class of 2010

Owen Freeman-Daniels: 30

Financial Advisor and Accounts Executive,

Foley-Connelly Financial Partners, Foley Insurance Group

Because he is active in Northampton both professionally and culturally, Owen Freeman-Daniels says there are times when people don’t recognize him when he’s wearing a suit. Explaining his decision to bring a separate suit of clothes for his photograph, he said that, “in many ways, I have two lives.”

First is the life of a businessperson who is both responsible for millions of dollars in assets and protecting people’s assets and homes. “And then when I get home,” he continued, “I get out of that suit as quickly as possible, put on a T-shirt and jeans, and go back out and work in my neighborhood. Most people that I do community work with don’t have any idea what I do for a living.”

And both lives occupy similar importance for Freeman-Daniels. His role in the small firm of Foley-Connelly Financial Partners has been expanding for the past nine years, and he says that he “couldn’t be happier,” as he straddles the two fields of finance and insurance.

Then, in his words, there’s that “other life,” where he is, among many other things, the chair of the Northampton Education Foundation’s endowment distribution committee, board member of Valley Time Trade, and vice president of the city’s Ward 3 Neighborhood Assoc. — not to mention an active participant of the city’s vibrant arts scene, quite literally.

One eight-hour performance-art piece was called “The Secretary,” and Freeman-Daniels said that, for that time, he sat at a typewriter and, in single-spaced paragraphs, tapped out his thoughts. “I think it was pretty successful, and it wasn’t gibberish. I’ve got a lot on my mind!” he laughed.

But his goals for the upcoming years are for his suit to cross paths with his casual life more often. “My community interests are in having a vibrant wealth of arts, culture, and support to continue doing interesting things here,” he said. “I’ve been laying the groundwork with everything I’ve done so far. I’m just now getting above the foundation.”

—Dan Chase

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40 Under 40 The Class of 2010

Ian Vukovich: 27

Project Manager, Florence Savings Bank

When Ian Vukovich is asked, as he often is, just what a project manager does at a bank, his response is, “very exciting work.”
“Here at FSB it’s essentially change management,” he explained. “So I’m involved with new initiatives, some vendor management, some contract negotiations. And it’s generally projects that span more than one department. So while it could be potentially difficult to find that ownership initially, that’s where I come in.”

With Vukovich at the helm, the bank has undertaken several successful new programs, including one popular initiative he oversaw this year called Free Tunes Checking. He added that the role gives him exposure and interaction with all the senior executives at FSB, and from the perspective of someone who aspires to continue his ascension within the banking ranks, this is what interested him most when he took the job just over two years ago.
But Vukovich’s leadership role doesn’t stop at the office door. “At FSB we have a big commitment to the community,” he said.

When the bank was approached by the Dakin Pioneer Valley Human Society for a “young, energetic person” to sit on its board, Vukovich got the nod. He has, over time, joined the finance, nominating, and executive committees. And when the president of the Northampton Area Young Professionals stepped down recently, again, it was Vukovich who was elected to take that spot, along with the seat on the Northampton Chamber of Commerce board of directors which comes with that title.

He says that, professionally, the sky’s the limit for where he will go next, and with his track record it’s pretty easy to agree. But one stop along the way will be this May, when he finally finishes his MBA at UMass Amherst’s Isenberg School of Management.

Still, Vukovich stays modest despite a stellar résumé. “You just do your best every single day,” he said, “and hope others recognize that.”—Dan Chase

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