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The Class of 2010

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


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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