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The Class of 2011

40 Under 40 The Class of 2011
Program Manager, Human Resources Unlimited, Lighthouse

Jeffrey Trant

Jeffrey Trant

It’s called the HRU Café. That’s the name given to a new venture, a unique start-up business located at the Springfield Jewish Community Center (JCC) that brings together most of Jeff Trant’s passions under one roof, or operation.
These include social work, which he’s been doing virtually all his life — currently as director of a facility called Lighthouse, a community rehabilitation and employment organization managed by Human Resources Unlimited (the HRU part of that name) — and also business, or, in this case, the all-important business side of nonprofit management.
And then, there’s the coffee. “That’s been a serious vice since grad school,” he said.
The café, open since Valentine’s Day, employs disabled and disadvantaged adults and thus brings awareness to the large and diverse JCC community about the abilities of all people, disabled or otherwise, said Trant. Doing this, and hopefully breaking even financially, he said, helps explain what he means when he says he’s “an untraditional social worker.”
“When you have the credentials I have, you’re automatically sort of put in this box — when people hear the words ‘social worker,’ they assume you do one of two things, that you do child-protective services, meaning you take kids who are abused or neglected away from families, or you do psychotherapy with people. I do neither. What I do is very important work — it’s working with folks who don’t have a voice and helping them get one. That cuts across all facets of society, and it’s all about building stronger communities.”
Through Trant’s leadership, Springfield-based Lighthouse, which he took over in 2008, has undergone a successful restructuring, and now serves more than 500 men and women recovering from the effects of mental illness.
Trant’s only passion not represented by the café is golf, which he calls the “great equalizer,” and a way to “decompress” from his hard and often trying work at HRU, trying to give his clients a voice.
Trant credits his wife, Rachel, with helping him find a balance between work, life, golf, and coffee.
— George O’Brien

40 Under 40 The Class of 2011
Program Director, Center for Human Development

Sean Hemingway

Sean Hemingway

Sean Hemingway is striving for balance. He directs the Center for Human Development’s Assessment and Juvenile Justice Support programs at the DYS Westfield Youth Service Center, and has been raising three children with his wife while climbing CHD’s ladder of success and working actively in the community. “It’s a struggle not to be all things to everyone,” he said.
When Hemingway was in college, he was hired as a part-time maintenance man at CHD’s Assessment Program. The job gave birth to his career, and he became passionate about working to improve the lives of young people. He wrote a paper titled A Janitor’s Journey Through the Justice System before graduating from UMass with a degree in mental-health studies and at-risk youth.
Hemingway spent his early years at CHD working with young males, but soon rose to the position of assistant program director of CHD’s Terri Thomas Girls Program. He said it was a “monumental life-learning experience, as they were in a [detention] system developed and designed for boys,” adding that their situation really hit home after his daughter was born.
Fifteen years later, he now directs the program for teenage boys and has come full circle.
“These teens have had very challenging, abusive, and neglectful lives,” he said. “Our ultimate goal is to give them tools so they can make better choices. I am working to enact positive change in the young men so when they are released, they don’t reoffend in the same neighborhood situations.”
This juvenile-justice expert and certified instructor in non-violent intervention gives frequent lectures and belongs to several professional groups. To be successful in many arenas involves balance, and Hemingway directs his 53 staff members to do their best for the young people they serve as well as for themselves. “I am passionate about this work, but we need a work/life balance so we don’t burn out,” he said. “It’s a team effort.”
And one that requires stability — for both the staff and the teens they serve — on and off the most difficult playing fields of life.
— Kathleen Mitchell

40 Under 40 The Class of 2011
Adjustment Counselor, Elias Brookings E.L. Museum Magnet School

Gianna Allentuck

Gianna Allentuck

Gianna Allentuck says her life and work have a number of focal points.
But they are all intertwined, and the common denominator is hope. “The way to get to it is by connecting within the community and supporting one another,” she said.
Her parents were both educators, her family is close, and she believes everyone deserves to have a good life. “I’ve been blessed, and that is part of what inspires and motivates me,” she said. “The people in my life always inspired teamwork, support, and dedication to each other and their craft.”
Allentuck spent several years working in Washington, D.C. as a nanny. After leaving the position, she was hired by a law firm, but three weeks into the job she was diagnosed with cancer. Her co-workers immediately joined together to support her.
“They went into action and called major cancer-treatment centers to get me the best care possible,” she said, adding that the love and care she received during her treatment at the National Institutes of Health led her to write a book titled Welcome to My Heart, which was used to raise $40,000 for the Children’s Inn for seriously ill children and their families.
Allentuck returned to Western Mass. in 2006 and began working at Brookings School. Since then, she has created “A Neutral Corner,” a youth boxing program; been a co-creator and coordinator of a Peace through Education, Acceptance, Courage, and Expression (PEACE) hip-hop poetry program; and founded the annual United in Hope event that brings community members together around issues of education and peace.
She writes for the African American Point of View, and has taken an active role with many other organizations, notably the Mayor’s Citywide Violence Prevention Task Force.
“I work with people of all ages, from preschoolers to adult community members,” she said. “Our cities, schools, and communities need a lot of help. We need to get back to where neighbors help neighbors. If we connect the dots and support each other, then hope is possible.”
And that’s where it all begins for Allentuck — straight from the heart.
— Kathleen Mitchell

40 Under 40 The Class of 2011
Assistant Vice President and Branch Manager, PeoplesBank

Lauren Tabin

Lauren Tabin

Lauren Tabin never intended to work in banking. But she’s glad she tried it.
“I came to Peoples in 1996 as a teller, and I honestly came just because I needed benefits; I was managing a candy store prior to that,” she said.
But she took advantage of the organization’s extensive management training program and quickly moved up the ranks; she was promoted several times on the way to her current role as branch manager and assistant vice president, not only running the operations of her office, but overseeing business development and community relations in the Holyoke market.
“I didn’t think this was going to be this much fun,” Tabin said of her accidental career. “I think the reason I’m enjoying myself is because of the great variety of tasks that I’m responsible for.”
She has always enjoyed the mentoring aspect of her job, and that ethos extends into the community, where she teaches young people about financial literacy. “I wish I had that as a kid,” she said. “A lot of families in Holyoke have very limited resources, and I feel the same way about the younger generation just coming into the work world. I want to mentor them and give them the tools to be successful like I was.”
Tabin’s civic involvement extends to her work with Providence Ministries for the Needy, the Holyoke Community Charter School, Girls Inc., and the Holyoke Boys and Girls Club, among others.
“I like to be a motivation to people, to share my story with them and give them hope in hard times,” she said. “I had a child when I was very young and overcame lots of obstacles, and I share my story — that there’s a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. I always see potential in everyone.”
It’s especially meaningful for Tabin to be doing this work in Holyoke.
“This is where I was born and raised, and this is where I’m raising my family,” she said. “I want to make a difference in the community where I live, and help make Holyoke a better place. I don’t want to be on the sidelines.”
— Joseph Bednar

40 Under 40 The Class of 2011
Vice President of Commercial Banking, People’s United Bank

Jaimye Hebert

Jaimye Hebert

Jaimye Hebert has been involved in the theater, in one capacity or another, since she was 7. Together, these experiences have played a big role in helping her become the person — and commercial-banking professional — she is today.
“Theater is … well, theater is where I met my husband,” she started. “Theater is where I developed my ability to speak in front of people. It’s where I learned to have no fear of meeting people. I never would have had the success in my career that I’ve enjoyed if I hadn’t been involved in the theater and been able to push myself in uncomfortable situations, performing in front of hundreds of people. That can’t be taught, and the value of those lessons defies monetary value.”
Hebert’s theatrical résumé includes everything from acting — she counts her performances as Sr. Mary Leo in Nunsense and Nunsense II as perhaps her personal favorites — to stagehand to lighting crew member. She’s been a long-time board member with the Victory Players, and has done extensive work with the Exit 7 Players.
Meanwhile, her professional résumé has ‘summer teller’ as the first line, with other ladder stops, including credit analyst, senior credit analyst, credit officer, portfolio manager, and assistant vice president, before reaching her current position as vice president of Commercial Banking.
She draws a number of parallels between both spheres of her life, with the common denominator being creativity. “I’m a fine-arts minor,” she said. “I’ll be as creative as I need to be to get a deal done, because that’s the way my brain works. I thrive on creativity, which is why I love this job; people don’t equate creativity and commercial lending, but they really are one and the same.”
When not working or performing, Hebert is involved in everything from American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, to the Young Professional Society of Greater Springfield, to youth soccer in Monson, where she coaches the Blueberry Sharks.
All this takes time, and she credits her husband, Jonathon, and her children, Tristan, Sienna, and Paige, with playing strong supporting roles in helping her get it all done.
— George O’Brien

40 Under 40 The Class of 2011
President, left-click Corp.

Kelly Albrecht

Kelly Albrecht

Kelly Albrecht is a problem solver.
It’s a skill he learned while majoring in philosophy at UMass, never dreaming he would open a computer-repair business that has grown from a tiny ad he put in the Yellow Pages to a million-dollar business with three locations in Amherst and Northampton.
In fact, Albrecht majored in philosophy because he didn’t want to take “a lot of boring entry-level courses,” and didn’t plan on a career in computer science. But he was already knowledgeable in the field because his brothers started programming at a young age. “The documentation of how computers work was easy for me to understand, and I found it interesting,” he said. “But I realized that wasn’t the case for everyone.”
Albrecht was attracted to the logic in philosophy, but when he became frustrated by philosophical problems, he turned to solving computer problems, an effort he found more gratifying. “In philosophy, you troubleshoot an issue where there is conflict and contradiction between what you see in reality and what you think to be true,” he said. “But you can never solve anything. The difference between philosophy and a technical problem is that the technical problem can be solved.”
Today, his background plays a role in the way he manages his company. In short, it helps him work well with people and understand the complexity inherent in teamwork. “The company has tripled in size in the last year,” he said, adding that he opened a second location in Northampton a year ago, and in November rented a third space for a Web-development team.
Albrecht is also the lead organizer for the Western Mass. Drupal Group, which held its first learning camp this year, attended by more than 200 participants.
He said he named his company left-click because the left button on the computer mouse is the one used to execute a course of action. “The right click is more exploratory, but a left click gets the job done,” said the father of three. Which is exactly what he and his team members do every day.
— Kathleen Mitchell

40 Under 40 The Class of 2011
Value Based Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, ITT Power Solutions

Lisa Totz

Lisa Totz

Lisa Totz had her 40 Under Forty portrait taken on her bicycle while wearing a business suit. Such imagery, conveying both dedication and physical prowess, would seem appropriate for someone who competes in triathlons and has the words ‘black belt’ included in her job title.
But she laughed when explaining what’s behind the words printed on her business card. “Basically a black belt is someone who is a change agent,” she said, “someone working to improve things around the company.”
And what a change she has made.
For 35 years, ITT had been a paper-based company, with all of its data analysis recorded in print. “That process is so wasteful, though,” she said, “because, first, someone has to analyze all that data, and second, it’s on reams and reams of paper.”
So, as a test engineer, Totz took her data-collections role and transformed it into ‘architect’ for an interfaced, electronic test-data collection system. It’s a technical approach to solving the inefficiency created by all that paper, and, using simple terms, she said it “changes how ITT Power Solutions functions.”
And with one look at what Totz does in her free time, it’s easy to see that efficiency is key to making time for all of her pursuits. Over the years, she’s volunteered time, energy, and imagination to such groups and causes as the Jimmy Fund, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Griffin’s Friends, ITT Watermark, the company’s corporate philanthropy program (which she’s served as site ambassador), and the Wave Triathlon, which she founded in 2009 to benefit the Westfield YMCA Wave Swim Team.
It was for her efforts with the triathlon, which has growing steadily in terms of participation and funds raised, that she received the Westfield YMCA’s Spirit Award, which she counts among the accomplishments of which she is most proud.
A five-time Ironman triathlete, Totz noted that “youths don’t have a lot of good role models these days.” But, through the work she’s done on the job and within the community, she has certainly become one.
— Dan Chase

40 Under 40 The Class of 2011
Vice President and Comptroller, Lincoln Real Estate

Kathryn Grandonico

Kathryn Grandonico

Kathryn Grandonico has a vision for Amherst. “I want to help it realize its potential,” she said. “It’s evolving from a college town to a place filled with boutiques that will touch everyone’s life in this area.”
Grandonico has played a major role in that development, which she first envisioned when she was working in New York City and began paying attention to details in restaurants and shops.
Her family has owned Lincoln Real Estate for more than 40 years, and she has been involved with the business since she was old enough to help carry tools. “We want to bring every building we own back to its original grandeur. Every family dinner is a business meeting,” she said, adding that she and her brother Peter plant flowers around town every spring to welcome people. “One of my goals is to get cast-iron snowflakes put on the lampposts in winter to give downtown more life and vibrancy.”
Grandonico is the first vice president of the Amherst Chamber of Commerce and a member of its Government Affairs Committee, and is also part of a group called Promoting Downtown, a liasion to the town’s Design Review Board that is instrumental in the annual Merry Maple holiday celebration. “My experiences are all coming full-circle,” she said. “I am seeing small-business owners work to create an atmosphere and experience like I saw in New York.”
She has been a mentor to many business owners and developed and marketed Boltwood Marketplace for farmers, artists, and craftspeople after she discovered space was limited at the Farmer’s Market.
“I feel it is my responsibility to modernize the town — keep it up with the times and help beautify it while filling it with local businesses,” she said. “We are at the cusp of hearkening back to the 1950s when Amherst was in its heyday. The locals are coming back, and Amherst is filled with culture and academic status and people who want quality goods and a quality experience.”
Grandonico is one of them, and her love for her hometown, combined with her energy, passion, and enthusiasm, are helping bring her vision to reality.
— Kathleen Mitchell

40 Under 40 Cover Story The Class of 2011
This Diverse Group Finds Ways to Stand Out and Give Back
April 25, 2011

April 25, 2011

The ‘club’ has now reached 200 members.
Indeed, with this announcement of the Class of 2011, there are now five groups of 40 Under Forty winners, each one distinct, but with several common denominators that run through all the classes.
The most important of these is a willingness to find the time, energy, and, yes, passion to not simply perform a job or manage a business or nonprofit — but also contribute to the community in some way, or several ways.
Like the groups before it, the Class of 2011 is diverse, with each story unique in some ways. Perhaps the most unique is that of a 16-year-old high-school student who became the youngest winner to date through his work in the community, which ranges from tutoring Somali refugees to work on the Web site for Link to Libraries; from involvement with a teen-philanthropy organization to membership in the aptly-named Don’t Just Sit There, a ‘good-works’ group that assists a number of causes.
Looking over this group of 40 individuals, it would be fair to say that none of them ‘just sit there,’ and most all of them could be considered truly inspirational. Here are some other examples:
• A lawyer who has also served for several years on the board of the Forest Park Zoological Society, but also recently helped initiate a new program to mentor fledgling entrepreneurs, thus improving their odds of survival and staying in Western Mass.;
• A melanoma survivor — and marketing manager for the Food Bank of Western Mass. — who founded SurvivingSkin.org and now actively promotes a message of sun safety while also helping to raise awareness and funds to fight the disease;
• A loan-review officer for a local bank who finds a number of ways to give back to the community, including work as a mentor to young women at the Mass. Career Development Institute;
• The regional director of the Mass. Office of Business Development, who helps area companies secure needed state assistance to grow and add jobs, while also helping young men learn life lessons (and a better jump-shot technique) as a high-school basketball coach; and
• A Web-site designer who has also created a recognition program that is inspiring Springfield-based businesses to become more earth-friendly in everything from how they make their products to how they build out their office space.
There are about three dozen more stories like these in this special section introducing the Class of 2011, which will be honored at BusinessWest’s annual 40 Under Forty Gala on June 23 at the Log Cabin Banquet and Meeting House.
We hope you’ll enjoy these stories and become inspired to find your own ways to stand out in the community and give back to it.

2011 40 Under Forty Winners:

Kelly Albrecht
Gianna Allentuck
Briony Angus
Delania Barbee
Monica Borgatti
Nancy Buffone
Michelle Cayo
Nicole Contois
Christin Deremian
Peter Ellis
Scott Foster
Stephen Freyman
Benjamin Garvey
Mathew Geffin
Nick Gelfand
Mark Germain
Elizabeth Gosselin
Kathryn Grandonico
Jaimye Hebert
Sean Hemingway
Kelly Koch
Jason Mark
Joan Maylor
Todd McGee
Donald Mitchell
David Pakman
Timothy Plante
Maurice  Powe
Jeremy Procon
Kristen Pueschel
Meghan Rothschild
Jennifer Schimmel
Amy Scott
Alexander Simon
Lauren Tabin
Lisa Totz
Jeffrey Trant
Timothy Van Epps
Michael Vedovelli
Beth Vettori

Photography for this special section by Denise Smith Photography


Meet Our Judges

This year’s nominations were scored by a panel of five judges, who accepted the daunting challenge of reviewing more than 110 nominations, and scoring individuals based on several factors, ranging from achievements in business to work within the community. BusinessWest would like to thank these outstanding members of the Western Mass. business community for volunteering their time to the fifth annual 40 Under Forty competition. They are:

Diane Fuller Doherty

Diane Fuller Doherty

• Diane Fuller Doherty, regional director of the Western Mass. Regional Office of the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center Network. Previously, she founded and served as president and CEO of Doherty-Tzoumas Marketing.  She is a founder of the Women’s Fund of Western Mass., and also serves on the boards of the Pioneer Valley Plan for Progress, Bay Path College, and the Community Foundation of Western Mass.

Eric Gouvin

Eric Gouvin

• Eric Gouvin, a professor of Law at the WNEC School of Law and director of WNEC’s Law and Business Center for Entrepreneurship. Previously, he practiced corporate, commercial, and banking law in Portland, Me. He founded the Small Business Clinic at WNEC School of Law, serves on the Board of Editors for the Kauffman Foundation’s eLaw web site, and is a member of the Board of Advisors for the Scibelli Enterprise Center and Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation’s Entrepreneurship Initiative.

Hector Toledo

Hector Toledo

• Hector Toledo, vice president and Retail Sales director for Hampden Bank, and member of BusinessWest’s 40 Under Forty class of 2008. He is currently chair of the Board of Trustees at Springfield Technical Community College (from which he graduated), and has long been active with the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, Springfield’s libraries, his church, and a host of other nonprofit groups.

Jeffrey Hayden

Jeffrey Hayden

• Jeffrey Hayden, director of the Kittrredge Center for Business and Workforce Development at Holyoke Community College, which houses a number of workforce-development programs, the Mass Export Center, and WISER, the World Institute for Strategic Economic Research. Previously, he was director of the Holyoke Office of Planning and Development and the Holyoke Economic Development and Industrial Corp.

Michael Vann

Michael Vann

• Michael Vann, a principal with The Vann Group, a professional services firm that provides small-to mid-size businesses with solutions such as accounting and bookkeeping, human resources, recruiting and strategic advisory services. He handles day-to-day operations of the group’s strategic advisory services and merger/acquisition activities. He is actively involved in a number of charitable organizations, and is a member of the 40 Under Forty Class of 2007.

40 Under 40 The Class of 2011
President and Chief Marketing Officer, LogicTrail, LLC

Alexander Simon

Alexander Simon

Alexander Simon’s passion for people and open-minded collaboration are the driving forces that have led this entrepreneur to success. The father of two has worked on many award-winning marketing campaigns, but accolades are not what propel him to work long hours and give his time to a host of civic organizations.
“I’m a people person and have a passion for collaboration that is reflected in my career and my civic responsibilities, and it’s also something I try to instill in my children,” Simon said. “It’s a constant learning; I’m motivated by inviting others to share in cultivating better ideas. I really try to build that with our clients, and it’s wildly satisfying to see a big idea reach the light of day with everyone on board. It’s my nature to try and push the envelope, but only when it’s for the right reasons.”
Simon said he believes strongly in teamwork. He takes pride in getting to know his clients well and says the “intimate” relationships he forms come after listening closely to the way they talk about their world, which helps him create campaigns that break through the clutter.
Simon is a founding member of the Sounding Board for Professional Development, a board member of the Ad Club of Western Mass., a youth coach for the Northampton Recreation Department, and a Look Park Board Development Committee member, and has been engaged in political action committees in Northampton.
“I’m still young and looking for the right opportunity, but I definitely have a passion for working at the civic level,” he said. “We have a responsibility to give back to our cities and towns.”
He founded his company in 2009 and has a small but highly experienced and dedicated staff. “We want to stay youthful, agile, and able to work with different-sized clients and industries, and that means staying small,” he said. “This is my calling, what I’m supposed to be doing. I started my agency to do things in a different way and to enjoy the process. And so far, we’ve been very fortunate to work with some stellar clients.”
— Kathleen Mitchell

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