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The Class of 2013

40 Under 40 Events The Class of 2013
Celebrating the Class of 2013

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IMG_0121More than 650 people flocked to the Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House on June 20 to celebrate BusinessWest’s 40 Under Forty Class of 2013 and the many accomplishments of its members. Attendees enjoyed picture perfect weather, fine food, and perhaps the best networking event of the year. On the pages that follow, we offer a photographic look back at a memorable evening for all those in attendance, but especially those who walked out with the 40 Under Forty plaques, seen at left, just prior to the start of the gala.


The event was sponsored by:



Check out the intro video from Viz-Bang!




untitled-17From left, Robert Hogan, quality control supervisor for U.S. Tsubaki, and his wife Samalid Hogan, senior project manager for the City of Springfield, with her fellow Class of 2013 honoree, Annamarie Golden, manager of Community Relations and Community Benefits, Baystate Health, and husband Hunter Golden, owner of Write Stuff Copywriting.

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Elizabeth Beaudry, senior commercial credit analyst and information technology administrator, and Shonda Pettiford, assistant director of Commonwealth Honors College at UMass Amherst, two members of the Class of 201,3 share a moment before the awards ceremony.


untitled-26Xiaolei Hua, credit analyst at PeoplesBank and fellow Class of 2013 honoree Geoffrey Croteau, financial advisor and managing associate sales manager at MassMutual Charter Oak Insurance and Financial Services network during the VIP hour in the Grand Edna Ballroom.



untitled-28Representing one of the evening’s sponsors, Hampden Bank, is Nora Braska, assistant vice president and training officer; Peg Daoust, branch manager; and Amy Scribner, assistant vice president and senior marketing administrator.





untitled-35From left, Jose Hernandez, machine operator for Rockbestos-Suprenant Cable Corporation; Alejandro Cameron, John Rivas, and Zydalis Zayas, WGBY-TV community engagement associates; Class of 2013 honoree, Vanessa Pabon, director of community engagement for WGBY-TV; Pabon’s daughter, Shayla Burge, and mother, Milta Franco, a case manager for Brightwood Health Center; and Veronica Garcia, WGBY community engagement assistant.

untitled-30Emily McArdle, left, physical therapist and Jeanne Coburn, audiologist, both of Baystate Rehabilitation Care, one of the evening’s sponsors.











untitled-37From left, Danielle Nicklas, an attorney with Cooley Shrair, and Jim Tinker, senior tax accountant, Burgess, Shultz & Robb, network with Amy Scott, president of Wild Apple Design Group, and Jennifer Schimmel Stanley, executive director of Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity, both members of the 40 Under Forty Class of 2011.

untitled-36From left, Patrick Leary, Class of 2007, shareholder and vice president of Moriarity & Primack, P.C., an event sponsor, networks with Gwen Burke, senior advertising consultant with BusinessWest, her husband Chuck Burke, president of Action Marine and Water Sports, and Damon Cartelli, member of the Class of 2010, and president and general manager of Fathers & Sons, also an event sponsor.

untitled-38The team at UMass Amherst Isenberg School of Management, an event sponsor, gathers before the awards ceremony. From left, Trista Hevey, program information specialist; Michelle Rup, office manager; Jennifer Meunier, director of Business Development; Kyle Bate, academic advisor and program developer; Melissa Garrett-Preston, academic advisor; Allison Furkey, media PR liaison; and Rachel Trafford, director of Organizational Metrix.

untitled-39The NUVO Bank & Trust Company team supported Class of 2013 honoree, Elizabeth Beaudry (fifth from left), senior commercial credit analyst and information technology administrator. Front row, from left, Michael Buckmaster, vice president, commercial lending; Leslie Ross Lawrence, senior vice president/CCO and SOO; Beaudry; Jackalyn Guenette, loan deposit operations agent; Sue Fearn, assistant vice president, client sales and service; back row; Jay Caron, president and CEO, Bee-Line Corp., and NUVO board of director; Jeff Sattler, president and senior loan officer; Denise Perkins, corporate secretary; Dale Janes, CEO; Jay Seyler, vice president, commercial loan division; and Eric Jalbert, credit analyst.

IMG_0139Gary Popovich, left, and Daniel Duncan, accounting associates, chat with Rebecca Connolly, audit manager, all of Moriarty & Primack, one of the event sponsors.









untitled-22Brenna Murphy McGee, Holyoke city councilor and member of the Class of 2013, with her husband, Todd McGee, Class of 2011, director, E&B Planning at Mass Mutual, and fellow Holyoke city councilor.






untitled-45Delcie Bean, Class of 2008 and founder and CEO of event sponsor Paragus IT, spoke to the audience of more than 650 people about the need for a computer technology-mentoring program that will benefit local youths, create jobs, and attract businesses to the Pioneer Valley through the reorganization of Valley Technology Outreach. Here, Bean is assisted by children from the Westfield Boys and Girls Club, who demonstrated the national numbers that underscore the need for more educational support through computer technology.

untitled-7Caitlin Casey, occupational therapist with Hartford Healthcare, and husband Jeremy Casey, assistant vice president and commercial service officer, Westfield Bank, celebrate his standing as a member of the Class of 2013.





IMG_0122From left, Darren Couture, painting contractor; Erin Couture, Class of 2013, vice president and commercial loan officer, Florence Savings Bank; Jeremy Leap, Class of 2013, vice president of commercial lending for Country Bank; and Andy Robb, Class of 2013, president, Burgess, Schultz & Robb, P.C.


untitled-19Timothy Brunelle, employee of L-3 KEO, and wife Erin Fontaine Brunelle, realtor, Century 21 Hometown Associates, founder, co-chair of Buy Holyoke and a member of the Class of 2013.






IMG_0145From left, Evan Alberts, practice manager and financial services professional, MassMutual Charter Oak Insurance and Financial Services; Ian Vukovich, Class of 2010, director of product delivery, MassMutual-USIG; Erin Kates, Baystate Health; Matt Geffin, Class of 2011, vice president of business development, Webber and Grinnell Insurance; and Danny Kates, Class of 2013, managing associate, MassMutual Charter Oak Insurance and Financial Services.

IMG_0154From left, Michael Hayden, owner, Springfield Motors; Ashley Bernard, speech pathologist, Springfield Public Schools, Nick Zajac, loan officer, Top Flight Financial; Carla Cosenzi, Class of 2012, and Tommy Cosenzi, Class of 2013, co-owners of TommyCar Auto Group; Amanda Douglas, esthetician at Puffers Day Spa and Salon; and Trevor Wood, engineer, City of Westfield.

IMG_0146From left, Melissa Mattison, clinical assistant professor, Western New England University (WNEU); Kim Gallo, staff Assistant, WNEU College of Pharmacy; Kam Capoccia, Class of 2013, associate professor of pharmacy practice, WNEU; and Jill Popp, Department of Research, Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, network in the Southampton Room.



IMG_0155Chris Thompson, left, Class of 2009, vice president, business development, Springfield Falcons Hockey, networks with Jill Monson, Class of 2010, CEO, Inspired Marketing; and Alex Morse, mayor of Holyoke.





IMG_0160From left, John Roberson, vice president, Children & Family Services; Ja’net Smith, program director, Juvenile Programs, both with the Center for Human Development; Jennifer Root, Class of 2013, clinical director for the Center for Human Development; and Kate Blachfield, manager, HP Hood.



IMG_0171From left, Joe Bednar, senior writer, and Elizabeth Taras, staff writer at BusinessWest, co-introducers of the Class of 2013, and George O’Brien, the magazine’s editor, await the next winner’s walk to the stage to receive their plaque.





Check below for all photos from the event:

40 Under 40 Cover Story The Class of 2013
The Young Business and Community Leaders of Western Massachusetts

In 2007, BusinessWest introduced a new recognition program called 40 Under Forty. It was intended as a vehicle for showcasing young talent in the four counties of Western Mass. and, in turn, inspire others to reach higher and do more in their community.
Six years later, it has accomplished all that and much more. The program has become a brand, the awards gala has become one of the most anticipated events of the year, and the 40 Under Forty plaque that sits on one’s desk has become both a coveted prize and symbol of excellence, recognized by all.
On June 20 at the Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House in Holyoke, 40 more plaques will be handed out, to members of a class that is both distinguished and diverse. It includes bankers, lawyers, and accountants, but also a Holyoke city councilor, a contractor who specializes in blitz building, and Springfield’s senior project manager. And it represents virtually every business sector, from healthcare to education; from technology to the nonprofit realm.
With that, we introduce the Class of 2013 with words (enough to explain why they’re an honoree) and pictures that tell a big part of each story, whether the winner is captured with his or her children, dog, company mascot, or even a giant corpuscle. The stories are all different, but the common denominator is that these young individuals possess that most important of qualities: leadership.

Sponsored by:
2013 40 Under Forty Winners:

Timothy Allen
Meaghan Arena
Adrian Bailey Dion
Jason Barroso
Elizabeth Beaudry
Melyssa Brown
Kam Capoccia
Jeremy Casey
Tommy Cosenzi
Erin Couture
Geoffrey Croteau
William Davila
Ralph DiVito Jr.
Shaun Dwyer
Erin Fontaine Brunelle
William Gagnon
Allison Garriss
Annamarie Golden
Lina Alexandra Hogan
Samalid Hogan
Xiaolei Hua
Mark Jardim
Danny Kates
Jeremy Leap
Danielle Letourneau-Therrien
Isaac Mass
Kelvin Molina
Brenna Murphy McGee
Vanessa Pabon
John Pantera
Justin Pelis
Shonda Pettiford
Shannon Reichelt
N. Andrew Robb
Stacy Robison
Rachel Romano
Jennifer Root
Jonathan Stolpinski
Walter Tomala Jr.
Mark Zatyrka

 

Meet the Judges — Click Here

Photography for this special section by Denise Smith Photography

40 Under 40 The Class of 2013
Vice President of Marketing, Excel Dryer Inc., age 36

Gagnon-WilliamWilliam Gagnon was schooled in professional and personal values by his father, Denis Gagnon. “We have a family business, and he taught me to have strong business morals and ethics, do the right thing, be honorable, and be a person of my word, not only in business but in life,” he said, adding, “I have a strong belief that it’s important to be involved in the community and give back once you become successful.”
Which is exactly what he does in both arenas. Gagnon was involved in the development and marketing of the XLERATOR hand dryer, which has had a positive impact on the environment in addition to leading to a large expansion of Excel Dryer, allowing it to double its staff. “It uses 80% less energy than conventional hand dryers and lowers the carbon footprint of hand drying by 70%, versus even 100% recycled paper towels,” he said.
He is working with the U.S. Building Council on its Green Apple Program through its Center for Green Schools, an initiative to help build healthy and environmentally friendly learning environments for the nation’s students. “I have a passion for sustainability,” Gagnon said.
He is also involved in the local community and is a member of the board of directors for the Children’s Study Home. “It’s a great program that gives children in troubled families an opportunity to succeed in life and school and move on,” he explained. He is also a member of the Young Professional Society of Greater Springfield and coaches football and basketball teams at Minnechaug Regional High School.
Gagnon also helped organize and market a golf tournament sponsored by the Anero Sports Agency to benefit victims of 9/11. Closer to home, he helped the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation raise money for families in Western Mass. after the June 2011 tornado. “I wanted to get involved,” he said. “We have family members who lived on the streets of Springfield that were most affected, so it really hit home, and I wanted to help in any way I could.”

— Kathleen Mitchell

40 Under 40 The Class of 2013
Assistant Director of Communication, Commonwealth Honors College, UMass Amherst, age 38

Pettiford-ShondaShonda Pettiford believes everyone has potential, and she takes pride in using her writing skills to tell the stories of students at Commonwealth Honors College. “I really enjoy being in the educational environment,” she noted. “It’s amazing to see students grow and develop over the years, and I enjoy giving voice to other people’s stories and accomplishments in the Honors College.”
But the mother of two daughters is especially vested in helping women realize their potential. “I think everyone should be treated equally and have equal access to opportunities,” she said. “And I’m passionate about supporting women and helping them to build their leadership skills, because historically, culturally, and socially, women have not always been valued for their gifts. So I do everything I can to make sure that every girl and woman recognizes exactly how powerful she is.”
Pettiford funnels much of that effort through the Women’s Fund of Western Mass. She has been involved with the organization since 2001 and has served in many roles there, including board member, vice president, and president. In fact, when her two-year tenure as president ended, she was asked to serve an additional year. “It’s been a significant part of my life,” she said.
Pettiford was recognized as the youngest board president in the organization’s international network, and says the fund offers grants and strategic initiatives that help girls and women, such as programs aimed at developing leadership skills.
She was one of 20 women selected for membership in the international Women’s Funding Network Bridge Builders Cohort, and was chosen to be the group’s spokesperson at one of the plenary sessions during its international conference in New York.
Pettiford has also served on the statewide advisory board for the Massachusetts Women’s Pipeline for Change. In addition, she was selected to be part of the Women’s Professional Fellowship Program, funded by the U.S. State Department, that focuses on women’s health and leadership.
As part of the exchange, she went to Brazil in January, and plans to continue her personal mission of helping women to succeed, because, as she said, “everyone deserves a voice.”

— Kathleen Mitchell

40 Under 40 The Class of 2013
Principal, South End Middle School, age 34

Allen-TimothyTim Allen says he has a very basic approach to education and the students he serves.
“I feel that all students need to be valued,” said the man given the reins at Springfield’s new South End Middle School, which opened its doors in 2011. “And all students can achieve if they’re given the right environment in school, and if they’re given the tools they need to succeed.”
And he takes that same basic approach with the teachers in the classrooms.
“I believe in creating a family environment where people can work collaboratively,” Allen explained. “I believe in sharing leadership as much as possible, and I believe that teachers need to be supported, since what they’re doing is the most important thing in the building.”
To say that this philosophy is generating results would be a huge understatement. Indeed, the 300 students at the school — more than a third of whom are English Language Learners, or ELL — showed more improvement on the English portion of the MCAS tests in the school’s first year than any of the other six neighborhood middle schools in Springfield.
Meanwhile, 95% of the teachers who generated those results stayed at their positions for the 2012-13 school year, bucking a trend for extremely high turnover rates within urban schools.
Allen’s immediate goal is to continually improve on those results, a reflection of his habit of setting the bar high after he made that intriguing and often-difficult career decision to move from the classroom to the administrative wing in 2007.
“I like the challenge of leadership — I like leading adults,” he said in explaining that choice. “And I just felt that I could give a lot back by trying to help an entire school improve, as opposed to just one classroom; I really like that challenge.”
And while taking it on, he’s finding other ways to give back, especially through his work with Big Brothers Big Sisters. He’s been mentoring the same Springfield youth for eight years now, and says the relationship has been mutually beneficial.
“It’s been a real bright spot in my life,” he said. “He’s a very bright young man, and he’s come a long way, and I think the relationship has influenced both lives in a very positive way.”

— George O’Brien

40 Under 40 The Class of 2013
Program Director, Clinical & Support Options Inc., age 33

Garriss-AllisonAllison Garriss studied political science in college with the goal of becoming a political consultant, but eventually decided her heart wasn’t in that arena. “I always knew I wanted to help people; I just didn’t know how,” she said.
So she changed her major to sociology and discovered the world of human services. Today, she works at Clinical & Support Options in Northampton, where she developed and now directs RECOVERe, a program that utilizes technology to help women stay sober during substance-abuse recovery.
“Basically, we provide support via text messaging and cell phones, web-based support, and videoconferencing support. It’s very innovative,” she said of the federally funded program.
“Part of what we do is working with people where they’re at,” she explained. “If someone can’t get to therapy on a regular basis, if someone can’t get to a group, when you remove those barriers to treatment and use technology to support them, you can have a major impact on people’s lives.
“It’s exciting,” she added. “Helping guide people on their journey is without a doubt the most gratifying thing about what I do.”
Garriss has also devoted free time to a number of organizations, from the Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society to the Women’s Fund of Western Mass. to the Northampton Post 28 American Legion baseball team.
“Each of the organizations I volunteer with holds a very special and unique place in my heart. I don’t volunteer out of obligation or just to sit on a bunch of boards or committees because I think it’s the right thing to do. I like getting in there, contributing … even getting my hands dirty when required.”
It’s just one more way to, as she said, help people.
“Working in human services is not just what I do to pay the bills, but it is my passion. Well, really, people are my passion. I’m not at all ignorant to the life challenges that keep people from being the best possible version of themselves,” Garriss said, noting that every person has faced times of struggle — and she is no different — but making mistakes can be an opportunity to grow.
“Everyone,” she said, “deserves to have someone in their corner.”

— Joseph Bednar

40 Under 40 The Class of 2013
Certified Public Accountant, age 33

Reichelt-ShannonOne of those who nominated Shannon Reichelt for this year’s 40 Under Forty competition described her as a “new-age CPA.”
It’s a portrayal she didn’t disagree with. In fact, when presented with that phrase, she took the ball and ran with it.
“With the new-age CPA, it’s not just about doing the tax return — send me in your stuff, and we get it out like a factory type of thing. I like to help people be successful,” she said.
“I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty — I’ll go into people’s businesses and help them on the ground level,” she continued when pressed for a deeper explanation. “And I think that stems from the fact that I started as a bookkeeper, and I also run my own firm, so I know the pain points that business owners go through with their finances, their accounting, and their record keeping.”
Reichelt, whose company — S. Reichelt & Company LLC — has offices in West Springfield and Greenfield, describes herself as an entrepreneur first and a CPA second. That’s because she’s proud of the risk she took in 2006, when she left Springfield-based J.M. O’Brien and put her own name over the door and on the letterhead.
“I had reached a point eight or nine years into my career … and I just knew,” she said of her desire to go out on her own. “I wanted to be able to sit down and work with business owners at the ground level and have that be OK. I like big firms, but I had a different vision of how I wanted to help people.”
It was after she considered her business venture firmly established — and when it no longer consumed nearly all of her time — that Reichelt made a firm commitment to get involved in the community. This has been manifested by work with the Community Foundation, but especially her many contributions to the Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society.
A self-described animal lover (she has an English bulldog named Daisy, pictured, and a boxer named Katie), she now sits on the Dakin board of directors and stages a fund-raiser for the organization each tax season — just another way that passion for helping others shines through.

— George O’Brien

40 Under 40 The Class of 2013
Associate Dean, Division of Graduate and Continuing Education, Westfield State University, age 33

Arena-MeaghanMeaghan Arena’s career has gone to the dogs. And plenty of other places.
“I enjoy coming here every day,” Arena said of her role developing a host of Westfield State University’s continuing-education initiatives, many of them involving young people (and, occasionally, canines; more on that later). “I work with a really great staff, and no day is the same. I’ve been fortunate to be able to have a job that’s this flexible.”
Arena oversees a staff of 11, as well as seasonal and temporary employees, in maintaining programs such as College for Kids, a summer outreach for children ages 5-16, and Teen-U, a residential summer program for high-school students.
“In the kids’ program, they come to campus and take courses that are fun, but also learning-oriented,” she said. “There might be classes like Lego Engineering or Forensics Fun — and they are fun, of course, but they also have a science component to them.
“Teen U is similar, but for older students; they actually live on campus,” she said before listing a few of the offerings in that program. “This year, we’re running Westfield CSI, which is similar to Forensics Fun but more involved, teaching students about policing, fingerprints, and crime-scene investigation.” Other classes delve into subjects ranging from health to music.
“Meaghan helps serve the community by getting children and teenagers involved in college at an early age,” wrote Kelly Koch, a local attorney and former 40 Under Forty honoree, who nominated Arena. “She has taught them that college is within their reach and that it should be attainable for everyone.”
But Arena has other passions as well, including her work volunteering for the Dakin Pioneer Valley Animal Shelter; last year, she even involved Dakin staff and animals in College for Kids to teach children about kindness to animals.
“My master’s degree is in Humane Education, so animals and the environment have been part of my life for a long time. When I started working at the college, it was a wonderful opportunity to educate children about animals and about appropriate behavior with animals — again, in a fun way,” she said. “There’s a lot of flexibility here to do the things that mean something to you.”

— Joseph Bednar

40 Under 40 The Class of 2013
Manager of Community Relations and Community Benefits, Baystate Health, age 32

Golden-AnnaMarieIt’s called the Pioneer Valley Community Health Needs Assessment Coalition.
That’s the name given to an initiative involving a number of area hospitals — Baystate Franklin Medical Center, Baystate Mary Lane Hospital, Baystate Medical Center, Cooley Dickinson Hospital, Holyoke Medical Center, Mercy Medical Center, and Shriners Hospital for Children — that constitutes an imaginative response to state and federal directives requiring such facilities to compile comprehensive needs assessments involving the cities and towns they serve every three years.
And it was Annamarie Golden, in her capacity as manager of Community Relations and Community Benefits at Baystate Health, who saw the need for, and the benefits to be derived from, such a coalition, and actively engaged administrators at partnering institutions to make it reality.
“Many hospitals do not have dedicated community-benefits staff, and we don’t have a lot of resources lying around for this,” she said. “I looked at the region as a whole and said, ‘we have a lot of hospitals, and our service areas overlap, so let’s come together for the benefit of the community and the patients we serve and do a regional needs assessment.’”
Creation of the coalition is one of many undertakings Golden has led in her position at Baystate, which involves ensuring that federal and state community-benefit regulations and guidelines are met, and that community members are engaged and included in such efforts.
In addition to her professional duties, Golden is also involved in the community through work with the Young Professional Society of Greater Springfield, which she serves as clerk and executive committee member, and as a strong supporter of the Western Mass. transgender and gay community.
And she’s passionate about another issue — the matter of work/life balance.
As the mother of two, including a 6-month-old, she said she’s keenly aware of the challenges facing people as they try to manage both a family and a career. At Baystate, she’s one of a group of employees working to create a support network that would assist such individuals.
“I’m working with HR to start a group right now, and hopefully we can create a model that can be replicated throughout the organization,” she explained. “There is a definite need for such a program — there are many working mothers who need some support.”

— George O’Brien

40 Under 40 The Class of 2013
President, Burgess, Schultz & Robb, P.C., age 39

Robb-Andrew-NAndy Robb can almost understand why some people would consider accounting work to be monotonous and perhaps not as rewarding as some other lines of work.
That’s almost understand.
He told BusinessWest that many of those not in his profession are of the mistaken belief that accounting is about numbers and taxes. Instead, it’s about people, Robb said, and because each individual and each company is different, there is a great amount of variety in this field — and rewards as well.
At a recent presentation he gave before the Berkshire Brewing Co. stockholders meeting, the rewards were immediate and refreshing. “At what other job can you get a draught beer, any type you want, and talk financials?” he joked, adding that his goals are usually far more substantial and involve helping business owners achieve their ambitions, aim higher, and, overall, take their businesses where they want them to go.
He’s been reaping such rewards since joining the profession after graduating from Quinnipiac College with a degree in Accounting, and especially since forming what has become Burgess, Schultz & Robb, an East Longmeadow-based firm that specializes in corporate tax work.
Robb also strives to create a balance between his business, his family (his wife, Amy, and four children), his multi-faceted work within the community, and, yes, his golf game. And sometimes he gets to mix these passions — using time on the course to talk with clients and network with potential new ones, and work as a member of the Ronald McDonald House Golf Committee.
He is also a member of the Chicopee Chamber of Commerce and the Chicopee Rotary Club, serves as treasurer for the Chicopee Visiting Nurses Assoc., and holds that same post with the Chicopee Fest of All Inc.
Doing all that wouldn’t be possible, he said, without considerable support from Amy, a stay-at-home mother.
“Amy allows me to do what I need to do to be out there networking, marketing, growing the firm the way I need to,” Robb said. “Thanks to her for all that she does, because she helps make me what I am.”

— Elizabeth Taras

40 Under 40 The Class of 2013
Chief Operating Officer, Harold Grinspoon Foundation, age 31

Bailey-Dion-Adrian‘Business savvy’ and ‘entrepreneurial skills’ are phrases that some might not associate with the management of a nonprofit. But Harold Grinspoon — one of the region’s most successful business leaders, a true entrepreneur, and a philanthropist — certainly knows better.
And that’s why he hired Adrian Bailey Dion to help lead the foundation that bears his name and become “a partner in my philanthropic work.” In his letter nominating Bailey Dion for the 40 Under Forty Class of 2013, Grinspoon had high praise for her entrepreneurial approach to operating and growing PJ Library, one of the foundation’s signature programs, which supports literacy and values development in children ages 1-8 through the purchase and delivery of age-appropriate Jewish books.
“When it started in 2006, it was my hope to grow the program and send Jewish books to 5,000 families in five years,” he wrote. “With Adrian on board in 2008, she was able to strategically think through the operations side of these growth goals. She helped build this program, which now has more than 200 partners across the globe, sends more than 100,000 books per month, and has given away more than 4 million books!”
This was accomplished through Bailey Dion’s efforts to create a new model of doing business within the publishing industry, as she positioned PJ Library to work like an agent as well as a client by proactively and collaboratively finding new manuscripts and story ideas, and structuring a purchasing process and timeline that allowed new books to be published for both PJ Library and the trade market.
“Having more families get more books is the way we measure success, and the way we do that is through efficiencies and economies of scale,” she explained. “The same principles that apply to business can also be applied to philanthropy.”
Personally, she’s been applying those entrepreneurial principles and passions to benefit local food pantries and kitchens. She worked tirelessly to make Share the Bounty, a program that supports shares in local farms, a more viable business; it was eventually adopted by Berkshire Grown, a nonprofit Berkshire County program that supports local agriculture.
In her home life, she and her arborist and horticulturalist husband plan on growing gardens and an orchard at their new, 13-acre home in Granville. Chances are, she’ll exceed growth goals there as well.

— Elizabeth Taras

40 Under 40 The Class of 2013
Associate Lawyer, Shatz, Schwartz and Fentin, P.C., age 39

Hogan-AlexAs she prepared to enroll in Bay Path College in the fall of 1991, Alex Hogan decided she would be majoring in Travel, “because I really didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, and travel sounded like fun.” But then, in her last semester at Hampshire Regional High School, she took a law course that would take her down a different path.
“It really clicked with me — a light had finally come on,” she said of that class, which provided a great deal of simulation regarding what goes on in the courtroom. “I thought, ‘this is what I really want to do with my life. In terms of analytic abilities, problem solving, and rules … that’s who I am.”
So she switched her major to Paralegal Studies and started down a road that would eventually see her joining Shatz, Schwartz and Fentin, P.C. (where she was a paralegal for several years) as an associate. Today, she’s putting those analytic abilities and problem-solving skills to work in a practice that focuses on litigation, bankruptcy, and business law, while also putting them to use in the community.
Indeed, while proving pro-bono bankruptcy services to individuals who have been diagnosed with AIDS and HIV and have significant financial debt, she also visits classrooms on behalf of Junior Achievement to discuss both financial literacy and workforce readiness, among other contributions of time and energy.
She finds many rewards in both realms of her career.
“People don’t wake up the morning and say, ‘gee, this would be a great day to file for bankruptcy,’” she said, adding that she finds it very rewarding to help people through the financial, legal, and psychological rollercoaster of such a decision. “It’s my job to take the weight of the world off their shoulders and put it on mine.”
As for her work in the classroom talking about financial literacy, she said, “we talk about how people go wrong with spending and credit, and it opens their eyes a little bit. It’s surprising that many kids don’t know what a credit card is or what interest is; it’s rewarding to help them understand.”
Hogan never did get into travel, but for many people, she’s making a world of difference.

— George O’Brien

40 Under 40 The Class of 2013
President, CommunicateHealth Inc., age 34

Robinson-StaceyHealth information can be confusing — but Stacy Robison says it doesn’t have to be.
With that simple idea in mind, she launched a business from her attic. Four years later, Northampton-based CommunicateHealth boasts 25 employees, annual revenues that have increased tenfold since the first year, and a second office in Rockville, Md.
“We’re founded on the core principle that people deserve clear information about their health,” she said. “When people are dealing with health issues, they’re often under a whole lot of stress, and it makes it really hard to understand information that’s already complicated. So we’re all about making things easier for people.”
Those efforts range from writing and designing interactive health websites to writing fact sheets and creating mobile apps aimed at making health information easier — and even more fun — to access. Government agencies comprise a good portion of her clientele, including ongoing work with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“We got to work on pandemic flu information with the CDC, and we worked on childhood-obesity messages with the American Academy of Pediatrics,” she explained. “It kind of runs the gamut, but in each case, we’re taking pretty complicated health information and making it easier to find and use.”
Robison leveraged a public-health degree into a career working with various health agencies, where she experienced first-hand how complicated the information could be. “I started rewriting things, and pretty soon other people were sending me their fact sheets and brochures, asking if I could rewrite and translate them into plain language. It was obvious there was a huge need, and that’s how this business was born.”
Robison runs CommunicateHealth with her partner, Xanthi Scrimgeour, “which is kind of nice because we can bounce ideas off each other.” In addition, she has become something of a national speaker and writer on the issue of health literacy.
“I think this business is in the right place at the right time,” she said, noting that, as insurance reform complicates the medical landscape, health leaders are beginning to recognize the importance of lessening confusion and anxiety.
“People need access to information they can understand,” she said, “and we’ve been able to capitalize on that.”
— Joseph Bednar

40 Under 40 The Class of 2013
Project Environmental Scientist, Tighe & Bond, age 36

Barroso-JasonJason Barroso went to UMass Amherst to study political science, but decided around his junior year that he didn’t really like politics that much.
So he switched gears and wound up earning a double major in Political Science and Earth Science, and he has built a successful career around the latter.
After a number of positions at other companies, Barroso joined Tighe & Bond in 2006. As a project environmental scientist, he provides services to a mix of clients, including municipalities, real-estate-development professionals, industrial corporations, and utility providers.
It’s a diverse job. For one thing, Barroso serves as Tighe & Bond’s point person for its demolition consulting and design business, a role he finds gratifying. “I like to drive by a site being redeveloped and know I had a part in making that redevelopment possible,” he said. “As cheesy as it may sound, it’s nice to see something growing out of something that was defunct.”
Meanwhile, in his role as emergency response coordinator for the firm, he directs assessment and response to transformer oil spills for major power utility providers throughout the region. There are usually about 30 of those events per year, but between June and October 2011 — a five-month period bookended by the spring tornadoes and the pre-Halloween snowstorm, not to mention a tropical storm in August — he dealt with 147 spills.
“That was pretty taxing on our folks,” he recalled. “It was quite a feat to get all that done along with our regular workload, but we made it through.”
And about his dislike for politics? Well, “I got bit by the political bug again,” he said with a laugh, and took a seat on the Ludlow Conservation Commission, acting as chairman for two years, then chaired the town’s Master Plan Committee. “Both professionally and personally, that just felt like a natural fit for me.”
But he wasn’t done. After the housing market collapsed and the Great Recession began, Barroso sought and won a seat on the Board of Selectmen, desiring to implement strategies aimed at minimizing property-tax increases and cuts to public services; he later chaired that board, too.
“It’s certainly given me a lot of perspective on the challenges of running a municipality, especially in this economic climate,” he said. “It’s been an amazing experience.”

— Joseph Bednar

40 Under 40 The Class of 2013
Senior Project Manager, City of Springfield, age 31

Hogan-SamalidSamalid Hogan majored in economics at UMass Amherst and was recruited by a major financial-services firm. But a chance meeting with state Rep. Cheryl Coakley-Rivera at one of the many conferences she attended ultimately altered her career path — and her life.
“She was very impressed with me, was looking for a chief of staff, and offered me a job,” Hogan recalled, adding that she accepted and quickly grew into a position with many facets, especially constituency work, that intrigued her.
“I would be the connector, and I really enjoyed that work,” she said, noting that she would eventually move on to a position with the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, handling many similar duties, but on a region-wide basis.
Today, she’s still connecting, but in mostly different ways, involving what she really likes — bricks and mortar. Indeed, in her role as senior project manager for the city of Springfield, she likes to say that she’s “connecting neighborhoods, piece by piece by piece.”
She’s doing this through a number of projects and initiatives, all aimed at revitalizing the city and specific neighborhoods. Her résumé highlights are many, including:
• Serving as project manager for the South End revitalization project, an ongoing, $15 million endeavor;
• Acting as co-lead project manager for the Court Square redevelopment project;
• Serving as Springfield’s Small Business Assistance Program manager, overseeing an initiative that has awarded more than $200,000 in storefront grants to Springfield businesses; and
• Acting as the city’s brownfields redevelopment coordinator, handling environmental site assessments and cleanup projects at Union Station, the Gemini site, and other city-owned properties.
Her involvement in the community is just as extensive and diverse. It includes service on the boards of the Young Professional Society of Greater Springfield, OnBoard, the Horace Smith Fund, the Girl Scouts, the Brightwood Community Center, and many others. She’s also District 1 co-chair for DevelopSpringfield/Rebuild Springfield.
Summing up both aspects of her résumé, she said, “I like getting stuff done, and I like being helpful to others and helping improve the lives of other people.” In other words, she’s still connecting, and in ways that are having a profound impact on Springfield and the entire region.

— George O’Brien

40 Under 40 The Class of 2013
Founder and Executive Director, Veritas Preparatory Charter School, age 35

Romano-RachelRachel Romano spent six years working in Springfield’s public schools. But a subsequent stint as a principal at a charter school in Framingham got her thinking.
So she applied with the state Board of Education in 2010 to launch Veritas Preparatory Charter School in Springfield, which opened its doors last fall.
“There’s such a compelling need for high-quality public schools in Springfield,” she explained. “Our school is about closing the achievement gap and getting kids prepared for college.”
Intended to serve grades 5-8, Veritas opened with just a fifth-grade class this year and will ramp up with a new crop of fifth graders each year, reaching full enrollment in the fall of 2015.
“Our mission is to prepare kids for success in college,” Romano said — preparation that includes longer school days and a longer year than other schools, as well as a strong focus on academics, character, and structure. “They’re expected to sit up straight and do every piece of work; they get an hour and a half of homework every night, and they do it. I feel so inspired by our students and how hard they’re willing to work every day.”
Such high expectations, she believes, are critical to student success.
“I had always thought education was an equalizer; I had a decent public education, and I thought everyone did,” she said. “But I later realized that education is not an equalizer for kids growing up in the inner city, but a crippling factor for them; the schools are riddled with low expectations and complacency.”
Romano finds this unacceptable. “Kids are smart, and they should have the chance to go to college,” she said. “I knew we were taking on hard work, but there are other schools in this country doing this, and doing it well. So I thought we could do it here in Springfield.
“Many of our students will be the first generation in their family to go to college, and we’re paving the way for them,” she added, noting that this year’s fifth-graders are called the ‘class of 2024’ as a way to focus them on college graduation. “It’s about creating a vision and making that vision of college success a reality.”
— Joseph Bednar

40 Under 40 The Class of 2013
Senior Commercial Credit Analyst and Information Technology Administrator, NUVO Bank & Trust Co., age 30

Beaudry-ElizabethLiz Beaudry has no fear of starting something new, and she’s been on the ground floor of quite a few new endeavors, in both the professional and personal arenas. “I love learning, and I have no fear of failing because there is always something to learn from it.”
In her professional life, Beaudry was on the ground floor for the 2008 launch of the only state-chartered bank in the Commonwealth, NUVO Bank & Trust Co. Originally opening temporary doors in Monarch Place during the completion of the institution’s current location in Tower Square, the initial small team was doing business from day one.
“We’d have people stop by with cash to deposit, and we didn’t even have a cash drawer yet,” she recalled. Starting with an initial $13 million in assets, the bank is now at more than $105 million.
Meanwhile, she earned her MBA from Bay Path College in 2010. After that, not content to sit back and enjoy some free time to plan her summer wedding, she saw her cousin’s activity in the World Adult Kickball Assoc. and thought it might be fun to have that type of adult recreation in the Western Mass. area. With a bit of research, she launched her own Holyoke kickball league under the Massachusetts Sports and Social Club banner.
Initially, Beaudry had no idea if anyone would be interested, but through e-mail invites, almost 100 people of all ages — many of whom hadn’t played since grade school — showed up to play the first night. The huge success of that league gave way to other sports, including dodgeball, indoor volleyball, and Wiffle ball, which keeps her busy many weekday evenings as a field advisor for the various leagues.
When not analyzing credit requests and overseeing the bank’s information technology, she’s offered her time and talent to the Down Syndrome Resource Group of Western Mass., the Buddy Walk, and the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Holyoke.
And chances are good that Beaudry will be starting something new soon. “I never shut the door on opportunity.”

— Elizabeth Taras

40 Under 40 The Class of 2013
Credit Analyst, PeoplesBank, age 28

Hua-XiaoleiXiaolei Hua deals with two kinds of green on the job, and has found success with both.
Hua joined PeoplesBank right after graduating from UMass Amherst in 2006 and joined the Commercial Lending department in 2010. “I’ve really found my niche there,” he said. “I love it — every day is a new challenge; every loan is different.”
But money isn’t the only type of green he handles. In 2008, Hua founded the bank’s Environmental Committee, which seeks to instill environmentally friendly, sustainable practices into all areas of company operations, from internal recycling programs and an annual environmental fair to a carpool program and support of local farms through a weekly farmers market at the bank.
He’s also been involved in PeoplesBank’s efforts to provide capital to new-energy initiatives, including working with commercial lenders to analyze a $6.5 million deal to finance a local solar project.
“The renewable-energy field is extremely energizing. Most people don’t really understand it, and it’s just kind of taking off,” he said, crediting bank President Doug Bowen and the senior leadership team with supporting a culture of sustainability.
PeoplesBank is no stranger to 40 Under Forty, with two employees in the Class of 2013 joining several past alumni. In fact, Hua was nominated by no fewer than three former winners, including his wife, Kristen Pueschel Hua — whom he met through his work on the Environmental Committee — making the Huas the latest in a growing crop of spousal teams to accept the honor.
“While Xiaolei has been successful with his career path at PeoplesBank,” his wife wrote, “he has also been extremely dedicated to helping support new initiatives at the bank that have gone on to benefit not only the organization and our employees, but also our communities.”
Speaking of communities, Hua is active in civic life, notably as a board member and volunteer with Habitat for Humanity.
“I’ve always felt that Habitat’s mission is extremely important, to help build affordable housing for low-income families. I think what really struck me when I was first introduced to Habitat was its philosophy of giving families a hand up, not a handout. That’s something I really believe in,” he said. “And when these families succeed, the communities they live in also succeed.”

— Joseph Bednar

40 Under 40 The Class of 2013
Clinical Director, Center for Human Development, age 37

Root-JenniferWhen she was in high school, Jenn Root took a test to determine her ideal career paths. The matches that popped up, she recalled, were librarian, teacher, and social worker. “I said, ‘what the heck is a social worker?’”
But in college, she took a psychology class and loved it; that piqued her interest in social work, which she eventually chose as her major.
In that field, she has sought out opportunities to help some of society’s most challenged constituencies, working with various organizations to provide social services to disadvantaged children, adolescents, and families. She’s doing the same today as clinical director in the Center for Human Development’s Terri Thomas Girls Program.
As a detention unit for adolescent girls, it’s not the most cheerful job. “They’re in a tough place in their lives, and they come from different places in terms of emotional stability and mental health,” Root said. “A lot of the girls have a history of trauma.
“It’s not the kind of job where you see immediate results, and if you need immediate gratification to feel good about your work, it would be hard,” she continued, adding that her work is focused mainly on stabilizing these rough situations. “I like to think of it as planting a seed; you don’t really see it grow, but it does, and even when the girls come back to us, we can see the change and the growth. And you’re supporting them while they grow and change.”
As her photo suggests, Root is an avid runner, who has competed in two marathons and countless road races. “This job can be very stressful,” she said. “Running is my outlet.”
Her physical fitness came in handy the time she climbed the roof of a building to talk a client out of hurting herself. But saving and changing lives is usually a less dramatic, more gradual process.
“This is a small chapter in their life,” Root said. “In the moment, it can be hard to understand that they won’t be in the system forever, but, rather, they have an opportunity to change. They don’t have to have the same life their parents did; they can blaze new trails and create their own future.”

— Joseph Bednar

40 Under 40 The Class of 2013
Manager, Audit and Accounting Division, Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C., age 31

Brown-MelyssaGrowing up, Melyssa Brown spent a portion of many summers attending a camp operated by Girls Inc. in Pittsfield.
There, she said she learned to swim and eventually compete in that sport, participate in a number of athletic and crafts-related activities, and grow personally from simply “hanging out with the girls.”
The many positive experiences from those summers in the Berkshires comprised one of the myriad motivating factors for her current involvement with Girls Inc. of Holyoke. She’s a board member, treasurer, and active fund-raiser, for example, but also one of the prime movers with an ambitious new initiative called Eureka.
As participants in the program, girls ages 12-15 spend four weeks each summer on a college campus to learn about math, science, computers, sports, and both personal and career development.
“We get everyone on board — the girl signs up, and the family signs up,” she explained. “Everyone is committed. We want to see the girls make it through the entire process; we want them to learn about the many career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math, and the education they will need to enter those fields.”
Her role with Girls Inc. is just part of Brown’s work within the community; she also donates time and energy to mentorship programs at both Elms College and Westfield State University, as well as Habitat for Humanity, Rebuilding Together, Link to Libraries, and the Springfield Boys and Girls Club.
These efforts are just a few of many factors that have made her a member of the 40 Under Forty Class of 2013. Professionally, she is now the youngest manager in the Audit & Accounting (A&A) Division at Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C., where she helps a broad range of clients while also serving as a mentor to many younger members of the A&A team.
In addition to her client-service responsibilities, she has been integral in the firm’s leadership and staff-development intitiative, facilitating firm-wide training based on Steven Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and Bruce Tulgen’s It’s Okay to Be the Boss.
Whether it’s as a Girls Inc. alumna or one of the leaders at MBK, Brown has become an effective role model — in every sense of that phrase.

— George O’Brien

40 Under 40 The Class of 2013
Director of Information Technology, CMD Technology Group, age 31

Jardin-MarkAs an IT professional, Mark Jardim has spoken numerous times on the topic of disaster recovery and business continuity. His experiences have provided him with valuable insights into the challenges that businesses and organizations face during a crisis. And he can often be found at the scene of real-life disasters as a volunteer emergency medical technician in his hometown of Windsor, Conn.
Jardim began volunteering in third-world countries in high school, and at age 16 he was selected as a Young Ambassador by Parade magazine and sent to Italy. His passion for missionary and philanthropic work continues today, and he is involved with a variety of groups, including a nonprofit organization he helped found that created a school for young girls in Haiti.
The group built, equipped, and managed the facility, and named it the South Windsor Haiti School. “We wanted to get the local community involved,” he explained, adding that the people in Haiti will need ongoing support to maintain the school.
Jardim has also traveled to Mexico six times to help build an orphanage, and has taken part in many other missionary trips with religious organizations. “I’ve been blessed with a lot of opportunities, so I try to give back as much as possible,” he said.
As an active volunteer in his own community, he served as a volunteer emergency medical technician for more than a decade in Windsor and occasionally still rides the ambulance today. In addition, he was the CEO of Windsor Ambulance from 2007 to 2011. “I did a lot to try to improve the quality of the EMS service and worked with the town and the community to be able to provide advanced paramedic service 24/7, which many small towns don’t have,” said Jardim, who received numerous community awards for his EMS contributions.
He also conducts fund-raising for local Eagle Scout projects, serves on the technology advisory board at Manchester Community College, and mentors recent college graduates. “I bring them in to shadow my work and help them with their careers, which is something people did for me,” he said. “It’s all about giving back.”

— Kathleen Mitchell

40 Under 40 The Class of 2013
Vice President, Westfield Electroplating Co., age 32

Stopinski-JonWhen Jonathan Stolpinski sold his 16 alpacas because he and his family just couldn’t devote the time to them and run the family business, Westfield Electroplating Company (WEPCO), it was a sad day — for all those involved.
“Out of everyone, my dog, Brewski, misses them the most,” said Stolpinski of the furry friend he comes home to after long hours in the electroplating business, which is the process of coating various substances (nickel, chrome, zinc, and others) by electricity or chemical conversion onto everything from aircraft parts to medical devices.
In 1984, his father purchased the business, which was founded in 1946, and Stolpinski essentially grew up in the company as it expanded. And while he worked summers in the plant — and at the now-shuttered Foster House restaurant next door that the family also owned and operated — he was never pushed into the business.
“My father did a pretty good job at keeping me away, to not influence me; he wanted me to make the decision for myself and see what was out there.”
And what was out there, after earning a degree in Business Administration at St. Michael’s College in Vermont, was Lake Tahoe, Nev., where he “sowed his oats” for a year, working at a casino and skiing three to four times a week. In 2004, he decided, on his own, that the family business would be a good fit.
Learning the electroplating business on the job, he now serves as vice president under his father, playing a significant role in ongoing growth, from 140 employees to 155, from $11 million in annual sales to more than $17 million, and with a portfolio now boasting more than 2,000 customers.
Stolpinski and WEPCO are good business neighbors, supporting Noble Hospital, the Westfield Chamber of Commerce, and myriad nonprofits in the city. But it’s his position on the board of directors for the Westfield Boys and Girls Club that is a newfound civic passion.
“The more we do for boys and girls now,” he said, “when they get older, the more they will be able to do for others.”

— Elizabeth Taras

40 Under 40 The Class of 2013
Associate Professor of Pharmacy Practice, Western New England University College of Pharmacy, age 39

Capoccia--KamKam Capoccia says she has two passions, teaching and patient care — activities that one what might not associate with someone who is a pharmacist by trade. But Capoccia, by bringing her passions front and center in an intriguing mix of career endeavors, is changing some attitudes about those in her profession.
She has a business card from Western New England University identifying her as a clinical associate professor and residency program director for the Department of Pharmacy Practice. Meanwhile, she is the director (and the heart and soul) of the Consultation and Wellness Center at the Big Y on Cooley Street in Springfield, a unique program created in a partnership between the school and the corporation.
In both settings, she gets to teach. At WNEU, she’s educating students about everything from conducting blood-pressure screenings to how to listen to a heart. And at the consultation and wellness center, she’s educating patients about such matters as monitoring their blood sugar, controlling hypertension, and achieving weight loss.
And there are ample rewards from both endeavors. “I enjoy the interaction with learners — I love watching the lightbulbs go on,” she said of her work with WNEU students as they assimilate the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in that challenging profession. At the clinic, meanwhile, she has helped one patient lose more than 40 pounds over the past year or so and assisted countless others with a host of issues, especially Type 2 diabetes.
“I love going to work every day — the clinic is what really drives me,” she told BusinessWest, noting that the facility is open three days a week. “With the patients, the numbers continue to increase, and we’re seeing some great results.”
Her many career pursuits — she also takes shifts in a Walgreens pharmacy on a per-diem basis — consume much of her time, but she also focuses on achieving work/life balance, making time for her family and especially her three children, Jacob, Marissa, and Jack.
The creators of the Big Y center describe it as a program featuring “the pharmacist as educator.” That’s a very accurate depiction, and one that brings Capoccia’s twin passions clearly into focus.

— George O’Brien

40 Under 40 The Class of 2013
Partner, Wealth New England, Age 29

Kates-DanielDanny Kates takes great pride in his work and the strong relationships he forges with people.

“I enjoy interacting with the community and giving back, and I feel pressure is a privilege,” he said, explaining that, although he often works an 11-hour day, if there are still 70 e-mails waiting to be answered, he reminds himself that they represent 70 people who need his help.

“I always strive to be the person my clients need me to be, and it has really come back to me,” he said, adding that most of his clients are referrals. “They tell me that the work we have done together makes them feel like they have more confidence, clarity, and control over their assets — and that ultimately helps them sleep better, dream bigger, and accomplish more personally, professionally, and financially”.

Kates is a partner at Wealth New England, a non-proprietary insurance and financial-services group. His clients include Fortune 500 companies, prominent business leaders, and more than 200 families. “I work with a great team of people, and put them and my family before myself. It’s the right pattern for living my life.”

As a newlywed, devotion to his wife, Erin, and his closely knit family is foremost in his life, but Kates is also passionate about giving his time to causes he believes in. He has served on the board of directors for eight organizations locally, including the Jewish Federation, the Jewish Community Center, and dual terms as the executive chair of Northampton Area Young Professionals.

Kates is also passionate about planting seeds of financial hope at the microeconomic level, granting microloans to underprivileged and deserving business people in Africa and South America, including a young man in Peru who has repaired a greenhouse that now feeds his entire community. “I can go to sleep at night knowing I’m part of something larger than myself,” he said. “Someone in this world can now feed his village because of something I contributed to. How cool is that?”

When he is not working or volunteering his time, Kates enjoys spending time with his family, dogs, waterskiing, sailing, and anything related to boats or classic cars.

— Kathleen Mitchell

40 Under 40 The Class of 2013
Owner and President, TNT General Contracting, age 37

Tomala-WalterWalt Tomala Jr. says the speed-building endeavors he’s participated in — everything from two local Extreme Makeover: Home Edition projects to a blitz-build event for Greater Springfield Habitat for Humanity — are in many ways a metaphor for how he lives his life.
In other words, he’s committed to simply not wasting a minute of his time. This attitude has enabled him to successfully balance his business, TNT General Contracting, with his family and especially his daughter, Lauren, and also his work in the community through those aforementioned projects, but also many others, especially his tireless service with the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
But beyond maximizing his time, there is another common thread between Tomala’s extreme-building exploits and his own life. That would be the matter of dreams — making them, shaping them, and willing them to come true.
As a teenager, Tomala’s dream was to be a professional baseball pitcher, and he was on his way — he starred for Westfield High School — when a devastating shoulder and elbow injury took baseball out of the equation and forced him to recalibrate. He took work building and remodeling bowling centers, but a year into that job he was caught in a flash explosion when a sanding machine malfunctioned. He suffered third-degree burns over 60% of his body and spent a year in recovery and rehab.
Undaunted, he went back to building bowling centers, and eventually started his own construction company with a name, TNT, which has nothing to do with his family name, but everything to do with the explosion that nearly ended all his dreams.
Since then, he’s focused on other people’s dreams, from participating in the Extreme Makeover projects to designing and overseeing the blitz build for Habitat; from building four houses in a week for victims of the June 1, 2011 tornado to helping construct two homes for severely injured veterans.
Introduced to Make-A-Wish by his father when he was 13, Tomala has made that nonprofit one of his passions. And in 2000, the organization named him its volunteer of the year.
To say that he’s made the very most of all his time would be a huge understatement.

— George O’Brien

40 Under 40 The Class of 2013
Assistant Vice President and Commercial Service Officer, Westfield Bank, age 28

Casey-JeremyThose who nominated Jeremy Casey for the 40 Under Forty Class of 2013 used a number of descriptive words and phrases to chronicle his career accomplishments and work within the community.
One said he was the “face of Westfield Bank” at many events and within many organizations, such as the Young Professional Society of Greater Springfield and the Springfield Rotary Club. Another said he had “a passion for civic leadership.”
But the word that came up most often was ‘innovative,’ and it was used in reference to everything from his work to launch an ultimate Frisbee league at Westfield State University while he was a student there, to innovative fund-raising ideas to benefit the Rotary Club, to his efforts to co-lead the Young Professionals Cup charity dodgeball tournament.
That competition, which started with 24 teams in 2011, has already grown to 44, drawing squads from across New England, while raising more than $10,000 for the YMCA of Greater Springfield and Junior Achievement.
Meanwhile, his career in banking has followed a similar trajectory. He started as a teller and has been promoted several times, most recently to assistant vice president. In that role, he is responsible for selling and servicing the bank’s cash-management products and growing the commercial-deposit customer base.
Casey was one of 12 professionals recently chosen for admission into the Business Leadership Mastery Alliance program, a results-focused initiative for executives and entrepreneurs committed to purposeful wealth-building endeavors in business, community, and life.
When asked about his definition of success and how to gauge that term, his answer was predictable given what others say about him.
“I don’t have a measurement for success,” he told BusinessWest. “It’s not money … it’s through my achievements that I want to help other people, and that really comes down to making connections.”
At 28, the connections he’s made to date, and the promise for more to come, have people taxing their vocabularies to describe what kind of leader Casey is.

— Elizabeth Taras

40 Under 40 The Class of 2013
Vice President of Commercial Lending, Country Bank, age 32

Leap-JeremyPatience.
That’s a virtue Jeremy Leap says he lacked while growing up in Johnstown, Pa., and one he didn’t acquire until it became necessary. And it didn’t happen while attending the U.S. Air Force Academy Preparatory School and then the academy itself, or when he left to complete his quest for a degree in Business Management at the University of Pittsburgh.
No, Leap found patience through … bodybuilding, a pursuit inspired by his brother, Ryan, who discovered it earlier, and one that would eventually become a passion and outlet for his competitive nature; he placed second in the novice division at the 2008 Northeast Classic Men’s Amateur Bodybuilding Championship, and sixth in the same event in 2011.
“Competitive bodybuilding teaches you patience, and it was a cool kind of lesson, especially for what I do — commercial lending,” he noted. “Nothing comes quick, nothing comes easy … it always takes time.”
Through patience and commitment, Leap has risen quickly in the local banking sector, moving from commercial credit analyst to vice president of Commercial Lending at People’s United Bank. (He was in that position when nominated for the 40 Under Forty Class of 2013, but recently took that same title with Country Bank in Ware.)
In addition to his professional accomplishments, he has also been active in the community, especially with the group Rick’s Place, which provides a space for children under 18 and their families to receive bereavement support; it was created in memory of Rick Thorpe, who lost his life in the World Trade Center on 9/11. Joining that board was poignant for Leap, whose best friend in fourth grade lost his father, a firefighter, in a blaze — a breaking story that was played over and over on the local news.
“All of a sudden, Richie was a different person, and there was no real outlet for him,” Leap recalled, adding that Rick’s Place now provides that outlet for kids and families who have suffered a similar loss.
Leap has also been involved with the Rotary Club of Springfield, Friends of the Homeless, the United Way Day of Caring, and the Young Professional Society of Greater Springfield and its Young Professionals Cup dodgeball tournament — all of which benefit from his patient determination.

— Elizabeth Taras

40 Under 40 The Class of 2013
Vice President and Director of Marketing & Public Relations, American Homecare Federation Inc., age 33

Zatyrka-MarkMark Zatyrka has faced big challenges all his life, and he’s devoted his career to helping other people with similar struggles.
Zatyrka was born with severe hemophilia, a bleeding disorder. In addition to requiring constant blood infusions, he developed severe arthritis in several of his joints. Then, in the mid-’80s, he contracted HIV from a blood transfusion.
But he found a career with purpose with the American Homecare Federation, a company that works exclusively with individuals and families living with bleeding disorders. He started out as a marketing associate and eventually climbed the ladder to his current leadership role.
“I have severe hemophilia, so I know the challenges I grew up with, and I have a personal relationship with a lot of our patients,” he said. “I can mentor the younger kids and show them that disease does not need to define them; this disease does not have to hold them back, and they can still create great things with their lives.”
Over the past decade, he said, the company has received high satisfaction ratings from patients, which is critical in this field. “As one of the smaller companies in this market competing against some of the largest companies, if we don’t provide the highest-quality care, we’ll get eaten up out there.”
Zatyrka says he feels fortunate to have a career that resonates so personally with him and that allows him to shape other people’s lives for the better, and he has gradually become a public advocate for hemophilia, HIV, and AIDS issues, partnering with a number of local organizations and regularly speaking to young people.
“The hemophilia community was devastated by HIV and AIDS back in the early ’80s; about 90% of severe hemophiliacs contracted HIV,” he said. “I’m HIV-positive, and I do my best to help educate others in the community.”
That includes co-founding the AIDS kNOw More Project, an initiative of the AIDS Foundation of Western Mass. that trains young people to educate their peers about HIV and AIDS, about which there’s plenty of misinformation.
“Unfortunately, a stigma still exists around HIV, and that drives me nuts,” he said. “And a lot of the stigma comes from uneducated, unknowledgable people.”
With a mix of education and compassion, Zatyrka is changing perceptions — and lives.

— Joseph Bednar

40 Under 40 The Class of 2013
Co-owner, TommyCar Auto Group, age 28

Cosenzi-TommyTommy Cosenzi always knew he would follow in his father’s footsteps. But when Tom E. Cosenzi died from brain cancer in 2009 at age 52, Tommy and his sister found themselves at the helm of their father’s company long before it was expected.
“He worked extraordinarily hard to build everything we had, and I knew how important it was to him,” said Cosenzi. “So it was extremely important to me to continue his work as a lasting legacy to him.”
Since that time, he and his sister, Carla (a 40 Under Forty winner in 2012), have driven the company down new roads and taken their father’s charitable bent in new directions. “He made a huge impact on my life and is behind everything I do,” Tommy said.
He is in charge of the company’s marketing and played a strong role in the success of Northampton Volkswagen, a new dealership for the auto group.
He also co-founded the Thomas E. Cosenzi Driving for the Cure Charity Golf Tournament, which has raised more than $304,200 to date. The money is given to the late Cosenzi’s neuro-oncologist at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute to conduct research on brain cancer.
“We saw first-hand what an awful disease it is and that researchers really needed help,” Cosenzi said, adding that there are not enough good treatments for the disease. “People who deal with cancer have a special place in my heart because I know what they are battling.”
Recently, he and Carla established the Tom Cosenzi Scholarship Fund for students who plan to attend college, and he reads every application and helps to assess each student’s level of need, qualifications, and goals.
TommyCar also takes part in the Cruising for Miracles program, which benefits Baystate Children’s Hospital and the Children’s Miracle Network. “We thought it was a really good cause,” he said.
In addition, the company supports a host of other organizations, including the American Cancer Society and Relay for Life, the Jimmy Fund, the Ronald McDonald House, and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, to name just a few.
Cosenzi’s other volunteer efforts include working with the National Automobile Dealer Assoc. to mentor the next generation of auto dealers — yet another way he’s carrying on a worthwhile legacy.
— Kathleen Mitchell

40 Under 40 The Class of 2013
Executive Director, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Franklin County, age 39

Letourneau-DanielleDanielle Letourneau-Therrien laughed as she explained that she has a magnet in her hand, and there always seems to be metal on the ceiling, no matter what room that ceiling is in.
In other words, whether it’s to raise funds for a student trip, serve as president of her high-school class, cheerlead for her high-school teams, fulfill a vacant city council seat, or serve on a board, that hand seems to be raised, “before I even have time to think about what I’m getting into,” she said.
A temporary job straight out of college landed her at the Northeast Foundation, a nonprofit organization that offers workshops and professional-development certificate programs for educators in early elementary education to integrate ‘responsive classroom’ learning into their curriculum.
“It’s basically a social, emotional, and academic learning component that offers a whole-child approach,” explained Letourneau-Therrien. ‘Temporary’ turned into 12 years, but along the way, her never-say-no, get-it-done attitude attracted the attention of neighbors in the Greenfield area. In 2006, she found herself filling a vacant position on the Greenfield City Council, and being elected and re-elected over the next five years.
During that time, her hand shot up when she was approached about a board position with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Franklin County. When the executive director position became available in November 2012 after a rewrite of the job description, she found herself saying, “I think they really need someone like me,” and pursued it.
“At some point,” she told BusinessWest, “I stopped saying ‘someone like me’ and looked in the mirror and thought … I really am interested in this position.”
And now that she’s in it, she’s spending more time fund-raising, performing outreach, and handling organization operations, while leaving the micromanagement — mainly matching screened adult mentors with children ages 6-16 — to the talented case workers that have the system down pat.
Still civically involved, Letourneau-Therrien is a recent recipient of the Fortin Family Volunteer Award for community leadership in overseeing the fund-raising and buildout of the Greenfield-based Beacon Playground Project — proving that, personally and professionally, she’s playing for keeps, with a hand always in the air.

— Elizabeth Taras

40 Under 40 The Class of 2013
Vice President and Commercial Loan Officer, Florence Savings Bank, age 34

Couture-ErinErin Couture has many accomplishments and examples of civic leadership on her résumé — everything from her large and diverse commercial-loan portfolio at Florence Savings Bank to the $10,000 she raised in 2012 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society through the Team in Training program.
The contribution you don’t see on her résumé, though, was by far the most significant.
Indeed, in early 2012, she became a bone-marrow donor for her sister, who was diagnosed with leukemia that is still in remission one year later. Erin is one of six siblings, but the one deemed to be a perfect match. And today, her efforts to get more people in the registry for bone-marrow donations is just one of the many things vying for — and winning — some of her time.
First and foremost is her family, including her husband, Darren, and sons Brandon and Gabriel. Then, there’s that commercial-lending portfolio and all that goes into maintaining and growing it. And as she described that work, she said it doesn’t come down to crunching numbers — although that’s certainly part of it — but understanding people and working with and for them.
“Every loan, every business owner is different — they have specific needs, goals, and challenges,” said Couture, adding that she manages loans ranging from $10,000 to $7 million, in sectors from manufacturing to retail. “And this work is about much more than just giving someone a loan; it’s about helping them succeed in business, and that’s the part I find most rewarding.”
Then there’s her work within the community, which ranges from involvement with the Northampton Chamber of Commerce, which she serves on its finance committee, to the Big Brothers Big Sisters advisory board, for which she is vice president; from membership in the area young-professional societies to teaching financial literacy to high-school students, to running half-marathons to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (she ran her first not long ago, and is now gearing up for her fourth).
She’s also involved in the Daffodil Fun Run, a fund-raiser for the American Cancer Society that in three short years has grown to more than 700 runners, just another example of how helping others is a priority for Couture — right down to the bone.

— George O’Brien

40 Under 40 The Class of 2013
Attorney and Owner, Law Office of Isaac J. Mass, age 36

Mass-IsaacIsaac Mass’s accomplishments include owning a law firm, serving four terms as a Greenfield town councilor, playing an active role in the town’s economic-development efforts, and being feted with a long list of awards and special recognitions. But the father of three girls, who are all named after cities in Massachusetts, says none of this would have been possible if people hadn’t gone out of their way to help him and given him opportunities to participate in a wide variety of activities when he was young.
“I came from humble beginnings and grew up in public housing, but a lot of people helped me out,” he said. “I consider myself an old-fashioned country lawyer, enjoy helping others, and have always felt it was my obligation to give back to the community.”
Veterans hold a special place in his heart because Mass served in the Army National Guard for eight years and was deployed to Bosnia during that time. “So, whenever I can, I try to help other veterans,” he said. One case he takes pride in was getting Social Security disability benefits for a veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and was injured in an IED attack. In addition, Mass was the first defense attorney to obtain inpatient treatment at Soldier On in Northampton as an alternative disposition for a case heard in Greenfield District Court.
Last year, Gov. Deval Patrick appointed Mass state ballot commissioner. He has held many civic positions in Greenfield and is active on the Greenfield Community College Alumni Scholarship Committee. He also enjoys aiding young people, and is state chairman of the Massachusetts and Rhode Island Loyal Order of the Moose Assoc. Youth Awareness Program and district chair of the American Legion High School Oratorical Contest.
“Nothing makes me happier than watching people I have helped succeed and become involved in the community, whether they are clients or students,” said Mass, whose own drive to give back has led him to coach soccer, judge transactional law meets, and otherwise do all he can to make a difference in Greenfield and Franklin counties.

— Kathleen Mitchell

40 Under 40 The Class of 2013
Financial Advisor and Managing Associate Sales Manager, MassMutual Charter Oak Insurance and Financial Services, age 33

Croteau-GeoffreyLike many 40 Under Forty honorees, Geoff Croteau found success in a far different field than he studied in college — in his case, graphic design. “I couldn’t find a career in that field to save my life,” he said with a laugh.
So, about a decade ago, he switched gears and became a real-estate agent in Florida, eventually moving up to partner of the firm and recruiting and managing more than 80 agents. But in 2008, he moved back to his hometown of Chicopee and took a job soon after with Charter Oak.
Today, as a managing associate sales manager, he serves as a role model and mentor to new financial-services professionals — in effect, recruiting, training, and developing new agents while running a successful financial-services business of his own.
It makes for a diverse career with plenty of personal interaction. “I would consider myself a people person; all I do all day is talk to people and help people plan for their future. It’s rewarding. I help parents plan for their kids’ education, I help people plan to be able to retire, and I help protect families with life insurance.”
Croteau brings the same passion to his community involvement, notably as president of the Beavers Club, a nonprofit French businessmen’s organization that donates time, money, and resources to projects throughout Western Mass; recent beneficiaries include Sunshine Village, Lorraine’s Soup Kitchen, Holyoke Children’s Museum, the Volleyball Hall of Fame, Kane’s Krusade, Providence Ministries, and Relay for Life. “We have a lot of fun doing what we call work projects,” he said.
In addition, he’s vice president of the Holyoke Community College Alumni Assoc., raising scholarship money and helping students gain work experience through internships, and he also gives time and energy to the Marine Corps League, a service organization that helps disabled veterans and widows, raises scholarship money for veterans’ children, spends time with veterans at the Holyoke Soldiers Home, and helps Toys for Tots collect gifts for the less fortunate at Christmas. “I’m very proud of being a Marine, and I’m passionate about that,” he said.
That’s an impressive palette of work for someone who decided graphic arts wasn’t in the grand design.

— Joseph Bednar

40 Under 40 The Class of 2013
Community Engagement Coordinator, HAPHousing, age 31

Molina-KelvinSpringfield is a long way — in many respects — from the U.S. naval station at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where Kelvin Molina served during Operation Enduring Freedom as a National Guardsman. But when a tornado hit Western Mass. on June 1, 2011 and devastated a 40-mile swath of homes and businesses in three counties, the scenes of bleakness weren’t much different.
As he took in the devastation from the twister, he recalled, “I was surprised — actually, shocked — but energized in trying to figure out what I had to do.”
Within hours, his Guard unit had been activated to provide logistical support for soldiers in Springfield, Monson, and Brimfield, dealing with a disaster that truly hit close to home for Molina, as the twister rendered his sister homeless.
Three years before, having earned degrees in Regional Planning/Environmental Science and Geographic Information Systems from Westfield State University, he caught the attention of the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, landing a transportation-planning position with the agency. Molina moved laterally into community development there, but in 2012, he left for a similar position with HAPHousing that deals exclusively with Springfield, his hometown.
Now, he engages the Springfield community though the nonprofit, which provides assistance for homeless families and various services for homeowners.
“If we can’t answer the questions of people regarding housing,” he said, “we know who to contact, because we’ve been around for 45 years.”
As a recently certified national Neighborworks America leadership trainer, Molina has an additional role helping to train and empower community partners, city leaders, and interested residents to create safe, collaborative, and productive neighborhoods.
“We’ll be conducting training over the next two months,” he said, “and recruit 20 to 25 residents from the South End, Six Corners, and Old Hill neighborhoods and their corresponding councils to meet each other and learn from each other about tools that will empower them to make change.”
Whether he’s in a business shirt or a Kevlar vest, Molina always wants to be there to support and engage people — and transform communities, one neighborhood at a time.

— Elizabeth Taras

40 Under 40 The Class of 2013
Division Director, Outpatient Services Division, Gandara Center, age 39

Davila-WilliamWilliam Davila is passionate about providing families in Springfield’s North End with the support and services they need.
“I tell my staff that it’s really personal for me to work here because I was born in the hospital about two miles away and grew up in the projects about a half-mile away. I understand this community and want to help people looking to improve themselves who are seeking a better way of life,” he said.
To that end, the father of two, who leads a staff of more than 70 employees at Gandara Center’s two sites in Springfield, makes sure everyone who calls or walks through the door gets immediate help. “People often have a moment of clarity in which they decide to seek help. But if they don’t get it right away, their motivation decreases,” he said. “And in inner cities, if families don’t get the services they need, it has a spillover effect that prevents parents from providing loving homes for their children.”
He has increased client access to mental-health services at Gandara by more than 20% in the past two years, brought services to more than a dozen locations throughout the community, consistently improved Gandara’s financial performance, and increased the number of staff members who can meet the community’s linguistic and cultural needs.
Family is critical to Davila, who recently earned his doctorate of Education from the University of Hartford, is an adjunct professor of Social Work at Springfield College, and serves on the advisory board of the Springfield College School of Social Work, as well as the boards of the Sisters of Providence Health System Foundation and Partners for a Healthier Community.
His history of civic involvement includes many other organizations and began when he was about age 12 and joined a peer-education program that did advocacy work in Springfield Public Schools.
“I always knew I would work in social services,” he said, adding that he believes education is critical to success in life and has afforded him the opportunity to “give back to my community and make a difference.”

— Kathleen Mitchell

40 Under 40 The Class of 2013
Holyoke City Councilor, age 29

McGee-Brenna-MurphyBrenna Murphy McGee was waitressing and tending bar when she got the call into politics, accepting a job as chief of staff for former state Rep. Michael Kane six years ago.
“He was looking for a second staff member, another legislative aide,” said McGee, who had earned a degree in Psychology at UMass Amherst and hadn’t seen herself in politics before working with Kane and also supervising the research staff for the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government. However, “I liked the whole political world so much that I later became interested in running for City Council, and he encouraged me to do it.”
Her first campaign in 2010 was a successful one, as she finished third among 13 candidates. She currently chairs the Charter and Rules Committee and is vice chair of the Public Safety Committee, working with residents to address traffic and speeding issues. She also helped establish a crime-watch program.
“My home was broken into in May 2011, when I was home sleeping,” she said. “It really freaked me out. I helped the Ward 6 councilor — who is now my husband — to establish the Ward 6 Crime Watch. They don’t simply talk about crime; it’s a way for people to get together and discuss what’s going on in the ward and in the city.”
She and her husband, Todd McGee — who recently welcomed their first child, Myles — are the first married couple to serve concurrently on the Holyoke City Council, and they are now both 40 Under Forty winners as well; Todd was honored in 2011.
But McGee doesn’t get involved in civic life just for the safety of her own home; her passion for Holyoke extends to her volunteer efforts for the Holyoke Boys and Girls Club, the Holyoke St. Patrick’s Parade Committee, and the Innovation District Design and Development Task Force, which has worked to generate economic-development progress in the city’s ‘Innovation District’ around the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center.
“Holyoke is a really close-knit community,” said McGee, who was born and raised in the Paper City and is running for city clerk this fall. “When I was working for the representative, I was helping people in the city I love so much, and on the City Council, I’m still able to help people move the city forward.”

— Joseph Bednar

40 Under 40 The Class of 2013
Director of Sales, Yankee Candle Co., age 33

Divito-RalphRalph DiVito Jr. says the city of Springfield played a major role in his development.
“Where I grew up in Boston helped make me into who I am, but Western Mass. helped mold me into a productive adult and member of the community,” said the Springfield resident. “There is something about Springfield that is special and unique, and I feel at home here. I like everything the city has to offer, and every blessing I have been given, I am trying to give back.”
DiVito wants the City of Homes to return to its former glory, and has spent untold hours working toward that goal as the vice chairman of Rebuilding Together Springfield. His leadership and vision have helped chart the course for a long-term, sustainable future, and he has been a house captain two years in a row on National Rebuilding Day, recruiting volunteers, soliciting donations of building materials, and managing projects which help people improve their homes.
DiVito said there is a link between his professional and volunteer efforts. “I lead our division at work that helps independent store owners,” he said of his role at Yankee Candle, adding that they, as well as the homeowners Rebuilding assists, are “everyday people,” which is important because “Main Street is really the backbone of America, and when there are viable stores and viable homes, it helps make the community strong. So, in all aspects of my life, I am trying to create a place where people can coexist and support each other.”
His dedication at work has helped many locally owned businesses become stronger through marketing, communication, and grass-roots events. He also helped lead a fund-raiser for a shelter in Hoboken, N.J. when its resources were depleted following Hurricane Sandy.
DiVito said Springfield is a microcosm of America, as it is made up of different groups who form a great community. So he works tirelessly to help “get the city back on its feet. It’s my goal, one business at a time and one house at a time. I want to showcase to all of Western Mass. that this is a great place.”

— Kathleen Mitchell

40 Under 40 The Class of 2013
Director of Community Engagement, WGBY-TV, age 38

Pabon-VanessaLike most of those who work in public broadcasting, Vanessa Pabon has been caught up in the phenomenon that is Downton Abbey. She took a behind-the-scenes role in helping to stage an elaborate ball themed after the show in January, and, like everyone else, is eagerly awaiting season four.
But her work with WGBY-TV is far more focused on the here — meaning Greater Springfield — and now, as opposed to the 1920s. As her title, director of Community Engagement, suggests, she’s responsible for engaging people in communities within WGBY’s service area who are underrepresented in its audience and membership. And she does this by developing new engagement strategies and also overseeing and expanding existing programs, such as the Latino Youth Media Institute and something called TOLD (Telling Our Legacies Digitally).
“People get to share a personal story about themselves that they ultimately feel may make an impact within the community,” Pabon said of TOLD, adding that the five-minute videos have involved individuals primarily from Springfield’s North End, and of all ages. “It’s not just sharing, but something that becomes public, and the stories range from overcoming battles, like finding out they have HIV, to happy moments, such as someone who didn’t think they’d be going to the prom ultimately going and being named prom queen.
“They get to produce these pieces and then either share them with their family or in a public forum, as conversation starters,” she went on. “And for me, the power isn’t just the video you watch at the end of the workshop, but what happens within the process — the community building, relationships, and the healing that happens when people share stories.” Other job responsibilities include everything from recruiting interns to providing media training to researching and writing grants.
In addition to her work with the station, Pabon is very involved in civic life, through work with the North End Campus Coalition; the Greater Springfield YMCA, which she serves as a member of its Community Services Branch, Charter School Committee, and Hispanic/Latino National Health Initiative; the Springfield Promise Neighborhood; and the Stay in School Campaign, which she serves as head of its youth committee.
In other words, she emphasizes community engagement both on and off the job.

— George O’Brien

40 Under 40 The Class of 2013

First Vice President, PeoplesBank, age 38
Dwyer-ShaunShaun Dwyer has carved out a successful, 17-year career in commercial lending, but he’s never lost sight of the people behind the numbers.
He entered the field as a financial analyst and later assistant vice president at TD Bank, helping to finance real-estate transactions throughout New England and eventually managing a $130 million loan portfolio.
He transitioned to Berkshire Bank, where he was promoted in 2011 to first vice president and regional team leader; in that role, he served as the face of the bank after the June tornado and October snowstorm, reaching out into the community and donating significant volunteer hours in cleanup and rebuilding efforts.
In his newest role at PeoplesBank, he works with borrowers on a wide variety of commercial and real-estate loans in the $500,000 to $10 million range. While the work is busy and satisfying, Dwyer says it’s the one-on-one aspect of the job he values most.
“I appreciate the relationships I’ve been able to cultivate over the past 17 years, watching these individuals grow their companies, and grow in the Springfield region,” he said. “It’s neat to see the dollars we’ve provided benefit them, so that they’re able to do what they need to do and better themselves and their organizations.”
Dwyer also stays active away from work. He serves on the STCC Foundation, where he promotes the college as a workforce and economic-development engine, in the process helping to raise more than $650,000 for scholarships, technology, and program development. He also has a successful relationship with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, personally raising up to $75,000 each year — typically enough to fund three wishes.
In addition, he serves as vice president of the Springfield Riverfront Development Corp., an agency that oversees the development and management of some $10 million in real-estate assets along West Columbus Avenue and has helped persuade several marquee food and entertainment venues to set up shop near the Basketball Hall of Fame.
“That intrigued me because of how important the riverfront is to this region,” he said. “When I join a board, it’s for a purpose.”
That purpose, which runs like a defining thread through Dwyer’s career and community work, is creating opportunity and vitality in the region he loves.

— Joseph Bednar

40 Under 40 The Class of 2013
Director of Franchise Support & Development and Field Consultant, Fitness Together; Owner, Elements Therapeutic Massage, age 34

Pantera-JohnIt would be an understatement to say that John Pantera achieved business success, while also satisfying an entrepreneurial urge, as an operator of two new franchises for the Fitness Together chain in Eastern Mass. As a certified fitness trainer with a nutrition license and an MBA in Finance and Economics from UMass Amherst, he helped position Fitness Together on Entrepreneur magazine’s Franchise 500 list in 2007, its Fastest Growing Franchises compilation in 2007 and 2008, and on America’s Top Global Franchises magazine’s list in 2007.
But like most successful entrepreneurs, he was ready, willing, and able to aim higher. He sold his franchises, moved to Western Mass., and opened an East Longmeadow franchise of Fitness Together’s sister operation, Elements Therapeutic Massage, in 2009. But when he did so, the fitness-club side of the corporation wasn’t ready to see Pantera go.
A new position was created just for him to direct the network of 54 locations (globally, there are 300) in New Hampshire and Massachusetts that deliver more than $20 million in annual revenues. Pantera now supports operators in their sales, marketing, customer service, and employee relations.
Meanwhile, at Elements Therapeutic Massage, Pantera oversees 25 employees, 19 of whom are therapists, in one of the largest massage spas in the region. He said the extremely high and deeply personal level of customer service required by both the personal-fitness and therapeutic-massage industries is a perfect fit for his personality and style of business management.
“Think about it … we’re basically asking perfect strangers to come in, get naked, and trust us that we will provide them with a high level of professionalism and service,” he said. “So the delivery of the service has to be a perfect 10.”
He’s also an adjunct professor of Entrepreneurship at Western New England University, his alma mater, and is involved with the Young Professional Society of Greater Springfield and Rotary International.
While doing all that, Pantera has found time to write a book titled All Diets Die: How to Win and Be Thin (for Life). “No matter your age or what condition you’re in, there are some foundational basics of a healthy lifestyle that can be permanent,” he said of the basic message. “And this is how to go about doing it.”
Balancing business acumen with a passion for wellness, Pantera is keeping plenty of balls in the air.

— Elizabeth Taras

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