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The Class of 2013

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