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The Class of 2016

40 Under 40 Cover Story The Class of 2016

Announcing the 10th Annual Top Young Business and Community Leaders in Western Massachusetts

You might call this a breakthrough year when it comes to the 40 Under Forty program.

Indeed, for the first time, there are more women than men gracing the cover of the magazine that introduces them. What that means is … well, we’ll let you decide what it means, ultimately. What it means to the region, we believe, is that an ongoing trend toward greater diversification — in the workplace and in the communities that comprise the four western counties — is accelerating.

Contributions range from serving as co-chair of the annual campaign for the Hampshire County United Way to finding new and different ways to give back to Link to Libraries, the group that puts books in the hands of area schoolchildren, to using one’s talents in public relations to bring more exposure to the work of the Salvation Army.

The class of 2016, its diversity, and its individual and collective accomplishments will be celebrated at the annual 40 Under Forty Gala on June 16 at the Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House. Tables for this event have been sold out, but a small number of individual seats and standing-room-only tickets are still available, although they will go quickly. Download the flipbook of this year’s 40 Under Forty HERE. Tickets can be ordered by calling (413) 781-8600, ext. 100, for more information go HERE.

The gala will also feature the announcement of the winner of the second annual Continued Excellence Award, a recognition program that salutes the 40 Under Forty honoree who has most impressively added to their résumé of accomplishments in the workplace and within the community, as chosen by a panel of judges (see the profiles of the five judge’s HERE).

40 Under Forty Class of 2016

 

Presenting Sponsors:

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Sponsors:

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Photography for this special section by Leah Martin Photography

40 Under 40 The Class of 2016

Executive Director, Hampden Senior Center; Age 38

Rebecca Moriarty

Rebecca Moriarty


Becky Moriarty was always close to her grandparents, and it hit her hard when she lost a grandfather in 1994. But it also altered her future.

“He had gotten really sick, and there were people who came in and provided care for him. At the same time, they were there for my mom and her sister while they were going through the process of losing their dad. I thought, ‘if I can be a person who helps someone the way they helped my family, that’s what I want to do.’

And that’s how a 15-year-old girl decided she wanted a career helping the elderly.

She started out after college working with an elder-services agency, but the work did not provide the face-to-face interaction with older adults she craved. That changed when the Hampden Senior Center came calling in 2002.

There, she’s responsible for day-to-day operations like budget, payroll, staff supervision, and grant writing. But she most enjoys the daily interactions with the folks who show up to participate in myriad programs.

“Every morning, one woman comes in, sits in my office, and tells me about her night or her weekend; it’s one of the best parts of my day,” Moriarty said. “It’s the interaction with the people I love the most — people who come in and say, ‘this is my home away from home,’ or ‘I wouldn’t have eaten a meal today if I hadn’t come here for lunch.’ We provide transportation for people if they don’t have family members close by. If someone goes to the hospital, we send cards and check on them. We’re an extension of their family.”

It’s the type of service, she said, that will only become more important as the over-60 population in America soars. “This is one of the most important resources we can offer older adults. We’re not just playing bingo and cards, that stereotypical image.”

No, seniors also partake in health and wellness programs, get help navigating the maze of Medicare issues, and, for lower-income participants, receive fuel assistance and meals. “This is a place where people come to socialize, which is really, really important, but we’re also getting to the heart of what people need to stay home and independent longer.”

‘Heart,’ in fact, is a good word for someone who’s had a heart for the elderly since she was a young teenager.

“I love it here,” she said. “I still wake up every day wanting to come to work.”

— Joseph Bednar


Photography by Leah Martin Photography

40 Under 40 The Class of 2016

Executive Vice President, S-Cel-O Painting; Senior Vice President of Commercial Energy Sales, Proton Energy Group; Age 38

Lamont Clemons

Lamont Clemons


Lamont Clemons was born and raised in Springfield. At this particular time in its history, he’s glad to be back.

“I think about my humble beginnings here, and watching the transformation of Springfield has made me passionate about the city,” he said.

His role at Agawam-based Proton Energy Group — which brokers deals with energy suppliers to reduce the costs of commercial customers in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New York — follows positions with Dominion Power, Wachovia Securities, and Capital One in Richmond, Va.; American Express in Greensboro, N.C.; and Northrop Grumman in Elkridge, Md., jobs that gave him an appreciation for cities in other regions. “I felt that there were a few things I could take back to my hometown.”

At the same time, Clemons plays a role at his family’s 30-year-old business, S-Cel-O Painting. “There’s definitely not a dull moment. We’re dealing with high-end clients who are used to getting excellent customer service, and they want you to pick up the phone and respond to them immediately. So excellent customer service, building relationships, is a main focus.”

Besides his dual career, Clemons is involved in a host of community organizations, serving as president of the McKnight Neighborhood Council, assistant treasurer of the Greater Springfield YMCA, and second vice president of the Springfield Rotary Club.

“Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of role models in the minority community, especially here in Springfield, and I wanted to add that value, to give back to the community,” he went on.

He’s particularly proud of programs he’s helped launch at the Dunbar Community Center, including one where teenagers run a concession stand at basketball games and learn about supply and demand, revenue and expenses, in order to make decisions on what to stock and how to maximize profits.

“We show them the value of running a business, and along the way, they learn about workforce management and process improvement,” he said. “To give those kids that skill set is a huge value to add. Sometimes decisions don’t go well, and that’s life — they make adjustments. When you see the light go off in their head, it’s really phenomenal.”

And hugely gratifying, he went on.

“These kids are really the future of the city. We’re at a tipping point into a really good era for Springfield, and I’m very interested in contributing something to this city that built me.”

—Joseph Bednar


Photography by Leah Martin Photography

40 Under 40 The Class of 2016

President, Rediker Software Inc.; Age 32

Andrew Anderlonis

Andrew Anderlonis

Andrew Anderlonis spent six years in the U.S. Navy — his obligation in exchange for the scholarship awarded him to attend George Washington University — and admits to occasionally thinking about making the Navy a career.

But he majored in international business and management information systems at GW, and admitted that this was where his passion really lay. And he wound up putting those talents to work in a setting he probably wasn’t thinking about while helping to put the USS George H.W. Bush, a Nimitz-class supercarrier, through its paces several years ago.

That would be Rediker Software, the venture started by the man who would become his father-in-law, Rich Rediker.

Indeed, while the founder is still quite active in the business, which specializes in creation of software programs for school systems, Anderlonis now serves as president, a broad role that involves everything from long-range strategic planning to new-product development, and to finding new and different ways for the company and its employees to make a difference within the community.

“I really act as COO, CTO, and CIO,” he said, using all those letters — the ‘t’ stands for technology, and the ‘i’ for innovation — to convey the message that he does a little bit of everything. (His wife, Amy, serves the company as marketing director.)

And he enjoys all aspects of that job description, particularly the community-involvement element.

Within that realm, he conceptualized the company’s internship program, which gives local high-school and college students the opportunity to develop, launch, and distribute new educational technology products to schools locally. He also launched the company’s volunteer initiative known as Rediker Cares, which gives employees the ability to give back to the local community.

Through that program, Anderlonis has ramped up the company’s already-considerable commitment to Link to Libraries (LTL), which, since its creation nearly a decade ago, has donated more than 500,000 books to area schools and nonprofits.

Rediker has for some time donated space at its Hampden headquarters for LTL’s warehouse, but Anderlonis has become directly involved by joining the agency’s board.

And while he’s serious about all that, he says he’s most passionate about what he calls a “full-time dad.”

“One of the big reasons I left the Navy was that I wanted to be around to see my child grow up and be there for him,” he explained, referring to 2-year-old Tyler.

In short, his life story has already had some intriguing plot twists, but some of the best chapters are still to be written.

— George O’Brien


Photography by Leah Martin Photography

40 Under 40 The Class of 2016

Mathematics Teacher, Student Council Advisor, Greenfield Public Schools; Age 38

Angela Mass

Angela Mass


In her own words, Angela Mass “bleeds green.”

“I grew up in Greenfield, I went to college, I graduated, and I came right back,” she said proudly.

Mass, a teacher and student council advisor with Greenfield Public Schools, has spent the last 17 years passing that hometown pride on to her students, along with plenty of knowledge in a wide range of subjects. She primarily teaches math, but Mass has also taken on psychology and social justice teaching duties, putting her college minor to use and discovering a passion in “teaching students how to be good humans.”

There’s a big crossover for Mass between her social justice class and her student council members as well, both of whom benefit from statewide exposure to community-service opportunities through her roles as executive director for the Western Mass. Assoc. of Student Councils and member of the state board of the Mass. Assoc. of Student Councils.

“We expose them to community service in a classroom setting, so students can learn to appreciate and understand its importance,” she said, noting that this has included partnering with nonprofit organizations such as Special Olympics and Big Brothers Big Sisters. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for kids to think outside of the Greenfield bubble.”

Mass has helped burst that bubble for others outside of Greenfield too, putting the town on the map in an unlikely way — as host of a state-level unified bocce tournament.

“To see that happen — the partnering with athletes, the kids from all over Massachusetts who’d never ventured out here before, and so many people coming out to be fans … because of all of that, this is one project I’m most proud of,” she said.

It’s the all-are-welcome nature of bocce that helps create a strong feeling of community, she added, noting that she finds her own tribe in a similar place, as an avid Zumba practitioner.

“It lets me dance myself happy, it’s high-energy, and if you’re not following just the right steps, no one cares,” she said.

And while the entire Commonwealth has a place in Mass’ heart — it’s her last name, after all, and her children, Chelsea, Aquinnah, and Auburn, share their names with places in the Bay State — when it comes to Greenfield, there’s no place she’d rather be.

— Jaclyn Stevenson


Photography by Leah Martin Photography

40 Under 40 The Class of 2016

Chief of Staff, Office of State Sen. Eric Lesser; Age 26

Michael Clark

Michael Clark


When asked about everything that goes into his job description and how he carries out that broad assignment, Michael Clark summoned some phrases and analogies straight from one of his boss’s top priorities at the moment — gaining expanded rail service for the Greater Springfield area.

“I keep the train on the tracks,” said Clark, who works with other members of state Sen. Eric Lesser’s staff on everything from drafting legislation to crafting press releases; from meeting with constituents to handling questions from the press. “You might say I’m the conductor.”

Putting aside the railroad terminology for a moment, Clark, who worked on Lesser’s campaign for the Senate in 2014 and eventually led that effort, said that perhaps his most important function — and it’s not written down anywhere — is to act as the senator’s sounding board.

“I spend a lot of time with him myself, and we do a lot of strategic planning,” he said, adding that there are many issues to contend with in Lesser’s extremely diverse 1st Hampden and Hampshire Senate district, one that includes Longmeadow, East Longmeadow, and other affluent suburbs, but also roughly half of Springfield and two-thirds of Chicopee, the region’s largest urban centers.

Some issues are specific to one city or town, he said, but most, like the opioid crisis, rail service, and boosting the manufacturing sector, cross all border lines.

When asked what he likes most about his broad role, Clark paused and said, in essence, everything.

Indeed, he told BusinessWest that he very much enjoys the challenge of running a political campaign — and he’s been involved with several beyond Lesser’s — but also likes the hard work that follows a race, especially the part about listening to constituents and working to address their concerns.

He does this not only in his role as Lesser’s chief of staff, but also as a member of Longmeadow’s School Committee, which is tasked with maintaining one of the state’s best school systems and serving an extremely demanding constituency.

When asked about the 2016 presidential race, shaping up as one of the most intriguing in the nation’s history, Clark, who can look at it from several angles, summoned just a single word to describe it all: crazy.

That adjective would also apply to his schedule, workload, and the sum of those efforts to keep the train on the tracks.

And he wouldn’t have it any other way.

— George O’Brien


Photography by Leah Martin Photography

40 Under 40 The Class of 2016

Co-owner and Director of Curriculum, InspireWorks Enrichment; Talent Data and Strategy Analyst, Brooks Brothers; Age 31

Elizabeth Angelos

Elizabeth Angelos


There’s a lot going on in Beth Angelos’ life, but she sees connections everywhere: between her two career paths (now happening concurrently), between having fun and learning, and among the people she meets as a business owner, corporate professional, volunteer, and civic leader.

Angelos is co-owner and director of Curriculum for InspireWorks Enrichment Inc., which offers after-school and summer-camp programs to school-aged children with an emphasis on learning. Campers might be building rockets and robots, for instance, but they’re learning programming code in the process. The same goes for programs focused on art, science, cooking, athletics, and more.

The business began while Angelos was still in college. She was working on a business plan for a class in entrepreneurship, and her boyfriend — now her husband, InspireWorks Executive Director and past 40 Under Forty honoree James Angelos — encouraged her to take the plan out of the classroom and into real practice.

Nine years later, InspireWorks is thriving, and Angelos has added another facet to her professional life as a talent data and strategy analyst with Brooks Brothers, a position that allows her to work on the leading edge of human-resources practices.

“It started three years ago, when I wanted to understand more about HR as a small-business owner,” she explained. “I wanted a better education, and at the time, the company was taking on big changes that created opportunities to get involved with different projects. I hopped on for experience, and was put on the talent data and development team.”

That team led the first successful implementation of Talent Central, the first human-resources information system platform ever used by Brooks Brothers in North America. A promotion and a new title followed for Angelos, along with the opportunity to continue implementing that new platform globally.

Angelos’ heart is always in community endeavors, however, and she devotes much of her time to volunteering — as a 13-year radKIDS personal empowerment and safety education instructor, for one, and a board member and events committee chair with the Young Professional Society of Greater Springfield. She also organizes opportunities for co-workers to volunteer in the Springfield area through Brooks Brothers’ Suited for Service program.

“That’s all part of what has made me, me,” she said. “Part of the reason I started the company was because my mother always exposed us to programs; whether they were sports, art, or volunteering, we were always exposed to a variety of things. When I grew up, I realized that not everyone gets that exposure.”

— Jaclyn Stevenson


Photography by Leah Martin Photography

40 Under 40 The Class of 2016

Employee Benefits Strategy Advisor, The Gaudreau Group Inc.; Age 27

Jenny MacKay

Jenny MacKay


Jenny MacKay is a numbers person who believes everyone has a chance at being number one.

That’s the attitude she brings to her position as employee benefits strategy advisor with the Gaudreau Group Inc. in Wilbraham, and a lesson she often teaches as head cheerleading coach at Central High School in Springfield.

The worlds of finance and coaching are two MacKay has been balancing since her senior year in college at Western New England University, first as a financial representative with Northwestern Mutual, and later with the Gaudreau Group, where she works with management teams at businesses of varying sizes to design benefit-package plans for their employees.

“I work with them over the years to keep costs down, increase employee engagement, and make sure they’re getting the biggest bang for their buck in terms of benefits plans,” she explained, noting that she often talks about her other professional life with the student-athletes she works with at Central. These include her educational endeavors of a different sort, such as consulting with companies on changes brought about by the Affordable Care Act, serving with the Professional Women’s Chamber board of directors, and serving on various committees with the Chicopee Chamber of Commerce, the Chicopee Boys and Girls Club, and other organizations.

“I hope I’m inspiring them to do something productive and be successful because they see through me that it can be done — every single day,” she said. “They get to see that women can do all kinds of things.”

It’s a message MacKay has been able to pass on to an ever-increasing number of young women; since she took over coaching responsibilities at Central, participation has more than doubled.

The team has started to experience its own successes, too, winning the Western Mass. League Championship for the first time in the school’s history in 2015, and making its first-ever appearance at the state tournament just this year.

“It’s inspiring to me because I want to be successful in my career, but I’m also passionate to help the city grow,” she said, noting that her husband, Jim, shares a similar outlook as a teacher and football coach at Central High School. “We’re helping kids become participating members of the community, and they’re accomplishing such wonderful things.”

— Jaclyn Stevenson


Photography by Leah Martin Photography

40 Under 40 The Class of 2016

Cash Management Officer, Berkshire Bank; Age 29

Ashley Clark

Ashley Clark


Ashley Clark wanted a challenge.

She entered the banking world after college with a part-time teller position at Westfield Bank. From there, she moved to a full-time role, but after a year of that, she approached her superiors and said she was bored and needed more of a challenge. Because they wanted to grow their cash-management department, they moved her there.

“I’ve been in the cash-management world since then,” she said, although now with Berkshire Bank. “I’m responsible for payments and collections for business customers — anything from how they handle their deposits and their payments to wire transfers, online banking, things like that.”

The good news is, she’s far from bored.

“It’s always different, never the same day twice. I get to meet a lot of people, go out and see a lot of business, and I learn a lot. I cover Springfield and the Berkshires, and going up and down, you see totally different markets and get to learn about these different businesses you normally wouldn’t know about.”

With those opportunities, Clark has become acquainted with a vibrant business community in Greater Springfield, and has become heavily involved in organizations like the Young Professional Society of Greater Springfield — where she chairs the YP Cup dodgeball tournament that draws close to 400 participants annually — and Valley Venture Mentors, where she helps mentor startup companies trying to reach their dreams of successful business ownership.

“I grew up in Westfield, on the other side of the river, where all you knew about Springfield was what you saw on the news,” she said. “But when I got involved in groups like YPS, their passion for the city rubbed off on me, and I came to realize that, if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.”

That’s not to say cities don’t have problems, she added.

“The people I grew up with constantly talked down about Springfield. But that’s not making a difference. All cities have challenges, but you’ll never see any change until you put your money where your mouth is. So, instead of pointing out the negatives, I’ve submerged myself in the Springfield culture. It’s a shame there’s so much focus on the bad when so much good is happening. That should make news. I want to share that news with people in different communities.”

In other words, this finance professional is bullish on Springfield.

“The city will change,” Clark said. “What will you do to help it get there?”

— Joseph Bednar


Photography by Leah Martin Photography

40 Under 40 The Class of 2016

Project Manager, Springfield Department of Parks, Buildings and Recreation Management; Age 37

Laura Walsh

Laura Walsh


“Recreation is such a huge part of our lives,” said Laura Walsh, “but sometimes we overlook how important it is.”

Walsh, on the other hand, appreciates the value of recreation more than most. As a project manager with the Springfield Department of Parks, Buildings and Recreation Management, she oversees park renovations from the grant-application process through final construction. Her career is also a striking example of coming full circle in life.

Born and raised in the Forest Park neighborhood, Walsh studied recreation administration and outdoor therapeutic recreation at Aurora University in Illinois, then brought those skills to camp programs throughout the U.S. and Ireland. But she had an itch to come home — right around the time Springfield was looking to hire someone to oversee the renovation of Forest Park’s Camp STAR Angelina into an accessible park for people of all abilities.

“That’s the reason I came to the Parks Department,” she said. “I fell in love with the campground and what it does for kids with disabilities; it gives them an outlet to be a kid and play and have fun in a world that’s inclusive and meets their needs. That really is a passion of mine — to make our parks and open spaces more accessible to everyone.”

The new Camp STAR Angelina was dedicated last June, but is only one of a growing number of projects Walsh has overseen, including redevelopment efforts at North Riverfront Park, Nathan Bill Park, Mary Troy Park, and Balliet Park. Her next construction-management job will be the development of South Branch Park — to be renamed Sgt. Thomas Sullivan Park — which will include an accessible kayak launch, reflecting yet another of her passions.

“I love kayaking,” she said. “You’re on the water, surrounded by nature. It’s a great way to escape the business of life.”

More often, though, Walsh is fully engaged with her community, as a Forest Park Civic Assoc. board member and a volunteer with the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp in Connecticut, the Read-a-Loud program in Forest Park schools, the Red Cross, and several other organizations. She said her civic involvement comes naturally, having grown up with two parents on Springfield’s City Council (her mother, Kateri Walsh, still serves).

“It’s something ingrained in us,” she said. “If you want to see positive change, you should take an active part in your community and try to make things better.”

— Joseph Bednar


Photography by Leah Martin Photography

40 Under 40 The Class of 2016

Owner and Trainer, Energia Fitness and 50/50 Fitness/Nutrition; Age 25

Justin Killeen

Justin Killeen


“I always knew what I wanted to do,” Justin Killeen said of his entrepreneurial success at a young age. “I just didn’t know how I’d get there.”

What he did know, while employed at a fitness facility in South Deerfield, was that he didn’t enjoy working for someone else.

“I was motivated to start something on my own, so I started doing in-home training in 2013,” he recalled. From there, he launched a personal-training program from the ground up at Energia Fitness in Hadley; a year later, he purchased the gym and went about building up its membership and expanding its roster of programs and classes. In 2015, he launched a second business just down the road, 50/50 Fitness/Nutrition, which focuses on personal training.

The rapid growth of both businesses testifies to Killeen’s training philosophy, one that treats every client differently.

“We constantly assess and determine individual need and continue to raise the bar higher, while teaching and educating every step of the way,” he said. “We look at injuries, muscular imbalances, flexibility, strength, cardiovascular health, and nutrition. More importantly, we determine where our clients stand, where they could stand to see improvements, and where we fit in.”

Killeen says he wants to bridge the gap between fitness professionals and healthcare professionals like doctors, nutritionists, physical therapists, and massage therapists.

“There is so much information and misinformation out there, which is why we meet with every new client to discuss our program in detail,” he said. “We don’t prescribe diets, we don’t promise instant results, and we don’t injure our clients. What we do offer is a renewed sense of balance, a promise for lifestyle change, and a community of support.”

Speaking of community, Killeen is active outside his workplace as well, as a board member for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampshire County and a supporter and sponsor of several nonprofits and charity events.

“Businesses have to be willing to be out there, present in the community,” he said. “We’re looking to help in a number of different ways.”

He calls the past few years a “whirlwind” and says he hasn’t had much time to take a breath and simply appreciate it, but the results of his work keep him motivated.

“When you look around and see the energy and excitement in the room when people come together and really work toward a higher level … that, to me, is the most satisfying thing.”

— Joseph Bednar


Photography by Leah Martin Photography

40 Under 40 The Class of 2016

Program Project Coordinator, Girl Scouts of Central and Western Mass.; Age 33

Katie Chappell

Katie Chappell


Katie Chappell likes to joke that she has 105 children, and 45 happen to live with her — along with a 90-pound dog named Fenway.

This thumbnail sketch of Chappell’s life says a lot: She loves to work with young people, she’s not afraid of hard work — not to mention a lot of noise — and she’s a perennial Red Sox fan, as is her canine companion.

But it’s not the whole story. Those 105 kids comprise the girls Chappell works with through her position as program project coordinator with the Girl Scouts of Central and Western Mass., and the women she lives with as house director of the Sigma Delta Tau Psi sorority at UMass Amherst.

These are just the two latest positions Chappell has held in an already-impressive career working with youths and nonprofits, including as fund development coordinator with the Springfield Boys & Girls Club Family Center and Dunbar Community Center, senior program director with the Boys & Girls Club of Hartford, Conn., and recreation building supervisor with the Manchester Recreation Department in Manchester, Conn.

Chappell has worked with the Girl Scouts of Central and Western Mass. since 2012, holding three different positions as she advanced in her career. Her accomplishments in that time have included increasing the number of programs offered by 346%, summer-camp attendance by 20%, and recipients of Bronze and Silver awards, which recognize exemplary service by Girl Scout Juniors and Cadettes, by 10%.

But the Girl Scouts organization has been instrumental in bringing her out of her comfort zone for much of her life, said Chappell. She earned her own 25-year pin in 2014, and maintains her membership in the national chapter.

“I truly believe that Girl Scouts make the world a better place. It taught me how to give back to the causes and issues I care about as I grew up, and now, I can instill what I got out of scouting in others,” she said, noting that this includes her volunteer work with organizations such as the Boys & Girls Club, the Massachusetts Park and Recreation Assoc., and the Young Professional Society of Greater Springfield, to name a few.

“Everything I do is a passion for me, and why I give back and do everything that I do,” she said. “If it’s important to you, you make time, and make things happen.”

— Jaclyn Stevenson


Photography by Leah Martin Photography

40 Under 40 The Class of 2016

Director, Office of Enterprise Resilience, MassMutual Financial Group; Age 36

Jeffrey Trask

Jeffrey Trask

Jeff Trask was at his home in Springfield when the call came in.

It was an official at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which Trask served as emergency management administrator, informing him that campus police officer Sean Collier had been shot and killed as he responded to an incident on campus by a man later identified as one of the Boston Marathon bombers.

Upon hearing the news, Trask, using his phone and computer 100 miles from the MIT campus, helped a team that orchestrated an organized, comprehensive response to the shooting. It included activating the emergency operations center, locking down the campus, conducting emergency notification and communications, and other steps.”

As he talked about it, Trask implied that this was all in a day’s (or week’s) work, only there are not many days or weeks like this.

Which is precisely why companies and municipalities have to be ready for them. And getting and keeping MassMutual ready is what he does most days and weeks as director of the Office of Enterprise Resilience, a position the financial-services company recruited him for in 2015.

“This is about emergency preparedness, business continuity, and disaster recovery,” he said before defining ‘enterprise resilience.’ “We’re looking at ways to ensure that the business can continue operating in light of any technology outage, workplace outage, or even staff outage, like in the case of a pandemic. Our focus is on how to weather the storm.”

Trask has made a career out of helping companies and municipalities do just that, in capacities that have ranged from a stint as senior adviser on emergency management to Chicopee’s mayor, to work on the staff of the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (during which he assisted area communities following the 2011 tornado), to his own business venture, Trask Emergency Management.

When not helping clients and employers weather the storm, Trask is active in the community, chairing the board of trustees for Holyoke Catholic High School, which recently merged with Cathedral to become Pope Francis High School. He’s also active with a number of industry associations, as well as his church, St. Stanislaus Basilica.

He’s devoted a good portion of the remaining time to restoring a cardinal-red 1968 Mercury Montego convertible, which he purchased in 2002 and finally put on the road just last year.

So it’s fair to say that, in all aspects of his life, he’s, well, driven.

— George O’Brien


Photography by Leah Martin Photography

40 Under 40 The Class of 2016

Vice President, Commercial Banking, United Bank; Age 38

Robert Kain

Robert Kain


Robert Kain moved to Western Mass. just over five years ago, but has enjoyed a strong sense of support and community since relocating.

That’s been important for him, his wife Alex — a professor of astrophysics at UMass Amherst — and their two sons. Originally from Lethbridge, Alberta in Canada, Kain is far away from the country, landscape, and people he once recognized as home.

“That said, we moved here and established roots here; we both enjoy what we do, and have felt embraced by the Western Mass. community,” he said — so much so that he’s felt compelled to give back in myriad ways.

A long-time banking professional, Kain earned a bachelor’s degree in management from the University of Lethbridge and first worked as a portfolio manager with the Bank of Montreal. Upon arriving in Western Mass., he served as a credit analyst and later a commercial lender with People’s United Bank, and now holds the title of vice president, commercial banking with United Bank, specializing in commercial loans and investment real-estate loans.

Kain is a long-time contributor to youth and healthcare causes, having volunteered for several youth and healthcare-based organizations throughout his career. He began at BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver coordinating fund-raisers, and moved on to similar roles with D.A.R.E., Junior Achievement, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Kid’s Help Phone — Canada’s only free, 24-hour telephone and online counseling service — and youth basketball camps.

Most recently, he’s applied his skills as a volunteer with Cooley Dickinson Hospital’s finance committee, and served for three years on the board of directors for the Gray House, a private, nonprofit, social-service agency in Springfield’s North End that provides food, clothing, and educational services to individuals and families with immediate and transitional needs.

While the Rockies are far to the west of him now, Kain spends much of his personal time outdoors with his family, hiking in and around their new hometown of Amherst, and occasionally taking advantage of a regional golf course or two. He credits his employers with helping to create a happy life in a new place.

“Work-life balance is promoted by the bank, and this area has a lot to offer,” he said. “It’s been great to be able to work my way up, but the highlight, I feel, has been that I’ve been in a fortunate position with my leaders and mentors. They’ve put me in a position to be successful.”

— Jaclyn Stevenson


Photography by Leah Martin Photography

40 Under 40 The Class of 2016

Chief Financial Officer, PeoplesBank; Age 38

Brian Canina

Brian Canina

Brian Canina calls himself a “math geek,” which has served him well in both phases of his career.

First, he earned a degree in accounting and worked for Wolf & Co. in Boston, then in Springfield. That firm’s niche is in banking, and he audited banks for a decade before being contacted about an open controller position at PeoplesBank in 2009. Late last year, he was named CFO.

“Essentially, I oversee all the financial aspects of the bank,” he explained. “I manage the loans and deposit balances and financial statements for the bank. We have to make sure we’re lending out at higher rates than we’re taking money in, make sure the bank stays financially healthy. From that standpoint, I manage the bank’s assets and liabilities and also financial reporting.”

In that role, he has increasingly embraced new technology, using sophisticated business-intelligence tools to ensure PeoplesBank remains competitive and responsive to customer needs. “That’s a new undertaking, this concept of big data, where we gather different data sources around the bank and bring it into one large database, then slice and dice and analyze it to get to know our customers better, see which customers are using which products. That’s the wave of the future, and we’re probably one of the first community banks around here using data analysis like that.”

That’s typical for PeoplesBank, which prides itself on staying on the cutting edge in banking. “We’re a smaller community bank, so we’re not going to be the one that comes out with anything first, but we consider ourselves fast followers behind the big banks, and typically first to market in Western Mass. with some of the up-and-coming technologies in banking.”

He says the math geek in him truly enjoys the strategic aspects of his job. “I love digging into numbers to find trends and different things that can give us an advantage.”

The father of two children, Aidan and Addison, with his wife, Sarah, Canina clearly has a heart for kids. So, in his spare time, he helps young people get a leg up in life, from coaching youth sports to his work as a board member for Children’s Study Home in Springfield, which serves young people and families with special needs, including behavioral, psychiatric, and cognitive issues related to experiences they’ve survived.

“It’s a little overwhelming how many different things they do. They’re active in so many different aspects of children’s lives,” he said. “I enjoy being part of that in any way I can. Getting involved in the community and helping children in need is probably one of the best things anyone can do.”

— Joseph Bednar


Photography by Leah Martin Photography

40 Under 40 The Class of 2016

Director of Accounting Programs and Associate Professor, Bay Path University; Age 34

Kara Stevens

Kara Stevens

Kara Stevens’ path to an accounting career was not as straight or well-marked as those taken by most who choose this profession.

She didn’t have a family member with the letters ‘C,’ ‘P,’ and ‘A’ after their name to inspire her, and she was, to use her word, an average math student. And while attending Springfield Technical Community College, she struggled to identify a major.

But while there, she developed not only an affinity for business, and especially accounting, but a liking for it as well.

“It seemed pretty interesting, it turned out I was good at it, and soon people were asking me to help tutor them,” she explained. “And it really progressed from there.”

She went on to major in accounting at UMass Amherst and then join Wolf & Co. in Springfield, where the next chapter in her career would unfold, somewhat like the first one. While teaching as an adjunct at Westfield State University, she discovered she was not only adept at teaching, she had a real passion for it as well.

So she made a career course change and joined Bay Path University as a full-time instructor and would go on to blueprint the school’s master’s-degree program in accounting. She described it as a course of study that is, by its nature, heavily focused on numbers, but it also helps students with the subjective nature of accounting, or what Stevens called the “big picture.”

She said there are many rewards in this profession, but perhaps the biggest is helping students gain not only the skills, but the confidence to break into the field or advance within it.

“To get that phone call from a student — that they’ve gotten that second interview, or got the job, or got the promotion … that is something really neat to be a part of,” she explained.

And while she developed expertise in accounting and then teaching, maybe the skill she’s most proud of — one she’s admittedly still mastering — is that of achieving work/life balance, something she owes to a strong support system anchored by both her current employer and her husband, Matthew.

“I feel that I’ve been able to find a wonderful work/life balance,” said Stevens, mother of 4-year-old Mary-Kate, “being able to continue growing professionally and academically, as well as being the type of mom and wife that I want to be.”

With the couple expecting their second child in a few months, that work is about to get that much more challenging.

— George O’Brien


Photography by Leah Martin Photography

40 Under 40 The Class of 2016

Corporate Engagement Coordinator, Training & Workforce Options; Age 30

Christina Grass

Christina Grass


Christina Grass says it’s often difficult for friends and family members to get both hands around what she does for a living.

But to those in the business community or the region’s network of economic-development agencies, the words on her business card certainly resonate. All of them.

Indeed, the program known colloquially as TWO (Training & Workforce Options) has increasingly become part of the local lexicon since it was established five years ago, and the title ‘corporate engagement coordinator’ speaks volumes about her role with this initiative, launched jointly by Holyoke Community College and Springfield Technical Community College.

In short, she engages with individual business owners and leaders within individual economic sectors to devise solutions to that perplexing problem known as the ‘skills gap.’

Specifically, she plays a lead role in identifying needs (usually in the form of workers with a certain set of skills) and then blueprinting initiatives to put more of these workers into the pipeline. Her résumé includes work on a project to develop the Advanced Call Center & Customer Service Training Program, an endeavor to provide training in lean manufacturing to area companies, and a collaboration, led by Dress for Success, to pilot a workforce-readiness certificate training program, among others. Such work, she said, is rewarding on many levels.

“That side of my job is amazing … I get to work with individuals who are looking for a second chance; they’re looking for a career instead of just another job,” she noted. “They just need help getting their foot in the door. It’s been great for them, but also for employers, because we’ve been able the deliver the type of candidate they’ve been looking for.”

While helping close the skills gap, Grass has also been active in the community, especially in her native Holyoke. She’s a member of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee and strong supporter of the city’s Boys & Girls Club, especially through a program called “A Night for Nick.”

This was a fund-raising initiative — one that garnered more than $120,000 for the agency — named in honor of her bother, Nick, who was killed tragically in a car accident in 2003 along with three fellow Yale classmates.

She completed the New York City Marathon last fall, her first, and has signed up to run the Hartford Marathon in October. That’s appropriate, because her career is now devoted to helping people reach higher and cross the finish line.

— George O’Brien


Photography by Leah Martin Photography

40 Under 40 The Class of 2016

Project Manager, Tighe & Bond; Age 36

Darleen Buttrick

Darleen Buttrick


A bachelor’s degree in chemistry can lead to an array of careers. When Darleen Buttrick was earning hers at Bucknell University, her research into how tire-wear particles leach harmful substances into the environment piqued something inside her.

“That fueled my fire for taking what I knew about chemistry and getting into the environmental field,” said Buttrick, who enrolled at UMass Amherst for her master’s in environmental engineering. There, she became involved in research in the field of drinking water, “and I haven’t looked back.”

In her 11 years at Tighe & Bond, the region’s largest civil-engineering firm, she has specialized in the water-treatment arena, managing projects for some of the firm’s largest clients, including the recently completed, $3 million ultraviolet disinfection facility for Holyoke Water Works.

It’s important work, she said, even if most people don’t think about it often. “Treatment facilities tend to be out of sight, out of mind, until you see something like what happened in Flint, which brings the reality of drinking water to the forefront.”

In fact, cities face a constant challenge balancing needed infrastructure upgrades with limited funds, she added. “One of the big things I’ve been working on is assisting them with evaluating the condition of their infrastructure and targeting the most critical needs for improvements, and from there coming up with a cost-effective solution to upgrade their facilities.

“I love the feeling that I’m having a positive impact,” she went on. “If we can make water-treatment plan operators’ lives a little less stressful or develop a solution to construct a new system, that’s so satisfying.”

Recently promoted to an associate in Tighe & Bond’s stock-ownership program, Buttrick is excited to be with a rapidly expanding company that has grown from 175 to 275 employees over the past five years. But she’s just as passionate about her volunteer work, which includes wearing many hats at her church, serving on the Aquifer Protection Committee in her hometown of Easthampton, and launching and co-leading a Girl Scout troop in that community.

The Girl Scout work is personal to Buttrick, who recalls being diagnosed with scoliosis at age 9 and wearing a back brace, and struggling to develop friendships — until she became involved in the Pioneer Club, a church-based youth organization. “Those friendships lasted my entire childhood; they were constant friends who were always there,” she said. “I wanted my two girls to have the same chance to build lifelong friendships.”

— Joseph Bednar


Photography by Leah Martin Photography

40 Under 40 The Class of 2016

Director of Operations, The Good Dog Spot; Age 36

Elizabeth Staples

Elizabeth Staples

In her mid-20s, Elizabeth Staples had a job at MassMutual, a love for animals … and an idea.

As a board member with the national Pet Care Services Assoc., she noticed doggie day cares were becoming more popular, many launched by people in the corporate world who had built some savings and decided they’d rather play with dogs all day. She thought she could do it better.

“I had this ‘a-ha’ moment. On the East Coast, you mostly saw the warehouse style of boarding — put the dog in a cage and go away, which is kind of sad,” she explained. “But nationally, the trend was toward an off-leash play center, where people could feel good about leaving their dog and not feel guilty about it. That’s what we wanted to bring to this area.”

So she launched the Good Dog Spot in Chicopee in 2007 — a place where canines can mingle and have fun during the day. “We wanted to build a day-care facility based on the pet-owner relationship,” she said.

Since its opening, the business has grown from one employee to 18, with some 2,000 clients and 50 dogs in day care each day, in addition to overnight boarding for dogs and cats. The business moved to larger quarters nearby several years ago and recently expanded again, doubling the dogs’ play space to 10,000 square feet.

Staples said her success reflects a shift in the way dogs are cared for in the U.S.

“It’s amazing to me we’d be here 10 years later, with steady growth through the recession and hard times. But it goes to show that dogs are part of our family. You don’t see dogs tied in the backyard anymore; we do treat them like family.”

The Good Dog Spot also offers grooming services and a small retail area, but keeps the main focus on humane, play-centered boarding. And Staples is serious about pet welfare; she’s trained in pet first aid and CPR through the American Red Cross, and has donated time and resources to Dakin Humane Society, Thomas J. O’Connor Animal Control & Adoption Center, and Rainbow Rescues. She also recently donated pet oxygen masks to local fire stations.

She said she gets a kick out of new clients who are initially baffled by the report cards and even art projects that get sent home with their furry friends each day, but clients soon come to look forward to those personal touches.

“This is a lot of work,” she said, “but it’s worth it if you do it right.”

—Joseph Bednar


Photography by Leah Martin Photography

40 Under 40 The Class of 2016

Owner, Brightwood Press Co.; Springfield City Councilor; Age 32

Adam Gomez

Adam Gomez


Whether it’s serving his neighboring business owners through his printing and marketing outfit, Brightwood Press Co., or as their newly elected Ward 1 city councilor, Adam Gomez is a man of the people.

Indeed, his service in the realm of civic leadership is extensive. In addition to his councilor duties, Gomez also serves on the New North Citizens’ Council board, the Springfield Puerto Rican Parade Committee, and with Neighbor to Neighbor — a statewide nonprofit that educates residents on voter registration and social issues.

Through his role as national liaison for the Gamma Phi Sigma fraternity, also known as Hermano Unidos, Gomez has organized and promoted annual basketball tournaments for the past seven years, which raise funds for youth scholarships and also represent one of many anti-violence events and programs with which he’s actively involved.

But service to community is a common thread through all of his endeavors, both professional and volunteer, and Gomez says the coming months are packed with myriad tasks aimed at bettering the city he’s always called home, particularly its North End and the neighborhoods he now represents.

“Ward 1 wants to grow with the city — as fast as every ward,” he said. “There have been a lot of developments, and we’re in a good place. One of my goals will be to unite neighborhood boards, councils, youth organizations, and nonprofits so we are all working together.”

He’s also looking toward further collaboration with the business community in the North End, as both a city representative and fellow business owner.

Brightwood Press works extensively with downtown clubs and restaurants, for instance, as well as several nonprofits, including Springfield schools, Baystate Medical Center, and the Puerto Rican Cultural Center. Gomez said his focus is on offering fair prices and services most relevant to his core customers.

“If small businesses or nonprofits are overcharged, they can’t stay marketable,” he said. “My people — my customers — need niche services, and that’s what I provide as an entrepreneur who’s also invested in the ward.”

He’s also looking toward safety initiatives, particularly those aimed at reducing violence, and the role both businesses and residents can play in their success.

“I was born and raised in the North End, and I’ve encountered several mentors,” he said. “I want to keep on motivating young people to get involved and support the community. Our parks and schools need to be up to par, our streets need to be safe, and right now, there is a lot of opportunity.”

— Jaclyn Stevenson


Photography by Leah Martin Photography

40 Under 40 The Class of 2016

Owner/Business Strategist, Disruptive Strategy Co.; Age 31

Nunzio Bruno

Nunzio Bruno


Nunzio Bruno says there are more similarities between his career and one of his newer passions — power lifting — than most people think.

“I started taking it seriously, honoring my own goals, putting money down on equipment and meets … essentially, showing up,” he said, noting that his first power-lifting meet was just a few weeks ago. “I realized, as I started to see changes as I progressed, that it’s like a metaphor for what I ask people to do every day.”

Bruno owns the Disruptive Strategy Co., a business-strategy firm based in West Springfield that works with companies of all sizes to improve their output, organizational structures, and, ultimately, their bottom lines.

“I work with staff to identify resources, offer communication coaching, develop business plans … it’s always a little different, but the idea is that all companies have challenges and don’t always have the capacity or capabilities to address them. Someone like me is brought in to dive into the research, get into the nitty-gritty, and create a plan for improvement, plus the documentation to show how it will play out.”

Since his company’s inception in 2009, Bruno has seen success with a wide breadth of clients, from an indie soap maker he helped introduce to Whole Foods, which now carries the line, to a Fortune 500 firm. He’s begun to develop his own curriculum of sorts for companies — the Disruptive Decision Framework — to assist them in identifying specific weak spots across their organizations and make decisions about next steps.

“I’m asking organizations to buy into a big process, and the curriculum helps us to build frameworks, do a bit of planning, and create a system to move everything forward,” he explained.

Bruno also teaches economics, finance, and strategy as an adjunct faculty member at Elms College, Bay Path University, Springfield College, and American International College, and speaks frequently on related topics. Both roles have allowed him to stay abreast of subtle changes in the corporate marketplace, including a shift he sees toward redefining success.

“Whatever the goal, we need to take the outcomes seriously, and honor a system,” he said.

That brought Bruno back to his new discoveries in the world of amateur power lifting, and those parallels he sees between his work and his weights.

“When I’m lifting, if I don’t feel right, the feedback is real. Something is off, and I can’t justify it away,” he said. “I work to get people to see their businesses the same way — if there’s a problem, it needs a fix. Be pumped to do it, and follow through.”

— Jaclyn Stevenson


Photography by Leah Martin Photography

40 Under 40 The Class of 2016

Owner, SkinCatering Spa; Age 38

Leanne Sedlak

Leanne Sedlak

Like many who start down the path toward entrepreneurship, Leanne Sedlak did so out of necessity.

At the start of this decade, she was working in the healthcare sector, which was still struggling mightily from the various effects of the Great Recession. She was eventually laid off, and faced the daunting task of finding work at a time, and in a field, where there was little of it to find.

So, when she finished her time in massage school, she went into business for herself with a venture she would call SkinCatering. At first, this was a traveling enterprise, with Sedlak taking her massage table door to door. She would eventually open a spa in Chicopee, and later, with a desire to better serve her many clients who worked in downtown Springfield, she moved into Tower Square.

As she talked about her experiences, Sedlak used language very common to those who opt to work for themselves. “It’s certainly a roller-coaster adrenaline rush,” she explained. “You do experience the high of highs and the low of lows.”

Lately, however, there have been much more of the former.

Indeed, Sedlak recently opened her second business venture, Cheeky City, in the Shops at Market Place in Springfield. This downtown boutique, or “retail therapy shop,” offers products from a number of local companies, including Sedlak’s own SkinCatering brand of health and beauty products. Meanwhile, her line is now on the shelves in several area Big Y stores.

One of those products, a sore-muscle-relief cream she calls Hero, is making a name for itself locally, and even beyond.

“It’s really putting us on the map,” she said of Hero, which, like everything else with the SkinCatering name on it, is made from all-natural ingredients. “It’s excellent for sore muscles, arthritis, and sore joints, and it’s a product for everyone. We have some marathon teams that buy it by the case so their members have it.”

While busy with her ventures, Sedlak finds time to give back. She’s on the board of the Young Professional Society of Greater Springfield, for example, and is active with the Food Bank of Western Mass. She also does quite a bit of public speaking on a range of topics — from entrepreneurship to safe-skin practices.

As for what’s next, Sedlak said she doesn’t know, besides continuing to ride that roller-coaster adrenaline rush, with hopefully more highs to come in the years ahead.

— George O’Brien


Photography by Leah Martin Photography

40 Under 40 The Class of 2016

Career Consultant; Age 31

Meghan Godorov

Meghan Godorov


Decades ago, 20-somethings graduated from college, joined a company, and stayed there for life. Today, young people navigate a very different career landscape, one fraught with uncertainty, where they might switch jobs or even careers multiple times before finding their calling.

That’s where Meghan Godorov comes in.

Drawing on a raft of experience in the field, Godorov launched her career-consulting business two years ago. “My focus is on helping people build careers that last, making sure they can get the skills and tools they need to find professional success.”

It’s a role she first honed at Mount Holyoke College, where she still serves as associate director of Alumnae and Community Engagement, running job-skills programs on campus and connecting students with alums for mentoring opportunities, among other roles.

“In my business, I’ve been able to extend that work, to work with this population of Millennials as they think about moving into the workplace, how to navigate that piece of who they are, personally and professionally.”

Godorov’s enterprise encompasses everything from one-on-one strategy sessions to workshops and conferences, to online connections including a blog, a YouTube channel, and a series of ‘Tea Talks’ at her Google Hangout site. Her advice has been published by the Huffington Post, NerdWallet, HigherEd Jobs, Good.Co, and a host of other outlets. Clients range from individuals just entering the workforce to people who want to change careers and have no idea how.

For the young professionals who comprise the bulk of her clientele, the current economic climate can seem daunting. Meanwhile, Millennials bring to the table a different set of priorities than their elders.

“They want to jump right in and make change happen. And that can be really frustrating,” said Godorov, noting that older generations of leadership in business don’t always share that passion for change. “They want to do some good, some social good, and that can be received with negativity at times, but it’s a positive attribute.”

An avid photographer and volleyball player, her passion for developing young leadership has guided her involvement in organizations like Northampton Area Young Professionals and Leadership Pioneer Valley. But she finds the most satisfaction simply from helping clients find where they belong professionally.

“There are people who feel stuck, who know they want to change and are frustrated about where they are. So let’s talk about what’s going on and come up with a strategy to move forward,” she said — not unlike one of her heroes, the actor Robert Downey Jr., who overcame personal turmoil to forge a wildly successful career rebound. “I love that ‘a-ha’ moment, when it all clicks, and they understand what they need to do.”

— Joseph Bednar


Photography by Leah Martin Photography

40 Under 40 The Class of 2016

Author, Teacher, Nonprofit Leader, K.Y.D.S; Age 38

Latoya Bosworth

Latoya Bosworth


Whether she’s at work teaching young people, leading workshops with nonprofit and human-service organizations, or writing and editing books, stories, and poetry collections, Latoya Bosworth is the queen of self-esteem.

A teacher, speaker, workshop leader, and writer, Bosworth offers several programs and resources to youths and women, bound together by the core ideas of self-worth and empowerment. She founded K.Y.D.S — Keep Youth Dreaming and Striving — in 2006 to offer mentoring to area youth on a one-on-one basis. She also launched the Gifted Diva Showcase the same year, a biannual exhibition for teen girls ages 13 to 19 designed to showcase their strengths (as opposed to their evening wear), and went on to launch the H.E.R.S — Health, Empowerment, Resiliency, and Self-worth — Conference for young women.

“I saw a lot of self-esteem lacking,” she said of her impetus for creating such a diverse set of programs. “Ultimately, my goal is to ensure people that their circumstances don’t have to define who they are. They may shape them, but do not define them.”

That’s a life lesson Bosworth learned herself and passes on to others at every opportunity. She lost her mother at age 4, and later her grandmother, who raised her from age 4 to 13, both to cancer. But she said she’s always been a positive, creative spirit, and that passion for life is seen in everything she does.

Her workshops for kids, teenagers, and adults range in topic from “Self-esteem Superheroes” for young girls to “Using the Pen to Push Past the Pain,” which incorporates some lessons from the national Freedom Writers Foundation; from “Motherless Mothers,” a facilitated forum for young moms who grew up without a mother of their own, to “Got H.E.R.S,” an all-encompassing session on personal growth for women ages 18 to 24.

As a poet, writer, and spoken-word artist, Bosworth has published eight books and performed at live events across the U.S., often using the moniker Brenda’s Child in honor of her late mother.

She’s also blended her many passions, in one instance, by creating a collection of poetry and essays by her students titled Our Voices.

As she continues to help others evolve into confident individuals, she continues to grow herself. Bosworth’s goals for the future include finding a central, dedicated space for K.Y.D.S programming in Western Mass., completing her Ph.D — now underway at Walden University — and passing on her lessons of strength and joy to her 18-year-old son, Najee, 4-year-old son, Elijah, and the rest of her large, extended family.

— Jaclyn Stevenson


Photography by Leah Martin Photography

40 Under 40 The Class of 2016

Co-owner, Center Square Grill; Age 36

Michael Sakey

Michael Sakey


Michael Sakey likes to joke that he was an accidental restaurateur.

Indeed, he studied theater in college, planning for a much different career path. Even then, though, he was a restaurant veteran, having worked at pizza, sub, and coffee shops from age 14. In early 2000, he took a job with Claudio Guerra, the serial restaurateur behind the Northampton-based Spoleto Group. Sakey helped Guerra open six concept restaurants and also spearheaded Spoleto Catering, which specialized in full-service weddings.

“I went in thinking, ‘it’s just going to be for now, until I figure out what’s next,’” he said of his work with Guerra. But the restaurant life turned out to be the ‘next’ after all.

It’s not like he was abandoning his theatrical roots, however, as he sensed a connection between food and his other passion. “Restaurants can be theatrical. It’s kind of like throwing a party every night. If you can make them all happy, that’s something really unique, not like any other industry I can think of.”

Sakey — along with his business partner, fellow Spoleto Group veteran, and past 40 Under Forty honoree Bill Collins — has been making people happy at Center Square Grill since 2014, when the pair struck out on their own and launched the successful eatery near East Longmeadow’s famed rotary.

Breaking away from the Italian fare Guerra specializes in, the partners call their restaurant a “creative American grill,” pulling in influences from South America, classic French cooking, New Orleans, Jamaica, even Asia. The restaurant features a few different dining areas, from a formal dining room to a small room for private events to a lively bar area. Sakey takes particular pride in the restaurant’s impressive — and affordable — array of wine, beer, and cocktails.

He’s also proud of his civic work outside the restaurant, as he’s active in the East of the River Five Town Chamber of Commerce, participates in the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts Gala, and sits on the board for UNIFY, an anti-bullying nonprofit. He has also donated to some three dozen area charities, spreading the success of a restaurant that has earned ‘Best Restaurant,’ ‘Best Bartenders,’ ‘Best Outdoor Dining,’ and ‘Best Waitstaff’ honors from MassLive, among myriad other awards.

But it’s a four-and-a-half-star Yelp rating that truly drives Sakey — a reminder that he and Collins are doing plenty right, but can always aim higher.

“Nothing’s ever perfect,” he said, “but we can be really good.”

— Joseph Bednar


Photography by Leah Martin Photography

40 Under 40 The Class of 2016

President, Giombetti Associates; Age 36

Ross Giombetti

Ross Giombetti


Even though he studied human resources in college, Ross Giombetti wanted to strike out on his own before considering joining the business his father, Rick, started in 1986. So he went to work for a large regional company.

After a few years, however, “I didn’t feel like I was truly making a difference in developing great businesses and training leaders. That’s why I joined my father.”

After all, Hampden-based Giombetti Associates had built a solid reputation helping businesses grow through coaching, team building, and leadership training. “The bottom line is, everything we do comes back to building great organizations through people.”

Since joining the family business in 2004, his role has morphed over the years, and — in recent years as vice president — focused on what he calls “developing teams, developing culture, and developing people.” But that role expanded in April when his father stepped down and passed leadership of Giombetti Associates to Ross.

Still, he said, even as his responsibilities grow, his priorities won’t change, particularly involving his wife, Elizabeth, and children, Noelle, Ryan, and Lainey.

“Relationships really mean everything to me. My family, my friends, my kids, our clients, the people in my life — I wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world.”

He maintains significant relationships outside the office, too, from his five years coaching softball, soccer, baseball, and basketball teams in Wilbraham to an intriguing mentorship program he launched at Minnechaug Regional High School in 2012.

“How many high-school students know who they are and what they want to do? Hardly any,” he said. “So many struggle with this; they have no idea who they are or what they want to do. Then they go to college and rack up debt and graduate, and they still don’t know who they are or what they want to do.”

Through this initiative, Giombetti coaches students to help them determine their goals and what they need to work on to achieve them. “We help them identify potential career paths or fields of study they would enjoy. We just graduated our first group last year, and I see the growth and development in these students. They are our future.”

In short, he loves watching people change for the better.

“Regardless of the age of the individual, whether I’m coaching a high-school student or a 70-year-old business owner, to see them grow and change and the impact we had on them — that’s the single most rewarding thing I do. It gets me up in the morning.”

— Joseph Bednar

40 Under 40 The Class of 2016

Associate Attorney, Doherty, Wallace, Pillsbury & Murphy, P.C.; Age 37

Jesse Belcher-Timme

Jesse Belcher-Timme


Jesse Belcher-Timme says that, long before he set out in pursuit of his juris doctor at New England School of Law, he envisioned himself joining the legal profession.

As for becoming a litigator and spending most of his time in the courtroom arguing cases before a judge and jury … well, that was another matter.

“I was always interested in the law,” he told BusinessWest, “but I was pretty sure I didn’t want to do trial work; it definitely intimidated me at the beginning — that public-performance aspect of it and being in front of a judge.”

But he said it’s his style to not back away from those things that intimidate him, and instead address them head-on. “That’s my response when I’m nervous about something — to bite the bullet and just do it.” And that’s what he did with his career, with some impressive results.

Indeed, he’s now a rising star at Springfield-based Doherty, Wallace, Pillsbury, & Murphy, P.C., handling cases across a broad spectrum of the law, from insurance defense to municipal issues to complex commercial disputes.

“Many lawyers practice in a subject matter, and they sort of get comfortable with that,” he said while explaining his work and why he enjoys it. “When you’re a trial attorney, your subject matter is going to court, so while the nature of the cases changes, what you’re doing is the part you know best — the process, the procedure, and the strategy; you’re always learning something new.”

And he now talks about litigation using phrases like this: “the more you do it, the more of a rush you get from that kind of performance, and that’s part of the draw at this point.”

While making a name for himself in courts across the region, Belcher-Timme has also been active in the community, especially the city he calls home — Easthampton. There, he serves as chairman of the Planning Board, representative on the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, and trustee of the Hilltown Cooperative Charter Public School.

The rest of his time gets devoted to what he described as his two passions: these would be his family — wife, Becky, son, Jack (11), and daughter, Ella (9) — and the sport of hockey.

He played it at New York University, and still plays it in area men’s leagues, while also coaching it and directing the Nonotuck Valley Hockey Assoc.

So you might say that, both inside and outside the courtroom, he’s netting some real results.

— George O’Brien


Photography by Leah Martin Photography

40 Under 40 The Class of 2016

Executive Director, MotherWoman Inc.; Age 38

Shannon Rudder

Shannon Rudder


There is a lyric written by soul singer India.Arie — one of Shannon Rudder’s favorites — that reads: “I am not my age. I am not my race. My soul inside is all light.”

It’s an important sentiment for Rudder, who serves women from all walks of life as executive director of MotherWoman Inc., a national organization based in Hadley that works with mothers to create positive personal and social change for themselves, their families, their communities, and the world.

“Our complete mission is to support and empower moms to make positive changes and to really realize their inner resiliency,” she said, noting that the work is done through advice-free support groups, professional training, and advocacy.

Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., Rudder moved to Western Mass. three years ago. Since then, she’s led MotherWoman to a 67% increase in revenue and programming expansions across the country, not just in Massachusetts, but also in New Jersey, Connecticut, California, and Washington.

She said MotherWoman’s mission is one she can embrace personally, too.

“We are not alone in this world,” she said, adding that she relies on both faith and community to bolster that belief. “When I feel isolated, I remind myself of that — it keeps me grounded. We need each other and that sense of community; it helps us all to grow and to empower one another.”

Rudder said was particularly motivated by the community that welcomed her here in the Pioneer Valley.

“I was a single mom for a lot of my life, and even though I was still ‘sassy Shannon’ inside, I felt I had become relegated to just ‘mom,’” she said, adding that it took some time to relocate the “kid inside” and start indulging in adventure from time to time: whitewater rafting, skydiving, and ziplining, to name a few examples.

But with her daughter, Egeria; a new partner in life, her husband, David; and a wide circle of friends and colleagues, Rudder said she’s been able to spread light into countless people’s lives — and rediscover her own as well.

“I hold myself accountable to live, and I’m jazzed and motivated by that,” she said, noting that, while the soundtrack of her life includes many different tunes, those lyrics to the India.Arie song will always hold true: “I am a star, a piece of it all. I am light.”

— Jaclyn Stevenson


Photography by Leah Martin Photography

40 Under 40 The Class of 2016

Associate Attorney, Skoler, Abbott & Presser, P.C.; Age 37

John Gannon

John Gannon


John Gannon says employment law is an intriguing field, even for non-lawyers, because of its universal impact compared to, say, divorce law or criminal law.

“Everyone has had a job, so everyone can relate,” Gannon said. “Unfortunately, people may have lost their job or know someone who has, so they have a first-hand perspective on the issues we deal with on a daily basis.”

However, the legal world wasn’t Gannon’s first career choice. He first went into marketing and advertising, but found that wasn’t as compelling to him as, well, arguing.

“I was always getting into arguments — not because I had to be right; I just enjoyed discussing legal or other issues with people. I like to get their perspective, especially if it’s someone I respect, because they’re often able to shed light on aspects of the argument I wasn’t even looking at. But I really do like arguing, and what better place to do that than in the legal field?”

He said legal work sometimes resembles another passion, tennis. “You’re on one side of the net, and another lawyer is on the other side. There’s a lot of rallying back and forth.”

He says this is an exciting time to be in employment law — the specialty of his Springfield-based firm — particularly because of all the issues related to emerging technologies, from social media to working remotely to bring-your-own-device rules governing laptops, tablets, and smartphones at work.

Meanwhile, he has successfully defended employers against claims of discrimination, retailiation, harassment, and wrongful termination, as well as emerging issues ranging from Massachusetts’ new earned-sick-time law to changes in the Fair Labor Standards Act related to overtime exemptions.

“These changes impact a lot of employees,” Gannon noted. “A significant part of our experience is just counseling employers when they have questions and seek advice related to compliance.”

Outside the office, he’s cultivating important relationships as well, such as his pro bono legal-aid work with the Springfield District Court Lawyer for a Day program, and especially as a board member with Educational Resources for Children, an Enfield nonprofit that provides after-school services for kids.

“In today’s world, a lot of children have two working parents, and these types of programs are becoming more and more important,” he said. “Parents want to feel confident knowing that, every day, their children are involved in rich academic and recreational activities after school.”

After all, the work world — with all its legal complexities — will arrive soon enough.

— Joseph Bednar


Photography by Leah Martin Photography

40 Under 40 The Class of 2016

GPSTEM Program Director, Springfield Technical Community College; Age 39

Lidya Rivera-Early

Lidya Rivera-Early


There’s a quote from the late Puerto Rican baseball star Roberto Clemente that Lidya Rivera-Early lives by. “Any time you have an opportunity to make a difference in this world and you don’t, then you are wasting your time on Earth.”

It’s sound advice, she says, but Clemente’s words also spur positive memories for her. Rivera-Early moved to Springfield from Puerto Rico as a teenager 25 years ago, and remembers her childhood on the island as one full of music, food, laughter, and trips to baseball games with her family. As such, the ideas of giving back, empowerment of others, and the importance of building relationships are blended together for her, and she champions them each day, both in her position as GPSTEM (Guided Pathways to Success in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) program director at Springfield Technical Community College and in her personal life.

“What’s most important to me is empowering others,” she said.

She does so in her career by providing people across the city of Springfield — not just at STCC — with the tools they need to “grow and obtain success,” as she puts it. More specifically, that means identifying and creating new, innovative strategies for educational and career development that speak to a diverse community and prepare individuals for today’s workforce.

“We pay close attention to what employers are looking for, and we pass this information on to the community,” she said, noting that she works frequently with career centers in the area such as FutureWorks to reach people outside of the STCC student body. “Anywhere the community has a need, we go.”

In fact, Rivera-Early is often seen all over the city, through her role at STCC, but also as a volunteer with the Gandara Mental Health Center, the Family Resource Center, the Springfield City Council’s ad hoc committee for workforce development, and Let’s Connect, a nonprofit startup initiative, among others.

She’s also joined up with Focus Springfield Community Television to produce a show called Against All Odds, wherein young people in the area gather to talk about the issues they face and how they’ve overcome them.

“I’m very passionate about working with youths to help them find their voices,” she said. “I identify with a lot of their struggles, and helping them grow is extremely important to me.”

Rivera-Early added that she loves what she does in part because it isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” kind of career, unlike her favorite Clemente jersey.

“I found the right path for me,” she said, and there is family, hope, music, and baseball all along the way.

— Jaclyn Stevenson


Photography by Leah Martin Photography

40 Under 40 The Class of 2016

Account Executive, WHAI/Saga Communications; Age 33

Elizabeth Fisk

Elizabeth Fisk

Elizabeth Fisk is a serious Red Sox fan. “I sobbed when they won the World Series,” she said, referring to the 2004 triumph that ended an 86-year drought.

So, when WHAI in Greenfield planned to move Red Sox radio broadcasts from its FM station to its AM affiliate 14 years ago, Fisk, who preferred the reception on FM, didn’t like that idea. And when the 19-year-old Greenfield Community College senior ran into WHAI General Manager Dan Guin at the annual Bernardston Gas Engine Show, she made those sentiments known.

“It was 15 or 20 minutes of me arguing with him,” said Fisk, who had been waiting tables and tending bar to support her education. “We went back and forth about lots of things, about sales … and when we were done, he offered me a job.”

Fisk said Guin saw something in her, even though she had no previous background in sales. And he was very observant. “I had an aptitude for it; not everyone can ask someone for money, but I was born with this ability to not take things personally. And I fell in love with it.”

She’s been at the station ever since, not only selling airtime, but creating ads, promoting events, and helping businesses develop marketing plans in what can be a challenging market. “Franklin County is the poorest county in Massachusetts,” she said, “so I work with as many nonprofit organizations as I do for-profit businesses, helping them get their message out there so they can better serve the community.”

Fisk said she’s fortunate to work for a company, Saga Communications, and a boss, Guin, who promote a culture of volunteerism outside the workplace, and in 2010 she won the VICTOR Award, given annually to one Saga employee who goes above and beyond their job’s duties. Among her myriad volunteer roles, perhaps the most rewarding is her work on the advisory board of the Franklin County Children’s Advocacy Center, which provides medical, protective, and legal services for local victims of child physical and sexual abuse.

“My least favorite phrase in the English language is ‘somebody should,’” she said. “It’s easy to point fingers or wring your hands. But if you don’t participate, if you’re not engaged, I don’t think you have much standing to throw up your hands and complain about the community you live in. If people don’t recognize their vested interest in their community, nothing will ever change.”

— Joseph Bednar


Photography by Leah Martin Photography

40 Under 40 The Class of 2016

Chief Information Officer and Director of Patient Technologies, Baystate Health; Age 37

Kenneth Riley Jr.

Kenneth Riley Jr.


Ken Riley says he’s a “bucket-list kind of guy.”

It’s something that works for him personally, as he checks off various life challenges from an ever-evolving list: skydiving, scuba diving, body-building competitions, even mastering meditation. But Riley applies this philosophy to his professional life as well, as CIO of Baystate Wing Hospital in Palmer and director of Patient Technologies with Baystate Health.

“Anything I wish I could do, I have to go do, and my personal and professional life are absolutely correlated,” he said. “I like to achieve things and go after them.”

At work, that primarily means creating programs and interventions aimed at constantly improved patient care and communication at Baystate Wing, where Riley has served in various positions for the past 13 years — before and following its merger with Baystate Health in 2014.

“We’re trying to create a more accurate patient model so we can deliver the care patients want, when they want it, and how,” he said. “It’s a fascinating place to be right now.”

Riley’s path to ‘right now’ started after joining the Air Force at 17, attending boot camp the summer of his junior year in high school. He moved on to study communications systems in the military, leading to seven years in the National Guard and several once-in-a-lifetime projects, such as a four-year stint decommissioning an alarm system at Otis Air Reserve Base on Cape Cod.

Concurrently, Riley earned a bachelor’s degree at UMass Amherst, moving on to earn an MBA at Western New England University, where he’s now pursuing a Ph.D. in engineering management, focusing on population health.

His family continues to grow; he and his wife, Megan, have two children and one on the way, and the group often volunteers within the community together — with the Clarke School for Hearing and Speech, at various local food banks, and with the YMCA of Greater Springfield, to name a few.

Riley said exposing his children to as many life experiences as he can, including in philanthropy, is on his bucket list right alongside running a marathon and building houses in Haiti.

“It’s important to be present — to appreciate what you have,” he said. “My life experiences have turned into something important, and I want my kids to have that. I’m fascinated to see what they will do with this journey.”

— Jaclyn Stevenson

40 Under 40 The Class of 2016

Owner, GoBerry and Provisions; Age 32

Molly Feinstein

Molly Feinstein


Molly Feinsten certainly fits the definition of ‘serial entrepreneur.’

Indeed, she co-founded a locally sourced frozen-yogurt shop, called GoBerry, in Northampton and Amherst — thus creating a model others have purchased to establish their own locations — and later opened Provisions, an outlet for fine wines, craft beers, and specialty groceries on Crafts Avenue in Paradise City.

“It’s a true experience,” she said of Provisions. “You can walk in and find something you probably wouldn’t find anywhere else; everything is hand-picked, tasted, and selected — usually because it has a great story behind it.”

As does the store’s owner. Indeed, while she’s quite proud of those business ventures, she would like the top of her résumé — not to mention her introduction at the 40 Under Forty gala — to focus on what she does within the community, not what she does for a living.

“Because that’s what I take the most pleasure from right now — my work with nonprofits,” said Feinstein, noting that she has essentially chosen this time, when her children — two boys, one 3, the other just turned 1 — are still very young and her business ventures are on solid ground, to devote serious time and energy to giving back.

She’s eight months into her tenure as co-chair of the United Way of Hampshire County’s annual campaign, work she said has been extremely rewarding, while also serving as a meaningful learning experience. “It’s been really exciting to meet with different community leaders to take on work with the mission of improving life in Hampshire County; it’s been very energizing.”

Meanwhile, she played a lead role in the creation of an entity known more by its acronym, DNA, than its full name, the Downtown Northampton Assoc.

Created in the wake of the demise of the city’s business-improvement district, DNA handles marketing, maintenance, and advocacy for the city’s highly acclaimed downtown, she explained, noting that it is funded with voluntary contributions from businesses and civic organizations.

“When my husband, Alex, came to downtown Northampton and we started GoBerry, we weren’t married, and since then, we’ve gotten married, bought a house, and started a family,” she said. “The constant in that has been downtown; it’s been such a good home for us, and I’ve really enjoyed the work of forming the DNA, because I wholeheartedly believe in its mission, and I love downtown.”

So, like the frozen yogurt at her stores, Feinstein’s passion for giving back to the community comes in many flavors.

— George O’Brien


Photography by Leah Martin Photography

40 Under 40 The Class of 2016
William Reichelt

William Reichelt

West Springfield Mayor; Age 28

When Mayor Edward Sullivan informed him last April he would not be seeking re-election, William Reichelt’s first thoughts were about job security — or an almost certain lack of it, to be more precise.

Indeed, Reichelt was serving West Springfield, home of the Terriers, as its solicitor, or attorney, at the time, and this office holder serves at the discretion of the mayor. So Sullivan’s decision to limit his stay in the corner office to one two-year term left Reichelt thinking about where, and for whom, he would be working next.

But soon, the tone of the employment conversation would take a dramatic turn. Prompted by encouragement from friends and family — not to mention abundant self-confidence in his ability to do the job at the age of 28 — Reichelt would soon become a candidate for the office himself.

In doing so, he would call on years of service to his hometown that began when he was only 21 and included stints on the Planning Board, the Housing Authority, the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, and, eventually, the job of solicitor. But while those in City Hall knew him, relative few voters did. Thus, he waged an aggressive campaign that would change that equation, and he would eventually triumph over state Rep. Michael Finn in last November’s election.

Only three months into the job, Reichelt says he’s still learning it, a process he didn’t fully appreciate as solicitor but certainly does now.

“I’ve discovered that there’s a big difference between advising the mayor and being mayor — there’s been some adjusting,” he told BusinessWest, adding that he must find time for such things as greeting monks walking through his city on their way to Washington to protest nuclear weapons and taking part in the inaugural burger-building competition at Classic Burgers, while also forwarding his five-point plan for progress.

Planks in that platform include maintaining an accessible, approachable, and accountable administration; providing a safe community; investing in strong schools; kick-starting business development; and fighting blight.

He said that, while he’s making those aforementioned adjustments, he’s already making headway with implementing pieces of that plan.

“It’s going well — it’s hectic, and there’s a lot going on,” he said of life in the corner office. “There’s curveballs coming at you every day, but it’s fun, and I really enjoy it.”

In the meantime, he’s let it be known to everyone, including his city solicitor, that, come next year, he’ll be a candidate for re-election.

— George O’Brien


Photography by Leah Martin Photography

40 Under 40 The Class of 2016

Clinical Assistant Professor, Western New England University; Age 38

Courtney Doyle-Campbell

Courtney Doyle-Campbell


During her undergraduate studies at Smith College, Courtney Doyle-Campbell considered whether to become a doctor or a researcher. She eventually chose a career that bridged both worlds: the rapidly changing field of pharmacy.

After earning her PharmD degree at UConn, she took a retail job with Walgreens as a community pharmacist, but then an intriguing opportunity arose: an adjunct teaching position at Western New England University, in its just-launched College of Pharmacy. So she made a career shift into education.

“I learned that I love teaching,” she said. “I had been resisting it. I come from a long line of educators, and I saw how hard teachers work and how burned out they get.”

That wasn’t her experience at WNEU, however. Not only did Doyle-Campbell enjoy interacting with students, she also forged a partnership with RiverBend Medical Group to develop a program for patients with treatment-resistant hypertension, splitting her time between that clinic and the college.

“Physicians send me patients who have trouble getting their blood pressure under control, or patients who are confused about their medications and need more education, or they’re taking three or four things, and their blood pressure is still high,” she explained. “I enjoy chronic disease management and talking with patients. It’s really one of my passions. So it’s a perfect fit for me along with my job at Western New England.”

That program is one way she has taken to heart the college’s philosophy of ‘the pharmacist as educator,’ and she’s excited to be in the field at a time when the pharmacist’s role is expanding and becoming a more critical bridge between the patient and primary care.

“It’s continuing to evolve, and you can do anything in this field — research, teaching, patient education, or a mix of those things,” said Doyle-Campbell, who also advises the local student chapter of the American Pharmacists Assoc., and is active in efforts to get the government to recognize pharmacists with provider status on par with physicians and other healthcare professionals — all while making time for her daughters, Maura and Elyse.

“There’s a disconnect between what we do and what people perceive that pharmacists do. We’re trying to bridge that gap and get more recognition,” she added. “It’s different than when pharmacists graduated 20 years ago. Then, the emphasis was all on the drugs. Now, the emphasis is really on the patient. It’s amazing how far pharmacy has come in such a short time.”

—Joseph Bednar


Photography by Leah Martin Photography

40 Under 40 The Class of 2016

Manager of Community Impact, United Way of Pioneer Valley; Age 36

LaTonia Monroe Naylor

LaTonia Monroe Naylor


It’s not every day that a new mother decides, not long after maternity leave, to pursue a complete career change, including pursuit of a master’s degree and starting from scratch at a nonprofit organization, after already securing a successful position in the corporate sector.

But that’s exactly what LaTonia Monroe Naylor did. She followed her heart into the career that had been beckoning her again and again, and today serves literally thousands of people as the manager of Community and Volunteer Engagement with the United Way. It was a tough decision — Naylor and her husband were raising a young family, and taking the job would entail a salary reduction. But she’d already found happiness through other nonprofit endeavors, including as an early champion and organizer of Deborah House Second Chance Transitional Housing, established in 2010 in Springfield.

“Working with a corporation was nice, but I wanted to help people,” she said, noting that she earned her master’s degree at Bay Path University in nonprofit management and philanthropy. For good measure, she also picked up a certification in volunteer board and governance. Soon after, she accepted a position with the United Way.

“I definitely feel like a lot of the things that make us more visible in the community come from the people who have a real passion for this kind of work,” she said.

Naylor has a particular passion for helping young people, both through the United Way’s programs that connect community resources to the families and individuals who most need them, such as Students Engage Springfield — a program that expands and creates new outlets for college students to connect to service-learning opportunities — and other endeavors, including Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno’s Anti-violence Task Force.

“Things like that give me a chance to work on other important issues that aren’t necessarily part of the United Way’s core mission,” she said, “and help to make Springfield a great place to live.”

Today, Naylor’s family has swelled to four children, and it’s this brood, along with her husband of 15 years, who propel her, along with their faith.

“I’m a believer, and I feel that is a big part of being successful for me,” she said, adding that her future plans include pursuing teaching opportunities and perhaps taking on an executive director’s position with a youth center someday.

Her biggest goal, though, will continue to be nurturing her community for everyone who lives within it, from family to friends to strangers passing by.

— Jaclyn Stevenson


Photography by Leah Martin Photography

40 Under 40 The Class of 2016

Managing Partner and Director of Sales, the Log Cabin and Delaney House; Age 38

Beth DeGray

Beth DeGray


It was the spring of 1997, and Beth DeGray, then a 19-year-old student at Holyoke Community College, was looking for some part-time employment. She heard about the upcoming opening of the Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House, and applied for a server’s job.

She never imagined that, 19 years later, she would still be driving up Route 141 to get to work. But that’s exactly what she does, primarily because the man who hired her all those years ago, Peter Rosskothen, has given her several opportunities for advancement, and she’s taken advantage of every one.

While the titles on the business card (managing partner is the latest) have certainly changed, as have the job descriptions, the basic assignment has not. Indeed, then, as now, DeGray’s job has been about taking care of the client. In 1997, that meant getting dinner in front of the guest while it was still hot. Now, it means selling the Log Cabin’s various facilities to clients ranging from brides to area bank presidents to regional nonprofit managers, and then making sure their events come off without a hitch.

It’s a challenging but supremely rewarding role, one she approaches with a distinct philosophy. “My main goal is making it so the client can totally check out mentally, in terms of what they’ve planned, by the time they walk in the door on the day of the party,” she explained. “And we handle the rest.”

When not facilitating such efforts, DeGray is active in the community, especially with the Ronald McDonald House and the Greater Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau and its Howdy Committee.

She’s also committed to finding time within a sometimes grueling schedule for her family — her husband, Christopher, and sons Adam, 9, and Jack, 7. DeGray credits them with helping her rediscover a childhood obsession — skiing.

“My parents were both ski instructors — I lived on the mountain,” she said, adding that she put the pastime down as career and family responsibilities mounted. “A few years ago, I picked it up again, and I’m very passionate about it, because I can do it with my family.”

DeGray is no stranger to the 40 Under Forty Gala — the Log Cabin is hosting it for the eighth time this year. This time, though, she’ll see it from a much different light. Yes, she’s given herself the night off — with definitive plans to check out mentally.

— George O’Brien


Photography by Leah Martin Photography

40 Under 40 The Class of 2016

Director of Account Services, Market Mentors, LLC; Age 29

Amanda Moyer

Amanda Moyer


National Donut Day.

It’s not listed on any wall calendars, and with good reason. Officially the first Friday in June, it’s not a national or even regional holiday, and Hallmark hasn’t designed any cards to recognize it. But the date resonates with the Salvation Army, which, as those famous posters from World War I reveal, supplied donuts, among other things, to soldiers, thus providing one of the etymological roots of the term ‘doughboy.’

The Salvation Army uses the holiday to bring attention to its legacy and programming, but until recently, this was not a local phenomenon. Amanda Moyer changed all that. Indeed, as a board member for that organization, she called upon her work in public relations, as director of account services at Market Mentors, LLC, to recognize inherent value in Donut Day, bring it to Greater Springfield, and thus shed a strong light on the mission of the Salvation Army — “doing the most good” — and how it’s carried out.

But National Donut Day is just one of many ways she assists this organization; she’s also heavily involved in everything from the red-kettle campaigns to the annual Coats for Kids initiative.

And Moyer owes her position, not to mention Donut Day exploits, to BusinessWest. Well, sort of. She was a Central Connecticut State University student, working summers at Longmeadow Country Club and looking for internship opportunities, when she came across a copy of the magazine’s annual Resource Guide at the club. Upon perusing the list of advertising and marketing agencies, she came upon Market Mentors, sent the agency a letter of inquiry, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Since that internship in 2008, she’s advanced to account executive, project manager, and now director of all the agency’s departments. When asked for a job description, she said simply, “I’m basically responsible for everything that goes out the door.”

And while she doesn’t make donuts, she’s an accomplished baker, providing carrot cake, bread pudding, and cheesecake for Sturbridge Seafood, the eatery owned by her boyfriend, Ken Yukimura. She does some occasional modeling, and loves to work out; she’s especially fond of exercise boot camps.

So you might say she’s a tremendous role model in that she clearly demonstrates the value of working hard, getting involved in the community, staying in shape, supporting your significant other, and, yes, reading BusinessWest.

That’s food for thought. And so is this: National Donut Day is only seven weeks away.

— George O’Brien


Photography by Leah Martin Photography

40 Under 40 The Class of 2016

Director of Marketing and Admissions, Conway School of Design; Age 28

Adrian Dahlin

Adrian Dahlin

Adrian Dahlin traces his passion for the environment to a childhood trip to the Cascades with his father. But he said he got into what he called “social entrepreneurship” accidentally.

Specifically, while studying political science and environmental studies at Tufts University in 2011, he received a $29,000 Compton Mentor Fellowship to fund a project of his own design. One aspect of that project was building an online resource that would connect graduates with jobs in the environmental and sustainability sector.

“There weren’t many resources or good career advice for people like me who wanted opportunities to impact people and the planet,” said Dahlin, who attracted additional seed funding from investors the following year to turn the enterprise, called Rising Green, into a startup business, which he ran for two years.

Rising Green helped plenty of job seekers and employers alike, he said, and there’s still a need for it, but in 2013, he shifted gears and became director of marketing and admissions at Conway School of Design, drawn by the graduate school’s mission of training the next generation of landscape designers and urban planners, with an emphasis on sustainable design methods.

“I wear a lot of hats here,” he said. “It’s really motivating to be around students and see them working on projects with real clients in real communities. I see the passion they bring to their work, and I believe in Conway’s applied-education model, teaching a master’s program through real-world projects.”

Dahlin’s passion extends to his own community, Holyoke, where he’s spearheading an entrepreneurship-education program for the city’s SPARK initiative and has served on the Conservation Commission. Last fall, he ran for City Council against a ballot of much more well-known candidates, but garnered broad support across a wide spectrum of sectors, including the business community, civic groups, and racial- and economic-justice activists. Though the effort fell short, he hasn’t ruled out another run someday.

“I have what seems to be an inevitable interest in both politics and entrepreneurship,” Dahlin said. “Some people see those as conflicting things, as business and politics can get messy. But I can’t separate them; for me, they’re two ways of contributing to society, and I bring the same approach to both. It’s all about having a positive impact and bringing modern technology to bear on these things, and doing it all with integrity. I want to help make our community strong.”

— Joseph Bednar


Photography by Leah Martin Photography

40 Under 40 The Class of 2016

Assistant Principal, John R. Fausey Elementary School; Age 39

Kate Morneau

Kate Morneau


As the child of teachers, Kate Morneau has education in her blood.

“My mom taught me about commitment and the balance between work and play, and my dad taught me the importance and rewards of hard work and relationship building,” she said. “At a young age, I started working with kids, teaching tennis, and babysitting, and I vividly remember how joyful that was. So, I knew from a young age I wanted to go into teaching.”

She graduated from Providence College with a dual degree in elementary and special education, then earned a master’s degree in elementary administration. In addition, she and her roommate piloted a writing center at the college that remains an important campus service today.

She began her career working with severe special-needs children in Westfield, then taught fourth grade in Longmeadow, before staying home with her two children for five years and volunteering in the community, including a stint as interim executive director of the Holyoke Children’s Museum. After she returned to the classroom in 2011, teaching fourth grade at John R. Fausey Elementary School in West Springfield, the opportunity arose to become assistant principal — a very different challenge.

“When I was teaching, I planned everything every day, and I knew my students intimately, which was a wonderful thing. As an administrator, I have my primary roles — student discipline, teacher evaluation, and support of school culture — but sometimes I feel like a firefighter, putting out fires all day. You never know what will come your way.”

Still, “I never consider something a problem; I always consider it a challenge,” Morneau added, noting that decisions are easier when she puts the student first — and keeps a sense of humor.

Her many volunteer roles reflect her family’s values, but bring personal benefits as well — for example, her work as an executive board member for the West Springfield Partnership for Education. “It helps me understand the dynamics, demographics, and culture of West Springfield as a whole, not just at Fausey School. To be a good administrator, you need to understand the bigger picture, and it’s cool to collaborate with teachers and administrators throughout the district.”

Morneau would eventually like to teach at the higher-education level and perhaps be a principal someday, but for now, she appreciates her role — and the many role models who helped her get there.

“I love my job,” she said, “and feel it’s part of my duty to give back to the community.”

— Joseph Bednar


Photography by Leah Martin Photography