Alumni Achievement Award
Finalists for Award Are Leaders in Business — and in the Community
Launched in 2015, and known then as the Continued Excellence Award, BusinessWest’s Alumni Achievement Award recognizes a previous 40 Under Forty honoree who has continued to build on his or résumé as a rising star in this region and leader both in business and within the community. The five finalists for 2020 — Carla Cosenzi, Peter DePergola, Mike Fenton, Paul Kozub, and James Leahy — epitomize what this award, sponsored by Health New England, is all about, and why it is among the most coveted of BusinessWest’s many awards.
She’s driven to succeed — in business and in the community
This pioneer remains on the leading edge in the field of bioethics
He has a passion for the law, and for serving his constituents
This entrepreneur — and his label — have come a long way in 15 years
This city leader has always been an ambassador — and a connector
President, TommyCar Auto Group
She’s Driven to Succeed — in Business and in the Community
Carla Cosenzi moved into her new office at Northampton Volkswagen some time ago.
But she’s never quite found the time to fully decorate.
Indeed, there are a number of drawings created by her children that haven’t found their way on to the walls yet, and, likewise, there are several plaques, photos, BusinessWest awards (in the plural), and assorted pieces of memorabilia still waiting to be hung.
Among them is a popular framed poster featuring an image of legendary Green Bay Packers head coach Vince Lombardi above the words ‘What it takes to be Number One,’ and a quote that has become one of her favorites:
“Winning is not a sometime thing; it’s an all the time thing. You don’t win once in a while; you don’t do things right once in a while; you do them right all of the time. Winning is a habit.”
The poster once belonged to her father, Tom, and she more or less inherited it from him — along with a number of other things. She said her father lived by the words in that quote — especially the part about doing things right all the time — and, not surprisingly, she does as well.
“I try to instill in my children — and especially my daughter, because she’s older — the importance of community and giving back to the community. And she will often attend events with me; it’s important for her to be there with me to see that it’s not just about giving money — it’s about getting involved.”
She’s inherited his entrepreneurial spirit — she and her brother, Tom Jr., have greatly expanded the business, adding several dealerships in recent years — as well as his commitment to serve the community, especially with the Tom Cosenzi Driving for the Cure Charity Golf Tournament, staged each year to raise funds to battle brain cancer, which claimed her father when he was just 52 years old. Since it was launched in 2009, the tournament has raised more than $1 million to support brain-tumor research at the Dana Farber Center for Neuro-Oncology.
But also through the Carla Cares Program, which could be called the philanthropic arm of TommyCar Auto Group. The program assists charitable and nonprofit organizations across Western Mass., Southern Vermont, Southern New Hampshire, and Northern Connecticut. Just a partial list of organizations it has supported through donations and other forms of support includes Baystate Children’s Hospital, Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, Unify Against Bullying, NoHo Pride, Cooley Dickinson Hospital, Dress for Success Western Massachusetts, and many others.
This desire to serve the community — and to do things right all the time — is an operating mindset, if you will, that has earned Cosenzi not only her 40 Under Forty plaque (class of 2012), but another BusinessWest honor as well — the Difference Makers award in 2019. And it was on display the day BusinessWest visited Cosenzi. The golf tournament was just a few days away, and, as always, she was involved with every detail, right down to the gift baskets for the silent auction and raffle.
“I like to get involved in every aspect of this — it’s who I am,” she said. “It’s been that way from the beginning.”
But the fact there was a tournament at all is testimony to Cosenzi’s competitive spirit and desire to continue the fight against brain cancer.
Indeed, in the year of COVID-19, a number of fundraising events such as this one have been canceled or gone virtual — not that you can play a virtual golf tournament. But Cosenzi, after a number of discussions with tournament committee members — and talks with Twin Hills Country Club, where it took place — decided to press ahead and make something happen.
And they did. It wasn’t as large as in recent years — one course instead of two and, therefore, perhaps half the number of golfers — but it was a memorable start to the drive to get to the second million dollars in donations.
And while Cosenzi was busy helping with last-minute details of the tournament, so too were her children, especially her daughter, Talia, who has become a fixture at the event in recent years. Indeed, she has her own tent, Talia’s Tent, from which she sells lemonade for the cause. Because of the pandemic, she won’t be able to do that this year, so she’s making bracelets and sugar scrubs to sell online the day of the tournament.
“I’m proud to say that they know what they’re raising money for, and they’re very excited to help,” she said. “They feel like they’re part of making the difference, which is really exciting for me to see in my children.
“I try to instill in my children — and especially my daughter, because she’s older — the importance of community and giving back to the community,” she went on. “And she will often attend events with me; it’s important for her to be there with me to see that it’s not just about giving money — it’s about getting involved.”
Thus, the words on that Vince Lombardi poster have been passed down to a third generation of the Cosenzi family. They all live by the notion that you don’t do things right only once in a while.
Director of Clinical Ethics, Baystate Health
This Pioneer Remains on the Leading Edge in the Field of Bioethics
Peter DePergola described it as a “haunting experience.”
He then amended that statement slightly — but poignantly.
“It was incredibly haunting,” he told BusinessWest while retelling his experiences writing a white paper eventually to be titled “Ethical Guidelines for the Treatment of Patients with Suspected or Confirmed Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19),” published in the Online Journal of Health Ethics.
As that title suggests, this is a guide to help medical professionals and healthcare facilities decide who would be treated for the virus and how; specifically, it addresses how limited resources are to be expended and in what circumstances. It was a guide that kept him up nights while he was writing it, and one he truly hoped no one would ever have to use.
But when he wrote it — at the height of the surge that hit the eastern part of the state in April — it seemed likely, if not almost certain, that his own employer, Baystate Health, would be putting it to use.
“I really thought — I truly believed — that we would be using this policy within weeks,” he said, adding that he was working with administrators at Baystate who were preparing to become overwhelmed and would need guidance on, among other things, how to proceed when the number of patients who needed a ventilator exceeded the number of machines available.
It never came to that, and DePergola hopes it never does, but his white paper is there for use if the circumstances arise.
As for why it was so haunting, he said he was writing guidelines, or thresholds, for receiving care that he knew his own loved ones would not meet.
“As I wrote it, I realized that people that I cared about, even my own mother, may not qualify, or meet the criteria, that I have developed in collaboration with my colleagues, to receive a life-sustaining resource,” he said. “It was incredibly difficult to separate my own personal feelings and moral responsibilities to my family from the greater good of the public.”
DePergola’s white paper goes a long way toward explaining why he has become a leading voice in the emerging field of bioethics, not only in this region, but across the state and the nation. And also why he has, for the first time, become a finalist for the Alumni Achievement Award, five years after receiving his 40 Under Forty plaque, and two years after receiving another of BusinessWest’s honors — its coveted Healthcare Heroes award in the category of Emerging Leader.
But there are many other examples, including his steady, if not meteoric, rise within the ranks of experts in the bioethics field.
When he joined the other members of the 40 Under Forty class of 2015 at the Log Cabin, he was a staff ethicist at Baystate and the only person to hold that title in Western Mass. Now a professor of Bioethics and Medical Humanities at Elms College, he’s still the only ethicist in the 413, but his influence now extends well beyond this region.
This was evidenced by his appointment to the Commonwealth’s Crisis Standards of Care (CSC) Advisory Committee in the spring.
The 17-member panel, which in April produced a document titled “Crisis Standards of Care Planning for the COVID-19 Pandemic,” was comprised mostly of noted experts from institutions in the eastern part of the state, including Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Boston’s Children’s Hospital. And DePergola was, by his estimate, 20 years younger than any other member.
He remembers a number of heated discussions among the members of the panel, including one that involved whether healthcare providers should receive primary access to scarce resources.
“For a while, I was the minority on that subject, saying that I did think that healthcare providers should get priority because they are the means by which we can care for many more people,” he told BusinessWest. “So even on just utilitarian grounds, which is not the best way to make moral decisions, it just made sense that, if we didn’t take care of the individuals who are, in essence, the tools by which we could heal the general public, then there would be no one else. If we didn’t prioritize them, what incentive would they have to come to work?”
A revised version of the committee’s “Crisis Standards of Care Planning” eventually did stipulate that healthcare workers would get priority, and it included a number of other measures contained in DePergola’s white paper.
The fact that the two documents are now very similar speaks to just how quickly and profoundly DePergola his risen to the status of national, and even global, leader in the field of bioethics.
And also why he is one of the five finalists for the Alumni Achievement Award.
Attorney, Shatz, Schwartz and Fentin; Springfield City Councilor
He Has a Passion for the Law, and for Serving His Constituents
When he was running for the Ward 2 Springfield City Council seat in 2009 while attending law school at Western New England University, Mike Fenton, who was competing in a deep, well-credentialed field, didn’t think he’d win.
“And when I did win … I didn’t think I’d stay,” he told BusinessWest, figuring that, in time, maybe a few years, he would be immersed in his law career and essentially done with his service to the city.
Suffice it to say Fenton was wrong with both of his projections. Indeed, 11 years later, he is still representing Ward 2 while still building that law practice — he’s a partner with the Springfield-based law firm Shatz, Schwartz, and Fentin, specializing in commercial real estate, business planning, commercial finance, and estate planning.
“A few years into it, I just fell in love with it,” he said of his multi-faceted work with the City Council. “I fell in love with all of it — with helping constituents, the city budget, and some of the more complicated aspects of city government; it’s very rewarding work.”
These sentiments explain why Fenton is now a multiple-year finalist for the Alumni Achievement Award, previously known as the Continued Excellence Award. He hopes that 2020 will be the year he’ll break through, but he admits to having other things on his mind right now.
“I fell in love with all of it — with helping constituents, the city budget, and some of the more complicated aspects of city government; it’s very rewarding work.”
That list includes the now nationwide focus on police-community relations — “we’re taking steps to increase accountability and transparency within the department” — and especially COVID-19. The pandemic is impacting both his law practice — there’s been a general slowing of the commercial real-estate market, but an understandable surge in estate-planning work — and the city of Springfield, which is impacted in many ways, especially within its business community.
As Fenton talked about the changing landscape, one can hear the concern in his voice and the passion he has for serving the city he grew up in.
“The biggest casualty to this pandemic, after you take in the public-health and human cost, which is obviously first and foremost, is commercial real estate and the economy,” he noted. “The commercial real-estate market was doing much better than it had in the decades leading up to 2020, and then the pandemic hit, and like every other place, not only this country but around the globe, it’s a completely different environment now.
“There’s no doubting that Springfield was hitting its stride, and the pandemic has thrown us a curveball,” he went on. “Everything from stalled progress at MGM to questions now about development in the area around the casino, to Worthington Street and what’s going to happen there, to losing Big Mamou’s … there’s a lot of losses that will have to be made up when we get to the other end of this pandemic.”
Fenton said he’s looking forward to serving the city as it works to recover from those losses. To explain this passion, he flashed back to 2009 and his decision to seek public office. Actually, he started the discussion with a different decision — the one to attend law school at Western New England, which offered him a full scholarship, instead of Boston College, where he thought he was headed.
That decision, which he now counts among the most important (and best) of his life, brought him back home. And as he was making that decision, his cousin sent him a news article detailing how Springfield was going through a change in its charter, moving from nine at-large city councilors to a 13-member board, with eight of them representing wards. And this started talk of a possible run for one of those seats.
“I was a political science major, but I never thought about a career in politics — I didn’t want a career in politics,” he explained, adding that a City Council seat wasn’t a career, but it was “a great opportunity to meet people and serve the city I love.”
So he ran, launching his career just a few weeks after graduating from Providence College. And again, to his surprise, he prevailed against a number of opponents with better name recognition and better credentials.
He now represents Ward 2, which includes Hungry Hill, East Springfield, and Atwater Park, balancing a long list of city responsibilities with an equally hectic schedule within his law practice. “I’ve been successful at balancing the two because I’m extremely passionate about both of them,” he told BusinessWest. “Politics, and elected office, is not my career, and it will never be my career — but I really enjoy serving my city in this capacity.”
With that, he explained not just why he’s a finalist for the Alumni Achievement Award, but why he’s now been a finalist several times.
Founder, V-One Vodka
This Entrepreneur — and His Label — Have Come a Long Way in 15 Years
When BusinessWest caught up with Paul Kozub recently, he had just wrapped up some promotional video work with Ty Law, former New England Patriots standout cornerback and member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2019.
Law is now a partner with Kozub in his venture, V-One Vodka, and the videos being shot were at the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. That’s because V-One has been named the official vodka of the Hall for this year — when most all activities, including the induction ceremony, have been postponed because of the pandemic — and next.
The juxtaposition of all this — official vodka of the Hall of Fame, Ty Law as spokesperson — help show just how far Kozub and his label have come since he became part of the very first 40 Under Forty class in 2007. Back then, he was struggling to get his brand off the ground and into bars, restaurants, and package stores in the 413. It wasn’t exactly a one-man show, but it was very close, with Kozub making most of the deliveries himself.
Today, he’s in four states — Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire — and he’s poised to enter four more, including Ohio. He had plans to be in roughly 30 by this fall, and signed on with a distributor to make that happen, but COVID-19 has put many of the plans … well, on ice.
“In Florida, Texas, and some of these other states, there are so many problems that it’s not a good time to launch a new brand,” he noted. “Are the bars and restaurants open? Are the bars closed? That’s typically half our business.”
But Kozub, who was named BusinessWest’s Top Entrepreneur in 2016 and thus has a few pieces of hardware from the magazine on display somewhere, has certainly come a long way in the 15 years since he started this journey in his basement, using a few thousand dollars left to him by his uncle to create his own vodka.
“You have to have that perseverance; there are so many hurdles when you’re running a business — and in today’s present moment, there are even more. You have to love what you do and have the passion for it. If there’s a roadblock or wall, you have to figure out a way around it or through it.”
Indeed, he now has his own distillery in Poland; work continues to expand his footprint geographically; he’s spent $500,000 to create a new bottle — an important part of the puzzle in this industry; and he continues to defy the odds when it comes to making a vodka label stand out and be successful in an immensely crowded field.
“About 97% of new vodkas fail within the first three years,” said Kozub, who used that statistic to segue his way back to the pro football Hall of Fame and a discussion he had recently with its president, Dave Baker.
“We talked about the 33 million people who have played football, the 27,000 who have played in the NFL, and the 300 who are in the Hall of Fame. What did it take for those people? What qualities did they have to have to be one of those 300?” he asked rhetorically, drawing a parallel to those who get to the top of their field in any business, and especially his.
“You have to have that perseverance; there are so many hurdles when you’re running a business — and in today’s present moment, there are even more,” he said while answering his own question. “You have to love what you do and have the passion for it. If there’s a roadblock or wall, you have to figure out a way around it or through it. When it comes to vodka … yes, you have to have a great product, but you have to be willing to work very hard.”
Kozub’s been doing that since he first launched V-One in 2006, trading in life as a loan officer at a local bank for the life he’s always dreamed of — one as an entrepreneur.
It’s not an easy life, certainly, but it’s the one he certainly prefers.
“When you run a small business, it has to be your life,” he said in conclusion. “I don’t know many small-business owners who are playing a lot of golf or have a lot of time on their hands. For me, it’s all about my family and about my business.
“To be successful, you have to love it,” he went on. “Like I told Dave Baker … my worst day at V-One was better than my best day of being a banker. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. The challenges that come up — the financial challenges, the HR challenges, the legal challenges … all those things don’t end. And we’re still a very small brand; if we do get bigger and become a national brand, the challenge then becomes how do you stay successful — how do you stay on top?”
As Kozub said, the challenges — the roadblocks and the walls — keep coming. And he rather enjoys finding ways to get through them or around them.
Assistant Director of Business Development and Promotion Sales, Massachusetts State Lottery; Holyoke City Councilor
This City Leader Has Always Been an Ambassador — and a Connector
James Leahy joked that being an at-large city councilor is not a reference to his size.
The six-foot, four-inch Leahy has had a lot of experience retelling that one-liner — more than 20 years worth, actually. Indeed, he was first elected to that body in 1999, when he was only 26, after a run very much inspired by his father (more on that later).
He admits to not expecting to spend two decades in that post, but he has, and in the meantime, he has become involved in, well … all things Holyoke, or almost all things. Indeed, he has devoted considerable time, energy, and expertise to the Holyoke St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and also been involved with everything from the Holyoke YMCA to the Volleyball Hall of Fame; from the Holyoke Children’s Museum to the Westfield State University board of trustees (he’s an alum), as well as Holyoke’s famous merry-go-round.
And recently, he started and still maintains the Hello Holyoke Community Forum.
He does all this while keeping a day job as assistant director of Business Development and Promotion Sales for the Massachusetts State Lottery, a position that requires him to rotate between offices in Springfield and Worcester.
When asked how he finds time for all this, Leahy, who is often described as an ambassador for the city and a ‘connector’ for people looking for help with a problem or issue, gave an answer that speaks volumes about why, a decade after earning his 40 Under Forty plaque, he is a finalist for the coveted Alumni Achievement Award.
“I find the time,” he said. “But more importantly, I find the right amount of time. One of my strong suits is organizational skills, and I try to teach my children that. I think some of them have it, and some of them don’t. I tell them that they have to put the right amount of quality time into whatever they’re doing. If I can’t give 100%, then I’m not doing it.”
Suffice it to say he’s given 100% to Holyoke, and to ascertain how and why that is, we return the subject of Leahy’s father, Thomas, who emigrated to this country from Ireland, arrived with a strong work ethic, and passed on to his children some strong advice about service to the community.
“When my father arrived here, he worked in Boston, and he heard stories about [former Mayor] James Michael Curley and other politicians,” Leahy explained. “He was always talking about politics, and he loved politics. I was named James Michael Leahy, and I’m pretty sure that has something to do with James Michael Curley.
“My dad always talked about giving back and how America gave him what he has,” Leahy went on. “He was always stressing two things — one, that you had to give back, and two, if you’re going to live somewhere and raise your family there, you should be a cog in the wheel; you should be part of the community.”
That mindset was reinforced by his mother, Mary Ellen, a prolific volunteer, he continued, adding that it was only a few years after graduating from Westfield State that he first decided to seek one of Holyoke’s at-large council seats. He remembers the time well; he was not only running for office that November, but getting married that same month. And his birthday and his his fiancée’s birthday were the same day, Nov. 19.
“I was thinking, ‘this could be the best month of my life,’” he recalled. “And then I thought, ‘if I lose the election, that will put a damper on things.’”
But he didn’t lose, and he’s gone on to win every two years since. But, as noted, his work within the city goes far beyond City Council chambers and City Hall — and to institutions like the merry-go-round, the children’s museum, the YMCA, and especially the parade, which he became involved at the behest, if one can call it that, of his father-in-law, attorney Peter Brady.
“He was very active on the parade committee,” Leahy recalled. “I was still in college when I started dating his daughter; I can remember him handing me an application and saying, ‘fill this out — if you’re going to be part of this family, you’re going to be part of the parade committee.’”
And he has been, serving in a number of capacities, from board president to his current assignment, co-marketing director. He is one of many working hard to help the parade bounce back from a year when it had to be canceled — for the first time anyone can remember — because of the pandemic.
No, ‘at-large’ has nothing to do with Leahy’s size. But you could say it has everything to do with his involvement in — and impact on — this historic city, which continues to be very large indeed.
Nominate your choice for an outstanding BusinessWest 40 Under Forty Alum!
When BusinessWest launched its 40 Under Forty program in 2007, it did so to identify rising stars across our region – individuals who were excelling in business and through
involvement within the community –and celebrate their accomplishments. In 2015, BusinessWest announced a new award, one that builds on the foundation upon which 40 Under Forty was created. It’s called the Continued Excellence Award. as the name suggests, will be presented to the 40 Under Forty honoree who, in the eyes of an independent panel of judges,
has most impressively continued and built upon their track record
For your convenience, a list of 40 Under Forty Alumni can be found HERE.
About the nomination form:
• Candidates must be from 40 Under Forty classes prior to the year of the award, in this case, classes 2007-2018.
• Only nominations submitted to BusinessWest on this form will be considered.
Deadline is May 3, 2019 at 5 p.m. No exceptions.
Continued Excellence Award Past Winners:
Regional Director, Massachusetts Small Business Development Center
Class of 2013
Attorney, Bulkley Richardson
Class of 2011
Class of 2014
Dr. Jonathan Bayuk
President of Allergy and Immunology Associates of Western Mass. &
Chief of Allergy and Immunology at Baystate Medical Center
Class of 2008
President, Paragus Strategic IT
Class of 2008
BusinessWest launched the Continued Excellence Award last year to recognize past 40 Under Forty honorees who have built on the initial business success and civic commitment that earned them that honor.
When Bayuk, president of Allergy and Immunology Associates of Western Mass. and chief of Allergy and Immunology at Baystate Medical Center, was named to the 40 Under Forty class of 2008, he had created the Western Mass. Food Allergy Network and served on the boards of the New England Allergy Society and the Mass. Allergy and Asthma Society (he is currently president-elect of both), as well as maintaining his successful practice.
But he has since dedicated a tremendous amount of time and philanthropic support to other causes as well, including Homeward Vets, an organization that helps homeless veterans transition to self-sufficiency, and Team Henry, a group that promotes childhood wellness through exercise and nutrition. He also continues to coach several sports, serve on the board of Northampton Little League, teach medical students and residents, and organize events to help the region’s homeless.
“There were a number of excellent nominations for this year’s Continued Excellence Award,” said George O’Brien, editor of BusinessWest and HCN. “The judges could have picked any of these finalists, but they were obviously impressed with Dr. Bayuk’s work professionally, and within the community, since he was named a 40 Under Forty winner. His selection for this award speaks to the importance of healthcare to this region’s economy and Dr. Bayuk’s ability to grow his business and make a difference in this region.”
A panel of three independent judges — James Barrett, managing partner of Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C.; Delcie Bean, president of Paragus Strategic IT and last year’s Continued Excellence Award winner; and Janine Fondon, president and CEO of UnityFirst.com — considered dozens of submitted nominations and scored each one, narrowing the field to eight finalists. They then chose Bayuk as this year’s winner. The other seven finalists included:
• Michael Fenton (40 Under Forty class of 2012), Springfield City Council president and an associate at Shatz, Schwartz & Fentin, P.C.;
• Jeff Fialky (class of 2008), partner at Bacon Wilson and former chair of the Springfield Chamber of Commerce;
• Dena Hall (class of 2007), Western Mass. regional president of United Bank and president of the United Bank Foundation for Massachusetts and Connecticut;
• Amanda Huston Garcia (class of 2010), director of the Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership at Elms College;
• Amy Jamrog (class of 2007), wealth management advisor with Northwestern Mutual and owner of the Jamrog Group;
• Alex Morse (class of 2014), third-term mayor of Holyoke; and
• Meghan Rothschild (class of 2011), co-founder of chikmedia and marketing and PR manager with the Melanoma Foundation of New England.
It was yet another honor for the owner of Paragus Strategic IT, who was named BusinessWest’s Top Entrepreneur for 2014. For the Continued Excellence Award, which will be awarded annually to a former 40 Under Forty honoree who has continued to expand his or her business accomplishments and community impact, Bean was among about 40 individuals nominated by their peers and judged by an independent panel (nomination form is HERE).
“Nothing I have done has not been without the help of at least 100 other people,” Bean said to more than 650 attendees of the 40 Under Forty event at the Log Cabin in Holyoke. He cited, as one example, the 24 high-school students who graduated this week from Tech Foundry, a nonprofit he started to provide IT workforce training and job skills to young people.
A member of the 40 Under Forty Class of 2008 when he was just 21, Bean has since seen Paragus grow 450% and earn status as one of Inc. magazine’s fastest-growing companies on several occasions, and recently earn the Top Employer of Choice Award from the Employers Assoc. of the NorthEast. He’s also started a second business venture, Waterdog Technologies, a technology-distribution company.
Meanwhile, within the community, he has been active with Valley Venture Mentors, River Valley Investors, and DevelopSpringfield; is a board member for Up Academy Springfield; and serves as a board member for the Mass. Department of Elementary & Secondary Education’s Digital Literacy and Computer Science Standards Panel.
In his short acceptance speech last night, Bean put the focus not on himself, but on the promise of the Pioneer Valley.
“I’m just one of many people who helped me get to where I am,” he said. “I’m so incredibly grateful to be here, to be part of the Valley. And you know what? I think there’s so much more we can do. I really, really think this Valley has a huge story ahead of it. I’m excited to be a part of that, and I hope you guys will join me. And, with that challenge, let’s see what’s next.”
The other four finalists for the Continued Excellence Award were Kamari Collins (40 Under Forty class of 2009), dean of Academic Advising and Student Success at Springfield Technical Community College; Jeff Fialky (class of 2008), partner at Bacon Wilson, P.C.; Cinda Jones (class of 2007), president of Cowls Lumber Co.; and Kristin Leutz (class of 2010), vice president of Philanthropic Services for the Community Foundation of Western Mass.
The judges for the inaugural award were Carol Campbell, president of Chicopee Industrial Contractors; Eric Gouvin, dean of the Western New England School of Law; and Kirk Smith, former director of the YMCA of Greater Springfield.