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Class of 2010

Class of 2010 Difference Makers

John Davis, senior trustee of the Davis Foundation, and Mary Walachy, executive director

Irene E. and George A. Davis

John Davis, senior trustee of the Davis Foundation, and Mary Walachy, executive director.

Mary Walachy called it “extemporaneous philanthropy.”
That was the phrase she chose to describe Irene E. Davis’s approach to giving back to the community — at the least the model she used for most of her life.
An orphan for much of her childhood, Irene — who married George A. Davis, first a salesman for American Saw & Mfg. and then owner of that company — was, later in her life, very generous when it came to donating money to groups that would help those less-fortunate, especially children, said Walachy, executive director of the foundation that bears the Davis name. However, there was little, if any, structure or organization to her giving, she continued, noting that donations were often in cash and given at the spur of the moment.

To illustrate the way in which Irene was “personally philanthropic,” Walachy relayed a story from around 1970 that she’d heard many times, knew she couldn’t retell as well as Davis family members, but tried anyway.

It seems that Irene Davis had become impressed with the work of Downey Side (the adoption agency that was started in Springfield and now has offices across the country), and stopped by the offices of its founder, Father Paul Engel, to find out more. After listening to him for some time, she got out her checkbook and wrote him a check — for $30,000.

“But he didn’t even look at it to see how much it was for,” Walachy explained, noting that Engel was being polite, but also didn’t know Davis and wasn’t at all sure of who was dealing with. “He just put in his desk drawer. When he took it out later, he was shocked; he thought, ‘this is a crazy lady,’ or ‘she doesn’t know what she’s doing … this is going to bounce.’ He didn’t even take it to the bank.

“The next morning, she calls him, and he thinks, ‘here it comes,’” Walachy continued. “She said, ‘this is Irene Davis. I gave you a check yesterday — how much was it for?’ When he told her the amount was $30,000, she said, ‘I’m sorry, I meant to make it $50,000; I’ll be down later with the other 20.’ He said he never had a day like that in his career and that this was such a poignant moment in his life.”

It wasn’t long after this episode, according to family lore, that Irene Davis’s son, Jim, recommended that she form a foundation to bring some order to her philanthropy, to keep records of which groups were sent money and to perhaps monitor whether money was spent in the manner intended, said Walachy. At first, she refused, thinking such a step was mostly about taxes and gaining deductions, which she wasn’t interested in. But when Jim told her it was a way for her to keep on giving to the community long after she passed on, she eventually agreed.

And so the Irene E. and George A. Davis Foundation was born, with an initial $350, and for 40 years, its giving has been anything but extemporaneous — although it can act swiftly and with great flexibility, said Walachy, adding, quickly and repeatedly, that this institution exists to do much more than simply award grants, or give.

Instead, she told BusinessWest, the foundation also initiates, convenes, unifies, collaborates, finds facts, analyzes, tests, evaluates, advocates, and more. And what it’s really doing through the sum of all this is “causing change,” she continued, especially in the broad realm of early-childhood education and development.

“The majority of our time and attention is absolutely local,” she explained, “and with a significant lens in education and particularly the passion around ensuring that children, especially those in the urban core who are disadvantaged, reach their full academic potential in order to be successful in both school and in life.

This focus on education, young people, and causing change, as she put it, is part of what Walachy called a “maturation” of the Davis Foundation — something that has dominated her time with the organization, which started in 1996, and which is still very much ongoing. And it’s part of her efforts to adopt best practices involving many of the leading foundations in the country, and also be far more proactive than reactive when it comes to philanthropy.

“As we’ve grown and matured over the years, we have realized that, in order to be impactful, we need to be somewhat more strategic,” she continued, noting efforts such as the foundation’s Cherish Every Child program and its Reading Successfully by the Fourth Grade program. “And that strategy is largely in the broad rubric on education and investments in young children, because we firmly believe that investing early is where we get the greatest return.”

However, the foundation understands that resources are limited in Western Mass., and that there are simply not as many charitable foundations here as there are in Boston, she went on, adding that funds are also awarded to groups that assist the elderly, the mentally challenged, and many other constituencies.

When asked to list just some of the groups to which the foundation has awarded grants over the years, Walachy thought for a minute, shook her head, and then said, “just about every nonprofit group in this area.”

But, again, she said that giving money is only a part of the equation. In recent years, a perhaps-bigger part is that ability to convene, which is part of the maturation process, and something made possible because the Davis Foundation supports so many nonprofit groups.

“In order for us to advance and move some of the social-change issues that we care about, we need to lend our name, we need to lend our voice, we need to use our convening power, and we have to use our credibility,” she told BusinessWest. “That is more powerful, in my estimation, and we’ve come to see that come true as we’ve stepped out in a leadership role around change issues.”

Walachy noted that, while one can see the Davis name on a few plaques or walls across the region — the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Baystate Children’s Hospital is one example — this family isn’t big on having things named after it.

“People will say, ‘if you give us $1 million, we’ll put your name on the building,’” she said. “That’s not an incentive for us.”

Rather, the real incentive comes in getting a chance to be impactful, to cause change, which is how it chooses to serve the region and carry on the work of Irene and George Davis.

The family’s methods of philanthropy have changed considerably since Irene’s cash gifts and random check-writing. But the impact is still the same. The foundation is still making for the best days in many nonprofit  administrators’ careers, and creating innumerable poignant moments in their lives.

—George O’Brien

Class of 2010 Difference Makers

President and CEO of the Center for Human Development

Jim-Goodwin-StandingJim Goodwin says that too many people, especially some in the business community, look upon human services work as a “drain.”
As he uttered that word, he paused for a second, as if to convey that maybe it was too strong a term, but then forged ahead, convinced that it wasn’t.

“They understand that it’s a service, and they see some value in it,” he explained. “But they look at it as an expense, and not as a benefit, not as an investment. They’ll say, ‘I’m glad someone’s doing it, but I wish we didn’t have to pay for it.’ They don’t realize that, in many ways, this is something that benefits their employees, and, therefore, it benefits them as business owners.”

In many respects, Goodwin’s work as president and CEO of the Springfield-based Center for Human Development (CHD) boils down to changing those perceptions he described. And it is because of his success in convincing others that programs in areas ranging from disability resources to the mentoring of young people; from homelessness prevention to post-incarceration services, are, in fact, investments in the community, Goodwin — and, ostensibly, the 1,300-member team he manages — is a member of the Difference Makers Class of 2010.

And Goodwin, who has been with CHD for 30 years, or almost from its beginnings in 1972, repeatedly stressed this element of teamwork as he talked about his organization’s work with children, adults, the elderly, the mentally retarded, the mentally ill, and the chemically addicted — or what he called “probably the most downtrodden people out there.”

Together, members of this team carry out programs that fall into several categories, including:

• Children & Families, which includes such initiatives as Big Brothers Big Sisters, CASA (court-appointed special advocates), an emergency adolescent shelter, foster care, and many others;

• Community Resources and Services, including a disability-resource program, an HIV/AIDS law consortium, and occupational-therapy initiatives;

• Homelessness Prevention, which encompasses a number of programs;

• Mental Health and Addiction Services, which includes child and adolescent mental-health services, outpatient and behavioral-health services, therapy and counseling, and many other programs; and

• Social Enterprises, which are entrepreneurial programs, such as A New Leaf flower shop and Riverbend Furniture, that offer real jobs to people with mental illness, developmental disabilities, or histories of trauma, abuse, or addiction that often keep them from working in traditional settings.

Summing up all of this work within CHD, the largest nonprofit, multi-program human services agency in New England, in a few moments or a few sentences is quite difficult, so Goodwin talked generally about the sum of the dozens of specific programs within the organization.

He said that, collectively, they help to make people with various physical and mental disabilities productive members of society, and not drains, as they are often perceived. “When you help people to the point where they’re employable, where they can work and get things done, and where they no longer look upon themselves as a burden, everyone’s a winner.”

This is accomplished — again, in broad terms — by creating what Goodwin described as “hybrid services” a term he would use repeatedly as he talked with BusinessWest, because it is the cornerstone of CDH’s basic operating philosophy.

And by hybrid, he means a combination of clinical and social services.

“Today, a successful human-services agency has to be able to operate a continuum that deals with the social issues that people are confronted with, along with the medical issues,” he explained. “If you’re providing counseling, psychiatry, and nursing services to people who don’t have a roof over their heads and don’t have enough to eat, you’re not going to get anywhere.”

Goodwin, who brings to his work master’s degrees in both psychology and business — a mix he says has proven quite effective — has a number of accomplishments attached to his name and title of CEO at CHD:

• Fiscally, he’s maintained and improved the financial health of the organization over the past several years, leading the agency to 21% growth and a total surplus of $540,000;

• He’s overseen the development of a sophisticated database that measures treatment and programmatic outcomes and that serves as a reporting tool to funding sources and stakeholders;

• He’s developed an electronic quality-assurance system that allows programs and corporate administrative services to provide performance feedback to each other on a monthly basis;

• He developed supported-housing models in the early 1980s that were duplicated nationally and led to major expansion and distinction for CHD; and

• Overall, he’s developed an extensive system of creative client businesses that produce high-quality products, teach vocational skills, and provide jobs to hundreds of clients in a rehabilitative atmosphere.

But he told BusinessWest that what he considers his greatest accomplishments are building CHD into one of the region’s largest, and best, employers — one with a 95% retention rate among management-position holders, a remarkable number in the human-services industry — and ongoing work to take that word ‘drain’ out of the lexicon when it comes to work his team does.

And the workplace element is vitally important to the equation, he explained, returning, again, to that notion of teamwork.

“You need a highly motivated workforce,” he explained. “You must create a situation where people are excited about the work, and where they understand how it fits in with improving the society that they live in and the city where they live.”

As an example of the work CHD does, how it does it, and why this work is so challenging — and frustrating from a funding perspective — Goodwin pointed to an initiative called PACT, or the Program for Assertive Community Treatment. Unfortunately, this is a program for which the state recently cut funding.

“That’s a program that basically serves people in Springfield and Holyoke who are severely mentally ill and have had tremendous difficulties,” he said. “They’ve been hospitalized many times, incarcerated, that sort of thing, and have been a real strain on the community.

“This program was set up with a team of workers, including a psychiatrist, nursing staff, a vocational specialist, a housing specialist, peer specialists … and these people take the service into the community,” he continued. “They have kept these people functional and outside the institutions — the hospitals and the jails — at an incredible rate. To keep someone in this program for 365 days a year costs $15,000; without it, these people would have four or five major hospitalizations a year, at a cost of $600 to $800 a day. Anyone can do the math, and that’s how it works with all of our programs.”

Recognizing the need to become visible within the community and to allow people to more easily answer the question ‘what does CHD do?’ the agency recently hired a marketing firm to create a new profile-raising brand. It includes the tag line, ‘CHD — good people, good work.’

That’s another way of saying that that this organization — and its long-time CEO — are true Difference Makers.

—George O’Brien

Class of 2010 Difference Makers
Diffrence Makers

Introducing the Class of 2010Their contributions to the community vary, from work to transform elder care to donations of time, energy, and imagination to a host of nonprofit agencies; from philanthropy that far exceeds grant awards to work to improve the lives of some of the most downtrodden constituencies in our society; from multi-faceted efforts to spur economic development in the region to simply inspiring others to find ways to make an impact. They are the Difference Makers Class of 2010. Their stories are powerful — and compelling.

The Irene E. and George A. Davis Foundation
Ellen Freyman
Shareholder with Shatz,Schwartz and Fentin, P.C.
James Goodwin
President and CEO of the Center for Human Development
Carol Katz
Chief Executive Officer of Loomis Communities
Robert Holub
UMass Amherst and Chancellor
Class of 2010 Difference Makers

Ellen Freyman
Ellen FreymanShareholder with Shatz, Schwartz and Fentin, P.C.

Ellen Freyman was talking about her family’s work mentoring and tutoring members of a Somali family now residing in Springfield through the help of Jewish Family Services. She spoke proudly of the time and effort that she, her husband, Richard, and sons Neal and Stephen were putting into this initiative, and said she firmly believed they were improving the quality of life for this family of five.

But she also conveyed a strong sense of frustration and concern that speaks loudly about how she approaches her voluminous work within the community and explains why she’s a member of the Difference Makers Class of 2010.

The Somalis, who were raised in a refugee camp in Kenya, speak in a patchwork of languages and dialects, and have serious trouble reading and writing in any language, including what amounts to their own, said Freyman. “This makes it even more difficult for people to try and teach English to these kids, because they don’t know what word to use to correlate to what they know,” Freyman explained. “If you say ‘tape recorder,’ they don’t know which word to pull out of what language to say ‘tape recorder’ in Somali, or Kenyan, or whatever.”

Freyman first met with Springfield teachers and principals, and later with Superintendent Alan Ingram, to discuss the problems facing not only ‘her’ Somali family, but others, as well as young people speaking other languages who are seemingly thrust into classes in the city’s high schools where other students are reading Hamlet and Of Mice and Men. As a result, a task force has been created to assess the problem and recommend possible solutions.

But that group’s work probably won’t happen soon enough to help of the oldest of the children in the family the Freymans are working with. He’s now 19 (at least that’s the best guess), and he will need literacy skills if he is to get a job.

Unfortunately, the waiting lists for adult-literacy programs in the area are so long that some people don’t even bother trying to apply. So Freyman, in addition to her one hour a week of mentoring and involvement with that aforementioned task force, is working to find a solution to the literacy-class problem.

“I’m trying to bring a coalition of people together to work on this, to bring some attention to the problem of adult literacy and to get more classes,” she said, acknowledging that there won’t be any easy answers to this one. “We have resources in the community; people just have to be creative. Things don’t always fit in a box — sometimes you have to figure out how to work outside the box.”

Being creative and thinking outside the box is how Freyman, a principal with the Springfield-based law firm Shatz Schwartz and Fentin, P.C., goes about her work with a long list of organizations, ranging from the Dunbar Community Center to the Community Music School; from the Springfield Jewish Federation to the Springfield Technical Community College Foundation.

Her bio on the law firm’s Web site lists more than a dozen nonprofits and initiatives to which Freyman has lent her name and time. But that’s just part of the story. The energy, imagination, and outside-the-box thinking that she takes to not only these assignments, but projects she’s initiated, are other big parts.

For example, there’s her work to create a group called On Board Inc., which works with area boards to help them achieve not only diversity, but also cultural sensitivity.

It all started in the early ’90s, or not long after Freyman began her work within the Greater Springfield community with such groups as Jewish Family Services, the Springfield Library & Museums, StageWest, and others.

“I was able to get on a lot of nonprofit boards, but I came to realize that, with the chambers and business boards and economic councils, many of them weren’t open to women,” she explained. “And it wasn’t because they were keeping women out, it was because they didn’t know women who were qualified to be on these boards.”

So she collaborated with a few other women to create a name bank of sorts with such qualified women, and then approached banks, hospitals, and other organizations to use that resource when filling seats.

“We met with various board representatives and nominating committees, and said, ‘we know you want your board to be more diversified, but you just don’t know how to do it, and you don’t know who’s out there.’ We met with college presidents, hospital CEOs, and banks, and within a year we had great success; we had a lot of women on these boards.

“And very soon after we started, it was our mission to get not just women on these boards, but all non-represented groups,” she continued. “I saw that it wasn’t just women that were absent, but also people of color; boards didn’t look like our community, and they needed to.”

The work with On Board Inc. exemplifies the approach Freyman says she takes with her work in the community — to look beyond her own basic assignment (attending a meeting or two a month) and to look for ways to, well, make a real difference.

Returning to her work with the Somalis, for example, she said she’s working together with others to create a soccer team that will compete against other clubs in the region; she’s agreed to be its manager. With an assist from Go FIT founder (and 2009 Difference Maker) Susan Jaye-Kaplan, with whom she runs most mornings, Freyman was able to secure 36 new pairs of cleats from Boston-based Good Sports Inc. She’s also received donations of soccer balls, but she’s looking for help with arranging contests and getting the Somalis to games and practices, either through rides or donations of bicycles.

In other words, she’s looking for more people willing to think — and work — outside the box.

That’s part of being a Difference Maker. —George O’Brien

Class of 2010 Difference Makers

Carol Katz
Chief Executive Officer of Loomis Communities

Upon hearing that more than a few of the many people who nominated her for the Difference Makers Class of 2010 wrote that she “transformed care for older adults,” Carol Katz chuckled before saying that she found such language flattering, if also a little excessive.

“I would hardly call myself transformational, but that is a term that’s used in our industry in some ways,” said Katz, CEO of the South Hadley-based Loomis Communities, before quickly acknowledging that she obviously played a lead role in that organization’s drive to stay atop — and well above — the curve when it comes to adopting the more-patient-centered model of care now being embraced across the country (more on that shortly).

“And besides,” she continued while explaining this concept and why and how it was incorporated at Loomis, “I certainly didn’t do it all by myself. It’s been a total team effort.”

Elaborating on the patient-centered model, Katz said that, as the name suggests, it puts the patient at the center of care initiatives. As logical as that sounds, she told BusinessWest, until about a decade ago, the staff at long-term-care facilities such as nursing homes was in the center, in the so-called ‘patient-care’ model.

“Traditionally, care has been provided in a very institutional way, and nursing homes in particular, like hospitals, are staff-driven, with things done for the convenience of the institution and as far from home life as it can possibly be,” she explained. “There’s been a movement afoot for some years now, in nursing homes but also other facilities, to really change the culture to what they call person-centered care.

“It’s not enough just to make it more home-like,” she continued. “It’s placing the patient at the center of the care, not the staff. Instead of bringing in extra people on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and that’s when everyone gets their showers, you ask the patient, ‘do you like to take a shower or a bath, and would you like it in the morning or the evening? It’s not what’s convenient for the staff; it’s what the patient wants.”

As a result of the teamwork Katz mentioned, Loomis Communities became one of the first institutions of its kind to receive state grants to implement this new way of providing care, and Loomis House was just the second nursing home in North America to receive person-centered-care accreditation.

But these transformational efforts comprise just one of the realms for which Katz has been called a Difference Maker. Others include her work to expand the Loomis Communities, her service to innumerable nonprofits in the area, and her ongoing efforts to create a culture of giving back at all of the Loomis facilities.

When she arrived in 1989 after stints with skilled-nursing facilities in Wisconsin and Agawam, Loomis had one facility — Loomis House in Holyoke — with a second, Loomis Village, under construction.

Recognizing the need to continually expand to better meet its mission, but also understanding that new construction wasn’t (and still isn’t) needed because of demand levels, Loomis has grown through acquisition.

The first such move was Applewood in Amherst, and the second was Reed’s Landing in Springfield, the bankrupt facility that was acquired late last summer. There, Katz has led a change in the fee model that has put that facility within reach of far more area residents.

While expanding Loomis Communities and changing its model of care, Katz has also volunteered her time, energy, and expertise to organizations ranging from the Holyoke Chamber of Commerce to PeoplesBank; from Westfield State College to her synagogue; from the United Way to the Holyoke Rotary Club.

She says she finds nonprofit governance to be “fascinating,” and, over the years, became very interested in the subject of nonprofit management, while becoming what she called a “board junkie.” However, she says she limits her work, and the number of ‘yeses’ given those who ask her to serve, to areas that have relevance to her professionally or personally, “or something I think I can help make a difference.”

And she has made giving back to the community part of the culture of life at all of the Loomis communities. Indeed, residents have contributed to a number of causes and charitable events. For example, they have sold decorative Valentine’s Day cookies to benefit the American Heart Assoc.; sold daffodils and participated in the Relay for Life for the American Cancer Society; walked, raised money, and sold more than 183 dozen blueberry muffins to benefit the Alzheimer’s Assoc. Memory Walk; staged blood drives for Cooley Dickinson Hospital, Mercy Medical Center, and the American Red Cross; sold Brightside Angels at the Holyoke Mall; and wrapped gifts for the hospice program of the Holyoke Visiting Nurse Assoc.

“Our five-year strategic plan has five focus areas, and the first one is community integration, and that means both having events on our campuses that bring the public in and engaging our residents in the broader community,” she said, noting that many residents in each Loomis facility are from the community in question. “Just because you move from an address in South Hadley to Loomis Village doesn’t mean you stop being a citizen of South Hadley.

“We’re involved — and one of the reasons I’ve gotten involved with so many civic organizations over the years is because it’s the right thing to do; it’s the way I was brought up,” she continued. “We rely on the community to give us residents and give us services, and we owe back to the community.”

The sum of all this work across several different fronts prompted the many who nominated Katz — a group that included some who work with her at Loomis, a few of the organization’s board members, others who serve with her on boards and commissions, and some who simply admire her work — to stretch their vocabularies and find phrases such as these:

  • “She has the uncanny ability to recognize the most important issues and figure out logical and effective ways to deal with them.”
  • “She does not just volunteer; she always seems to rise to leadership positions that place enormous demands on her time.”
  • “There are those who lead because they can; Carol Katz leads because she must.”
  • Carol is known across Massachusetts and the entire industry for her tenacity, leadership, and progressive ideas, and I am certain that we have seen only a glimpse of her vision.”
  • “With Carol’s wise direction, Loomis’ promotion of well-being of its residents has been matched by its contribution to the economy of the region.”
  • “She inspires me.”

That last writer probably spoke for everyone who has worked with Katz in any of the many settings in which she has made a difference. —George O’Brien

Class of 2010 Difference Makers

UMass Amherst and Chancellor
Robert Holub

Robert Holub says that, as what’s known as a land-grant institution — one of several dozen colleges and universities created on federally owned land — UMass Amherst has certain responsibilities to meet with regard to this region and its residents.

Originally, they centered on the teaching of agriculture, science, and engineering, Holub, who became chancellor of the university in the summer of 2008, explained, adding that, over the past century and a half or so, these duties have evolved and now extend beyond the realm of pure academia and into the broad area of economic development.

In recent years, and particularly since he arrived, the university has been increasingly focused on going beyond what’s been legislated, he continued, and more toward what might be expected (and more) from a school that has 25,000 students and is one of the leading research institutions in the state.

“We consider ourselves a citizen of Western Mass., and with that, we have special obligations to this region, and we’ve been trying to act on those responsibilities,” he continued, adding that such efforts involve the entire region, but especially the city of Springfield, the unofficial capital of Western Mass. and a municipality that, like many former manufacturing centers, is trying to reinvent itself.

Efforts to assist Springfield and the region come in a number of forms, and together — coupled with the hope and expectation for more in the future — they have placed the university in the Difference Makers Class of 2010. These initiatives include:

* The Pioneer Valley Life Sciences Institute, or PVLSI, a collaborative effort with Baystate Health to fuel growth in a fledgling biosciences sector;
* A recently announced project to move the university’s Design Center into one of the buildings in Springfield’s Court Square, a relocation expected to help create more vibrancy in the city’s central business district, help existing service businesses, and spur new ones;
* A planned high-performance computing center in Holyoke, a much-heralded undertaking involving a partnership that includes several other colleges and universities, including MIT and Boston University, as well as private industry. The UMass system as a whole is a lead partner in the project, said Holub, but many of those laying the groundwork for the center are based on the Amherst campus;
* The Precision Manufacturing Regional Alliance Project being undertaken with the Regional Employment Board of Hampden County and the local chapter of the National Tooling and Machining Assoc. to transfer technology from two departments at the university (Polymer Science and Mechanical and Industrial Engineering) to area precision manufacturers; and
* Work with the Springfield school system to attract talented students to UMass Amherst with the hope that they will stay in the region and contribute to its growth and prosperity.

“Instead of giving them fish, we want to give them the fishing pole,” Holub said of the initiative involving Springfield schools, one based on a pilot program now being developed with the city of Chelsea. “We would like to be able to attract the best and brightest students from Springfield to come to UMass Amherst, get an education here, and then go back to their community and assist with development.

“We are, primarily, an educational institution; that’s what we do best,” he continued. “And we think that establishing a greater pipeline with the city of Springfield will enable us to help that community more than any one single program.”

Since his arrival, a few months after Domenic Sarno was elected mayor in Springfield, there has been more communication between the university and the city, or what Holub called a true dialogue. And from those discussions came the agreement to create a presence in downtown and, specifically, Court Square.

“The mayor has engaged us in conversations since I arrived here about the revitalization of Court Square, and we see that as something that’s necessary for the city,” he said. “And we’ve tried to fit in any way we can given the budget constraints we’re facing.”

The school is already looking at ways to expand and enhance its presence within the city, he added, noting that administrators are looking to possibly move some backroom operations from Amherst and Hadley — where office lease rates are comparatively higher than in most area communities — to Springfield in moves that would help the city while also saving the university some money.

The importance of efforts to assist Springfield has been underscored by Holub’s move to appoint to John Mullin, dean of UMass Amherst’s graduate school and a regional planner, as ‘point person’ for the broad initiative. His role will be to keep the lines of communication open, make needed connections within the city, and continue the current dialogue.

“He knows what needs to be done in terms of urban development,” said Holub, adding that Mullin now dedicates a certain amount of time to the Springfield partnership, and his work has helped to move specific projects, ones that provide win-win scenarios, from the drawing board to reality.

“We’re not a granting agency — we don’t have $2 million that we can just give to Springfield,” he explained. “We have to look for areas in which there’s mutual benefit, and we’ve been able to find quite a few of those.”

And while Holub is encouraged, and excited, about current efforts taking place in the realm of economic development, region-wide and especially in Springfield, he fully expects the university to expand and diversify such initiatives when the economy improves sufficiently for it to do so.

“If we didn’t have this severe economic downturn, I certainly believe that we could be doing more than we are,” he explained. “But we are doing things, and they reflect those responsibilities we feel we have to this region.

“The proof of the pudding is in the eating, as they say,” he continued, “and we’ve tried to do things that are going to bring palpable results for the western part of the state and make some modest investments where we can to back up the talk.

“And those investments are often less in terms of actual dollars — although, with something like PVLSI, it does take an actual cut out of our budget,” he continued, “and more in terms of people and ideas, and with our own ability to lobby industries and individual companies to come here, and assist with those efforts.”

Those are the things that might be expected from such a prominent citizen of Western Massachusetts.

—George O’Brien