Five Finalists Announced for Continued Excellence Award
SPRINGFIELD — The judges have cast their ballots, and their scores have determined the five finalists for BusinessWest’s first Continued Excellence Award, or CEA. And, as with the 40 Under Forty competition that inspired this new recognition program, the defining element for the list of finalists is diversity.
Indeed, those with the highest scores among the nearly 40 nominees for the CEA include a serial entrepreneur, an attorney, one of the forces behind the region’s hugely successful Valley Gives program, the current president of one of the state’s oldest family-run businesses, and an administrator in the region’s large and prestigious higher-education sector.
“We created the Continued Excellence Award to recognize 40 Under Forty honorees who have done anything but rest on their laurels,” said BusinessWest Associate Publisher Kate Campiti. “We wanted to single out for recognition those who have built upon their strong records of service in business, within the community, and as regional leaders. And these five finalists have certainly done that.”
The winner of the inaugural CEA will be announced at this year’s 40 Under Forty Gala, slated for June 18 at the Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House.
The finalists, as determined by scores submitted by three judges — 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 — are:
A member of the 40 Under Forty Class of 2008 at age 21, Bean is the founder of Valley Computer Works, now known as Paragus Strategic IT. Since that time, he’s gone on to be named BusinessWest’s Top Entrepreneur for 2014, seen Paragus grow 450% and earn status as one of Inc. magazine’s fastest-growing companies on several occasions, and recently have his company 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, Bean started the nonprofit Tech Foundry, an organization that provides training and workplace skills to high-school students. He’s also 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.
When nominated for the 40 Under Forty Class of 2009, Collins was an academic counselor at Springfield Technical Community College and an individual devoted to helping young people get on the right path — and stay on it. Over the ensuing years, he’s built upon his professional résumé and become involved in many different programs aimed at providing guidance and mentorship.
Collins was promoted to director of Academic Advising at STCC in 2012, and in 2014, he was named dean of Academic Advising and Student Success, and currently leads a staff of more than 25 professionals.
Within the community, he lends his time, energy, and imagination to several organizations, including the Children’s Study Home, the Urban League of Springfield Inc., the Community Foundation Education Committee, the Pioneer Valley AHEC/Reach Advisory Board, and the Lower Pioneer Valley Career and Technical Education Center’s Building and Property Maintenance Advisory Board.
Another member of the 40 Under Forty Class of 2008, Fialky has added a number of lines to the résumé that helped him earn that distinction.
For starters, in 2012, he was named a partner at the Springfield-based law firm Bacon Wilson, which he joined as an associate, and is active in leadership capacities with the firm. But he has also become a leader within the Greater Springfield business community.
Former president of the Young Professional Society of Greater Springfield, Fialky currently serves as chair of the Springfield Chamber of Commerce, and is also on the board of trustees of the Springfield Museums. In his capacity with the chamber, he has spent the past several years working with city officials and various agencies to foster economic development in the city and advance a 10-year economic strategic plan for Springfield.
When she placed among the highest scorers in BusinessWest’s inaugural 40 Under Forty competition in 2007, Cinda Jones was noted mostly as the ninth-generation president of Cowls Lumber Co. (one of the oldest family-owned businesses in the nation) and as president of the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce. Over the past eight years, she has built upon that résumé in many ways.
Indeed, she has expanded the Cowls business in several directions, but primarily through an initiative to convert the company’s sawmill into a multi-purpose arts and entertainment facility called the Mill District. One multi-use building, the Trolley Barn, hosts the Lift Salon and Bread & Butter Café, along with several residential units, and additional development is planned on the sprawling site.
While entrepreneurial, Jones is also a staunch protector of the environment. In 2011, for example, she brokered and closed the state’s largest-ever private conservation project, the Paul C. Jones Working Forest, a 3,486-acre conservation restriction in Leverett and Shutesbury named for her recently deceased father.
A member of the 40 Under Forty Class of 2010, Leutz has added to an impressive list of business accomplishments and initiatives within the community over the past five years. As vice president of Philanthropic Services for the Community Foundation, she played a leading role in efforts to bring Valley Gives from a concept on a drawing board to a hugely successful three-year pilot program that raised more than $5 million for hundreds of nonprofits across Western Mass.
Within the community, meanwhile, Leutz, who has started several businesses, has become a mentor to other entrepreneurs, donating time and energy to Valley Venture Mentors and contributing to the launch of its Accelerator program.
She has also been involved with a number of nonprofit groups, including the Women’s Fund of Western Mass., and often meets with nonprofit leaders, volunteers, and staff to coach them, especially with regard to fund-raising and organizational development.