People on the Move
Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C. (MBK) announced the following:
• Kara Graves, CPA has been promoted from audit and accounting senior associate to Manager. Graves, who has been with MBK since 2011, has spent the past six years developing a diversified technical skill set with a focus in the company’s commercial audit niche. She has also had the opportunity to develop a leadership skill set, serving as the in-charge accountant on a variety of large-scale projects. During that time, she has demonstrated her ability to lead teams through challenging projects, all while delivering a quality client service experience. Before coming to MBK, Graves worked as an associate at a regional public accounting firm in Westwood. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Roger Williams University and a master’s degree from Western New England University;
• Joe Vreedenburgh has been promoted from from audit and accounting associate to Senior Associate. Vreedenburgh, who was promoted to senior associate in the audit and accounting niche, has been with MBK since 2014. His promotion is the result of his continued commitment to technical development, excellent client service, and team-oriented approach. As a senior associate, he will be leveraging his 10 years of accounting experience to help lead teams in conducting the audit process. He specializes in commercial audits and accounting, employee-benefit plans, not-for-profit entities, and individual and business taxation. He earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of Washington and holds an master’s degree from UMass Amherst. He is a member of the AICPA and MSCPA and treasurer of the Hitchcock Center for the Environment; and
• The company welcomed Nathan Nicholson to the firm as a Tax Senior Associate. Nicholson comes to MBK from the Ayco Company, L.P., a subsidiary of Goldman Sachs in Latham, N.Y., where he worked as a tax associate, handling individual, trust, and gift-tax returns for high-net-worth individuals. He has a range of experience working with governmental, nonprofit, and for-profit entities, including banking, manufacturing, healthcare, real estate, and small family-owned businesses. He holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Siena College. He has mentored high-school business classes on the basics of tax preparation and financial planning.
“Kara and Joe have worked hard to develop themselves technically and as leaders within our organization,” said partner Howard Cheney, CPA. “Our succession plan demands that our next generation be not only technically competent, but ready to deliver premier service and value our clients have come to expect. We are confident in Kara and Joe’s ability to provide that exceptional experience, and Nathan’s addition to our team only serves to strengthen our next generation.”
Caolo & Bieniek Associates Inc., a full-service architecture, planning, and interior-design firm located in Chicopee, announced that Bert Gardner has become a principal. A graduate of Roger Williams University, Gardner is a registered architect in Massachusetts and New Jersey. Since joining Caolo & Bieniek Associates in 1999, Gardner has served in key roles on numerous project teams with increasing levels of responsibility. Most recently, he has been the project architect for projects at Westfield State University, UMass, and the Dupont Middle School in Chicopee (former Chicopee High School), and is currently overseeing the Maple Street Elementary School project in Easthampton. He has been an active board member for the Chicopee Boys & Girls Club, serving as president in 2013 and 2014. Caolo & Bieniek Associates has been providing architectural services since 1955. Its design process integrates a creative approach to problem solving with a sustained commitment to client needs. The firm’s scope of services includes renovations, adaptive reuse, new construction, facilities assessment, feasibility studies, master planning, interior design, historic preservation, and sustainable and ‘green’ design expertise.
Elizabeth Daley, a 20-year veteran in the public and private accounting sector and a 10-year employee of Webber and Grinnell Insurance, has been named Finance Manager at the agency. Daley is also concurrently pursuing her SHRM-CP certification in human resources from Westfield State University School of Graduate Studies. She will oversee accounting, finance, and human resources. “Elizabeth has been a great asset to our organization for many years, and it’s nice to fill this position from within the agency,” said company President Bill Grinnell. “The fact that Elizabeth has chosen to earn her Society for Human Resource Management certification is a professional distinction that sets her apart and further elevates both her own and the agency’s credentials.”
Country Bank announced that Blair Robidoux has been appointed Branch Manager of the West Street Office. It also welcomed two new branch managers to its Retail Banking division — Elise Kowal and Melissa Mann. Robidoux has been with the bank for 12 years and began her career as a teller before working her way up to branch manager. Robidoux’s strong operational and management skills, along with her desire to help people, provides leadership at one of the bank’s busiest offices. Kowal is located at the West Brookfield office and has been in banking for more than eight years. She began her career at Country Bank as a teller and worked her way to a teller supervisor position before moving to the bank’s Corporate Risk Department. She will graduate this summer from Western New England University, where she is studying for her bachelor’s degree in business administration. “I love working with people, educating others, and providing encouragement and guidance in reaching their professional and financial goals,” she said. Mann will work in the Belchertown office. She has been in the banking industry for 14 years in various positions in Western Mass. and Central Conn., most recently at PeoplesBank in Sixteen Acres. She is a graduate of Belchertown High School. Relocations, family needs, and professional development have brought her back to Belchertown. “As a branch manager, I’m most proud of the personal connections that my team builds with our customers,” she said. “We want our customers to know just how much we appreciate them.”
Robert Cummings, CEO and founder of American Benefits Group (ABG), has been nominated for the 2017 EBN Innovator Award by Employee Benefit News, a leading national benefits-industry publication serving 106,800 senior-level benefits decision makers across all platforms. This audience includes human-resources executives and benefits directors, whose sphere of responsibility and influence spans health and retirement plans, voluntary benefits, legal and regulatory compliance, employee training and development, benefits procurement, technology, strategic direction, and finance. Cummings founded ABG in 1987 and was an early adopter and innovator of flexible spending accounts in the late 1980s. The company added COBRA administration services and commuter benefit accounts in the 1990s, and health savings accounts and health reimbursement arrangements when they came into being in the early 2000s. For decades, ABG focused exclusively on working with Western Mass. employers, providing full benefits strategy, funding, communications, and administrative solutions. The company began to focus on a national expansion of its specialty employee-benefits administrative services beginning in 2007. Today, ABG serves a diverse base of more than 1000 employer clients nationwide from its home offices near downtown Northampton. ABG’s employer clients range from small and mid-size businesses to high-profile Fortune 1000 employers and global organizations, covering all of the continental U.S. Recognition on the national stage is not new for ABG. In 2014, the Institute for Health Care Consumerism presented the company with a Superstar Innovator Award, and in 2015 ABG was recognized by its platform provider, consumer account technology giant Alegeus Technologies, as its national Customer Service Champion. ABG also serves as the preferred platform partner for consumer-account-based plans and COBRA administration services for NFP, one of the largest global insurance and corporate benefits brokers and consultants. Cummings has been on the leading edge of technology innovation since before the Internet, as ABG was one of the first benefits administrators in the nation to adopt debit-card payment technologies. The ABG debit card allows consumers to pay expenses from their consumer pre-tax accounts directly at the point of service, and auto-substantiates the majority of their transactions. ABG was one of the first adopters of web-based participant portals and mobile applications that offer instant account access and management anytime, anywhere. In 2010, ABG was again at the forefront of the market with its introduction of a live participant-feedback review portal, where participants could rate their experience and post live reviews that are shared online. Basically a private Yelp review and rating portal for its own clients, the company has leveraged this to garner thousands of five-star feedback reviews. Working with the top global benefits consulting and brokerage organizations like Mercer, Lockton, HUB, Gallagher, and NFP, as well as leading independent benefits consulting and brokerage firms from across the country, ABG has been able to achieve consistent growth. In 2016, the company grew revenue by a record 35%, and it has achieved compound annual growth since 2010 of more than 20% per year.
Springfield College Assistant Professor of Physical Education Tan Leng Goh recently received the 2017 Hally Beth Poindexter Young Scholar Award presented by the National Assoc. for Kinesiology in Higher Education (NAKHE). The award was presented at the annual NAKHE Conference in Orlando, Fla. “Tan Leng Goh’s recent award from NAKHE is a true testament to her commitment to her scholarly work,” said Springfield College School of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation Dean Tracey Matthews. “I look forward to her continued scholarly successes at Springfield College.” During the 2017 NAKHE’s annual conference, Goh presented her paper titled, “Children’s Physical Activity and On-task Behavior Following Active Academic Lessons.” Goh’s presentation focused on the amount of hours a day children remain sitting when receiving academic instruction. Goh’s presentation hypothesizes that sitting for an extended amount of time is detrimental to children’s physical health, and may cause off-task behavior in the classroom. The purpose of the study was to examine the effect of active academic lessons on children’s physical activity and on-task behavior. The NAKHE organization provides a forum for interdisciplinary ideas, concepts, and issues related to the role of kinesiology subdisciplines in higher education with respect for social, cultural, and personal perspectives. Kinesiology is an academic discipline that involves the study of physical activity and its impact on health, society, and quality of life. It includes, but is not limited to, such areas of study as exercise science, sports management, athletic training and sports medicine, socio-cultural analyses of sports, sport and exercise psychology, fitness leadership, physical-education teacher education, and pre-professional training for physical therapy, occupational therapy, medicine, and other health-related fields.
Berkshire Bank Foundation Inc., the philanthropic arm of Berkshire Bank, announced the appointment of Thomas Barney to its board of trustees. Barney, a certified financial planner, is a senior vice president and wealth advisor with Berkshire Bank Wealth Management in Lenox. Barney has spent more than 19 years with Berkshire Bank, rejoining the wealth group out of retirement to work on all aspects of client relationships, including financial planning and strategy implementation. He previously served as an officer of the foundation. “While Berkshire Bank has grown as a successful company, serving the community has always been at the forefront,” he said. “The Berkshire Bank Foundation was established to demonstrate the bank’s dedication to its communities and neighbors. I am honored to join their board and support the foundation’s work.” The mission of the Foundation is to strengthen and improve quality of life in communities where Berkshire Bank or its affiliates have offices. The foundation supports programs that enhance opportunities for children and adults, specifically in the areas of community and economic development, education, and meeting the needs of low- and moderate-income individuals. The foundation also administers the bank’s comprehensive volunteer program, called the X-Team, in addition to a scholarship program for high-school seniors. Barney has more than 40 years of experience working on investments, trusts, and planning, including tenures at Michigan Avenue Financial Group of Chicago, Bank of Boston’s Private Bank, Fleet Investment Services, and the First National Bank of Geneva. He is a member of the Estate Planning Council of Hampden County, recently serving as its treasurer, vice president, and president. He is a graduate of Monmouth College, Loyola University of Chicago, the National Trust School, and the Trust Management School at Northwestern University. “We are so pleased to welcome Tom to the foundation’s board as he shares our vision to support the many community needs throughout our growing footprint,” said Lori Gazzillo, director of Berkshire Bank Foundation. “Tom’s close community ties and breadth and depth of knowledge will serve as a valuable asset to our talented board.”