People on the Move

People on the Move

Rachel Rubinstein

Holyoke Community College (HCC) recently welcomed Rachel Rubinstein as its first vice president of Academic and Student Affairs. Prior to her arrival, Rubinstein spent 16 years at Hampshire College in Amherst, where she was a professor of American Literature and Jewish Studies and from 2010 to 2018 served as dean of Academic Support and Advising. At HCC, she will oversee the divisions of Academic Affairs and Student Affairs in what is a newly unified role at the college. Rubinstein holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Yale University and a Ph.D. from the Department of English and American Literature and Language at Harvard University. A child of Mexican-born, Jewish immigrants, she grew up in a Spanish-speaking household and also studied Yiddish. Her academic studies, professional scholarship, and teaching have largely focused on immigration, migration, and multi-lingualism. She was the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship and a Whiting Foundation Travel Fellowship. She has taught at Smith College and Mount Holyoke College and also taught adult learners and high-school students through community organizations including the Jones Library and the National Yiddish Book Center in Amherst. Her scholarly work includes two co-edited volumes, Arguing the Modern Jewish Canon: Essays on Literature and Culture in Honor of Ruth R. Wisse and the forthcoming Teaching Jewish-American Literature. She is the author of Members of the Tribe: Native America in the Jewish Imagination, which earned a Jordan Schnitzer Book Award honorable mention.

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Dawn Forbes DiStefano

The Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling announced the appointment of Dawn Forbes DiStefano to its board of directors. DiStefano is the executive vice president at Square One, where she manages contracts and annual budgeting of $9 million. Square One is a private, nonprofit organization that provides early education and care to 500 children each day, as well as a range of family-support services to 1,500 families each year. Founded in 1983, the Mass Council on Compulsive Gambling has been instrumental in bringing the issue of gambling disorder to the attention of the public and policymakers. With the gambling landscape evolving and expanding, the council has continued to play a leading role in protecting and educating the public. DiStefano r eceived her master’s degree in public administration and nonprofit management from Westfield State University. She serves on several boards, including Dress for Success of Western Massachusetts, the Springfield Regional Chamber, and Baystate Community Relations at Westover Job Corps. In addition, she chairs the Hampden County Commission on the Status of Women and Girls.

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The National Science Foundation recently awarded two grants to support research by two Western New England University faculty members — Robert Barron, assistant professor of Industrial Engineering and Engineering Management, and Amer Qouneh, assistant professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering — and their collaborative partners. Barron is a co-principal investigator on a project titled “INFEWS/T2 FEWtures: Innovation Analysis Framework for Resilient Futures, with Application to the Central Arkansas River Basin.” The project will develop strategies to promote resilient small-town and rural (STAR) communities using renewably powered fertilizer production and wastewater treatment. FEWtures will equip STAR communities to face urgent challenges such as low crop prices, high prices for energy and fertilizer, pollution, and depleting water supplies. Barron is among a team of researchers led by the University of Kansas and including Western New England University, Kansas State University, and Washington State University that have been awarded $2.5 million to craft a creative, multi-faceted set of responses to these challenges. The focus of Qouneh’s research is “SHF: Medium: Collaborative Research: Enhancing Mobile VR/AR User Experience: An Integrated Architecture-System Approach.” This research will open the door for next-generation mobile platforms that provide high-quality, low-power applications for virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). It seeks to develop a synergetic architecture-system approach to improve the user’s experience with AR and VR by addressing performance, battery life, and thermal issues. The project is a collaboration effort between Qouneh and faculty at the University of Florida and the University of Houston. The total amount of the grant is $1.1 million.

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Melissa Fales

Kerry Homstead

NeighborWorks America, through its affiliate Way Finders, has awarded Congressman John W. Olver Scholarships to two individuals — Melissa Fales, program manager for Quaboag Valley Community Development Corp., and Kerry Homstead, community facilitator for the Treehouse Foundation — to attend the NeighborWorks America Training Institute (NTI). The scholarships provide travel, lodging, and tuition to a catalogue of more than 100 topic- and skill-focused courses. NTI creates an opportunity to network with other community-development organizations from across the country to share ideas and learn best practices in their field. Two scholarships are awarded annually to NTI attendees. The Congressman John W. Olver Scholarship recognizes outstanding individuals and organizations that demonstrate leadership, dedication, and commitment in the housing and community-development field in Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin, and Berkshire counties. Olver retired in 2012 after more than 40 years in public service, including 20 years serving in the U.S. House of Representatives. While in office, he not only provided strong support for NeighborWorks America, but also increased funding for housing vouchers, community block grants, and other affordable-housing programs. He was instrumental in the establishment of the National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling Program, which assisted more than 1.5 million distressed homeowners through May 2013.

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Brian Benson, CPA has joined the investment-management team at St. Germain Investment Management as a financial planner, while Kathy Stewart has joined the firm’s client services group. Benson has extensive experience in accounting, risk assessment, audit procedures, and planning methodologies, and adds client relationship management to his quantitative and analytical competencies. Previously, he was a senior audit associate at Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C. He also held accounting and auditing responsibilities at Menzel & Associates, P.C. Benson earned bachelor’s degrees in accounting and business management as well as an MBA with a concentration in financial planning from Elms College. He is an active volunteer and organizer involved with charity golf tournaments as well as sharing his time with Junior Achievement and the MSCPA. At World Sports Camp in Easthampton, he produced individualized coaching lessons for golfers and tennis players. Stewart brings skill and experience in communications, corporate administration, client engagement, and secondary research. Most recently, she was the executive assistant for the operations & production manager at WWLP-TV22 News. She also held responsibilities as an executive producer for As School Match Wits, as well as administrative coordinator for the FCC 398 Children Television’s programming quarterly reports. Prior to her broadcast television experience, she worked in the Community Relations and Marketing department at the Sisters of Providence Health System. She earned an associate degree in administration from Bay Path University.

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James Garvey

Garvey Communication Associates Inc. (GCAi) announced that James Garvey, a digital marketing analyst with the company, has recently earned a digital marketing certificate from Cornell University’s online certification program. “I viewed it as a retreat of sorts where I could isolate the tactical and focus on overall strategy development,” Garvey said. “In turn, our emphasis has now become working with our clients to identify the key performance indicators (KPIs) prior to planning the tactical considerations. It sounds simple, but tactical is always the shiny object. Which platform to use and what creative often takes precedent over what the actual objective is. That tendency underserves the client and the potential of digital marketing, and is something we are working hard to avoid.” According to Cornell University, the objectives of the program are to learn and implement proven frameworks, assess opportunities and strategies associated with leading channels, and create integrated digital-marketing plans based on priorities and resources.

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Scott Foster, partner at Bulkley Richardson, has been recognized as a New England Trailblazer in American Lawyer Media’s (ALM) inaugural publication. ALM recently introduced New England Trailblazers, a special supplement developed to recognize professionals in New England who have “moved the needle” in the legal industry, are “agents of change,” and have made significant marks on the practice, policy, and advancements in their sector. Foster’s nomination notes that “he is recognized as a trailblazer because of his unwavering commitment to the business community in Western Massachusetts, providing the resources for emerging businesses that encourage growth, provide education, and make collaboration possible. As a partner at Bulkley Richardson, he is responsible for the recent launch of important practice areas, including cannabis, cybersecurity, emerging businesses, and craft breweries.” All of the honorees are featured in the Nov. 4 issue of the Connecticut Law Tribune.

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Leadership Pioneer Valley (LPV) recently welcomed Michelle Barthelemy of Greenfield Community College, Calvin Hill of Springfield College, Gladys Lebron-Martinez of MassHire Holyoke and the Holyoke City Council, Callie Niezgoda of Common Capital, Tony Maroulis of UMass Amherst, and Yemisi Oloruntola-Coates of Baystate Health to its board of directors. In addition, Francia Wisnewski has been elected clerk. Each brings a passion for both the work of the organization and the continued success of the Pioneer Valley, said Lora Wondolowski, LPV Executive Director. “We are delighted to have these dynamic community leaders join us. They will bring important skills and experience to the board and will help to fulfill our mission of building and connecting more diverse, committed, and effective leadership for the Pioneer Valley.”

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Dr. Said Nafai

Dr. Said Nafai, professor of Occupational Therapy at American International College (AIC), has been selected to receive the American Occupational Therapy Assoc. (AOTA) International Service Award at the 2020 annual conference in Boston in March. The AOTA International Service Award recognizes occupational therapists who demonstrate a sustained, outstanding commitment to international service in this field; promote and advance occupational therapy abroad in regard to occupational health and/or occupational justice in underserved countries, thereby promoting a globally connected community; and provide incentive to extend international relationships and contributions to address global health issues. Nafai, known as the ‘father of occupational therapy’ in his home country of Morocco, returns several times a year to volunteer, teach, and raise awareness of occupational therapy as a profession and a tool for empowering people of all ages who face physical, cognitive, or behavioral challenges. Students and faculty from across the U.S. and Europe frequently accompany him to learn about Morocco’s healthcare system. Among his credits, Nafai is the Moroccan delegate to the World Federation of Occupational Therapists; co-founder of the OT Project in Morocco; founder and president of the Occupational Therapy Assoc. of Morocco; vice president of Emmanuel’s Dream, a nonprofit for children with special needs; and a board member of the Lymphedema Advocacy Group, which currently has the most co-sponsored healthcare bill in the U.S. Congress.

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