Home Posts tagged 40 Under Forty 2019 (Page 2)
The Class of 2019

General Manager, MGM Springfield; Age 38
Education: Howard University (BBA)

Alex Dixon

Alex Dixon

What did you want to be when you grew up? Governor of Nevada, an Alvin Ailey dancer, or running back for the Washington Redskins.

How do you define success? Success is defined by how hard you laugh, cry, and dance in celebration of the challenges you choose to tackle.

What three words best describe you? Passionate, thoughtful, humble.

What are you passionate about? Helping people achieve their dreams.

What person, past or present, would you like to have lunch with, and why? Frederick Douglass literally changed the world and was a driving force for the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

What fictional character do you relate to most, and why? Definitely some sort of mashup of Eddie Murphy in Boomerang, Pierce Brosnan in The Thomas Crown Affair, and Al Bundy in Married … with Children. Life is lived somewhere in between your aspirations and reality.

What actor would play you in a movie about your life? Chadwick Boseman of Black Panther fame and I were contemporaries at Howard University. Wakanda forever! Halle Berry would play my wife, Yindra.

Who has been your best mentor, and why? My father, Frank Dixon, has been and continues to be my best mentor in life. From an early age, Dad sparked an intellectual curiosity within me that has raged ever since. My parents have provided a sense of stability that has propelled me to take risks throughout my personal and professional life.

Whom do you look up to, and why? Vernon Jordan is an iconic business, government-affairs, and civil-rights professional. He plays behind the scenes and has opened doors for an untold number of young professionals to this day.

What goal do you set for yourself at the start of each day? Carpe diem until I hit snooze again.

What will work colleagues say at your funeral? “Here lies a good and decent man.”

 

Photography by Leah Martin Photography

The Class of 2019

Project Manager, Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program; Practice Manager, Division of Geriatrics & Palliative Care, Baystate Health; Age 33
Education: STCC (AS), UMass Isenberg School of Management (BA in process)

Rebecca Dobert

Rebecca Dobert

What three words best describe you? Energetic, dedicated, hardworking.

What are you passionate about? I am and have always been passionate about reading. Growing up, I was the girl on the playground or on the school bus lost in my own little world with my nose buried in a book. As an adult, I know better than to pick up a book before bed because it is far too easy for me to lose track of time.

What goal do you set for yourself at the start of each day? It is far too easy to get caught up in the daily chaos of trying to balance work, school, and home. I make it a goal to try to start each morning by taking a big-picture look at my multiple to-do lists while I’m sipping my morning coffee. From there, I decide my three must-do’s for the day and what it’ll take to get them done. Doing this daily allows me to be more present and focused throughout my day instead of worrying about the never-ending to-do list that’s always competing for my time and attention.

What fictional character do you relate to most, and why? Elle Woods from Legally Blonde. Like Elle, I am a fiercely independent and ambitious woman who loves high heels and the color pink. I even have one of those page-a-day flip calendars showcasing a different heel each day (best Christmas gift ever, thanks Dad!). Elle proves that intelligence can come in all shapes, colors, and sizes, and that we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. I can relate to many of the challenges she faces on her journey to jump-start her career and life and admire her for refusing to let anyone’s preconceived notions or opinions slow her down. What I love most about her character is that she stays true to herself and doesn’t change who she is in order to fit the mold of what a successful businesswoman is ‘supposed’ to be. I feel this sends a great message to young women trying to find their way.

 

Photography by Leah Martin Photography

The Class of 2019

Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, UMassFive College Credit Union; Age 37
Education: Mount Holyoke College (BA), Isenberg School of Management, UMass Amherst (MBA in process)

Lauren Duffy

Lauren Duffy

What did you want to be when you grew up? When I was very young, I dreamed of becoming an ice-cream truck driver, so that I could have an endless supply of Chipwiches.

How do you define success? I believe the road to success is never traveled alone. I feel the greatest sense of accomplishment when I am surrounded by people who bring out the best in me, and we are harnessing our collective power to create positive change.

What three words best describe you?
Resilient, tenacious, grateful.

What are you passionate about? I am most passionate about my family: my wife, Liz, and our sons, Will and Ethan. Liz and I met as students at Mount Holyoke College and have spent over 16 years now cheering each other on in our personal and professional achievements. Both of our sons have experienced some significant challenges in their early years, which brings out a particularly passionate ‘mama bear’ mentality in me. I am so proud to watch them grow and thrive.

Who has been your best mentor, and why? My mother, Karen Duffy. She has taught me so much about how to be an ethical banking professional and leader. When I was in preschool, she got a job as a part-time teller at our local credit union in Rhode Island. I watched her get her college degree by going to night school and work her way up to the role of president/CEO at a credit union in Central Mass. I would listen at the dinner table as she talked about the important role credit unions, as not-for-profit financial cooperatives, can play in the lives of their member-owners. I have great respect for the way she has always been focused on using her position to create opportunities for others, providing financial-literacy education at a community college and serving on multiple nonprofit boards. I am fortunate to have her in my life, and the professional mentorship she has provided is no small part of our relationship.

What actress would play you in a movie about your life? Ellen Page.

What goal do you set for yourself at the start of each day? My favorite coffee mug is inscribed with the words, “empowered women empower women.” I try to start my mornings with that reminder to use my privilege to lift up someone else.

 

Photography by Leah Martin Photography

The Class of 2019

Literary Agent and Manager, the Lisa Ekus Group; Age 34
Education: Ithaca College (BA)

Sally Ekus

Sally Ekus

What did you want to be when you grew up? A marine biologist. Specifically, the first marine biologist to live in the desert because, you know, who doesn’t like a challenge?

How do you define success? My clients are happy, I am happy, our agency is thriving, and our community is flourishing with abundance and joy as a result of my hard work.

What are you passionate about? My passion is focused around my family, connecting people in both personal and professional ways, improv comedy at Happier Valley Comedy, advocacy for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and the many joys of tacos.

Who has been your best mentor, and why? It might sound cliché to say my boss has been my best mentor, but given that she is also my mother, her mentoring of me runs deep. Lisa Ekus (I call her Lisa at work and Mom at home) showed me from a very early age that you can have it all, professionally and personally. She began mentoring me from the moment she taught me how to label and lick envelopes for press-release mailings when I was just knee-high. Unlike some who grow up in family businesses, I was given the freedom to pursue my own career path. After earning my degree and during a time of personal reflection, I was welcomed back home to an entry-level position at the Lisa Ekus Group while I was figuring out my next career move. I quickly realized my years of licking envelopes and dining alongside Lisa’s clients and colleagues had imprinted an unconscious passion for working in the culinary space. Recognizing my knack for the work, I was given the chance to co-represent two of our top-tier clients for their first book deals uncharacteristically early on in my career. I fell in love with the work and making deals, and was quickly hyper-mentored. Lisa sat with me as I drafted negotiations, and she watched as I navigated my own hurdles. Now, 10 years and more than 150 book contracts later, I am proud to be a partner in the agency and Lisa’s succession plan. Our mentoring relationship has grown into full collaboration, for which I am immensely proud and ever grateful.

What will work colleagues say at your funeral? “Sally would be so happy to see this room full of laughter and love! Plus, have you tried these tacos? They are amazing!”

 

Photography by Leah Martin Photography

The Class of 2019

Clubhouse Regional Director, Hampden County, Viability Inc.; Age 36; Education: Holyoke Community College (AA), UMass Amherst (BA), Boston College (MSW)

Sally English

Sally English

What did you want to be when you grew up? As a child, I wanted to be a farmer, specifically on a horse farm. Through middle and high school, I wanted to be a journalist.

How do you define success? Success is setting goals and then beating them, but not only for myself. A big part of success is teaching and supporting those in my life to reach their own goals.

What three words best describe you? Authentic, intense, strong. I’ve also been told that ‘sally’ is fitting.

What are you passionate about? Connecting people and creating community. I love building teams and seeing how people go from consistently asking for guidance or how to do something to being able to make decisions and act on their own. Providing people, especially those with disabilities, with opportunities and seeing them grow. In a less existential sense, I love being physically active. I play roller derby, horseback ride, hike, and run consistently. I spend as much time as possible outdoors.

Who has been your best mentor, and why? My first supervisor out of grad school, Courtland Townes III, was and continues to be a positive influence on me. Courtland has a way of providing perspective on situations that helped me to understand myself and how my actions could lead to desired outcomes. He was able to give me confidence, but also keep me in line. He taught me how to be tough but fair, navigate internal politics, and (try to) keep a work/life balance. Before working with Courtland, I thought I should keep details about my personal life private from my staff. But with his guidance, I learned how to be professional but also be human and show my personality.

What person, past or present, would you like to have lunch with, and why? I am torn between Anthony Bourdain and Eleanor Roosevelt. Anthony Bourdain has such an amazing story, and I feel that, as much as he shared through his shows, he had even more to offer. I would love to discuss his experiences abroad, as they seem much more authentic than other travel shows — plus he would pick a great place to eat. Eleanor Roosevelt because of all she did to support her husband, her activist role, and her humbleness through it all.

 

Photography by Leah Martin Photography

The Class of 2019

Audit Supervisor, Wolf & Co., P.C.; Age 29
Education: Western New England University (BSBA, MSA)

Nicole Florian-Theriaque

Nicole Florian-Theriaque

What did you want to be when you grew up? I always thought I wanted to be a corporate attorney. I entered college with intentions of the 3+3 law program at Western New England University. As a freshman, I took a required intro-level accounting course and was told by my professor and advisor to consider an accounting major. I was told I was not only good at it, but I would also have job security. This was important, as I was in college during the economic crisis of 2008. I then decided to change to a double major in accounting and finance.

What three words best describe you? Balanced, proactive, independent.

What are you passionate about? I am passionate about keeping all aspects of my life balanced. I believe it’s important to not only work hard at my career, but also continue working on myself. I’m constantly setting personal goals, such as running a half-marathon, finishing different obstacle-course races, and currently working toward a yoga handstand and crow poses. I am also passionate about giving back to the community, not only with monetary contributions, but with my time. I find it rewarding to work with high-school and college students, advising them about their future. Finally, since adopting a dog about a year ago, I have also become very passionate about animal rights and helping shelter animals find forever homes.

What goal do you set for yourself at the start of each day? “Don’t try your best, just do it.” This is something I’ve recently set myself up with at the start of each day. A yoga teacher I took a class with earlier this year told us not to try a pose, just do it, and take that with you for the rest of your day.

What person, past or present, would you like to have lunch with, and why? I would want to have lunch with Tom Brady. He’s arguably the greatest athlete of all time and represents New England sports. Even in times of doubt, he finds a way to bring his team to a win. I would ask what it’s like to work alongside Bill Belichick and be part of creating the Patriot dynasty.

 

 

Photography by Leah Martin Photography

The Class of 2019

​President, ​Gallagher Real Estate; Age 39
Education: ​American International College (BS)

​Paul Gallagher

​Paul Gallagher

What did you want to be when you grew up? When I was growing up, I always wanted to be a WWE professional wrestler.

What goal do you set for yourself at the start of each day? Every morning, I like to start the day with a positive attitude and bring my ‘A’ game in everything I do. Gratitude is a driving force in my life. I realize that I have many great people around me, including my wife, Suzanne, daughters Ashley and Angelena, and sons Ryan, Giancarlo, and Joey. Their support enables me to be the best version of myself everyday.

Whom do you look up to, and why? My son Ryan. He was diagnosed on the autism spectrum at 18 months old. Since then, he has worked diligently to overcome many obstacles which to a typical child would come naturally. My son is my inspiration and my hero.

How do you define success? To me, success is defined as being content within yourself and having balance with your friendships, mentorships, family, and professional relationships. Building these relationships has helped get me to where I am today.

What actor would play you in a movie about your life? Leonardo DiCaprio.

What three words best describe yourself? I would describe myself as a confident, innovative, and generous person. The values that were instilled in me at an early age by my parents have given me the confidence and foresight to grow in my personal life and business endeavors. Being in the constantly changing business of real estate, it’s important to be aware of every aspect of the industry while making daily decisions on how to move my business forward and stay on the cutting edge of the industry.

What person, past or present, would you like to have lunch with, and why? My grandmother. She passed away when I was 2 years old, and I would love to have had the opportunity to know her.

 

Photography by Leah Martin Photography

The Class of 2019

Principal Engineer and Associate Partner, Mott MacDonald Global Engineering; Age 34
Education: University of Rhode Island (BS, MS)

Daniel Hartman

Daniel Hartman

What did you want to be when you grew up? A professional baseball player.

How do you define success? As a mindset and process of working through life’s obstacles — a journey and not a destination.

What three words best describe you? Driven, mindful, philomathic.

What are you passionate about? My family, hobbies (snowboarding, golf, running), my dog, health and wellness, self-improvement, and giving back.

Who has been your best mentor, and why? As the saying goes, it takes a village. I surround myself with people I look up to and draw something amicable from each one. My friends and close family have all been mentors in varying facets; my grandfather, Richard Hartman, and grandmother, Alice Liptak, have been especially influential.

Whom do you look up to, and why? I look up to my uncle, Ted Leigh, who embodies all the character traits I value in one person. He is bright, kind, creative, a lover of nature and animals, a patient teacher, industrious, a skilled craftsman and problem solver, an independent thinker who lives life fully, and on top of that, he tells some of the best stories I’ve ever heard.

What fictional character do you relate to most, and why? I relate most to Calvin, from Calvin and Hobbes, because of his relationship with his pet/pal Hobbes, his constant curiosity and love of exploring and adventure, his creativity, and his free spirit.

What actor would play you in a movie about your life? Johnny Depp.

What person, past or present, would you like to have lunch with, and why? It’s a three-way tie between Hunter S. Thompson, Abraham Lincoln, and the Buddha. All three contribute to how I model my philosophy on life. I look up to Lincoln for his high standard on social justice and overcoming adversity, Thompson for his free spirit and creativity, and Buddha for his treatment of self, others, and managing suffering. I think it would be an interesting lunch conversation, to say the least.

 

 

Photography by Leah Martin Photography

The Class of 2019

Founder, Migliore Luxury Car Care Products; Director, MassMutual; Age 31
Education: Westfield State University (BS);
Western New England University (MBA)

Donald Havourd

Donald Havourd

How do you define success? In my opinion, success simply means methodically improving both yourself and your work efforts. Success is not a destination, but about the gradual improvement in what we do each day. Personally, it is important to me that I strive toward creating happiness by putting my energy toward efforts I feel passionate about, while ensuring a reasonable work/life harmony with strong family ties.

What three words best describe you? Adaptable, creative, visionary.

What goal do you set for yourself at the start of each day? Take time to exercise! Staying active is important to me and has been a constant over the past 15 years. Setting up purposeful breaks in my day allows me to refresh and recharge, resulting in increased productivity through exercise.

Who has been your best mentor, and why? Without doubt, my best mentor has been my father. My dad is a tireless worker who taught me from a young age the value of hard work and dedication to a particular task. As I grew older, this helped me easily transition into the multiple different ‘outcome-based’ cultures I have crossed in my career. More importantly, I learned from my dad the importance of family and the value in simply being there for each other. Though he worked long and unusual hours, I vividly recall him attending each and every soccer game I had in high school, and sometimes even practices! Regardless of how tired he was, or how stressful the day was, he always found a way to be there.

What person, past or present, would you like to have lunch with, and why? Tim Ferris and Elon Musk, together. Sorry, not just one! Tim is the pinnacle of efficiency and creative thinking, which would be an interesting combination with Elon, the tech visionary. I have always been in awe of how Musk can seemingly bypass all formal roadblocks in his pursuit of a meaningful mission, which I would love to learn from.

What actor would play you in a movie about your life? Jason Statham. It’s all about the hair, or lack thereof!

 

Photography by Leah Martin Photography

The Class of 2019

Director of MBA Alumni & Corporate Relations, Isenberg School of Management, UMass Amherst; Age 36; Education: Elms College (BA), Isenberg School of Management, UMass Amherst (MBA)

How do you define success? Achieving clearly established goals, even though the path may not have been the smoothest. It’s the overall journey that makes the success so sweet. It’s that feeling of having never given up. Success does not have to be my greatest achievements, either, but instead those moments that make me the most proud. It’s a state of positive energy and confirmation that what I was hoping to achieve actually occurred.

What three words best describe you? Committed, positive, team-oriented.

What goal do you set for yourself at the start of each day? Life is hectic, and you need to prioritize what matters most in that moment. You cannot be perfect at everything, but you can strive to give those items during the day your maximum attention.

What are you passionate about? Being a positive role model for my 7-year-old daughter, Callie. I strive to teach her about hard work and determination. I want her to know she can in fact make a positive change in her community and leave a mark on this world. A solid educational foundation and empathy go a long way. I never stop learning and always try to instill those values in her. The youth are our future, and we need more powerhouse women stepping up to the table.

Who has been your best mentor, and why? I really shouldn’t admit this to him, but my husband, Tom. He gives me the honest feedback I don’t want to hear, but need to. He pushes me to become a better person personally and professionally. He challenges me to view or try things in a different way. He is the first person I call when faced with a tough decision. He is calm during turbulent times and knows that, in the end, things will work out exactly as they should. This makes the structured planner in me crazy. He lives life with no instruction manual, and that’s a good balance in our relationship.

What will work colleagues say at your funeral? I hope they’d say I’ve lived my life to its fullest potential — that I gave 110% in every way and never let an obstacle keep me down for long. They’d probably also joke that this would be the first time I wasn’t going non-stop in a hundred different directions.

 

Photography by Leah Martin Photography