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Workforce Development

The Overlooked Management Tool

By Kate Zabriskie

‘I sit right next them. We don’t need to have a staff meeting.’

‘I used to have staff meetings, but we stopped having them. Nobody had anything to talk about.’

‘We have enough meetings. We certainly don’t need another.’

For a myriad of reasons, many managers don’t hold regular staff meetings. Furthermore, most who do don’t get the most they could from them, and that’s too bad. Good staff meetings can focus a team, energize employees, and engage them in ways ad-hoc interactions don’t.

So how do you turn a halted or ho-hum approach to staff meetings into a high-functioning management tool?

STEP ONE: Connect Daily Work with Your Organization’s Purpose

In addition to distributing information, staff meetings present an opportunity to connect your team’s daily work to your organization’s purpose. If you’re thinking, ‘My people know how their work fits into our overall goal,’ you would be wrong. In fact, if you ask your group what your organization’s purpose or your department’s purpose are, don’t be surprised when you get as many answers as there are people in the room. (And you thought you had nothing to talk about in a staff meeting. A discussion about purpose is a good one to have.)

Purpose is why you do what you do. You connect the work to it by explaining how what people did aligns with the greater goal. For example, the head of housekeeping at a busy hotel might hold a meeting with the cleaning staff. In that meeting, the managers might recognize a team that received a perfect room score from all guests who took a survey and then talk about purpose.

The purpose of the hotel is to provide people a safe and comfortable place to spend the night. Having a clean, welcoming, and functioning room is one of the ways a cleaning staff achieves that goal.

“Purpose is why you do what you do. You connect the work to it by explaining how what people did aligns with the greater goal.”

By regularly connecting such activities as cleaning toilets, making beds, and folding towels to the guest experience, the manager highlights why each of those activities is important.

No matter what they do, employees usually enjoy their jobs more when their organization’s leaders talk about the importance of their work. They also tend to make better choices if they receive frequent reminders about purpose and what types of activities support it.

STEP TWO: Highlight Relevant Metrics

Connecting work to purpose usually works best when a team focuses on both anecdotal and analytical information. If you don’t currently track statistics, start. What you track will depend on your industry. However, whatever you decide should have a clear line of sight to the larger goal.

For instance, a museum that holds events to attract new members might track the number of events held, contact information collected, memberships sold, and the percentage of new memberships that come as a result of attending the free event. With regular attention placed on the right metrics, the team is far more likely to make good choices as to where it should focus its efforts.

STEP THREE: Follow a Formula and Rotate Responsibility

Successful staff meetings usually follow a pattern, such as looking at weekly metrics, sharing information from the top, highlighting success, a team-building activity, and so forth. By creating and sticking with a formula, managers help their employees know what to expect.

Once employees know the pattern of the meeting, many are capable of running it because they’ve learned by watching. Managers then have a natural opportunity to rotate the responsibility of the meeting to different people. By delegating, the manager is able to free up his or her time and provide employees with a chance to develop their skills.

STEP FOUR: Celebrate Successes

In many organizations, there is a huge appreciation shortage. Staff meetings provide managers and employees with regular intervals to practice gratitude.

“I’d like to thank Tom for staying late last night. Because he did, I was able to attend a parent-teacher conference.”

“Maryann’s work on the PowerPoint presentation was superb. I want to thank her for preparing me with the best slides shown at the conference. The stunning photos outshined the graphics others used. Maryann’s work really made our company look good.”

A steady drip of sincere gratitude can drive engagement. Note the word: sincerity. Most people have an amazing capacity to identify a false compliment. Real praise is specific. Well-delivered praise also ties the action to the outcome. Whether it’s being able to attend a conference, looking good in front of others, or some other result, people appreciate praise more when they understand how their actions delivered results. A praise segment in your staff meetings ensures you routinely take the time to recognize efforts.

STEP FIVE: Focus on Lessons Learned and Continuous Improvement

Staff meetings that include an opportunity to share lessons learned help drive continuous improvement. At first, people may be reluctant to share shortcomings. However, if you follow step four, you should begin to develop better communication and a sense of trust with your team. Modeling the process is a good place to start.

“I learned something this week I want to share with you. I had a call with a client that could have gone better. I’m going to tell you what happened and then I’ll discuss some ideas about how I would handle something similar in the future.”

The more you practice this exercise, the greater the gains you should experience.

STEP SIX: Develop a Schedule and Stick with It

Almost anyone can follow the first five steps some of the time, but those who get the most out of staff meetings hold them consistently. They publish a meeting schedule, and they stick with it. They may shorten a meeting from time to time or reschedule, but they don’t treat their chance to gather the team as the least important priority.

Good staff meetings aren’t perfunctory activities that add little value. On the contrary, when used to their full capacity, they are a dynamic management tool. Now what are you going to do about yours? u

Kate Zabriskie is the president of Business Training Works Inc., a Maryland-based talent development firm. She and her team help businesses establish customer service strategies and train their people to live up to what’s promised; www.businesstrainingworks.com.

Workforce Development

The Truth About Employee Disengagement

By Brad Wolff

Most companies struggle with employee disengagement. It’s costly in productivity, profitability, and stress. Gallup’s engagement survey data published in 2017 found that two thirds of U.S. workers are not engaged.

American companies have invested billions of dollars per year for many years to solve this problem. The results? The needle still hasn’t moved. How much has your experience been similar? Could this data simply reveal a general misunderstanding of the true causes of disengagement?

The Acme Corporation was suffering a 41% turnover rate. A recent survey showed that 85% of their workforce was disengaged. The general attitude of apathy, complaining, and cynicism permeated the culture. This was puzzling to management since they attempted multiple efforts to improve engagement.

These were well-planned and executed programs such as team-building exercises, social events, and pay raises. All showed early enthusiasm and positive survey results that generated optimism. Unfortunately, the magic always wore off within a few weeks. In despair, Acme engaged a firm with a very different philosophy than their other advisors. This firm focused on helping executive leadership understand the root causes and solutions. Within nine months, disengagement improved from 71% to 26% and turnover dropped to 19%.

The door to solving this dilemma opened when Acme management acknowledged that since their previous solution attempts were ineffective, their current way of seeing the problem must be flawed. This wisdom, humility, and openness paved the way to learn the true root causes of their disengagement. Once root causes are clearly understood, the solutions usually become obvious.

Fixing engagement issues: What works?

The first step is for the company leaders to take an honest, objective view of the company culture (beliefs and behaviors that determine how people interact and do their work) that impacts and drives the way people think and behave.

That’s why lasting change occurs when focusing at the culture level rather than specific individuals. Below are the relevant human psychological needs that are the actual root causes of people’s engagement level. Examples of mindsets/philosophies that effectively address these needs follows each need. Engagement will improve when management’s actions align with people’s psychological needs.

• To feel valued and understood. Management earnestly listens to employees’ concerns, opinions, and ideas with the intent to understand and consider their merits before responding. This replaces the common responses of defending positions or punishing employees for expressing contrary viewpoints. Management isn’t required to agree with the employees. What’s important is the sincere effort to listen, understand and consider their inputs.

• To express our gifts and talents. Management puts a focus on aligning roles and responsibilities with the gifts and talents of the individuals. We all bring a substantially higher energy and engagement (and productivity) when we do work that we like and are good at. As legendary management consultant Peter Drucker said, “A manager’s task is to make the strengths of people effective and their weaknesses irrelevant.”

• Meaning/purpose in what we do. This means that employees have a clear understanding of how their work impacts the mission and vision of the organization. Don’t expect them to figure this out on their own. People are much more motivated when they realize that their efforts truly matter.

• Internal drive for progress or development. Employees are at their best when there is “healthy tension” (not too low, not too high) to meet clear and reasonable standards. This means fair and consistent accountability and consequences based on performance relative to agreed-upon standards. Being too nice and lax harms engagement since people inherently desire growth and realize that standards and consequence help them do this. People are motivated when they focus on: “What did I achieve today?” What did I learn today?” How did I grow?”

What doesn’t work:

In short, anything that doesn’t authentically address the root causes of disengagement is doomed to fail. If the message is ‘look at this nice thing we just did for you’ rather than ‘this is how we value you as human being,’ it’s highly likely to fail.

Examples of the ‘nice thing we just did for you’ include most team-building events, social mixers, company newsletters, upgraded office environments, etc. Even pay and benefit increases have an initial rush soon followed by the familiar “right back where we were” rebound effect. That’s not to say companies should not do these things. They’re nice add-ons after the day to day essentials of human psychology are authentically addressed.

In summary, it’s understandable that we gravitate toward easy, quick-fix solutions to our problems. There are plenty of people to make these suggestions and sell them to us. They also don’t require us to identify our own personal contributions to the problems which we’d prefer to avoid. However, as in most things in life, there is no substitute for working at the cause-level and creating new habits of thinking and behavior.

If you’re serious about creating the high engagement level lead to more profits with greater ease and personal satisfaction, this is what it takes. As a bonus, openly addressing personal challenges that make you human will increase your effectiveness and fulfillment in every area of your life.

Brad Wolff specializes in workforce and personal optimization. He’s a speaker and author of, People Problems? How to Create People Solutions for a Competitive Advantage. As the managing partner for Atlanta-based PeopleMax, he specializes in helping companies maximize the potential and results of their people to make more money with less stress; www.PeopleMaximizers.com.

Business Management

The Forces of Change

“People don’t change unless the pain of not changing becomes greater than the pain of change.” That was one of many observations made by those presenting the latest installment of BusinessWest’s Future Tense series late last month. The more important point made: by the time companies get to that point, it might just be too late to change.

‘Burn the boats.’

That’s supposedly what the Vikings did before entering into battle — a bold indication that there would be absolutely no turning back from a particular course of action — and the phrase has become heard with increasing frequency in boardrooms across this country and in many others.

And Mark Borsari, president of Palmer-based wire-brush manufacturer Sanderson MacLeod, made it one of many phrases (and takeaway strategies) he offered as co-presenter of the latest installment in BusinessWest’s ongoing and appropriately titled Future Tense series.

Borsari shared the podium with Jim Barrett, managing partner at Holyoke-based Meyers Brothers Kalicka, and advice not to be afraid to burn the boats was among the many messages they passed along to audience members during a program titled “Change Considerations: An Examination of Lean Process, Market Disruption, and the Future of Your Business.”

The two focused on every phrase within that long title, but especially that one word ‘change.’ Like others who presented in this series before them, they noted that change is coming at business owners at an unprecedented pace and scale. And while there are some changes that cannot be foreseen or remotely planned for — Barrett summoned the example of the city of Westfield, a buggy-whip manufacturing hub that was one of few communities worldwide economically devastated by the invention of the automobile — there are things business owners can and must do.

Over the course of their talk, Barrett and Borsari listed several — from embracing new technology to being ultra-diligent when it comes to investing in it; from watching the horizon for imminent changes to recognizing emerging new trends in workforce skill sets; from embracing lean practices (whatever your business sector), to, yes, being fully prepared to burn the boats when it comes to all or most of the above.

Mark Borsari says his parents used the wet-facecloth method to get him up in the morning

Mark Borsari says his parents used the wet-facecloth method to get him up in the morning, and now he manages his company with the same mindset.

“You need to have confidence in what you’re doing,” said Borsari, noting that many lean initiatives and investments in new technology fail because leadership lacked the confidence to ride out the inevitable early questions and problems that accompany change. “If you’re a leader, stick with it; you have to burn the boats.”

One also has to keep his head out of the sand, he went on, referencing a business he was once in — the making of dentures — to get his points across.

“If you’re a leader, stick with it; you have to burn the boats.”

“That technology had not changed, until about 2004, in 150 years,” he explained. “You’d go to the dentist, the guy would put that big plastic thing with a bunch of goop in your mouth, make an impression, and send it off to a dental laboratory to a dental technician who would, by hand, make teeth; they were getting $120 to $130 a unit on average.”

By 2006 or so, intra-oral scanning had completely changed the landscape, he said, adding that a milling center in a dentist’s office can now make a tooth in hours instead of days and for a fraction of the cost.

“That is technology that is absolutely disruptive; if people in that industry were watching, they would have seen what was coming, but they missed it,” he noted. “Now these technicians have milling centers in their laboratories, and they’re making $40 a unit. You go from $120 to $40 with inflation — that’s the stuff that scares you to death.”

Barrett agreed, and for another example of not recognizing what in hindsight, or even careful foresight, seems obvious, he recalled Jim Keyes’ now-infamous quote from a decade ago: “Neither Redbox nor Netflix are even on the radar screen in terms of competition; it’s all Walmart and Apple.”

“Two years later, Blockbuster files for bankruptcy, and today, Netflix is worth about $62 billion. That’s how fast change can happen, and if you don’t anticipate the disruption, chances are you’re not going to make it,” said Barrett, adding that the business landscape is littered with similar examples of companies moving too slowly, or not moving at all, to anticipate change and get ahead of it.

How and why does that continue to happen?

“People don’t change unless the pain of not changing becomes greater than the pain of change,” said Barrett, adding that companies and business sectors are going to keep doing what has made them successful until it becomes more than obvious that they can no longer do that.

But at the rate change is happening, that won’t be possible in the near future. By the time the pain of not changing exceeds that of changing, it may be too late to change.

For this issue, BusinessWest recaps the third segment in its Future Tense series, a presentation that brought home the need for business owners and managers to prepare for and be able to withstand what can possibly come at them in the months and years to come, rather than be a buggy-whip maker in the age of the automobile.

Brush with Fame

Rosie Noble worked at Sanderson McLeod for a half-century, Borsari told those gathered at Tech Foundry for this installment of Future Tense. Her job — no, make that her domain — was a specific wire brush, or stylus, made for the healthcare sector.

“Rosie walked seven miles a day, 14 feet at a time, for 50 years — she has 2% body fat,” said Borsari as he attempted to draw a picture of how these brushes were made. “You are not going to find another Rosie Noble working for Sanderson MacLeod, walking seven miles a day, making brushes for the rate we were paying. And Rosie wants to retire; what do you do?”

The answer was the Rosie 2, built with her input. It’s the world’s first (and only) fully automatic twisted-wire stylus machine — technology that does essentially what its namesake did starting when Lyndon Johnson was in the White House. Ultimately, Borsari said, the company didn’t build this machine because it wanted to, but because it had to to remain competitive.

“People don’t change unless the pain of not changing becomes greater than the pain of change.”

The Rosie 2 is a great example of a company adapting to change, embracing and utilizing technology, and finding better and more efficient ways to do things, he noted, adding that, moving forward, it’s incumbent on all business owners and managers to write their own Rosie stories.

Jim Barrett

Jim Barrett says that, while lean practices are most commonly associated with the factory floor, this is a strategy, and mindset, that all business sectors must embrace.

There are many factors involved in this equation, said the presenters, starting with the world of work and the rapid pace of change of pace in that realm, most of it driven by technology.

To sum it all up, Barrett talked about this country’s new Lockheed-Martin F-35 fighter jet, a plane that uses artificial intelligence to self-diagnose its needs in term of fuel, parts, maintenance, ammunition, and more. Those servicing the plane don’t have to accumulate that data, as they did with past models, because the plane provides it for them.

Emerging technology does essentially the same for business owners across virtually all sectors, he went on, adding that, in the future (and even today, for that matter), employees, especially those involved in finance, won’t be needed to gather or even analyze information — again, because technology, like Blockchain, will do that for them.

“Today, a large part of the financial function is data analysis; 60% to 80% of the time is spent gathering data and making that sure that data is compatible, either between years or sets or whatever metric you’re trying to measure to: ‘do we have the right data? Is it good data? Is it compatible?’ — 60% to 80% of the time!” he said. “Moving forward, that’s largely going to be automated out of existence, all that time is going to be freed up, and that’s going to be a huge disruption to the financial function of industries.”

Instead, one of employees’ primary functions is to take the information available to them and help management decide what to do from a strategic standpoint. And to do that, they’ll probably need different skill sets than they have now, said Barrett, adding that they’ll need to do everything from “help the company make smart bets,” as he called them, to making sure the business is using the right data and the right metrics.

Instead of counting money in the cash drawer and figuring out where it came from, the retail finance employee of the future (or today) will need to be able to help answer questions like, ‘should we open a new store or close a store?’ ‘Do we go online?’ ‘How much does that cost?,’ said Barrett.

“And that’s a whole different skill set than the finance function of the past,” he went on, adding that employers and human-resources professionals need to be aware of these changes as they create their workforces.

“What people in the finance function need to understand is they need to adapt to this information, because what made them successful in the past is not going to make them successful or, like the buggy whip, relevant in the future,” Barrett noted. “If you’re still counting cash, your competition is way ahead of you.”

Investments in the Future

Borsari agreed, and said that knowing what to do with both data and emerging technology is the biggest challenge facing business owners and managers today.

With that, he clicked to a PowerPoint slide with two images — one of a palm tree, the other of an iceberg — and kept it there for a few moments as he talked about the immensely difficult and far-reaching decisions business owners face when it comes to investing in technology.

“Those of you who run businesses or run companies or organizations and have to make these decisions know that it’s exhausting — absolutely exhausting,” he said. “Our job, when you get right down to it, is to be on the bow of a ship looking out and seeing what’s on the horizon long before it gets there. It’s either an iceberg that’s going to put a hole in the side of the ship and sink you, or a pretty place you might want to take the company and go sailing.

“What people in the finance function need to understand is they need to adapt to this information, because what made them successful in the past is not going to make them successful or, like the buggy whip, relevant in the future. If you’re still counting cash, your competition is way ahead of you.”

“And it’s exhausting because you’re getting bombarded from all sides,” he went on. “Our challenge is, ‘how do we look at the palm trees and the icebergs and sort out what is the technology we think is relevant, what we think works for us, and what doesn’t?’”

Elaborating, he said the place companies must start is with a basic question: what is the technology for? And until it’s answered, the checkbook should certainly stay in the drawer. The goal, he went on, is to embrace and choose technology that enhances that which already separates you in the marketplace.

“Understand what the value-driver is for your customer,” he told his audience. “What do they come to you for? Then determine if technology is going to help you, neutralize you, or put you at a disadvantage. Once you buy it, you own it.”

Borsari noted that Palmer-based Sanderson MacLeod is not going to make wire brushes less expensively than companies in China, or almost anywhere else, given the high cost of doing business in this state.

“So why do people buy from us?” he asked rhetorically before answering that question for the audience.

“Our feeling is that our customers have to think that they’re either with us or that not being with us is a competitive disadvantage,” he said, adding that the company is known for its innovation and making products that stand out in the marketplace.

“These are the things that we think about when we consider technology,” he explained. “Is it going to help us with this, or does it make us more of a commodity?”

This discussion of technology and investments in it led naturally to another of those phrases in the program’s title — lean process.

Lean, the science of taking waste out of the process, can help drive decisions on technology investments, said Borsari, who cited the ‘5 Ms’ of waste — man, machine, method, materials, and money — and the need to identify which one (or ones) are the target of new technology.

“What are you buying the machine for?” he said. “Sometimes you think you’re chasing something, and you realize that’s not what you’re really chasing.”

What all companies are chasing are greater efficiencies and better ways of doing things, said Barrett, adding that a great misconception in business today is that lean is just for the manufacturing floor.

That’s a very limiting attitude, said Barrett, adding that Meyers Brothers, and the financial-services sector as a whole, is starting to embrace lean — out of necessity more than desire. But there are hurdles to be overcome, he said, primarily because these businesses are “dealing with people, not machines, and people are resistant to change.”

“We’re great at analyzing data — we made a career analyzing data — and people love to sit at their desks and play with spreadsheets,” he explained. “But that’s not valuable anymore; people are going to continue doing what made them successful over the past 30 years, even though times are changing.”

That’s why, said both Barrett and Borsari, what a company ultimately needs to change through lean isn’t equipment, technology, or even processes — but the culture.

The Naked Truth

Borsari called it ‘wet-facecloth management.’

And, obviously, he needed to explain that.

“When I was a kid, my parents didn’t like me sleeping in,” he noted. “They’d come in the first time and say, ‘you’ve got 10 minutes to get up.’ If I didn’t get up in 10, they’d say, ‘you’ve got five minutes, then we’re coming up with a wet facecloth.’

“It is impossible to not deal with reality when you’re facing a cold facecloth in the morning,” he went on, adding that the tactic almost always worked, and today, he more or less runs Sanderson MacLeod the same way. Reality, in this case, isn’t having to get out of bed, but to operate with the full knowledge that a few mistakes, or even one big one, can make your company the next Blockbuster or the next Kodak, a venerable institution that just didn’t position itself for the advent of digital photography.

With that, he said ‘wet-facecloth management’ means avoiding certain attitudes, including putting a company’s collective heads in the sand, as the dental technicians obviously did at the start of this century.

“Their heads were in the sand; there’s no question that there was technology coming up that would make a tooth faster than layering porcelain by hand,” he said. “You have to question yourself, and you have to have people in your organization who are empowered to challenge you on that.

“You want them reading, and you want them not feeling that if they come to you with an idea that’s a little out of whack, they’re not going to have your ear,” he went on. “But you have to make sure you don’t get your heads in the sand when it comes to technology, because if you do miss a major one, that will shut the doors.”

Another mindset to avoid is ‘magic-bullet thinking,’ he went on.

“This is where someone goes to a presentation, comes back, and says, ‘we have to buy this thing; it’s unbelievable,’” he said. “That’s dangerous; there are no magic bullets. There are things that will help you, but there are no magic bullets. I’ve bought magic bullets. They don’t work.”

Still another mindset to avoid, said both Borsari and Barrett, is the thinking that all the answers have to come from inside the company.

The proper mentality is to ‘get naked,’ as Borsari called it.

“I encourage people to get out and see other companies, and to have people come and pull you apart,” he explained. “Bare what you have; you want an idea that can come through and change things, but don’t get into thinking that you have everything covered, because you don’t.”

Barrett agreed, and said one of the bigger challenges facing businesses in all sectors is changing the culture of an organization and inspiring people to think lean, avoid magic bullets, and get their heads out of the sand.

What’s needed is a compelling message, he told BusinessWest.

“To stand in front of people and tell people they need to be more efficient because if we’re not more efficient and we’re not doing it better, we’re going to be out of business — that’s not really motivational to a lot of people,” he explained. “You need to find some way to engage them.

“In our business,” he said, “that might be to say, ‘yes, you might lose 60% to 80% of what you used to do, but if you understand that, you can now spend your time going out to customers and trying to help them with their business, and you can do better stuff that, A, they value, and, B, they’re going to pay more for, and you can have a better feeling when you leave that you helped somebody, as opposed to reading spreadsheets.’

“The message can’t be, ‘we have to be lean because we don’t we to be the next Blockbuster,’” he went on. “The message has to be, ‘we have to be lean so we can do better, higher-value stuff that’s more rewarding for us and more valuable for our customers.”

Bottom Line

‘Wet-facecloth management?’ ‘Burning the boats?’

These are not phrases you would probably hear in the boardroom 20 years ago, or even a few years ago.

But you hear them now, because the times (maybe you’ve heard this) are changing. And change is coming quickly and profoundly, and companies need to be aware that they have to change attitudes and change the way they do things.

As Barrett so aptly put it, businesses, and especially those who lead, simply can’t wait around until the pain of not changing becomes greater than the pain of change.

George O’Brien can be reached at [email protected]

Departments People on the Move
Moira Maguire

Moira Maguire

Holyoke Community College recently welcomed Moira Maguire as its new dean of Social Sciences. Maguire most recently served as dean of Liberal Arts at Schenectady County Community College in New York. Before that, she spent 12 years as a professor of history at the University of Arkansas in Little Rock, where she was a tenured faculty member and served as a department chair and course coordinator. She holds a Ph.D. in history from American University, a master’s degree in history from Northeastern University, and a bachelor’s degree in political science and history from George Washington University. As a teacher and scholar specializing in 20th-century Irish history, Maguire spent more than 10 years at the University of Ireland Maynooth, where her research on infanticide and the Irish government’s care of unwed mothers and their children led to many articles and a book, Cherished Equally? Precarious Childhood in Independent Ireland. She has also worked as a consultant for the BBC on documentaries related to her research. As dean of Social Science, she will oversee six academic departments: Education, Criminal Justice, Human Services, Critical Cultural Studies (Economics, Geography, History, Philosophy, Political Science, and Women’s Studies), Psychology, and Sociology/Anthropology.

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Sonya Stephens, the acting president of Mount Holyoke College, has been named the college’s 19th president, effective July 1. The Mount Holyoke College board of trustees announced its decision to appoint Stephens on April 23 after an extensive presidential selection process that began in January. A formal inauguration will be held in September. The decision was unanimous. Stephens was made acting president in July 2016. During her tenure, she has overseen the implementation of the Plan for Mount Holyoke 2021 and been focused on ensuring the college’s long-term financial stability. Other key efforts include the creation of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiative, which led to the annual BOOM! (Building on Our Momentum) learning conference and to the hiring of the college’s first chief diversity officer. Stephens led the development of the college’s comprehensive self-study for re-accreditation by the New England Assoc. of Schools and Colleges, and launched the Community Center construction and the opening of the Dining Commons. She is also overseeing the college’s commitment to reach carbon neutrality by its bicentennial in 2037.

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Elissa Langevin

Elissa Langevin

Lee McCarthy

Lee McCarthy

Shelley Daughdrill

Shelley Daughdrill

Lori Jarrett

Lori Jarrett

Celia Alvarado

Celia Alvarado

Alicia Pare

Alicia Pare

Florence Bank has promoted three employees to oversee the management of branches within their designated regions. Elissa Langevin has been named vice president and area manager for the bank’s main office in Florence, Lee McCarthy will serve as vice president and area manager for the King Street office in Northampton, Shelley Daughdrill and will hold the role of vice president and area manager for the Belchertown branch. Langevin is a 10-year employee of Florence Bank. Formerly, she was vice president and branch manager of the main office in Florence. During her tenure at the bank, Langevin has been the recipient of Florence Bank’s Community Service Award, which provides recognition to employees who are actively involved in community organizations. She serves as the current treasurer of the Belchertown Day School and has served as a board member for Junior Achievement of Western Massachusetts. She has also served as board member and president of the East of the River Five Town Chamber of Commerce. McCarthy is a 15-year employee of Florence Bank. Formerly, she was vice president and branch manager of the King Street office. During her tenure at the bank, McCarthy has served as consumer lending officer and branch manager. She is a volunteer for the United Way of Hampshire County and serves on its Community Allocation Committee. In 2015, she was recognized by the United Way as an honoree for the Community Champion Award, presented to a community member who has made a significant contribution to the organization’s mission of creating positive and lasting change in Hampshire County. Daughdrill is a 12-year employee of Florence Bank. Formerly, she served as vice president and branch manager of the Amherst and Belchertown offices. She has been the recipient of the bank’s President’s Award and Community Service Award. She is a board member, attendance chair, and auction committee member for the Amherst Rotary Club, and she also serves on the development committee for the Amherst Survival Center. Meanwhile, Florence Bank has also hired three new employees to serve in various positions. Lori Jarrett will serve as assistant controller in the Finance Department in the main office in Florence, Celia Alvarado was named portfolio officer/commercial loan origination, and Alicia Pare was named to the position of cash management relationship officer. Jarrett holds a master’s degree in accounting from Western New England University. She volunteers for area nonprofits, including Riverside Industries, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampshire County, and Safe Passage, and she runs in the Apple-a-Day 5K, which benefits the elementary schools of Easthampton. Alvarado joined Florence Bank in February with nearly 10 years of banking experience. She currently studies at the New England College of Business, where she’s working on a bachelor’s degree in accounting and finance. She volunteers for Junior Achievement of Western Massachusetts and has served on its board in the past. Pare earned a bachelor’s degree in business management from Assumption College in Worcester. In 2014, she received Florence Bank’s prestigious President’s Club Award, an annual tradition that recognizes outstanding performance, customer service, and overall contribution to Florence Bank.

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Mark Fuller, current dean and Thomas O’Brien Endowed Chair at Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst, has been appointed the new vice chancellor for Development and Alumni Relations by UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy. Fuller will succeed Michael Leto, who announced his upcoming retirement last fall. As the university’s chief advancement officer, Fuller will serve on the chancellor’s leadership team and be responsible for short- and long-term plans to improve private support as well as cultivate strong relationships with UMass alumni and supporters. UMass Amherst, the Commonwealth’s flagship campus, has more than 200,000 living alumni. Fuller has led UMass’s Isenberg School of Management since 2009. Under Fuller’s leadership, Isenberg has generated a four-fold increase in annual gift performance since 2010; received a $10 million endowment to create the Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship; increased student giving ten-fold; secured private support for the new, $62 million Business Innovation Wing; and created 12 new endowed faculty positions. Prior to coming to UMass Amherst, Fuller was a professor and chair of the Department of Information Systems and holder of the Philip L. Kays Distinguished Professorship in Management Information Systems at Washington State University. He received his master’s degree in management and his Ph.D. in management information systems from the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management. His research focuses on virtual teamwork, technology-supported learning, and trust and efficacy in technology-mediated environments. Prior to Washington State, Fuller was an associate professor at the Hankamer School of Business at Baylor University.

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Maureen “Maura” Guzik

Maureen “Maura” Guzik

Casey Cusson

Casey Cusson

Erin Tautznik

Erin Tautznik

Janet Rosenkranz

Janet Rosenkranz

Michael Tucker, president and CEO of Greenfield Cooperative Bank, announced one new hire as well as three promotions. Maureen “Maura” Guzik joined Greenfield Cooperative Bank as vice president, Commercial Loans. She will be responsible for developing new commercial business in Hampshire County with the Northampton Cooperative division of the bank. She will be based in the bank’s Triangle Street branch in Amherst. She has more than 34 years of commercial banking experience. Guzik is a board member of the Northwestern District Attorney’s Children Advocacy Center and chairperson of the Belchertown Council on Aging. She is also active with the Amherst Area and Greater Northampton chambers of commerce. She earned her bachelor’s degree from St. Anselm’s College and her MBA from American International College. Casey Cusson has been promoted to assistant vice president and branch manager of the bank’s Shelburne Falls location. He has more than 15 years of management experience and joined Greenfield Cooperative Bank in June 2017. He is a board member on the Shelburne Falls Area Business Assoc. He earned his bachelor’s degree in business from UMass Amherst and will attend the New England School of Banking at Babson College beginning in May. Erin Tautznik was promoted to branch officer. With more than 13 years of banking experience, she is responsible for managing the bank’s 67 King St., Northampton office. She joined Northampton Cooperative Bank in 2004 and has attended Holyoke Community College and numerous banking seminars and courses. She is also a volunteer with the JFK Middle School’s after-school program. Janet Rosenkranz, credit officer, has additionally been named the Credit Department manager, and is now responsible for the bank’s Credit Department staff and coordinating its activities. She joined the bank in 2016 and has more than 18 years of experience in banking. She is a volunteer with the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. She received her bachelor’s degree at UMass Amherst and will attend the National School of Banking at the Wharton School beginning in June.

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Brian Kapitulik has accepted the position of dean of Business, Information Technology, Professional Studies, and Social Sciences at Greenfield Community College (GCC). “After a thorough search, we were excited to offer the position of dean to Brian,” said Catherine Seaver, chief Academic Affairs officer. Kapitulik has 18 years of professional experience in the Massachusetts public higher-education system and, in particular, during the last decade, in community college. Before his current role, he was chair of the Department of Social Sciences and professor of Sociology at GCC. He has also taught at UMass Amherst and Quinsigamond Community College. During this time, he evaluated and developed curriculum, assessed and reviewed programs, created new courses, and hired and mentored new faculty, all while teaching students, publishing papers, organizing professional-development workshops in his field, and serving the college in a number of leadership capacities ranging from search committees to faculty mentor for online pedagogy.

•••••

The Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts’ newly launched arts initiative, ValleyCreates, announced the appointment of five community advisors to support the initiative’s core mission to address underserved communities’ access to arts and culture funding and resources. Gina Beavers, Arts and Culture editor for the Valley Advocate, will serve as a liaison to arts and culture organizations in Hampshire and Hampden counties. Vanessa Pabón-Hernandez, director of Community Engagement and Education for WGBY, will serve as the initiative’s liaison to arts organizations in Hampden County. Matthew Glassman, co-artistic director ensemble of Double Edge Theater in Ashfield, will serve as a liaison to rural arts and culture organizations with a focus on Franklin County. Rosemary Tracy Woods, executive director and chief curator of the nonprofit Art for the Soul Gallery in Springfield, will serve as the ValleyCreates events curator. Finally, Kent Alexander will serve as the initiative’s diversity, equity, and inclusion facilitator. He brings with him years of experience conducting anti-racism and social-justice-focused workshops for various local organizations. Each community advisor will contribute up to eight hours per month for one year and will receive a stipend. ValleyCreates is supported by the Barr Foundation, through the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts’ participation in the Creative Commonwealth Initiative.

•••••

Jeanne Hardy, associate professor of Chemistry, whose research focuses on a key protein linked to neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, is being recognized with the inaugural Mahoney Life Sciences Prize at UMass Amherst. A panel of expert judges from the life-sciences sector observed that the “biomedical implications are significant” and “this could turn out to be one of ‘the’ pivotal studies in the effort to combat Alzheimer’s.” Hardy will receive the prize and present her research with life-sciences experts and UMass officials and scientists at a breakfast ceremony on Tuesday, June 19 at the UMass Club in Boston. Established by UMass Amherst alumni Richard, Robert, and William Mahoney, the $10,000 prize is intended to recognize scientists from the university’s College of Natural Sciences whose work significantly advances connections between research and industry. The prize will be awarded annually to one faculty member who is the principal author of a peer-reviewed paper about original research. Eligible papers can be on any topic in the life sciences that focuses on new research with translatable applications to industry and society. Hardy’s research paper, “Multiple Proteolytic Events in Caspase-6 Self-activation Impacts Conformations of Discrete Structural Regions,” was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in September 2017.

•••••

Baystate Franklin Medical Center announced that two interim leaders have accepted permanent positions at the community hospital. Ron Bryant has been named president, Baystate Franklin Medical Center/Northern Region, in addition to his continued role as president, Baystate Noble Hospital. Deb Provost has been named chief nursing officer and chief administrative officer, Baystate Franklin Medical Center/Northern Region, in addition to her continued role as chief regulatory officer, Baystate Health. Both have been serving in these roles in an interim capacity. Since Bryant’s interim appointment in January, he has held many open forums focusing on employee engagement and the need for a strong collaborative culture, advancing system integration and re-emphasizing the health system’s mission from a patient and employee perspective. Provost has been serving in the interim role of vice president of Patient Care Services and chief nursing officer at Baystate Franklin since November. Since her appointment, she has worked collaboratively with Baystate Franklin Medical Center’s leaders and team members to help ensure safe, high-quality care to the residents of Franklin County. Provost has been with Baystate Health for 41 years and has served as vice president, Surgery and Anesthesia and as interim chief nursing officer at Baystate Medical Center.

Daily News

FLORENCE — Florence Bank has hired three new employees to serve in various positions. Lori Jarrett will serve as assistant controller in the Finance Department in the main office in Florence, Celia Alvarado was named portfolio officer/commercial loan origination, and Alicia Pare was named to the position of cash management relationship officer.

Jarrett holds a master’s degree in accounting from Western New England University. She volunteers for area nonprofits, including Riverside Industries, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampshire County, and Safe Passage, and she runs in the Apple-a-Day 5K, which benefits the elementary schools of Easthampton.

Alvarado joined Florence Bank in February with nearly 10 years of banking experience. She currently studies at the New England College of Business, where she’s working on a bachelor’s degree in accounting and finance. She volunteers for Junior Achievement of Western Massachusetts and has served on its board in the past.

Pare earned a bachelor’s degree in business management from Assumption College in Worcester. In 2014, she received Florence Bank’s prestigious President’s Club Award, an annual tradition that recognizes outstanding performance, customer service, and overall contribution to Florence Bank.

Departments People on the Move
Christine Devin

Christine Devin

Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C. announced the promotion of Christine Devin, CPA, to manager in its Audit and Accounting department. In her new position, Devin will be responsible for the management of audit and review engagements for the firm’s not-for-profit, commercial, and pension clients. In addition, she will assist with the management of the not-for-profit niche, which encompasses the supervision and training of staff, client relations, firm protocol, and regulatory updates. She rejoined MBK in 2015 as a senior associate. With nine years of experience as a controller of a closely held business and more than eight years of public accounting experience, Devin combines a deep understanding of the operations, financial reporting, and regulatory requirements of the private sector with the technical expertise of a CPA. Devin received her bachelor’s degree in accounting from Elms College. She is a member of the Massachusetts Society of Certified Public Accountants and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

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Katie Longley

Katie Longley

Elms College appointed accomplished higher-education finance executive Katie Longley the college’s new vice president of Finance and Administration. Reporting to the president, Longley, who will join Elms on March 26, will be responsible for the strategic oversight and management of the college’s financial resources and operations. She comes to Elms from Abilene Christian University in Texas, where she currently serves as associate vice president of Finance. She held successive positions as controller, tax director, payroll manager, and senior accountant during her tenure with ACU. Prior to her work in higher education, Longley was in public accounting, working as an associate for PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP, and then becoming a senior auditor for Davis, Kinard & Co. She holds a master’s degree in accountancy and a bachelor’s degree in business administration, both from Abilene Christian University. Longley fills the position vacated by Brian Doherty, who retired from the college earlier this year.

•••••

Marcie Zimmerman

Marcie Zimmerman

Greenfield Savings Bank (GSB) promoted Marcie Zimmerman to Human Resources officer. In this role, she is responsible for the day-to-day management of HR, including benefits administration, employee relations, payroll, affirmative-action plan, recruiting, orientation, performance management, policy implementation, and employment-law compliance. Zimmerman joined GSB in 2009 and has worked in the field of human resources for more than 12 years. She holds a number of HR certifications, including Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR), Society for Human Resources Management Certified Professional (SHRM-CP), and Certified Compensation Analyst (CCA).

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Jeanne Kosakowski

Jeanne Kosakowski

The Dowd Insurance Agencies announced that Jeanne Kosakowski has been hired as claims director. In this role, she handles some of the personal-lines claims, all of the commercial-lines claims, and oversees all claims. “Jeanne joins us with over three decades of insurance experience and demonstrated customer relations that will benefit our customers,” said John E. Dowd Jr., president and CEO. Kosakowski came to the Dowd Agencies from Hanover Insurance, where she was a commercial-lines product analyst. She received her bachelor’s degree from Russell Sage College in New York, where she was a Kellas Scholar. She is an Associate in Claims (AIC), a Certified Insurance Service Representative (CISR), and a Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC), and is currently working on her Certified Risk Manager (CRM) designation. Kosakowski, who was named an “outstanding instructor” for the Worcester County Insurance Institute, will be based in the Dowd Agencies’ home office in Holyoke.

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Elizabeth Dineen

Elizabeth Dineen

The board of trustees at Elms College appointed Elizabeth Dineen, executive director of the YWCA of Western Mass. in Springfield, as a new board member. Dineen has had a long career of community service, first serving as an assistant district attorney for 25 years prosecuting child sexual abuse and rape cases, then entering an academic career as the director of the Criminal Justice program at Bay Path University, and now at the YWCA, whose mission — “eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all” — is consistent with that of Elms College. Her legal career focused on helping the most vulnerable in the community, especially women and children who were the victims of sexually based and personal violence, and that focus has carried over into her work at the YWCA, which serves women and families at critical times in their lives. Dineen has served on the board of directors of Square One of Springfield, which provides early-education programs for children, since 2013. She previously served on the board of Mont Marie Child Care Center in Holyoke, and on the appropriations committee in East Longmeadow. Honors Dineen has earned throughout her career include the Governor’s Award for Service to the Commonwealth, the YWCA Woman of Achievement Award, Top Women of Law from Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, the first Justice Kent B. Smith Award from the Hampden County Bar Assoc., the City of Holyoke Mayor’s Certificate of Recognition, the Massachusetts Bar Assoc. Access to Justice Award as Prosecutor of the Year, and the Elms College Alumni Assoc. Distinguished Alumni Award.

•••••

Nicholas D’Agostino

Nicholas D’Agostino

Holyoke Community College recently welcomed Nicholas D’Agostino as its new Affirmative Action officer and Title IX coordinator. D’Agostino comes to HCC after working for nearly 12 years as an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) and Affirmative Action professional in Connecticut, most recently as the associate in Diversity and Equity at Central Connecticut State University (CCSU) and before that as an EEO specialist with the Connecticut Department of Children and Families. He started at HCC on Jan. 29. A longtime advocate for equity and social justice with a focus on LGBTQ issues, D’Agostino has been an Anti-Defamation League anti-bullying trainer for more than 10 years and has a long association with True Colors, a support and advocacy group in Hartford for LGBTQ youth, which he has served as board president. He has either led or participated in hundreds of affirmative-action and discrimination investigations during his career. At CCSU, D’Agostino conducted awareness and advocacy programs, promoted social-justice initiatives, engaged the college community in sexual-harassment and assault prevention, and led training sessions on diversity, Title IX compliance, anti-racism, and LGBTQ awareness. Title IX is a federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender in federally funded education programs. D’Agostino holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Quinnipiac University and a master’s degree in counselor education with a specialization in student development in higher education from CCSU.

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Elizabeth Oleksak-Sposito

Elizabeth Oleksak-Sposito

Jeffrey Sattler

Jeffrey Sattler

The Springfield Technical Community College board of trustees recently welcomed two new members. Gov. Charlie Baker appointed Elizabeth Oleksak-Sposito and Jeffrey Sattler to serve on the board, an 11-member body that governs STCC. Oleksak-Sposito worked as a clinical care manager at Boston Medical Center Health Plan from 2012 until her retirement in 2016. She provided holistic medical-care-management services for plan members with chronic conditions and complex care needs. Prior to joining Boston Medical Center Health Plan, she worked as a medical case manager for Broadspire, a division of Crawford & Co. and provider of claims-management solutions to the risk-management and insurance industry. She previously worked as a sales specialist and account manager at Hill-Rom Home Care in Charleston, S.C. A certified case manager prior to her retirement, Oleksak-Sposito holds a bachelor’s degree in nursing from American International College in Springfield and a diploma in nursing from the Cooley Dickinson Hospital School of Nursing in Northampton. Her term ends March 1, 2022. Sattler is senior vice president, Commercial Lending, at Savings Institute Bank & Trust. He is responsible for managing and growing the bank’s commercial-banking business, including lending, leasing, and deposit accounts throughout the Greater Springfield and Enfield, Conn. areas. He has more than 35 years of experience in commercial banking at various institutions in the region. Prior to joining Savings Institute Bank & Trust, Sattler served as president of NUVO Bank & Trust Co. (now known as Community Bank N.A.) He serves on the board of directors of Mason Wright Senior Living Community, Rotary Club of Chicopee, and the Western Massachusetts Boy Scouts of America. He is an associate member of the National Tool & Die Assoc. Sattler graduated from Springfield College with a bachelor’s degree in political science and history, with a minor in business administration. He also graduated from the ABA Commercial Lending Banking School at the University of New Hampshire. His term ends March 1, 2021.

•••••

William Sharp

William Sharp

Freedom Credit Union (FCU), headquartered on Main Street in Springfield and serving members throughout Western Mass. through nine additional branches, announced the recent appointment of William Sharp as the new branch officer in Chicopee. Sharp has worked with financial institutions for 40 years, having held management positions within the banking industry prior to joining Freedom Credit Union in 2013. He is active within his community and has received several recognitions. He currently serves as board chair for the Boys & Girls Club of Chicopee, which awarded him the Dr. Edward Ryan Award for board service in 2016. That same year, the Greater Easthampton Chamber of Commerce, which he had served as treasurer, named him Ambassador of the Year. He also has served as board chair for the Franklin Hampshire Regional Employment Board and, in 2003, was named Volunteer of the Year by the Chicopee Chamber of Commerce.

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Mary Russell

Mary Russell

The Dowd Agencies, LLC announced that Mary Russell has been hired as commercial lines account manager. “With nearly a decade of insurance experience, Mary’s expertise and commitment to customer service will benefit our customers,” said John E. Dowd Jr., president and CEO. As commercial lines account manager, Russell manages a roster of insurance clients and supports producers with a variety of initiatives. She came to the Dowd Agencies from a local agency, where she was a personal lines account manager. She received her associate degree in psychology from Holyoke Community College.

•••••

Margaret (Meg) Beturne

Margaret (Meg) Beturne

Ruben Arroyo

Ruben Arroyo

The Gray House recently inducted two new board members to a three-year term. They were welcomed at the January board meeting by the president and officers of the board. The new board members are Margaret (Meg) Beturne and Ruben Arroyo. Remaining board officers are Kathleen Lingenberg, president; Susan Mastroianni, vice president; Janet Rodriguez Denney, clerk; and Candace Pereira, treasurer. Beturne is a professional nurse with extensive experience in perianesthesia, surgical, ambulatory and critical-care nursing and is the assistant nurse manager at the Baystate Orthopedic Surgery Center in Springfield. Previous positions include Nursing Clinical Operations manager of the Post Anesthesia Care Unit and staff nurse in the Post Anesthesia Care Unit at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield. She has served on several boards of directors, including the Children’s Study Home, the Ronald McDonald House of Springfield, the Elms College board of trustees, and the American Society of Perianesthesia Nurses. Arroyo is the Code Enforcement inspector for the Holyoke Board of Health and president of Arroyo Inc., an HVAC and home-improvement business. He is a deacon at his church, Iglesia Casa de Misericordia, and also involved with Iglesia Apostolica Cristiana Betzaida and the Christian radio broadcast station La Hora Zero 1490 AM.

•••••

Jennifer Lopez

Jennifer Lopez

LUSO Federal Credit Union announced the appointment of Jennifer Lopez as its new Marketing manager. She will oversee the credit union’s Marketing Department staff and daily operations, including brand and product promotions, advertising, online activity, and other marketing efforts. Lopez is a seasoned marketing professional with more than 10 years of experience in media and marketing management in Western Mass. Most recently, she spearheaded the marketing and communications initiatives at Pope Francis High School in Chicopee. Prior to that, she was a reporter and editor for Turley Publications in Palmer, and worked as a content writer for Market Mentors in West Springfield. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Western New England University.

•••••

Country Bank President and CEO Paul Scully announced the promotions of Mark Phillips, Andrew Sullivan, Sarah Yurkunas, and Christine Witz. Phillips has been appointed to first vice president of Internal Audit. He has been with the bank for 23 years and is a certified internal auditor and certified bank auditor. He has more than 40 years in the financial-services industry in various positions, most recently director of Internal Audit. He earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting and an MBA from Nichols College, and is also a graduate of the National School of Banking. He and his wife, Lisa, actively support the Epilepsy Foundation and the Worcester County Food Bank. Sullivan has been promoted to small-business lending officer and has been with the bank for four years. He began his career as a staff auditor at Wolf & Co. in Springfield, where he worked for two years before joining Country Bank as a credit analyst. He has a bachelor’s degree in accounting and business management along with an MBA with a concentration in accounting from Elms College. In 2015, he started a charity golf tournament, Andrew Sullivan’s Swing for a Cure, to bring awareness to cystic fibrosis. Over the past three years, this event has raised more than $30,000. Sullivan is also a member of the Young Professional Society of Greater Springfield and was recently selected to receive the Best in Bank award from Country Bank. Yurkunas has been promoted to commercial portfolio manager and has been with the bank for 11 years. She began her career at Country Bank in the loan-servicing area and then moved to a loan coordinator position, which inspired her to pursue her career in the commercial-lending area. Yurkunas has a bachelor’s degree in business administration and management from Bay Path University. She has also taken classes from the Massachusetts Bankers Assoc. and received a certification in Fundamentals of Credit Analysis: Intro to Commercial Lending. She volunteers many hours of her personal time to support the bank’s community programs and enjoys giving back to her community. Witz has been promoted to retail lending officer. She has been with the bank for seven years, most recently as the assistant branch manager in the Charlton office. She serves on the Buy Ware Committee.

Cover Story Employment Sections

Team-building Exercise

From left, Courtney Wenleder, CFO; Alex Dixon, general manager; and Mike Mathis, president and COO. Photo by MGM/Springfield Mark Murray

From left, Courtney Wenleder, CFO; Alex Dixon, general manager; and Mike Mathis, president and COO.
Photo by MGM/Springfield Mark Murray

Mike Mathis said he doesn’t use any of those ‘gotcha’ questions, as he calls them, when he’s interviewing job candidates.

He said he’s been on the other end of a few of these, like ‘describe your greatest weakness’ or ‘how well do you get along with your current boss?’ He didn’t particularly enjoy those experiences and, more to the point, doesn’t believe they were particularly effective in providing real insight to those asking those questions.

But Mathis, president and COO of MGM Springfield, said he does have some favorite — and effective — go-to questions (he wasn’t too revealing) that he likes to ask in an effort to get beyond the words printed on a résumé and determine if the candidate across the table would make a good fit.

And he’s had plenty of opportunities to put them to use in recent months as he’s interviewed finalists for the positions that make up the executive team that will open and then operate the $950 million resort casino complex taking shape in Springfield’s South End.

“The résumé gives me good insight into what their technical experience is,” he explained. “But I’m looking for personality and cultural fit, and you can usually get to that through them talking about their experiences.”

As he talked about his team members, or department heads, or ‘number ones,’ as he also called them, collectively, Mathis made early and frequent use of the word ‘diverse,’ and said it takes on the quality in many different respects. These include gender, age, race, geography (where they’re from), casino experience, and MGM experience.

As for those last two, some have it, and others, like Mathis himself when he was named to lead MGM Springfield, don’t.

“We have some who are internal MGM and others who are external to our company but in the industry,” Mathis explained. “We have a combination of young and those not as young, as I like to say, those with a little more experience. And we have a few from outside the industry; the company took a chance on me, and we’ve continued to take some of those chances on others.”

Anthony Caratozzolo: Vice President, Food & Beverage

Anthony Caratozzolo: Vice President, Food & Beverage

Anika Gaskins: Vice President, National Marketing

Anika Gaskins: Vice President, National Marketing

Brian Jordan: Director, Surveillance

Brian Jordan: Director, Surveillance

Monique Messier: Executive Director, Sales

Monique Messier: Executive Director, Sales

It is this team, featuring individuals with titles ranging from CFO to vice president, Table Games, to executive director, Arena Operations, that will lead the ambitious casino project through the most critical stage in this six-year process — the completion of construction, finalization of specific components such as dining options and other facilities, the assemblage of a team of roughly 3,000 people, and, finally, opening the doors (early September is the projected ‘go’ date).

At present, that team-building assignment is priority 1, said Mathis, adding that the members of the executive team will soon be, and in many cases already are, adding members to their own specific leadership teams, and soon these individuals will begin to assemble the larger teams they will lead.

“The number ones hire number twos, and the number twos hire number threes,” he explained. “And then, from there, you start building out your business plan and prepare for mass hiring.”

For this issue and its focus on employment, BusinessWest looks at the team Mathis has assembled and how it came together. Also, we’ll look at the daunting challenge this “dream team,” as Mathis called it, will face over the next six months and how it will go about making MGM Springfield ready for prime time.

A Strong Hand

Mathis told BusinessWest that he’s been a part of a few casino executive teams during his career “around but not in on a day-to-day basis” the casino industry, as he chose to phrase it.

Indeed, he was legal counsel for the Venetian Las Vegas, which opened in 1999, and also for a start-up operation, Echelon Place, also in Las Vegas.

Being the one on the other side of this equation, the one putting the team together, the one able to joke during meetings (and he’s already done this a few times) that ‘none of you would be here without me’ — well, that’s a completely different and quite rewarding experience.

“I have a great sense of pride when it comes to the group we’ve pulled together,” he said, emphasizing that this was a team effort. “What’s really nice is how, organically, this team reflects the personality of the community and our original vision. For me, as a day-one employee, I feel I’m a steward of the original vision of our president, Bill Hornbuckle, and of the mayor and the different community-group stakeholders I originally met with. And I want to reflect all that in the team we put together.”

Sarah Moore: Vice President, Marketing, Advertising & Brand

Sarah Moore: Vice President, Marketing, Advertising & Brand

Marikate Murren: Vice President, Human Resources

Marikate Murren: Vice President, Human Resources

Jason Rosewell: Vice President, Facilities

Jason Rosewell: Vice President, Facilities

Jason Rucker: Executive Director, Security

Jason Rucker: Executive Director, Security

Elaborating, he said this team is non-traditional in some respects, and, as noted, diverse in every sense of that word.

‘Non-traditional’ in that, in many cases within this industry, executive units travel as a team, Mathis explained. That was not the case here.

“Someone would come to my role already thinking about who their number two and number three would be,” he explained. “Some of those executive teams travel in groups. There’s nothing wrong with that … these people are used to working with one another, and there’s something to be said for that.

“But because I was new to the role, I came at it without some of those preconceived notions about who the team members should be,” he went on, adding that he actually worked with very few members of this executive team before MGM Springfield. “The group is really eclectic, and we make each other better.”

In total, there were hundreds of applicants for the 16 positions, Mathis went on, adding that, because the pools of candidates were strong and diverse, it was that much easier to create a very diverse team.

“One of things we believe in at MGM is that, if you have a diverse applicant pool, you’ll get great employees, and the diversity will be reflected in the hires,” he said. “So our focus has always been on making sure we’re getting great people in front of us before we make decisions.”

Elaborating, he explained that, for each of the positions, the company tried to have, as finalists, an internal (MGM) candidate, an external candidate, and a diverse candidate, and in most cases met that goal.

Overall, nine of the 16 members of the executive team are diverse or female, which, he said, makes it one of the most diverse teams not only within the MGM company, but within the industry.

Why is diversity important? “Within the hospitality industry and particularly with MGM Resorts, we’re a host to a wider range of customers than any industry I can think of,” said Mathis as he answered that question. “We’re the Disneyland for adults. We have international guests, local visitors, those who are interested in gaming, those who are interested in food and beverage, families … with that range of customers that we invite to our resort, we need our employees to reflect that diversity of customers. That’s a big part of our success, and diversity is one of our pillars — not only ethnically, but diversity in all respects.”

Great Odds ‘Relaxed.’

That’s the adjective Mathis summoned to describe not only how he wants those taking his interview questions to be, but also the kind of corporate environment, for lack of a better term, that he’s been trying to create at MGM Springfield.

Lynn Segars: Vice President, Slot Operations

Lynn Segars: Vice President, Slot Operations

Gregg Skowronski: Executive Director, Hotel Operations

Gregg Skowronski: Executive Director, Hotel Operations

Talia Spera: Executive Director, Arena Operations

Talia Spera: Executive Director, Arena Operations

That certainly sounds illogical given the nature of the casino industry in general and, more specifically, the ultra-challenging six months ahead for the team at MGM Springfield. But hear him out.

“I mean relaxed in terms of the collegiality between the team members,” he explained. “We’re all working hard, but time is going by quickly, and the work is hard enough without the environment being overly formal or not having that collegiality.

“People perform best when they’re happy; we believe in our business in the service-profit-chain model,” he went on, referring to the theory in business management that links employee satisfaction to customer loyalty and, therefore, profitability.

It was an unofficial goal, or milestone, to have this team in place, in this relaxed environment, at the start of 2018, and it has been met, said Mathis, adding that, while some team members still have some logistics to work out, such as finding homes and moving families, they are all at work now at MGM’s nerve center in at a renovated 95 State St.

They will meet collectively twice a week, said Mathis, adding that one of these sessions is an executive-team meeting at which specific information will be communicated about project status, timelines, and other matters, and decisions will be made that involve multiple departments. The second session is a weekly staff meeting, a 90-minute to two-hour roundtable with no set agenda.

Seth Stratton: Vice President and General Counsel

Seth Stratton: Vice President and General Counsel

Courtney Wenleder: Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Courtney Wenleder: Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Robert Westerfield: Vice President, Table Games

Robert Westerfield: Vice President, Table Games

“What we’ve learned is that meeting [the roundtable] is as productive as any other meeting we have,” he explained, adding that there are a host of smaller meetings involving some but not all of the executive staff members.

And as you might expect, there is quite a bit to meet about with the countdown now at or just under 200 days.

The biggest priority is building the individual departments, Mathis went on, adding that, while the casino is taking shape in a highly visible way on and around Main Street, the task of interviewing, hiring, and training 3,000 employees is already going on behind the scenes.

The top levels of each team will be filled out over the next few months, he continued, and mass hiring will commence in the early summer and hit high gear in the weeks just prior to opening.

Meanwhile, there are literally thousands of other tasks to be carried out, he said, listing everything from building the reservation system to creating training manuals; from interviewing vendors to detailing what will be needed in the warehouse.

“It’s a pretty incredible undertaking, and we’ve got a great team in place to carry it out,” noted Mathis, adding that this team will has borrowed heavily from the playbook created by another MGM casino that opened just over a year ago, National Harbor in Maryland.

“I don’t envy anyone that’s doing one of these as a one-off,” he told BusinessWest. “National Harbor is one of the most successful operations in the country, and we’ve taken their best practices, as well as lessons learned, and incorporated them into this project.”

Teaming with Excitement

Meanwhile, MGM Springfield will provide the playbook for the next MGM project, whenever it moves off the drawing board, said Mathis.

“Each time, the process gets better,” he noted. “One day, there will be a perfect opening; unfortunately, I don’t think we’ll be it. But with each one of these, you get a little closer to that standard.”

A perfect opening might be beyond the reach of Mathis’ executive team, but it will likely move the bar higher. In the meantime, by most accounts, it is already setting a higher standard for diversity.

It’s been an intriguing team-building exercise in every sense of that phrase.

George O’Brien can be reached at [email protected]

Departments People on the Move
Eric Polep

Eric Polep

J. Polep Distribution Services announced the promotion of Eric Polep to president and CEO, reporting to Chairman of the Board Jeffrey Polep. “Eric has proven time and again he understands how to grow with the industry and as the business dictates. He represents J. Polep with pride, and his everyday goal is to make sure each customer and vendor sees the outcome of long-term success, which is the foundation to our business,” said Jeffrey Polep, also Eric’s father. J. Polep Distribution Service is the fifth-largest convenience wholesaler in the U.S., exceeding $1.5 billion in sales. The locally owned and operated business posted a 30.1% increase in overall sales, rising from ninth place to fifth place in the 2017 CSNEWS Top Wholesalers report. Eric will continue to work closely with Jeffrey and all of the company’s support staff to ensure effective execution of strategies and operational services. “I am very excited for this opportunity that lies ahead of me and look forward to the continuing growth of the business,” Eric said. “Upon graduating college, I knew I wanted to go right into the family business and absorb everything I could from my father. Working beside him has always been a dream of mine, and it’s an honor to be named president of J. Polep Distribution Services by him and our board.”

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Christopher Scott

Christopher Scott

Michael Pike

Michael Pike

PeoplesBank announced appointments of two key associates. Christopher Scott was appointed assistant vice president, portfolio manager, while Michael Pike was appointed Hadley branch manager. Scott has more than six years of banking experience. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration, with a concentration in corporate finance, from the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst. He is also a graduate of the Springfield Leadership Institute. Pike has more than 12 years of banking and financial-services experience. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business management from Notre Dame College.

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Dr. Neil Kudler, former chief medical information officer for Baystate Health, has joined Holyoke-based healthcare consultancy VertitechIT as chief medical officer. “IT consultants focused primarily on bits and bytes are doing their clients a disservice,” said Kudler, who has held other senior executive and strategist positions at Baystate Health, one of New England’s largest healthcare systems. “As CMO of VertitechIT, I’m in a position to bridge that all-important technology gap between clinicians and the IT departments that must support them.” VertitechIT is among the fastest-growing healthcare IT consultancies in the country, focused on helping senior IT leaders to strategically and tactically transform the role of IT in the hospital setting. “Any consultant worth their fee can design and implement a new cloud strategy or infrastructure platform,” said VertitechIT CEO Michael Feld. “Dr. Kudler gives us immense credibility on the clinical side of the house, providing guidance on things like diversified health-system operations, population health, and data analytics.” Before joining VertitechIT, Kudler served as senior healthcare innovation strategist for TechSpring Technology Innovation Center, and as chief operating officer for Baycare Health Partners. He is a graduate of Colgate University and received his master’s degree from Harvard Divinity School. He received his doctor of medicine degree from New York University and trained in internal medicine at UC San Francisco.

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Jonathan Howell

Jonathan Howell

Springfield College named Jonathan Howell as its new director of Human Resources, effective March 5. He brings more than 18 years of experience in human resources, with the last 15 years working in higher education. As the college’s lead human-resources officer, Howell will be responsible for providing strategic leadership and direction surrounding all human-resources initiatives and priorities for Springfield College. Howell comes to Springfield College from Mitchell College in New London, Conn., where he served as vice president for Human Resources starting in 2015. Prior to his most recent position, Howell also served as director of Human Resources at Mitchell College from 2012 to 2015. Prior to his time there, Howell was employed for eight years at the University of Illinois in multiple human-resources positions. Howell received his bachelor’s degree in business management from Augustana College and will complete a master’s program in human resources from Ft. Hays State University this spring.

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Carol Anne McGowan

Carol Anne McGowan

The UMass Donahue Institute, an outreach and economic-development arm of the UMass President’s Office, promoted Carol Anne McGowan to associate director. In this position, McGowan works closely with the executive director to develop and implement management strategies, systems, and practices across the Donahue Institute. She is also directly responsible for overseeing all fiscal and human-resource functions. Previously, she served as the institute’s director of Administration and Finance. She first joined the institute in 2000 as a member of the Financial Management, Education and Training (FMET) team. She spent more than 10 years with FMET, developing curriculum and instructing in the areas of government finance and accounting for the U.S. Department of Defense. In addition to her role as associate director, McGowan has developed a credited course on post-award management of grants and contracts, which she will teach through UMass Amherst’s Isenberg School of Management. Earlier in her career, she served as director of Onslow Community Health Improvement Process, a community nonprofit organization in Onslow County, N.C. She has a master’s degree in human resources and organizational development from Webster University and an MBA from the UMass Isenberg School of Management.

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Miriam Siegel

Miriam Siegel

Country Bank announced that Miriam Siegel has joined its team as senior vice president of Human Resources. A graduate of the State University of New York at Albany with a bachelor’s degree in business, Siegel boasts 26 years in the financial-services industry. She is also a certified compensation professional and certified benefits professional from WorldatWork. For 21 years, Siegel worked at United Bank. She began her career as a payroll clerk and worked her way through the ranks until she found her passion within the human-resources department. Her time at United Bank made a significant impact on her approach to human resources. “I live and work by the philosophy that your most valuable assets are your people,” she said. “I am very excited to be back at a local community bank where employees and customers come first.” Siegel owned and operated the Village Store Café in Wilbraham with her husband. During that time, they began a run/walk event, the Cup to Pint Fun Run, to support local charities. The Children’s Museum in Wilbraham, the Livestrong Program at the Scantic Valley YMCA, and the Wilbraham Hampden Academic Trust, have all received donations from this annual fund-raiser. Siegel is a member of the Massachusetts Bankers Assoc., WorldatWork, and the New England Human Resources Assoc., and serves on the board of directors for Behavioral Health Network in Springfield. “Miriam’s extensive expertise in human resources within the financial-services industry makes her a perfect fit for Country Bank,” said Paul Scully, the bank’s CEO and president. “We are thrilled to have her join our team; we know that Miriam will be an esteemed resource for Country Bank and its employees.”

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Bulkley Richardson announced that Seunghee Cha and Jodi Miller have been promoted to partner, and Mary Bonzagni has joined the firm as partner as well. In her comprehensive estate-planning practice, Cha assists individuals and families from all walks of life, with a particular focus on special-needs planning for individuals living with intellectual, developmental, and age-related disabilities; conservatorship and alternatives; estate settlement; and trust administration. Miller focuses her practice on commercial and other civil litigation, including class actions, as well as regulatory matters. She has a particular expertise in the area of health law and also represents public and privately held corporations, financial institutions, schools and universities, nonprofits, and individuals in a range of litigation matters. Bonzagni has an established reputation in the field of intellectual property. Her work involves prosecuting, defending, and licensing patents for a wide variety of inventions, as well as challenging the patentability of both pre-grant and post-grant patents in a number of countries and regions. In-depth experience as a chemist has equipped her with a unique perspective and allows her to provide clients with both legal and scientific strategies. She also advises businesses on strategic aspects of trademark, copyright, and trade-secret protection.

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Charlie Epstein

Charlie Epstein

Charlie Epstein, an investment adviser and author who specializes in retirement consulting, has been appointed to the Holyoke Community College board of trustees by Gov. Charlie Baker. He was sworn in Feb. 2, and is expected to join the board for its next meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 27. Epstein is principal of the Holyoke-based Epstein Financial Group LLC and Epstein Financial Services, a registered, investment advisory firm providing corporate retirement-plan consulting as well as wealth-management and financial-planning services for business owners, professionals, and individual plan participants. He is also owner of the 401K Coach Program, which offers financial-adviser education services and training; the author of two books: Paychecks for Life: How to Turn Your 401(k) into a Paycheck Manufacturing Company and Save America, Save! The Secrets of a Successful 401(k) Plan; and an industry conference speaker and commentator who has appeared on the Fox Business Network. In 1994, he founded the Family Business Center of the Pioneer Valley in Amherst and remains on its board of directors. He holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Colgate University.

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David W. Griffin Sr.

David W. Griffin Sr.

David W. Griffin Sr., executive vice president and treasurer of the Dowd Agencies, LLC, is the 2018 recipient of the Daniel J. Gallivan award from the Holyoke St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee. “We are honored that one of our own has received this well-deserved honor,” said John E. Dowd Jr., president and CEO. “David has provided tireless effort for Holyoke, fulfilling various leadership capacities that have benefitted our clients and the citizens of Western Massachusetts alike.” Griffin is an active member of the Holyoke community, serving as president of the West Springfield Chamber of Commerce, West Springfield Rotary, Holyoke St. Patrick’s Parade Committee, Springfield Country Club, Hampden County Insurance Agents, and chair of Mont Marie Health Care Center. He remains active with the CYO of Western Massachusetts as well. Griffin has more than 35 years of experience in the insurance industry, beginning his career in 1978 as a surety underwriter for Aetna Casualty. Since then, he has served as a broker specializing in large commercial and contracting accounts. He is a licensed insurance advisor as well as a certified insurance counselor. Since 1972, the Daniel J. Gallivan award, named after the South Hadley resident and longtime member of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee, has been awarded to long-standing members of the association who have made significant contributions to the overall success of the parade and committee.

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Meaghan Murphy

Meaghan Murphy

Bacon Wilson announced that Meaghan Murphy has joined the firm as an associate attorney. A member of the firm’s litigation department, her practice is focused on labor and employment law. Murphy is a graduate of Western New England University School of Law, and received her bachelor’s degree from Amherst College. She works primarily from Bacon Wilson’s Springfield location, and is licensed to practice in both Massachusetts and Connecticut. Founded in 1895, Bacon Wilson, P.C. is one of the largest firms in the Pioneer Valley, with 44 lawyers and approximately 60 paralegals, administrative assistants, and support staff. The firm’s offices are located in Springfield, Amherst, Hadley, Northampton, and Westfield.

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Berkshire Bank promoted Lori Gazzillo to senior vice president and director of the Berkshire Bank Foundation. She was previously the foundation’s vice president. In her new position, Gazzillo is responsible for the development, planning, and implementation of strategies to support the Berkshire Bank Foundation, improving quality of life, cultivating partnerships, and fostering community relationships across the Bank’s six-state footprint. Gazzillo joined Berkshire Bank in 2011 from Legacy Banks, where she was the Community Relations officer since 2006. “Lori has more than 20 years of communications and community-relations experience and has shown exceptional leadership in improving and developing strong relationships in our existing and new markets. We look forward to continuing to foster these relationships as we grow,” said Linda Johnston, senior executive vice president and chief Human Resources officer. Gazzillo serves on the board of directors of 1Berkshire, the Brien Center, and Associated Grant Makers, is a member of the newly formed Berkshire Leadership Impact Council, and was recently appointed by Gov. Charlie Baker to the Berkshire Community College board of trustees. She has a bachelor’s degree from Keene State College and a master’s degree in education from Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. She is also a graduate of the ABA School of Bank Marketing and Management.

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Michelle Theroux of Berkshire Hills Music Academy was installed as president of the South Hadley & Granby Chamber of Commerce on Jan. 23. The election of officers and directors took place at the Willits-Hallowell Center. The other officers elected were Dina Mead, vice president; Jessica Bodon, clerk; and Alexandra Wern-LaFlamme, treasurer. New or returning directors elected that evening were Carol Constant, Mead, Darren Thomas, and Wearn-Laflamme.

Daily News

WARECountry Bank President and CEO Paul Scully today announced several promotions:

 

  • Mark Phillips has been appointed to first vice president of Internal Audit. He has been with the bank for 23 years and is a certified internal auditor and certified bank auditor. He has more than 40 years in the financial services industry in various positions, most recently, the director of Internal Audit. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and a Masters of Business Administration from Nichols College; he is also a graduate of the National School of Banking. Phillips and his wife, Lisa, actively support the Epilepsy Foundation and the Worcester County Food Bank.

 

  • Andrew Sullivan has been promoted to small business lending officer and has been with the bank for four years. He began his career as a staff auditor at Wolf & Company in Springfield, where he worked for two years before joining Country Bank as a credit analyst.He has a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and Business Management along with an MBA with a concentration in Accounting from Elms College. In 2015, he started a charity golf tournament “Andrew Sullivan’s Swing for a Cure” to support Cystic Fibrosis and bring awareness to the disease. Over the past three years this event has raised more than $30,000. Sullivan is also a member of the Young Professional Society and was recently selected to receive the Best in Bank award from Country Bank.

 

  • Sarah Yurkunas has been promoted to commercial portfolio manager and has been with the bank for 11 years. She began her career at Country Bank in the loan-servicing area and then moved to a Loan Coordinator position, which inspired her to pursue her career in the commercial lending area. Yurkunas has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Management from Bay Path University. She has also taken classes from Mass. Bankers Assoc. and received a certification in Fundamentals of Credit Analysis: Intro to Commercial Lending. She volunteers many hours of her personal time to support the bank’s community programs and enjoys giving back to her community.
  • Christine Witz has been promoted to retail lending officer. She has been with the bank for seven years, most recently as the assistant branch manager in the Charlton office. She serves on the Buy Ware Committee.
Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield College named Jonathan Howell as its new director of Human Resources, effective March 5. He brings more than 18 years of experience in human resources, with the last 15 years working in higher education.



As the college’s lead human-resources officer, Howell will be responsible for providing strategic leadership and direction surrounding all human-resources initiatives and priorities for Springfield College.



Howell comes to Springfield College from Mitchell College in New London, Conn., where he served as vice president for Human Resources starting in 2015. Prior to his most recent position, Howell also served as director of Human Resources at Mitchell College from 2012 to 2015. Prior to his time there, Howell was employed for eight years at the University of Illinois in multiple human-resources positions.



Howell received his bachelor’s degree in business management from Augustana College and will complete a master’s program in human resources from Ft. Hays State University this spring.


Daily News

HOLYOKE — PeoplesBank announced appointments of two key associates. Christopher Scott was appointed assistant vice president, portfolio manager, while Michael Pike was appointed Hadley branch manager.

Scott has more than six years of banking experience. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration, with a concentration in corporate finance, from the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst. He is also a graduate of the Springfield Leadership Institute.

Pike has more than 12 years of banking and financial-services experience. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business management from Notre Dame College.

Departments People on the Move
Michelle Chase

Michelle Chase

United Bank announced the hiring of Michelle Chase, a local banker with 16 years of banking and financial experience throughout Western Mass. and North Central Conn., as its new vice president/branch manager of the Ludlow branch at 528 Center St. Chase brings extensive banking experience and financial expertise to United Bank, holding key roles throughout her career in commercial lending, consumer lending, operations, loan servicing, and retail banking. Most recently, Chase spent more than six years with PeoplesBank, where she managed its Westfield branch and led a team that turned it into one of the bank’s top-producing banking offices. Prior to PeoplesBank, Chase was a small-business lender with the Western Massachusetts Enterprise Fund from 2008 to 2011 and a Loan Operations manager with New England Bank, formerly Enfield Savings Bank. Her 16-year career in banking started in 2001 as a lending specialist with Southbridge Savings Bank. Chase earned a bachelor’s degree from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and went on to receive an MBA from Bay Path University. She also studied at the Center for Financial Training. Her reputation in the banking industry spans beyond her professional and educational successes. In addition to winning internal company awards, Chase was selected to BusinessWest’s 40 Under Forty class of 2017, which recognizes young civic leaders in Western Mass. She also received the Young Professional Society’s (YPS) Excellence in Leadership Award in 2014 for excellence in leadership skills and initiative and for her mentorship of other YPS members.

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Jennifer Plassmann

Jennifer Plassmann

North Brookfield Savings Bank (NBSB) announced the recent promotion of Jennifer Plassmann to the role of branch manager at the 1051 Thorndike St. branch in Palmer. In her new role, she will supervise and oversee all aspect of banking within the Palmer branch, including managing the teller line, scheduling, opening accounts, taking loan applications, and assisting customers with their banking needs. “Jennifer’s promotion is very well-deserved. She has proven herself to be a very valuable asset to the community and customers of Palmer, to the staff at her branch, and to the entire team at North Brookfield Savings Bank,” said Donna Boulanger, NBSB President and CEO. “We are confident she will continue to deliver many great benefits by sharing her experience, product knowledge, excellent customer-service skills, and her dedication to the community.” Plassmann most recently served as assistant branch manager and acting branch manager at North Brookfield Savings Bank’s Palmer location, where she excelled at being a leader for the branch staff and providing customers with exceptional care and attention, Boulanger said. In addition, she is a strong community supporter, often volunteering her time and efforts for various local community events, including but not limited to the Palmer 300th Anniversary Parade, the Palmer Historical and Cultural Center Tree and Wreath Festival, the Ware Flair Parade, the West Brookfield Asparagus Festival, and annual financial-aid nights at local high schools. “I am so pleased to continue my banking career with North Brookfield Savings Bank and within the community of Palmer,” Plassmann said. “I know and appreciate this neighborhood and all of the wonderful people and businesses who call this home. I am very excited to develop my existing relationships, expand to make some new relationships, and to increase my community involvement.”

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John Gannon

John Gannon

Skoler, Abbott & Presser, P.C. announced that attorney John Gannon was named a partner in the firm on Jan. 1. Gannon, who has been with the firm since 2011, focuses his practice on employment litigation, workplace-safety laws and OSHA compliance, enforcing non-competition and confidentiality agreements, and wage-and-hour compliance. He also provides day-to-day advice to businesses with questions about workplace-related issues. “We are thrilled that John has accepted partnership in the firm,” said attorney Marylou Fabbo, a partner at Skoler Abbott. “John has demonstrated the expertise and leadership necessary to provide our clients with the best possible legal service, whether that means taking a case to trial or helping businesses protect their rights and assets.” Gannon is a frequent speaker on employment-related legal topics for a wide variety of associations and organizations, and was selected by BusinessWest as a 40 Under Forty honoree in 2016. He is a member of the Massachusetts, Hampden County, Connecticut, and American bar associations. He also sits on the board of directors for Riverside Industries, a not-for-profit human-services agency that serves people with perceived limitations and disabilities, and Educational Resources for Children, an Enfield nonprofit that provides out-of-school-time programs for children. “I am excited to enter this next phase in my career, and am honored to be a partner in one of the leading labor and employment law firms in the country,” Gannon said. “I look forward to helping the firm further expand its expertise on behalf of our current and future clients, and I’m privileged to be a contributing member to the Pioneer Valley business community for the foreseeable future.”

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Susan Hillis

Susan Hillis

Susan Hillis has been promoted from treatment director to vice president of Clinical Services at AdCare Hospital. “Ms. Hillis has been a vital component of the clinical team at AdCare Hospital for many years,” said Patrice Muchowski, senior vice president of Clinical Services. “As vice president of Clinical Services, Ms. Hillis will be able to redesign existing treatment programming and develop new modalities to ensure that AdCare remains a leader in substance-use treatment.” A licensed independent clinical social worker, Hillis has served as treatment director since 2006. Prior positions include director of Rehabilitation Services at AdCare Hospital and director of AdCare Outpatient Services offices in Worcester and Boston. She received the 2015 Massachusetts Assoc. of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors’ Robert Logue President’s Award for her long-standing support of membership and her dedication to substance-use treatment, recovery, and professional credentialing in Massachusetts. A former board member and chair of the Massachusetts Professional Recovery System, she currently oversees clinical practicums for students in the Addiction Counselor Education program at AdCare, and provides clinical supervision for students in MSW programs at a number of schools. Hillis presents frequently on substance-use related topics such as “Addiction 101,” “Co-occurring Disorders,” “Motivational Interviewing,” and “Designer Drugs” to community, school, and professional organizations locally, regionally, and nationally. She holds a master’s degree in social work from Boston College and an undergraduate degree in music therapy from Anna Maria College in Paxton.

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Kailee Wilson

Kailee Wilson

Robinson Donovan, P.C. promoted former law clerk Kailee Wilson to the role of associate attorney following her admission to both the Massachusetts and Connecticut bars. Wilson is a 2017 graduate of the University of Connecticut School of Law. While attending law school, she also interned with the school’s Tax Clinic, gaining skills and insights that have proven invaluable to her current business practice. In addition, she is now a member of the Massachusetts Bar Assoc., the Hampden County Bar Assoc., and the Connecticut Bar Assoc. “Kailee had a very successful year at Robinson Donovan, P.C., and we are thrilled that she is expanding her role at our firm,” said Partner James Martin. “Kailee has been a real asset to our firm, and we look forward to her having a successful career here.” Wilson assists clients in the areas of business and corporate counseling, commercial real estate, and estate planning. Outside of work, she channels her passion for advocacy into her role as a volunteer coach with the Special Olympics and in the Alumni in Admissions program for her alma mater, Bates College.

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Tara Brewster

Tara Brewster

Greenfield Savings Bank promoted Tara Brewster to vice president of Business Development. Her position includes developing long-term strategies for business development and outreach to perspective customers, including small businesses and individuals for lending and account services. She joined GSB as a Business Development specialist in late 2016. “Tara’s efforts to expand the bank’s portfolio of small-business customers and individuals have been very successful,” said John Howland, president and CEO of Greenfield Savings Bank. “Her more than 20 years of experience in small-business management has given her great insight into the needs of local businesses.” In addition to her duties at the bank, Brewster is active in volunteering on the committees and boards of a wide range of community organizations, including Northampton Chamber of Commerce board of directors, Hampshire Regional YMCA board, Franklin Hampshire Regional Employment Board, Downtown Northampton Assoc. board, Northampton Redevelopment Authority committee, North Star Self Directed Learning for Teens development committee, Community Health Center of Franklin County marketing committee, as a Northampton Chamber of Commerce ambassador, and as chair of the Pedalmotion for Locomotion Look Park fund-raising event. Before joining the Bank, Brewster worked for independent small businesses and multi-million-dollar companies, including seven years as owner of Jackson & Connor in downtown Northampton and in a wide range of management positions including manager, promotions director, buyer, regional sales manager, and East Coast account executive. She is a graduate of Smith College.

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Theresa Curry has been named executive director of Planned Giving at UMass Amherst. Curry, an attorney, has extensive experience in business and organizational development, nonprofit giving, and gift administration. “We are delighted that Theresa Curry will be joining UMass Amherst’s development team,” said Vice Chancellor of Development and Alumni Relations Mike Leto. “She brings deep expertise in estate planning to this role, as well as her considerable impact and success in fund-raising for higher education.” Curry comes to UMass Amherst from the University of New Hampshire Foundation, where she held several senior management positions in gift planning since 2012. Most recently, she served as assistant vice president for Gift Planning and Administration at UNH. She established UNH’s gift-planning program and played a major role in its recent $275 million fund-raising campaign. Previously, Curry established gift-planning programs as regional director of Philanthropy at the ALS Assoc. and as the capital campaign manager for Merrimack College. She has worked as an employee, consultant, volunteer, and lawyer in gift planning since 1998. She holds a juris doctor degree from the William Mitchell College of Law in Saint Paul, Minn., and a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of Minnesota. She is also a triathlete and distance runner.

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Packaging prepress provider CSW Inc. announced a strategic re-shaping of company leadership. Longtime company President Laura Wright has transitioned to a new role as CEO. “My grandfather founded CSW in 1937, and I’m proud to continue moving us forward,” she said. “Although I will continue to actively manage all aspects of the company, I decided to share the day-to-day decision making with someone I trust. This lets me address long-term strategies for company growth.” That trusted advisor is new company President Scott Ellison, formerly CSW’s vice president of Sales. Ellison brings more than 15 years of executive leadership experience, including five years in the packaging industry, to CSW. He will manage sales, marketing, customer service, operations, IT, and R&D. According to Wright, “Scott comes to us with new ideas developed from both inside and outside our industry, and has already identified and pursued new growth opportunities for CSW.” Rounding out the organizational shift is former director of Graphics Marek Skrzynski’s new position as technical director. CSW has a long-standing reputation for producing creative solutions to package printing challenges, Wright said. Ellison noted that “Marek has been instrumental to the development of innovations such as WhiteFX ink transfer, X-Color EG separations, and 3D visualization services. This new role allows him to focus on expanding new initiatives such as Web2Plate, an automated prepress workflow for narrow to wide web flexo printers.” Added Wright, “CSW has thrived for over 80 years, thanks to our ability to creatively adapt to our client’s changing needs. These changes are realigning us once again so we can continue to succeed for another 80 — or longer.”

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Springfield College announced that Brooke Hallowell has been named dean of the School of Health Sciences and Rehabilitation Studies. As dean, Hallowell will collaborate with leadership of other divisions and units of Springfield College to participate in strategic planning and implementation activities that further the overall mission of the institution. She will oversee academic areas within her school, including physical and occupational therapy, physician assistant, health science, emergency medical services management, communication disorders, and rehabilitation counseling and disability studies. She will be responsible for assurance of quality of programming in line with student needs, institutional mission, and the requirements of applicable accreditation bodies. According to Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Martha Potvin, “Dr. Hallowell will play a pivotal role in working with faculty to advance education across a broad array of health sciences and professions and to extend the college’s impact on global healthcare issues that we face both in our local and regional communities as well as abroad.” Hallowell has held several academic leadership positions and has a global reputation in advancing research and scholarship and fostering successful interdisciplinary initiatives. Most recently, she served as the founding executive director of the Collaborative on Aging and the coordinator of graduate and undergraduate gerontology certificate programs at Ohio University. She also held several other positions at Ohio University, including associate dean for research and sponsored programs in the College of Health and Human Services; director of the School of Hearing, Speech and Language Sciences; and coordinator of Ph.D. programs for the School of Rehabilitation and Communication Sciences. She also served as director of the School of Languages and Linguistics at the University of Northern California. Hallowell received a Ph.D in neuropathologies of language and speech from the University of Iowa, a master’s degree in speech language pathology and audiology from Lamar University, and a bachelor’s degree in cognitive science/psycholinguistics from Brown University. She also studied at the Conservatoire National de France in Paris and Rouen.

Daily News

GREENFIELD — Greenfield Savings Bank promoted Tara Brewster to vice president of Business Development. Her position includes developing long-term strategies for business development and outreach to perspective customers, including small businesses and individuals for lending and account services. She joined GSB as a Business Development specialist in late 2016.

“Tara’s efforts to expand the bank’s portfolio of small-business customers and individuals have been very successful,” said John Howland, president and CEO of Greenfield Savings Bank. “Her more than 20 years of experience in small-business management has given her great insight into the needs of local businesses.”

In addition to her duties at the bank, Brewster is active in volunteering on the committees and boards of a wide range of community organizations, including Northampton Chamber of Commerce board of directors, Hampshire Regional YMCA board, Franklin Hampshire Regional Employment Board, Downtown Northampton Assoc. board, Northampton Redevelopment Authority committee, North Star Self Directed Learning for Teens development committee, Community Health Center of Franklin County marketing committee, as a Northampton Chamber of Commerce ambassador, and as chair of the Pedalmotion for Locomotion Look Park fund-raising event.

Before joining the Bank, Brewster worked for independent small businesses and multi-million-dollar companies, including seven years as owner of Jackson & Connor in downtown Northampton and in a wide range of management positions including manager, promotions director, buyer, regional sales manager, and East Coast account executive. She is a graduate of Smith College.

Departments People on the Move
Charlotte Hansen

Charlotte Hansen

Charlotte Hansen joined Polish National Credit Union as senior vice president, chief financial officer. Hansen, a certified public accountant, has an extensive financial background and a broad knowledge of community banking gained in her 27 years in the financial-services industry. Her areas of experience include financial and regulatory reporting, budgeting, strategic and capital planning, interest and liquidity risk management, process improvement, credit management, and product profitability and development. Her background includes senior management, CFO, and treasurer experience and responsibilities. She chairs the Financial Institutions Interest Group of the Connecticut Society for CPAs, an organization comprised of professionals in the banking/credit-granting industry. She is also a member of the Financial Managers Society Boston Chapter and a regular attendee of the Massachusetts Bankers Assoc. CFO Forum.

Hansen holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration, accounting from the University of Hartford and an associate degree in accounting from Manchester Community College. An active volunteer, she is treasurer and a board member of Connecticut Farmland Trust, secretary of Stafford Grange No. 1, and a member of the Stafford Family Services advisory board, and serves as treasurer of Down to Earth Community Farm in Stafford, Conn. She is also a member of the Danish Society of Massachusetts. “We are pleased to welcome Charlotte to our management team,” said James Kelly, president and CEO of Polish National Credit Union. “Her professional background, experience, and career accomplishments will be extremely beneficial for our continued success going forward.”

•••••

Nancy Garrabrants

Nancy Garrabrants

The Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation, which serves communities in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire through programs, grants, and service, announced the appointment of Nancy Garrabrants to its board of directors. Garrabrants is the former associate dean of the Center for Agriculture at UMass Amherst, where she was responsible for the Nutrition Education and 4-H Youth Development programs. She was previously director and assistant dean of the Stockbridge School of Agriculture at UMass. She is an award-winning education professional with 32 years of in-depth expertise in agriculture from the business, academic, and youth-development sectors. “With Nancy’s experience in strategic planning, youth development, and nutrition education, she will bring a fresh perspective to our already robust board, helping us to further define and meet the needs of the communities we serve,” said Eric Schultz, president and CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and chair of the Harvard Pilgrim Foundation board of directors. Garrabrants holds an associate degree in floriculture from the State University of New York at Cobleskill, and a bachelor’s degree in vocational education and master’s degree in plant and soil sciences, both from UMass.

•••••

PeoplesBank announced the promotions and appointments of several key associates.

Donna Charette was promoted to first vice president, Finance. She previously served as vice president of Finance. She has more than 28 years of banking experience, and earned a Leadership Certificate at the New England School of Banking.

• Christine Phillips was promoted to first vice president, Human Resources. She previously served as vice president, Human Resources. She has more than 15 years of human-resources experience, and earned a bachelor’s degree from UMass Amherst.

• Tammy Bordeaux was promoted to vice president, regional manager. She previously served as assistant vice president, regional manager. She has more than 20 years of banking experience, and earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Western New England University and an associate degree in business administration from Springfield Technical Community College.

• Meghan Parnell-Gregoire was promoted to vice president, Business Lending Center manager. She previously served as assistant vice president, Business Lending Center manager. She has more than 15 years of banking experience, and earned an associate degree in mathematics from Holyoke Community College and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst.

• Catherine Snow was promoted to vice president, commercial credit officer. She previously served as assistant vice president, commercial credit analyst. She has more than 30 years of banking experience, primarily in credit-related functions, and earned a bachelor’s degree in business management from Westfield State University.

• Paul Hillsburg was appointed assistant vice president, PeoplesWealth Advisory Group. He has more than 30 years of financial, sales, and business-development experience, and earned an associate degree in business management from Springfield Technical Community College. He holds Series 7 and Series 66 licenses.

Xiaolei Hua was promoted to assistant vice president, portfolio manager II. He previously served as assistant vice president, portfolio manager I. He has more than 11 years of banking experience, and earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration and an MBA from Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst.

• Matthew Krokov was promoted to assistant vice president, portfolio manager II. He previously served as assistant vice president, portfolio manager I. He has more than eight years of banking experience, and earned an MBA from American International College, a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Westfield State University, and an associate degree in marketing from Holyoke Community College.

• Timothy Wegiel was promoted to assistant vice president, electronic banking officer. He previously served as electronic banking officer. He has more than 12 years of financial-services and banking experience, and earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Western New England University.

• Cherlynne Mills was promoted to Business Banking officer. She previously served as assistant vice president, Consumer & Business Banking Center manager at the St. James Avenue office in Springfield, and has more than 30 years of banking experience. She attended Holyoke Community College and Elms College and is presently pursuing a degree at UMass through its University Without Walls program.

• Jeffrey Reinke was appointed to operational risk officer. He has more than 16 years of operations and financial-services experience, and earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration, with a concentration in finance, from Western New England University.

• Victoria Thompson was promoted to internal audit officer. She previously served as internal auditor. She has more than seven years of auditing experience, and earned a master’s degree in accounting and a bachelor’s degree in business administration, with a concentration in accounting, from Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst.

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Kimberly Santos joined the Realtor Assoc. of Pioneer Valley (RAPV) as membership and meetings coordinator. She joins the association with several years of managerial experience in customer-success roles and training in operations management at Bay Path University. Santos said she is excited to leverage her experience and commitment to strong customer service to support RAPV members and produce a wide roster of events for members to enjoy. She invites prospective members to reach out to her to learn more about joining the association at [email protected] or (413) 785-1328.

•••••

Springfield Rotarian Paul Lambert received a District Governor’s Citation at the Rotary Club of Springfield’s Dec. 8 meeting. Lambert, a Rotarian since 2008, received the citation for his dedication and hard work as the Rotary liaison and Basketball Hall of Fame representative to the committee for the eighth annual Service Above Self award luncheon. The award honors those in the local community and in the world of basketball who exemplify the Rotary’s motto of ‘service above self.’ “If Rotary founder Paul Harris wanted to put together a Rotary dream team, Paul Lambert would absolutely be on it,” said Lamont Clemons, president of the Rotary Club of Springfield. “He is a hardworking, dedicated, and caring Rotarian.” Lambert is vice president, Enshrinement Services & Community Engagement at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. He has been with the Hall for 15 years.

Daily News

HOLYOKE — PeoplesBank announced the promotions and appointments of several key associates.

Donna Charette was promoted to first vice president, Finance. She previously served as vice president of Finance. She has more than 28 years of banking experience, and earned a Leadership Certificate at the New England School of Banking.

Christine Phillips was promoted to first vice president, Human Resources. She previously served as vice president, Human Resources. She has more than 15 years of human-resources experience, and earned a bachelor’s degree from UMass Amherst.

Tammy Bordeaux was promoted to vice president, regional manager. She previously served as assistant vice president, regional manager. She has more than 20 years of banking experience, and earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Western New England University and an associate degree in business administration from Springfield Technical Community College.

Meghan Parnell-Gregoire was promoted to vice president, Business Lending Center manager. She previously served as assistant vice president, Business Lending Center manager. She has more than 15 years of banking experience, and earned an associate degree in mathematics from Holyoke Community College and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst.

Catherine Snow was promoted to vice president, commercial credit officer. She previously served as assistant vice president, commercial credit analyst. She has more than 30 years of banking experience, primarily in credit-related functions, and earned a bachelor’s degree in business management from Westfield State University.

Paul Hillsburg was appointed assistant vice president, PeoplesWealth Advisory Group. He has more than 30 years of financial, sales, and business-development experience, and earned an associate degree in business management from Springfield Technical Community College. He holds Series 7 and Series 66 licenses.

Xiaolei Hua was promoted to assistant vice president, portfolio manager II. He previously served as assistant vice president, portfolio manager I. He has more than 11 years of banking experience, and earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration and an MBA from Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst.

Matthew Krokov was promoted to assistant vice president, portfolio manager II. He previously served as assistant vice president, portfolio manager I. He has more than eight years of banking experience, and earned an MBA from American International College, a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Westfield State University, and an associate degree in marketing from Holyoke Community College.

Timothy Wegiel was promoted to assistant vice president, electronic banking officer. He previously served as electronic banking officer. He has more than 12 years of financial-services and banking experience, and earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Western New England University.

Cherlynne Mills was promoted to Business Banking officer. She previously served as assistant vice president, Consumer & Business Banking Center manager at the St. James Avenue office in Springfield, and has more than 30 years of banking experience. She attended Holyoke Community College and Elms College and is presently pursuing a degree at UMass through its University Without Walls program.

Jeffrey Reinke was appointed to operational risk officer. He has more than 16 years of operations and financial-services experience, and earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration, with a concentration in finance, from Western New England University.

Victoria Thompson was promoted to internal audit officer. She previously served as internal auditor. She has more than seven years of auditing experience, and earned a master’s degree in accounting and a bachelor’s degree in business administration, with a concentration in accounting, from Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst.

Business of Aging

Fresh Ideas

Pat Roach

Pat Roach says the plan to improve culinary service in Springfield’s schools could eventually be a model replicated nationwide.

Pat Roach likes to share an anecdote that speaks to the occasional absurdity of school lunch. It involves the community gardens that dozens of Springfield schools have planted and maintain.

“Take Kennedy Middle School, which has a beautiful garden, where kids grow their own vegetables,” said Roach, chief financial officer of Springfield Public Schools. “If they want to serve them in the cafeteria, we have to ship the vegetables to Rhode Island, where they’re washed, cut, processed, and shipped back to Kennedy.”

But what if the city didn’t have to rely on an out-of-state partner to prepare its meals? What if everything served in the schools was cooked fresh, from scratch, on site?

That’s the goal of the Culinary and Nutrition Center, a 62,000-square-foot facility to be built on Cadwell Drive in Springfield, just two addresses from the school system’s current, 18,000-square-foot, food-storage warehouse.

The new facility will be much more than a warehouse, however. It will include all the resources necessary to prepare fresh ingredients for breakfast and lunch at every public, parochial, and charter school in Springfield, and to train staff to prepare meals from scratch right in the school kitchens.

“We’re renting space in Chicopee for cold storage. Our bakery is based in Rhode Island,” Roach said. “Here, we’ll cook all the food fresh on site — egg sandwiches, fresh muffins, local blueberries, as opposed to getting stuff packaged out in California and shipped to us. And it will bring down the cost of using local produce.”

The city broke ground on the center on Dec. 13, and the facility should be fully operational before the start of the 2019-20 school year, Roach said, and will include several components:

• A production and catering kitchen aimed at increasing product quality and consistency and reducing the use of processed foods;

• A produce cutting and processing room where fresh fruit and vegetables sourced from local farms will be washed, cut, and packaged for use by the schools, and waste will be composted;

• A bakery to prepare fresh muffins and breads, which will also incorporate local produce;

• Cold and dry food storage, which will centralize product purchasing and receiving and inventory control; and

• A training and test kitchen, where culinary staff from the city’s schools, and their ‘chef managers,’ will be trained in preparing from-scratch meals in their own cafeterias. The potential also exists to use the facility to train students interested in the culinary arts as a career.

“They want to serve much higher-quality food to students, with more locally sourced products and fresh-baked goods,” said Jessica Collins, executive director of Partners for a Healthier Community, one of the school system’s foundation partners on the project. “For the schools, it means quality food, and for some students, it’s a career path.”

Speaking of careers, the district plans to add 50 to 60 jobs for cooks, bakers, vegetable cutters, warehouse personnel, and other roles. It will take that many, Roach said, to bring food production and preparation in house for the second-largest school food program in New England, one that serves 43,000 meals served daily.

Considering the nutrition needs of those students, many of whom live in poverty, the stakes could hardly be higher.

Dawn of a New Day

The Culinary and Nutrition Center is hardly a standalone project. Instead, its the culmination of several years of efforts to improve food quality in the schools. Among those programs was an initiative, now in its third year, to move breakfast service — a requirement for districts that serve high numbers of children from poor families — from a strictly before-school program to one that creeps into actual class time.

As a result, Roach said, the schools are serving more than 2 million more breakfasts per year than they were several years ago.

“By law, because of the poverty level, breakfast in school is mandated, but logistically it causes all sorts of problems. If the kids don’t get to school early enough, they don’t get breakfast, or they get to class late.”

It has been an adjustment for teachers in that first period, who have fine-tuned how they craft the first few minutes of class while students are eating. But the impact of fewer kids taking on the day hungry more than makes up for that challenge, he argued. Much fewer, actually, as participation in breakfast has risen from 20%, district-wide, to almost 80%, with much of the remainder likely students who ate something at home.

“It’s been a huge success. Nurse visits for hunger pains are down 30%, and more students are getting to class on time and having breakfast.”

But putting breakfast — and lunch, for that matter — in front of students is one thing; serving healthy food is another. And that concern was the germ of an idea that will soon become the Culinary and Nutrition Center.

“One of the biggest challenges is getting healthy produce, real egg sandwiches, freesh muffins,” Roach said, noting that pre-packaged egg sandwiches, the kind that convenience stores sell, and heavily processed muffins aren’t ideal.

bowles

“We want to be feeding the kids — this is better than nothing — but we want to give them something fresh,” he said. “Instead of buying crappy egg sandwiches that cost a lot of money, we know we can do things in-house cheaper and better. They want real eggs, better muffins — not fake, microwaved stuff.”

Instead of a central kitchen that prepares all the meals and sends them to schools for reheating, the vision is for the school kitchens to actually prepare the meals from scratch using fresh ingredients sent from Cadwell Drive. For instance, “they’ll be making their own sauces using fresh tomatoes and fresh basil,” he noted. “We want to have the best food around. We want kids to want to eat breakfast and lunch at school.”

He also wants students to learn about nutrition and food delivery through their own experiences. “Kids are starting to get it. There’s a whole educational component, and kids understand this stuff is being sourced locally from local farms.”

That gives them a sense of ownership of the nutritional changes. For instance, when Michelle Obama led a change in school lunches, emphasizing whole grains, lower sodium, lower sugar, and other improvements, Roach noted, many schools made the shift all at once, and students rejected what suddenly started appearing on their plates.

“But we had already started increasing whole grains in food, reducing sodium levels — it was a huge success with us,” he said. “We think we’re training kids in lifelong dietary habits. If they get accustomed to eating this way, three meals a day, they’ll continue to do so for the rest of their lives.”

Back to School

Roach said the $21 million project, funded through government and private sources, is being supported by several partners with an interest in food policy, such as Trinity Health, Partners for a Healthier Community, EOS Foundation, and Kendall Foundation.

“Everyone knows how big and important this is, and a lot of people see this as potentially a model for Boston or Worcester, even across the whole country,” he told BusinessWest. “They do see us as pioneers on this project, and a lot of people are excited for us to get this project off the ground. Whether it’s improving student nutrition, decreasing obesity, or reducing hunger, all these organizations share our mission in this center.”

Collins said the city’s support — the project was part of a recent $14.3 million bond approval — is encouraging to those, like her, with a keen interest in community health.

“That’s really exciting, because here you have policymakers investing in what we have been pushing for years, which is higher-quality food for kids,” she said. “When you think about nutrition and higher-quality food and food insecurity, the schools are critical, because that’s where they are every day.”

Roach said the potential exists to broaden the center’s reach to serve other districts, but that’s not in the plans right now. “We don’t want to expand it beyond Springfield until we’re sure we’re serving 100% of our kids.”

That begins with a better egg sandwich, a better muffin — and a better school day.

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]

Departments People on the Move
Marie Lafortune

Marie Lafortune

Natalya Riberdy

Natalya Riberdy

Haley Pedruczny

Haley Pedruczny

Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C. recently welcomed Marie Lafortune, Natalya Riberdy, and Haley Pedruczny to the firm. Lafortune comes to MBK as a first-year audit associate. She is currently focused on pension and 401(k) plans, HUD engagements, and compliance testing for nonprofits. She also assists with tax preparation. She holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting and healthcare management from Elms College and is pursuing her master’s of accountancy at Westfield State University. Riberdy is a new associate focusing on the service and construction industries. Before joining MBK, she gained experience as intern at a regional firm and as a billing, AR, and AP associate in private accounting. She holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting and finance from Bridgewater State University and is on track to complete her MSA, with a concentration in forensic accounting, from Western New England University. She will then begin studying for the CPA exams. Pedruczny comes to the firm with accounting experience across the real estate, manufacturing, and consumer-product fields. As an associate at MBK, she works primarily on nonprofit clients and employee benefit plans, from small companies and schools to large corporations. She graduated from the Isenberg School of Management with a BBA in accounting and is currently pursuing her CPA license. “Each of these women represent the wellspring of young business and accounting talent we have right here in Western Massachusetts,” said MBK Partner Howard Cheney. “At MBK, we consider ourselves fortunate to tap into the vital resources of the next generation and bring them into the fold to grow and thrive along with the firm and our clients.”

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Jeremy Lajoie

Jeremy Lajoie

Charmaine Ramirez

Charmaine Ramirez

Michael Tucker, president and CEO of Greenfield Co-operative Bank, announced the promotions of Jeremy Lajoie and Charmaine Ramirez to assistant vice president. Lajoie works in mortgage operations. He started with the bank in July 2015 and has been working as the loan processing supervisor, and is responsible for managing the loan-processing workflow within the bank. Prior to joining Greenfield Co-operative Bank, he worked for five years at another financial institution in the loan servicing/processing area. He has a bachelor’s degree in communications from UMass Amherst. Ramirez works in mortgage operations. She started at Northampton Cooperative Bank in 2012 as a teller/customer service representative and was promoted to loan underwriter and processor in 2013. After Northampton Cooperative merged into Greenfield Co-operative Bank, she became lead underwriter and was most recently mortgage operations supervisor. She is a 2017 graduate from the New England School for Financial Studies and is currently completing her bachelor’s degree in business management from Western Governor’s University.

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Howard Sienkiewicz

Howard Sienkiewicz

Zasco Productions, LLC, an event-planning and production company, hired Howard Sienkiewicz as its new vice president and general manager, according to Zasco founder, president, and owner, Michael Zaskey. Sienkiewicz returns to Western Mass. after spending two decades as technical director for the international event-planning and production company Ellen Michaels Presents. “We’re so pleased that Howard Sienkiewicz agreed to return to Western Massachusetts to join the Zasco team,” Zaskey said. “His experience working globally in theatres, concert halls, convention centers, hotels, and non-traditional venues will help Zasco Productions and our other brand, Big Video Screen, to enhance the level of service we provide our customers throughout the region.” Sienkiewicz began his career in Springfield as production stage manager of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra, coordinating production for its classical and pop-music series, operas, and dance programs at Springfield Symphony Hall, at the Summer Pops at Stanley Park, the Berkshire Choral Festival, and Springfield Symphony New England Tours, under the auspices of New England Presentors. He became technical director for Springfield Civic Center and Symphony Hall and general manager for Snow Sound, as well as owner of HCS Productions. At Ellen Michaels Presents, he traveled the globe working on events for CA Technologies, Oracle, Intuit, and many others. “Years ago, when Michael has getting Zasco started, we had crossed paths while I worked at Springfield Symphony Hall,” Sienkiewicz said. “Years later, when I needed a company to support a large corporate event in Boston, I was given his name. He and the company really impressed me. Going forward, I would use Zasco Productions for all our shows in the Northeast. I even brought them to Las Vegas, Chicago, and North Carolina to support various shows. When I decided to get off the road, Michael offered me this position, and I am thrilled to be returning to my hometown and have the opportunity to work with a great company like Zasco locally and nationally.”

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Jessica Picard

Jessica Picard

The Greater Holyoke Chamber of Commerce bestowed its Chamber Ambassador of the Year Award to Jessica Picard, marketing director at Loomis House Retirement Community, a position she has held since 2012. Previous to that, she was the marketing and admissions liaison for Loomis Lakeside at Reeds Landing in Springfield. She graduated from Westfield State University with a degree in business management and a minor in marketing. “Our ambassadors play a pivotal role in allowing the Greater Holyoke Chamber to be able to execute on our programs and events. Jessica Picard has been a champion of the Greater Holyoke Chamber for several years, and her service as an ambassador to our chamber members is irreplaceable,” said Wanda Zabawa, events manager and ambassador leader. Chamber ambassadors are volunteers who make a commitment to help new members feel welcome and demonstrate to all members how to make the most of their chamber benefits. They also gather feedback from members to help the chamber improve its services. Other members of the chamber ambassador committee include Wendy Palmer of PeoplesBank, Julie Rochefort of United Personnel, Paula Auclair and Harry Montalvo of bankESB, Kate Buckley of Goss & McLain Insurance, Susan Concepcion of Homewood Suites, Molly Desrocher of United Personnel, Pauline Gove of deRenzy Document Solutions, James Brunault of Massachusetts Rehabilitation, Daniel Couchon of Fairfield Inn, and Tom Thacher of CareerPoint. “Jessica truly deserves the Ambassador of the Year award. Jessica has gone above and beyond her responsibilities as an ambassador toward our members and has demonstrated extraordinary dedication, involvement, and initiative to enhancing the partnership between the chamber and our members,” said Kathleen Anderson, chamber president. Picard was chosen for the award after receiving the most ambassador points in 2017. Ambassadors earn points by calling and visiting chamber members, attending monthly meetings and ribbon cuttings, recruiting other ambassadors, and participating in chamber events. Picard and her manager, Margaret Mantoni, will be honored at the chamber’s holiday business breakfast and pop-up retail event on Wednesday, Dec. 13 at the Log Cabin. The public is welcome to attend.

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Tony Sanches

Tony Sanches

Michael Ostrowski, president and CEO of Arrha Credit Union, announced the promotion of Tony Sanches from branch manager and Business Development officer to assistant vice president of Retail Operations. “We are so pleased to promote Tony, who has always gone above and beyond the call of duty of taking care of his members and staff,” Ostrowski said. “He will continue to be located at the West Springfield branch location at 63 Park Ave. He will also continue to look for ways to serve our members and communities so we may provide additional conveniences and help people reach their financial goals in a meaningful way.” Sanches has more than 15 years of experience in the local financial industry and 10 years in residential lending. He began his banking career as a teller at Westbank, then moved to Country Bank as a head teller and worked his way up to customer service manager, assistant branch manager, and loan originator. He then moved to Florence Savings Bank as a loan originator at its multiple offices. He finished his career at Florence as assistant vice president of Lending before moving to Freedom Credit Union as a loan officer. Sanches has extensive knowledge of portfolio lending and secondary-market lending, including conventional loans, MHP, USDA, FHA, and MassHousing loans. He is fluent in Portuguese and English, a member of the Rotary Club of Ludlow, corporator at the Ludlow Boys and Girls Club, and a member of the Ludlow Youth Soccer Assoc., where he coaches youth soccer.

•••••

Jamie Convery

Jamie Convery

Stacey Pinardi

Stacey Pinardi

Glenn Welch, president and CEO of Freedom Credit Union, announced the promotion of Jamie Convery to branch officer of Freedom’s Sixteen Acres Branch, and the appointment of Stacey Pinardi as mortgage loan originator in Franklin and Hampshire counties. In her new position, Convery oversees the financial and lending operations of the branch, develops new business opportunities with individuals and businesses, and promotes financial literacy at area schools. She has been employed at Freedom for seven years and has 15 years of experience in the banking and financial-services industries. Prior to joining Freedom, she was a teller supervisor at PeoplesBank. Convery earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Westfield State University, and she currently serves on the membership committee of the Professional Women’s Chamber. Pinardi is responsible for real-estate origination throughout Franklin and Hampshire counties. As she helps expand Freedom’s mortgage services throughout that region, she will offer her expertise in conventional, MassHousing, MHP ONE Mortgage, FHA, USDA, and VA loans. She has more than 22 years of experience in the finance industry, including expertise in residential mortgage origination, first-time-homebuyer assistance, and secondary market sales. Most recently, she was a mortgage planner at Regency Mortgage. Currently, Pinardi is an affiliate member of the Realtor Assoc. of Pioneer Valley. She works at the Freedom branch at 191 Ave. A in Turners Falls.

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Allison Gearing-Kalill, a fund-raiser and development professional, has been named vice president for Development and Planned Giving at Bay Path University, as announced by President Carol Leary. “I am delighted that Allison Gearing-Kalill is joining our leadership team,” Leary said. “She brings tremendous development and planned-giving experience to the position, and as vice president she will partner with areas across the university to support and advance our philanthropic culture that has been an important driver to the success of our students and academic programs. I look forward to working closely with Allison in the coming months.” At Bay Path, Gearing-Kalill will serve as a member of the executive staff. In this new role, she will manage a comprehensive planned-giving program, and also provide leadership in the areas of annual giving, alumni relations, stewardship, special events, advancement services, and major gifts. “It will be a privilege to work alongside the academic and staff leadership, as well as the alumni and friends of the university, to continue the fund-raising momentum that is already in place,” she said. “President Leary has brought Bay Path to new heights with her remarkable vision and energy, and I am thrilled to be part of that transformation.” Prior to joining Bay Path, Gearing-Kalill served as vice president of Fund Development at Sisters of Providence Health System and Mercy Medical Center, where she oversaw the areas of fund-raising and special events. Previously, she was the vice president of Community Development at Baystate Noble Hospital. Widely recognized for her fund-raising expertise, she received the 2017 Assoc. for Healthcare Philanthropy Higher Performers Award. She earned her bachelor’s degree in business with a specialization in marketing from UMass Amherst.

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Frances Gomes Marthone

Frances Gomes Marthone

Frances Gomes Marthone has been named chief Nursing officer (vice president of Patient Care Services) for Mercy Medical Center. In this role, she is responsible for ensuring compliance with patient-care quality standards and ensuring that clinical and staffing standards are met, promoting best practices in nursing and patient care, and serving as a liaison for communication between leadership and the nursing staff. With more than 25 years of nursing-leadership experience, Marthone most recently served as chief Nursing officer and vice president of Patient Care Services at Piedmont Henry Hospital, a 215-bed facility in Stockbridge, Ga., where she was responsible for the coordination and monitoring of all nursing standards. Prior to that role, she served as vice president of Medical Services at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital in Albany, Ga., where she provided leadership in recruitment, retention, development, and continuing education for all units within the medical division. She also has experience as an administrative supervisor, as well as a background in the management of oncology-nursing services. Marthone holds a Ph.D. in nursing philosophy from Georgia State University in Atlanta, a master’s degree in nursing administration from Albany State University in Albany, Ga., and a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Simmons College in Boston. She also holds a quality and process improvement certification in Black Belt from the Stetson School of Business and Economics at Mercer University in Georgia. She is a member the American Organization of Nurse Executives, the American Nurses Assoc., the Georgia Nurses Assoc., and the American College of Healthcare Executives.

•••••

The Markens Group Inc., a Springfield-based association-management and business-consulting firm, recently welcomed Wil Rodriguez as director of Sales and Business Development. Rodriguez has more than 15 years of experience building relationships, cultivating target audiences, and managing accounts. He has worked for firms in Florida, Connecticut, and Western Mass., serving most recently as an account executive for Full Power Radio. He also has sales experience in the energy, job-placement, and graphic-arts industries. A longtime community steward, Rodriguez served as president of the Westfield Spanish American Assoc. from 2011 to 2016, leading the organization’s efforts to empower Latinos in the Greater Westfield area to create a visible presence in their local community. Under his leadership, the organization spearheaded several community projects, including the construction of a $50,000 playscape at Westfield’s Whitney Playground. He has also served on the board of directors of the Amelia Park Children’s Museum and has volunteered as a diversity consultant for the Massachusetts chapter of the Alzheimer’s Assoc. “I’m thrilled to begin my work with the Markens Group,” said Rodriguez. “I’m already getting a feel for the trade-association industry, and I have some great ideas for moving forward.” In his new role, Rodriguez will lead efforts to grow the Markens Group’s association-management business. The firm provides outsourced management services like strategic planning, marketing, and administration to national, regional, and local trade associations and professional societies. “Wil is an excellent addition to the team,” said Ben Markens, president and CEO of the Markens Group. “He not only has the right experience, he also champions community. At the end of the day, that’s what we foster in our association clients. We help communities of like-minded individuals make a real difference in their industries and broader society.”

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The Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts (WFWM) named database expert Jorene Lomenzo as the foundation’s new development associate. Lomenzo comes to WFWM with more than 13 years of experience in nonprofit and higher-education development-database management. She has extensive knowledge around reconciling finances, assigning gift-crediting protocols, analyzing data for finance reports, preparing donor campaigns, supporting internal data evaluation, and more. Her most recent position was Advancement Services manager for American International College. Previous roles include Development and Marketing coordinator at the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center in Hartford, Conn. “I am very excited to join the Women’s Fund in the new role of Development associate,” Lomenzo said. “I look forward to working with the staff and volunteers to expand fund-raising efforts and broaden connections with supporters.” Prior to working in development, she worked with local communities in Georgia to preserve historic properties by writing grant applications, training volunteers, assessing historic resources, and advocating for preservation. She has a master’s degree in historic preservation. Lomenzo will work closely with WFWM Director of Philanthropy Monica Borgatti, maintaining donor and gift information, identifying new donor prospects, cultivating and stewarding WFWM program alumnae, and helping the fund analyze and manage next steps in successful fund-raising campaigns.

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Lisa Palumbo, a Realtor in the Valley since March 2005, joined Delap Real Estate on Nov. 20 and will work as a buyer’s and seller’s agent, covering Hampshire, Franklin, and Hampden counties. A resident of Northampton for 25 years, Palumbo most recently worked as the top-selling agent at the Coldwell Banker office in Northampton from 2006 to 2017. In the past year, she sold more than $15 million in real-estate transactions in the tri-county region. In 2017, she was ranked among the top 10 Realtors for sales in Hampshire County. From 2006 to 2017, she has been presented annually with the President’s Platinum and Gold Awards from the Realtor Assoc. of Pioneer Valley in recognition of superior sales and service. “I work with clients ranging from first-time home buyers to those who are looking to downsize following retirement,” Palumbo said. “Some of my clients come from out of state and are relocating to the Pioneer Valley. I work to make the process smooth and stress-free. Giving honest advice for making sound real-estate choices is what I strive to do.” Palumbo holds a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts with a concentration in philosophy, religion, and Asian studies from Colgate University and a master’s degree in music and music education from Columbia University. Before working as a realtor, she was a music teacher at Granby High School in Connecticut and White Brook Middle School in Easthampton. Fascinated with homes and interested in working with people, she became a Realtor after poring over the real-estate study guide while on a maternity leave. “Being a realtor is being part lawyer, part negotiator and strategist, part photographer, part copy editor, part marketing manager, part teacher, and even, sometimes, part therapist,” she said. “Every day is different and challenging.”

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At Freedom Credit Union’s annual holiday dinner at the Log Cabin, David Chase, vice president of Business Lending, was presented with this year’s President’s Award. A colleague nominated Chase for the award, which recognizes a Freedom employee for his or her commitment to professional excellence. The employee said Chase “has reinvented our Commercial Lending department to what it is today and is continuing to grow this sector of our business.” During the evening, several employees were recognized for their years of service. In addition, 11 employees were recognized for receiving a GEM Award as part of Freedom’s new GEM (Going the Extra Mile) program. C. Melin Menas and Lynne Wallace were honored for being named Credit Union Heroes by Banker and Tradesman magazine.

•••••

Enchanted Circle, a multi-service arts organization dedicated to engaging, enhancing, and inspiring learning through the arts, announced the appointment of Andrea Spak as director of Development. “We are absolutely thrilled to have Andrea join our creative education team,” said Priscilla Kane Hellweg, executive director of Enchanted Circle. “Her expertise and professionalism will enable us to expand our reach and deepen our impact as we serve the most vulnerable children and youth in the region.” Spak has dedicated the past 30 years of her professional life and volunteerism to the non-profit sector, supporting education, civil rights, and social-justice issues to improve the lives of children and families. She has raised millions of dollars from individuals, corporations, foundations, and public funding sources to support children’s rights, educational programs, historic preservation, legal advocacy, training and services, community development, and affordable housing. Most recently, she was director of Development at the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center in Hartford, Conn., where she successfully created, directed, and implemented multi-faceted strategies for comprehensive programs of philanthropy, sponsorship, special events, and membership to foster donor engagement and support mission delivery, resulting in organizational transformation. “I am excited to join Enchanted Circle and contribute to their work to improve the lives of children and families throughout the greater community,” Spak said. “Enchanted Circle offers the perfect opportunity to address ongoing community challenges and to apply my experience to expand Enchanted’s impact and support organizational growth.” Enchanted Circle works in partnership with public schools, on the professional stage, and with social-service agencies, providing programs that bridge arts, education, and human services for people of all ages and abilities.

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Caroline Gear, executive director of the Northampton-based International Language Institute (ILI) of Massachusetts, was recently elected to the Greenfield Community College Foundation Inc. board of directors. Gear has been at ILI since 1986 as a Spanish teacher, ESOL teacher, teacher trainer, and administrator. She has published articles in the field of assessment and evaluation and presents on teacher training and the administration of programs both regionally and nationally. “Caroline’s passion for the mission of access to education is evident, and she brings a wealth of knowledge about the challenges facing those who struggle to change their lives through education,” said Michael Davey, GCC Foundation board president and vice president/commercial loan officer at Florence Bank. “As Greenfield Community College expands its programming into Hampshire County, we welcome the addition of this outstanding new member to our board.” Added Greenfield Community College President Bob Pura, “Caroline Gear is a longtime partner of the college. She has shared GCC’s passion for access and excellence in education. Her commitment to economic and social mobility for all in our community is a perfect fit for the work of the GCC Foundation. I welcome her heart, intelligence, and fierce courage to an outstanding board in service to students, college, and community.” The following individuals were elected as officers of the GCC Foundation board of directors for the coming year: Michael Davey, president, Leigh Rae, vice president, Nancy Fournier, treasurer, Katherine Cole, secretary, and Marina Goldman, member at large. Other members of the board are Carmen Bassett, Sharon Meyers, Mitch Anthony, Patricia Coffin, Charles Conant, Rich Fahey, Michael Smith, faculty representative Mary Phillips, student representative Maya Kazinskas, and GCC trustee representative Dylan Korpita. Board members emeriti are Robert Cohn, William Freeman, Lorna Peterson, and Robert Mugar Yacubian.

Daily News

GREENFIELD — Michael Tucker, president and CEO of Greenfield Co-operative Bank, announced the promotions of Jeremy Lajoie and Charmaine Ramirez to assistant vice president.

Lajoie works in mortgage operations. He started with the bank in July 2015 and has been working as the loan processing supervisor, and is responsible for managing the loan-processing workflow within the bank. Prior to joining Greenfield Co-operative Bank, he worked for five years at another financial institution in the loan servicing/processing area. He has a bachelor’s degree in communications from UMass Amherst.

Ramirez works in mortgage operations. She started at Northampton Cooperative Bank in 2012 as a teller/customer service representative and was promoted to loan underwriter and processor in 2013. After Northampton Cooperative merged into Greenfield Co-operative Bank, she became lead underwriter and was most recently mortgage operations supervisor. She is a 2017 graduate from the New England School for Financial Studies and is currently completing her bachelor’s degree in business management from Western Governor’s University.

Daily News

HOLYOKE — The Greater Holyoke Chamber of Commerce bestowed its Chamber Ambassador of the Year Award to Jessica Picard, marketing director at Loomis House Retirement Community, a position she has held since 2012.

Previous to that, she was the marketing and admissions liaison for Loomis Lakeside at Reeds Landing in Springfield. She graduated from Westfield State University with a degree in business management and a minor in marketing.

“Our ambassadors play a pivotal role in allowing the Greater Holyoke Chamber to be able to execute on our programs and events. Jessica Picard has been a champion of the Greater Holyoke Chamber for several years, and her service as an ambassador to our chamber members is irreplaceable,” said Wanda Zabawa, events manager and ambassador leader.

Chamber ambassadors are volunteers who make a commitment to help new members feel welcome and demonstrate to all members how to make the most of their chamber benefits. They also gather feedback from members to help the chamber improve its services. Other members of the chamber ambassador committee include Wendy Palmer of PeoplesBank, Julie Rochefort of United Personnel, Paula Auclair and Harry Montalvo of bankESB, Kate Buckley of Goss & McLain Insurance, Susan Concepcion of Homewood Suites, Molly Desrocher of United Personnel, Pauline Gove of deRenzy Document Solutions, James Brunault of Massachusetts Rehabilitation, Daniel Couchon of Fairfield Inn, and Tom Thacher of CareerPoint.

“Jessica truly deserves the Ambassador of the Year award. Jessica has gone above and beyond her responsibilities as an ambassador toward our members and has demonstrated extraordinary dedication, involvement, and initiative to enhancing the partnership between the chamber and our members,” said Kathleen Anderson, chamber president.

Picard was chosen for the award after receiving the most ambassador points in 2017. Ambassadors earn points by calling and visiting chamber members, attending monthly meetings and ribbon cuttings, recruiting other ambassadors, and participating in chamber events.

Picard and her manager, Margaret Mantoni, will be honored at the chamber’s holiday business breakfast and pop-up retail event on Wednesday, Dec. 13 at the Log Cabin. The public is welcome to attend.

Banking and Financial Services Sections

Business Valuation

By Brandon Mitchell

Brandon Mitchell

Brandon Mitchell

For business owners looking to sell in the near future, there is plenty to be optimistic about.

Buyers have access to capital at low interest rates through banks. Stocks are at all-time highs, driving individual net worth and access to down payments. The Massachusetts economy is vibrant. Most recent reports show GDP growth and unemployment rates outperforming the national average. There is positivity around MGM coming to Springfield, a new GE headquarters moving to Boston, and the potential for business-friendly legislation coming down the pipeline.

These factors will drive buyers to jump into the market and take the keys to a business, but there is a catch. With more than 1,100 businesses listed for sale across Massachusetts right now, buyers have options and are willing to wait for a value that makes sense.

When figuring the value of their business, owners can fall into the trap of including sentimental value in their estimation. Some are relying on what a similar business sold for in a different market or, worse, have a target number they drew up without any real anchor to reality.

Owners should resist the temptation to ‘pull the parachute’ as they get closer to the finish line.”

For business owners who have dedicated their lives to a business, it can be hard to take a step back and objectively consider what their business is worth. Business owners who are willing to take an objective look at the value of their business can be proactive now instead of reactive when they are ready to retire and list their business for the first time.

The value of a business is dynamic. While there is no way to get a buyer to price sentimental value into a purchase price, there is a potential to make changes to the business that will increase the value over time.

There are three approaches to valuing a business — asset, income, and market approaches. For most privately held companies, valuators rely on either the income approach, market approach, or a combination of the two. The basic formulas for these calculations are widely available online, but what owners can do with this information may be less obvious.

First, it’s important to know that the years leading up to the valuation or sale are the most important. A long history of profits can show stability for a small business; however, only the most recent three to five years are going to be considered in a calculation. Small-business owners with eyes on an exit have a tendency to disconnect from the business during this most important period when they should be pushing in the opposite direction.

Flat revenues or increases in expenses during this period have the potential to erase even decades of growth and profitability. Owners should resist the temptation to ‘pull the parachute’ as they get closer to the finish line. Continue to push for revenue growth, and pay close attention to expense control. This is the time to let the numbers showcase the full potential of the business.

Nobody knows the ins and outs of a small business like the owner. Buyers and valuators weigh heavily on the impact the seller’s exit will have on the future of the business. Owners should focus on replacing themselves in the areas in which they are most intertwined in the business to lessen the impact. To identify these high-dependency areas, owners can interview managers and employees, noting issues that cannot be resolved without them.

Key areas of focus generally depend on the industry or business model but usually include sales generation, relationship management, product development, strategic decision making, or day-to-day business management. If continuity can be achieved through process improvement or process documentation, it should be a key focus. Some results can be found through training current employees and empowering them. Consider restructuring tasks and delegating the current owner’s duties to rising managers.

Finally, clean up the financial statements. For various reasons, including tax motivations, small-business owners have a tendency to let their personal and business lives collide on their company financial statements. Documentation is important for any personal expenses being charged to the business. Owners should be ready to prove which expenses were not necessary for the business so that buyers and valuators exclude the expenses to calculate the value — buyers will not report findings to the IRS.

Performing a financial analysis can also help owners understand how their business compares to the rest of the industry, making them ready to articulate strengths and defend or improve weaknesses.

Overall, the current market is friendly to someone looking to sell their business. It’s also a great time to be proactive in managing an exit strategy, whether it lies around the corner or several years out. Getting realistic about the value of their business enables owners to take steps to improve it and make informed decisions.

Brandon Mitchell is a certified valuation analyst and owner of BLM Valuation Services, LLC, which specializes in certified independent business valuations for SBA lenders and small-business owners; (413) 306-1940.

Company Notebook Departments

Valley Blue Sox Break into Top 10 in Collegiate Baseball Attendance

HOLYOKE — The Valley Blue Sox have officially broken into the top 10 for average attendance among summer collegiate baseball teams nationally, according to BallparkDigest.com. In addition, the 2,121 average attendance at 2017 Blue Sox games also placed first in the New England Collegiate Baseball League for the second consecutive year. The 10th-place ranking — following an 11th-place ranking in 2016 — comes on the heels of a challenging 2017 season where weather wasn’t kind to the Blue Sox, as they ended up having six games postponed due to rain. “We had some challenges this year with weather, so being able to crack the top 10 in spite of that is quite an accomplishment, but also a pretty good harbinger of things to come,” said Blue Sox President Clark Eckhoff. “Just to be where we were five years ago to now is something else, and it’s been a lot of hard work and heavy lifting from a lot of good people that’s made this all happen.” This past summer saw not only the team’s first championship in franchise history, but also several upgrades to Mackenzie Stadium, including a new playing surface and bullpens. A new concessions and restroom facility is on track for completion by the 2018 season. In addition to its national standing among collegiate-level teams, the Blue Sox also topped several professional, affiliated teams as well, finishing ahead of teams in Staten Island, N.Y., Modesto, Calif., and Daytona Beach, Fla. In addition to the success off the field, the team posted its second-best record in team history and capped it off with a run to the championship in which the Blue Sox swept every team in their path.

Ameriprise Financial Relocates, Changes Name

SOUTH HADLEY — Stephen Duval, a private wealth advisor with Ameriprise Financial Services Inc., recently announced he has moved his practice to a new location at 551 Newton St. and changed its name to Summit House Wealth Partners. Duval has also expanded his team of financial advisors by one. A certified financial planner, Duval moved his office in June from 130 College St., and colleague Justin Osowiecki, a financial advisor, made the transition with him. At the same time, Duval partnered with Edward Boscher, who is also now serving clients as a Summit House Wealth Partners financial advisor. The team will hold an open house for the public at the new Newton Street office on Thursday, Sept. 21 from 2 to 7 p.m. Duval holds a bachelor’s degree from UMass in business administration and is a graduate of the College for Financial Planning. He has been with Ameriprise for 25 years. Boscher is also a certified financial planner and a certified investment management analyst. He has spent much of his career working with Voya Investment Management out of its Windsor, Conn. office. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business management from Westfield State University. Boscher made the transition to Summit House Wealth Partners, he said, “to put my 23-plus years of asset-management experience to work for people around here, because I live here.” Duval’s practice is an Ameriprise Financial franchise. Ameriprise Financial Services Inc. offers financial-advisory services, investments, insurance, and annuity products. For more information, or for details on upcoming workshops — on topics ranging from Social Security to identify theft to retirement planning — call (413) 540-0196.

Witalisz & Associates Celebrates Grand Opening

WESTFIELD — Witalisz & Associates Inc., a real-estate company based in Western Mass., recently celebrated its new office space with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and grand opening. The firm recently moved to 2 Broad St. in Westfield, situated across the hall from the Tavern Restaurant. “We are incredibly excited and grateful for this opportunity to relocate to the best place in Westfield,” said broker/owner Kathy Witalisz. “Working with the leadership team at the Tavern has been remarkable, and we are very much looking forward to a bright future in our new location.” The open space will help accommodate the company’s plans for future growth. Witalisz & Associates has already expanded its educational programs to include a real-estate school, training seminars, career nights, and a number of public events. The grand opening was attended by both local dignitaries and prominent members in the community. State Sen. Donald Humason, state Rep. John Velis, Westfield Mayor Brian Sullivan, and Greater Westfield Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kate Phelon all presented citations in recognition of the company’s move.

Berkshire Bank Among Top Charitable Givers

PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Bank was honored by the Boston Business Journal as one the state’s most philanthropic companies during the 12th annual Corporate Citizenship Awards ceremony. The 94 companies that were honored by the publication each met the threshold of at least $100,000 in philanthropic support of Massachusetts nonprofits in 2016. They combined for approximately $273 million in charitable giving last year. The list includes companies that paid out at least $100,000 to Massachusetts-based charitable organizations in fiscal 2016. Berkshire Bank ranked 46th for total financial contributions with more than $1.2 million donated in Massachusetts alone and more than $2 million donated overall. Massachusetts-based bank employees also donated more than 28,000 hours of volunteer service.

Phillips Insurance Agency Honored by Liberty Mutual

CHICOPEE — Phillips Insurance Agency Inc. was one of 13 agents in the Northeast and the only agent in Western Mass. to earn the exclusive Chairman’s Club Award from Liberty Mutual Insurance. The Chairman’s Award is designed to recognize the contributions of the top-performing commercial-lines agencies in the country. Phillips Insurance had earned the Liberty Mutual President’s Club for 10 years in a row prior to achieving this top echelon of Liberty agents. Phillips Insurance President Joe Phillips will accept the award at the Chairman Dinner in Jackson Hole, Wyo. later this month. Phillips Insurance Agency, established in 1953, is a full-service risk-management firm with a staff of 25 professionals. The agency handles the personal and commercial insurance needs for thousands of individuals and businesses throughout the Northeast.

Bay Path Ranked Among Fastest-growing Colleges

LONGMEADOW — The Chronicle of Higher Education has recognized Bay Path University in its Almanac of Higher Education 2017 as one of the fastest-growing colleges in the U.S., currently ranked 17th in the category of “private nonprofit master’s institutions” with a 113.4% growth rate over a 10-year period. Bay Path was the only institution of higher education from Massachusetts on the list. “This national recognition represents the commitment of talented faculty and staff who truly understand workforce needs and student interests,” university President Carol Leary said. “Our growth is based on three key factors: the different levels of education we provide; the variety of modalities we use in our learning environments, which include on-campus, online, and hybrid; and the continual diversification of our program offerings for both undergraduate and graduate students.” With the opening of the Philip H. Ryan Health Science Center, Bay Path has seen significant growth in its applied health science degrees, including the master of occupational therapy, master of science in physician assistant studies, and master of science in genetic counseling, among others. In 2017, Bay Path opened a satellite campus in Concord, offering master’s programs in clinical mental health counseling, developmental psychology, special education administration, occupational therapy, and healthcare administration. Data contained in the Almanac of Higher Education 2017 are based on fall enrollment of full- and part-time graduate and undergraduate students during the span of 2005-15, including students that are online-only. The report included all U.S. degree-granting institutions with at least 500 students in 2005. Published by the Chronicle of Higher Education, the annual Almanac of Higher Education is a comprehensive assessment of the higher-education industry.

Country Bank Recognized for Charitable Giving

WARE — Country Bank was recognized by the Boston Business Journal as one of the state’s top charitable contributors. The bank received a Corporate Citizenship Award at the 12th annual event, held at Fenway Park on Sept. 7. Each year, the publication celebrates Massachusetts corporations and nonprofits for their contributions in giving back to the communities in the Commonwealth. A total of 94 companies were recognized during the evening, and Country Bank ranked 64th with total donations of $615,000 and more than 1,000 hours of community service hours from their staff.

Hampden County Bar Assoc. Awards Scholarships

SPRINGFIELD — The Hampden County Bar Assoc. (HCBA) announced the recipients of two scholarships for the 2017-18 academic year. Patrick Greenhalgh, a student at the University of Connecticut School of Law, was awarded the first-ever Colonel Archer B. Battista Veterans Scholarship. The scholarship was established in memory of the late HCBA past president who dedicated his career to helping veterans. The scholarship was available to any veteran pursuing a legal degree. Brianna Burns, a student at Suffolk Law School, was awarded the John F. Moriarty Scholarship, which was established in 1985 in memory of the late judge. The scholarship was created to further extend the standards of professional and personal excellence in the practice of law.

WNEU Welcomes Record Number of New Students

SPRINGFIELD — Western New England University (WNEU) announced a second consecutive year of enrollment growth in its recruitment efforts. WNEU reported a total of 899 new students enrolled in classes for the 2017 fall semester, bringing the total opening full-time undergraduate enrollment up to 2,656, the largest in university history. The university also saw a record number of admissions applications in 2017, totaling 7,037, along with an increase in the diversity of the incoming student population, with minorities representing 26% of the cohort in 2017, up from 21% in 2016. “We are at a very important time in the history of higher education with respect to how families are assessing the rising cost to attend college. Students are asking the important questions during their college search process; they need and deserve hard data on internships and job-placement rates, the availability of merit- and need-based scholarships, and the support networks that will be in place to enhance their academic and social development. We welcome this,” said Bryan Gross, WNEU’s vice president for enrollment management and marketing. “The fact that Western New England University has been so successful in attracting diverse and highly qualified students while many other universities are experiencing enrollment declines demonstrates that people are taking notice and realizing the true value we offer.” The university’s College of Arts and Sciences enrolled 403 new students, a 10.1% increase over 2016, while the College of Business enrolled 203 new students, a 3% increase over last year. In the first year of a new Business Impact Scholarship initiative, the College of Business enrolled 67 new students from Hampden, Hampshire and Worcester counties compared to 44 new students from those counties last year. The renewable, $2,000-per-student scholarship was offered to support the recent surge of economic development in the Greater Springfield area, and to encourage business students to remain in Western Mass. Many students are attracted to the university’s Merit Scholarship program, which rewards previous academic performance. Merit Scholarships will again increase for the fall 2018 academic year to a range from $8,000 to $21,000 annually (each year students maintain good grades), as well as need-based grants. WNEU students will also soon enjoy a new, four-story, 70,000-square-foot Dining Commons building, scheduled to open in January 2018, as the university continues to expand the campus facilities.

Daily News

SOUTH HADLEY — Stephen Duval, a private wealth advisor with Ameriprise Financial Services Inc., recently announced he has moved his practice to a new location at 551 Newton St. and changed its name to Summit House Wealth Partners. Duval has also expanded his team of financial advisors by one.

A certified financial planner, Duval moved his office in June from 130 College St., and colleague Justin Osowiecki, a financial advisor, made the transition with him. At the same time, Duval partnered with Edward Boscher, who is also now serving clients as a Summit House Wealth Partners financial advisor.

The team will hold an open house for the public at the new Newton Street office on Thursday, Sept. 21 from 2 to 7 p.m.

Duval holds a bachelor’s degree from UMass in business administration and is a graduate of the College for Financial Planning. He has been with Ameriprise for 25 years. Boscher is also a certified financial planner and a certified investment management analyst. He has spent much of his career working with Voya Investment Management out of its Windsor, Conn. office. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business management from Westfield State University.

Boscher made the transition to Summit House Wealth Partners, he said, “to put my 23-plus years of asset-management experience to work for people around here, because I live here.”

Duval’s practice is an Ameriprise Financial franchise. Ameriprise Financial Services Inc. offers financial-advisory services, investments, insurance, and annuity products. For more information, or for details on upcoming workshops — on topics ranging from Social Security to identify theft to retirement planning — call (413) 540-0196.

Daily News

CHICOPEE — Elms College Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership announced new bachelor’s degree completion programs that will prepare students for success in the worlds of entrepreneurship, accounting, and management and marketing.

Business has long been an exciting career option. Startups were beginning to resurge in the U.S. in 2015, but the need for more entrepreneurs is vital to economic growth and job creation, according to a Kaufman Foundation survey. A 2014 Forbes survey found that 90% of startups fail, and 42% said the reason they fail is a lack of market need for their products. Elms is looking to make business-degree completion as accessible as possible by building programs that work for adult learners.

Elms College currently offers a healthcare management degree-completion program in partnership with Holyoke Community College (HCC), with classes held online and at HCC. With the addition of the three new programs, Elms provides four business-focused bachelor’s degree completion options designed to be flexible for adult learners, with classes held online and face-to-face on the Elms campus and local community-college campuses. They are:

• Bachelor of arts degree completion in entrepreneurship and management, which provides students with hands-on, real-world experience in creating new ventures and presenting new ideas to the market;

• Bachelor of arts degree completion in accounting, which teaches students how to identify and analyze diverse opportunities while using 21st-century skills and technology in accounting;

• Bachelor of arts degree completion in management and marketing, which gives students a strong foundation in business management and marketing principles; and

• Bachelor of arts degree completion in healthcare management, which prepares students for leadership roles in healthcare administration, a fast-growing field.

Eligible students for Elms degree-completion programs will have earned an associate’s degree from an accredited college, with a minimum GPA of 2.25. These programs, like Elms’ other business programs, are accredited by IACBE, the International Assembly of Collegiate Business Education.

Classes in these programs will begin in the fall 2017 semester. For complete program-delivery options, e-mail [email protected] or visit www.elms.edu/cel.

Departments People on the Move
Harry Dumay

Harry Dumay

Harry Dumay, who boasts a long and distinguished career in higher education, officially took the helm of Elms College as its 11th president on July 1 (see story, page 17). Dumay was chosen after a nationwide search and has served in higher education finance and administration at senior and executive levels for 19 years. He holds a Ph.D. in higher education administration from Boston College, an MBA from Boston University, and a master’s degree in public administration from Framingham State University. “Dr. Dumay is a multi-faceted leader who understands Elms College and the importance of a liberal-arts education based in the Catholic intellectual tradition,” said Cynthia Lyons, chair of the board of trustees. “He has a collaborative style and a demonstrated record of strengthening organizational and academic effectiveness, and he is enthusiastic about the future of Elms College.” Dumay, who hails from Ouanaminthe, Haiti, most recently resided with his family in Framingham and worked as the senior vice president and chief financial officer at St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. Before that, he served as chief financial officer and associate dean at Harvard University’s Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, associate dean at Boston College’s Graduate School of Social Work, and director of finance for Boston University’s School of Engineering. Dumay also served as an adjunct faculty member at Boston College for nine years. Dumay’s inauguration will be held in the fall. The trustees are planning additional autumn events that will allow everyone to meet the new president. He succeeds Mary Reap, who retired June 30 after serving as Elms president for the past eight years.

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Jessie Cooley

Jessie Cooley

Following last month’s retirement of long-time Director Renee Moss, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampshire County (BBBSHC) hired Jessie Cooley as its new director. Cooley has worked for 12 years with the BBBS organization, first in Boston and then in Franklin County, where she grew up. Most recently, she worked as the district director for state Rep. Paul Mark. She earned her master’s degree in education at UMass Amherst, and her bachelor’s degree in Spanish and secondary education from Northeastern University. She is a 2013 graduate of the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts’ Leadership Institute for Political and Public Impact. “I am truly honored to join the phenomenal staff of this great program, and to work with them and our dedicated advisory board to match more children in Hampshire County with caring ‘bigs,’” said Cooley. “Having been a Big Sister myself, and after working with Big Brothers Big Sisters for more than a decade, I know the powerful, positive impact our mentoring programs have on children, their families, their mentors, and the larger community. I couldn’t be more thrilled to have this opportunity.”

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Keith Rhone

Keith Rhone

Friends of the Homeless, a program of Clinical & Support Options (CSO), recently welcomed Keith Rhone as the new director of Operations, overseeing day-to-day management of the Worthington Street facility. Most recently, Rhone served as assistant director of Safety and Crisis Management with ROCA Inc. of Springfield and established strong connections to community law enforcement and local program providers. He has also served as fiscal director with the Black Chamber of Commerce. Born and raised in Springfield, Rhone earned an associate degree in accounting from Springfield Technical Community College, and his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from American International College.

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Katrina Anop

Katrina Anop

Tabitha Vianna

Tabitha Vianna

Bacon Wilson announced that Katrina Anop and Tabitha Vianna have joined the firm as associate attorneys. Anop is a graduate of the Western New England University School of Law. She is a member of Bacon Wilson’s real estate, family law, probate, employment, and immigration practice groups. Fluent in Spanish, she works primarily from the firm’s Springfield office. Vianna is a cum laude graduate of the Western New England University School of Law. She is a member of Bacon Wilson’s business and corporate practice group, where much of her work is devoted to assisting clients with commercial loan closings. She is licensed to practice in both Massachusetts and Connecticut.

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Barbara Campbell

Barbara Campbell

Michael Tucker, president and CEO of Greenfield Co-operative Bank, announced that Barbara Campbell has been promoted to assistant vice president, Commercial Loans. Campbell has been with the bank since 2010, first as a credit analyst and for the past two years as a commercial loan officer. Prior to joining the institution, she worked at TD Bank, the Bank of Western Massachusetts, and People’s United Bank in various mortgage-lending roles. She is a graduate of Greenfield Community College with a degree in business management.

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Richard Hanchett

Richard Hanchett

Westfield Bank announced that Richard Hanchett has been promoted to senior vice president/Commercial Loan officer. Meanwhile, six other Westfield Bank employees have been promoted to vice president, including Bryan Cowan, Cathy Jocelyn, William Judd, Sarah Medeiros, Kelly Pignatare, and Rick Zabielski.

A 34-year veteran of the local banking industry, Hanchett joined Westfield Bank in 2007 as vice president/Commercial Loan officer. As team leader of the bank’s Commercial Loan Division since 2015, he manages a group of seven lenders in addition to maintaining a large loan portfolio. Prior to joining Westfield Bank, he spent 24 years at the former Westbank, rising through its Commercial Credit Department to senior credit analyst before becoming a Commercial Loan officer in 1986. Civically engaged, Hanchett currently serves on the Springfield Chamber of Commerce legislative steering committee and education & workforce development subcommittee, and is on the board of the Work Opportunity Center in Agawam. He is a graduate of Western New England University.

Bryan Cowan

Bryan Cowan

Cowan, who has been promoted to vice president/Finance, started his career at Westfield Bank in 2001, advancing to accounting associate, then staff accountant by 2005. He was named assistant vice president in 2014 as he developed his skills in financial reporting, forecasting, interest-rate risk, liquidity management, and data analytics. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Westfield State University and an MBA and master’s degree in finance from Northeastern University.

Cathy JocelynJocelyn, now vice president/Marketing manager, joined the bank eight years ago as Online Banking coordinator; shortly after, she moved to the Marketing Department as Marketing coordinator, was promoted to Marketing manager, then assistant vice president/Marketing manager, in which position she holds responsibilities for bank advertising, branding, sponsorships, and charitable giving, among other duties. She has extensive experience in the banking industry, and holds an associate’s degree from Bay Path University.

William Judd

William Judd

Judd, who has been promoted to vice president/Credit Administration, started with the bank as a teller in 1997, moving to the Commercial Loan Group in 2001, becoming Credit Department manager in 2007. In 2012 he was promoted to assistant vice president/Credit Administration; in that role, he has been instrumental in the development of the bank’s commercial-credit underwriting process and in training new credit analysts. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Westfield State University and an MBA from Northeastern University.

Sarah Medeiros

Sarah Medeiros

Medeiros, now vice president/Commercial Credit, began her banking career in 2011 as a commercial credit analyst at Chicopee Savings Bank, quickly advancing to Credit Department manager, then assistant vice president in 2013. She has been instrumental in the development of a credit-administration structure to support Westfield Bank’s $1.1 billion commercial portfolio. A former CPA with PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP and director in Risk Management for Forest City Enterprises, she holds a bachelor’s degree in Accounting with a minor in Finance from Providence College.

Kelly Pignatare

Kelly Pignatare

Pignatare, who has been promoted to vice president/regional manager, joined the bank in 2007 following five years of experience in the local banking industry as an online banking and cash-management specialist, branch-administration manager, and business-development officer. At Westfield Bank, she quickly advanced to assistant vice president, Small Business Sales manager, then regional manager and assistant VP, Sales Administration and market analyst. She attended Holyoke Community College.

Rick Zabielski

Rick Zabielski

Zabielski, now vice president/Underwriting and Processing manager, has been with the bank since 1996, holding a number of positions before his most recent role as assistant vice president/Underwriting and Processing manager for Retail Lending; he has experience as a consumer loan underwriter, mortgage originator, and manager of the bank’s loan center. In his new role, he is also responsible for underwriting and processing of residential lending, home-equity, and consumer loans. “I am delighted to announce these well-earned promotions,” said James Hagan, president and CEO of Westfield Bank.

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Aimee Furaha Salmon, Harry Montalvo, and Markus Jones have joined the all-volunteer board of directors for the Northampton-based International Language Institute of Massachusetts (ILI). Salmon, currently a student in Greenfield Community College’s Health Science program, is the former administrator of CAMME DRC, a nonprofit organization that helps youth in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) achieve lives free of exploitation. She is a former ILI student and is now the volunteer leader of the school’s International Club. Salmon has a degree in development management from Institut Superieur d’Informatique de Gestion, DRC. Montalvo, Community Development specialist at bankESB, has an extensive background in the private sector, with emphasis on human resources, safety, and business development. His career includes work in his home country of Puerto Rico and in Western Mass, where he founded the Western Massachusetts Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Montalvo earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Puerto Rico and is certified in readiness training, credit counseling, and computer operations. Jones, philanthropy officer at Baystate Health Foundation, brings more than 10 years of experience in fund-raising and the foundation world to ILI. His commitment to community building includes heading up United Way of South Mississippi rehab/rebuild projects for homes and nonprofit offices along the Mississippi Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina. He also provided United Way management support following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Jones holds a bachelor’s degree in advertising from the University of Southern Mississippi.

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Beverly Orloski

Beverly Orloski

At the recent 2017 Mid-Year Mortgage Conference, the Warren Group, publisher of Banker & Tradesman magazine, released its annual report of the top mortgage originators in Massachusetts. Beverly Orloski, vice president and mortgage consultant at PeoplesBank, was named as the top loan originator by volume in Western Mass. She was listed as the top loan originator by volume in the market in 2015 and 2016 as well. Orloski has more than 30 years of financial and banking experience. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Elms College and is a graduate of the American Bankers Assoc. Residential and Commercial Lending School. She is a member of the Realtor Assoc. of Pioneer Valley.

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Berkshire Bank announced the promotion of Joseph Marullo to senior vice president, Commercial Relationship manager from his current position of vice president. Marullo will continue to be responsible for growing both commercial and industrial business, as well as commercial real-estate lending. In addition, he will expand relationships with products and services offered through the bank’s other business lines, including cash management, wealth management, insurance, private banking, and retail banking. Marullo has 15 years of banking experience and has been with Berkshire Bank since 2006. Prior to joining the bank, he held the position of commercial credit analyst with TD Bank, where he received formal credit training. “For the past 11 years, Joe has been an integral part of the Pioneer Valley commercial team, making significant contributions to the bank’s growth and success in the local market,” said Jim Hickson, senior vice president, commercial regional president. Marullo holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from Quinnipiac University and an MBA from UMass.

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Tanzania (Tanzi) Cannon-Eckerle

Tanzania (Tanzi) Cannon-Eckerle

Royal, P.C. congratulates Tanzania (Tanzi) Cannon-Eckerle on her honor as one of the Top Women of Law, as published by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly. The award was presented for her efforts in the diligent practice of law, community involvement, and high ethical standards. Cannon-Ecklerle currently serves as owner, general manager, and general counsel for Brew Practitioners in Florence. She successfully balances this with her role as chief development officer at Royal, P.C. She is the third attorney from the firm to be bestowed this award; previous Royal honorees include Amy Royal (2012) and Rosemary Nevins (2013).

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Alice Ferreira

Alice Ferreira

Webster Bank has named Alice Ferreira as senior vice president of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs. She is responsible for all external and internal communications, public relations, and government affairs for the bank, and will oversee the bank’s community-affairs and philanthropy efforts. She reports to Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Dawn Morris. Ferreira joins Webster from UnitedHealthcare, where she was vice president, Corporate Communications for its Medicaid Division, overseeing corporate media relations, internal communications, crisis management, and thought-leadership programs. Prior to that, she was director of corporate communications for HealthNet’s $10 billion Northeast Division. Ferreira serves as honorary chair of the Barnum Museum in Bridgeport, Conn., and is a member of the board of directors of the American Red Cross of Connecticut and Rhode Island.

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Webster Bank announced that John Driscoll Jr. has been appointed regional market executive for Webster Private Bank’s Hartford and New Haven offices. Driscoll, senior vice president and senior relationship manager for Webster Private Bank, joined Webster in 2007. In his new role, he expands his responsibilities as the senior representative in the Hartford and New Haven markets for Webster Private Bank’s line of business and leading the Private Bank’s sales team. He will report to Peter Gabriel, senior vice president, head of Private Banking. Driscoll has more than 31 years of experience in investment, financial, estate, and
tax planning, and charitable giving. He is a tax attorney who is a certified
 financial planner, a chartered life underwriter, and a chartered financial consultant. A member of the Connecticut and American Bar Associations, he serves on the executive committees of the Estate and Probate section and of the Sports and Entertainment Law section of the Connecticut Bar Assoc. He holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Connecticut, a law degree from Penn State’s Dickinson School of Law, and a master of laws degree from Boston University School of Law.

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Comcast announced the appointment of four leaders for the company’s Western New England region, which is headquartered in Berlin, Conn. and includes more than 300 communities in Connecticut, Western Mass., New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York. In the Human Resources department, Judith Rudge was named director of Talent Management, while Taissa Gawronski was named director of Human Resources. In Sales and Marketing, Matt Frascone was named director of Retail Sales, and in the Communications department, Elizabeth Walden was appointed manager of Public Relations. Rudge came to Comcast with more than 12 years of recruiting experience. In her new role, she oversees talent management and recruiting efforts for the company’s Western New England Region, which currently employs more than 1,800 individuals across five states. Prior to joining Comcast, she was the senior manager of talent acquisition at Verizon in Atlanta, where she owned the end-to-end recruitment of information technology, engineering, product, and sales positions for 86 national office locations. She graduated from Dickinson College. Gawronski joined Comcast with 10 years of human-resources experience. In her new role, she is responsible for the human-resources needs of the company’s retail and door-to-door sales channels, as well as those on the Comcast Business team and in Sales and Marketing administration. Before joining Comcast, she was director of Human Resources at C&M Corporate, a custom cable manufacturer in Killingly, Conn., where she evaluated and maintained the company’s organizational design, as well as oversaw its workforce-recruitment and retention efforts. She graduated from Framingham State College. Frascone recently relocated from Comcast’s Greater Chicagor to Comcast’s Western New England region to oversee 10 XFINITY stores and three service centers across Connecticut, Western Mass., and Vermont. He is also responsible for Indirect Sales, which involves Comcast’s partnerships with Walmart, Target, and Best Buy. Previously, he spent the last year as director of Comcast’s flagship XFINITY store in Chicago. He joined Comcast with 20 years of retail experience and, prior to Comcast, was a director for two Apple stores in Atlanta, where he managed a staff of 177 sales associates. He was also a U.S. Navy Reservist. Walden came to Comcast with seven years of public-relations experience. In her new role, she is responsible for helping shape the company’s image with external audiences across the Western New England region. Prior to joining Comcast, she was vice president at Quinn, a lifestyle public-relations firm in New York City, where she oversaw a team of public-relations executives who carried out day-to-day media and operations for a portfolio of 20 business, real-estate, and technology clients, in addition to being responsible for building the firm’s client base and developing strategic public-relations campaigns. She graduated from Clark University in Worcester.

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Eric Lineback recently joined Country Business Inc. (CBI), a regionally based New England business-brokerage and merger-and-acquisition firm. He will be focusing his efforts serving clients in Western Mass. Lineback previously worked as a strategic management consultant with McKinsey & Co. in Chicago on projects for various Fortune 500 companies. He then went on to work as a senior analyst for a mid-size private-investment company in Houston and then Washington, D.C., helping to manage a $500 million diverse portfolio of assorted assets, including several operating companies, real-estate investments, equity buy-out funds, and marketable securities. In the mid-’90s, as the Internet was emerging commercially, he co-founded and managed for almost 20 years a successful boutique Internet design and development firm, helping clients create an engaging online and offline presence. Lineback’s work with CBI enables him to apply his entrepreneurial, investment, and financial-management experience in assisting business owners with their succession plans. “We are excited that Mr. Lineback has joined our firm,” said Philip Steckler, a principal with CBI. “While we have managed the sale of numerous businesses in Western Massachusetts over the years, his focus on that region enables us to enhance our services and broaden our client base.” Since 1976, CBI has managed the sale of more than 1,200 businesses, ranging in price from $500,000 to $30 million. The company has represented businesses across many industries and sectors, including manufacturing, distribution, retail, and hospitality. CBI is an industry leader in successfully completing sales of client businesses. The firm traditionally completes 80% to 90% of the businesses it is retained to sell — far higher than industry norms. “I’m excited to be working with such an established and successful company, one which has had a significant positive impact on the local economy,” Lineback said. “My passion has always been working with entrepreneurs and small-business owners.”

Daily News

GREENFIELD — Michael Tucker, president and CEO of Greenfield Co-operative Bank, announced that Barbara Campbell has been promoted to assistant vice president, Commercial Loans.

Campbell has been with the bank since 2010, first as a credit analyst and for the past two years as a commercial loan officer. Prior to joining the institution, she worked at TD Bank, the Bank of Western Massachusetts, and People’s United Bank in various mortgage-lending roles. She is a graduate of Greenfield Community College with a degree in business management.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Michael Matty, president of St. Germain Investment Management, announced the hiring of William Walthouse to the firm as vice president, financial advisor, and Tatyana Shut as client services associate.

Walthouse brings 30 years of experience and knowledge of the financial industry in areas of investments, insurance, and retirement planning. Over the last 15 years, his focus was on relationship management, an area of increased relevance in an industry that’s become more complex. He has Series 65 and Series 7 designations and is licensed in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Florida as a registered financial advisor. Similarly, he is also licensed to provide life- and health-insurance solutions in those states.

Prior to joining St. Germain, Walthouse was an advisor with Key Investment Services. He also worked with MassMutual and Dowd Financial Services. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business management from Bryant College and an MBA from American International College.

Shut has significant experience in financial operations and reporting, international export logistics, business development, marketing, and client services. Prior to joining St. Germain, she held these and other responsibilities as the controller and export logistics manager at Gordon-Cross Corp. in Connecticut.

She is an active volunteer in her community, having organized two youth mission trips abroad with a group of 23 members. Similarly, she helps nonprofits at events and with fund-raising activities. A graduate of Westfield State College, she holds a bachelor’s degree in business management with a concentration in marketing. She also earned her MBA with a concentration in leadership from Western New England University.

Departments People on the Move

United Personnel announced the following:

Jennifer Brown has been promoted to Vice President of Client Development. With more than 20 years of experience in the staffing industry, Brown brings a wealth of human-resources knowledge and recruiting expertise to her new role. She most recently served as United Personnel’s assistant vice president of Operations in the Springfield region, where she oversaw all aspects of operations for the Light Industrial and Professional placement divisions. She has an associate’s degree in business management from Burdett Business School and recently became a certified staffing professional through the American Staffing Assoc. Her community involvement includes membership in HRMA and serving as a board member of Dress for Success; and

• Mim Zayas has been promoted to Assistant Vice President of Operations, Springfield. Having recently celebrated her one-year anniversary with United Personnel, Zayas, formerly the director of Quality Assurance and Talent Acquisition, will now manage all operations for United Personnel’s Springfield-area offices, including the Professional and Light Industrial placement divisions. Zayas holds a bachelor’s degree in business management from Elms College. She is a member of the board of directors for the Chicopee Chamber of Commerce.

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Yogesh “Yogi” Malik

Yogesh “Yogi” Malik

Greenfield Savings Bank announced that Yogesh “Yogi” Malik has joined the bank as a premier banker and also joined the bank’s GSB Investments and Insurance Division as an Infinex Investments executive. Malik will assist customers with identifying opportunities to increase their earnings on their savings at the bank and through the investment opportunities offered by the GSB Investments and Insurance Division, through Infinex Investments Inc. He is based at the bank’s main office located at 400 Main St. in Greenfield. Malik came to the bank with more than four years of experience and has a bachelor’s degree in finance from Bentley University. He has passed the Series 6, Series 63, Series 65, and Series 7 examinations, which are required for individuals who sell certain investment products. In the fall, he is planning to begin working on an MBA.

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W. Paul Harrington Jr.

W. Paul Harrington Jr.

Pope Francis High School, a faith-based college-preparatory school serving grades 9-12, announced W. Paul Harrington Jr. as its new head of school following a lengthy nationwide search. A native of Holliston, Harrington holds a bachelor’s degree in biology with a minor in economics from Fairfield University, and a master’s degree in school administration from Loyola Marymount University. He received his doctorate in educational leadership at the University of Southern California. He received the unanimous recommendation of the search committee, approval by the Pope Francis High School Board of directors, and the affirmation of Springfield Bishop Mitchell Rozanski. “I am very pleased and excited that Dr. Harrington has accepted the position as the new head of school for Pope Francis High School,” said Rozanski. “Having personally met with him, I believe he has the vision that will help us realize the full potential for this new school, both academically and spiritually.”  Said Harrington, “I am humbled by this incredible opportunity to honor the rich traditions of Holyoke Catholic and Cathedral High Schools while inspiring a future filled with innovation, faith formation, and academic excellence as Pope Francis High School.”

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Peter Pan Bus Lines  recently honored the country’s first 4-million-mile driver, Ed Hope, at the company’s annual S.T.A.R. (Super Team Achievement & Recognition) Awards Dinner at the Sheraton Springfield Hotel. Hope will be inducted into the National Safety Council Hall of Fame. The National Safety Council defines one million miles as the equivalent of 12 consecutive years of driving without an accident of any kind, or, as noted by Peter Pan Chairman and CEO Peter Picknelly, 4.2 trips to the moon, or 40 times around the earth. This is a significant milestone in a professional motorcoach operator’s career. Peter Pan Bus Lines is proud to have more one- and two-million-mile drivers than any other transportation company of its size. In addition, it is the first bus company in the world to employ drivers who have driven three million, and now four million, miles without an accident.

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Jim Kantany

Jim Kantany

J. Polep Distribution Services announced the promotion of Jim Kantany to Director of Sales. He has been with J. Polep since 2001, and has worked his way through the company, working in warehouse-control positions, as a field sales representative, and, most recently, district manager. Kantany brings a wealth of experience to the Sales department. According to the company, his continued, focused effort has been on creating and maintaining the business’ infrastructure. He possesses an excellent record of customer relations and can identify trends and emerging developments to improve customers’ margin dollars. He takes the time to understand their strategies for growth with the goal of making customers successful.

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The Center for EcoTechnology, a nonprofit that helps people and businesses in the region save energy and reduce waste, has appointed two new members to its board of directors for 2017:

Jennifer Atwater is Vice President of operations at United Personnel, where she oversees the Northampton and Berkshire County markets. She has served on the board of directors for the American Red Cross, Easthampton Chamber of Commerce, and Easthampton Fall Festival; serves on the board of CareerPoint and Ella Clark Home for the Aged; and sits on the development committee for Look Park. She holds an associate’s degree from Bay Path College and a bachelor’s degree from Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts; and

Janet Warren is Director of Sales and Marketing at Fazzi Associates, the Northampton-based service provider for home-health and hospice agencies across the country. Her three decades of experience in marketing, sales, and product development have included serving as vice president of Marketing for Monson Savings Bank; president of her own marketing practice, MarCom Capital; and second vice president of Market Development for the Group Division of Phoenix Home Life. She is a past president of the Greater Northampton Chamber of Commerce and has served on the starter board of the Hampshire County Regional Chamber, the Hampshire County Tourism Advisory Council, and on the board of directors of United Way of Hampshire County. The Center for EcoTechnology helps people and businesses in the region save energy and reduce waste. For 40 years, CET has offered advice and resources to save residents money and help them feel more comfortable in their home, and help businesses perform better.

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Jay Smith, Founder of Sports Travel and Tours, took over as Chair of the board of directors for the National Tour Assoc. on March 2, before the conclusion of the annual Travel Exchange convention in St. Louis. He will lead the board until the next convention in December in San Antonio, taking the reins from Justin Osbon of Image Tours Inc., which offers European tours. Smith has been sitting on the board for NTA — a leading business-building association for professionals serving customers traveling to, from, and within North America — for about six years. NTA acts as an advocate on behalf of its members and the tourism industry at large. Active with policymakers in Congress and the administration, the association coordinates with its partners on a number of key legislative issues. It is governed by a 17-member volunteer board of directors, which is advised by volunteer committees. Currently, NTA is focused on a number of policy priorities, including specialty travel markets in countries including India and China, travel between Cuba and the U.S., and funding for the National Park Service Centennial. As chair, Smith looks forward to helping the organization further stabilize after a transition over the past few years, which brought in Pam Inman as the new president. Founded 20 years ago, Sports Travel and Tours has been the official travel company of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum since 2007.

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Jessica Chapin

Jessica Chapin

Jessica Chapin, American International College’s (AIC) Assistant Athletic Director of Compliance and senior woman administrator, has been appointed to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II Management Council through January 2021. As part of her commitment, Chapin will serve on two committees: the NCAA Research Committee and the Committee on Infractions. The Management Council is charged with recommending administrative policy and regulations that govern the division. It reports directly to the President’s Council and implements the policies adopted by the association’s Board of Governors and Division II President’s Council. The Management Council may sponsor legislative proposals, make interpretations of Division II’s bylaws, and may also handle resolution of Division II issues and recommendations from other committees and working groups throughout the division’s substructure. The council is comprised of Division II chief executive officers, faculty athletics representatives, athletic directors, senior woman administrators, conference representatives, and student-athletes. Chapin joins the council, currently 29 members strong, as a senior woman administrator.

Entrepreneurship Sections

Business Is Blooming

Christine Adams

Christine Adams combined a long-time love of flowers, design expertise, and an entrepreneurial itch to create a success story in Florence.

 

Christine Adams tells of a trip she and her husband, Chip, took to the White Mountains in New Hampshire many years ago, and a sign that caught her attention along a scenic hike.

“We walked by this rickety old bridge, and I looked up and saw a sign that said ‘Badger’s Realty,’” she said, adding that the name struck her for some reason. “I said to Chip, ‘that’s going to be the name of my store someday.’ It wasn’t just the name — the look of the building was ratty, and I loved it. I just love rustic. And it just stuck with me.”

Fast-forward to Adams’ current business, Florence-based Badger’s Flowers & Co., where she creates floral arrangements for weddings and other events that are anything but ratty; in fact, she has won awards from WeddingWire and the Knot for her work with clients. But she took a circuitous route to entrepreneurship.

“I was a bookkeeper for an architecture firm in my single days,” she said. After she got married, her husband, a TV producer, wound up traveling quite a bit, and she stayed home with her two children. When they reached school age, she worked part-time — mother’s hours, as she put it — at a local florist for the better part of a decade.

“When the kids went off to college, it was time to reinvent myself,” Adams told BusinessWest, and she again looked to the world of flowers, but as her own boss this time. “I thought, why not try doing this? So, about three years ago, I had a website made, and a friend of a friend told a friend getting married, they called me, and it just slowly started trickling in.”

Helping clients decide on everything from bridal bouquets and boutonnieres to table centerpieces and outdoor arbors, in styles ranging from rustic to garden to classic elegance, Adams has taken her passion for design (she attended Rhode Island School of Design, and holds a degree in business management) and married it — pun intended — to a desire to provide brides and their families with what she calls ‘wow’ moments.

“I love the experience of meeting with people. I’ve had brides, grooms, moms, and dads spend hours here, chatting over coffee or wine,” she said, explaining that she takes on no more than one event per weekend, often traveling to New York or Boston during the week — as well as local flower farms — for some hard-to-find flower or specialty ribbon. “It’s a boutique style of business. I pride myself on bringing something with a specialty touch. I’m always looking at how I can make it a little different.”

Tech Savvier

Interestingly, it wasn’t the floral-design element of Adams’ business that challenged her at first. It was the decidedly 21st-century business models she had to get used to.

“It’s funny — at one point, I noticed I was getting nothing, so I hired a guy to take a look at my website. He said, ‘whoever did your website didn’t fill in your geographic information, so you’re located in New York.’ Since he tweaked it, I started getting hits again.

 

Flowers come easy for me. My learning curve has been social media and having to learn, at this point in my life, how Instagram works. I met with a marketing consultant, and as soon as I did what she suggested, my visibility doubled.”

 

“Learning technology and social media is so new to me, but it’s such an integral part of this business, because that’s where everyone goes for their information,” she went on. “Much of my demographic is out of state; I get calls from San Francisco, San Diego — people whose parents live here, or they went to college here, and they’re coming back to get married. I don’t feel like I’m competing with local businesses, with so much of my business coming from out of state.”

She did, however, recently join the Berkshire Wedding Collective, a group of wedding vendors that provides an online information portal for people seeking such services in Western Mass., and also got involved with the Greater Northampton Chamber of Commerce, through which she has taken classes in Google AdWords, Excel, and other business tools.

“Flowers come easy for me. My learning curve has been social media and having to learn, at this point in my life, how Instagram works,” she said, before opening up her account and scrolling through dozens of examples of her work that potential clients can peruse. “I met with a marketing consultant, and as soon as I did what she suggested, my visibility doubled. I wouldn’t have guessed that.”

Christine Adams makes effective use of Instagram

Christine Adams makes effective use of Instagram to display dozens of photos to inspire clients planning their own weddings.

As someone who was once very shy, business networking is new for her as well. “But at the same time, I can see the benefit, and I’m slowly growing more comfortable.”

It’s the one-on-one sessions with clients where she feels truly at ease, though. It’s in those discussions where she can formulate a vision. Sometimes the budget doesn’t match the wish list, but when everything comes together and the client gets that ‘wow’ feeling, it’s gratifying. “It’s a collaboration, and I want people to be happy.”

She told of a bride from San Diego coming back to Western Mass. to be married near her parents, who live in South Hadley. She loved patriotic colors, but didn’t want a bright, gaudy red, white, and blue design. Adams found a ribbon featuring a motif of American flag colors, but more subdued, and when she showed her the ribbon via Skype — and how it could match with ivory fabric — the client loved it.

That give and take is the heart of the business, but an element she wouldn’t have as much time for if she operated a storefront flower shop rather than working out of her home, a restored 1800s farmhouse that’s been in her husband’s family for five generations. “When you have a flower shop, you can’t take all this time with people.”

Bursting to Life

Adams delights in hard-to-find flowers to pepper arrangements of more traditional choices. “I might hit Boston or New York for those specialty stems that say, ‘wow.’ You don’t need a lot of them. Even few items like that gives it a special look, and really sets it apart.”

The challenge doesn’t always end with the order, however.

“It’s in my contract that Mother Nature is a variable,” she said, recalling one wedding where cafe au lait dahlias were a featured item. When she went to pick them from the wholesaler a few days before the wedding, inclement weather had rotted those particular flowers. But while her heart was racing, she called local farmers and ended up with smaller dahlias that were just as striking, and visited a market in Boston for some other unique pieces. “When I delivered them, there was a ‘wow,’” she said.

Indeed, weather that’s too hot, too wet, or too dry can mess with the best-laid plans, she said, but scrambling to replace an item and still coming up with something impressive is an oddly gratifying experience.

Adams’ satisfaction isn’t priority one, of course; her clients’ happiness is. And the comments on her website testify to that.

“She is truly a floral artist with an eye for design like I have never witnessed in my life,” one bride from Westfield wrote. “She is so extremely talented, but most importantly so extremely passionate about her work, and her clients. When I first saw her stunning work, I was truly taken back. I witnessed her hard work first-hand — the time, effort, and passion she put into every arrangement, like a piece of art.”

Reactions like that provide a ‘wow’ factor of their own.

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — United Personnel announced the recent promotions of Jennifer Brown to vice president of Client Development and Mim Zayas to assistant vice president of Operations, Springfield.

With more than 20 years of experience in the staffing industry, Brown brings a wealth of human-resources knowledge and recruiting expertise to her new role. She most recently served as United Personnel’s assistant vice president of Operations in the Springfield region, where she oversaw all aspects of operations for the Light Industrial and Professional placement divisions. She has an associate’s degree in business management from Burdett Business School and recently became a certified staffing professional through the American Staffing Assoc. Her community involvement includes membership in HRMA and serving as a board member of Dress for Success.

Having recently celebrated her one-year anniversary with United Personnel, Zayas, formerly the director of Quality Assurance and Talent Acquisition, will now manage all operations for United Personnel’s Springfield-area offices, including the Professional and Light Industrial placement divisions. Zayas holds a bachelor’s degree in business management from Elms College. She is a member of the board of directors for the Chicopee Chamber of Commerce.

“Both Mim Zayas and Jen Brown have been instrumental in the growth of United’s services to candidates and clients in the Springfield area,” said United Personnel President Tricia Canavan. “We look forward to the positive impact they will have in their new positions.”

Daily News

AGAWAM — The Employers Assoc. of the NorthEast (EANE) announced that Samantha Clarke and Lisa Patnode have joined the EANE team as member engagement specialists.

Clarke will serve as EANE’s member engagement specialist for Connecticut, working with the membership team to assist prospective members and engage current members in programs, services, and trainings that enhance their organizations.

Most recently, she was the director of Marketing and Member Engagement for the Newport County YMCA in Newport, R.I. With a background in membership development and marketing, she has handled project-management tasks around marketing campaigns, IT support services, customer-service trainings, scheduling, and staff onboarding.

Clarke is a graduate of Salve Regina University in Newport, where she received her undergraduate degree in 2013 and her master’s degree in business management in 2014, plus a certificate of graduate studies in organizational development in 2014. She is also a musician, having volunteered at many local events in Newport County.

Patnode joins the membership engagement team with a focus on Western and Central Mass. She has strong human-resources and business-development experience in manufacturing and financial services, providing guidance to members in both strategic business development and for all their HR needs. She is known for her commitment to employee retention and organizational growth.

Patnode has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Western New England College. She is a volunteer for Open Pantry Community Services Inc. in Springfield, and a member of the Pioneer Valley Women’s Running Club.

Daily News

HADLEY — Jeffery Still, an Eagle Strategies financial adviser and registered representative since 2012, has opened an office at 2 Bay Road, Suite 100, in Hadley.

Still is a fiduciary in the capacity of financial adviser, focusing on core components for clients when planning for retirement. He helps his clients with retirement planning, estate planning, investments, and life-insurance planning. His office was previously located in Westborough and Holyoke.

“I really love Western Mass.,” Still said. “I grew up here, and I have a lot of family ties in the area. There’s nowhere else I’d rather be. I look forward to serving the needs of local consumers and businesses and to contributing to the area’s economic and civic vibrancy in a meaningful way. I’m passionate about financial education for my clients and making sure that they have the best possible options available to them across a wide range of retirement and insurance planning concerns.”

For the last four years, Still has been a member of New York Life’s Executive Council, members of which are among the most successful of the company’s sales force of 12,000 licensed agents. He is a member of the Northampton Chamber of Commerce.

Still earned a bachelor’s degree from American International College in Springfield and studied finance and business management at the University of Florida.

Employment Sections

Value Proposition

From left, Phil Michaud, Alisa Feliberty, and Robert Raynor

From left, Phil Michaud, Alisa Feliberty, and Robert Raynor say PeoplesBank’s efforts to keep young professionals engaged with the company’s values and connected to the community are among the qualities their generation values in an employer.

It’s difficult to pigeonhole the Millennial generation — though many have tried — in terms of what they want in a job and a workplace.

But one recurring theme is a sense of purpose and meaning, one that goes beyond their list of duties. And on this front, employers are largely falling short.

In fact, according to a recent Gallup study, “How Millennials Want to Work and Live,” only about one-third of young professionals strongly agree that the mission or purpose of their organization makes them feel their job is important. And just 40% feel strongly connected to their company’s mission. This is a problem, the study notes, that leaders need to take seriously because Millennials currently make up 38% of the U.S. workforce, and that percentage will continue to rise.

They might do well to listen to three Millennials whose employer, PeoplesBank, seems to understand what makes them tick.

“As an employee, I feel appreciated, I feel heard, like my opinion actually matters,” said Alisa Feliberty, call center manager. “That’s a big thing for me, knowing I’m not just a body here, but a person considered for her thoughts and beliefs.”

Phil Michaud, a loan service associate, recalled being part of a meeting in which top bank officials candidly outlined their growth strategy for the next decade. “Having that kind of access to the direction the company is looking to grow, getting into the nitty gritty of all that, says they value you, and you’re worth telling.”

Then there’s Robert Raynor, who stumbled into banking after studying business management in college.

“I’d say the biggest thing for me is connection to the community,” said Raynor, now assistant vice president of Compliance. “To be able to work for a company that reaches out to the community, that makes a positive impact in the community and makes a difference, you know you’re working to help out the less fortunate in your area, not just coming in and making a widget and making a profit.”

These opinions aren’t happy accidents, said Janice Mazzallo, the bank’s chief Human Resources officer, but part of an overall strategy to create a culture that draws and retains top talent by making sure they feel connected.

“Values is something we get right in the organization,” she said. “Attracting Millennials isn’t just about having the right employee benefits, though we do that. We also recognize that Millennials — and all employees, for that matter — want to connect; when they go to work, they want to feel engaged, that what they do matters.”


List of area Employment Agencies


These efforts have drawn the attention of the Boston Globe, which has named PeoplesBank among its Top Places to Work five years running — in fact, the only company based in Western Mass. to be named to the most recent list.

“We put a lot of energy into that effort, and we don’t take it for granted,” Mazzallo said. “But it’s also not something that HR does in a vacuum.”

Rather, creating a workplace culture that keeps employees engaged and committed to the brand is an effort that requires buy-in across the organization. For this issue’s focus on employment, BusinessWest explores why PeoplesBank’s leaders feel the effort is worth it.

Making Connections

The benefits of engaging Millennials extends far beyond accolades in a magazine. In the coming years, employers must learn what makes this large, diverse group tick if they want to retain top talent.

The Gallup survey found that 67% of Millennials are engaged at work when they strongly agree that the mission or purpose of their company makes them feel their job is important. In contrast, just 14% are engaged when they strongly disagree with this statement. Because engagement leads to increased retention, fostering a connection to purpose can help companies fight Millennials’ propensity for job-hopping.

“When a company’s purpose is evident through its culture and brand, Millennials are better able to connect it to their role,” write Brandon Rigoni, associate director for Selection and Development at Gallup, and Bailey Nelson, a writer and editor at the polling company. “Leaders should strategically align the company’s purpose, brand, and culture to create an environment in which mission is something employees experience daily. By integrating purpose company-wide, leaders give employees the opportunity to own the company’s mission and transform it into enhanced performance.”

The values PeoplesBank tries to espouse, Mazzallo said, range from an extensive volunteerism culture to environmental awareness (which takes the form of an active committee that seeks out ways to make the bank and the surrounding community ‘greener’); from technological innovation to an emphasis on work-life balance.

Janice Mazzallo

Janice Mazzallo says creating a culture that has earned multiple ‘Top Places to Work’ accolades starts at the top but includes input across the organization.

“I think the fact that we’re an employer that cares about our community and gives employees opportunities to get involved in the community — whether it’s volunteerism or board involvement or the social aspect — that’s certainly important to them,” she went on. “We have a lot of opportunities here to get involved.”

The bank’s employee-driven committees tackle everything from wellness and the environment to organizing social events, such as bowling outings and trivia nights. A popular annual event called Employee Fest is another opportunity to make workers feel connected and appreciated.

“Everyone looks forward to Employee Fest; it’s a week where the company kind of caters to you, but you also realize how everyone contributes to our success,” Felberty said.

Michaud agreed, noting that various departments compete in contests, and it’s good to see people, especially those in far-flung branches, he doesn’t talk to on a regular basis. “At face value, it looks like we’re playing games, but I think about the connections we’re making and what that does for everyone in the bank. It’s more about building community and building relationships in this place where we spend the majority of our time.”

None of these efforts — the events or the committees — would happen if they didn’t have support at the top, Mazzallo stressed. “We have a senior management team that believes strongly that this is important, and support the idea that people want to feel engaged, and without that engagement, the high performance doesn’t come. We know that; we’ve seen it. Our financial performance over the last five years has been phenomenal, and that’s no coincidence — we have highly engaged employees.”

Getting Ahead

The three young professionals we spoke with also praised the company’s advancement efforts, from its management-development program to its support of continuing education and a willingness to move people around if they desire a new challenge.

“Management here supports us and allows us to take time to develop our skills,” Michaud said. “I started off as a less-than-part-time teller, and in a short period of time, I made this position. The opportunities are definitely there. You see people moving up in departments and transferring between them. If you find it’s not a great fit or you’re interested in something else, they’ll move you to another department.”

Feliberty agreed. “They’re interested in making sure you’re happy and successful. It’s important for them to retain you as an employee, and they’d rather move you from one department to another than keep you stagnant in one position.”

That flexibility is married, they added, to encouragement by bank leaders to communicate their goals and ambitions.

“I’m always surprised at the open doors to communication,” Raynor said. “I’ve had the opportunity to sit down with the then-CFO — now president — and talk about my career path, and what my interests are. With that busy schedule, to take time to sit down and talk about my thoughts and plans is pretty amazing to me. You don’t hear about that taking place that often.”

Michaud agreed, citing coffee events held with senior officials, who share their own paths to success. “The feeling is, they’re looking for you to ask questions and discover your own path to success, and then give you the tools to do that. They’re incredible at that. They’re giving you confidence that they’re here for you — you’re not on your own here.”

Added Raynor, “it’s not a canned message. It’s, ‘this is my story, this is what happened — the obstacles I faced, what happened in my personal life that helped me make this decision or that decision.’ It’s incredibly helpful.”

It’s also not the way most companies operate. According to the Gallup survey, only 26% of millennials say that, in the past seven days, they have heard someone talk about how their daily work connects with their organization’s mission and purpose. And just 34% of millennials report that they have heard a story in the past 30 days about how their company impacted a customer to improve their business or life.

PeoplesBank’s openness, Raynor added, breeds pride in the company and one’s place within it, which suppresses the natural urge to believe the grass is greener somewhere else. “Being at a place like Peoplesbank and having those conversations, I know where the grass is greener, and that’s a pretty good feeling.”

Just a Little Respect

Mazzallo called on one more word to describe the workplace culture at PeoplesBank: Respect.

“I’ve worked for a lot of organizations in my life, and there’s something about this bank that, I think, leads with respect. When you have that in place, there are so many lessons that can be learned,” she told BusinessWest. “When we have strategic initiatives, we want to hear from every level of the organization … I think there’s a healthy respect for the people who are directly involved in day-to-day projects.”

Feliberty said young employees definitely want to be heard. “It’s important to feel we’re included, that we matter, that what we think is considered when making decisions.”

There’s also a healthy regard for trying new ideas that arise from those discussions, Mazzallo said, whether it’s a new product or a new technological innovation.

“It’s OK to make mistakes,” she said. “I don’t think a lot of employers will say that. But if you want to have an innovative organization, you have to take risks — smart risks. I think people feel they can be creative and take risks, and, as a result, some very, very innovative ideas have been created.”

Like the brainstorm, cultivated over time, that clearly communicating the company’s values — and making employees feel connected to those values — will not only keep them around, but motivate them to new heights.

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]

Departments People on the Move

The Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts named experienced fund-raiser Monica Bogatti the foundation’s new Director of Philanthropy. Borgatti comes to the Women’s Fund with a strong fund-raising background, including experience creating and coordinating strategic fund-raising plans, special-event planning, and planned-giving campaigns. In addition, she has been a long-time volunteer for the Women’s Fund, serving on several of the organization’s committees, including the grant-making committee, which has awarded more than $3 million since 1997. “We are thrilled to welcome Monica to the organization,” said Elizabeth Barajas-Román, CEO of the Women’s Fund. “Her dedication to the fund’s mission is evident in her over eight years of volunteer service. Monica has outstanding fund-raising and partnership skills, familiarity with our donors, and a passion for our work. I’m confident all this will allow her to hit the ground running.” Prior to arriving at the Women’s Fund, Borgatti served as the Major and Planned Giving officer for WGBY. A native of Western Mass., she is the immediate past president of Women in Philanthropy of Western Massachusetts and currently serves as an at-large board member. She also volunteers as a team coach for Leadership Pioneer Valley. She is an alumna of Bay Path University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in nonprofit management and philanthropy. In 2011, she was named a 40 Under Forty honoree by BusinessWest. “It is with great excitement that I join the Women’s Fund team,” Borgatti said. “I look forward to connecting more people to this dynamic organization while helping to expand our impact and influence.”

•••••

Phillips Insurance Agency Inc. announced the following:

Amber Dieffenwierth is the agency’s new Personal Lines Manager. Her responsibilities will include growing the agency’s client base for personal auto, homeowners, and related insurance lines. She has more than 15 years of experience in the personal insurance market and holds the AIC (associate in claims) designation as well as a Massachusetts broker’s license; and

• Sarah Whiteley Whiteley joins the agency as an Account Manger. She is a graduate of Elms College, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in business management. She previously worked in benefits administration for a regional payroll company.

•••••

Robert Fazzi, founder and managing partner of Fazzi Associates, announced that Tim Ashe has been promoted to chief operating officer and is now responsible for the firm’s day-to-day leadership. Ashe joined Fazzi in 2006 and became a partner in 2007. Since that time, he has led the firm’s Operational Consulting Division to provide organizational, operational, turnaround, and change-management services to home-care and hospice agencies across the country. Under his leadership, Fazzi has helped hundreds of agencies improve outcomes and profitability through best practices in organizational structure, clinical and operational processes, and new models for staffing, supervision, and care management. More recently, he also assumed responsibility for the company’s Outsourced Billing, Finance, and Information Technology divisions. Along-time leader in the field of home care and hospice, Ashe’s expertise and career has included a unique blend of clinical, operational, fiscal, and academic roles. He is a frequent presenter at national and state conferences and is often asked to contribute to industry forums. He is also the co-director of the 2016-17 National Home Care and Hospice State of the Industry Study. Dr. Robert Fazzi, the firm’s founder, will continue as Fazzi’s managing partner. But in transferring the leadership of the firm’s daily operations to Ashe, Fazzi will devote more time to the company’s future investments as well as to national and international community-based-care issues that are near and dear to his heart. “I want to say, at this milestone in Fazzi’s history, that I am extremely proud of what we have accomplished and contributed to our industry thus far, and I’m also incredibly excited about what the future holds,” Fazzi said. “Tim is an incredible leader. I am looking forward to working closely with him as we expand our national and international efforts.”

•••••

United Way of Pioneer Valley (UWPV) announced several changes and additions to its team:

Jennifer Fernandes

Jennifer Fernandes

• The agency announced the addition of Jennifer Fernandes as the new case coach for Thrive Financial Success Centers in Westfield and Holyoke. Fernandes will coordinate the UPWV’s Thrive program, which serves to strengthen the financial capacity of community college students and residents. Through community collaborative efforts, Thrive promotes and supports activities related to financial literacy, including access to a one-stop financial resource center, workforce development services, and public benefit screening and enrollment. Fernandes has a B.A. in Psychology from UMass Amherst and a M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Lesley College. She has been working with the Adult Basic Education program in Holyoke, and has been involved in financial literacy, academic and career counseling;

• Chris Woods

• Chris Woods

• Chris Woods is the new part-time volunteer coordinator. Woods earned his B.S. in Marketing from Bentley University. Following graduation, he became an Americorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) member for a year and traveled across the country working on volunteer projects. For the past year, he has been a math tutor with Springfield Math Fellows, and he continues as an assistant swim team coach with the West Springfield Torpedoes. Woods will be coordinating volunteer activities for United Way Youth Generate, Stuff the Bus, and Day of Caring programs, among other projects; and

LaTonia Naylor

LaTonia Naylor

LaTonia Naylor has been promoted of from community impact manager to senior manager of Community Investments. She will oversee grants management for the education, basic needs, small grants and emergency food and shelter programs. She’ll also provide technical assistance to United Way grantees and community partners and become the UWPV community liaison for education initiatives.

•••••

Berkshire Community College (BCC) announced new faculty and staff additions as well as recent promotions:

Julia Curletti has joined BCC as staff assistant to the dean of enrollment management and student success. She previously worked at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston as a program coordinator. She garnered a bachelor’s degree from UMass Amherst and attended New England Law;

Alyssa Felver has been named assistant professor of practical nursing. A registered nurse in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, she previously worked at Berkshire Medical Center. Prior to that, she was a critical care registered nurse at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center. She holds a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of South Florida and a bachelor’s in biology from Southeastern University in Lakeland, Fla.;

Lori Moon has joined BCC’s faculty as an assistant professor of practical nursing. Prior to joining BCC, she was a case manager and education specialist at Berkshire Medical Center. She previously worked at HospiceCare in the Berkshires for approximately 20 years. She earned an associate’s degree from Springfield Tech Community College, an associate’s degree in nursing from BCC and a bachelor’s degree from UMass Amherst;

• Lawrence Stalvey has been promoted to academic counselor with BCC’s TRIO (Talents, Resources, Initiative, Opportunity) Program, a federally funded program designed to identify and provide services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. He previously was a learning specialist with TRIO. He holds an associate’s degree from BCC and a bachelor’s degree from Williams College;

Charles Stephens has joined BCC as the coordinator of career planning and placement. He is responsible for providing counsel to students regarding career options. He previously held numerous positions at Philadelphia University, Saint Louis University, and Michigan State University. He most recently worked as area coordinator for residence education at Philadelphia University. A graduate of Michigan State University, he holds a bachelor’s degree in finance and a master’s degree in student affairs administration; and

Peggy Williams has been promoted to academic coordinator with BCC’s TRIO Program. She previously worked for more than a decade as an academic counselor and learning specialist with TRIO. She has a breadth of experience working in administrative/management roles at human services organizations in Berkshire County. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Boston College and a master’s degree from the University at Albany’s Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy in Albany, N.Y.

•••••

Dr. Robert Roose has been named vice president of Mercy Behavioral Health Care. In this role, Roose oversees Providence Behavioral Health Hospital (PBHH) and leads the behavioral-health service lines, which include psychiatric and addiction and recovery services. He also represents behavioral health services as a member of the senior leadership team. Since his arrival at PBHH in 2013, Roose has spearheaded the expansion and renovation of opioid-treatment programs, secured the addition of an office-based practice utilizing all medication-assisted treatments, developed new partnerships with community providers, and gained DPH backing to open a new clinical stabilization service at Providence. He most recently served as chief medical officer and vice president of Addiction and Recovery Services at PBHH. In addition to his responsibilities at Providence, Roose is currently on the Quality Improvement Council of the American Society of Addiction Medicine, the Substance Use Disorder Prevention and Treatment Task Force of the Massachusetts Hospital Assoc., the Hampden County Addiction Task Force, and Gov. Charlie Baker’s Opioid Addiction Working Group. He has presented and published on various aspects of addiction treatment, focusing primarily on patients receiving medication-assisted treatment for opioid-use disorder. His work integrating hepatitis C treatment and a peer program into an opioid-treatment program is also featured in an award-winning documentary, The Fix: The Healing Is Mutual. Roose earned his doctor of medicine and master in public health degrees at George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Washington D.C. and completed his residency training at Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, N.Y.

Daily News

EAST LONGMEADOW — HUB International New England, a division of HUB International Limited, a global insurance-brokerage, risk-advisory, employee-benefits, commercial-lines, and personal-insurance firm, announced that Daniel Hesser and Chelsea Fernandes recently joined the agency as account managers, Personal Lines Department, in the East Longmeadow office.

In their new positions, both are responsible for the day-to-day management and servicing of
client accounts while providing excellent customer service. As part of the Personal Lines team, they will ensure that standard working procedures are met, process auto- and home-insurance policies and renewals, prepare summaries of insurance, recommend appropriate coverage options, and more.

Hesser has more than five years of industry experience specializing in customer service. He obtained a bachelor’s degree from Westfield State University in December 2014 and majored in business management with a concentration in marketing.

Fernandes has several years of experience in the insurance field with a focus on client relationship building. She is a 2011 graduate of Elms College and holds a bachelor’s degree in history with a minor in psychology.

“As the largest insurance broker in Massachusetts, we are dedicated to building a team of experts with local market specialization and industry experience,” said Timm Marini, president of HUB International New England. “Young talent, like Daniel and Chelsea, is most beneficial to our clients, as we are all about delighting our customers. Their backgrounds and industry knowledge will provide out clients with value-added solutions, innovative products, and market expertise.”

Daily News

CHICOPEE — Phillips Insurance Agency Inc. announced two new hires, Amber Dieffenwierth and Sarah Whiteley.

Dieffenwierth is the agency’s new Personal Lines manager. He responsibilities will include growing the agency’s client base for personal auto, homeowners, and related insurance lines. She has more than 15 years of experience in the personal insurance market and holds the AIC (associate in claims) designation as well as a Massachusetts broker’s license.

Whiteley joins the agency as an account manger. She is a graduate of Elms College, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in business management. She previously worked in benefits administration for a regional payroll company.

Daily News

GREENFIELD — Greenfield Savings Bank announced that Kelly Gagnon has been promoted to trust officer in the bank’s Trust & Investment Management Group, Michael Cherry has been promoted to office sales manager at the bank’s Northampton office, and Anna Zadworny has been promoted to office sales manager at the South Deerfield office.

Gagnon joined Greenfield Savings Bank in 2010, and has worked in the financial-services industry for more than 18 years. She is a graduate of Greenfield Community College, a trust graduate of the Cannon Financial Institution, and earned the designation of certified trust and financial advisor from the Institute of Certified Bankers in 2015. She is active volunteering in the community.

Cherry joined Greenfield Savings Bank in 2015 with eight years of experience in the banking industry, and will be concentrating on new business and account development. He volunteers as a member of the board of directors for the Amherst Boys and Girls Club.

Zadworny has been in banking for 26 years and at Greenfield Savings Bank since 2012. She completed the finance program at Babson College with honors, and holds an associate’s degree in business management from Holyoke Community College. She is active in the community as a volunteer for NEF, the Salvation Army, the United Way, and the Northampton school system.

Cover Story Sections Top Entrepreneur

Paul Kozub Tackles the Hard Stuff to Take V-One National

Proof Positive

paulkozubcoverpicWhen he launched the V-One brand more than 11 years ago, Paul Kozub had a good product and a great story — the one about a commercial lender who quit banking to make vodka in his basement. As he prepares to take the brand national, he knows the great story isn’t nearly enough. The good product is the foundation of his efforts, but getting to the next level will be a daunting task. So he’s leaving no stone unturned, and these efforts have earned him BusinessWest’s Top Entrepreneur award for 2016.

He calls it ‘V-One Vodka Corporate Headquarters.’ Except when he opts to simply to say ‘the Church.’

Those are Paul Kozub’s chosen methods for referencing the former St. John’s Church on bustling Route 9 in Hadley, the 114-year-old structure he acquired in 2014 after some prolonged negotiations with the Diocese of Springfield and then spent months rehabbing, mostly by himself.

On the outside, it still looks like … a church, except for the huge slab of Goshen stone on the front lawn with the V-One logo placed on it, signage approved after months of hard talks with the town fathers.

On the inside, though, it looks a little like a bar and a lot like a banquet hall. Which it isn’t. Kozub doesn’t actually have a liquor license, but he can — and does — host a number of ‘tastings’ each year to promote his growing line of vodka flavors, as well as weekly sales meetings and a host of special events, including one on Christmas Eve for his family and his wife’s as well.

One fixture of V-One HQ is a large collection of vodkas, maybe 100 of them, kept on racks just off what used to be the altar long ago. You won’t find every brand here — there are more than 1,000 of them — but certainly all the recognizable names and then another few dozen recognizable only to those certainly in the know. Which he is, as will become quite clear.

Indeed, Kozub says he’s amassed this collection — and keeps adding to it — so he will know about the competition. Everything about the competition, that is — from the new flavors they’re putting out to the design of their bottles to the ingredients printed on the label.

Paul Kozub stands beside his new signage

Paul Kozub stands beside his new signage, placed on a huge slab of Goshen stone, outside V-One Corporate Headquarters, a.k.a. ‘the Church.’

Take grapefruit-flavored vodka, which all the major brands now have, for example. Kozub did.

“What I did was buy every grapefruit vodka I could find,” he said, while reaching for a few. “When I come up with an idea, like this one, I try every grapefruit offering I can get my hands on, with the goal of making mine unique.”

It is only through such research and legwork, said Kozub, that he will be able to take V-One from status as a ‘local’ flavor and make it a regional and then national and perhaps international brand.

Actually, V-One is already international, as Kozub explained while digging for his phone and scrolling to a photo of him next to a poster for his vodka at Frederick Chopin Airport in Warsaw (his vodkas are made in Poland and available in duty-free shops at several airports in that country), right next to similar posters for Rolex watches and high-end perfumes.

But, while obviously proud of that product placement, Kozub knows he is facing a long, winding, extremely difficult road just to take his vodkas beyond most of Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, the places where they are now available.

However, with the help of some new investors to whom he is selling a small equity stake in the company, Kozub is poised for territorial expansion. The first target is New Hampshire, where Kozub is currently gaining the necessary approvals to secure shelf space in the state-operated stores that feature low prices that often entice people to cross borders.

After that, other New England states are being eyed, as well as the potentially lucrative but tough-to-crack Boston and New York City markets.

To get to the next level, though, Kozub knows he needs something beyond the proverbial ‘good story’ that helped him get off the ground and then well-established within the 413 area code. Most people in this region know it by now: it’s about how an intrepid commercial lender rising in the ranks at TD Bank put that career on permanent hold after deciding to take a small inheritance from his grandfather, as well as some inspiration from his entrepreneurial father, and create a new vodka label in his home.

“As I go into Miami, San Francisco, and other major cities, the story about the guy who started making vodka in his basement is great, but we’ll need much more,” he explained. “So I want to lead with the product itself, and how we tell our story.”

Efforts to move beyond his Hollywood-script saga and create a product that will appeal nationally essentially sum up what Kozub has been doing for the past 12 to 18 months or so. This is a multi-faceted assignment involving everything from lining up investors to initiating marketing pushes in some major cities, to months of hard work designing a new bottle for his vodkas.

Paul Kozub stands next to a sign for his vodka at Frederick Chopin Airport in Warsaw

Paul Kozub stands next to a sign for his vodka at Frederick Chopin Airport in Warsaw. While V-One is technically international, the next real challenge is to make it a national brand.

The sum of these efforts has earned Kozub BusinessWest’s Top Entrepreneur award for 2016. Established two decades ago, the award recognizes a centuries-old tradition of entrepreneurship in this region and honors those who are continuing that legacy, something Kozub summed up simply by saying, “I feel like I haven’t worked a day in 11 years.”

Entrepreneurial Spirit

Beyond those racks loaded with vodka bottles, Kozub has a number of other items, or props, lurking behind what resembles a bar counter (complete with bar stools) installed at the front of the old church’s nave.

One of them is a 50-pound bag of corn, bought at a nearby Tractor Supply Co. location, very effectively labeled (at least for this exercise) with the words ‘feed for cattle, sheep, and horses.’

Paul Kozub says he has a patent on his so-called ‘bottle jacket,’

Paul Kozub says he has a patent on his so-called ‘bottle jacket,’ one of many examples of how he’s leaving no stone unturned as he takes the brand national.

“This is what you feed cows — a lot of popular vodkas today are made from corn,” said Kozub, as he began a well-rehearsed presentation he gives to various audiences while not-so-delicately lowering the bag onto the counter so its weight can resonate. “It’s the cheapest ingredient you can find; it costs about six cents a pound, and it takes about three pounds to make a bottle of corn vodka.

“This is spelt,” he went on, holding up a small box of the hulled wheat that is his not-so-secret ingredient. “If you buy this at the store, it’s about eight dollars a pound; so you’re talking six to eight cents versus eight dollars.”

That bag of corn is one of many selling points used by Kozub as he goes about introducing his product and differentiating it from all those competitors. Others include the fake-fur-lined ‘bottle jackets’ and soon-to-arrive summer ‘bottle life vests’ (made in Poland) that he says are unique and patented.

“They’re something cool — no one can else can make a bottle winter coat like this,” he noted while holding one aloft. “Almost everyone has a box with two glasses in it. This is my equivalent, but I like to stand out.

“Over the past few years, I’ve been prepping for a national launch,” he went on while putting most of what is now on display at the church in perspective. “I’m trying to get the whole brand tightened and leave no stone unturned, because it’s going to take a lot to get from where we are to where I want to be.”

Those sentiments, and the aggressive, confident manner in which he backs them up, speak volumes about the passion and commitment Kozub has for all aspects of this endeavor, qualities that Shaun Dwyer recognized long ago.

Now the first vice president of Commercial Banking for Holyoke-based PeoplesBank, which is now financing aspects of the V-One venture, Dwyer says he’s known Kozub for 15 years now, or back to when they were both young lenders at TD Bank trying to earn their stripes. He’s followed Kozub’s adventures throughout his career, and summons most of the same adjectives and adverbs used by others to describe how the entrepreneur goes about his work.

“Paul is a driven, highly motivated guy who’s very focused on what he does,” Dwyer explained. “He’s passionate about V-One, which contributes significantly to its success. And he’s involved in every aspect of the business, from creating and testing new products and flavors to the marketing, to the distribution, to customer relations.

Shaun Dwyer

Shaun Dwyer, a commercial lender with PeoplesBank, says Paul Kozub’s passion for his vodka brand has been a key ingredient in its success.

“And he knows how to earn money, which is the most important thing,” Dwyer went on, adding that his client definitely used his years in banking to his advantage. “He’s done well. He hasn’t gone in over his head during the time he’s been in business, he’s taken smart steps, he knows his markets, and he knows he’s got a good product.”

While those comments neatly and concisely sum up Kozub’s first 11 or so years in business, marked by strong success — growth has averaged 20% per year, by Dwyer’s estimates — one really needs to go back to 2005 for a more detailed look at how things got started and, hopefully, a deeper appreciation for the chapters to the story now being written.

It was in October of that year that Kozub first graced the cover of BusinessWest. Actually, it was one of those smaller pictures at the bottom of the page that alert readers to the stories inside.

That piece revealed that Kozub entered banking with no real intention of making it a career. Instead, he was focused on following the lead of his father, Edward, who took Janlynn Corp. from a mom-and-pop operation to a business that employed more than 100 people, but tragically died while Paul was still in high school. He was, as he put it, working in financial services to learn the mechanics of small-business management from the “other side.”

While his father inspired him, it was his grandfather, Stanley, who is actually credited with giving him the proverbial push he needed. Family legend has it that he was a moonshiner during Prohibition, and young Paul, upon seeing a truck laden with potatoes pass his Hadley home, began conceptualizing a plan to make vodka with that vegetable as its base.

Using $6,000 his grandfather left him, he started in his basement, and, after a number of fits and starts, eventually brought V-One to the marketplace.

Over the ensuing years, Kozub and V-One would regularly grace the pages of BusinessWest, with everything from an actual cover story to a host of news briefs detailing everything from new flavors (there are now four) to awards (there have been many of those); from his purchase of St. John’s Church to his 10th anniversary in business, celebrated, as only they can in this business, 18 or so months ago.

Slicing through all those articles and updates, Kozub said the message they send is that there isn’t nearly as much glamour in this business as one might think, and far more challenges and high hurdles than one can imagine.

“It’s a difficult, incredibly competitive business,” he said, adding that each step in the process of growing V-One and bringing its brand to prominence has been carefully choreographed, with the goal of achieving marked — but controlled — growth.

And so it is with the next, very ambitious steps now on the drawing board and in the process of becoming reality.

Taking His Shot

Kozub told BusinessWest that, by his conservative estimates, it takes at least $500,000 to enter a new market — a state or major city, for example — and do the job right, which is the only way he knows.

“I’ve been thinking about how we’re going to grow and how we’re going to get bigger, and of course everything comes down to money,” he explained with a heavy sigh. “You need money to enter each state because you need salespeople, you need marketing, you need brand awareness … there’s a lot that goes into this.”

This simple math and sobering dose of reality made it clear that, for him to grow, he needed capital, probably in the form of investors willing to gamble on his brand in exchange for a piece of it.

New vans like this one, detailed with the V-One logo

New vans like this one, detailed with the V-One logo, are one of many ways Paul Kozub is building his brand.

Since he started V-One, Kozub has been largely resistant to the idea of taking on investors, not wanting to relinquish even a small percentage of his venture. But having gone about as far as he thought he could in the markets he’s in, and with a strong desire to continue growing, he understood he was at a crossroads.

So he started talking to some money people — in the careful, studious manner that has marked all of his activities to date.

“About 18 months or so ago, I was approached by a very influential person in the business who had started a similar company and eventually sold it for millions, and he wanted to invest in V-One,” he explained. “After months of negotiations, I found out that he really wanted to take over my company and not simply invest, so we cut off talks.”

Roughly a month later, he was approached by another group, based in Texas, he went on, adding that his research, and the negotiations, eventually led to a deal that will generate a few million dollars in capital that will enable him to expand the V-One footprint, if you will, in a few directions.

One is north, to New Hampshire and the other New England states, and then west and south, to New York and New Jersey.

It’s a bold step, and Kozub acknowledged there are risks. But the alternative, merely standing pat, does not reflect the established growth formula. And he will continue to move in a measured, controlled manner.

“When I quit my job at TD Bank, I went for it, and I knew that if I could sell 500 cases in a year I’d be able to make a nice living,” he said, adding that he long ago recalibrated his goals and aspirations. “So with this next stage, I’m going for it again, but we’re going to be very calculated moving forward, and we’re definitely going to test each market before we enter it.”

Elaborating, he said the financing from his new investors will essentially come in three rounds, which will facilitate and essentially drive this controlled pace of growth he described. And the first goal, as mentioned earlier, is basically the rest of New England, meaning New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont.

That includes Boston, he went on, where the company has really just put a toe in the water, with the understanding that penetrating that market will be extremely difficult, due to some well-established heavyweights in the industry.

“I just hired a PR firm in Boston to help me get established there,” he explained. “It’s a great market, but it’s also very tight-knit; getting into some of Boston’s famous restaurants is … next to impossible.

“The competition in these big cities is just unbelievable, because everyone wants to be there,” he went on. “For example, Russian Standard Vodka went to Boston seven or eight years ago, and I know they spent half a million dollars to get their brand going there, and it really didn’t do much.”

BusinessWest Associate Publisher Kate Campiti presents Paul Kozub with the plaque marking his selection as Top Entrepreneur for 2016.

BusinessWest Associate Publisher Kate Campiti presents Paul Kozub with the plaque marking his selection as Top Entrepreneur for 2016.

This outcome helps explain that, while capital is obviously critical to the process of penetrating new markets, the product, or products, will ultimately determine how successful those efforts are.

Thus, he returned to that notion of leaving no stone unturned as he prepares to take V-One national.

Fifth Dimension

With that, Kozub went behind the bar again, this time to collect a thick file folder detailing his work to create a new bottle for his vodkas; his current model is a futura style, essentially something off the shelf, as they say in this business, and fairly common, with several brands using it.

He wasn’t about to reveal anything too specific about what he had in mind for this redesign, but did get into great detail about how this is a very serious — and expensive — exercise, worthy of as much attention as what goes inside the bottle.

“It’s always been my dream to have my own bottle because I have my own vodka that’s the only vodka in the world made from spelt, and we feel it’s the cleanest vodka in the world,” he explained. “We want our bottle to reflect that. As I roll out nationally and get on the shelves in Miami and San Francisco, I really want the bottle to stand out.”

Elaborating, he said that, through his contacts in Poland, he was introduced to what he called the “best bottle designers in the world,” based in Cognac, France. These designers gave him 13 options, all different in some way, and he has whittled that field down to two, and essentially one that he says he’s leaning toward.

Why is the bottle so important? In the vodka world, image is an important consideration, he said, and the ornate, decorative bottles one sees on the shelf — often doubling as works of art — play a big role in image-projection efforts. But practicality is also an issue.

“You think about everything, including how it’s going to fit in the bartender’s hand and how it’s going to pour,” he explained. “Some of these bottles that brands come out with … they’ll never be used in bars because bartenders don’t like to hold them and they’re very awkward to pour. We do very well in bars and restaurants, and the new bottle will fit very well in bartenders’ hands.”

Kozub’s intense focus on creating a new bottle is an example of how he’s still fully involved with every aspect of this operation, but also how his role is changing in some ways.

He no longer makes deliveries himself, and he lets his sales staff handle most of the roughly 100 tastings the company will schedule a year — although he still presides over several of them. Instead, he’s content to wear what he called his ‘CFO hat’ and the ‘strategic planning hat.’

He has the latter on all the time, as one might imagine, and there are many elements to it, from the bottle to the bottle jackets; from the marketing strategies for entering new regions to lining up investors; from ongoing renovations of ‘the Church’ (there is still a lot of work to be done) to determining when and if to add more flavors to the portfolio.

And there will likely be at least one flavor to join grapefruit, triple berry, lime, hazelnut, and vanilla, he told BusinessWest, adding that he doesn’t know what it will be yet, and there are several possible contenders for the light blue bottle he’s already picked out to give him a full rainbow.

The need to keep adding flavors, the need to keep undertaking strategic planning, is very necessary, he said, because this is a fast-moving, constantly changing industry, where trends change quickly and often.

Indeed, while vodkas — and, specifically, flavored vodkas — were all the rage just a few years ago, bourbons and other ‘brown whiskeys’ are now hot, and vodka is essentially flat, Kozub explained.

Meanwhile, tastes among all demographic groups, and especially the younger generations, are shifting away from mainstream offerings and more toward designer products, such as the myriad craft beers now populating the market.

Which means he is likely in the right places at the right time with the right products.

“As time goes on, I think there will be more people seeking out niche vodkas, or ‘craft vodkas,’ as I like to call them,” he explained. “If you have a bar, and you have Bud, Miller, and Coors on tap, your bar probably won’t be in business for long. You need to have those craft beers, and it’s the same with whisky, rum, gin, and vodka — that’s the trend.”

As he goes about tackling life in this constantly changing landscape and the myriad challenges still ahead of him, Kozub displays the same entrepreneurial spirit and not-so-quiet confidence that have defined his efforts from the beginning.

And while the stage is set to get exponentially bigger, he’s saying essentially the same thing he was when he was delivering cases to area liquor stores and restaurants himself.

“We have one of the best vodkas in the world — I just have to let people try it,” he said. “If I can do that …”

Glass Act

He didn’t actually finish that thought, but he didn’t really have to.

From the start, he’s always thought, and always known, that if he could make a good introduction, then people would buy his product.

In other words, he’s always had more than a good story about making vodka in his basement — a lot more. And as he prepares to take his portfolio of flavors national, he plans to add even more.

That’s what he means by “leaving no stone unturned” — even the one in front of V-One Corporate Headquarters.

George O’Brien can be reached at [email protected]

Previous Top Entrepreneurs

• 2015: The D’Amour Family, founders of Big Y
• 2014: Delcie Bean, president of Paragus Strategic IT
• 2013: Tim Van Epps, president and CEO of Sandri LLC
• 2012: Rick Crews and Jim Brennan, franchisees of Doctors Express
• 2011: Heriberto Flores, director of the New England Farm Workers’ Council and Partners for Community
• 2010: Bob Bolduc, founder and CEO of Pride
• 2009: Holyoke Gas & Electric
• 2008: Arlene Kelly and Kim Sanborn, founders of Human Resource Solutions and Convergent Solutions Inc.
• 2007: John Maybury, president of Maybury Material Handling
• 2006: Rocco, Jim, and Jayson Falcone, principals of Rocky’s Hardware Stores and Falcone Retail Properties
• 2005: James (Jeb) Balise, president of Balise Motor Sales
• 2004: Craig Melin, then-president and CEO of Cooley Dickinson Hospital
• 2003: Tony Dolphin, president of Springboard Technologies
• 2002: Timm Tobin, then-president of Tobin Systems Inc.
• 2001: Dan Kelley, then-president of Equal Access Partners
• 2000: Jim Ross, Doug Brown, and Richard DiGeronimo, then-principals of Concourse Communications
• 1999: Andrew Scibelli, then-president of Springfield Technical Community College
• 1998: Eric Suher, president of E.S. Sports
• 1997: Peter Rosskothen and Larry Perreault, then-co-owners of the Log Cabin Banquet and Meeting House
• 1996: David Epstein, president and co-founder of JavaNet and the JavaNet Café

Departments People on the Move

PeoplesBank announced the promotions and appointments of several key associates:

Matthew Bannister

Matthew Bannister

Matthew Bannister was promoted to First Vice President of Marketing and Innovation. He previously served as vice president of Corporate Responsibility. He possesses more than 30 years of brand management and corporate social-responsibility experience. Bannister holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from UMass Amherst;

David Thibault

David Thibault

David Thibault was promoted to First Vice President, Cash Management Sales and Support Manager. He previously served as vice president, Cash Management Sales and support manager. Thibault possesses 17 years of banking experience. He holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental science from Norwich University and an MBA from Western New England University;

Steve Parastatidis

Steve Parastatidis

• Steve Parastatidis was promoted to Vice President, Commercial Lending. He previously served as assistant vice president and commercial loan officer. Parastatidis has more than 10 years of financial and banking experience focusing on commercial and industrial and investment real-estate transactions, with concentrations in the credit analyst, portfolio, and commercial-lending areas. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a major in finance from Western New England University;

Tammy Bordeaux

Tammy Bordeaux

Tammy Bordeaux was promoted to Assistant Vice President and Regional Manager, Retail. She previously served as assistant vice president and Business Banking Center manager. Bordeaux has more than 19 years of banking experience. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Western New England University and an associate’s degree in business administration from Springfield Technical Community College;

Michelle Chase

Michelle Chase

Michelle Chase was promoted to Assistant Vice President, Consumer and Business Banking Center manager. She previously served as Consumer and Business Banking Center manager. Chase has more than 15 years of banking experience. She holds an MBA in entrepreneurial thinking and innovation design from Bay Path University and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts;

Joseph Dias

Joseph Dias

Joseph Dias was appointed to Assistant Vice President, Assistant Controller. Dias possesses more than 10 years of accounting experience. He holds bachelor’s degrees in business administration and accounting from Elms College;

Meghan Parnell-Gregoire

Meghan Parnell-Gregoire

Meghan Parnell-Gregoire was promoted to Assistant Vice President, Business Lending Center manager. Parnell-Gregoire previously served as assistant vice president, Business Banking. She has more than 14 years of banking experience. She holds an associate’s degree in mathematics from Holyoke Community College and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the UMass Amherst;

Robert Raynor

Robert Raynor


Robert Raynor was promoted to Assistant Vice President, Compliance, Risk Oversight. Raynor previously served as internal audit officer. He possesses eight years of banking experience. Raynor holds a bachelor’s degree in business management from Springfield College;

Cassandra Pierce

Cassandra Pierce

Cassandra Pierce was promoted to Assistant Vice President, Business Intelligence Manager. Pierce formerly served as Business Intelligence manager. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business management from Westfield State University, and a master’s degree in communication and information management from Bay Path University;

Erinn Young

Erinn Young

Erinn Young was promoted to Deposit Operations Officer. Young formerly served as assistant vice president, branch manager of the Longmeadow office. She possesses 20 years of banking experience. Young holds a bachelor’s degree in executive management from Bay Path University;

Christina Bordeau was appointed branch manager, Sixteen Acres. She possesses 20 years of banking experience. She is currently pursuing an associate’s degree in business administration and management from Springfield Technical Community College;

Alisa Feliberty was appointed to Call Center Manager, Customer Relations. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Syracuse University and is currently pursuing an MBA in entrepreneurial thinking and innovative practices from Bay Path University;

Malissa Naylor

Malissa Naylor

Malissa Naylor was promoted to Branch Manager, East Longmeadow. Naylor previously served as assistant branch manager. She possesses more than 11 years of banking experience. Naylor holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Western New England University.

Lori Stickles

Lori Stickles

Lori Stickles was appointed to Branch Manager, Longmeadow. She possesses more than 18 years of banking experience.

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Adina Edgett

Adina Edgett

Bailey Eastman

Bailey Eastman

Adina Edgett and Bailey Eastman of Webber & Grinnell Insurance Agency have both passed their Massachusetts property and casualty licensing examinations given by the state Division of Insurance, bringing the agency’s total number of licensed employees up to 23. Edgett and Eastman work in the commercial insurance division at Webber & Grinnell, serving more than 900 businesses throughout Western Mass.

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Paul DiGrigoli

Paul DiGrigoli

Paul DiGrigoli, owner of DiGrigoli Salon and DiGrigoli School of Cosmetology, was inducted into the prestigious Intercoiffure America/Canada organization on Oct. 9. Intercoiffure America/Canada, an international hairdressing organization, was founded in 1933 as the North American branch of Intercoiffure Mondial, originally founded in 1925 in Paris. The organization is widely known as the most powerful and influential in the hairdressing industry, DiGrigoli said, and only leading hair salons are eligible for membership — just 3,000 in over 50 countries. “I am so honored to be a part of Intercoiffure. It’s the most respected organization in our industry,” DiGrigoli said of his newly appointed A-List membership. “I’m humbled to be among the best of the best, the highest quality of salons and salon owners in the world.” The induction and pinning ceremony took place at the end of the Fall Atelier conference, an annual event held in New York City at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. The DiGrigoli Salon artistic team, along with the other guests, enjoyed three days of education, hair demonstrations, product launches, galas, and more. On the final day, DiGrigoli was officially pinned as an A-List member by Frank Gambuzza, Intercoiffure president, and Candy Shaw, the new member representative for the organization.

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Gov. Charlie Baker named Mary Burns, Imari Paris Jeffries, Michael O’Brien, Elizabeth Scheibel, and Charles Wu to the board of trustees for the University of Massachusetts, and reappointed Robert Manning to the board. Manning, who previously chaired the board from 2008 to 2010, will also assume the chairmanship of the board that oversees the UMass system. Baker also announced several other appointments, including longtime UMass trustee Victor Woolridge as well as O’Brien to seats on the UMass Building Authority (UMBA), serving as representatives of the UMass board. Baker supports Woolridge, a commercial real-estate professional, for chairman of the Building Authority, which oversees the planning, financing, and construction of university facilities. The governor also supports Philip Johnston for vice chair. In a separate announcement, the UMass Foundation announced that Johnston will join its board of directors at the end of the year, where he is also expected to be named vice chair. “UMass continues to be a global leader in education,” Baker said, “and these leaders will help the university continue to think creatively and boldly about the future of public education in order to grow our economy, strengthen our communities, and create opportunity for future generations of students.”

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Nico Santaniello, a financial advisor with the Zuzolo Group of Northwestern Mutual, has qualified for membership in the Million Dollar Roundtable (MDRT), an international, independent association of nearly 19,000 leading life-insurance producers. MDRT is a coveted career milestone that indicates sales and service achievement and is a recognized mark of excellence for life underwriters. Members must meet strict ethical and production requirements to qualify. Santaniello has been associated with Northwestern Mutual since 2012. As a financial advisor, he provides expert guidance and innovative solutions for a variety of financial needs and goals. He also led the agency in new clients for 2016. Santaniello received a bachelor’s degree from Western New England University. He is currently an active member of Suit Up Springfield and T.G.L.

Daily News

HOLYOKE — PeoplesBank has announced the promotions and appointments of several key associates.

Matthew Bannister was promoted to first vice president of Marketing and Innovation. He previously served as vice president of Corporate Responsibility. He possesses more than 30 years of brand management and corporate social responsibility experience. A resident of Hadley, Bannister holds a bachelor of Arts in Communications from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

David Thibault was promoted to first vice president of Cash Management Sales and support manager. He previously served as vice president Cash Management Sales and support manager. Thibault possesses 17 years of banking experience. A resident of Palmer, he holds a bachelor of Science in Environmental Science from Norwich University and a Master of Business Administration from Western New England University.

Steve Parastatidis was promoted to Vice President of Commercial Lending. He previously served as assistant vice president and commercial loan officer. A resident of Hampden, Parastatidis has more than 10 years of financial and banking experience focusing on commercial and industrial and investment real estate transactions, with concentrations in the credit analyst, portfolio, and commercial lending areas. He holds a bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a major in Finance from Western New England University.

Tammy Bordeaux was promoted to assistant vice president and regional manager, Retail. She previously served as assistant vice president and Business Banking Center manager. Bordeaux has more than 19 years of banking experience. A resident of Somers, Conn., she holds a bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Western New England University and associate’s degree in Business Administration from Springfield Technical Community College.

Michelle Chase was promoted to assistant vice president, Consumer and Business Banking Center manager. She previously served as Consumer and Business Banking Center manager. Chase has more than 15 years of banking experience. A resident of Agawam, she holds a master of Business Administration in Entrepreneurial Thinking and Innovation Design from Bay Path University and Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.

Joseph Dias was appointed to assistant vice president, assistant controller. Dias possesses more than 10 years of accounting experience. A resident of Wilbraham, he holds a bachelor of Science in Business Administration and a bachelor of Science in Accounting from Elms College.

Meghan Parnell-Gregoire was promoted to assistant vice president, Business Lending Center manager. Parnell-Gregoire previously served as Assistant Vice President Business Banking. She has more than 14 years of banking experience. A resident of Holyoke, she holds an associate of Science in mathematics from Holyoke Community College and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the UMass Amherst.

Robert Raynor was promoted to assistant vice president, Compliance, Risk Oversight. Raynor previously served as internal audit officer. He possesses eight years of banking experience. A resident of Northampton, Raynor holds a bachelor of Science in Business Management from Springfield College.

Cassandra Pierce was promoted to assistant vice president, Business Intelligence Manager. Pierce formerly served as Business Intelligence manager. A resident of Northampton, she holds a bachelor of Science in Business Management from Westfield State University, and a master of Science in Communication and Information Management from Bay Path University.

Erinn Young was promoted to Deposit Operations officer. Young formerly served as assistant vice president, branch manager of the Longmeadow office. She possesses 20 years of banking experience. A resident of Agawam, Young holds a bachelor of Science in Executive Management from Bay Path University.

Christina Bordeau was appointed branch manager, Sixteen Acres. She possesses 20 years of banking experience. A resident of Springfield, she is currently pursuing an associate degree in Business Administration and Management Degree from Springfield Technical Community College.

Alisa Feliberty was appointed to Call Center manager, Customer Relations. A resident of Enfield, Conn., she holds a bachelor of Science from Syracuse University and is currently pursuing a master of Business Administration in Entrepreneurial Thinking and Innovative Practices from Bay Path University.

Malissa Naylor was promoted to branch manager, East Longmeadow. Naylor previously served as assistant branch manager. She possesses more than 11 years of banking experience. A resident of Springfield, Naylor holds a bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Western New England University.

Lori Stickles was appointed to branch manager, Longmeadow. She possesses more than 18 years of banking experience. She is a resident of Feeding Hills.

Departments People on the Move

HUB International New England, a division of HUB International Limited, announced that, effective Dec. 1, Timm Marini, will lead the Personal Lines Division for HUB International New England. This is in addition to his responsibilities of overseeing the Western Mass. offices and serving on HUB’s executive management team. Marini will lead the Personal Lines teams, which consist of close to 150 employees in more than 20 offices located throughout Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, and Rhode Island. His areas of focus will be developing and implementing sales and marketing strategies that result in value and pricing options while always meeting the underlying goal of delighting the customer. “Developing an exceptional team is imperative in this fast-paced, technology-driven industry,” said Charles Brophy, CEO and Regional President, Eastern Region of HUB International New England. “The first person that came to mind for this position, without a doubt, was Timm Marini. His vision, leadership abilities, skillful thinking, discipline, and tact for customer service will be a great benefit for HUB New England as we continue to grow and expand into new markets.” HUB New England was built through partnerships with long-standing, local brokerages housing years of experience in consulting on property and casualty insurance, personal insurance, and employee-benefits programs for New England businesses and individuals. As a full-service brokerage, HUB New England has access to the resources of a large, international company with local service and expertise.

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Jeffrey Sullivan, chairman of the Greater Holyoke Chamber Centennial Foundation, announced that Tessa Murphy-Romboletti was chosen to lead the Foundation’s entrepreneurship program, known as SPARK. She was chosen by a committee made up of Holyoke’s entrepreneurial ecosystem partners, including Hilda Roque of Nuestra Raices, Maria Pagan of the Holyoke Public Library, Harry Montalvo of Easthampton Savings Bank, Jeffrey Hayden of Holyoke Community College, board chairman Jeffrey Sullivan, and Kathleen Anderson, president of the Chamber Foundation. “As the new SPARK program manager, Murphy-Romboletti will oversee the Co-starter Launch Class, develop programming for entrepreneurs and small businesses to help them overcome hurdles in opening their own business, and work with mentors and those that can offer some expertise to new business owners,” Sullivan said. “Murphy-Romboletti will also be responsible for development, fund-raising, and community outreach.” Added Anderson, “we are extremely excited to have Tessa join our team. The interview committee chose Tessa to lead this effort because of her expansive knowledge of the city, especially the central business district, her knowledge of the SPARK program, and her skills in grant writing, which will go a long way in the development of the SPARK program and building Holyoke’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.” Murphy-Romboletti has worked for the city of Holyoke for the last five years in both the Office of the Mayor and currently as development specialist for the Office of Planning & Economic Development. In this role, she has provided assistance to both new and existing business owners while acting as a project manager for several development projects within the city’s urban-renewal plan. Her experience in project management, grant writing, and communications, along with her experience working in the public sector, will serve the organization in its continued efforts to support Holyoke’s entrepreneurial community. “I have always been inspired by SPARK’s goal to identify and develop home-grown talent from residents within the city in order to create jobs, expand our tax base, and fill vacant space,” Murphy-Romboletti said. “I’m so thankful to have had the opportunity to work for the city that I love for the last four years, where I’ve met great people and passionate members of our community. I am looking forward to continue working with residents and business owners in this new capacity, and can’t wait to get started.”

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Thom Fox

Thom Fox

Giombetti Associates recently welcomed Thom Fox as its new Chief People Officer. Since 2013, Fox has managed a strategic consultancy focused on revenue and profitability solutions through the discovery of what customers want and don’t want. With a command of the fact-finding process and mastery of asking deeper-level, thought-provoking questions, he worked with stakeholders to build strategies yielding a larger likelihood of success. These solutions earned his clients a tremendous amount of personal and professional growth. Prior to founding his consultancy, Fox served for 18 years at a social enterprise, helping to build the organization from a startup into a national brand producing an excess of $50 million in annual revenues. He served in a variety of roles, including education coordinator, marketing director, community outreach director, author and subject-matter expert, spokesperson, and strategist. Fox’s advice has been featured in media outlets such as Forbes, MarketWatch, the Huffington Post, Fox Business, and others. He is also an award-winning philanthropist, volunteering as a board member for Suit Up Springfield, and supporting the business community as a facilitator for Valley Venture Mentors, producer and host of The Engine on NewsRadio 560 WHYN, and a member of the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission’s Plan for Progress Committee. Throughout his career, Fox has built partnerships and relationships, engaged people in taking an active participation in their own growth and development, and coached entrepreneurs and community leaders to embrace change. Working in these collaborative settings, he experienced the toll that failure (and success) plays in a team dynamic. These experiences ignited a passion within him to motivate people to move in the same direction, believing that, if they do, they can reach any destination they choose. These experiences also instilled within him the desire to help people, teams, and organizations reach their full potential — a natural fit with the core beliefs at Giombetti Associates. Fox will be charged with continuously improving the design and content of various team-building and leadership-development offerings. He will help deliver and facilitate team-building initiatives, learning workshops, and coaching to individuals and executives alike. He will also support Giombetti’s effort to solve one of its clients’ ongoing challenges: finding good people. He will help ensure that clients have enhanced access to high-performing individuals and innovative leadership training. As an entrepreneur and consultant, Fox understands the challenges of starting and scaling a business. His time in corporate America also exposed him to the damages created by telling people what they want to hear. He has worked with Silicon Valley-based ventures, mom-and-pop startups, and established businesses on their way to becoming multi-million-dollar ventures. Throughout it all, he has maintained the philosophy that people are transformed through lovingly critical feedback and supportive services empowering them with the ability to become the best version of themselves. Giombetti Associates is a leadership institute providing pre-employment assessment, leadership training and development, team building, talent sourcing and acquisition, conflict resolution, strategic business coaching, M&A consulting, and a few other areas of expertise, with personality and behavior serving as the foundation to all of them.

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OrthoLite, a leading provider of comfort and performance insoles, announced three new additions to its marketing and sales team, including Dan Legor as Director of Marketing; Andy Downes as Sales Manager, Key Accounts; and Matt Hennessey as Sales Manager, Performance East. These new appointments will support OrthoLite’s dedication to strengthening partner relationships across the globe. In his new role, Legor will manage all aspects of marketing while elevating the brand’s global marketing and branding strategies. As an accomplished senior marketing professional, he brings more than 20 years of experience to OrthoLite. Most recently, he was the director of E-commerce at Lindt & Sprungli, and prior to that he was the head of U.S. Marketing at ECCO Shoes, senior Marketing manager at Timberland, and Retail Marketing manager at the Rockport Co. Downes brings more than 20 years of product and sales experience to OrthoLite, and was most recently the Key Account sales manager for Inov-8 footwear. During his 13 years at Nike, he held sales and product-related roles in a variety of business units such as Running Specialty, Custom Footwear, and Special Make-up Groups. From Nike, he joined Adidas as category manager, Running Footwear for several years before moving to Innov-8. Hennessey brings more than 16 years of senior-level sales and development experience to OrthoLite and most recently was the Product Development manager at Sperry. Prior to Sperry, he was a senior Development manager at Under Armour Footwear and a senior developer at New Balance Footwear, along with holding the National Sales manager position at Xterra. “We’re thrilled to have these dynamic professionals joining our team and helping to drive continued growth within each of the key sales channels,” said Pamela Gelsomini, OrthoLite president. “The number-one priority of the sales and marketing team is to help our footwear partners sell more shoes by delivering the most comfortable product to their consumers. This has fueled our success together over the years, so we will continue to invest in ways to help each of these brands exceed their goals with OrthoLite. Dan’s deep leadership experience in brand strategy will help to shape new marketing initiatives with our footwear partners and with the brand overall. Andy and Matt also share OrthoLite’s unwavering commitment to deliver world-class service and collaborative support.”

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Emily Doucette

Emily Doucette

FIT Staffing, an information-technology staffing and recruiting company based in Springfield and Enfield, Conn., announced that Emily Doucette has joined the team as a technical recruiter. Doucette has extensive recruiting and HR experience in the information-technology and aerospace-engineering industries. At FIT, she is responsible for sourcing and screening technical talent for Massachusetts and Connecticut clients. She has a bachelor’s degree in business management and an MBA from Springfield College. She is also a member of the adjunct faculty at Springfield College and teaches business management to undergraduate students.

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Northeast IT Systems Inc. announced Joe Bishop as the latest addition to its growing team. Bishop spent four years at Yankee Candle, where he was a candle maker. He then went on to work at NCR Corp., where he spent two years working on POS systems and ATMs. His latest work experience included working for an IT company for 10 years as a PC technician. When asked what got him interested in computers, Bishop accredited it to having a computer at a young age — his first one, in fact, at just 4 years old. He and his grandfather would spend time on the computer downloading games after school. When it comes to his profession, he said he s always learning new things. “There is so much to learn in the IT field that there’s never a dull moment.” Bishop studied computer networking at Porter and Chester Institute in Chicopee. His certifications include Network+, A+, MCP, and CCNA.

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Kim Lavallee

Kim Lavallee

Carrie Muller

Carrie Muller

DiGrigoli Salon announced that Kim Lavallee has been promoted from Master Stylist to Elite Stylist, and Carrie Muller has been promoted from Junior Stylist to Senior Stylist. Both are alumni of the DiGrigoli School of Cosmetology. Lavallee joined the DiGrigoli Salon artistic team in June 2011 and has made major strides in her career since then. In addition to doing hair, Kim is also a skilled makeup artist, both in cosmetic and special effects, and is often featured on WWLP-22News and Mass Appeal showcasing her talents. Muller started with DiGrigoli Salon this past February and has already been promoted twice. As the salon manager, she has many responsibilities, but she remains eager to learn and grow artistically as a stylist. This dedication has resulted in a strong clientele base and a continual refinement of her skills. DiGrigoli Salon, located at 1578 Riverdale St. in West Springfield, is owned by Paul DiGrigoli and has been offering professional beauty services to the public since 1987.