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Jane Albert

Jane Albert

Jane Albert has been promoted to the position of senior vice president for Marketing, Communications & External Relations at Baystate Health. She will report to Dr. Mark Keroack, president and CEO of Baystate Health, and serve as a member of the president’s cabinet. She will oversee the functions of marketing and digital strategy, government and public relations, community relations and public health, communications, and philanthropy. “Jane has been a trusted Baystate Health leader for 15 years in roles that have progressively increased in responsibility and scope. She has a breadth and depth of career experiences and skills that make her ideal for this senior leadership role,” Keroack said. When she joined Baystate Health as manager of Medical Practices Marketing, she presented the first marketing plan to integrate two legacy medical groups to become one organization as Baystate Medical Practices. She then served as manager of Corporate Marketing, overseeing Baystate Health’s marketing efforts, loyalty programs, and events, and developing marketing priorities based on the strategic objectives of the organization. Albert was promoted to director of Public Affairs & Internal Communications, developing metrics for the measurement of media activities while strategically building the community presence of Baystate Health and its entities. She then returned to Baystate Medical Practices, successfully launching the organization’s first physician referral office. Over the last four years, Albert has served as vice president of Philanthropy for Baystate Health and executive director of the Baystate Health Foundation. Among her accomplishments, she led the transformation of the foundation to diversify philanthropic support in alignment with a newly developed strategic plan and recently oversaw the completion of a $5 million capital campaign for the new surgical center at Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield. “In all of her roles, Jane has helped advance the work of her teams by developing priorities that align with the mission and strategic objectives of the organization. She is a positive ambassador for our health system and has always been a driving force behind providing honest, timely communications to our constituents,” Keroack said. “She is an incredible contributor to Baystate Health on many fronts, and her energy, enthusiasm, and affection for our organization will serve her well in her new role.” Before joining Baystate Health, Albert served as vice president of Advancement and Marketing at Western New England College, with responsibility for national and regional marketing efforts and philanthropic efforts focused on engaging alumni, businesses, and foundations in support of the university. She holds an MBA from Babson College and a BBA in accounting from UMass Amherst. Active in the community, she has held leadership positions on many boards, including Spirit of Springfield, the National Conference for Community and Justice, the Jewish Community Center, Rotary Club, and chambers of commerce. She has been recognized as Woman of the Year by the Springfield Women’s Commission and as a Paul Harris Fellow by Rotary Club International.

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Lee Bank recently announced the promotion of three leaders within the company and the addition of a mortgage officer to support its continued growth in 2017.

Susie Brown

Susie Brown

Susie Brown has been named to the position of senior vice president, Human Resources and Administration. She has been employed at Lee Bank for more than 37 years and has worked in many areas of the bank, including operations, human resources, building and maintenance, security, and administration. She will continue to oversee human resources, administration and security, and management of board meetings and governance processes for Lee Bank and its holding company, Berkshire Financial Services;

Paula Gangell-Miller

Paula Gangell-Miller

Paula Gangell-Miller has been named to the position of vice president, Community Banking – Retail Operations. She joined Lee Bank 29 years ago and has been involved in many facets of the bank throughout the years, having held positions as teller, operations supervisor, community banker, branch manager, and area manager, in addition to her new role;

Paula Lewis

Paula Lewis

Paula Lewis has been named to the position of first vice president, Retail Lending. She joined Lee Bank in 2012 as vice president of Mortgage Loan Operations. In her new position, she will oversee residential lending and will sit on Lee Bank’s ALCO committee as well as its executive loan committee; and

Kathy Kelly

Kathy Kelly

Kathy Kelly has joined Lee Bank as a mortgage officer in its Pittsfield office. Kelly has been a mortgage professional for most of her banking career, with First Agricultural Bank, Legacy Banks, and most recently Berkshire Bank.

“I am pleased to announce these well-deserved promotions and to welcome Kathy Kelly to the Lee Bank team,” said President Chuck Leach. “I’m confident that Kathy will not only mesh with but also enhance our culture just as Susie Brown, Paula Lewis, and Paula Gangell-Miller have for many, many years. Lee Bank is very fortunate to have an extremely valuable culture of loyal, dedicated employees who are not only outstanding contributors in the workplace, focused on continued excellence in serving our customers, but also to our Berkshire community.”

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Ellen Freyman, attorney and shareholder with Shatz, Schwartz and Fentin, P.C., was recently recognized by the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ) for her significant contributions to the local community. NCCJ was founded in 1927 in response to religious divides in the country at the time. The goal of the organization and its prominent founders — including social activist Jane Addams and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Charles Evans Hughes — was to bring together diverse populations to combat social injustice, a mission perpetuated to this day. Freyman concentrates her practice in all aspects of commercial real estate: acquisitions and sales, development, leasing, and financing. She has an extensive land-use practice that includes zoning, subdivision, project permitting, and environmental matters. She is a graduate of the Western New England University School of Law (1988) and Pennsylvania State University (1977). One of the most highly awarded attorneys within the Pioneer Valley, she has been recognized or awarded by BusinessWest magazine (Difference Maker, 2010), the Professional Women’s Chamber (Woman of the Year, 2012); Advertising Club of Western Massachusetts (Pynchon Award, 2012); Springfield Leadership Institute (Community Service Award, 2011); Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly (Top Women of Law Award, 2010); and Reminder Publications (Hometown Hero Award, 2010).

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Victoria Owen

Victoria Owen

Victoria Owen has joined United Personnel as the organization’s newest business development representative, as the company expands its team to better serve area businesses. Owen, former owner of Owen Employee Benefit Strategies LLC and past director of Employee Benefits at Northwestern Mutual, brings a wealth of knowledge about business operations and human-resources priorities to her current role at United Personnel. She leverages more than 20 years of industry expertise in employee benefits, strategic planning, and business development to support clients and candidates throughout Western Mass. Owen received her bachelor’s degree from Northeastern University, serves on the board of directors of the Home Builders and Remodelers Assoc. of Western Mass., and is committed to building meaningful relationships within the business community.

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Sunshine Village announced several personnel changes as the organization continues to grow its programming footprint in the area.

Jenny Galat was promoted to program manager of the new Litwin Center Day Habilitation Program. Since 2013, Galat has worked for the organization as a developmental specialist, case manager, and program supervisor. She holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology with a concentration in social work from Saint Anselm’s College. When it opens this summer, she will oversee the new program’s focus on innovative day services for adults aged 18-32 years old;

Nichole Chilson came on board as human resource generalist to assist with employee benefits, safety and health protocol compliance, and employee-relations initiatives. Chilson brings more than 25 years of human-resources and customer-service experience. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in criminal justice from Western New England University; and

Amie Miarecki was named director of community relations. She brings 15 years of experience working in health and human services, including marketing, community relations, and resource development. She will promote Sunshine Village’s mission to help everyone shine by engaging with community partners and employers. Miarecki holds a master’s degree in corporate and organizational communication with a specialization in leadership from Northeastern University and a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in sociology from UMass Amherst.

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Maria Mitchell, a graduate of Springfield Technical Community College’s newly accredited Health Information Technology program, is the first person from STCC to receive the MaHIMA Student Achievement award. The Massachusetts Health Information Management Assoc. (MaHIMA) offers the award to an outstanding student from any accredited health-information technology or health-information management program. STCC’s program received accreditation in December, making a graduate of the program eligible for the first time this year. Mitchell received a certificate of achievement and one-year membership to the national American Health Information Management Assoc. (AHIMA), free full-day registration for MaHIMA’s fall and winter meetings, and free MaHIMA webinars for one year. She is seeking a position as a health-information technician or coding specialist and hopes to eventually return to school and earn her bachelor’s degree. Graduates of STCC’s Health Information Technology program receive associate degrees. The program prepares students for certification and practice as registered health-information technicians, who typically work with patient medical records at healthcare facilities. Technicians focus in areas beyond coding, including data analytics, compliance, and more.

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Duncan Mellor

Duncan Mellor

The American Lighthouse Foundation (ALF) honored Tighe & Bond’s Duncan Mellor with its 2017 Distinguished Lighthouse Community Service Award at its annual gala at the Nonatum Resort in Kennebunkport, Maine on May 7. Every year, the organization honors one person who has contributed significantly to ALF’s mission. Since 2011, Mellor has donated his engineering and waterfront expertise to upgrade the Whaleback Lighthouse in Kittery, Maine. This three-phase project included designing repairs for two granite breakwaters and a new docking system with walkways that achieved federal government approval and met ALF’s goals for public access and safety. “This is a well-deserved honor for Duncan — and just one example of his exceptional expertise and commitment to our coastlines and waterfronts,” said Tighe & Bond President and CEO David Pinsky. Mellor leads Tighe & Bond’s coastal engineering services with more than 30 years of experience in the profession. Clients throughout New England know him well for his role in complex coastal projects and solving all types of shoreline and waterfront challenges. Mellor has also overseen unique projects that have required highly creative solutions, such as tidal turbines, offshore structures, and lighthouses. A licensed engineer in New Hampshire and Maine, Mellor has a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and master’s degree in Ocean Engineering, both from the University of New Hampshire.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — On behalf of current and future home and property owners throughout the country, more than 9,600 Realtors traveled to Washington, D.C., in mid-May to advance key real-estate issues during the 2017 Realtor Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo.

Members of the Realtor Assoc. of Pioneer Valley (RAPV) joined fellow Realtors from Massachusetts and across the nation to attend meetings and informational sessions, as well as meet with regulatory agency staff and lawmakers on Capitol Hill to discuss and advocate on real-estate issues affecting their businesses, communities, and clients.

Members of the National Assoc. of Realtors focused on several significant issues affecting the industry during the legislative-focused meetings, including flood insurance, tax reform, and sustainable home ownership.

“Realtors are critical advocates for the real-estate industry and for their clients, and this meeting is the perfect opportunity to educate ourselves on the issues facing real-estate markets, as well as the legislative and regulatory issues on the horizon that could affect Realtors, home buyers and sellers, and property owners,” said Rick Sawicki, president of the RAPV.

While in Washington, the Pioneer Valley Realtor delegation met with U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey and U.S. Reps. Richard Neal and Jim McGovern on Capitol Hill to discuss and influence public-policy decisions that directly affect consumers’ ability to own, buy, rent, and sell residential and commercial real estate.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Each year, the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ) honors members of the community who demonstrate leadership qualities and exemplify the core values and mission of the organization. On Thursday, June 8, Ellen Freyman, attorney and shareholder with Shatz, Schwartz and Fentin, P.C., will be recognized for her significant contributions to the local community at the annual Human Relations Award Banquet beginning at 6 p.m. at the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield.

NCCJ was founded in 1927 in response to religious divides in the country at the time. The goal of the organization and its prominent founders — including social activist Jane Addams and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Charles Evans Hughes — was to bring together diverse populations to combat social injustice, a mission perpetuated to this day.

Freyman concentrates her practice in all aspects of commercial real estate: acquisitions and sales, development, leasing, and financing. She has an extensive land-use practice that includes zoning, subdivision, project permitting, and environmental matters. She is a graduate of the Western New England University School of Law (1988) and Pennsylvania State University (1977).

One of the most highly awarded attorneys within the Pioneer Valley, she has been recognized or awarded by BusinessWest magazine (Difference Maker, 2010), the Professional Women’s Chamber (Woman of the Year, 2012); Advertising Club of Western Massachusetts (Pynchon Award, 2012); Springfield Leadership Institute (Community Service Award, 2011); Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly (Top Women of Law Award, 2010); and Reminder Publications (Hometown Hero Award, 2010).

Daily News

GLASTONBURY, Conn. — United Financial Bancorp Inc., the holding company for United Bank (the “Bank”), announced results for the quarter ended March 31, 2017. The company reported net income of $13.7 million, or $0.27 per diluted share, for the quarter ended March 31, 2017, compared to net income for the linked quarter of $14.6 million, or $0.29 per diluted share. The company reported net income of $11.9 million, or $0.24 per diluted share, for the quarter ended March 31, 2016.

“Over the last three consecutive quarters, United Financial Bancorp Inc. has averaged a return on average assets (ROA) of 0.87% and a return on average tangible common equity (ROTCE) of 10.89%, as the company continues to make progress on its four key objectives communicated in April 2016,” said William H.W. Crawford, IV, CEO of the company and the bank. “I want to thank our dedicated employees, executives, and board of directors for their relentless focus on making United Bank a better bank for our customers and communities each day.”

Assets totaled $6.70 billion at March 31, 2017 and increased $97.1 million, or 1.5%, from $6.60 billion at Dec. 31, 2016. At March 31, 2017, total loans were $4.94 billion, representing an increase of $42.3 million, or 0.9%, from the linked quarter. Changes to loan balances during the first quarter of 2017 were highlighted by a $44.6 million, or 6.2%, increase in commercial business loans and a $16.6 million, or 4.0%, increase in owner-occupied commercial real estate loans. Total residential mortgages increased during the first quarter of 2017 by $11.2 million, or 1.0%. Total cash and cash equivalents decreased $6.3 million, or 6.9%, during the linked quarter, while the available for sale securities portfolio increased by $32.3 million, or 3.1%.

Deposits totaled $4.79 billion at March 31, 2017 and increased by $79.2 million, or 1.7%, from $4.71 billion at December 31, 2016. In the first quarter of 2017, money market deposit accounts increased $157.2 million, or 12.9%, and NOW checking deposits increased $39.2 million, or 7.9%, from the linked quarter, reflective of a seasonal increase in municipal deposits and successful new account acquisition. These increases were offset by a $110.1 million, or 6.3%, decrease in certificates of deposit, some of which migrated to money market deposit accounts.

The Board of Directors declared a cash dividend on the company’s common stock of $0.12 per share to shareholders of record at the close of business on April 28, 2017 and payable on May 10, 2017. This dividend equates to a 2.73% annualized yield based on the $17.58 average closing price of the company’s common stock in the first quarter of 2017. The company has paid dividends for 44 consecutive quarters.

40 Under 40 The Class of 2017

Commercial Real Estate Broker, NAI Plotkin; Consultant, Lopez Consulting LLC; Age 38

Wilfredo Lopez Jr.

Wilfredo Lopez Jr.

Freddy Lopez has overcome many challenging obstacles. Having grown up in Springfield in an impoverished neighborhood where violence was a part of daily life, he’s self-taught, and takes pride in using his hard-earned knowledge to help clients and more than 13 community groups find solutions to challenges.

Lopez first realized he could make a difference in 2007 when the housing market crashed. He was a residential real-estate broker, and as lending guidelines tightened, he began educating clients about credit and financial literacy.

A few years later, he changed his focus to commercial real estate and was encouraged by his mentor, Evan Plotkin, president of NAI Plotkin, to get involved in the community. At that point, he began to realize how much he could offer neighborhood groups and organizations.

“I wanted to work for the common good of all people and became a community activist,” Lopez said.

He has been a member of the Young Professional Society of Greater Springfield since 2007, and serves on the board or is a member of groups that are too numerous to name. They include Springfield’s E3, Neighbor to Neighbor, Common Capital, DevelopSpringfield, Springfield Partners, and the steering committees of FutureCity 2025 and MGM’s Community Partners Network.

“My goal is to alleviate challenges for people in any way that I can,” he said. “I want to empower people based on their individual abilities and starting points.”

Lopez is passionate about the Alternatives to Violence Project in Springfield, which he has chaired since 2013. “Violence in inner cities is considered normal, and that needs to be addressed and changed,” he said. “The goal is to educate one person at a time about conflict resolution.”

The father of Lexus, 15, Jaylene, 10, and Diego, 9, Lopez serves on the board of trustees for Sabis International Charter School, which his children attend. His involvement with the Springfield Puerto Rican Parade Committee is also important to him because it celebrates his culture, diversity, and inclusiveness, and caters to the largest demographic in the City of Homes.

Lopez is a member of Leadership Pioneer Valley’s class of 2016, is director of business development for Metrocare of Springfield LLC, serves as a senior consultant at Lopez Consulting LLC, and manages a multi-million-dollar portfolio at NAI Plotkin.

But all his diverse roles have a common thread. “I find inner peace in helping others.”

—Kathleen Mitchell

Commercial Real Estate Sections

Shop Class

Steve Walker

Steve Walker says the recently completed expansion at the Longmeadow Shops is an example of ongoing evolution at this retail destination.

The Longmeadow Shops recently completed an ambitious 21,000-square-foot expansion project, continuing a process of growth and evolution that has been ongoing for more than half a century.

Steve Walker says that, almost from the start, the Longmeadow Shops has had the location, the access, and a solid mix of retail that attracts both visitors and, well, more retail.

The ‘almost’ is because Interstate 91, or at least the Massachusetts portion of it, had not been completed by the time the shopping plaza, created at the east end of Bliss Road near the East Longmeadow line by Friendly’s co-founder S. Prestley Blake, opened its doors in 1963.

But even then, the location was still ideal, said Walker, partner and regional property manager for Grove Property Fund, LLC, current owner of what he called “a special piece of real estate.” That’s because the shopping complex is nestled in one of the region’s most affluent communities, sits less than a mile from the Connecticut border, and is a short ride from several other affluent suburbs, including East Longmeadow, Hampden, and Wilbraham.

I-91 simply made it more accessible, and therefore even more attractive, to a variety of retailers that are local, regional, and national in nature.

But the times have certainly changed since 1963, and the shops have changed right along with them, said Walker, citing, as examples, everything from the coming and going of Blockbuster Video to the eventual exodus of Friendly’s itself, to the demise of the Steiger’s chain of department stores, one of which was the anchor of the shops and left a gaping hole to be filled when it closed in 1994, coincidentally just a few days after Grove acquired the property.

“We got a letter two weeks after we bought the property informing us that Steiger’s was leaving,” he explained, adding that the roughly 20,000 square feet of space left vacant by Steiger’s, and other spots within the complex, have been filled in over the years, and in ways that reflect societal and retail changes.

Elaborating, he referenced developments such as gourmet coffee outlets (represented by Starbucks), specialty retail (as evidenced by several recent arrivals), and even the rise of the gourmet hamburger (embodied by the coming of Max Burger).

And the process of evolution continues today, Walker noted, citing, as exhibit A, the rise of pharmacy chains and the changing, growing needs of such enterprises.

Indeed, it was CVS’s dire need for more and better space (complete with a drive-up window and easier access) that gave rise to a recently completed, 21,000-square-foot addition to the plaza and expansion and redesign of its parking lot, said Walker.

Constructed after Grove eventually received the needed support for a zoning modification from residents at a town meeting (the process took a while), the expansion, at the east end of the property, welcomed its first tenant, J. Crew Mercantile, in late January. Verizon Wireless opened its facility just a few days ago, and CVS is expected to open its new doors on March 12, said Walker.

“It’s been a fun journey … it’s really rewarding to see our improved shopping center taking shape,” he said of the expansion effort, put on the drawing board in 2014, adding quickly that, while that project is nearing completion, the broader journey involving a constantly changing retail landscape continues.

For this issue and its focus on commercial real estate, BusinessWest takes an in-depth look at the Longmeadow Shops, the center’s evolutionary process, and how it is still ongoing.

More in Store

You might call it multi-tasking.

That’s certainly what Walker was doing as he left his office at the far west end of the shops for the walk — maybe a quarter-mile or so — to the addition at the other side.

He was getting some exercise (or more of it, to be exact; he’d already made this trek two or three times earlier in the day), posing (eventually) for some photos, giving a tour, serving up a chronology of the shops, and offering a tutorial of sorts on how retail has changed and the shops reflect those changes.

lmnshopsjcrew

He started by pointing to Max Burger, created partially out of the old Blockbuster Video and what once was a small courtyard/garden at the shops. He cited that business as an example of an emerging trend in retail (the aforementioned gourmet burger), as well as a growing regional chain (Connecticut-based Max’s), a business that scouted several area locations before deciding the Longmeadow Shops was where the search would end, and a tenant that the shops would work to accommodate.

“We took out the garden area and put in a 1,500-square-foot addition because they needed more space than we had available at the time,” he explained, adding that there was a major expansion (roughly 12,000 square feet) to the shops in the ’70s, and several minor ones in the decades since.

The multi-tasking, and especially the lessons in the history of the shops and the evolution of retail, would continue as Walker passed the storefronts and occasionally stopped ever-so-briefly to make some points.

He did so at the former Steiger’s footprint to show how it was filled with the Gap and Gap Kids, Ann Taylor, and other shops; at Delaney’s Market, to point out another of the more recent arrivals, a store created by the owners of the Delaney House restaurant to provide high-quality meals to go; at Oksana Salon & Spa to show how there are many locally owned ventures at the shops; and at Starbucks to show how the arrival of one retailer can create momentum and attract other tenants.

“We had a CVS and a Blockbuster, and that caught the attenntion of Starbucks,” he explained. “And once we had a Starbucks, we attracted interest from the Gap, and when we got the Gap here … Ann Taylor and Chico’s would follow the Gap around.

“It’s like a domino effect — these national retailers tend to follow one another,” he went on. “And the goal from the start was to get the best local, regional, and national tenants we could find.”

Dialogue continued at the storefront that will soon house Great Harvest, a bread bakery and sandwich shop, to show that there is nearly constant change at the facility; and at the current CVS, to explain, well, why there will be a new CVS.

“We recognized that this was a busy shopping center and there were some parking issues, because of the way the lot was laid out,” he explained. We approached CVS, and there was interest from them; CVS is a very busy tenant, and they draw a lot of foot traffic, so you want them at the end of the shopping center. And they were undersized, and a community like Longmeadow should have a first-rate CVS pharmacy.”

It will get one with the new, 13,000-square-foot facility, which will nearly double the size of the current store.

Walker said the expansion of the shops was considered both a necessary step and solid investment for Grove, which owns retail properties — many of them similar in scope and even look to the Longmeadow Shops — in several states, as well as a number of industrial holdings as well.

The retail portfolio includes Old Towne Village in Charlotte, N.C.; the Wharf Building and the Corner Block, both in Edgartown on Martha’s Vineyard; Portside Center and Bowman Place in Mount Pleasant, S.C.; Drake Hill Mall in Simsbury, Conn.; and what would be considered an outlier — the Powder Horn Building in Bozeman, Mont.

There are pictures of many of those facilities on the walls of the Grove office in the Longmeadow Shops, which is considered one of the jewels in the portfolio, said Walker, because of its location, consistently high occupancy rate, and steady demand for the spaces that do become available.

This is evidenced by the fact that there is already considerable interest in the existing CVS space, which will likely be subdivided into two spaces.

“I’m waiting to hear back from a national retailer on 5,200 square feet of it,” he said, adding that he doesn’t expect any of that space to be vacant for very long, even as Grove searches not just for a tenant, but one that will help create an even better mix.

Space Exploration

As he walked back to his office, thus getting still more exercise, Walker said the owners of the Longmeadow Shops have now filled out all the land available to them.

But the process of evolution and change within that footprint will continue unabated, he said, because society and retail are always changing, as anyone who has ever been in a Blockbuster Video can attest.

It has been this way since 1963, when S. Prestley Blake had a vision, he said, and it continues to this day, because now, as then, this is a truly special piece of real estate.

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

Departments People on the Move
Christina Royal

Christina Royal

The state Board of Higher Education unanimously approved Christina Royal as the next president of Holyoke Community College. Royal traveled to Boston on Nov. 29 for her official interview with the Board of Higher Education. The HCC board of trustees voted unanimously on Nov. 3 to recommend Royal as the successor to William Messner. “Holyoke Community College has made an excellent choice in Christina Royal,” said Carlos Santiago, commissioner of Higher Education. “Her demonstrated record of success and commitment to high-quality education make her the perfect candidate for this role, and we look forward to having her at HCC.” Royal, is now the provost and vice president of Academic Affairs at Inver Hills Community College in Inver Grove Heights, Minn. She visited the HCC campus at the start of November for a series of interviews and meetings with a presidential search committee, trustees, staff, faculty, and students. She was one of three finalists who visited the HCC campus earlier this semester. Royal plans to start work at HCC on Monday, Jan. 9, when she will become the fourth president in the 70-year history of HCC and the first woman to hold the position. “We’re pretty excited about it,” said Robert Gilbert, chair of the HCC board of trustees. “I think you’ll see a lot of interesting thoughts and ideas coming from Christina. I know we picked the right person for the coming years to continue the mission of HCC.” Royal holds a PhD in education from Capella University, as well as a master’s degree in educational psychology and a bachelor’s degree in math from Marist College. She joined Inver Hills Community College in 2013. Prior to that, she served as associate vice president for E-learning and Innovation at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland and director of Technology-assisted Learning for the School of Graduate and Continuing Education at Marist College.

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Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co. announced that seasoned corporate social-responsibility executive Dennis Duquette has been appointed head of Community Responsibility and president of the MassMutual Foundation. Duquette, who has more than 30 years of financial-services industry experience, including oversight of community relations and brand development, is based in the company’s Springfield headquarters and reports to MassMutual Head of Brand and Advertising Jennifer Halloran. Duquette will lead all aspects of MassMutual’s community-engagement efforts, including the recently established MassMutual Foundation. This includes such initiatives as the FutureSmart program, which is helping to address the critical need for youth financial literacy; LifeBridge, which provides income-eligible families with free term life insurance that protects their children’s education; and Mutual Impact, MassMutual’s employee-giving program. “For 165 years, giving back to the community has been a part of MassMutual’s culture,” said Halloran. “We are thrilled to have Dennis, with his extensive industry experience, innovation, and passion for collaboration, help build on that rich history and drive MassMutual’s community-engagement efforts to a new level.” Prior to joining MassMutual, Duquette was with Fidelity Investments since 1989, where he created groundbreaking sponsorship efforts, grew and expanded Fidelity’s corporate presence and sponsorships across the U.S., and managed FidelityCares, an employee-volunteerism program that also provides philanthropic support to nonprofit organizations. Joining MassMutual represents a homecoming for Duquette, who began his career with the company and held a variety of roles in community relations, human resources, and marketing communications. Duquette earned a master’s degree in public policy and administration from Northwestern University and a master’s degree in administrative studies from Boston College, where he also earned his bachelor’s degree in English and communications.

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Michael Gove

Michael Gove

The Gove Law Office, LLC announced that founding attorney Michael Gove has been named a 2016 Massachusetts Super Lawyers Rising Star. This marks the fourth consecutive year that Gove has been recognized among high-achieving young attorneys in Massachusetts. A program of Thompson Reuters, Massachusetts Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers who, through peer review and independent research process, have been identified as attaining a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. Only the top 2.5% of up-and-coming Massachusetts attorneys are named to the Rising Star list. Gove earned his juris doctor from Boston College School of Law in 2004 and is admitted to the Bar of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the Bar of the State of Connecticut, the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts, and the U.S. District Court of Connecticut. The Gove Law Office, with offices in Northampton and Ludlow, is a bilingual firm with attorneys who assist clients in English, Portuguese, and Spanish, providing legal representation in the areas of business representation, commercial lending, residential and commercial real estate, estate planning, immigration, and bankruptcy.

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Robert Magovern, president of Agawam-based Neighbor to Neighbor, has been re-appointed to serve on Westfield State University’s Board of Trustees. The appointment marks Magovern’s third term of service on the board, following an initial term from 1997 to 2002 and a second from 2005 to 2009. Magovern’s current term will continue through 2021.

Board oversight is critically important, especially at our public institutions, and we are confident these appointees will bring extensive leadership, professional and academic experiences to the benefit of the schools and their students,” said Gov. Charlie Baker in the fall when he announced Magovern and other board appointments for public colleges and universities in Massachusetts.

“Our students and full campus community will again benefit from trustee Magovern’s keen business sense and his veteran perspective as an incumbent board member at Westfield State,” said Westfield State University Board of Trustees Chair Steven Marcus. “Trustee Magovern’s appreciation for and intimate understanding of the impact of public higher education is critical in the governance of the university.”

Magovern started his own business in 1975, which grew to become Neighbor to Neighbor, a regional “new resident” welcoming company serving customers in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Prior to Neighbor to Neighbor, he was vice president of the Magovern Company—a retail company that sold golf course equipment with stores throughout Western Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York. Magovern earned his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Boston University.

Aside from running his business, he is highly engaged in his hometown community of Agawam, where he is the current chair of the Republican Town Committee. As the former City Council president, Magovern formed the Financial Oversight and Industrial Relations committees. He was also president of the Agawam Rotary Club, was a co-founder of both Agawam’s St. Patrick’s Day Committee and the Longmeadow Historical Society’s Long Meddowe Days event. In addition, Magovern was a co-founder of the Society of the 17th Century, a group that promotes 17th Century New England history and performs reenactments in the area. On the state level, Magovern was a member of the Massachusetts Republican State Committee and served on its executive board.

“As a firm believer in public higher education, I am thrilled to rejoin the Westfield State board,” said Magovern. “Westfield State is one of the finest state universities within Massachusetts.”

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Andrea Gauvin

Andrea Gauvin

Splash Marketing and Creative, a full-service marketing agency located in Westfield, announced its recent hire of Andrea Gauvin, who has joined the team as digital marketing manager. In this role, Gauvin will manage the digital assets for business clients, including, but not limited to, websites, SEO/SEM, blogging, social media, and digital ad campaigns. Gauvin has been in the marketing and communications field for more than seven years within the nonprofit, retail, and healthcare industries. Prior to assuming this role with Splash Marketing and Creative, she was marketing and communications manager at HealthyCT, a nonprofit health-insurance company located in Wallingford, Conn. She also held marketing positions at the United Way of Pioneer Valley and EcoBuilding Bargains, both located in Springfield. She graduated summa cum laude from Bay Path College with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and has been involved with several community organizations, including the United Way of Pioneer Valley Women’s Leadership Council, the Young Professional Society of Greater Springfield, the Westfield Chamber of Commerce, and Cub Scouts.

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Allison Ebner

Allison Ebner

The Employers Assoc. of the NorthEast (EANE) announced that Allison Ebner has been named director of Member Relations and Val Boudreau has joined the team as a senior training specialist. Ebner works to define and identify the greatest needs of prospective members and fully engage current members in the programs and services that will generate the most value for their membership investment. She has more than 17 years of experience in human resources, recruitment, and corporate branding, including talent acquisition and retention, employee engagement and team building, and labor trends and compliance. Most recently, she was director of recruitment for FIT Staffing and director of membership development for Associated Industries of Massachusetts. She also served as director of marketing and talent acquisition for United Personnel. Ebner is the current president and board chair for the Human Resource Management Assoc. of Western New England. She is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management and a member and secretary of the board of trustees for Mason Wright. She is a 1987 graduate of Ithaca College in New York, where she received a bachelor’s degree in marketing. Boudreau is known for her ability to understand talent, learning, and people requirements and deliver strategic solutions that achieve business objectives. Before joining EANE, she was the owner of Leadership Heights, a strategic planning consulting business. Prior to that, she spent more than 25 years in the financial-services industry, serving in various learning and development and talent-management leadership roles. Boudreau received a bachelor’s degree from Westfield State University and a master’s degree in training and development from Lesley University. She is currently a board member of GFWC Wilbraham Junior Women’s Club.

Daily News

NORTHAMPTON — The Gove Law Office, LLC announced that founding attorney Michael Gove has been named a 2016 Massachusetts Super Lawyers Rising Star. This marks the fourth consecutive year that Gove has been recognized among high-achieving young attorneys in Massachusetts.

A program of Thompson Reuters, Massachusetts Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers who, through peer review and independent research process, have been identified as attaining a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. Only the top 2.5% of up-and-coming Massachusetts attorneys are named to the Rising Star list.

Gove earned his juris doctor from Boston College School of Law in 2004 and is admitted to the Bar of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the Bar of the State of Connecticut, the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts, and the U.S. District Court of Connecticut.

The Gove Law Office, with offices in Northampton and Ludlow, is a bilingual firm with attorneys who assist clients in English, Portuguese, and Spanish, providing legal representation in the areas of business representation, commercial lending, residential and commercial real estate, estate planning, immigration, and bankruptcy.

Daily News

LUDLOW — The Gove Law Office announced that Carolyne Pereira has joined the firm as a paralegal focused on real-estate transactions and estate planning.

“Carolyne Pereira will provide experienced and active support to our attorneys working in the diverse practice areas which Gove Law offers our clients” said Michael Gove, the firm’s founding partner.

Pereira is a 2016 graduate of Western New England School of Law, and is scheduled to be sworn in as an attorney of the Massachusetts bar on Nov. 18. She was born and raised in Springfield, and speaks Portuguese and Spanish. She is a member of the Hampden County Bar Assoc., the Massachusetts Bar Assoc., and the Connecticut Real Estate Investors Assoc. She is currently running for pastoral council at Saint Elizabeth Parish in Ludlow, and hopes to work closely with veterans and the elderly.

The Gove Law Office, with offices in Ludlow and Northampton, is a bilingual firm providing guidance to clients in the areas of business representation, criminal and civil litigation, personal-injury law, commercial lending, residential and commercial real estate, estate planning, immigration, and bankruptcy.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Robinson Donovan, P.C. announced that eight attorneys have been selected to the 2016 Massachusetts Super Lawyers list, and two attorneys have been selected to the Rising Stars list.

Super Lawyers, part of Thomson Reuters, is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The annual selections are made using a patented, multi-phase process that includes a statewide survey of lawyers, an independent research evaluation of candidates, and peer reviews by practice area. The result is a credible, comprehensive, and diverse listing of exceptional attorneys.

No more than 5% of lawyers in Massachusetts are selected by Super Lawyers, and no more than 2.5% of lawyers in Massachusetts under the age of 40, or in practice for 10 years or less, are selected to Rising Stars.

Managing Partner Jeffrey Roberts was selected to the 2016 Massachusetts Super Lawyers list in the field of estate and probate law. He has been selected to the Super Lawyers list repeatedly for more than a decade.

Partner Jeffrey McCormick was selected to the 2016 Massachusetts Super Lawyers list in the field of general litigation. In addition to selection to the Super Lawyers list, on which he has been included for more than a decade, he was also selected to the 2016 Massachusetts Top 100 List and the 2016 New England Top 100 List.

Partner James Martin was selected to the 2016 Massachusetts Super Lawyers list in the field of closely held business law. He practices corporate and business counseling, litigation, and commercial real-estate law.

Partner Nancy Frankel Pelletier was selected to the 2016 Massachusetts Super Lawyers list in the field of civil litigation (defense). She has been selected to the Super Lawyers list for more than 10 consecutive years and has also been selected to the 2016 Massachusetts Top 50 Women List, the 2016 New England Top 50 Women List, the 2016 Massachusetts Top 100 List, and the 2016 New England Top 100 List. She exclusively practices litigation.

Partner Patricia Rapinchuk was selected to the 2016 Massachusetts Super Lawyers list in the field of employee litigation (defense). She was also selected to the 2016 Massachusetts Top 50 Women List. She practices employment law and litigation.

Partner Carla Newton was selected to the 2016 Massachusetts Super Lawyers list in the field of family law. She practices divorce and family law, litigation, corporate and business counseling, and commercial real estate.

Partner Jeffrey Trapani was selected to the 2016 Massachusetts Rising Stars list in the field of employment litigation (defense) law. He practices litigation and employment law.

Partner Michael Simolo was selected to the 2016 Massachusetts Rising Stars list in the field of estate and probate law. He practices corporate and business counseling, estate planning, and litigation.

Richard Gaberman, of counsel, was selected to the 2016 Massachusetts Super Lawyers list in the field of estate and probate law. He has been included in the Super Lawyers list for more than 10 years. His practice focuses on corporate and business counseling, commercial real-estate, tax, and estate-planning law.

Associate Kevin Chrisanthopoulos was selected to the 2016 Massachusetts Super Lawyers list in the field of general litigation. He practices litigation.

Law Sections

Firm in Its Resolve

five of Robinson Donovan’s partners

From left, five of Robinson Donovan’s partners: Jeffrey Trapani, Michael Simolo, Nancy Frankel Pelletier, Carla Newton, and Managing Partner Jeffrey Roberts.

Robinson Donovan has experienced plenty of changes in its 150-year history, from shifting economic cycles to constantly evolving laws, to the evolution of its home city of Springfield. But one thing has remained a priority since its founder, George Robinson — who was also a high-school principal, state legislator, and governor — hung out a shingle in 1866. That is a focus on community — not just in a business sense, but through charity and volunteerism. And that’s how the firm is choosing to mark this significant anniversary.

Attorneys who have been with Robinson Donovan for any amount of time are fluent in its history, which stretches back 150 years — an anniversary the firm chose to celebrate by giving back.

Specifically, the firm traces its roots back to former Gov. George Robinson, who began practicing law in the Springfield area prior to serving as a member of the state House of Representatives and then Senate.

His contributions to the Springfield region extended beyond his appointments to public office. He was also the principal of Chicopee High School and a founding member of Chicopee Savings Bank, in addition to his law practice, now known as Robinson Donovan.

As the anniversary approached, said Carla Newton, a partner with the firm, one topic of discussion was the importance of place — how Greater Springfield itself, and its network of residents, businesses, and nonprofits are critical to the Robinson Donovan story.

“George Robinson was a public servant himself, and certainly served the public in a very direct way, so we began thinking about how to give back, rather than just celebrate internally,” she told BusinessWest. “And we began looking around at all the different nonprofits, many of which have board members and volunteers within our office. We thought it was appropriate to go beyond our own personal commitments to the community, and be a little more demonstrative and provide actual contributions.”

We all live here. We all benefit from the nonprofits that operate here, whether it be Providence Ministries or an educational institution like Bay Path University. We’ve raised families in this community and benefit from the fact that these organizations exist and make our community a better place to live.”

In lieu of some grand party or other event, that’s precisely how the firm chose to celebrate its anniversary year — with a sizable donation each month to a local nonprofit.

“We solicited input from everyone at the firm,” said Partner Michael Simolo. “As Carla said, a lot of us are involved in these organizations, and we know very well the people involved in them. It was kind of a collective effort from everyone to choose the organizations we donated to.”

“We all live here,” Newton added. “We all benefit from the nonprofits that operate here, whether it be Providence Ministries or an educational institution like Bay Path University. We’ve raised families in this community and benefit from the fact that these organizations exist and make our community a better place to live.”

Besides those two organizations, the firm has also donated to Friends of the Homeless, the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, Cutchins Center for Children, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Community Legal Aid, Dakin Humane Society, and the Gray House — with three more to be chosen before the calendar turns.

Looking Back

That calendar has turned 150 times since Robinson first set up shop, and Newton acknowledged that it’s difficult to determine all the reasons it has survived so long. But she had a few theories.

One is simply pride among the attorneys in how the firm does business. She recalled arriving at the firm — at the time much smaller than its roster of 17 lawyers — and getting the sense they cared about leaving the firm in good hands when they were gone — which involved not only treating clients with professionalism, but mentoring the younger lawyers. “There was a culture of continuation, and people like me ended up getting adopted into that culture.”

Nowadays, she added, growth comes from meeting specific needs. “We bring in someone to support a particular area, and we inculcate them into the culture, and it continues on. There’s no reason to believe this isn’t going to keep going, as the younger lawyers coming in here realize, ‘hey, someday this will be our firm.’”

Managing Partner Jeffrey Roberts added that longevity requires a strong reputation in the community as well. “Ultimately, there has to be some recognition of quality. People want service, they want value, and they want to feel they’re getting the best product available.”

That reputation translates into referrals, he added. “They say your clients come from your clients. Other lawyers say, ‘I don’t do that kind of work, but you should go to that lawyer.’ In the end, it’s a small community, and if you don’t carry your practice properly and honestly, word gets around. If people understand who we are, we’ll have no shortage of business.”

That culture, again, extends to its community outreach, Newton said. “We’re not a firm that says to people who come in, ‘you must find a place to volunteer.’ Everyone here, whether it’s administrative assistants, lawyers, paralegals, they all do volunteer work because it’s important to them. That just seems to be the type of individual who comes to work at Robinson Donovan. Our people are really committed to doing volunteer work.”

Service Network, receives a check from Carla Newton

Karen Blanchard, left, executive director at Providence Ministries Service Network, receives a check from Carla Newton, partner at Robinson Donovan, earlier this year as part of the law firm’s year-long series of donations to mark its 150th anniversary.

Partner Nancy Frankel Pelletier agreed. “It’s definitely part of the culture of the firm,” she said. “We encourage people to be active in things they have an interest in or a passion for. It’s never imposed on anyone or done out of obligation, but it’s what everyone does.”

Roberts noted that community involvement isn’t a one-way street, and firm members reap benefits beyond feeling good about themselves. “If you contribute to an organization, they benefit; on the other hand, you benefit because you learn about what the organization does, and you meet a lot of different people, and you get invested more in the community, rather than just getting in your car, going to work, taking care of your client matters, and going home. There’s a networking component that can lead you to other organizations.”

New hires, especially those coming from outside the area, are encouraged to find organizations that speak to them, as a way to get a real sense of what’s happening outside the walls and glass windows high above Main Street in Tower Square.

“Then it tends to build,” Roberts said, “because you’re recognized, and then someone else might ask you to help out at a function or support a cause or go to a dinner, and it builds on itself. It’s part of your education in the community.”

Looking Ahead

A general-practice firm, Robinson Donovan specializes in a number of legal niches, including corporate and business law, commercial real estate, estate planning and administration, divorce and family law, employment law, and litigation. After a period of rapid contraction — more than 30 lawyers worked there as recently as 15 years ago, when it was known as Robinson Donovan Madden & Barry — business has been steadily growing in virtually all those specialties, and the practice is on the rise again, hiring eight attorneys over the past several years, bringing the current roster to 16, with plans to possibly expand further.

“The firm is very dynamic and forward-thinking,” Simolo said. “We are celebrating our 150th, but at the same time, the firm is making some big investments in the future.”

Partner Jeffrey Trapani said the fact that economic development has been on the rise in Springfield, and the surrounding region is a quality-of-life draw, are added enticements when hiring.

“People get down on Springfield, but this region, I think, attracts people,” he told BusinessWest. “People enjoy coming to this area. We have city centers, things to do, you can see art, hear music, get outside, and still be close to Boston and New York.”

Trapani and Simolo count themselves among the former newcomers mentored by Roberts and his peers, but are now part of a middle generation rising to leadership and taking on much of that mentoring responsibility for new attorneys. That perpetuates the firm’s constant evolution, with some of the more recent hires chosen to match growth fields, including trusts and estates, corporate transaction law, labor and employment, domestic relations, and subspecialties like green energy.

“There’s such a broad scope of experience in this office,” Newton said. “So I can go to one of the associates and talk to them about something. They’ll learn from me, but I’ll also learn from them. When I sit in Jeff’s office or Nancy’s office, cross-learning takes place. Every single day, there are opportunities to sit down and talk about an issue with someone else. Not a day goes by that I don’t learn some new nuance that’s helpful to something I’m working on.”

It’s an environment some find unusual at first, Frankel Pelletier said, “but it’s the only environment I’ve ever known my entire career. We are just an open-door, collaborative community of lawyers.”

In short, Robinson Donovan has come a long way since its early days, when it was best known for George Robinson’s successful defense of Lizzie Borden on double murder charges in 1892. These days, the firm is recognized in a host of ways, such as the citations many of its attorneys have received from organizations like Best Lawyers, Super Lawyers, and Martindale-Hubbell.

“Unlike some other firms from the area, we really maintain a statewide presence,” said Frankel Pelletier, who was the firm’s first-ever female attorney. “We have always maintained that statewide presence and attained regional and, in some senses, national recognition. Our attorneys are constantly being recognized by organizations they belong to. That is who we are.”

Well, that and a law firm with a strong commitment to the community that has helped it thrive for 150 years.

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]

Departments People on the Move

Inspired Marketing recently announced several promotions and additions to the company:

Heather Ruggeri

Heather Ruggeri

Kristen Carlson

Kristen Carlson

Lauren Mendoza

Lauren Mendoza

Cara Cole

Cara Cole

Jenifer Esile

Jenifer Esile

Heather Ruggeri, the company’s Chief Events Officer, was recently promoted and adds Vice President to her business card. She joined Inspired Marketing in 2015 and previously worked as the conference service manager and sales manager at the Springfield Sheraton for nine years. In addition, she was recently named to the board of the Connecticut River Valley Chapter of Meeting Professionals International and is one of only a few certified meeting professionals in the area and one of only about 13,000 worldwide;
• Another team member, Kristin Carlson, was recently named Senior Marketing Visionary Partner. She started with Inspired Marketing as an apprentice right out of college in 2014. She has continued to evolve into a valued team member, creating innovative, successful media campaigns for several clients with outstanding results;
Lauren Mendoza, who was with Inspired Marketing in its infancy before leaving for tech startup Waterdog, has rejoined the team and is now the Office Manager. Her organization keeps the team on track and helps communication, meetings, and schedules to run smoothly;
Cara Cole recently joined Inspired Marketing as a Marketing Visionary Partner, serving on the front line with client creative implementation. She came to Inspired Marketing from the Center for Human Development and previously from Square One; and
Jenifer Esile joined Inspired Marketing as On-staff Graphic Designer after having been a freelance partner since the company’s inception. In addition to 20 years of diverse design experience, she brings copywriting and social-media skills to the team to provide greater value to clients.

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Karen Bechtel

Karen Bechtel

MassMutual announced the election of Karen Bechtel to its board of directors. Bechtel is managing director of global alternative asset manager the Carlyle Group. “I’m extremely pleased to welcome Karen Bechtel to MassMutual’s board of directors. She brings both a sterling reputation and keen business acumen built on more than 30 years of investment management and corporate development expertise, and we look forward to her contributions,” said Roger Crandall, chairman, president, and CEO. “Importantly, as part of MassMutual’s unwavering commitment to best-in-class corporate governance, we are focused on ensuring that our board reflects diverse backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives.” Bechtel joined Carlyle in 2005 as the head of the Global Healthcare team and currently is focused on corporate buyout opportunities within the private equity market. Prior to her role at Carlyle, for 28 years, she held a variety of leadership roles within Morgan Stanley & Co., including as managing director of its Private Equity Group. During her career with Morgan Stanley, she was also co-head of the Financial Sponsors Group and head of the Corporate Restructuring Group, with a strong focus on healthcare investments as well as mergers and acquisitions. She was also a member of the firm’s Investment Banking Operating Committee. In addition to her role as a new MassMutual director, Bechtel serves on the boards of Ortho Clinical Diagnostics, HCR-ManorCare, and Pharmaceutical Product Development, LLC. She is also a former board member of Healthscope Ltd., Grupo Qualicorp, Multiplan Inc., and LifeCare. Mergers & Acquisitions magazine in 2015 named her one of the Most Influential Women in mid-market M&A. She received her bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of Texas at Austin and earned her MBA from the Harvard Graduate School of Business.

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Philip Johnson

Philip Johnson

OMG Roofing Products promoted Philip Johnson to the position of Key Account Manager, the company announced. In his new role, he will be responsible for managing several strategic accounts with a high level of responsiveness and customer service. Johnson started with OMG in 2012 as a field sales representative in Texas, and was promoted in 2014 to the position of regional sales manager for the United Kingdom and Ireland. He will report to Josh Kelly, vice president and general manager. “Phil is a dedicated and talented manager, who has shown a commitment to helping the company grow,” said Kelly. “He excelled as a field sales representative in Texas and as a regional sales manager in the UK and Ireland. I’m confident that Phil will continue to thrive in this new account management role for the roofing products team.” Johnson holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of the Ozarks in Clarksville, Ark. Headquartered in Agawam, Mass., OMG Roofing Products is North America’s largest manufacturer of commercial roofing products, featuring specialty fasteners, insulation adhesives, drains, pipe supports, emergency repair tape, edge metal systems, and productivity tools.

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Richard “Kick” Sullivan III

Richard “Kick” Sullivan III

Crevier & Ryan, LLP announced the addition of a new associate to the firm, attorney Richard “Kick” Sullivan III. Sullivan works primarily for attorney Michael Ryan. Collectively, Ryan, Sullivan, and fellow associate Rebecca Moran have a practice devoted to residential real-estate transactions, commercial lending, commercial real-estate acquisitions and sale (including 1031 tax-free exchanges), corporate governance, buy and sell agreements for closely held businesses, contract analysis and negotiation, civil litigation, and pre-litigation disputes (including conflicts involving trusts and estates). Sullivan graduated from Bates College in 2012, then enrolled in Western New England University School of Law, graduating earlier this year. During his legal education, he completed concentrations in estate planning, real estate, and business law. Eager to expand his education beyond the classroom, he completed the WNEU Law Small Business Clinic, Real Estate Practicum, and an estate-planning drafting course. These experiences have provided him with an advanced handle on transactional skills as well as a specialized knowledge in these practice areas. While most experienced in these legal fields, he aims to expand the practice and his expertise. Sullivan was previously employed during law school for Westfield Bank, as a law clerk for Fitzgerald, Attorneys at Law in East Longmeadow, and as a legal intern for the city of Springfield Law Department, Code Enforcement. Active in the community, he serves on the Westfield Zoning Board of Appeals.

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Cynthia Shaw

Cynthia Shaw

The Gove Law Office announced that Cynthia Shaw has joined the firm as a Paralegal focused on civil and criminal litigation and real-estate transactions. “Cindi Shaw will provide experienced and active support to our attorneys working in the diverse practice areas which Gove Law offers our clients,” said Michael Gove, founding partner of Gove Law Office. Shaw has more than 20 years of experience as a paralegal, holds a bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies from Elms College, and is a member of the Western Mass Paralegal Assoc. and the National Federation of Paralegals. The Gove Law Office, with offices in Ludlow and Northampton, is a bilingual firm with attorneys who provide guidance to clients in the areas of business representation, criminal and civil litigation, personal-injury law, commercial lending, residential and commercial real estate, estate planning, immigration, and bankruptcy.

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Katisha Woods-Johnson

Katisha Woods-Johnson

Katisha Woods-Johnson, director for the Center for Human Development’s (CHD) Terri Thomas Girls Program, has received a Department of Youth Services (DYS) Commissioner’s Award for 2016. The Terri Thomas Girls Program is a secure, residential treatment program operated by CHD at the DYS facility on Tinkham Road in Springfield. Woods-Johnson was recognized for her work leveraging community connections to touch the lives of many youth in CHD custody and care, as well as their families. For example, she built a partnership with Home Depot that began with the company’s commitment to visit the Tinkham Road campus to do some projects with the youth. That blossomed into an ongoing monthly program in which the youth have hung doors and installed windows, learned basic wiring and put in outlets, built Adirondack chairs and picnic tables, and installed tile. Home Depot has donated all the materials and their employees’ time for the projects. Woods-Johnson also connected with Suit Up Springfield, a nonprofit organization that donates suits and dresses to people in need so they have proper attire for job interviews. Every young person in the programs at Tinkham Road received such an outfit and wore it to a semi-formal Thanksgiving banquet also attended by their families. Woods-Johnson paid for the banquet — the first most of the youth had ever attended — with donations and a fund-raising event. The youth served their families dinner, and a professional photographer volunteered to take pictures of each family as a keepsake. Woods-Johnson has brought local poets, painters, Zumba instructors, hip-hop artists, and more to the DYS campus to volunteer their time running groups with the youth.

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Aesthetic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, P.C., a community-centered cosmetic surgery and non-invasive practice serving Western Mass. and Northern Conn., announced that Dr. Glen Brooks participated in a prestigious preceptorship program hosted by Dr. Charles Randquist, a board-certified plastic surgeon with 20 years of experience. For the last decade, Randquist has been a speaker around the world on various cosmetic procedures, while his main focus has been on primary, secondary, and reconstructive breast surgery. The preceptorship was held in Sweden, and gathered a small group of U.S. physicians. “I felt like this was a great opportunity to continue my education and ensure a world-class experience and results for my patients,” Brooks said. “Dr. Randquist is renowned for his knowledge, emphasizing a natural appearance with less short- and long-term complications, which is always a focus at my practice.” Learning alongside Randquist was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, Brooks said, featuring live surgery and follow-ups as well as techniques and practice management. “The best practices and higher-level understanding I have about new products and devices are credible, authentic, and valuable.”

Daily News

LUDLOW — The Gove Law Office announced that Cynthia (Cindi) Shaw has joined the firm as a paralegal focused on civil and criminal litigation and real-estate transactions.

“Cindi Shaw will provide experienced and active support to our attorneys working in the diverse practice areas which Gove Law offers our clients,” said Michael Gove, founding partner of Gove Law Office.

Shaw has more than 20 years of experience as a paralegal, holds a bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies from Elms College, and is a member of the Western Mass Paralegal Assoc. and the National Federation of Paralegals.

The Gove Law Office, with offices in Ludlow and Northampton, is a bilingual firm with attorneys who provide guidance to clients in the areas of business representation, criminal and civil litigation, personal-injury law, commercial lending, residential and commercial real estate, estate planning, immigration, and bankruptcy.

Commercial Real Estate Sections

Developing Interest

Eric Nelson

Eric Nelson

As Eric Nelson takes the reins at Westmass Area Development Corp., the agency’s ambitious Ludlow Mills project, which features economic-development opportunities on several levels, is entering an intriguing new stage. Meanwhile, Westmass is moving aggressively to answer the question ‘what’s next?’ — meaning everything from development of new sites to creation of a development-services arm to provide technical assistance to area cities and towns.

While he was pursuing his master’s degree in landscape architecture at UMass Amherst, Eric Nelson developed a keen interest in land planning and economic development, and eventually wrote his thesis on the adaptive reuse of historic mills.

Specifically, his work concentrated on the town of Uxbridge in the Blackstone River Valley south and east of Worcester, and several mills that had drawn the attention of the National Park Service, which would eventually create a national heritage corridor in the area marketed under the slogan “Birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution.”

One of Nelson’s focal points was the famed Stanley Woolen Mill in Uxbridge, which had a long history of manufacturing military uniforms, including those worn by Union soldiers during the Civil War. His work involved making recommendations to the park service on where and how to invest resources for this heritage corridor. It was rather involved work with many key considerations.

“You were looking at factors such as access, transportation, recreation, the integrity of the buildings, the opportunity for tourism, the opportunity for economic development, and much more,” he explained.

Fast-forward 25 years, and Nelson is tackling these very same issues again — this time on a much different stage and with much different stakes.

Indeed, as the recently named president and CEO of Westmass Area Development Corp., Nelson is overseeing a project with striking similarities to what he encountered in Uxbridge — the ongoing efforts to revitalize the Ludlow Mills, which Westmass acquired in 2011.

This initiative blends elements of economic development, which comes in many possible forms, as we’ll see, as well as access and recreation (a riverwalk is being created), and repurposing of a wide array of different buildings on the property.

“There are many similarities between the Blackstone Valley and Ludlow Mills — and a host of other mills in this region,” he explained. “In many instances, they’re on a river, and in a lot of cases, they’re brownfield sites; there are a great many challenges to reuse of these properties.”

But Ludlow Mills is only one piece of the Westmass portfolio, and one aspect of Nelson’s work to increase the agency’s presence in the region and its impact on overall economic development.

There are other properties to be developed, he told BusinessWest, including the Chicopee River Business Park, which has been a lingering source of frustration for Westmass and remains mostly vacant two decades after it opened. But Nelson sees reason for optimism.

“It’s a great location — it’s only two minutes from the Mass Pike, and it’s right off Route 291,” he said, adding that Westmass is considering a change to its strategic focus on the property, with a shift toward attracting potential suppliers to CRRC MA’s subway-car-manufacturing facility, now taking shape less than mile down the road.

aerial shot of Ludlow Mills

This aerial shot of Ludlow Mills shows the many different elements to this project — from mill redevelopment to river access to green acreage.

Beyond development of its properties, though, Westmass has become more aggressive, if that’s the right word, in efforts to become a resource for other agencies and entities involved in economic development, he noted.

As an example, Nelson cited the ongoing efforts to revitalize the property on Race Street in Holyoke known as the Cubit, because it takes that shape. This project has a number of players, he went on, including the state, the city, Holyoke Community College (which is relocating its culinary arts program there), and private developers. Westmass, and specifically now-former President and CEO Kenn Delude, has been lending technical assistance to bring the initiative together.

“We’re putting together what we call a development-services side of the house,” he explained. “A lot of area towns have resources, but they don’t have the staff; we can be of assistance to them with various development projects.”

For this issue and its focus on commercial real estate, BusinessWest talked at length with Nelson about his vision — for Westmass, Ludlow Mills, the Chicopee River park, and much more, and how he intends to bring it all into focus.

View to the Future

As he talked with BusinessWest in the conference room at the facilities housing Westmass at Westover Metropolitan Airport, Nelson paused to reference a stunning aerial photo of the Ludlow Mills project on one wall.

As he talked, his hand moved over various components of the project — from the land where the new HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital of Western Massachusetts now sits (the photo is several years old) to the mill that Winn Development will soon be converting into senior housing; from the so-called Clock Tower building, for which Winn recently announced an ambitious mixed-used project, to the dozens of small block houses, some of which have since been razed; from the intended path of the riverwalk to 47 acres of undeveloped land on the property that constitutes still another key component of the initiative.

The exercise was effective in communicating everything from the importance of the project to the region to what it represents as a career opportunity.

“This is an extremely interesting project with lots of elements and moving parts,” he said. “And it’s significant on many levels — for the town, for the region, for job creation … it’s great to be part of this.”

Nelson, who came to Westmass in 2011 specifically to move the Ludlow Mills project off the drawing board, brings to his new assignment a broad résumé of job experience, with stints in everything from education to landscaping.

He started as a public-school teacher in Amherst, a job he eventually lost to budget cutbacks, and then went into business for himself in landscape construction, specifically the installation of patios, walkways, decks, and other features.

It was that work that eventually took him to UMass and pursuit of his master’s degree. After earning it, he went to work for SVE (Southern Vermont Engineering) Associates, a professional consulting firm specializing in engineering, surveying, and landscape architecture, rising in the ranks to senior project manager and director of the Greenfield office.

He was attracted to Westmass, and a vice president’s position there, specifically by the Ludlow Mills project, which appealed to him on a number of levels, but especially the promise to exercise many of his passions — from landscape architecture to economic development — in one project.

“Westmass was looking for someone to carry the vision out,” he explained. “And the job requirements meshed well with my background, talents, and interests.”

As president and CEO of Westmass, Nelson will see his time and energy parceled in several different directions — geographically and otherwise.

Indeed, the agency owns industrial parks in Agawam, East Longmeadow, and Hadley that are full or mostly full, and Chicopee River, which remains a mostly blank canvas, but one Nelson believes could finally become filled in.

One area has already become home to a solar farm, he explained, and efforts to make a parcel near Route 291 more visible from the highway should generate some momentum.

“I think that will generate a lot of interest because people driving by there don’t realize they can site their building there,” he said of that site work. “And I think that if we can get one company in there, others will follow.”

But Ludlow Mills is getting most of the headlines — and the bulk of Nelson’s attention at the moment.

Winn’s Clock Tower building project comprised the main announcement at the recent Developers Conference staged by the Economic Development Council of Western Mass., and many other components of the project are coming together.

Mill-10-Interior-Before

These before-and-after photos show progress being made in the work to convert one of the Ludlow Mills structures into senior housing.

These before-and-after photos show progress being made in the work to convert one of the Ludlow Mills structures into senior housing.

The property is no longer a brownfields site from a technical standpoint — most all contaminants have been remediated — and extensive infrastructure work, including new water and sewer connections, have made the complex far more appealing to developers.

Overall, the site has enormous potential for many different kinds of development, from the senior housing already taking shape to manufacturing, office, and even retail, he explained, adding that, with its various structures and green spaces, it can handle the needs of growing enterprises.

“We have small spaces that startups can rent,” he explained, “and when they get to the point where they need a manufacturing facility, we have the opportunity to offer them a piece of property they can build on.”

Ludlow Mills is roughly five years into a 20-year redevelopment effort, said Nelson, adding that the ongoing challenge is to determine the best uses for various properties moving forward, and facilitating efforts to develop them.

As one example, he returned to the aerial photo and pointed to one of the mills, this one with low (seven-foot) ceilings, which will ultimately make redevelopment quite challenging. Perhaps the best course for that structure is to raze it and create parking for other projects, he explained, adding that this is one of many decisions that will have to be made in the years to come.

Building Blocks

As he talked about Ludlow Mills, Nelson said this project wasn’t yet on ‘auto pilot,’ a phrase he used to describe a point where most pressing issues have been resolved and matters come down to attracting the development community to the property.

But it’s getting close.

And that means more of the agency’s time and energy can be put toward the intriguing question of what comes next.

There are many components to that answer, said Nelson, who started by saying that this region will soon have more inventory of land and properties to develop.

That’s because absorption of existing buildings, a trend (one less expensive than building new) that emerged and then accelerated in the years following the Great Recession, has continued unabated. And that inventory is dwindling.

“The economics of building new were not going to pencil out, because people were able to go buy an existing building at a big discount,” he explained, adding that this fundamental shift in many ways inspired a change in strategies at Westmass, one that prompted a unique project like Ludlow Mills rather than additional industrial-park development.


Go HERE for a listing of available Commercial Real Estate properties for sale and lease in Western Mass.


But if the pendulum isn’t already swinging back, it’s apparent that it soon will, to one extent or another, he went on, adding that, while the green space at Ludlow Mills can address some of the additional demand that will emerge, more land will be needed, for projects of all sizes.

“We’re at a curve in the road,” Nelson explained. “We need to plan ahead, and we need to start aggregating sites and getting sites ready, knowing that it takes three years to get them ready for building.”

He didn’t give any specifics about where the agency is currently looking for land that could be aggregated, but did say the search is on, and, as in years past, it will be undertaken with diligence and imagination.

Meanwhile, another answer to what comes next is that aforementioned development-services arm, which Nelson believes holds vast potential — for Westmass, but especially the region and individual communities.

He circled back to the Cubit project, and Holyoke Community College’s request for Westmass’ support, as an example of what’s possible.

“The leaders at HCC do what they do well — they run a college,” he explained. “But this is not their area of expertise, so they turned to us for help in deciding which building to go into, finding an architect, negotiating a lease, and, more importantly, going for grant funding.

“This meshed well with our skills and talents, and it’s job creation,” he went on, referring to the opportunities awaiting graduates of the culinary arts program. “I see this as a model that Westmass can develop for towns that don’t have staff.”

Milling About

Nelson admits that he pretty much lost track of his master’s thesis subject, the Stanley Woolen Mills. He did some research, though, and reported that progress was being made in redevelopment of those landmarks for new uses.

He has his own project to keep tabs on now, one that is in many ways similar to those Blackstone Valley initiatives, and in all ways important to the future of this region.

What was once a project undertaken in pursuit of a degree is now essentially his life’s work, a project that is well, a textbook example of generating economic-development activity.

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

Commercial Real Estate Sections

Building Momentum

Ken Vincunas

Ken Vincunas stands near the bulldozer that will soon take down the Clarion Hotel & Conference Center, which will become the site of additional office facilities.

Over the years, Agawam-based Development Associates has steadily grown its portfolio to more than 2 million square feet of space under management. Behind those numbers are some intriguing new projects, including additional development just off I-91 in Northampton at the former Clarion Hotel & Conference Center property.

The walls of Ken Vincunas’ office in Agawam Crossing, the property his company built on Silver Street, are covered with photos that he and his daughter have taken in Italy, Spain, and other travel destinations over the past several years.

The front lobby of that space is another matter. The photos there feature landmarks of a different kind, specifically some of the properties Development Associates has built over the years and now manages. There’s one of the Greenfield Corporate Center, for example, as well as 8 Atwood Dr. in Northampton, one of two 40,000-square-foot buildings at that site, known collectively as the Northampton/I-91 Professional Center.

The list of properties, and collection of photos, has grown steadily over the years, said Vincunas, adding that the goal has always been to achieve smart growth when it comes to the portfolio — and thus cover more wall space — through new ventures with sound potential.

And if things go as planned, Development Associates may need to buy some more frames in the months and years to come.

Indeed, the company, which currently has roughly 2.1 million square feet under management in Western Mass. and Connecticut, is mulling additional opportunities at the Atwood Drive complex, if you will, including the former Clarion Hotel & Conference Center, which is set to be demolished.

Permitting has been obtained for 120,000 square feet of new buildings on the north side of the property, across from the two existing 40,000-square-foot structures — 8 and 22 Atwood Dr., respectively, said Vincunas.

But depending on how, and what type, of demand emerges, plans could change, and the site might instead be used for two 60,000-square-foot business facilities.

“We have something permitted, but there is a lot of flexibility with that site, and a number of potential uses,” he said, adding that the picture will likely come into focus over the next several months.

the former Dow Jones warehouse

Located just off the junction of Route 291 and the Mass Pike, the former Dow Jones warehouse is now part of the Development Associates portfolio.

Meanwhile, Development Associates recently acquired the 80,000-square-foot former warehouse property operated by Dow Jones on First Avenue in Chicopee. Located just a few hundred yards from where the Mass Pike and Route 291 come together, the site is easily accessible and well-suited for distribution and manufacturing uses, said Vincunas, adding that there has already been significant interest expressed in the site from a variety of potential users. The company also completed a purchase/leaseback of two buildings at Westover owned by Ethos Energy.

For this issue and its focus on commercial real estate, BusinessWest talked with Vincunas about his company and its ongoing efforts to expand its portfolio of properties — and opportunities.

Success Stories

As he talked with BusinessWest at the Clarion site — just a few feet from the then-idle bulldozer poised to start tearing down the long-time Northampton landmark, which was home to the restaurant Page’s Loft and many other names over the years — Vincunas pointed in a few different directions on the parcel as he talked about what could happen there next.


Click HERE for a listing of available commercial properties


He said the property, owned by Atwood Partners, an entity whose partners include members of both the O’Leary and Shumway families (the latter has owned or developed a number of hotels in the Amherst/Northampton area), has a variety of possible uses, and a tentative plan has emerged.

It calls for a smaller hotel, a restaurant, and a four-story, 80,000-square-feet office facility slated to be built on the site of famous (or infamous) domed pool on the Clarion footprint. A sign now appears in front on the property announcing that the space is for lease.

But the hotel market is becoming more crowded, he said, noting a number of recent additions, including a new facility less than a mile away on Conz Street. So a hotel may not be in the cards.

Additional office space — an expansion of the professional center complex — certainly is, though.

The planned 80,000-square-foot structure is being described as ‘professional and medical space’ — there are plenty of both types of businesses at 8 and 22 Atwood Dr. — with spaces from 2,500 square feet all the way up to 70,000 (essentially the entire building) available. It would be built on a parcel that would make it very visible from I-91, and just a few hundred yards from exit 18 off that highway.

“It would be pretty much a landmark right off the highway when it’s done,” Vincunas noted.

But development of such large properties hinges on signing one or more large, or anchor, tenants early enough in the process to justify construction, he noted, adding that the days of spec building are long over in this market. (Clinical & Support Options is an anchor at 8 Atwood Dr., while Cooley Dickinson Hospital is an anchor in both existing structures).

“In order to move forward with a venture of that magnitude, you need to have some pre-leasing on a major scale,” he explained. “And there just aren’t that many of those anchor tenants out there — they’re getting harder to find.”

He is conducting an ongoing hard search at the moment, and already has a few solid leads.

If enough demand materializes, the plans for the site may be altered to feature two 60,000-square-foot buildings, he told BusinessWest, adding that there is ample parking on the site to support such development.

While efforts to secure anchor tenants for the planned Northampton development continues, the company continues work to add tenants to existing properties, said Vincunas.

Agawam Crossing

Agawam Crossing, now home to an eclectic mix of businesses, is at full occupancy.

And there are many of them, scattered across Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin counties and into Northern Conn. The portfolio is diverse, and includes everything from what’s described as ‘industrial/flex/technology space’ in South Deerfield, now available for leasing, to ‘flexible automotive space’ at property on Palomba Drive in Enfield, Conn. — 8,000 square feet of space is available — to the 145,000-square-foot Greenfield Corporate Center, home to a number of businesses and agencies.

One of them is the Greenfield District Court, which is scheduled to relocate soon to new space downtown and become part of ongoing revitalization efforts in that central business district. That will leave Development Associates with a large vacancy to fill; however, Vincunas is confident that, with the momentum now evident in Franklin County’s largest community, the building will gain new tenants.

“This is an excellent office park setting, and we have a great deal of flexibility with the property,” he said, adding that the space is ideal for a call center, medical facility, education, and other uses.

Meanwhile, the Chicopee property represents an intriguing addition to the portfolio, he said, adding that the property has been underutilized, and could be an attractive option for businesses across several sectors of the economy, given its strategic location.

“With such a great location and a good quality building, we could either take on multiple tenants or try to get a single tenant for the whole building,” he noted. “We’re entertaining a number of proposals to try and maximize the use of that building.”

Bottom Line

Development Associates recently moved into its own new space in the Agawam Crossing building, joining Comcast Spotlight and physicians affiliated with Mercy Medical Center as recent tenants.

The company has about 2,000 square feet, with a number of private offices, a large business hub, and a sizable front entranceway that has plenty of wall space.

That’s a commodity that will surely be put to use as this company continues to expand its portfolio with new properties that are suitable for a variety of tenants — and for framing as well.

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

Features

Elite Eight

It’s a crowded field of nominees for this year’s Continued Excellence Award.

After a panel of independent judges considered dozens of submitted nominations and scored each one, a logjam for the final slot pushed the field of finalists past the planned five. Now, they’ll meet to discuss the merits of all eight finalists and choose an ultimate winner for the second annual crowning next month.

BusinessWest launched the Continued Excellence Award last year to recognize past 40 Under Forty honorees who have built on the business success and civic commitment that initially earned them that honor, Associate Publisher Kate Campiti explained.

“We wanted to single out for recognition those who have built upon their strong records of service in business, within the community, and as regional leaders. And, like last year’s finalists, these eight individuals have certainly done that.”

The winner of the second annual Continued Excellence Award will be announced at this year’s 40 Under Forty Gala, slated for June 16 at the Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House in Holyoke.

The finalists, as determined by scores submitted by three judges — James Barrett, managing partner of Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C.; Delcie Bean, president of Paragus Strategic IT and last year’s Continued Excellence Award winner; and Janine Fondon, president and CEO of UnityFirst.com — are, in alphabetical order:

Dr. Jonathan Bayuk

Dr. Jonathan Bayuk

Dr. Jonathan Bayuk

Bayuk, president of Allergy and Immunology Associates of Western Mass. and chief of Allergy and Immunology at Baystate Medical Center, was named to the 40 Under Forty class of 2008 after establishing himself as a strong advocate for families dealing with food allergies, creating the Western Mass. Food Allergy Network. He has also served on the boards of the New England Allergy Society and the Mass. Allergy and Asthma Society, and is currently president-elect of both.

But he has since dedicated a tremendous amount of time and philanthropic support to other causes as well, including Homeward Vets, an organization that helps homeless veterans transition to self-sufficiency, and Team Henry, a group that promotes childhood wellness through exercise and nutrition. He also continues to coach several sports, serve on the board of Northampton Little League, teach medical students and residents, and organize events to help the region’s homeless.

Michael Fenton

Michael Fenton

Michael Fenton

When Fenton was named to the 40 Under Forty in 2012, he was serving his second term on Springfield’s City Council and preparing to graduate from law school. He was also a trustee at his alma mater, Cathedral High School, where he dedicated countless hours to help rebuild the school following the 2011 tornado.

Today, Fenton is City Council president and an associate at Shatz, Schwartz & Fentin, P.C., practicing in the areas of business planning, commercial real estate, estate planning, and elder law. He received an ‘Excellence in the Law’ honor from Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly and was named a Super Lawyers Rising Star in 2014. Meanwhile, in the community, he is a founding member of Suit Up Springfield, a corporator with Mason Wright Foundation, a volunteer teacher at Junior Achievement, a member of the East Springfield and Hungry Hill neighborhood councils, and an advisory board member at Roca Inc., which helps high-risk young people transform their lives.

Jeff Fialky

Jeff Fialky

Jeff Fialky

Another member of the 40 Under Forty Class of 2008, Fialky was recognized an an associate attorney at Bacon Wilson in Springfield and for his volunteer work with numerous area organizations. He has since added a number of lines to that résumé. For starters, in 2012, he was named a partner at Bacon Wilson, and is active in leadership capacities with the firm. But he has also become a leader within the Greater Springfield business community.

Former president of the Young Professional Society of Greater Springfield, Fialky currently serves as chair of the Springfield Chamber of Commerce, and is also on the board of trustees of the Springfield Museums. In his capacity with the chamber, he has spent the past several years working with city officials and community organizations to foster economic development in the city and advance a 10-year economic strategic plan for Springfield.

Dena Hall

Dena Hall

Dena Hall

Hall was an inaugural Forty Under 40 honoree in 2007, two years after joining the senior management team at United Bank, leading its marketing and public-relations team as well as investor relations for United Financial Bancorp Inc.

Since then, she has been promoted at United seversal times, first to senior vice president during a series of acquisitions that significantly expanded the bank’s footprint. Her role expanded further in 2013 when the bank merged with Rockville Bank and she was promoted to executive vice president and chief marketing officer for the now-$5 billion organization. Today, she is regional president for the Western Mass. area and continues to serve as president of the United Bank Foundation for Massachusetts and Connecticut, overseeing more than $10 million in assets and helping distribute $1 million monthly to nonprofits in the two states. Meanwhile, she continues to volunteer with numerous nonprofit boards and civic organizations.

Amanda Huston Garcia

Amanda Huston Garcia

Amanda Huston Garcia

When she was named to the 40 Under Forty class of 2010, Huston Garcia was vice president of operations for Junior Achievement (JA) of Western Mass. Meanwhile, she was active in myriad community organizations, including various chambers of commerce, the Young Professional Society of Greater Springfield, and various boards at Elms College and Springfield High School of Science and Technology.

In 2011, she left her position with JA — but still plays numerous roles in the organization — and became a full-time professor at Elms, where her passion for teaching young people about entrepreneurship and financial literacy remains strong. In addition to helping create the Elms MBA program, she developed a partnership between Elms and JA, recruiting more than 60 college students each year to teach JA programs. She also forged a classroom partnership between Elms and Putnam Vocational Technical Academy and is working on a program to help Putnam students earn college credits.

Amy Jamrog

Amy Jamrog

Amy Jamrog

Another member of the inaugural 40 Under Forty class of 2007, Jamrog was honored as owner of the Jamrog Group, ranking among Northwestern Mutual’s top 3% of all financial advisors; she had also been recognized twice with Northwestern Mutual’s Community Service Award for her business success and community involvement.

Since then, the Jamrog Group has grown substantially, now advising more than 500 families and businesses while sponsoring a number of community organizations. Jamrog also teaches workshops and speaks at conferences about connecting money and values. She’s also a trustee of the Community Foundation of Western Mass. and chairs its philanthropic services committee. She helped secure several major gifts to the foundation through her financial planning with clients, served on a task force to determine the organization’s future direction, and helped promote Valley Gives. She has also been heavily involved, with the Women’s Fund of Western Mass., including a stint as board chair.

Alex Morse

Alex Morse

Alex Morse

Morse’s story is well-known, being elected Holyoke’s youngest mayor at age 22 in 2012 — reason enough to be named to the 40 Under Forty class of 2014. He’s since then won re-election twice, time enough to put his leadership in perspective.

On his watch, investments in downtown Holyoke total more than $30 million. He has overseen more than $2 million in streetscape improvements, new and renovated parks, ongoing rehabilitation of the mill buildings, a partnership with the Greater Holyoke Chamber of Commerce to launch the SPARK entrepreneurship program, and several new development projects, including the Canal Walk, new apartments in the former Holyoke Catholic building, and the new train platform in downtown Holyoke. During his terms, community policing strategies have led to drops in crime, property values have gone up, and the unemployment rate has dropped. As a result, the Popular Mechanics recently named Holyoke the sixth-best ‘startup city’ in the nation.

Meghan Rothschild

Meghan Rothschild

Meghan Rothschild

Rothschild, then development and marketing manager for the Food Bank of Western Mass., was named to the 40 Under Forty class of 2011 mainly for her tireless work in melanoma awareness. A survivor herself, she began organizing local events to raise funds for the fight against this common killer, and launched a website, SurvivingSkin.org, and TV show, Skin Talk, that brought wider attention to her work.

Since then, Rothschild has been exceptionally busy, transitioning from a board seat with the Melanoma Foundation of New England to a job as marking and PR manager, where she’s the face of the organization’s “Your Skin Is In” campaign. She has testified in Boston and Washington, D.C. in support of laws restricting tanning beds. Meanwhile, she hosts a community talk show, “The 413,” on 94.3 FM, and co-founded chikmedia, a marketing firm that specializes in nonprofits and fund-raisers — all while supporting a raft of area nonprofit organizations with her time and resources.

Company Notebook Departments

Westfield Bank, Chicopee Savings Bank to Merge

WESTFIELD — Westfield Financial Inc., the holding company for Westfield Bank, and Chicopee Bancorp Inc., the holding company for Chicopee Savings Bank, announced the signing of a definitive merger agreement. The merger will create the largest locally managed bank in Hampden County and the second-largest bank in terms of deposit market share in the county. The combined company will have total assets of $2.1 billion, tangible equity of over $215 million, and 21 branch locations serving customers throughout Western Mass. and Northern Conn. “We are excited to combine with such a strong partner as Chicopee,” said James Hagan, president and CEO of Westfield Bank. “As we have gotten to know Bill Wagner and his team over time, we have been pleased at the commonality of our cultures, operating models, and the customer-service focus of our two institutions. Although headquartered in the same county, we currently serve two distinct customer bases, which, when combined, will complement each other tremendously. A merger of our two banks will be extremely favorable for the shareholders, customers, employees, and communities of both institutions.” Following completion of the transaction, Hagan will be president and CEO of the combined company, and Donald Williams will be chairman of the Board. William Wagner, chairman, president, and CEO of Chicopee, will join the executive management team of Westfield, and will become vice chairman of the board of directors. Four additional board members of Chicopee will also join the board of Westfield. Following closing, the combined bank will do business under the Westfield Bank name, with the holding company to be renamed Western New England Bancorp. The Chicopee Savings Bank Charitable Foundation will remain in place with its original philanthropic mission in the Greater Chicopee area unchanged. “Westfield is the ideal partner for Chicopee,” Wagner said. “This is the first in-market merger our community has seen in over 25 years and, as such, will not result in a significant outflow of resources or shift the focus of our franchise elsewhere, but rather will intensify and strengthen our combined ability to serve our local markets, consumers, and businesses that make both Westfield and Chicopee successful. I look forward to our future together as a combined institution and to the substantial impact our bank will have in Western New England.” The merger agreement has been unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both Westfield and Chicopee. Closing is anticipated to occur during the fourth quarter of 2016, subject to approval by the shareholders of both companies, receipt of required regulatory approvals, and other customary closing conditions. “Westfield has a strong reputation in commercial business lending to large-scale customers that will enhance our lending platform and ability,” Wagner said. “Moreover, the larger lending limit, breadth of product mix, and deep and sophisticated support functions will allow our bank to be a major competitor in Western New England for years to come.”

UMass Amherst Joins Advanced Fibers Initiative

AMHERST — UMass Amherst is a research partner in Advanced Functional Fibers of America (AFFOA), a new, $317 million public-private partnership announced by U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter. UMass Amherst is the only public university in New England participating in the MIT-led partnership, which includes 31 universities, 16 industry partners, 72 manufacturing entities, and 26 startup incubators across 28 states. The partnership won a national competition for federal funding to create the nation’s eighth Manufacturing Innovation Institute. It is designed to accelerate innovation in high-tech, U.S.-based manufacturing involving fibers and textiles. UMass Amherst’s involvement in AFFOA draws on research expertise in its departments of polymer science and engineering, electrical and computer engineering, and the College of Information and Computer Sciences. “Through the combination of our polymer science, roll-to-roll nano-manufacturing, and electrical-engineering expertise, UMass Amherst is well-equipped to make important contributions to the development of new functional fabrics as part of the AFFOA team,” says Mike Malone, vice chancellor for Research and Engagement. “We expect to conduct research in a range of areas that have important military and commercial applications, including fiber-integrated sensors, energy generation and storage systems, thermal camouflage, optical and photonic components or fibers, fiber-integrated antennas, fiber/fabric surface modifications, and the incorporation of chemical, biological, and physical functionality onto woven fabrics and non-woven and flexible substrates.” As part of the initiative, the university is committing up to $1 million in matching funds to support AFFOA projects, process development, and education and workforce training over the first five years of operation.

Gove Law Office Relocates Northampton Office

NORTHAMPTON — Gove Law Office announced it has moved its Northampton office into larger space at the historic Old School Commons Building located at the corner of New South Street and Main Street in Northampton. “With this move to the Old School Commons, Gove Law gains an office identity that reflects our strong Hampshire County presence and accommodates our recent and future growth plans,” said Michael Gove, founder and owner of Gove Law Office. “Both geographically and architecturally, this stunning new space supports the firm’s leading practice areas.” Gove Law Office, with offices in Northampton and Ludlow, is a bilingual firm with attorneys who provide guidance to clients in the areas of business representation, commercial lending, residential and commercial real estate, estate planning, probate and family law, criminal and civil litigation, personal-injury law, and bankruptcy.  For more information, visit www.govelawoffice.com.

Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership Opens at Elms

CHICOPEE — Elms College announced the launch of its new Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership (CEL) to expand business-education offerings at the college through a hands-on, real-world approach. “In this time of a rapidly emerging entrepreneurial society, we need to create a flexible structure to accommodate not only degree work but also certificate programs, workshops, consulting services, and other assistance needed to make sure that entrepreneurs are equipped not only to start a business but, more importantly, to sustain it over time,” said Elms College President Sr. Mary Reap. The Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership was developed with that goal in mind. Reap and Elms faculty have worked closely with focus groups comprised of area businesses and officials to assess the specific needs of the local business community. Amanda Garcia, assistant professor of Accounting, was appointed director of the CEL in January. “We have an opportunity to provide hands-on learning experience,” Garcia said. “That was one of the major things that came out of the focus groups: ‘we need it to be real, and we need it to be hands-on.’” To that end, the CEL will incorporate Lean Launchpad, a startup methodology in which new businesses receive immediate feedback from customers in the marketplace during the business launch. “We know that the majority of businesses fail in the first five years, and a big cause of that is due to not understanding specific core business concepts or the marketplace needs,” Garcia noted. The Lean Launchpad model allows startup owners to learn as they grow their businesses and react to market demands. The CEL’s academic offerings will include an interdisciplinary undergraduate minor in entrepreneurship, which will launch this fall. “We also plan to integrate it into an entrepreneurship track in our MBA,” Garcia said, “and we will explore the needs in the marketplace around business-growth strategies and programming related to business growth and mergers and acquisitions.” The entrepreneurship track will join existing accounting, healthcare leadership, and management tracks in the Elms MBA program. “Elms College also has a mission to give back to the community,” Garcia said. “We know that economic development and entrepreneurship is a big part of making our community better, so we’re planning to offer workshops and Lean Launchpad boot camps on weekends, to help people flesh out their ideas. We are also planning programming to help them learn what to do once they flesh out those ideas.” The CEL will also partner with the college’s nursing and science programs. “I see great opportunity in collaborating with the Elms Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership in the development of an interdisciplinary healthcare leadership program for master’s-prepared and certified nurse practitioners, as well as master’s-prepared clinical nurse leaders who seek the doctor of nursing practice,” said Dr. Kathleen Scoble, dean of the School of Nursing. “We believe that the Lean Launchpad is an excellent methodology, well-matched for nursing and healthcare, and an extraordinary learning opportunity for these advanced nursing students.” Added Garcia, “for our biomedical technology program, we’re looking to incorporate Lean Launchpad in bringing research to commercialization. It’s one thing to have research, and it’s another thing to commercialize it and make money off of it.”

Tighe & Bond Secures Award for Excellence

WESTFIELD — The American Council of Engineering Companies of Massachusetts presented Tighe & Bond and Borrego Solar Systems with a Silver Award for the 3.5-megawatt North Adams E Street solar photovoltaic (PV) system during its 2016 Engineering Excellence and Awards Gala. Held on March 16 at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in Cambridge, this annual competition and event recognizes recent engineering achievements that demonstrate the highest degree of merit, ingenuity, complexity, and client satisfaction. Tighe & Bond, a New England leader in civil and environmental engineering, teamed with Borrego Solar Systems to develop a solar PV system on top of the closed E Street landfill in North Adams. Completed last year, the new solar system is one of the largest of its kind in Western Mass. Its output, when combined with power being purchased from two other nearby PV sites, makes the city 100% solar-powered. All of its municipal buildings and facilities are running on clean, renewable energy. Borrego Solar Systems estimates that the array offsets 2,989 tons of carbon annually, the equivalent of removing 630 cars from the road or the amount sequestered by 2,450 acres of U.S. forests in a year. Tighe & Bond provided site design, permitting, and construction administration for this project that sits on approximately 11.7 acres of the 31-acre capped landfill. Additional project features included the construction of access roads and the installation of ballast trays with concrete blocks to support the photovoltaic panel racks and solar panels. It also included equipment pads for the inverters and transformers, as well as a variety of other electrical infrastructure and support features. Borrego Solar Systems was the developer of the solar system, and Syncarpha Capital is the system owner.

Daily News

NORTHAMPTON — Gove Law Office announced it has moved its Northampton office into larger space at the historic Old School Commons Building located at the corner of New South Street and Main Street in Northampton.

“With this move to the Old School Commons, Gove Law gains an office identity that reflects our strong Hampshire County presence and accommodates our recent and future growth plans,” said Michael Gove, founder and owner of Gove Law Office. “Both geographically and architecturally, this stunning new space supports the firm’s leading practice areas.”

Gove Law Office, with offices in Northampton and Ludlow, is a bilingual firm with attorneys who provide guidance to clients in the areas of business representation, commercial lending, residential and commercial real estate, estate planning, probate and family law, criminal and civil litigation, personal-injury law, and bankruptcy. For more information, visit www.govelawoffice.com.

Departments People on the Move
Michael Schneider

Michael Schneider

Michael Schneider has been named a shareholder at Doherty, Wallace, Pillsbury & Murphy, P.C. His practice is focused on corporate law, mergers and acquisitions (including international business transactions), land use, and commercial real estate. He is a member of the Massachusetts and Connecticut bars. Schneider is a past member of the Longmeadow Conservation Commission and past vice president and director of the Children’s Chorus of Springfield Inc. He was also a BusinessWest 40 Under Forty honoree in 2014 and a judge for the 40 Under Forty class of 2015. He earned his law degree, magna cum laude, from Suffolk University Law School in 2007. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Dickinson College in 1997. Doherty, Wallace, Pillsbury & Murphy, P.C. is one of the largest law firms in Western Mass., providing a wide range of legal services including litigation, corporate, probate, real estate, taxation, estate planning, and intellectual property law.

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Monson Savings Bank (MSB) announced the following:

Kevin Hicks

Kevin Hicks

Dina Merwin

Dina Merwin

Kevin Hicks has been promoted to Vice President, Information Technology Officer. Hicks joined MSB in early 2015 as assistant vice president, information technology officer. He has more than 16 years of experience managing a financial-institution IT department. He is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the bank’s technology infrastructure as well as security. He holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering with a minor in psychology from UMass; and

Dina Merwin has been promoted to Vice President, Compliance and BSA officer. Merwin began her career at MSB in June 2013 as a compliance officer and was quickly promoted to assistant vice president, compliance and BSA officer. She has more than 20 years of experience in community banking. She is responsible for coordinating all regulatory changes throughout the bank, improving processes that enhance efficiency and compliance, as well as ensuring adherence to all rules and regulations. She is a graduate of the ABA National School of Banking at Fairfield University.

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Raj Parikh

Raj Parikh

Raj Parikh has joined American International College (AIC) as Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs. Prior to joining AIC, he was professor of Accounting and Finance and dean of the Walker College of Business and Management at Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pa. Parikh has more than 30 years of experience as an academic executive and five years as a financial executive. Prior to joining AIC, he served as a senior-level administrator at several universities, including Mercyhurst, Southern Oregon University, Delaware State University, Wilmington University Delaware, and St. Bonaventure University. He also served as the commissioner for academic accreditation for the government of the United Arab Emirates. In addition to expanding programs and increasing enrollments, he has led or been actively involved in strategic planning, budgeting, and academic prioritization. He has led accreditation efforts at several institutions. Parikh co-authored World Accounting, a three-volume treatise on international accounting which is updated semi-annually. He has presented his research in accounting, finance, and organizational leadership at several regional and national conferences, in addition to being an invited guest speaker. Parikh is passionate about higher education, international education, and improving access to traditional students and working adults. As an academic entrepreneur, he has successfully engaged in a variety of ventures, such as establishing and enhancing branch campuses, increasing enrollments and retention, creating new academic programs, and establishing programs in international locations in partnership with local institutions. “In coming to AIC, I was intrigued by the opportunity to use my experience as a dean to help the college climb to even higher levels of academic excellence,” he said. “I am sincerely honored to join President [Vincent] Maniaci’s leadership team and look forward to this opportunity to make a difference.” A graduate of the Indian Institute of Technology, Parikh completed graduate work in chemical engineering. He received a Ph.D. in accounting and finance at the State University of New York at Buffalo. In addition, he is a certified managerial accountant (CMA), a certified financial manager (CFM), and a chartered financial analyst (CFA). For obtaining the highest score in the nation on the CMA examination, he was awarded the Robert Bayer Gold Medal.

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Robert Harrison, principal architect and founder of Harrison Design Associates, announced that Mark Eichorn and Robert Viel Jr. have joined the firm as both architectural designers and project managers. “I am pleased to welcome Mark and Robert to our team. They each bring a wide range of experience in residential and commercial design and detailing,” said Harrison. “In their new positions, they will enhance and carry forward Harrison Design’s tradition of architectural innovation and our singular focus on creating structures that tell a story and that inspire, delight, and surprise our clients.” Eichorn brings more than 20 years of experience in the design and building industry. His expertise encompasses all phases of work for residential and commercial architectural-design projects, from drafting and code compliance to design and construction administration. His prior experience as an architectural project manager includes eight years with Pamela Sandler AIA in Stockbridge and three years at William Caligari Interiors/Architecture in Great Barrington. He is a 1992 graduate of Vermont Technical College, where he studied architectural and building engineering technology. Viel joins Harrison Design with more than 19 years of experience in the architectural and interior-design professions. He received his bachelor’s degree in 1999 from the Wentworth Institute of Technology’s School of Architecture in Boston. He most recently served for five years as sole designer/draftsman at Kohl Construction in Hadley, while also managing his own architectural-design studio in Springfield. Prior to that, he was employed for 10 years at Pamela Sandler AIA as senior designer, job captain, and draftsman.

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Tighe & Bond recently hired Principal Engineer Wayne Bates to better serve its clients in the Greater Boston area. He will work out of the firm’s Westwood office. Bates specializes in water and wastewater treatment technologies with a focus on industrial wastewater treatment, process improvement, waste minimization, EH&S compliance, and sustainable manufacturing strategies. He has almost 30 years of engineering and environmental, health, and safety consulting experience, and is also a certified Envision sustainability professional. He holds licenses in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. Bates is also an adjunct professor at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) and serves on the board of directors for the Center for Business Sustainability at WPI. In addition, he serves on the town of Ashland’s sustainability and water-policy committees, and is a sustainability facilitator for the Associated Industries of Massachusetts. “We are happy to welcome Wayne to our growing team of experts,” said David Pinsky, president and CEO of Tighe & Bond. “His expertise will benefit our Greater Boston-area clients greatly as they seek process improvements, EH&S compliance, and sustainable-manufacturing strategies.” Bates earned his Ph.D in environmental/civil engineering from WPI. He also holds a master’s degree in environmental engineering from Northeastern University, as well as a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from UMass Dartmouth.

Community Spotlight Features

Community Spotlight

Marcos Marrero

Marcos Marrero stands across the lower canal from a planned condo project that he says will offer “beachfront property.”

As he talked about Holyoke and the broad economic-development plan he put in place for it when he became mayor just over four years ago, Alex Morse listed a number of key strategic planks in that platform.

They include everything from improving and broadening the housing stock, especially with market-rate options that would attract young professionals, to programs that would encourage entrepreneurship; from public investments aimed at spurring private development to a focus on expanding the creative economy; from public-private partnerships to bolstering the hospitality industry.

And for evidence of progress in all those realms, he pointed (figuratively, although he could also have done so literally from a window in his office in City Hall) to the many developments taking place on — or that can been seen from — Race Street.

Indeed, that north-south artery that runs along what’s known as the lower canal in this gateway city, famous for its legacy of paper making, represents a microcosm of the progress Holyoke has seen in recent years, said Morse, and the promise it holds for the future.

Along a three-block stretch, one can see perhaps the best example of the creative economy in motion in the Gateway City Arts venture, a mixed-use property that will soon feature a new restaurant. Moving south, one encounters the aptly named Cubit building (that’s the shape it takes), which will soon house Holyoke Community College’s Culinary Arts program on the first and second floors and residential space on the third and fourth floors, in an ambitious public-private partnership.

In between those properties is a vacant lot that will become home to the latest expansion effort involving Bueno Y Sano, the Mexican-food chain launched in Amherst two decades ago that now has six locations in Massachusetts and Vermont. The Holyoke facility will be a site for manufacturing some of the food items, but it will also have an eatery.

Across the street, and then across the canal, one can see the sprawling Canal Gallery complex. Once a home to artists and vacant for several years, it is the site of a planned 50-unit condominium complex, one with dozens of windows facing the canal, thus becoming what Marcos Marrero, Holyoke’s economic-development director, affectionately calls “beachfront property.”

From Race Street, one can see the city’s new railway platform, built on the site of Holyoke’s original train station, which is being hailed as one instrument in the city’s efforts to attract new businesses and residents. And one can also see the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center, touted as a spark for more technology-related ventures.

Mayor Alex Morse

Mayor Alex Morse says the developments on — and that can be seen from — Race Street are a microcosm of the progress Holyoke is experiencing.

Also visible, but much further south, is the property at 216 Appleton St., a former mill being repurposed into housing, and still farther south is the former Parsons Paper building, which will soon be razed for a much-needed expansion of Aegis Energy Services, a provider of modular combined heat and power (CHP) systems for a variety of applications.

There are dozens of other developments in various stages of progress across the city, but the view of and from Race Street explains why there is a good deal of optimism and momentum in Holyoke, said Marrero, as well as some challenges that probably couldn’t have been envisioned a half-decade ago, but definitely fall in the ‘good-problem-to-have’ category.

“The progress over the past several years is quite dramatic, and we’re running into problems of success,” he explained. “Four years ago, very few people were saying, ‘our problem is we have too many people who want to be downtown, and we don’t have enough parking for everyone.’

“Four years ago, most people, not just in Holyoke, but across the region, would not have given this city a second glance or perceived it as a place they wanted to be,” he went on. “Now, that’s not the case; there’s a lot of momentum happening.”

For this, the latest installment of its Community Spotlight series, BusinessWest takes an in-depth look at the many forms of progress in the Paper City, and at what the future holds for this historic city on the comeback trail.

It Looks Good on Paper

As he gave BusinessWest a walking tour of the area east of City Hall down to Race Street, Marrero stopped at one point to admire the view as the limited amount of sun light on that warm March afternoon danced on the water in the upper canal near the city’s acclaimed children’s museum in Heritage Park.

Soon — and ‘soon’ is admittedly a relative term — there will be many more people enjoying similar views as residents of the city.

By Marrero’s count, there are approximately 450 units of housing — condos and apartments across a wide mix of price ranges — that are already planned or in the proverbial pipeline.

“There’s more housing in the downtown to be constructed or rehabbed than at any time since the city was first built,” he explained, while listing several projects within a few blocks of one another.

And housing represents a key component of the city’s broad development strategy, said the mayor, adding that Holyoke’s population, which was once at or near 60,000, sank below 40,000 in the ’90s, but is now back above 40,000, with hopes that it will continue to rise.

There are many reasons why the population decreased, said Morse, and, coincidentally, they mirror those economic-development platforms listed earlier, and range from a shortage or jobs to a dearth of attractive housing, to a distinct lack of incentive on the part of the development community to build such housing.

Indeed, until recently, the prevailing sentiment in Holyoke was, ‘you can built it, but will anyone come?’ with enough accent on the question mark to dissuade developers.

Recent interest in those properties on or near Race Street would seem to indicate a more positive attitude, which was effectively expressed by Denis Luzuriaga, who, with his brother, Marco, acquired the Cubit building and blueprinted its mixed-use plans (more on those in a bit).

“I see Holyoke as being not only a great place to live,” said Luzuriaga, who has called the city home for nearly 11 years, “but a place for potentially good returns on real estate as well.”

The basic development strategy for Holyoke is similar to the ones being blueprinted for other Gateway cities, said Morse, noting that, in simple terms, it involves making the community a more attractive place to live, work, and start a business — which Holyoke was until fairly recently.

There are many moving parts within this strategy, he went on, listing everything from job creation to new housing options; from incubator space in which new businesses can take root to rail service that can connect residents to jobs and clients, and connect others with Holyoke.

It will take years, perhaps even decades, for the canvas to fill in completely, but pieces to the puzzle are falling into place. And to see this — although in many cases the assignment requires imagination because projects haven’t started yet — we return to Race Street.

This artery certainly speaks to Holyoke’s past — it is dotted with old mills that manufactured everything from paper to wire, with emphasis on the past tense — but also its present and future.

Regarding the former, many of those properties have been vacant or underutilized for years, if not decades. As for the latter, the projects on the drawing board reflect broad optimism for a more vibrant city.

The Shape of Things to Come

The Luzuriaga brothers are in many ways typical of what could be considered a new generation of investors in Holyoke, lured by attractively priced but structurally sound real estate, but moreso by the city’s potential to reverse its fortunes.

Denis Luzuriaga told BusinessWest that he was a dabbler in commercial real estate, focusing on multi-family homes, when he decided to takes things up a notch — or two. And when deciding where to scale up his activities, he focused on the Paper City because of its attractive opportunities and recognizable momentum.

The Luzuriagas hadn’t officially closed on the 50,000-square-foot Cubit building (purchase price $350,000) when Holyoke Community College put out a request for proposals for a location in the city’s downtown in which to relocate its Culinary Arts program, but they submitted a proposal anyway.

It wasn’t chosen by the school (none of the bids in that round were), but it did garner some attention. And when the winner of the next round of submissions couldn’t make that plan materialize, the school went back to the Cubit building.

Denis Luzuriaga

Denis Luzuriaga, who, with his brother, Marco, is rehabbing the Cubit building, is among a new generation of investors in Holyoke.

Work on that project is slated to begin in a few months, said Luzuriaga, adding that roughly the same timetable applies to the residential component of the property — 18 units of market-rate apartments. At present, work is ongoing to replace the large windows that pour natural light into the property, which has housed operations manufacturing everything from shoelaces to corsets to wire.

Looking back to when he arrived in Holyoke, Luzuriaga said he liked what he saw — an old mill city with history, character, and potential. And now, he likes the picture that much more.

“There was something about this city, beyond the people and the way it looked, especially in the downtown area, that was very attractive to me,” he said. “I could see the potential for all kinds of positive change.”

So could Lori Divine, when she and fellow artist Vitek Kruta created Gateway City Arts in 2012. The venture has grown over the years, and now puts under one roof everything from learning areas to co-working space; from an event facility to incubator facilities for food-service businesses.

Actually, it’s two roofs (there are adjoining buildings along Race Street), and the expansion process is ongoing.

Indeed, the venture now includes Gateway City Live, which, as that name suggests, hosts a wide variety of live entertainment and events ranging from ‘tango nights’ to weddings. Coming next is the Gateway City Bistro, set to open in June, which will bring another much-needed eatery to the downtown area.

Divine and Kruta were so intrigued by the possibilities downtown that they acquired the Steam Building further down Race Street, so called because it once housed a steam-equipment manufacturer, and renamed it the STEAM (Sustainability Technology Entrepreneurship Art Media) building, with intentions for more mixed-use activity. It currently hosts a few businesses, including a web-design company and an alternative education program called Lighthouse, and will soon be home to a karate studio.

Assessing the scene along Race Street, and Holyoke in general, Divine sees momentum accumulating at a solid pace.

“It’s really exciting,” she said. “The Canal Walk is beautiful, the area is safe — and I know safety is a big issue for people — and it’s fun. It’s just a great place to be.”

Looking forward, the obvious goal is to prompt more residents and business owners to say just that, said Morse, adding that there is progress on both fronts.

The Parsons Paper demolition and cleanup, a long-awaited development after fire extensively damaged the site two years ago, will enable Aegis Energy Services, one of Holyoke’s fastest-growing companies, to expand in the city, he said.

Meanwhile, programs such as the SPARK (Stimulating Potential, Assessing Resource Knowledge) initiative, launched by the Greater Holyoke Chamber of Commerce, helps residents develop ideas into businesses.

“We want to encourage entrepreneurship, and we’re been recognized as one of the leading cities in that regard,” he explained, citing the city’s presence on a listing in Popular Mechanics. “This is a city with a history of entrepreneurship and innovation, and it continues today.”

Building Momentum

Luzuriaga believes Holyoke can and will attract more investors, turn its fortunes around, and become a true destination. And that optimism stems from the fact that he’s seen such a reversal of fortune up close and personal.

That was in Jersey City, N.J., a community across the Hudson River from Manhattan that had fallen on hard times and was making progress with the hard work of getting back on its feet while Luzuriaga lived and worked there.

“When I moved there 20 years ago, you could see that it had seen better days,” he explained. “It took a lot of effort by developers and city officials to get a steady pace of growth going, and I see the same type of thing happening in Holyoke; all the indicators are there.”

Luzuriaga says Jersey City was just starting to hit its stride by the time he relocated to Holyoke nearly 11 years ago. But he visits friends there often and marvels at the turnaround.

In Holyoke, he expects to not only witness the turnaround, but be a real part it. And he’ll have a front-row seat — right there on Race Street, at his beachfront property.

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

 

 

Holyoke at a glance

Year Incorporated: 1850
Population: 40.135 (2012)
Area: 22.8 square miles
County: Hampden
Residential Tax Rate: 19.12
Commercial Tax Rate: 39.86
Median Household Income: $33,242
Family Household Income: $39,130
Type of government: Mayor, City Council
Largest employers: Holyoke Medical Center, Holyoke Community College, ISO New England, Universal Plastics, Marox Corp.
* Latest information available

Commercial Real Estate Sections

Landmark Development

Peter Picknelly outside Hubbard Hall.

Peter Picknelly outside Hubbard Hall.

Peter Picknelly calls it the right property — and the right project — at the right time. He’s referring to Historic Round Hill Summit, a luxury-apartment complex being created at the former Clarke School for the Deaf complex in Northampton, an initiative that will bring the past, present, and future together in intriguing fashion.

Peter Picknelly says he understood, when he submitted what would eventually become the winning bid for the former Clarke School for the Deaf property in Northampton, that there would be some significant challenges standing in the way of developing the various buildings on the campus for commercial and residential purposes.

As things turned out, he didn’t know at the time just how stern those hurdles would be. But he told BusinessWest that those challenges are the same things that make the property — and his project — so unique and attractive.

Indeed, this complex of buildings is historic — Calvin Coolidge, the nation’s 30th president, and before that, governor of Massachusetts, and before that, mayor of Paradise City, once lived in one of the buildings — and most of the structures are a century or more old. Meanwhile, the views of the surrounding area are stunning, and Northampton’s eclectic, bustling downtown is about 10 minutes away by foot.

The challenge? Blending the old (while at the same time preserving it) with the new, as in modern amenities and liveability in the luxury apartments that Picknelly and several partners will carve out of two former classroom buildings.

The preserving part of that equation is the most demanding, said Max Hebert, project manager for this $10 million endeavor, noting that these two properties, Hubbard Hall and Rogers Hall, like most others on the campus, are on the National Register of Historic Places — which means each nuance of the plans must be approved by the National Park Service before work can proceed.

“That process in itself was very complicated and very lengthy — it was an educational experience and it took much longer than we thought,” said Picknelly, but overall, work is progressing on an ambitious project that be believes represents the right product at the right time, and in the right location.

The Clarke School

The Clarke School property has a number of unique buildings being converted for residential and commercial development.

“Apartment living is becoming increasingly popular — people want to get out of their home and live in a vibrant community,” he said, noting that it has become an attractive option for both young professionals and empty nesters looking to downsize but still enjoy luxury.

As for the location, he said it’s ideal for both of those constituencies he described. Northampton is one of the region’s most walkable communities, and Historic Round Hill Summit is just minutes from a bike trail, Cooley Dickinson Hospital, Smith College, and everything downtown has to offer.

“The location is ideal, and there’s nothing else on the market like what we’re going to build here,” he said. “We think it’s an incredible mix.”

For this issue and its focus on commercial real estate, BusinessWest takes an in-depth look at that mix and how Picknelly and his partners are writing an intriguing new chapter to the already-rich history of this property.

Taking Things to New Heights

Picknelly, CEO of Peter Pan Bus Lines and the third-generation owner of that Springfield-based company, has — like his grandfather and father before him — always been entrepreneurial.

He’s picked up several businesses over the past few decades, with Springfield’s iconic Fort Restaurant, which he acquired with several partners from the Scherff family in 2014, the latest example. And, again, like his father, who famously acquired Monarch Place in 1994, he has been an aggressive player in the commercial real-estate realm.

He was a player in the bid to locate a casino in Springfield’s North End, on the Peter Pan property and adjoining parcels, for example, and the Opal Real Estate Group, which he also owns, is advancing plans to convert the former Court Square Hotel property in Springfield into a mixed-use complex blending retail, office space, and market-rate housing.

Max Hebert

Max Hebert is seen here outside Rogers Hall, phase two of the Historic Round Hill Summit project.

The plan for Historic Round Hill Summit is much the same, but the project is moving forward more quickly, with one of the old Clarke structures, Coolidge Hall, already home to several commercial tenants, and phase one of the ambitious residential component of the work already underway.

That would be the renovation of Hubbard Hall into 22 apartments — a mix of studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom units — which should be ready for occupancy by summer.

As he offered a hard-hat tour of the work in progress at the 36,000-square-foot Hubbard Hall, Hebert talked about that challenge of enabling the historic elements of the property to co-exist with modern needs, building codes, and a focus on energy efficiency.

As an example, he pointed to the windows — specifically a few in one unit that offer views of downtown Northampton and the Holyoke Range well beyond.

They are large (eight feet in height), in keeping with the original design, but the glass being looked through is an energy-efficient, double-paned product.

“You still have the historic charm of the window, but you don’t get the cold draftiness,” he explained, adding that, whenever possible, the historic integrity of the property has been maintained.

Beyond the windows, there are many other examples of maintaining many of the original historic features, said Hebert, who listed everything from the chalkboards that graced the classrooms to the wood trim; from fireplaces to the original Clarke School president’s safe.

But the past will also be blended with the present and even the future in the form of transitional-style fixtures, granite and quartz countertops, in-unit laundries, energy-efficient heating and cooling systems, and a commodity that has become a luxury item in Northampton — on-site parking.

All this comes with a steep price. Indeed, these units represent the very high end of the luxury-apartment market, with units going for between $1,500 and $2,900 a month.

Picknelly believes there is sufficient demand for such a product, and the early levels of interest, and even a few deposits on units, would seem to bear that out.

“We believe there is going to be a solid market for these units given the location, the views, the amenities — the whole package,” he said, listing professionals at Smith College, Cooley Dickinson Hospital, and other companies, as well as the growing number of retirees eyeing Northampton as a suitable landing spot, as potential tenants.

The Final Word

Time will tell if he’s on target with that assessment, and if Historic Round Hill Summit becomes a sound investment.

But, at the moment, Picknelly believes he has a winning proposition.

And in a nod to Calvin Coolidge and his legendary frugality with words, Picknelly was brief and to the point when asked if he was optimistic about the next life for this historic property.

“Absolutely,” he replied.

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

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Michael Schneider has been named a shareholder at Doherty, Wallace, Pillsbury & Murphy, P.C. His practice is focused on corporate law, mergers and acquisitions (including international business transactions), land use, and commercial real estate. He is a member of the Massachusetts and Connecticut bars.

Schneider is a past member of the Longmeadow Conservation Commission and past vice president and director of the Children’s Chorus of Springfield Inc. He was also a BusinessWest 40 Under Forty honoree in 2014 and a judge for the 40 Under Forty class of 2015. He earned his law degree, magna cum laude, from Suffolk University Law School in 2007. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Dickinson College in 1997.

Doherty, Wallace, Pillsbury & Murphy, P.C. is one of the largest law firms in Western Mass., providing a wide range of legal services including litigation, corporate, probate, real estate, taxation, estate planning, and intellectual property law.

Commercial Real Estate Sections

Getting a Jump on the Competition

Bill Merrill, center, with fellow managing partners Rob Doty (left) and Greg Morgan

Bill Merrill, center, with fellow managing partners Rob Doty (left) and Greg Morgan, expect things to be hopping at Bounce!

It was property basically slated to go dark. That was the fate awaiting the closed cinema complex at the Springfield Plaza … until a group of entrepreneurs with some imagination commenced a process to make it a part of a new wave in business and recreation — trampoline sports. Early returns suggest the facility known as Bounce! was a leap worth taking.

Bill Merrill couldn’t help himself.

When asked how many young people — and some maybe not so young — he expects to see at his new venture, Bounce! Trampoline Sports, on a given day, week, or month, he started by saying, “well, when the place is hopping…’” in a voice that would indicate that he’s used the pun many times before.

Which he probably has. In fact, Merrill would be considered a veteran in this still very young business of trampoline sports — this is his second franchise with the firm Bounce! — and that experience helps explain why he endeavored to bring this concept to Springfield.

And it certainly helped him answer that earlier question. Indeed, Merrill would go on to do that math a little later — he’s anticipating perhaps 150,000 to 200,000 ‘jumpers,’ as they’re called, on an annual basis. In the meantime, he speculated that this establishment, carved out of roughly half the old cinema complex at the Springfield Plaza, will in fact be hopping.

That’s because there isn’t a facility like it in Western Mass., and there are only a few within a 50-mile radius. Meanwhile, a detailed demographic analysis revealed that the Greater Springfield area has the requisite large population of individuals ages 6-18 to make something like this work.

So the $1.5 million investment Merrill and several partners made was not exactly a huge leap from an entrepreneurial standpoint — pun fully intended.

However, it was, and is, a highly imaginative and rather involved reuse of some underperforming commercial real estate, and a gambit that became reality soon enough to keep the competition from … well, jumping in ahead of him.

Merrill, who is also a franchisee with the third Bounce! location, in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., told BusinessWest that trampoline sports — another of those entrepreneurial trends that has moved from the West Coast to the Northeast — had been gaining considerable steam in New York and New England over the past several years. And he certainly wasn’t the only one scouting sites in the Springfield area, which was among the largest metropolitan areas in the Northeast that did have such a facility at the time.

Those searches were essentially called off, though, when Merrill and his partners went public with their plans at the closing on the lease last June.


Go HERE to find a listing of available commercial properties in Western Mass.


That was just as preliminary design work at the site was beginning, to be followed by extensive interior demolition and new construction that commenced in August and took five months to complete. Bounce! opened its doors on Jan. 29 and staged a grand opening a week later.

Early returns have been solid, and when he talked with BusinessWest, Merrill was looking ahead to the February school vacation as an effective barometer when it comes to whether his math — and his instincts — were right.

He thinks they’re on the money — literally and also figuratively — and he believes the Springfield complex has the facilities, location, and demographic footprint to be among the most successful trampoline centers in the country.

“I can say that because I’ve been to a lot of these parks,” he said. “This one is truly exceptional.”

For this issue and its focus on commercial real estate, BusinessWest takes a look at this different kind of business and how it has brought new life to a piece of property that was slated to go dark and sit idle.

Predicting an Early Spring

Bill Low, a broker with the Springfield-based commercial real-estate firm NAI Plotkin, said Merrill first approached him about finding a location for a trampoline-sports facility more than a year ago.

He didn’t appreciate then just how difficult it would be to secure a home for such a business, but it didn’t take him long to grasp the magnitude of the challenge.

It would come in several parts, but center on three main ingredients — location (that’s a priority for any retail business), parking, and finding the requisite open spaces and, especially, high ceilings — at least 20 feet is required.

“You need a specific type of property for this,” he noted. “And we launched an extensive search across this area. But there just weren’t many locations that fit the profile.”

Obstacle course at Bounce!

Obstacle course at Bounce!

In other parts of the country, and even Eastern Mass., warehouses have been successfully transformed into trampoline centers, said Merrill, and a few of those were considered in this region.

But, generally, they either lacked the proper dimensions, were located in out-of-the-way industrial areas, had insufficient parking, or a combination of the above. Other than that, they were ideal.

Other types of facilities were considered, such as the former Circuit City location at the corner of Parker Street and Boston Road in Springfield, as was the prospect of building to suit, said Merrill, adding that none of the apparent options on the table were very attractive, pricewise and otherwise. And that’s when another alternative emerged, seemingly from out of nowhere.

Actually, it emerged in the view out the window of the 99 Restaurant at the Springfield Plaza, where the various players in the bid to bring Bounce! to Springfield were having lunch and discussing various options, including the possibility of building a facility on a pad site at the plaza across the street from the restaurant.

That’s when the subject of the cinema complex came up, with Merrill soon learning it had just been acquired by Cinemark, owner of the theater complex on Riverdale Street in West Springfield and others in the region, with plans to place a deed restriction on it to essentially keep additional competition from entering the market.

“They told me the plan was to have that building go dark, and my jaw dropped,” said Merrill, adding that he was dismayed at the prospect of opening a new business next door to such a dormant hulk.

Fast-forwarding a little, the discussion shifted to perhaps leasing a portion of the former theater complex, which, with this use in mind, was eventually sold back to Springfield Plaza owners the Davenport Companies and Albany Road Real Estate as a site for Bounce!

Working with Shelburne Falls-based architect Joe Mattei, Merrill and fellow managing partners Rob Dory and Greg Morgan soon took their concept from their imaginations to the drawing board, and then to the big screen — well, nine of them, actually, comprising roughly 35,000 square feet of jumping space.

That’s how many of the old theaters were leveled, in every sense of that construction term, to make way for a host of different experiences for those aforementioned jumpers.

There are several party rooms, for example, which, as that name implies, are smaller rooms designed to host birthday parties — a few dozen have already been booked — and other gatherings. There are also larger, general bouncing rooms, carved out of the larger theaters, including one with three basketball hoops set at various heights to test those who can now dunk thanks to a lift from a trampoline.

There is a room for younger children, complete with a bounce house, and two so-called Xtreme rooms. There, visitors can find American Ninja Warrior-style obstacle courses of varying levels of difficulty. There are also spaces for dodgeball games on trampolines, an activity that is growing in popularity, said Merrill.

The Springfield location hopes to draw from a wide area ranging from Northern Connecticut to New Hampshire; from the Berkshires to the western fringes of Worcester County, he went on, adding that, while young people and families comprise the primary target audiences, the facility is also hoping to draw students from the many colleges and universities across the area.

He notes that both geographic location and the quality of the venue are factors that will play into those expectations.

“Bounce! is really the Cadillac of this business,” he said. “There are several people doing this now, but these facilities set the standard.”

Uplifting Experience

Whether that standard will translate into business success remains to be seen, but all signs seem to indicate that this facility will indeed be hopping.

And if that’s the case, then it will mean a much different fate for a location that had seen the lights go out and was looking at a fairly dark future.

George O’Brien can reached at [email protected]

Departments People on the Move
Brandon Mitchell

Brandon Mitchell

Chris Marini

Chris Marini

Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C. (MBK) announced the promotion of Brandon Mitchell, CPA, MSA and Chris Marini, MSA, MOS to Senior Associate positions. Mitchell has been with MBK since 2013 and brings a strong technical skill set to his work, as well as a background in sales. “Brandon has demonstrated a strong understanding of our clients and their industries in his time with our firm,” said MBK partner Howard Cheney. “He is resourceful and often takes the initiative to educate himself on his clients beyond the scope of his technical work, allowing him to enhance his relationship with our client base and deliver an even higher level of client service.” Mitchell earned his MSA from Westfield State University. He is a member of the Massachusetts Society of Certified Public Accountants and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. For more than two years, Marini has demonstrated a dedicated work ethic to both clients and the firm. He is a team leader within the not-for-profit, HUD, and pension-audit niches. “Since the very beginning, Chris has worked hard and demonstrated a commitment to growth and education,” Cheney said. “He is also an instrumental resource for computer and technology matters here at the firm, helping to spearhead a number of projects and initiatives as we continue to take our cloud-based computer environment to the next level. This has resulted in efficiencies which we are able to pass on to our clients.” Marini holds a BBA with a concentration in accounting from the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst and earned his MSA from the University of Connecticut. He is a member of the Massachusetts Society of Certified Public Accountants and the board of trustees for the Springfield Symphony Orchestra, and serves as a mentor for the Westfield State University Accounting Club.

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PeoplesBank announced the following:

Beverly Farnham

Beverly Farnham

Amos McLeod III

Amos McLeod III

Nancy Robinson

Nancy Robinson

• Beverly Farnham has been promoted to Loan Service Officer. She possesses close to two decades of financial and banking experience. She first joined the bank in 1996 and previously served as loan service specialist. She has earned diplomas for financial services operations and consumer lending from the Center of Financial Training. She has been volunteering for the Holyoke St. Patrick’s Road Race for more than a decade;
• Amos McLeod III has been appointed Senior Credit Analyst Officer. He brings more than a decade of banking experience to his new position. He will be responsible for understanding and managing the credit risk and loan quality of the bank’s commercial real-estate and loan portfolios. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business management from Springfield College and is a graduate of the School of Commercial Lending Program at Babson College. He serves as treasurer of Friends of the Huntington Public Library and volunteers for the United Way of Pioneer Valley; and
• Nancy Robinson has been promoted to Internal Audit Officer. She possesses more than a decade of banking and financial experience. She first joined the bank in 2012 and previously served as financial analyst. She holds a master’s degree in accounting and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Western New England University. She serves on the board of the Connecticut River Valley Golden Retriever Club. She also volunteers for Big Brothers Big Sisters, Habitat for Humanity, United Way, and Children’s Study Home.

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Jean Deliso

Jean Deliso

Jean Deliso, CFP, from the Connecticut Valley General Office of New York Life, is now authorized to offer AARP-branded life insurance and lifetime-income annuity products to AARP members. It is the first time these group-life-insurance products are offered by authorized-to-offer agents. Deliso is among a select group of New York Life agents who became authorized to offer her clients AARP Guaranteed Acceptance Life, AARP Level Benefit Term, and AARP Permanent Life Insurance, all from New York Life and New York Life’s Guaranteed Lifetime Income Annuity. She is a licensed insurance agent and passed courses specific to AARP. Deliso has been a New York Life agent since 1995. She serves on many boards in her community, including the Baystate Health Foundation and Pioneer Valley Refrigerated Warehouse, and is chairman of the board of the Community Music School of Springfield. She is past chairman of the board of the YMCA of Greater Springfield, past board member of AAA Pioneer Valley, and past trustee of the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts and the advisory council at Bay Path University. Since 1994, AARP group-life products from New York Life have been available via direct mail to AARP members. The company has also been the provider of group lifetime-income annuities to AARP members since 2006.

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The Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts announced that Liz Feeley was named Director of Philanthropy. She brings a wealth of blended experience in education and philanthropy to the organization. Feeley received her bachelor’s degree in English from Lehigh University. After spending 21 years coaching intercollegiate women’s basketball at institutions such as Smith College, Princeton University, the University of Notre Dame, and Holy Cross College, Feeley took her penchant for building relationships into the field of philanthropy. She brings a background in strategic planning, team building, volunteer management, and designing sustainable programs to the Women’s Fund. Feeley’s work at both Smith College and Stoneleigh-Burnham School, a day-boarding school for girls in Greenfield, brought to the forefront of her consciousness issues that girls and women face each day. She looks forward to building relationships around the Women’s Fund’s mission of creating economic and social equality for women and girls in Western Mass. through philanthropy. Prior to arriving at the Women’s Fund, Feeley served as director of Development at Amherst Montessori School. Previously, as director of Development and Alumnae Relations at Stoneleigh-Burnham, she led a team that increased fund-raising by 133% and alumni participation in the annual fund by 50% in three years. As director of Development, she also launched an initiative that increased the number of major-gift donors by 35% in two years. In five years, her team took fund-raising at the school to an unprecedented level by implementing a strategy based on stewardship, cultivating relationships, brand identity, creating sustainable programs, social media, and in-person visits across the country and in Asia. While at Stoneleigh-Burnham, Feeley was instrumental in the planning and implementation of a $1.2 million two-year campaign. Her team coordinated and hosted a Leadership Symposium and Gala to launch the campaign that successfully raised money for a new student-center complex. She partnered with volunteer groups of parents, alumni, faculty, students, trustees, and others in an effort to advance the mission of the institution.

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Keith G. Roy Construction Inc., a construction and contracting company serving Massachusetts and Connecticut since 1946, announced that Joshua David Roy has been appointed Vice President. “Joshua is continuing a legacy of leadership at a local family-owned and -operated company,” said President Keith G. Roy. Joshua developed his expertise by working side-by-side with both his grandfather, David, and his father, Keith, since his teenage years. He oversees and personally works on projects that include roofing; exterior builds, including decks and siding; as well as interior construction, including kitchens and baths. “I take particular pride in training our crew, project supervision, and customer service,” he said. For more information about the company, visit kgroyconstruction.com.

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The Gove Law Office announced that attorney Jaclyn Packard has joined the firm, focusing her practice on civil and criminal litigation and trials, real-estate transactions, and estate planning. “Jaclyn Packard is a wonderful addition to our growing law firm of professionals who represent the diverse practice areas Gove Law offers clients within the firm’s Litigation, Real Estate, and Estate Planning departments,” said Michael Gove, founding partner of Gove Law Office. Having graduated cum laude from the Florida Coastal School of Law, Packard holds a license to practice law in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Florida. In addition to being a practicing attorney, she is an active supporter of the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life event and a volunteer with the Lawyer for a Day program. The Gove Law Office, with offices in Ludlow and Northampton, is a bilingual firm with attorneys who provide guidance to clients in the areas of business representation, criminal and civil litigation, personal-injury law, commercial lending, residential and commercial real estate, estate planning, immigration, and bankruptcy.

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Rob Poole

Rob Poole

Rob Poole has been named Director of Business Programs at American International College. He will oversee the undergraduate and graduate business administration programs. As part of his responsibilities, Poole will lead the faculty in upgrading the curriculum and managing internship opportunities. The internship program will integrate with the business community to create placements that are mutually beneficial to the industry, students, and the college. In addition, he will focus the MBA program for the non-business major. “Acquiring a technical area of knowledge as an undergraduate, while layering and applying business experience, significantly expands career opportunities,” he said. Poole’s areas of expertise include accreditation, assessment, and internship programs. In addition to working as a private consultant, he has served as an assistant professor at Richard Stockton College and Bellarmine University. He graduated from Texas A&M University with a bachelor’s degree in economics, then received his master’s degree in systems management from the University of Southern California, and a PhD in production operations management from the University of North Texas.

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Milly Parzychowski

Milly Parzychowski

United Bank announced the winners of its 2015 Mortgage Loan Officer (MLO) Sales Contest, the bank’s second annual internal awards program that recognizes its bankers for achieving excellence in mortgage production, and a local mortgage loan originator, Milly Parzychowski, is among the honorees. The final standings are based on the number of units and volume closed in 2015. Depending on an MLO’s production for a given year, they can be recognized in three categories: Chairman’s Club (including Chairman’s Club Champion), President’s Club, or Vice President’s Club. Parzychowski was named to the Vice President’s Club. Parzychowski, who joined United Bank in 2011, is based at the Westfield branch and covers Western Mass. Her more than 40 years in banking and mortgage origination included loan officer roles at Mortgage Master Inc. and Family Choice Mortgage Corp. Parzychowski was also a branch manager at American Home Mortgage and at CNI National Mortgage, a loan originator with National City and Source One, and started her banking career as a teller at Valley Bank in Springfield. She is currently an MBA candidate at Bay Path University.

Daily News

LUDLOW — The Gove Law Office announced that attorney Jaclyn Packard has joined the firm, focusing her practice on civil and criminal litigation and trials, real-estate transactions, and estate planning.

“Jaclyn Packard is a wonderful addition to our growing law firm of professionals who represent the diverse practice areas Gove Law offers clients within the firm’s Litigation, Real Estate, and Estate Planning departments,” said Michael Gove, founding partner of Gove Law Office.

Having graduated cum laude from the Florida Coastal School of Law, Packard holds a license to practice law in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Florida. In addition to being a practicing attorney, she is an active supporter of the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life event and a volunteer with the Lawyer for a Day program.

The Gove Law Office, with offices in Ludlow and Northampton, is a bilingual firm with attorneys who provide guidance to clients in the areas of business representation, criminal and civil litigation, personal-injury law, commercial lending, residential and commercial real estate, estate planning, immigration, and bankruptcy. For more information, visit www.govelawoffice.com.

Departments People on the Move

PeoplesBank announced the promotions and appointments of nine associates.
• Matthew Bannister has been appointed to Vice President, Corporate Responsibility. He possesses more than 30 years of brand management and corporate social-responsibility experience. He earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from UMass Amherst. His prior experience includes advertising, public relations, and event marketing for top advertising agencies and major nonprofit organizations;
• Paul Hillsburg has been promoted to Vice President, PeoplesFinancial and Insurance Services. With more than three decades of financial, sales, and business-development experience, he first joined the bank in 2008 and previously served as assistant vice president, PeoplesFinancial and Insurance Services. He holds an associate degree in business management from Springfield Technical Community College. He holds Series 7 and Series 66 licenses.
• Kristen Hua has been promoted to Vice President, Secondary Market. She possesses more than a decade of banking experience. She first joined the bank in May 2001 and previously served as assistant vice president, secondary market. She holds an MBA from the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst and a bachelor’s degree from Providence College. She also is a graduate of the New England School for Financial Studies;
• Craig Kaylor has been appointed to Vice President, Compliance. He brings more than a decade of banking and financial experience to his new position, where he will be responsible for overseeing all compliance regulations and policies. He holds a juris doctor degree from the Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University and a bachelor’s degree from the University at Albany, SUNY;
• Denise Lamory has been promoted to Vice President, Commercial Loan Administration. She possesses close to four decades of banking experience. She first joined the bank in August 1976 and previously served as assistant vice president, commercial loan administration. She holds several business and financial certificates from the Western Massachusetts Institute of Management Education Inc. and Holyoke Community College;
• Trisha Leary has been promoted to Vice President, Internal Control. She possesses more than a decade of financial experience. She first joined the bank in 2013 and previously served as risk oversight officer. She holds a master’s degree in accounting and a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst.
• Karen Sinopoli has been appointed to Vice President, Controller. She brings a decade of banking and audit experience to her new position, where she will be responsible for maintaining and supervising the financial record of the bank in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles. She holds a master’s degree in accounting from the Isenberg School of Management at the UMass Amherst and a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Pennsylvania State University;
• Donna Wiley has been promoted to Vice President, Regional Manager. She possesses close to four decades of banking experience. She first joined the bank in 1979 and previously served as assistant vice president, regional manager. She holds an associate degree in business administration from Holyoke Community College and graduated with honors from the Massachusetts Bankers Assoc. School for Financial Studies; and
• Brian Rheaume has been promoted to assistant vice president, information technology. He possesses more than a decade of information-technology experience. He first joined the bank in 2002 and previously served as information technology officer supervisor. He holds a bachelor’s degree in computer information systems from Westfield State University and is an A+ certified professional IT technician.
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Kathleen McCormick and Peter Mirante have been appointed to the Berkshire Community College board of trustees. McCormick is a partner with McCormick, Murtagh & Marcus, a law firm in Great Barrington. She joined the firm in 2004 and was named partner in 2009. Her focus is on residential and commercial real estate, land use and permitting, construction law, business law, and estate planning. She previously clerked for First Justice David Kopleman in the Norfolk County Probate and Family Court and later served as an associate with the litigation firm Herlihy, Thursby & Herlihy in Boston. She has worked for well-known companies such as the Boston Celtics, the Jane Blalock Co., and Reebok International. McCormick holds a juris doctor degree from Suffolk University Law School and a bachelor’s degree from Boston College. She is a member of the Massachusetts Bar Assoc., the Berkshire County Bar Assoc., and the Real Estate Bar Assoc. of Massachusetts. She is dedicated to enriching the lives of disadvantaged youth and is an active community member serving on boards of numerous charitable organizations. Mirante, who has worked in the banking industry for more than 20 years, is senior vice president of Branch Administration at Greylock Federal Credit Union in Pittsfield. He joined Greylock in 1998 and has served in numerous management positions. Prior to joining Greylock, he worked for Patten Corp. and then Berkshire Bank.
Mirante holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the former North Adams State College. He has a long history of community service and currently serves on the boards of the Northern Berkshire United Way, Berkshire Family & Individual Resources, Berkshire Compact for Education, and North Adams Parks & Recreation. Darlene Rodowicz, who was recently reappointed board chair by Gov. Charlie Baker, noted that “the new board members bring a wealth of knowledge from their respective roles in the community. We are happy to have them join the BCC board of trustees as we continue to advance the mission of the college.”
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Local law firm Shatz, Schwartz and Fentin, P.C. announced that attorney Steven Schwartz is the recipient of the Distinguished Advisor in Philanthropy Award. The award is presented annually by the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts in partnership with the Estate Planning Council of Hampden County and the Pioneer Valley Estate Planning Council. Each year, the award’s recipient may recommend a Hampden, Hampshire, or Franklin county charity of their choice to receive a $1,000 grant. This year, Schwartz has decided to recommend the grant be made to the Children’s Study Home in recognition of its 150 anniversary. Schwartz concentrates his practice in the areas of family-business planning, mergers and acquisitions, corporate law, and estate planning. His practice involves representation of principals in family-business planning (including exit planning for business owners), representation of individuals and corporations in the purchase and sale of business enterprises, strategic planning for the future of clients’ businesses, and providing advice on alternatives in financing through loans and venture capital.
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Pope Francis High School announced that John Goda, Athletic Director for Holyoke Catholic High School, has been appointed to the Athletic Director position for Pope Francis High School. The creation of Pope Francis High School was announced in 2015 when Springfield Bishop Mitchell Rozanski revealed that Cathedral High School and Holyoke Catholic High School would merge into a new school, named in honor of the current Pope. While the official merger will take place to coincide with the next academic year, 2016-17, there has already been a joining together of the athletic programs. Goda, a 1987 graduate of Cathedral, started his career with Holyoke Catholic as a teacher in 1994, and took over as athletic director in 2003. Since the merger of Cathedral and Holyoke Catholic was announced, Goda has worked alongside Cathedral Athletic Director Joe Hegarty to oversee the combined athletic programs for Pope Francis High School. Hegarty recently vacated his position at Cathedral, and Goda will assume the role.
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Holyoke Medical Center (HMC) announced the appointment of Phillip Candito to the position of Vice President of Business Development, where he is leading marketing and development efforts and focused on growing the organization. Candito worked as director of Business Development at the Eastern Connecticut Health Network in Manchester, Conn. for 10 years before coming to HMC. Previously, he served St. Mary’s Hospital in Waterbury, Conn. as director of Rehabilitation Services and Occupational Medicine, and as a physical therapist. Earlier, he earned a degree in psychology from the University of Connecticut; worked in television, video, and stage production for 10 years in Connecticut and New York City; re-enrolled at UConn and earned a degree in physical therapy, which he practiced for 10 years; then attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute to earn his graduate degree.
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TD Bank has named Karl Mirke assistant vice president, store manager of the location at 90 Main St. in North Adams. He is responsible for new-business development, consumer and business lending, managing personnel, and overseeing the day-to-day operations at the store, serving customers in Berkshire County, including North Adams, Clarksburg, Adams, Cheshire, Stamford, and Readsboro. Mirke has 11 years of retail banking experience. Prior to joining TD Bank, he served as assistant branch manager at Citizens Bank in Pittsfield. He is a 2003 graduate of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams.
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Aaron Smith, P.C., a certified public accounting firm, announced that certified public accountant Bernard “Buzz” Travers III will assume the role of managing director. In that role, Travers will provide leadership and direction to achieve the goals of the firm. He will oversee day-to-day management and will continue to cultivate the talents of all accountants and staff at Aaron Smith. Travers joined the firm in 1999 as a tax specialist. He is a certified public accountant in both Massachusetts and Connecticut. His areas of expertise include corporate, individual and fiduciary income tax; state and local income and sales and use taxation; federal and state tax audits; mergers and acquisitions; estate and gift taxation; nonprofit taxes; and bankruptcy taxation. In addition, he has assisted numerous business owners in the sale and purchase of businesses. He received a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Bentley University and his juris doctor from Western New England University School of Law. He is past president of the Estate Planning Council of Hampden County Inc., past president of the Field Club of Longmeadow Inc., an officer and director of the Sportsmen’s National Land Trust Inc., and past treasurer of the Longmeadow High School hockey and lacrosse booster clubs.
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Bob Barna has joined Whalley Computer Associates (WCA) as a consulting architect. Barna was employed by VMWare as a senior consultant for the last 16 months and has 19 years of experience in the IT industry. He spent 17 of those years as the senior systems engineer at Competitive Computing. He has earned numerous VMware certifications and has extensive experience in design enablement, developing business requirements and identifying use cases, architecture design, environment build, product pilot, documentations and knowledge transfer, and more. Barna joins a team at WCA that also includes another former VMWare employee, Dan Sullivan, who joined VMWare shortly after it was founded and, in his seven years there, served customers all over New England and New York as a VMware systems engineer, VMware account executive, and partner business manager. Sullivan, who now holds the role of senior solution architect at WCA, is a 39-year veteran of the IT industry, with a background that combines technical expertise and sales skills.
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EMA Dental announced that Dr. Colleen Chambers has joined the practice as its newest associate. Chambers completed her undergraduate degree in biological sciences at the University of Connecticut and went on to earn her DMD at the University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine. She was awarded the School of Dental Medicine Alumni Research Fellowship for her research with alveolar bone and implant integration using rh-PDGF-BB. She completed an Advanced Education in General Dentistry program at Virginia Commonwealth University, where she focused on esthetics, general dentistry, and complex implant dental treatment. Chambers is proud to have had the opportunity to provide dental care to underserved communities at the CT Mission of Mercy, Remote Area Medical Services in Wise County, Va., and as part of a dental service trip to Honduras. She is a member of the American Dental Assoc., the Massachusetts Dental Society, and the Valley District Society.
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Caroline Gear has been named executive director of the International Language Institute (ILI) of Massachusetts, located in Northampton. Gear joined ILI in 1986 as a Spanish and ESOL instructor, and in 1989, she became the school’s director of programs. In that capacity, she has been ILI’s primary coordinator with numerous partners, including area businesses, partner colleges and universities, the U.S. State Department, the Fulbright Scholars program, and the U.S. Commercial Service. She has written several articles on assessment and evaluation and regularly presents on teacher training and supervision, both regionally and nationally. Gear earned her bachelor’s degree in Spanish from State University of New York at Potsdam and her masters’ degree in Spanish literature from Michigan State University. In addition to her years at ILI, she has worked in Peru, Mexico, and Spain.
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Lee Bank announced that Wendy Healey has been named to the position of Senior Vice President, Community Banking, and David Harrington has been named to the position of Vice President, Commercial Lending. Healey joins Lee Bank with experience in both the retail-banking and financial-technology sectors. She most recently served as senior vice president in charge of retail, sales, and marketing at Torrington Savings Bank. Prior to that, she was an independent financial services consultant while pursuing an MBA, and has held senior management roles at COCC Inc., a lead provider in core technology to the financial industry; Sovereign/Santander Bank; and People’s United Bank in Connecticut. As senior vice president in charge of community banking, Healey’s focus will be on existing and new customer relationships, as well as the design and fulfillment of new products and packages of services to meet customer needs. She will oversee policies, future business planning, and long-range strategic goals for her department and is responsible for the overall administration of compliance, including policy and procedures, monitoring, review, training, and board reporting. Harrington brings more than 18 years of experience in product and operations management. He most recently served as multi-life new business operations manager at Guardian Life Insurance Co. in Pittsfield. Prior to that, he was employed as product and project manager, U.S. Insurance Group, MassMutual Financial Group, and senior product line manager, disability and long-term-care insurance at Berkshire Life Insurance Co. As vice president of commercial lending, Harrington is responsible for developing and maintaining Lee Bank’s commercial-lending activities and expanding existing customer relationships in conjunction with the bank’s strategic goals.
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Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) recently welcomed three new members to its board of trustees: Steven Grande, Franklin Quigley, and Macarthur Starks Jr. Grande is president of Meridian Industrial Group, LLC in Holyoke and Springfield. He also serves on the Holyoke Taxpayers Assoc. is vice chair of the advisory committee at Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School, chairs the Mayor’s Industrial Development Advisory Council, serves on board of directors for the Greater Holyoke Chamber of Commerce and Associated Industries of Massachusetts, is a member of the advisory board for William J. Dean Technical High School; and is president of the board of directors for the Western Massachusetts National Tooling and Machining Assoc. Grande holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and criminal justice from American International College. Quigley, an STCC alumnus, serves on the STCC foundation board and is a member of the presidential search committee. He is the president of FD Quigley and Associates, an organization specializing in providing project-management services to commercial retail developers; is a member of the state board of directors for Special Olympics; and is a retired referee of the American Hockey League. Starks, a senior finance and leadership professional, is an assistant vice president/change agent at MassMutual Way Center of Excellence, at MassMutual Life Insurance Company. Starks also serves as board chair and treasurer of FutureWorks Career Center in Springfield. A graduate of STCC (‘88), Starks received a master’s in management information systems and a bachelor of arts in accounting from Western New England University.

Daily News

PITTSFIELD — Kathleen McCormick and Peter Mirante have been appointed to the Berkshire Community College board of trustees.

McCormick is a partner with McCormick, Murtagh & Marcus, a law firm in Great Barrington. She joined the firm in 2004 and was named partner in 2009. Her focus is on residential and commercial real estate, land use and permitting, construction law, business law, and estate planning. She previously clerked for First Justice David Kopleman in the Norfolk County Probate and Family Court and later served as an associate with the litigation firm Herlihy, Thursby & Herlihy in Boston. She has worked for well-known companies such as the Boston Celtics, the Jane Blalock Co., and Reebok International.

McCormick holds a juris doctor degree from Suffolk University Law School and a bachelor’s degree from Boston College. She is a member of the Massachusetts Bar Assoc., the Berkshire County Bar Assoc., and the Real Estate Bar Assoc. of Massachusetts. She is dedicated to enriching the lives of disadvantaged youth and is an active community member serving on boards of numerous charitable organizations.

Mirante, who has worked in the banking industry for more than 20 years, is senior vice president of Branch Administration at Greylock Federal Credit Union in Pittsfield. He joined Greylock in 1998 and has served in numerous management positions. Prior to joining Greylock, he worked for Patten Corp. and then Berkshire Bank.

Mirante holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the former North Adams State College. He has a long history of community service and currently serves on the boards of the Northern Berkshire United Way, Berkshire Family & Individual Resources, Berkshire Compact for Education, and North Adams Parks & Recreation.

Darlene Rodowicz, who was recently reappointed board chair by Gov. Charlie Baker, noted that “the new board members bring a wealth of knowledge from their respective roles in the community. We are happy to have them join the BCC board of trustees as we continue to advance the mission of the college.”

Class of 2016 Difference Makers

This Inspirational Leader Isn’t in the Community; She’s of the Community

Carol Leary

Carol Leary, President of Bay Path University
Leah Martin Photography

Carol Leary says the executive search firms, the headhunters, don’t call very often any more. In fact, she can’t remember the last time one of them did.

She still gets e-mails gauging her interest in various positions, but they’re almost always of that variety that goes out to hundreds, if not thousands, of people. “Are you interested in, or would you care to nominate someone for, the job of president of ‘fill-in-blank college’” is how they usually start.

But not so long ago, Leary, who took the helm at Bay Path University in Longmeadow in late 1994, was getting calls all the time, most of them related to attractive opportunities within the broad realm of higher education. She declined to get into specifics, but said one of them was “very, very flattering.”

Still, it met with the same response as all the others — no response.

When asked why, Leary offered an answer that went on for some time. Paraphrasing that response, she said she was in a job — and in a community — that she was very committed to. And she had, and still has, no intention of leaving either one.

“Noel and I are not dazzled by big or prestigious; we’re dazzled by mission, vision, and making an impact,” said Leary, referring to her husband of 43 years. “We really love this community. We think you can make an impact here; you can make a difference.”
And the evidence that she has done just that is everywhere.

It is in every corner of the Longmeadow campus, starting with the brick sign at the front gate, which declares that this nearly 120-year-old institution, once known as a junior college, is now a university.

Carol Leary is where she always is

Carol Leary is where she always is — the middle of things — after a recent Bay Path commencement exercise.

It also exists in the many other communities where Bay Path now has a presence, including Springfield, where the school located its American Women’s College Online in a downtown office tower in 2013, and East Longmeadow, where it opened the $13.7 million Phillip H. Ryan Health Science Center a year ago.

It’s also on the recently unveiled plaque at the D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts at the Quadrangle, the one that reads ‘The Carol and Noel Leary Gallery of Impressionist Art’ in recognition of their $300,000 contribution to that institution, which Noel has served as a board member for many years.

And, in a way, it’s in virtually every business and nonprofit in the region — or, to be more specific, any organization that has sent employees to the Women’s Professional Development Conference, which Leary initiated amid considerable skepticism (even at Bay Path) soon after her arrival.

When the conference was first conceptualized, organizers were hoping to draw 400 people; 800 turned out that first year. Today, the event attracts more than 2,000 attendees annually, and over the years it has welcomed keynoters ranging from Margaret Thatcher to Barbara Walters to Maya Angelou.

But Leary is best known for the turnaround story she is very much still writing at Bay Path, a school that was struggling and suffering from declining enrollment when she arrived.

Over the past two decades, she has led efforts that have taken that enrollment from just under 500 to more than 3,000 when all campuses and all programs, including online offerings, are considered. When she arrived, the school offered 14 associate degrees and three baccalaureate degrees; now, it offers 62 baccalaureate degrees and 20 graduate and post-graduate degrees.

In 2015, for the second year in row, the Chronicle of Higher Education included Bay Path on its list of the fastest-growing baccalaureate colleges in the country, and just a few months ago, Leary and Bay Path were ranked 25th in the 2015 ‘Top-100 Women-led Businesses in Massachusetts’ compilation sponsored by the Boston Globe and the Commonwealth Institute.

The sign at the main entrance

The sign at the main entrance explains just how far Bay Path has come under Carol Leary’s stewardship.

Such growth and acclaim didn’t come overnight or very easily, said Leary, who attributed the school’s success to vision, assembling a focused, driven team (much more on that later), and a responsive boards of trustees — all of which have facilitated effective execution of a number of strategic plans.

“Let’s see … there was Vision 2001, and 2006, and 2011, which we had to redo halfway through because of the crash, so there was 2013, and Vision 2016, which ends in June, and then we just launched Vision 2019,” she said, adding that she would like to be around for its end.

“I’ll do it only as long as my board wants me and the faculty and staff feel I can be effective as their leader,” she explained. “And as long as I can get up every day and say ‘wow, it’s great to go to work today.’”

She’s said that since day one, and it’s an attitude that only begins to explain why she’s a Difference Maker.

Making a Course Change

Leary told BusinessWest that, with few exceptions, all of them recently and schedule-related, she has interviewed the finalists for every position on campus, from provost to security guard, since the day she arrived on campus, succeeding Jeanette Wright, who passed away months earlier.

And there’s one question she asks everyone.

She wouldn’t divulge it (on the record, anyway) — “if I did, then someone might read this, and then they’d be prepared to answer it if they ever applied here” — but did say that it revealed something important about the individual sitting across the table.

“To me, that’s the most important part of any CEO’s job — the hiring of the individuals who will be working in the organization,” she explained. “Beyond the résumé and the skill set, I dig a little deeper. And my question tells me what that person cares about; it tells me what motivates them.”

The practice of interviewing every job finalist — but not her specific question of choice — was something Leary took with her from Simmons College, where she spent several years in various positions, including vice president for Administration and assistant to the president, the twin titles she held at the end of her tenure.

But that’s not all she borrowed from that Boston-based institution. Indeed, the Women’s Conference was based on an event Simmons started years earlier, and Leary has also patterned Bay Path’s growth formula on Simmons’ hard focus on diversity when it comes to degree programs.

She applied those lessons and others while undertaking a turnaround initiative at Bay Path that almost never happened — because Leary almost didn’t apply.

“I sent in my letter of interest and résumé on the last day applications were due,” she told BusinessWest, adding that she was encouraged to apply by others who thought she was ready and able to become president of a college — especially this one — but very much needed to be talked into doing so.

“I was nominated for this job — I wasn’t even looking for a presidency,” she went on, adding that, while she had her doctorate and “six years in the trenches,” as she called it, she wasn’t sure she was ready to lead a college. “I loved Simmons, I loved my job, I loved the mission, and I loved working in Boston; it was great.”

It was with all that love as a backdrop that she and Noel, while returning to Boston from a vacation in Niagara Falls that August, decided to swing through the Bay Path campus to get a look at and perhaps a feel for the institution. Suffice it to say they liked what they saw, heard, and could envision.

Indeed, what the two eventually found beyond the idyllic campus located in the heart of an affluent Springfield suburb was a college that possessed what Leary described using that time-honored phrase “good bones.”

And by that, she meant that it still had a sound reputation — years earlier, it was regarded as one of the top secretarial schools in the Northeast, if not the country — and, perhaps more importantly, a solid financial foundation upon which things could be built.

“I knew that Bay Path had been challenged with a decrease in its enrollment over several years,” she recalled. “But all the presidents had kept the institution financially strong; they kept deferred maintenance down, and the endowment was healthy for such a small school of 500 students. I looked at their programs, and I saw the challenges they were facing. But I looked at the balance sheet, and we both said, ‘we can see ourselves here; this has incredible potential as a women’s college.’”

When asked about those struggles with enrollment, Leary said they resulted in part from the fact that there was declining interest in women’s colleges, fueled in part by the fact that most every elite school in the country was by that time admitting women, giving them many more options. But it also stemmed from the fact that Bay Path simply wasn’t offering the products — meaning baccalaureate and graduate degrees — that women wanted, needed, and were going elsewhere to get.

So she set about changing that equation.

But first, she needed to assemble a team; draft a strategic plan for repositioning the school; achieve buy-in from several constituencies, but especially the board of trustees; effectively execute the plan; and then continually amend it as need and demand for products grew.

Spoiler alert (not really; this story is well known): she and those she eventually hired succeeded with all of the above.

To make a long story short, the college soon began adding degree programs in a number of fields, while also expanding geographically with new campuses in Sturbridge and Burlington, and technologically. It’s been a turnaround defined by the terms vision, teamwork, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

Milestones along the way include everything from the establishment of athletics (there are eight varsity sports now) to the first graduate-degree program (Communications and Information Management), launched in 2000, a year ahead of schedule; from the introduction of the innovative One-Day-a-Week Saturday College to those new campuses; from the launching of the American Women’s Online College to the school’s being granted status as a university in 2014.

Add it all up, and Leary and her staff have accomplished the mission she set when she arrived — to make Bay Path a destination.

That’s a great story, but the better one — and the reason why all those executive search firms were calling her — is the manner in which all this was accomplished.

Study in Relationship Building

And maybe no one can explain this better than Caron Hoban.

She didn’t work directly with Leary at Simmons — they were assigned to different campuses but served together on a few committees — but certainly knew of her. And when Leary went to Bay Path, Hoban decided to follow just a few months later.

“I knew her a little bit, and I was looking to make my next move just as she had been made president at Bay Path; they had a position open, and I applied for it,” said Hoban, who now holds the position of chief strategic officer.

When asked to summarize what Leary has accomplished at the school and attempt to put it all in perspective, Hoban obliged. But is doing so, she focused much more on how Leary orchestrated such a turnaround and, perhaps even more importantly, why.

And as she articulated these points, Hoban identified what she and others consider Leary’s greatest strengths — listening and forging partnerships.

“One of her greatest gifts is relationship building,” Hoban explained. “So when she came to Bay Path and the Greater Springfield area 21 years ago, she really committed to not just learning more about the college, but really understanding the whole region. She met with hundreds and hundreds of people and just listened.

“At my first meeting with her, she said, ‘what I’ve really been trying to do in my early days is listen to people and understand what the college needs and what the region needs,’” Hoban went on, adding that from this came the decision to create a women’s professional conference modeled on the one at Simmons, and a commitment to add graduate programs in several areas of study.

“She knew that the way to grow the campus and move from 500 students, which is what we had when she arrived, to the 3,000 we have now is by adding master’s-degree programs,” Hoban went on. “And these came about by her going out and listening to what the workforce needs were in the community.”

But Hoban said Leary’s listening and relationship-building talents extended to the campus community, the people she hired, and her own instincts, and this greatly facilitated what was, in every aspect of the word, a turnaround that was critical to the school’s very survival.

In 2007, President Leary welcomed poet, author, and civil-rights activist Maya Angelou

In 2007, President Leary welcomed poet, author, and civil-rights activist Maya Angelou to the Women’s Leadership Conference.

Indeed, in 1996, Leary recalled, she essentially asked the board for permission to spend $10 million of the $14 million the school had in the bank at the time over the next several years to hire faculty, add programs, and, in essence, take the school to the next level.

“I remember the conversations that were had around the table, and there was one member of the board, the chair of the academic committee, who said, ‘if we don’t do this, there might not be a future for Bay Path,’” she recalled. “I recommended that we make that investment — it had athletics in it, the Women’s Leadership Conference, and much more; that was Vision 2001.”

As it turned out, she didn’t have to spend all the money she asked for, because those degree programs added early on were so successful that revenues increased tremendously, to the point where the school didn’t have to take money out of the bank.

Looking back on what’s transpired at Bay Path, and also at the dynamics of administration in higher education, Leary said turning around a college as she and her team did is like turning around an aircraft carrier; in neither case does it happen quickly or easily.

In fact, she said it takes at least a full decade to blueprint and effectively execute a turnaround strategy, and that’s why relatively few colleges fully succeed with such initiatives — the president or chancellor doesn’t stay long enough to see the project to completion. And, inevitably, new leadership will in some ways alter the course and speed of a plan, if not create their own.

But Leary has given Bay Path not one decade, but two, and she’s needed all of that time to put the school on such lists as the Chronicle of Higher Education’s compilation of fastest-growing schools.

In keeping with her personality, Leary recoils when a question is asked with a tone focusing on what she has done. Indeed, she attributes the school’s progression to hiring the right people and then simply providing them with the tools and environment needed to flourish.

“I got up every day and knew I had to hire the best possible staff, people who believed in the mission,” she recalled. “And when people ask why Bay Path has been so successful, I say it’s because I hired the right people at the right time, and they just threw themselves into their jobs.”

While giving considerable credit to those she’s interviewed and hired over the years, Leary saved some for Noel and his willingness to share what she called “an equal-opportunity marriage.”

Elaborating, she said she agreed to uproot and follow him to Washington, D.C. and a job in commercial real estate there decades ago, and he more than reciprocated by first following her to Boston as she took a job at Simmons, then making another major adjustment — trying to serve his clients in the Hub from 100 miles away — when she came to Bay Path. He did that for more than a decade before retiring and taking on the role of supporting her various efforts.

“Noel has been a tremendous, tremendous support to me,” she explained. “He basically said, ‘this is an important job, I love what you’re doing, and I enjoy being a part of it.’”

And she implied that what he meant by ‘it’ was not simply her work at the campus on Longmeadow Street, but her efforts well outside it. They are so numerous and impactful that Hoban chose to say that Leary isn’t in the community, “she’s of the community.”

And perhaps the best example of that has been the women’s conference and how the region’s business community has embraced it.

Learning Curves

Dena Hall says it’s a good problem to have. Well … sort of.

There are more people at United Bank, which Hall serves as regional president, who want to go to the conference than the institution can effectively send.

Far more.

And that has led to some hand-wringing among those administrators (like Hall) whose job descriptions now include deciding who gets to go each spring and who doesn’t.

“We’ve gotten to the point where we have too many who want to go — we just can’t accommodate everyone, because we can’t have 50 current or emerging leaders out of the company at one time,” she explained. “So we’ve put it on each of our managers to identify one or two women in their business line who they believe should attend the conference and who will really benefit from what they see and hear.”

But these hard decisions comprise the only thing Hall doesn’t like about the women’s conference, except maybe finding a parking space that morning. That, too, has become a challenge, but, for the region as a whole, also a great problem to have.

Because that means that 2,000 women — and some men as well — are not only hearing the keynoters such as Walters, Angelou, and others, but networking and learning through a host of seminars and breakout sessions.

“You always learn something,” said Hall, who has been attending the conference for more than a dozen years. “Last year, I participated in the time-management workshop, and it changed the entire way I look at my schedule from Monday through Friday; the woman was fantastic.

“And there’s tons of networking,” she went on. “We use the conference here as a coaching and development tool for the more junior women on our team. There’s a lot of value in it, and for us, the fact that it’s five minutes away makes it so much easier than sending someone to Boston or New Haven or anywhere else.”

The conference is a college initiative — indeed, its primary goal beyond the desire to help educate and empower women is to give the school valuable exposure — but it is also a community endeavor, and one of many examples of how Leary is of, not just in, the community.

Others include everything from her service to the Colony Club — she was the first woman to chair its board — to her time on the boards of the Community Foundation, the Beveridge Foundation, WGBY, and United Bank, among others. She was also the honorary chair of Habitat for Humanity’s All Women build project in 2009.

And then, there was the support she and Noel gave to the museums and the current capital campaign called “Seuss & Springfield: Building a Better Quandrangle,” a gift that Springfield Museums President Kay Simpson described as not only generous, but a model to others who thought they might not be able to afford such philanthropy.

“One of the motivating factors for Carol and Noel,” she noted, “is that they wanted to demonstrate that, even if you don’t think you can make a substantial gift, with planning, you can do it.”

Leary said planning began years ago, and was inspired by a desire to preserve and expand a treasure that many in this area simply don’t appreciate for its quality.

“We really believe in the museum — we absolutely adore it,” she said. “I said to my niece and nephew at the gala [where the gift was announced], ‘this is your inheritance; you might be in the will, but there isn’t going to be any money in it — it’s going right here, so you can bring your children and your children’s children here decades from now.’

“Noel told the audience that night, ‘we have some big birthdays coming up, but forget Tiffany’s; we’re giving it to the museums,’” she went on. “That’s how much we think of this region; there are so many gems, like the museums, the symphony, CityStage, and others that need support.”

From left, Donald D’Amour, Michele D’Amour, Carol Leary, and Noel Leary

From left, Donald D’Amour, Michele D’Amour, Carol Leary, and Noel Leary at the ceremony marking the naming of the Gallery of Impressionist Art.

And looking back on her time here, she said it has been her mission not only to be involved in the community herself, but to get the college immersed in it as well. She considers these efforts successful and cites examples of involvement ranging from Habitat for Humanity to Big Brothers Big Sisters; from Link to Libraries to the college’s sponsorship of the recent Springfield Public Forum and partnerships that brought speakers such as Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and author Wes Moore.

“You can’t be an ivory tower,” she told BusinessWest. “We have to be part and parcel of the good, the bad, and the ugly of any community.”

As she talked about the importance of involvement in this community, Leary made it a point to talk about the region itself, which she has chosen to call home. She said it has attributes and selling points that are easier for people not from the 413 area code to appreciate.

And this is something she would like to see change.

“People underrate this area, and the negativity has to stop,” she said with twinges of anger and urgency in her voice. “The language and the perception has to start changing from all of us who have a voice; we have to talk more positively.”

A Class Act

When asked how long she intended to stay at the helm at Bay Path, Leary didn’t give anything approaching a specific answer other than a reference to wanting to see how Vision 2019 shakes out.

Instead, she conveyed the sentiment that was implied in all those non-responses to inquiries from executive search firms: she’s not at all ready to leave this job or this community.

As she said, one can have an impact here. One can make a difference.

Not everyone does so, but she has, and in a number of ways.

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

Daily News

GLASTONBURY, Conn. — United Bank announced that John Peculis, vice president and commercial real estate banking officer covering the Central Mass. and Metrowest markets, was appointed to Nichols College’s board of advisors.

Peculis, who is based at United’s 33 Waldo St. location in Worcester, joins a group of fellow alumni and others in participating in semi-annual board of advisor meetings, attending alumni events, and volunteering to help advance the college’s overall mission.

In addition, Peculis will serve as an ambassador for Nichols and use his personal and professional networks to promote the college, its students and alumni while increasing its profile in the region’s marketplace. He was appointed to this leadership role by the college’s vice president of Advancement.

Peculis joined United Bank in December 2014 and attended Nichols College from 1997 to 2001, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in management.

Daily News

NORTHAMPTON — Gove Law Office, LLC announced that founding attorney Michael Gove has been chosen as a 2015 Super Lawyers Rising Star in Massachusetts.

Only 2.5% of lawyers are named to the Rising Star list after having first been nominated by their peers. Nominated attorneys are then vetted and evaluated by practice area using a rigorous, multi-phase process for their professional achievement and activities, including experience, honors, and education.

Gove is a 2001 cum laude graduate of UMass Amherst, where he received a bachelor’s degree in political science. In 2004, he earned his juris doctor degree from Boston College School of Law. He is admitted to the Massachusetts and Connecticut bars, the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts, and the U.S. District Court of Connecticut.

Gove Law Office, with offices in Northampton and Ludlow, is a bilingual firm with attorneys who can assist clients in both English and Spanish, providing legal representation in the areas of business representation, commercial lending, residential and commercial real estate, estate planning, immigration, and bankruptcy. For more information, visit www.govelawoffice.com.

Banking and Financial Services Sections

Measure Entitles Businesses to Reimbursement

By MICHAEL A. FENTON, Esq.

Michael A. Fenton

Michael A. Fenton

Does your business import products from a foreign country? If so, you may be eligible for reimbursement of some or all of the import duties you paid over the last three years. In some cases this can equate to hundreds of thousands of dollars in refunds.

Swift action is required because the deadline to apply for reimbursement is Dec. 28. What follows is some detailed advice on what to do.

Through a trade program known as the Gen-eralized System of Preferences (GSP), the U.S. promotes economic growth in the developing world by providing preferential duty-free entry for up to 4,800 products from 129 designated beneficiary countries and territories. The GSP was instituted on Jan. 1, 1976, by the Trade Act of 1974 and has continued in various forms since its enactment.

As with other legislation, Congress often allows the GSP authority to lapse before it is renewed. This causes duties on imports that are normally covered by the GSP to be charged at the applicable port of entry. Said duties are held in escrow pending renewal of the GSP. Once the GSP is re-authorized, duties held in escrow can be retrieved by importers who paid them on GSP products during the period in which the GSP lapsed.

However, if any item’s GSP status changes, thereby losing eligibility for duty-free treatment, the duties held in escrow will not be refunded to the importer.

Most recently, the GSP expired on July 31, 2013, causing companies all the U.S. to be charged tariffs on imports that previously entered the United States without such fees. The lapse of the GSP continued until June 29, 2015 when President Obama signed into law a bill (H.R. 1295) which reauthorized the GSP retroactively to July 31, 2013. This enables importers of GSP-eligible products to seek reimbursement for tariffs paid during the lapse in GSP coverage. The GSP reauthorization provided retroactive benefits only for goods from a country that is a beneficiary of the GSP program as of July 29, 2015. As such, this would exclude countries such as Bangladesh and Russia that lost eligibility between July 31, 2013 and July 29, 2015.

If your business imported products from a foreign country between July 31, 2012 and June 29, 2015 effective legal counsel can help you determine your reimbursement eligibility and navigate the process of seeking a refund.

Importers who filed their entries electronically, used the appropriate special program indicator for GSP, and paid duty on GSP-eligible goods, will receive an automatic refund. However, many entries were made without using the special program indicator for GSP refunds. Unfortunately, many local importers use couriers that did not properly claim eligible GSP products at the time of entry. Many couriers did not claim products as having GSP status at the time of entry because the GSP legislation was expired. Because the products were not claimed at GSP at the time of entry, a formal request must be made of US Customs and Border Protection for a refund of the tariffs.

A refund request for duties deposited must be received by U.S. Customs and Border Protection no later than Dec. 28. There are very specific requirements for processing these requests and our office has experience in handling these claims. Typically, the only documentation needed to determine eligibility and process any applicable refunds can be found on a statement of the transaction from your courier (e.g. FedEx, UPS, etc.)

These tariff refunds represent thousands of dollars to many area business, but swift action is required to receive the reimbursements. If you have questions about GSP reauthorization and whether your company is entitled to a refund contact qualified legal counsel immediately.

Attorney Michael A. Fenton, of Shatz, Schwartz and Fentin, P.C., concentrates his practice in the areas of business planning, commercial real estate, estate planning and elder law; [email protected]; (413) 737-1131.

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