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Difference Makers

Event-78-EditMore than 300 people turned out at the Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House in Holyoke on March 20 for a celebration of the Difference Makers for 2014. The photos on the next several pages capture the essence of the event, which featured entertainment from the Children’s Chorus of Springfield and the Taylor Street Jazz Band, as well as fine food and some poignant comments from the honorees. This year’s class, chosen by the editors and publishers of BusinessWest from dozens of nominations, and seen in a group photo above, are, from left: Paula Moore, founder of the Youth Social Educational Training (YSET) Academy; the Melha Shriners, represented by Potentate William Faust; the Gray House, represented by Executive Director Dena Calvanese; Colleen Loveless, executive director of the Springfield office of Rebuilding Together; and Michael Moriarty, attorney and president of Olde Holyoke Development Corp., chosen for his work with youth literacy.

For more photos go to here

Sponsored By:
DifferenceMakers2014sponsors

Baystate Medical PracticesFirst American Insurance • Health New England • Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C.Northwestern Mutual • Royal LLP • Sarat Ford Lincoln • 6 Pt. Creative Works

For reprints contact: Denise Smith Photography / www.denisesmithphotography.com / [email protected]

Difference Maker Colleen Loveless, center, stands with her parents, Jim and Pat Shanley, left, her husband, Donald Loveless, and her daughter, Taylor Loveless, prior to the ceremonies.

Difference Maker Colleen Loveless, center, stands with her parents, Jim and Pat Shanley, left, her husband, Donald Loveless, and her daughter, Taylor Loveless, prior to the ceremonies.

From left, Srs. Jane Morrissey and Cathy Homrok, members of the Sisters of St. Joseph and two of the founders of the Gray House, one of this year’s honorees, with Dena Calvanese, executive director of the Gray House, Leyla Kayi, director of Donor Relations, and Glenn Yarnell, director of Adult Education.

From left, Srs. Jane Morrissey and Cathy Homrok, members of the Sisters of St. Joseph and two of the founders of the Gray House, one of this year’s honorees, with Dena Calvanese, executive director of the Gray House, Leyla Kayi, director of Donor Relations, and Glenn Yarnell, director of Adult Education.

Lynn Ostrowski, director of Brand and Corporate Relations for Health New England, one of the event’s sponsors, with Brian Kivel, right, sales executive for Health New England, and Patrick Ireland, president and founder of Neutral Corner Inc.

Lynn Ostrowski, director of Brand and Corporate Relations for Health New England, one of the event’s sponsors, with Brian Kivel, right, sales executive for Health New England, and Patrick Ireland, president and founder of Neutral Corner Inc.

Carol Katz, member of the Difference Makers Class of 2010, talks with  2014 Diffference Maker Michael Moriarty, director of Olde Holyoke Development Corp., during the event’s VIP hour.

Carol Katz, member of the Difference Makers Class of 2010, talks with 2014 Diffference Maker Michael Moriarty, director of Olde Holyoke Development Corp., during the event’s VIP hour.

Jim Vinick, senior vice president of investments at Moors & Cabot Inc. and member of the Difference Makers Class of 2013, poses with speech pathologist Marjorie Koft, left, and Jane Albert, vice president of development at Baystate Health, another of the event’s sponsors.

Jim Vinick, senior vice president of investments at Moors & Cabot Inc. and member of the Difference Makers Class of 2013, poses with speech pathologist Marjorie Koft, left, and Jane Albert, vice president of development at Baystate Health, another of the event’s sponsors.


Corey Murphy, far right, president of First American Insurance, one of the event sponsors, with, from left, team members Dennis Murphy, document processor, and Edward Murphy, chairman, network with Adam Quenneville, president of Adam Quenneville Roofing and Siding (second from right).

Corey Murphy, far right, president of First American Insurance, one of the event sponsors, with, from left, team members Dennis Murphy, document processor, and Edward Murphy, chairman, network with Adam Quenneville, president of Adam Quenneville Roofing and Siding (second from right).

Kate Kane, left, managing director of the Springfield office of Northwestern Mutual (an event sponsor) and member of the Difference Makers Class of 2009, talks with Cathy Crosky, senior leadership consultant for Charter Oak Consulting Group, and Jeremy Casey, assistant vice president of Commercial Services at Westfield Bank, and president of the Young Professional Society of Greater Springfield, Difference Makers Class of 2009.

Kate Kane, left, managing director of the Springfield office of Northwestern Mutual (an event sponsor) and member of the Difference Makers Class of 2009, talks with Cathy Crosky, senior leadership consultant for Charter Oak Consulting Group, and Jeremy Casey, assistant vice president of Commercial Services at Westfield Bank, and president of the Young Professional Society of Greater Springfield, Difference Makers Class of 2009.

Karina Schrengohst, left, an attorney with Northampton-based Royal LLP, an event sponsor, talks with Crystal Boetang, an intern with the firm.

Karina Schrengohst, left, an attorney with Northampton-based Royal LLP, an event sponsor, talks with Crystal Boetang, an intern with the firm.

Paula Moore, founder of the Youth Social Educational Training (YSET) Academy and 2014 Difference Maker, networks with Robert Perry, a retired partner of Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C. (an event sponsor) and member of the Difference Makers Class of 2011.

Paula Moore, founder of the Youth Social Educational Training (YSET) Academy and 2014 Difference Maker, networks with Robert Perry, a retired partner of Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C. (an event sponsor) and member of the Difference Makers Class of 2011.

Team members of Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C., an event sponsor, gather prior to the ceremonies to show their support at the event. Front row, from left: John Veit, marketing and recruiting coordinator; Cheryl Fitzgerald, senior manager of Taxation; Brenda Olesuk, director of Operations and Development; and Robert Perry, past honoree and retired partner. Back row, from left: James Barrett, managing partner; Kelly Dawson, manager of Audit and Accounting; Kevin Hines, partner; and James Krupienski, senior manager of Audit and Accounting.

Team members of Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C., an event sponsor, gather prior to the ceremonies to show their support at the event. Front row, from left: John Veit, marketing and recruiting coordinator; Cheryl Fitzgerald, senior manager of Taxation; Brenda Olesuk, director of Operations and Development; and Robert Perry, past honoree and retired partner. Back row, from left: James Barrett, managing partner; Kelly Dawson, manager of Audit and Accounting; Kevin Hines, partner; and James Krupienski, senior manager of Audit and Accounting.

Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse takes a few minutes at the podium to welcome the audience to his city and commend Difference Maker Michael Moriarty for his work in the realm of youth literacy in the Paper City.

Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse takes a few minutes at the podium to welcome the audience to his city and commend Difference Maker Michael Moriarty for his work in the realm of youth literacy in the Paper City.

Difference Maker Paula Moore, recognized this year for her outstanding work with Springfield’s youth, offers words of inspiration after receiving her award.

Difference Maker Paula Moore, recognized this year for her outstanding work with Springfield’s youth, offers words of inspiration after receiving her award.

Continuing a Difference Makers tradition, the Children’s Chorus of Springfield kicked off the festivities. Led by Wayne Abercrombie, artistic director, the chorus performed three inspiring songs.

Continuing a Difference Makers tradition, the Children’s Chorus of Springfield kicked off the festivities. Led by Wayne Abercrombie, artistic director, the chorus performed three inspiring songs.

Gwen Burke, senior advertising consultant at BusinessWest, talks with Jeff Sarat, general sales manager at Sarat Ford, one of the event’s sponsors.

Gwen Burke, senior advertising consultant at BusinessWest, talks with Jeff Sarat, general sales manager at Sarat Ford, one of the event’s sponsors.

Difference Maker Colleen Loveless, executive director of the Springfield chapter of Rebuilding Together, was recognized this year for her work to help low-income families stay in their homes. Here, she introduces Oscar and Carol Granado, a couple whose home was renovated thanks to the organization.

Difference Maker Colleen Loveless, executive director of the Springfield chapter of Rebuilding Together, was recognized this year for her work to help low-income families stay in their homes. Here, she introduces Oscar and Carol Granado, a couple whose home was renovated thanks to the organization.

The Melha Shriners were recognized as Difference Makers for their commitment to bettering children’s lives, especially through their support of Shriners Hospitals for Children. Here, Potentate William Faust shares some thoughts with the audience after receiving the award on behalf of the organization.

The Melha Shriners were recognized as Difference Makers for their commitment to bettering children’s lives, especially through their support of Shriners Hospitals for Children. Here, Potentate William Faust shares some thoughts with the audience after receiving the award on behalf of the organization.

Michael Moriarty, honored as a Difference Maker for his work in youth literacy, shares his thoughts on that subject after receiving his award.

Michael Moriarty, honored as a Difference Maker for his work in youth literacy, shares his thoughts on that subject after receiving his award.

Meghan Lynch, right, president of Six-Point Creative Works, an event sponsor, networks with, from left, Gwen Burke, senior advertising consultant at BusinessWest; Jeremy Casey, assistant vice president of Commercial Services at Westfield Bank; and Peter Ellis, creative director at DIF Design.

Meghan Lynch, right, president of Six-Point Creative Works, an event sponsor, networks with, from left, Gwen Burke, senior advertising consultant at BusinessWest; Jeremy Casey, assistant vice president of Commercial Services at Westfield Bank; and Peter Ellis, creative director at DIF Design.

Features
BusinessWest’s Difference Makers to Be Honored March 21

 

Difference Makers 2013 logoDetails are falling into place for the March 21 Difference Makers Gala at the Log Cabin Banquet and Meeting House in Holyoke, one of BusinessWest’s premiere events and now an early-spring tradition in Greater Springfield.

The menu for the lavish buffet is set, the traditional musical performance featuring area young people will spotlight the Children’s Chorus of Springfield, and the Taylor Street Jazz Band will again be on hand to provide entertainment throughout the evening.

The biggest news, of course, has been known for about a month now — the composition of the Difference Makers Class of 2013, one of the most intriguing and diverse groups since the start of the program in 2009. This year’s honorees are:

Michael Cutone, John Barbieri, and Thomas Sarrouf, organizers of Springfield’s C3, or Counter Criminal Continuum, Policing Program. The initiative, which makes use of counter-insurgency tactics used by U.S. Special Forces troops in Iraq and Afghanistan to combat gang violence and crime, has been successful in making residents of the Brightwood section of the city far more actively involved in the safety of their neighborhood. It has also succeeded in bringing about reductions in many categories of crime, including larceny, weapons violations, burglary, and motor-vehicle thefts.

John Downing, president of Soldier On. Over the past several years, Downing has created a number of programs to improve quality of life for veterans returning from service, all designed with the Soldier On slogan — “changing the end of the story” — firmly in mind. Perhaps his most celebrated accomplishment is an initiative that provides veterans with the opportunity to transition from homelessness to home ownership through a program that enables them to purchase an equity stake in their homes.

Bruce Landon, president and general manager of the Springfield Falcons. Over the past 45 years, Landon has gone from being a goaltender with the local American Hockey League franchise to holding nearly every title in the club’s front office, including his current role as general manager and co-owner. More significantly, though, he has put together ownership groups on three separate occasions, enabling Greater Springfield to retain its hockey team and thus reap the many benefits, including the economic boost to area businesses.

The Sisters of Providence, represented by Sr. Mary Caritas, SP, and Sr. Kathleen Popko, SP. Now celebrating the 140th anniversary of their arrival in Holyoke at the start of the Industrial Revolution, the Sisters of Providence are being honored for their long tradition of service to the community, especially in the broad realms of healthcare, education, and social service. The sisters’ mission — to serve segments of the population most in need and generally overlooked by traditional programs — is manifested today in programs such as Healthcare for the Homeless, methadone clinics, and cutting-edge elderly-housing initiatives.

Jim Vinick, senior vice president of investments at Moors & Cabot Inc. Vinick has a long and distinguished track record of service to the community, which is punctuated by his work with the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, which he has served in a number of capacities, and the Jimmy Fund, the fund-raising arm of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, a cause that became a passion for Vinick after his son, Jeffrey, lost his battle against a rare form of testicular cancer in 1982.

“This year’s honorees provide more direct evidence that there are many ways for an individual or group to make a difference in this region,” said BusinessWest Editor George O’Brien, “and all of them are important to overall quality of life.”

O’Brien will emcee the Difference Makers Gala, which will begin at 5 p.m. with networking and opportunities to meet this year’s honorees, followed by the performance by the Children’s Chorus of Springfield and introductions of this year’s honorees.

Tickets to the gala cost $55 each, with tables of 10 available. For more information or to order tickets, call Melissa Hallock at (413) 781-8600, ext. 100, or e-mail [email protected]

Class of 2013 Difference Makers

President and General Manager of the Springfield Falcons

Bruce Landon

Bruce Landon
Photo by Denise Smith Photography

It was a few days before the National Hockey League was to begin its abbreviated and condensed season — salvaged by a new collective bargaining agreement reached in early January — and Bruce Landon was talking about the many ways the division-leading Springfield Falcons, the organization he’s been involved with for more than 40 years, would be impacted by those developments.

“We’ve lost six players,” said the team’s president, general manager, and minority owner, referring to the roster members who have been called up to the American Hockey League affiliate’s parent club, the Columbus Blue Jackets, since the labor impasse was resolved. “Every team has lost three to nine; whether we get one, two, or three back remains to be seen.

“They’re going to play 48 games in 99 days, so there are going to be a lot of injuries,” he continued. “So depth is going to be the key to success for teams in this league [the AHL]. It will be important for us to stay healthy here.”

Actually, the team already has a lot of depth, he went on, noting that it was built with the NHL’s labor situation in mind. In fact, the Falcons are carrying between 28 and 30 players, when they normally have 22 or 23 on the roster.

“And when you carry extra guys, it’s always expensive,” said Landon, who would quickly move on to other headaches, including everything from attendance still described by the word ‘flat’ to weather forecasts — not actual weather itself — that are often enough to keep people from driving to the MassMutual Center for a game.

But dealing with such challenges is obviously a labor of love for Landon, and this passion for hockey in Springfield is the sole reason why he’s still dealing with such issues as buying more tape and booking more hotel rooms because he has to keep more players on his roster.

Indeed, on three separate occasions, Landon has put together ownership groups that have allowed the city to keep an AHL affiliate, something it’s been able to do since 1936. And the most recent rescue was also the most harrowing.

It was the 11th hour, and the clock was getting ready to strike midnight. After negotiating with 28 potential ownership groups from Chicago, Washington, and even Russia, an exhausted Landon, whose wife, Marcia, was starting to worry about his health, was running out of options and nearly running out of hope that he could keep the team in Springfield.

That’s because the ownership group in place at that time was almost out of patience and applying some pressure to sell — even it meant to a group that would take the team to another city, like Des Moines, Iowa, which was coming ever more prominently into view as the likely landing spot.

But then, Landon had one more conversation with Charlie Pompea, a Florida-based businessman who had kicked the tires on the Falcons but was hesitant about pulling the trigger. It was after hearing Landon deliver an impassioned speech after the golf tournament they had just played in together — one in which he talked about the importance of preserving the team’s mailing address at Falcons Way in Springfield — that they initiated the talks that got a deal done.

Landon acknowledged that, while his business card says president and general manager, his unofficial job description for much of his tenure has been to keep a team in Springfield. And the main reason, he went on, is because, while Springfield has historically been good for hockey, the community should know and understand that hockey is very good for the city.

“Springfield should be proud to have a team in the American Hockey League,” he said, prefacing his remark by saying that he makes it quite often. “There are only 30 teams, and 30 cities across North America and Canada, and we’re one of them.”

For his untiring work to enable the city to say it is still one of those 30, Landon has been named a member of the Difference Makers Class of 2013.

Several Big Saves

As he talked with BusinessWest, Landon referenced an e-mail he had just received from Chris Olsen, one of the hundreds of interns he’s worked with over the years.

Olsen is currently vice president of Football Administration for the Houston Texans, who were still battling for an NFL championship until the New England Patriots beat them on Jan. 13.

“He wrote to basically say that he was following us and he was happy with our success, and he wanted to thank me for giving a young man an opportunity to get into the business,” said Landon. “Those things are so rewarding, and we’ve seen so many of them over the years.

“I love it when we see people come here and either work for us, or go on to bigger and better things, because that’s what we’re all about,” he went on. “We’re not just a development team for players … we’re also a development business for a lot of aspiring sports professionals as well.”

Helping individuals contemplating careers in everything from broadcasting to marketing to merchandising by giving them real-world experience is just one of the many ways in the which the Falcons have made an impact on this region, said Landon, listing others ranging from direct economic impact to providing wholesome family entertainment.

“We’re more than just a professional hockey team providing great sports entertainment for families,” he explained. “We are, and should be looked at as, a catalyst for downtown; on a good year, we can draw 180,000 people into the city, and the economic spinoff from that is in the millions of dollars.

“We create jobs for people at the MassMutual Center — we have 38 guaranteed dates there,” he continued. “Our players live here and spend money here, we employ people ourselves, we help the parking garage … our franchise is very important to the city in many different ways.”

Landon has been making such comments since Jimmy Carter was in the White House, making him perhaps the most enduring and significant sports figure in the city’s history.

And by now, most people in Greater Springfield know at least the basics of the Bruce Landon story — how the Kingston, Ontario native was drafted by the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings and came to the Springfield franchise (then also named the Kings) in 1969, and how he injured his shoulder in the later stages of the Calder Cup championship season of 1970-71, paving the way for future Hall of Famer Billy Smith.

They probably also know that he later went on to play for the New England Whalers in the World Hockey Assoc. (which eventually merged with the NHL in 1979) before returning to Springfield and the AHL in the late ’70s. And they likely know that, while playing for the team, he was also doing some front-office work, something that became a full-time endeavor when he blew out his knee at age 28 in 1977, forcing him to retire.

They might also know that he’s held just about every title one can have with a pro sports franchise, from player to broadcaster; from director of marketing and public relations to general manager and part owner, and that he has plaques in his den, including the James C. Hendry Award, presented annually to the AHL’s outstanding executive, which he earned in 1989.

Less well-known, perhaps, are Landon’s successful efforts behind the scenes to assemble ownership groups. He first did it in 1994 after the then-Springfield Indians (the name the team had for decades in a nod to the famous motorcycles made in the city) were sold to out-of-town interests and moved to Worcester. Partnering with Wayne LaChance, Landon started a new franchise and named it the Falcons after the birds that had famously begun to nest in downtown Springfield office towers.

And he did it in 2002, when he expanded the ownership base to provide more stability for the franchise. He managed to pull together a group of local business people to commit to the team and then stay with it through a succession of parent clubs and seasons that ended with the club at or near the bottom of the standings.

Eventually, the ownership group tired of the team’s lackluster financial performance and initiated the process of exiting the AHL. And it was this latest effort to secure ownership that would keep the team in Springfield that is considered the biggest save of Landon’s career — and the most difficult.

Goal-oriented Individual

“Selling the team at that time was a real challenge,” he recalled, “because no one wanted to keep the team in Springfield — they all wanted to move it. They were looking at other cities and other venues that were available … it’s a great league, and people want to be part of it.

“Had Charlie not stepped up and brought the franchise, there was a significant offer from a group that wanted to move it to Des Moines,” he continued, adding that he’s never made that information public before. “That [Falcons] ownership group had said, ‘there’s not much more we can do — we don’t want to lose money anymore.’ They were getting to the point where they wanted to sell, and if we couldn’t find a local buyer, then they’d take the best offer they could, even if that meant the team would be moved. A message was being sent, and Charlie saved the day.”

But, to borrow a term from his sport, Landon obviously earned a huge assist.

Returning to that golf tournament at which the two played together, Landon said his remarks at dinner obviously struck a chord with Pompea.

“He said, ‘you’re really serious about this, aren’t you?’” Landon recalled, adding that his lengthy answer to that query obviously convinced him he was. “We talked some more, and a few weeks later, we had a deal.”

Looking ahead, something Landon is far more comfortable doing than looking back, especially at his own exploits, he said that, despite the team’s recent success and position at the top of the Northeast Division, well ahead of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers and Hartford Whale, there are still many question marks about the future.

“There are no more rabbits left in the hat,” Landon said candidly when referring to the team’s status, using those words to convey his belief that there will be no more 11th-hour rescues for this franchise if the current ownership situation deteriorates.

“We have our lease through next year, and we have our affiliation agreement through next year,” he noted. “But, as Charlie and I talk about, this is a business, not a hobby, and we have to assess how we’re doing from a business standpoint; are we seeing some light at the end of the tunnel, and are we making progress?

“He wants to see this work,” Landon went on, referring to Pompea. “But he is a businessman, as I am. Overall, we’re cautiously optimistic that we’re going to get this thing headed in the right direction.”

He said the team is well-positioned in many respects. It has a solid partnership with the Columbus franchise, a favorable lease arrangement with the MassMutual Center, travel expenses far lower than most other AHL franchises because of its central location, and a lean operation. The keys moving forward are improving attendance, obviously, but also growing revenues across the board.

And this can only be accomplished, he went on, by gaining a full buy-in from the residents of not only Springfield but the entire region.

“I hope that fans understand that they have to engage and embrace this team so it stays here for many more years to come,” he said in summation. “I’ll eventually be leaving this position, and I just hope that the fans — and not just the fans, but the community — realize how lucky they are to have a team of this caliber, and never take it for granted.”

A Game Changer

On several occasions during his recent talk with BusinessWest, Landon heaped praise on Pompea, crediting him with the fact that Springfield currently has a team stirring dreams of another Calder Cup banner hanging from the rafters at the MassMutual Center.

“If it wasn’t for Charlie, this team would have been gone,” he said. “He’s the one who saved hockey here.”

That’s one man’s opinion. Most, however, would say that Landon himself is the individual worthy of that sentiment, earned through more than four decades of dedication to the Kings, Indians, Falcons — and the Greater Springfield area.

For that, he’s truly a Difference Maker.

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

Features
Difference Makers to Be Revealed in February, Saluted in March

BizDiffMakrsLOGO2011The Difference Makers Class of 2013 has been chosen, and BusinessWest Associate Publisher Kate Campiti believes it provides five good reasons why this recognition program was created in 2009.

“There are many different ways that a group or individual can make a difference and positively impact quality of life in this region,” said Campiti, who was among those who selected this year’s honorees. “This year’s stories really capture this sentiment and relate some of the wonderful things that are happening in this region.”

These stories will be told in the Feb. 11 edition of BusinessWest, which will truly be must reading. And on March 21, the Class of 2013 will be feted at the annual Difference Makers gala, to be staged at the Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House in Holyoke.

Campiti and BusinessWest Editor George O’Brien both said the selection process this year was equal parts inspiring and challenging, primarily because of the quality and quantity of the nominations received.

Indeed, there were more than three dozen individuals and organizations nominated, which is a record, said O’Brien, noting that, in some way, each nominee is making a difference in this region.

“This was a very difficult selection process; there were so many outstanding candidates this year,” said O’Brien. “We could easily have chosen any of them. In the end, we selected a mix of individuals and groups that clearly show how, with some perseverance, imagination, and determination, it is possible to change lives for the better.

“These are very compelling stories,” he continued, “and, more importantly, they are very inspiring as well, and that’s one of the reasons we created this award — to help inspire individuals and groups to find their own ways to make a difference.”

Tickets for the March 21 gala are now on sale. Seats cost $55 each, with tables of 10 available. To reserve tickets or for more information, call (413) 781-8600, ext. 100, or e-mail [email protected]

This year’s Difference Makers gala is being sponsored by Baystate Medical Practices, Health New England, Meyers Brothers Kalicka, Royal LLP, Sarat Ford Lincoln, and Six Point Creative Works.