Home Posts tagged Education (Page 2)
40 Under 40 Class of 2018

Partner, Cofab Design and Brick Coworkshop; Age 27; Education: BS, Boston University

Mike Stone

Mike Stone

Stone is a mechanical engineer and designer who’s into multi-disciplinary projects, moving parts, products, machines, prototypes, and hammer swinging. He’s a partner at Cofab Design, a product design and development studio, and a cofounder of Brick Coworkshop, a shared workspace, both located in Holyoke. He’s also part of the team at AF, a national pop-up event series.

What did you want to be when you grew up? A scientist — science rules. Biology and physics had my attention for a while. Unfortunately, that same attention span disposes me to detailed, focused research work, so I ended up in the design world.

How do you define success? I feel successful if I am always learning and reading, always supporting and listening to my collaborators and community, and continually working to realize or facilitate new and energizing projects.

What do you like most about Western Massachusetts? I love the fact that our region is a crossroads of sorts. Being from the area, I’m excited to see positive energy and projects in many towns and cities. I think the relative size of the region lends itself to a higher likelihood that we can have conversations and initiatives that make this a better place to live for everyone — as well as a hub for art, design, entrepreneurship, and other pursuits.

What goal do you set for yourself at the start of each day? If I’m feeling ‘on’ for a given day, my goal is to get through a good swath of substantive to-do list items. If I’m feeling ‘off,’ my goal is to make it through to the next day.

What actor would play you in a movie about your life? Andy Samberg circa 2005.

What are you passionate about? I’m a chronic generalist (terminal generalist may be more appropriate), so I like to dabble with lots of things. I’m passionate about the design world (product, graphic, architecture, planning, etc.). I love to build things. I read fiction and nonfiction as constantly as I can and love print publications. I’ve been trying to play music more often lately, and have a long list of projects to complete and things to learn. Being involved with Brick has turned me on to the general process of community building, and I’m interested to learn and apply more in that discipline.

 

Photography  by Leah Martin Photography

40 Under 40 Class of 2018

Senior Marketing Associate, Firm Recruiter, Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C.; Age 31; Education: BBA, Isenberg School of Management, UMass Amherst

John Veit

John Veit

Veit is a marketing and recruiting professional with Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C. He has served as a thought leader in the Pioneer Valley and beyond, facilitating events and roundtables on marketing and recruiting topics at venues such as the Employer’s Assoc. of the NorthEast Finance Roundtable, the Pioneer Valley Family Business Center, and the national conference for the Assoc. of Accounting Marketing. In addition, he has authored content for BusinessWest and HCN. Veit is also an auxiliary police officer, a working musician, a martial-arts practitioner, and serves as a Jimmy Fund Rally Against Cancer team captain.

What did you want to be when you grew up? A police officer or a rock star.

What three words best describe you? Persistent, creative, passionate.

What do you like most about Western Massachusetts? The diverse mix of people, entertainment, history, education, and the availability and accessibility of nature and hiking.

Who has been your best mentor, and why? My grandmother. Her life story is one of the most heartbreaking and challenging you will ever hear, but through pure willpower and determination, she has led a humble life of success, service, and commitment to her family and community. She has always been an inspiration to me, and always knows how to give a life lesson without preaching.

What actor would play you in a movie about your life? Paul Rudd.

What fictional character do you relate to most, and why? I love the fated noble hero archetype. I think people relate to this type of character because, at the end of the day, a call to service resonates with most, if not all of us. Having that manifest and distilled into a character with a single purpose provides a sense of clarity that is much harder to find in real life.

What person, past or present, would you like to have lunch with, and why? Martin Luther King Jr. and the Founding Fathers. With the advent of social media and the 24-hour news cycle, I feel as though meaningful conversation between diverse groups devolves too often into stereotyping, judgment, and finger pointing. I would love to speak with the minds who created and shaped our country, as they all had a way of creating conversation and meaningful discourse, focusing not on who is right, but what is right. I would love to know how they might approach today’s issues and encourage people to speak with one another, rather than at one another.


Photography by Leah Martin Photography

 

 

40 Under 40 Class of 2018

Family Lawyer, Law Offices of Alison Silber; Age 34; Education: BA, University of Pennsylvania; JD, University of Maryland

Alison Silber

Alison Silber

Silber is a family lawyer and mediator who owns and runs her own family-law practice in Longmeadow. After clerking on the Superior Court of the District of Columbia for a family-law judge, Silber opened her own practice in 2011. She mediates and litigates all types of divorce and custody matters, including but not limited to complex jurisdictional issues and complicated domestic-violence matters. In addition to her private practice, she also takes on mediations through the Mediation and Training Collaborative in Greenfield and the Family Resolutions Specialty Court in the Hampshire Probate and Family Court.

What did you want to be when you grew up? A Supreme Court Justice. Ruth Bader Ginsburg was appointed when I was in fifth grade, and I still remember feeling like she and Sandra Day O’Connor made space for my friends, me, and all other little girls to attain that height of success in the legal profession.

How do you define success? Success is balance between work, family, and community.

What do you like most about Western Massachusetts? I love the pace of life, which provides the space to be introspective and purposeful about how we all spend our time.

What are you passionate about? As a divorce lawyer, I have the privilege of working closely with my clients to help make their finances work post-divorce, and I have observed that good employment opportunities for my clients seem to be disappearing. On a micro level, I am passionate about helping my clients restructure their lives post-divorce so that they have a living wage, financial security, and the ability to meet their needs. On a macro, nationwide level, I am passionate about ensuring that opportunity for good employment exists for all Americans, not just those who live in certain pockets of the country.

What fictional character do you relate to most, and why? Jo March, from Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, is my favorite. She has a great Massachusetts sensibility, devotion to her family, and a fiery, independent spirit.

What will work colleagues say at your funeral? Hopefully they will give me the best compliment a divorce lawyer can receive — that I have been substantively aggressive while being professional and personally kind.


Photography by Leah Martin Photography

40 Under 40 Class of 2018

Vice President, MassMutual; Age 39; Education: BSBA, Stonehill College; MBA, UMass Amherst

Chris Olson

Chris Olson

Olson is responsible for resilience, information governance, and IT infrastructure for MassMutual. He started his career as a certified business continuity planner. During that time, he served as a committee chairman for LOMA, a faculty guest speaker for Symantec, and a featured presenter at DRJ Fall World in San Diego, and was published in the Journal of Business Continuity & Emergency Planning and Corporate Security magazine. He is currently a board member for the American Red Cross of Western Massachusetts.

What did you want to be when you grew up? A police officer.

What do you like most about Western Massachusetts? The amazing breadth of culture and history jammed into a relatively small geographical area.

Who has been your best mentor, and why? Brad Hoffman, risk officer at MassMutual. Brad took me under his wing when I was a new manager, and he helped me truly understand my strengths, opportunities to improve, and the value that I could bring in my role.

What actor would play you in a movie about your life? Brad Pitt.

What fictional character do you relate to most, and why? Edward Bloom from Big Fish. He set out to do whatever was necessary to give his family a comfortable life. He valued relationships and gave of himself at every opportunity. As he grew up, he made an effort to help those around him benefit from his years of experience through storytelling, which is a very important tool for modern leaders.

Whom do you look up to, and why? My father. Throughout his entire life, he has served the community as an educator. Even today, in his 70s, he donates a significant amount of his time to help local youth learn about science and engineering and explore these options as potential career paths. He asks for nothing in return.

What will work colleagues say at your funeral? He was always there when we needed him, and he went out of his way to make our work rewarding. He did not shy away from making decisions, even when they were difficult.

What person, past or present, would you like to have lunch with, and why? John F. Kennedy. He charismatically led the country through some incredibly difficult times. He made it his mission in life to stand up to corruption and help those who couldn’t help themselves.

Photography by Leah Martin Photography

40 Under 40 Class of 2018

Vice President, Relationship Manager, Berkshire Bank; Age 36; Education: BS, University of Phoenix

Jason Niles

Jason Niles

Niles was born and raised in Central New York. After high school, he entered the U.S. Air Force and served six years on active duty and a couple on reserve duty after that. He and his wife, Amy, have three children: Ariana, 13, Ethan, 11, and Owen, 6 months, as well as a 3-year-old dog named Opie. After his discharge from the military, Niles bounced around a bit and finally decided to call Western Mass. his home, primarily due to the people and opportunities. He has worked at Berkshire Bank for the past nine years and says he loves the opportunities the institution provides.

What did you want to be when you grew up? I grew up wanting to be in law enforcement. This ambition was a large reason I joined the military, where I was a Security Forces member for six years.

How do you define success? John Wooden said it best. “Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.”

What three words best describe you? Outgoing, easygoing, trustworthy.

What do you like most about Western Massachusetts? What I like most is everything going on in the market. The changes have caused a renaissance of sorts — new ideas, new businesses, and lots of opportunity. What’s not to love?

What goal do you set for yourself at the start of each day? To make a change in somebody’s life.

What are you passionate about? Helping people attain their goals and dreams.

What goals have you set for yourself? To give the best effort I can in whatever I choose to do at that moment.

 


Photography by Leah Martin Photography

40 Under 40 Class of 2018

Realtor, NRG Real Estate Services Inc.; Age 28; Education: BA, UMass Amherst; Elms College

Ellen Moorhouse

Ellen Moorhouse

Born and raised in Springfield, Moorhouse believes in the power of community, compassion, and leadership. As a licensed Realtor, she connects people to their dreams of home ownership. Most recently, as program officer for the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts, she managed communications and adult leadership programming known as LIPPI, a non-partisan initiative providing women with the tools to become the region’s community leaders and elected officials. A graduate of UMass Amherst, she is currently pursuing an MBA with Elms College.

How do you define success? There are no secrets to success — it is the combined result of preparation, hard work, and continually learning from failure. Helen Keller said that character cannot be developed in ease and quiet; only through experiencing difficulties can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved. I define success as holding true to your values, integrity, and humor — every day is a new opportunity to grow and chase your dreams.

What do you like most about Western Massachusetts? The people and the places! I love the curiosity and compassion of the people in our communities. As an avid camper and gardener, I treasure the beautiful foliage, swimming holes, hiking, and natural beauty that our region has to offer.

Who has been your best mentor, and why? I’ve been very lucky to have many mentors play important roles in my life — and often just when I needed them most. They have patiently given me the tools, support, and guidance needed to grow both personally and as a young professional. If I could be half the woman my mother is, then there is nothing to fear! The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires others.

What are you passionate about? I am passionate about building up the voices of my community. Leadership is not about individual glory; it is working collaboratively, learning from peers and mentors, and laying groundwork for others’ success, then standing back and watching them shine. Paying it forward is the only we can build a community of collaboration.

What fictional character do you relate to most, and why? Leslie Knope of Parks and Recreation is funny and authentic, caring and committed. I, too, love breakfast foods and am passionate about civic engagement.


Photography by Leah Martin Photography

40 Under 40 Class of 2018

Founder and Board President, All Our Kids Inc.; Research Manager, UMass Donahue Institute; Age 38; Education: BA, Wesleyan University; MA, PhD, University of Maryland Baltimore County

Marianna Litovich

Marianna Litovich

Litovich is a parent, community psychologist, and civic-minded organizer. In addition to founding All Our Kids Inc. in 2017, she is a foster parent ambassador for the Department of Children and Families and a board member of the Massachusetts Alliance for Families, a statewide advocacy organization. After a decade as a mental-health clinician and professor, she now partners with community and state agencies to improve support programs for families. She and her partner were named Massachusetts Foster Parents of the Year in 2016, and recently received the Champions for Children award from the Child Advocacy Center of Hampshire County.

What did you want to be when you grew up? As a child, I loved babies, and wanted to be a pediatrician when I grew up. But that changed in college as I consistently attempted to succeed in pre-med courses that just didn’t spark my interest, let alone any joy.

Who has been your best mentor, and why? Once I realized what attracted me to medicine was people, I shifted my vision toward a career as a clinical psychologist. But I was just as interested in issues of diversity, justice, and policy. My mentor at the time, Dr. Regina Langhout, steered me toward doctoral programs that balanced the individualized, medical perspective of clinical psychology with the activist, justice-oriented perspective of community psychology. She saw a spark for community leadership and advocacy in me before I knew it was there. She was right, and I’ve been so grateful for that guidance.

What are you passionate about? Although I maintained a foot in the clinical world for years, it was never a great fit, and I often considered the ways my clients’ lives could be more permanently improved if we strengthened the communities to which they belonged. Now, my professional expertise as a social scientist, passion for child-welfare advocacy, and experience as a foster/adoptive parent come together in the work of All Our Kids Inc. To me, there is no greater feeling of success than knowing your efforts are making a positive difference in others’ lives. As All Our Kids Inc. continues to strengthen and serve the foster and adoptive community in Western Mass., I see more children in foster care having the forever families they need to thrive and succeed.


Photography by Leah Martin Photography

40 Under 40 Class of 2018

Recovery Coach Supervisor, Center for Human Development; Age 35; Education: Springfield College; BS, Fitchburg State University

Jeremy Lipka

Jeremy Lipka

“I am truly blessed to be here today,” Lipka says. “Without the love and support of my family, none of this would be possible. They have allowed me to follow my own path in life, and I will forever be grateful for that. I have had my ups and downs, sometimes more downs than ups, but I would not change anything in my past. I have experienced the good sides of life and also have experienced the truly tragic sides of life. Change and accomplishment is truly possible. Keep on striving to be better!”

What did you want to be when you grew up? An Air Force fighter pilot.

How do you define success? I can rest my head at night and value my life knowing that I did my best to help improve at least one other person’s life in any way possible.

What three words best describe you? Kind, honest, helpful.

What do you like most about Western Massachusetts? I love the outdoors — hiking, fishing, skiing, and canoeing.

Who has been your best mentor, and why? My father. He taught me what working hard truly means. He taught me to be accountable, and that if I was going to start something, then I should do the best I can and to always follow through. He taught me what it means to be a father so that I can try to fill his shoes with my own daughter.

What are you passionate about? My fiancé, Ashley, our beautiful daughter, Josephine, and trying to provide a life for them that they deserve.

What goals have you set for yourself? Finish my master’s degree at Springfield College and hopefully start my juris doctorate.

Whom do you look up to, and why? My fiancé. She is the most wonderful mother and partner a guy could ever ask for. She supports us and encourages us to follow our dreams every day. Without her by my side, none of this would ever be possible.

What person, past or present, would you like to have lunch with, and why? My grandfather. He was one of my best friends, and before his death, he got to see me begin to change my life around, but I would love to sit with him and tell him all about the wonderful things in my life now — my daughter, my fiancé, and how good life has gotten for me. I would love for him to see me truly happy again.


Photography by Leah Martin Photography

40 Under 40 Class of 2018

Senior Vice President, Wells Fargo Bank; Age 38; Education: BA, University of Texas at Austin

Ben Leonard

Ben Leonard

Leonard is a 17-year veteran of Wells Fargo and currently a senior vice president in the bank’s Middle-Market Group, based in Springfield. He is responsible for leading Wells Fargo’s growth in Western Mass. An active member of the community, he is on the board (co-vice chair) of Revitalize CDC, and is a regional ambassador for the New England AFP. He is also the New England Division ambassador for the bank’s Women’s Market Growth Initiative. Leonard lives in Hadley with his wife, 2-year-old daughter, Ida Belle, and their great dane, Doc. Raised in Hawaii, he enjoys playing ukulele with his daughter, as well as motorcycling, snowboarding, and brewing beer.

What did you want to be when you grew up? An automotive journalist.

How do you define success? I see success as a mindset where you enjoy regularly pushing against and expanding the limits of your potential. It may just be the last effort in a 5K or putting yourself out there to speak to a large group, but some of the most rewarding moments for me have come when I pushed myself beyond my own previously set limitations.

What three words best describe you? Loyal, honest, hilarious.

What goal do you set for yourself at the start of each day? Find a way to laugh. You never know what the day might throw at you to disrupt your best-laid plans. However, on the days when I can maintain a light heart, I’m better able to appreciate the highs, and the lows seem a little less severe.

What do you like most about Western Massachusetts? Balance. We have the perfect mixture of big-city culture, music, museums, and restaurants, combined with rural natural beauty and small-town social connectivity.

What are you passionate about? Transparency. With colleagues, I believe honesty in how decisions are made is very important. I have great respect for those who are generous with information, and make a point to help others avoid wasting time on paths previously explored. With clients, transparency in pricing and what you can and can’t do is necessary and rewarded in the long term. With family, open communication is paramount as well. I’m for just about anything that improves efficiency and trust.

What fictional character do you relate to most, and why? Wall-E. He’s a hopeless romantic surrounded by consumerism and technological dependence, but, against the odds, he transcends what he’s programmed to do.

Whom do you look up to, and why? My partner, Rebecca. She is honest, loving, confident, hardworking, well-read, and thoughtful. She’s not driven by ego, not impressed by superficial things, and the best role model a little girl and her dad could have. I and many others are better people from being around her.


Photography by Leah Martin Photography

40 Under 40 Class of 2018

Project Manager, Associate, Tighe & Bond Inc.; Age 36; Education: BS, MS, UMass Amherst

Tiffany Labrie

Tiffany Labrie

Labrie manages planning-, design-, and construction-phase services for water and wastewater conveyance and treatment projects at Tighe & Bond, a 107-year-old engineering and environmental-services consulting firm. She has a bachelor’s degree in civil/environmental engineering and a master’s degree in environmental engineering, both from UMass Amherst. She is the clerk of the Southampton Planning Board and serves on the Civil/Environmental Engineering Department Advisory Council at UMass Amherst. Labrie lives in Southampton with her husband, Jason, her daughters, Natalie and Robyn, and her rescue dogs, Amelia and Coco.

What are you passionate about? I have many passions. I guess that’s why I am always saying I need more hours in the day. I am passionate about my work and providing high-integrity, practical solutions to my clients’ challenges. I am passionate about my alma mater, and its thriving Civil Engineering program that now enrolls more than twice as many students as when I was there, and is now more students’ first-choice school rather than their backup.

I am passionate about being a good mom and trying my best to balance quality time with my daughters, with teaching them what a mom can do in her professional career. I love watching my girls find their passions — dancing and doing gymnastics, riding their bikes, and playing in the mud.

I am passionate about serving the community. I am passionate about paying it forward. I love the Distinguished Young Women of Greater Easthampton program, which provides scholarship money and teaches life skills to high-school junior girls. I love Help Our Kids Inc., which provides everything from duffel bags and books to gymnastics classes to Springfield-area children in foster care. Help Our Kids also puts on an annual event called Fitting for the Future, which provides Springfield-area foster teens with formal and business wear for those important events in high school, such as graduation and prom.

Finally, I love dogs, and I wish I could adopt all the dogs needing homes. Someday, I hope to train to be a therapy team with one or more of my dogs.


Photography by Leah Martin Photography

40 Under 40 Class of 2018

Co-owner, Chief Strategy Officer, Universal Plastics Group; Age 37; Education: BA, Northwestern University; MBA, University of Chicago Booth Graduate School of Business

Pia Sareen Kumar

Pia Sareen Kumar

Before her time at Universal Plastics Group, Kumar worked at JPMorgan Chase and American Express. She serves on the boards of the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts and the Springfield Technical Community College Foundation, is a member of the Women President’s Organization, and a is reader and school sponsor with Link to Libraries.

What three words best describe you? Committed, optimistic, perceptive.

What do you like most about Western Massachusetts? There is a strong culture of ownership and grass-roots change to improve the local community. We take it upon ourselves to change things.

Who has been your best mentor, and why? As a working mom who is engaged in her community, the mothers I have — my mother and mother-in-law — have shaped my values and priorities tremendously. Both support me unconditionally and encourage me to ignore the constraints and barrel ahead. They also give me the ultimate gift of honest but kind feedback.

What are you passionate about? I am passionate about empowerment, through education, literacy, and leadership training. Also, as a business owner, my greatest moments of actualization and delight come from hearing that, because of working at Universal, someone can do more for themselves or for their family, like buy a house, go back to school, or give their child an opportunity they themselves didn’t have.

Whom do you look up to, and why? I look up to Sue Kaplan, the founder of Link to Libraries, who has brought the community together to provide access and instill in our children a love for the written word, and also Joe Peters, vice chairman of Universal Plastics, for his tremendous contributions to local workforce development and training.

What goal do you set for yourself at the start of each day? To be productive, planful, and effective enough all day so that I am fully present with my three children in the evening.

What will work colleagues say at your funeral? I would like my colleagues to spend only 20% of the time talking about my professional achievements.

What person, past or present, would you like to have lunch with, and why? My father. He lives very far away, and I miss him.


Photography by Leah Martin Photography

40 Under 40 Class of 2018

Owner, Ohana School of Performing Arts; Age 32; Education: Wagner College, UMass Amherst

Ashley Kohl

Ashley Kohl

Born and raised in South Hadley, Kohl is a graduate of Pioneer Valley Performing Arts High School and has danced for the majority of her lifetime. Her six years of experience as a co-host and associate producer of WWLP-22News’ NBC weekday morning lifestyle program Mass Appeal allowed her the chance to discover what fuels her soul and what her true purpose is: to bring joy to people of all ages and abilities through dance. She says her two children, Summer, 6, and Brody, 5, are her heart, soul, and purpose.

What did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to dance on the castle stage in Disney World. And be a mom.

How do you define success? True happiness. Bringing joy to other peoples’ lives.

What three words best describe you? Positive, compassionate, energetic.

What do you like most about Western Massachusetts? This community is down-to-earth, sincere, and caring. I love being part of a community of artists and big-hearted heroes.

Who has been your best mentor, and why? My parents, for believing in me and my dreams, supporting my journey, and raising me to value family over everything — life starts and ends with family. I’ll never forget that.

What goal do you set for yourself at the start of each day? To make a positive difference in someone’s life. To be kind, always. And to work hard, each day, at building a legacy that inspires people to do the most good and love one another.

What are you passionate about? Spreading a message of inclusion and celebrating difference. We are each born with gifts to offer this world — we need to celebrate each other! I’m also passionate about my children — and all children. Their innocence, love for humanity, sense of wonder, imagination, and boundless energy inspires me every day. While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.

What goals have you set for yourself? I want to leave a legacy of love. I want my children to be kind, treat everyone with love, and know they can change the world.

What will work colleagues say at your funeral? That I loved with my whole heart and lived my purpose. That I was put here for a reason, and I fulfilled my mission and lived it passionately and fully.


Photography by Leah Martin Photography

40 Under 40 Class of 2018

Branch Supervisor, Springfield City Library; Age 30; Education: BA, Hampshire College; MLS, Simmons College

Caitlin Kelley

Caitlin Kelley

Born and raised in Massachusetts, Kelley initially pursued librarianship, thinking she could read all day. Not the case! After stints at Northeastern University’s Snell Library and the Nantucket Atheneum, she landed at Springfield’s Mason Square branch in 2013. Since then, she’s had the good fortune to collaborate with community members, nonprofits, and local librarians on a variety of projects, from setting up community gardens, health programming, and legal clinics to job-training programs, kids’ art classes, and jazz festivals. She lives in Easthampton with her partner, Nick Borges, and enjoys puttering around their vegetable garden.

What did you want to be when you grew up? For a long time, I wanted to be an architect or interior designer, which probably explains why my boyfriend and I often spend our weekends demoing and renovating parts of the house.

How do you define success? One part of me likes to see positive, quantitative outputs that demonstrate the effectiveness of the library’s services and programs. On a personal level, though, success feels most palpable when it takes the form of a life touched — a participant in one of our job-seeker workshops landing a job in their field of choice or a kiddo telling me, excitedly, how the forget-me-not seeds they got at the library started to germinate in a pot on their windowsill.

What do you like most about Western Massachusetts? I appreciate the sense of community here and the loveliness of the landscape — I’m always struck by the view of the valley from Mt. Tom when I drive home.

Who has been your best mentor, and why? My mother, Ann Marie Rocheleau, taught me to really care about people. She’s a criminologist and a professor, and I’ve always admired the way she sees people as a whole and treats them accordingly. She encourages me to do the best work that I can and to accept and meet the challenges that come my way. “It is what it is,” she always says. And she’s a wonderful listener.

What person, past or present, would you like to have lunch with, and why? Oscar Wilde, hands down. Such a mind and a wit. I’d love to hear his perspective on the wild world we live in today.


Photography by Leah Martin Photography

40 Under 40 Class of 2018

President, BKaye Realty and Insurance; Age 38; Education: BBA, Bluffton University

Bryan Kaye

Bryan Kaye

Western Mass. has always been home for Kaye. He has had careers in financial aid, property management, and banking, all while also building his real-estate business. In 2014, he left his position as vice president of Commercial Lending to focus on expanding his real-estate company. Since then, the company has added an insurance division, interior design, and a school for real-estate licensing. Ever-growing, BKaye’s mission is to help clients with all their real-estate needs with quality, integrity, and loyalty. In addition, Kaye has served local organizations including SCORE, Arrha Credit Union, and the East Longmeadow parade committee.

What did you want to be when you grew up? Believe it or not, I’ve wanted to own my own business since middle school.

How do you define success? Getting to the end of the race and hearing, “well done, good and faithful servant.”

What three words best describe you? Quality, integrity, loyalty.

What do you like most about Western Massachusetts? I love the diversity in places, people, cultures, food, and seasons. One minute, you can be in any number of downtowns with the typical inner-city vibe, and within 20 minutes, you can be in the middle of nowhere up in a hilltown or farmland.

What goal do you set for yourself at the start of each day? To do something that leaves an impact.

What goals have you set for yourself? To build an organization that helps people achieve their goals in life — whether it be in real estate, financial, or personally focused. We want to teach people to think outside of the box.

What will work colleagues say at your funeral? He was unlike any other guy I’ve ever met.

40 Under 40 Class of 2018

Owner, Gleason Johndrow Landscaping, Gleason Johndrow Rentals; Age 39; Education: Springfield College

David Johndrow

David Johndrow

Johndrow has lived in Western Mass. his whole life, so naturally, it’s where he decided to lay roots for his business and family. He started landscaping in 2005, and in 2012 D. Johndrow Landscaping and Gleason Landscaping joined forces to take their lawn-care and snow capabilities to the next level. Also, 2014 saw the start of Gleason Johndrow Rentals. Johndrow prides himself on supporting the community where he lives and works, through the Spirit of Springfield, local school improvements, and community athletics. When he is not managing properties or running the day-to-day operations of the landscaping business, he spends his time chasing his two young daughters and sharing his love of skiing, golf, and lacrosse with them.

What did you want to be when you grew up? An entrepreneur.

What three words best describe you? Patient, level-headed, humble (or, in other words, cool, calm, and collected).

What do you like most about Western Massachusetts? We see all four seasons.

What goal do you set for yourself at the start of each day? To better both Gleason Johndrow Landscaping and Gleason Johndrow Rentals any way I can each day.

What actor would play you in a movie about your life? Matthew McConaughey, because my wife really loves him.

What are you passionate about? Providing the best life for my family and those I care about, while doing right by my employees and tenants.

What goals have you set for yourself? To keep reaching further. Whenever I hit a milestone, I reach for the next bigger move.

Whom do you look up to, and why? My mother. She’s the rock of our family and always my voice of reason. She keeps me humble.

What will work colleagues say at your funeral? I’m not sure what they would say, but they know well enough I’ll be late for it.

What person, past or present, would you like to have lunch with, and why? Marcus Lemonis (The Profit), because he provides incredible insight on being successful in the business world.


Photography by Leah Martin Photography

40 Under 40 Class of 2018

Director of Marketing, MachineMetrics; Age 30; Education: BA, Wesleyan University

Graham Immerman

Graham Immerman

Immerman is an accomplished leader and experienced startup veteran with an integrated background in digital, social, traditional, and account-based marketing, growth strategies, and business development. After graduating from Wesleyan University with a double major in psychology and music, he spent his early career working on Madison Avenue at global and boutique marketing firms to help craft successful digital-marketing strategies for brands like Adidas, Reebok, H&R Block, and Starbucks. The youngest member of the Forbes Communications Council, Immerman is now director of Marketing for MachineMetrics, and has quickly become an industry expert in digital manufacturing transformation and industrial IoT applications. He currently lives in Northampton with his wife, Jessica Dupuis (a 40 Under Forty honoree in 2017), and their two loving, frisky cats.

Who has been your best mentor, and why? After I outgrew my first career aspiration of becoming the next Superman, I decided I wanted to be a lawyer like my father. He took great pride in helping people when they needed someone to stand up for them. In retrospect, I guess it was a logical next step from my initial superhero ambitions. He was not only my idol, but my inspiration, and I wouldn’t be the man I am today without his mentorship.

How do you define success? Success is a satisfaction with how one answers the following questions: how happy am I with the person I’ve become, the efforts I’ve shared with the world, and the impact I’ve had on others? Thus, success is peace of mind, a self-satisfaction in knowing that you did everything you could do to become the best person you are capable of becoming.

What four words best describe you? Persistent, honest, loving, leader.

What are you passionate about? I’m most passionate about people. More than anything else, I love human interaction, communication, and connection. From the profession I work in to the friends I keep to the technologies I’ve built, it all comes from a desire to bring people together and connect us in some way. It’s what drives me and what I’m most dedicated to.

What will work colleagues say at your funeral? I’ve actually been waiting for someone to ask me this, and I prefer to approach it as my ideal tombstone quote instead. Option 1: “It is not for me to judge another man’s life. I must judge, I must choose, I must spurn, purely for myself. For myself, alone.” —Herman Hesse, Siddhartha. Option 2: “He left this world as he came into it: terrified that there wouldn’t be enough food.” —Me. I like Option 2.


Photography by Leah Martin Photography

40 Under 40 Class of 2018

CEO/Founder, Jeneyus; Age 29; Education: BS, Syracuse University

Rehan Hussain

Rehan Hussain

Hussain is the CEO and founder of Jeneyus, a software-development firm. When not hard at work, he devotes his free time to volunteering locally with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. He also enjoys challenging himself with new activities like acting, videography, working on new ventures, and coding new languages.

How do you define success? Success is subjective. To some it could be a monetary goal, while to others success could be as simple as having a family. For me, success is getting out of my comfort zone and trying new things, while genuinely not caring what people think if I fail. Persistence in the face of failure leads to learning, improving, and, ultimately, success.

What three words best describe you? Tall, dark, and a little bit handsome. Actually, I strive for ambitious, generous, and motivated.

What actor would play you in a movie about your life? Denzel Washington.

Who has been your best mentor, and why? Without a doubt, my father. Talk about success — he came to America from a third-world country, with little to no money. He failed, was cheated in business, but never gave up. He worked non-stop to provide for his family, putting three kids through college, and buying a home in Longmeadow. To this day, my dad works 12-hour days, six days a week. I can only aspire to that level of work ethic and success.

What goal do you set for yourself at the start of each day? I try to meditate for 10 minutes, work out, and practice yoga. Mindfulness is very important to me. I see myself as a work in progress.

What are you passionate about? Sports, videography, acting, technology, and movies.

Whom do you look up to? Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Bill Gates.

40 Under 40 Class of 2018

Instructional Leadership Specialist, Springfield Public Schools; Age 34; Education: BS, Wheelock College; MA, Harvard University; Simmons College (CAGS); UMass Amherst

Howard is dedicated to increasing access to education and the arts. Locally, she builds literacy in Springfield Public Schools and volunteers with foundations to provide Springfield children with access to books. In 2018, she was awarded the Pioneer Valley Teacher of Excellence Award for her work in literacy education. She is president of the board of Hilltown Families, a community-based education network, and on the boar

Chrissy Howard

Chrissy Howard

d of the YWCA of Western Massachusetts. She mentors young women earning their highest award in Girl Scouts. She is also the co-founder of the new, hyper-local Young Patrons groups with the Springfield Museums and Springfield Symphony, and is currently fundraising for the new East Forest Park Library branch. Howard, who is currently pursuing her PhD at UMass Amherst, lives in Springfield with her husband, Geoff, her two daughters, Cadence and Danica, and their dog, Birdie.

Who has been your best mentor, and why? From a young age, my mother developed my drive and put the wind in my sails. She always pushed me to work hard and be my best. Every time I felt like giving up, she reminded me about commitment. When I needed a fan or cheerleader, she was always there for me. She taught me determination.

My husband, Geoff, is my compass. When I feel myself drifting about my many projects and committees, he pulls me back in the direction we set for ourselves. I have learned to say “no” and stay focused on a few priorities. It was so important to have someone to say, “why are you doing this? What makes this important to you?” before making a time and energy commitment. I could honestly say “yes” to everything without this guidance in mind.

My two girls are my anchors. Every day, my daughter comes up with some new and curious wondering of the world. She makes me stop and think about everyday occurrences with a new, grounded perspective. My new baby girl reminds me how important each individual moment is. They are both growing so quickly, I have to remember to stop, take a breath, and live in the current moment.

My best friend, Meg, has been my first mate since we met! She is incredibly intelligent and able to offer keen insight to current issues and help strategically plan for our next endeavors.

Without these people in my life, I could never have the perfect balance of my work, volunteering, and family that I currently enjoy.


Photography by Leah Martin Photography

40 Under 40 Class of 2018

President, Haselkorn Inc.; Age 37; Education: Springfield Technical Community College

Scott Haselkorn

Scott Haselkorn

By the fourth grade, Haselkorn knew his future was in technology, and at 12, he got a sales-tax ID and started selling and repairing computers. A six-year carrier at JavaNet/RCN taught him the skills to start his own company after being laid off. Haselkorn Inc. was founded as YourDentalTech.com, and it has grown and evolved steadily since. Outside of technology, hockey and skiing were his passions as a child, and he’s still addicted to skiing, sharing that passion with his wife and kids — Bryan, 18, Annaliese, 10, and twins Evan and Keely 4 — as often as possible.

What did you want to be when you grew up? The owner of a computer store.

What actor would play you in a movie about your life? Will Ferrell.

What are you passionate about? Helping my clients’ businesses thrive though technology solutions that simplify growth.

What goals have you set for yourself? I want to grow Haselkorn Inc. so it can be self-sufficient to support my family, staff, and clients even without me.

What person, past or present, would you like to have lunch with, and why? Bill Gates. When I was growing up, and especially once I was a young adult, I was amazed at what he was able to accomplish without a college degree. I know that was something I didn’t want, and saw that, though hard work, one could succeed and thrive without it.


Photography by Leah Martin Photography

40 Under 40 Class of 2018

Owner and Trainer, Mountain View Training Center; Age 34; Education: South Hadley High School

Daniel Dali Haber

Daniel Dali Haber

At age 6, Haber started riding horses at Mt. Holyoke College Equestrian Center, and rode and worked at Mt. Holyoke until his high-school graduation, when he opened his own painting business. Three years later, her was diagnosed with bone cancer. “That was a pivotal moment,” he said. “I quickly realized life is too short not to pursue your true passions.” So he packed up everything he owned and accepted a position at a horse-training facility in Virginia. After four years in Virginia, he received a call that his father was in ill health and diagnosed with cancer. He knew he had to return home to be with and help his family, so he returned to Western Mass. and, after a few years, decided to open his own horse-training business in Granby. Haber has gone from renting a six-stall barn to owing a 47-stall farm which specializes in the Friesian breed of horse.

What did you want to be when you grew up? I always wanted to be a horse trainer.

How do you define success? I feel I am successful when I watch my clients walk out of the show ring with their prize-winning ribbon.

What three words best describe you? Hardworking, humble, sincere.

What do you like most about Western Massachusetts? I love that my roots have and always will be here in Western Mass.

What goal do you set for yourself at the start of each day? My goal every day is not to let myself get hurt.

What actor would play you in a movie about your life? A young Robert Redford.

What are you passionate about? I am passionate about my horses, family, and farm.

What goals have you set for yourself? My long-term goal is to be known worldwide for the work I do with the Friesian breed of horse, which I am so passionate about.

Whom do you look up to, and why? I look up to the horse trainers who came before me and the ones who have lasted the test of time.

What will work colleagues say at your funeral? Are you sure he’s dead? We’ve seen him come back from the worst.


Photography by Leah Martin Photography

40 Under 40 Class of 2018

Co-founder, LOOC Marketing; Realtor, Keller Williams Realty; Age 29; Education: BBA, American International College

Cindy Gaynor

Cindy Gaynor

Gaynor has a zeal for self-empowerment and entrepreneurship. She firmly believes in the ethics of hard work and development, and is always willing to learn more, grow more, and push herself outside of her comfort zones. She is connected to her community, serving and supporting local organizations such as the Assoc. of Black Business and Professionals, Buy Springfield Now, and much more. Despite her busy schedule, her favorite role to fulfill is that of being a supermom.

How do you define success? Success to me is measured by the output of my work, not the input alone. I feel that sometimes, we may work hard at something and relish the hard work alone, without assessing whether or not that work actually helped us achieve the necessary goal. The process alone is not enough.

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

Who has been your best mentor, and why? LaTonia Monroe Naylor has been a phenomenal woman to know, and I am inspired by her exceptional leadership. A woman of her word and of action, I watch her go the extra mile for everyone she loves, and for this community. Having her in my life as a mentor has truly been a blessing, and I am looking forward not only to the many heights we will reach together, but to those I will personally reach as a result of her mentorship.

What are you passionate about? I am passionate about my business, and the legacy that it will allow me to leave behind for my son. I want him to see that, as a single mother, I never made excuses and did not allow anything to hold me back. Being an entrepreneur is not easy. If it were, everyone would do it. Nonetheless, for me, it is worth it because it allows me to accomplish so much while also setting an example for the young man I am raising.

What will work colleagues say at your funeral? Colleagues will say I was a joy to work with. They will speak of my positivity and how I always made an effort to ensure that we always found true joy within ourselves. They will speak of my empathy with regard to others, and how I did not have a selfish bone in my body. They will also speak of my perseverance and drive to overcome any obstacle that came my way. A true problem solver, I always sought to help others overcome their tribulations as well.


Photography by Leah Martin Photography

40 Under 40 Class of 2018

President, Board of Directors, Bhutanese Society of Western Massachusetts; Age 35; Education: BA, Western New England University; MPA, Westfield State University

Bhuwan Gautam

Bhuwan Gautam

Gautam, a former refugee from Bhutan who resettled to the U.S. in 2008, is a president of the board of directors of Bhutanese Society of Western Massachusetts. He is co-founder of Sanitation, Health and Nutrition Study Center, Nepal. He launched a nonprofit that aids the social, cultural, educational, and health needs of the resettled Bhutanese refugees in Western Mass. He also serves as a co-investigator and steering committee member for the Research Program on Children and Adversity at Boston College School of Social Work, and as a co-investigator for the Global Demography of Aging program at Harvard University.

What did you want to be when you grew up? A detective.

What three words best describe you? Bhutanese American leader.

What do you like most about Western Massachusetts? The diversity, historic places — like the birthplace of basketball and volleyball — the universities I attended, and the great social-service and healthcare agencies I work with.

Who has been your best mentor, and why? Dr. DNS Dhakal, a senior Duke fellow. He gave me the wisdom that education is the key to upward mobility.

What actor would play you in a movie about your life? Keanu Reeves.

What goal do you set for yourself at the start of each day? I spend my time envisioning how I can best contribute toward a healthy and less-impoverished society in my community through health promotion, education, and economic empowerment.

What fictional character do you relate to most, and why? Professor Charles Xavier from X-Men. Because I have skills to organize and lead people like he does.

Whom do you look up to, and why? My wife, daughter, parents, siblings, and mentors, because they provide me with love, comfort, and mentorship unconditionally.

What will work colleagues say at your funeral? Bhuwan enjoyed his life the fullest. Within a short period of time, he not only took care of himself and family, but the entire community. He is our true community leader. Even though he left us alone, he has left us with the legacy. And it’s our responsibility to fulfill it.

What person, past or present, would you like to have lunch with, and why? Bill Gates. I would share him the work I do in the U.S. and in Nepal, with the hope that he will donate money to build up the programs to fulfill my dream of helping the poor.


Photography by Leah Martin Photography

40 Under 40 Class of 2018

Co-founder and CEO, Treaty Biotech; Age 24; Education: BDIC, UMass Amherst

Marc Gammell

Marc Gammell

Gammell believes the most brilliant systems and designs are locked in the DNA of life on Earth. At UMass, he studied sustainable enterprise and biotechnology, and had the opportunity to work in cutting-edge labs in the biotech sector, on projects from artificial intelligence to genetic engineering. His work in these labs gave him some wild ideas, and one of his particularly crazy ideas led him to Yinyong Li at the 2015 UMass Innovation Challenge. Li invented a plant-based anti-fog solution called FogKicker, and together Gammell and Li founded Treaty Biotech to develop a complete line of FogKicker products, and to continue making new products and technology with advanced biomaterials. Gammell’s dream is to become a leader in the field of biologically inspired design, and to create amazing new products and technology that change the world.

What did you want to be when you grew up? A paleontologist.

What three words best describe you? “How would I describe myself? Three words. Hard-working. Alpha male. Jackhammer. Merciless. Insatiable.” —Dwight Schrute

Who has been your best mentor, and why? God. He’s got a plan for me.

What goal do you set for yourself at the start of each day? Make my bed.

What actor would play you in a movie about your life? Leonardo DiCaprio — the version of him from The Revenant.

What are you passionate about? I love making things that inspire people.

What fictional character do you relate to most, and why? Tony Stark. He’s a philanthropist, playboy, billionaire. So, obviously, I relate to him a lot.

What goals have you set for yourself? Just to be better every day. Like Tom Brady said, the best ring is the next ring.

Whom do you look up to, and why? Jeff Corwin. I loved watching him on TV when I was a kid; he was a huge inspiration to me. He’s showed millions of people how brilliant wildlife is, and why it’s our job to protect it. I still have a big man crush on him.

What will work colleagues say at your funeral? The man took a stand against fog, and won.

What person, past or present, would you like to have lunch with, and why? I’ll have pizza with pretty much anybody, but especially Leonardo da Vinci, if I could understand Italian. Or Elon Musk. Or Rihanna.

40 Under 40 Class of 2018
Erica Flores

Erica Flores

Attorney, Skoler, Abbott & Presser, P.C.; Age 38; Education: BS, University of Colorado, Boulder; JD, University of Pennsylvania Law School

Flores has spent the past 10 years counseling and defending employers in all manner of employment-related disputes. She also serves on the board of directors of the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. Before joining Skoler Abbott in 2013, she spent seven years working for prominent law firms in Manhattan and Philadelphia and served as a judicial clerk to Justice Russell Nigro of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. Flores lives in Westfield with her wife, Elizabeth, and their son, Jackson.

How do you define success? I had a tough childhood, so first and foremost, success for me means being a great mom to my little boy, a dependable partner to my wife, and a good sister to my three siblings. Everything else is secondary.

What do you like most about Western Massachusetts? After more than a decade living and working in big cities, moving to Western Mass. was, literally, a breath of fresh air. I love the hills, the trees, the farms, and the beautiful spring and fall colors. It never gets old to me.

What are you passionate about? I remind myself each day that I do not live to work, but work to live, so the little things mean the most to me — home-cooked meals, gardening, watching football, campfires with friends, good local beer, and spending as much time as possible with my family.

40 Under 40 Class of 2018

Manager, Community Relations, Eversource Energy; Age 39; Education: BA, Providence College; MPA, Suffolk University

Hayley Dunn

Hayley Dunn

Dunn works with a team at Eversource Energy that serves the needs of Massachusetts customers and communities. She is a member of the Holyoke St. Patrick’s Parade Committee, where she serves as spokeswoman, and was honored with the 2018 Rohan Award. She is also a board member of the Holyoke Board of Registrar of Voters, the Springfield Regional Chamber of Commerce, and the Holyoke Children’s Museum. A graduate of Leadership Pioneer Valley in 2015, Dunn and her husband, Frank, live in Holyoke with their four children: Frankie, Charlotte, Eloise, and Harry.

How do you define success? For me, success is defined by having a happy and healthy work-life balance. My career allows me to constantly learn, network, and enhance my skills, but it’s being an advocate for customers and communities that makes my job so rewarding. Serving on boards and engaging in civic activities provides me the creative and social outlets I crave, yet, at the end of the day, it’s the hugs from my husband and four children that make it all worthwhile. It’s important for my children to see me work and to positively make an impact on their community. Their love and the infinite possibilities for their future are what keep me going.

Whom do you look up to, and why? As a mother, I think it’s only natural to want to be (and do) the best for your children. I look up to all parents, particularly my friends and family, from whom I am always seeking advice and support. It may be cliché, but I truly believe it takes a village to raise a family. I’m so grateful to the parents who raise their kids to be good and kind friends, offer to carpool, and are always there to lend an ear, a laugh … or a glass of wine.

What person, past or present, would you like to have lunch with, and why? I would have loved to have spent time with Maureen O’Hara, the talented and classically beautiful Irish actress. I can only imagine the wonderful stories she would tell (in that famous Irish brogue!) about growing up in Ireland and of making movies during the golden days of Hollywood. She was fierce and passionate with just a dash of sass — all qualities I often find in myself.

40 Under 40 Class of 2018

Counsel, Robinson & Cole LLP; Age 32; Education: BA, UMass Amherst; JD, Western New England University School of Law

Kathleen Dion

Kathleen Dion

Dion is a litigator at Robinson & Cole LLP. She represents private schools, colleges, and universities in a variety of civil matters, such as tuition disputes, allegations of staff misconduct, and Title IX matters. She also assists public and private companies with internal investigations and a variety of business disputes across the country. Dion has devoted significant time to the representation of pro bono clients and is a board member with a number of organizations, including the Longmeadow Educational Excellence Foundation Inc. and Longmeadow Montessori Internationale Inc. Dion and her husband, Justin (a 40 Under Forty honoree in 2014), have two daughters, Sophia and Charlotte.

What did you want to be when you grew up? I always wanted to be a lawyer.

How do you define success? Success is finding happiness with a balanced mix of career, family, and friends.

What three words best describe you? Genuine, driven, loyal.

What do you like most about Western Massachusetts? After having traveled extensively throughout the U.S., I have come to appreciate Western Massachusetts as being an amazing place with a unique mix of weather, people, commerce, charity, and innovation. I have not been to a better place to work and raise a family.

What goal do you set for yourself at the start of each day? If I can provide help to my clients and happiness to my family, I consider myself as having had a good day.

What are you passionate about? Traveling. I did not travel much as a kid, but once I started traveling all over the country for work, I realized that I wanted to expose my kids to different experiences. Over the past five years, we have traveled to 22 different states and seen everything from rodeos in Wyoming to rocket ships at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Alabama.

What goals have you set for yourself? To live a long, satisfying, and happy life in which I have traveled the world.

40 Under 40 Class of 2018

Owner, Director, Polestar Therapy; Age 39; Education: BA, Mount Holyoke College; MSW, Smith College School for Social Work

Jamie Daniels

Jamie Daniels

Daniels is the owner and director of Polestar Therapy, a private psychotherapy practice in Amherst. She serves as the Diversity and Inclusion fellow at Smith College, where she also works as an academic advisor, and consults with various institutions on issues of race and inclusion. She is also currently a doctoral candidate at Smith. Daniels is the former director of a national youth organization and has years of experience serving on advisory boards and diversity committees. She is a daughter, sister, aunt, friend, and mother of three.

How do you define success? I define success by the quality of my relationships with others.

What three words best describe you? Black girl magic!

What are you passionate about? I am most passionate about issues of equity and justice. That, and ‘good enough’ mothering.

What fictional character do you relate to most, and why? LOL. Cookie Lion.

What goals have you set for yourself? I aim to complete my PhD program. When I’m done, I’d like to engage in public policy work and support the advancement of more socially just policies. I want to contribute a body of literature to my field about psychodynamic practice with people of color, clinical work with black women in particular. Of course, I want to continue to grow my practice and support those I serve. And be the best mom I can be every day — that goes without saying.

Whom do you look up to, and why? I look up to my mom, who is resilient and warm. Also to a small group of women who are talented and relentless, and whom I have the honor of calling my best friends, as well as the instrumental advisors and mentors who have supported my academic journey and professional pursuits. My work and life are also influenced by freedom fighters of the past, women in particular, including Sojourner Truth, Dorothy Height, Lucy Parsons, Anna Julia Cooper, Gloria Anzaldúa, Ida B. Wells, Luisa Moreno, Maida Springer Kemp, Fanny Lou Hamer, Shirley Chisholm, Dolores Huerta, Yuri Kochiyama, Audre Lorde, Marsha P. Johnson, Winona LaDuke, May Chen, Combahee River Collective, Inez Beverly Prosser, Marth Bernal, Mamie Phipps Clark, Reiko True, and Jennifer Eberhardt.

What will work colleagues say at your funeral? I hope they would say I worked tirelessly each and every day in the service of others.

40 Under 40 Class of 2018

President, Springfield Thunderbirds; Age 35; Education: BA, Northeastern University

Nathan Costa

Nathan Costa

Born and raised in Springfield, Costa has spent his entire decade-plus career in the American Hockey League, starting as an account executive for the San Antonio Rampage after graduating from Northeastern, and later as a founding member of the league’s Team Business Services department. He joined the Thunderbirds franchise at inception as executive vice president, was promoted to team president and owner after the conclusion of the inaugural season, and has led the Thunderbirds to explosive business growth.

What did you want to be when you grew up? I always knew I wanted to work in sports, and originally, I wanted to be a reporter or a broadcaster.

Who has been your best mentor, and why? I’d say my grandfather, Charles Wright. He taught me there is no such word as ‘can’t’ — there is only ‘can,’ and that has stuck with me my entire life. I have had many people tell me that what I’ve done in my career was impossible, specifically having a successful AHL franchise in Springfield — but I never allowed that to take over.

What actor would play you in a movie about your life? Adrian Grenier from Entourage.

Whom do you look up to, and why? Like many people, my parents have been two individuals that I have always looked up to. There have been ups and downs along the way, but the one constant has been their love and support, and they’ve always encouraged me to chase my dreams. Professionally? I’d say AHL President David Andrews. I learned so much during my time with him. He is a true professional, and having a chance to work with him day in and day out for a number of years provided me with a foundation to be successful.

What will work colleagues say at your funeral? That I was fair, and that they felt fulfilled in their roles, and learned the value of working hard. I’ve tried to create a culture within our office that allows people to be themselves and enable that to shine through in their work. They deserve just as much credit for this award as I do, because without them, none of our success would be possible.

What person, past or present, would you like to have lunch with, and why? I’d say Bruce Springsteen at the moment. My mom was a big Springsteen fan, so I got to listen to him a lot growing up. It’s not until recently that I have found so many similarities between his music and my own life. His journey was a lot like my own, leaving home at a young age to find himself and chase his dreams, just like I did.

40 Under 40 Class of 2018

Marketing and Creative Consultant; Age 37; Education: Holyoke Community College

Crystal Childs

Crystal Childs

Childs is a graphic designer and marketing consultant with almost 20 years of experience in the field, including 10 years at Balise Motor Sales in various marketing positions and, most recently, as the founder of Splash Marketing and Creative. Childs has continuously sought out opportunities for professional development, training at companies such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter. She currently sits on the board of directors for the Greater Westfield Chamber of Commerce and chairs its marketing committee. She is also co-founder of the annual EMBEE Marketing and Business Summit. She lives with her husband and daughter in Westfield.

How do you define success? Success isn’t defined by the dollars in your bank account or physical possessions. If you wake up every morning and look forward to what the day brings, if you’re happy with the work you’re doing, the work you’ve done, if you’re happy with yourself, then you’re successful.

What do you like most about Western Massachusetts? I’ve always loved that the mountains, the East Coast, and two major cities are just an hour or two car drive away — not to mention the states that surround us. I love variety!

Who has been your best mentor, and why? Mike Balise of Balise Motor Sales. This man was a true inspiration to many. Perhaps without knowing it, he took me under his wing and taught me how to remain calm in stressful situations and not sweat the small stuff. He inspired me to give back, to be selfless, and to always do what’s right. He was a constant source of encouragement, and he always had the best advice. He was my mentor, and he’s been missed since his passing in 2015.

40 Under 40 Class of 2018

Business Development Specialist, Connecticut Business Systems; Age 30; Education: BS, Bryant University

Jamie Campbell

Jamie Campbell

Campbell was born and raised in Springfield and played Division I college basketball on a full athletic scholarship. In her job, she works to help businesses with their workflow and efficiency. Passionate about giving back to her community, she loves to be outside, playing sports, laughing, and spending time with friends and family. She also spends a lot of time supporting causes like the Red Cross, Unify Against Bullying, and the Alzheimer’s Assoc.

What did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to be a K-9 cop. I love dogs and always wanted to help people.

How do you define success? Success to me is feeling happy and fulfilled. I like nice things and am motivated by the thought of financial freedom, but someone can drive a nice car and travel the world but feel unhappy. I know I had a successful day when I go to bed with a smile and wake up excited.

What three words best describe you? Smiley, compassionate, outgoing.

What goal do you set for yourself at the start of each day? To enjoy my journey. My goal is to not let the little things get to me and to live in the moment. It’s easy to get distracted by the little things that may not go your way and to always be focused on the future. I try to let go of things I can’t control.

What are you passionate about? I’m passionate about giving back. I have had help throughout my life to get to where I am, and I often think back on the people who helped me. I want one day for someone to be happy and successful and think back to me as someone who helped them.

What goals have you set for yourself? My goals have always been to live a life without regret — try new things, travel to new places, and not fear the unknown. I go with my gut and trust that what happens is what was supposed to happen.

Whom do you look up to, and why? I look up to my parents. They have always focused on being happy and putting family first, and they have always pushed me to pursue my dreams.

40 Under 40 Class of 2018

Youth Counselor and Operations Coordinator, CareerPoint; Age 25; Education: BSW, Westfield State University

Saul Caban

Saul Caban

Caban grew up in a tough section of Holyoke, and early on knew he wanted to be a role model for at-risk youth and others like himself. He is passionate about service and excited to be back working in the Youth Department at CareerPoint, where he continues to deliver intensive counseling to young people in his community, helping them gain awareness of their skills and interests and guiding them on a path to success in the workforce and beyond. The second youngest of six siblings in a first-generation family, Caban was the first to graduate high school, the first to graduate from college, and the first to be admitted to graduate school. He is now working on the completion of an MPA in nonprofit management at Westfield State University.

What did you want to be when you grew up? Growing up, I wanted to be a lawyer, but now I’m still working on my plan to pursue a leadership career in higher education and/or workforce development.

How do you define success? To me, success is when I am performing well and satisfied with my position. It is knowing that my work and efforts are adding value to my company, but also to my overall life and the lives of other people.

What three words best describe you? Outgoing, witty, efficient.

What do you like most about Western Massachusetts? I love the people.

Who has been your best mentor, and why? I’ve had several amazing mentors come into my life, including my current supervisor, Gladys Lebron-Martinez (pictured); Steve Leiblum, former director of the NEARI Jump Start after-school program; and Holyoke legend Steve Dubilo, who left his legacy behind, and I’m proud to have been his ‘son’ for many years before his death. These three have introduced me to amazing people and the resources that I need to be successful in an ever-evolving world.

What goal do you set for yourself at the start of each day? To bring out the best in someone, so that they, in turn, bring out the best in the next person.

What will work colleagues say at your funeral? Saul brought a lot of energy and positive spirit, and he could always be counted on.

What person, past or present, would you like to have lunch with, and why? My mom. Because I don’t get to see her as much as I want to.

40 Under 40 Class of 2018

Vice President, Commercial Loan Officer, Greenfield Savings Bank; Age 37; Education: BA, Isenberg School of Management, UMass Amherst

Andrew Bresciano

Andrew Bresciano

Bresciano was born and raised in Greenfield. Growing up, he worked alongside his father in a family catering business. Being involved in the family business for more than 20 years instilled a strong work ethic and an understanding of the importance of entrepreneurs and small businesses in the community. In 2005, he joined Greenfield Savings Bank, and in 2013 was promoted to vice president of Commercial Lending. Bresciano currently serves as a director and officer of the Rotary Club of Franklin County, the Franklin County Community Development Corp., and Greenfield YMCA. He lives in Turners Falls with his wife and two children.

What do you like most about Western Massachusetts? The fact that we are home to so many small businesses owned by individuals who have unrivaled passion for what they do. Also, the fact that this community has the ability to support so many nonprofit organizations seeking to make an impact in the lives of our community members.

Who has been your best mentor, and why? My mother, who taught me how to be a compassionate and caring individual, and my father, who taught me that hard work is rewarding and worth every minute.

What are you passionate about? Continuing to make our community a better place to live, work, and raise a family.

What goals have you set for yourself? Instilling strong values in my children and teaching them the importance of giving back to their community, wherever they live.

Whom do you look up to, and why? My wife, Kathy. She is a smart, strong, and loving person who has extraordinary passion for our family. Kathy is always eager to support me, even in times when I knowingly take on too much. Without her, I would not be able to give the time and effort it takes to make a difference in our community.

40 Under 40 Class of 2018

Director, Annual Giving & Grants, Cooley Dickinson Health Care; Age 33; Education: BS, Westfield State University; UMass Dartmouth

Nathan Bazinet

Nathan Bazinet

Bazinet’s background includes work in healthcare philanthropy, nonprofit management, and small-business operations. He is an active volunteer for the Zoo in Forest Park and Education Center, where he served as interim executive director for the 2017 season, before transitioning into president of the Forest Park Zoological Society, the zoo’s managing board. He also serves as president of his condo association. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with Orion and Aurora (the Zoo’s timber wolves), road trips, running, and Neil Diamond concerts.

What did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to own Jurassic Park, be a government agent (James Bond), and have a side job as an architect. The first two are still life goals.

Who has been your best mentor, and why? Diane Dukette has played the greatest role in helping to define and shape my career path. She is a patient teacher, a model for acting with integrity, and the definition of a strong support system — always reminding me to never change who I am, professionally or personally. Her support as a mentor, and the opportunity to work under her leadership at both Mercy Medical Center and Cooley Dickinson, has been critical to many of my career successes.

What are you passionate about? Giving back. The zoo is my current volunteer priority, and has been for several years. Having the chance to work with an amazing team and board to completely restructure and reinvigorate this Springfield icon was both challenging and incredibly fulfilling. Bonus: who wouldn’t love hanging out with timber wolves on the weekend?

Whom do you look up to, and why? My mom, for teaching me about life, and the importance of wearing sunglasses indoors; Christopher, for showing me safety, trust, and love (never give up); and my best friend, Peter. If I had to embarrass one of them with detail, it’s Peter. He’s a super-smart doctor, an author, and a world-renowned ethicist. More than that, as I’m an only child, he’s the closest I’ve had to a brother for longer than I can remember. Thanks for always having my back (and for putting up with my innumerable shenanigans).

What will work colleagues say at your funeral? Probably my mantra — “every day’s a great day!”

40 Under 40 Class of 2018

Loan Originator, Applied Mortgage; Age 28; Education: BA, UMass Commonwealth College; MBA, Western New England University

Lindsay Barron

Lindsay Barron

A proud Western Mass. native, Barron was raised, educated, and currently lives and works in Hampshire County. Her career in the mortgage industry provides a unique view of the economy. Having built a network of peers, clients, partners, and friends, she strives to nurture those connections to enable collaboration to achieve common, community-oriented goals. She is also committed to working with the next generation of leaders. Barron volunteers on committees for various fundraising events, serves on the Greater Northampton Chamber of Commerce board, is a founding board member of Young Professionals of Amherst, and is campaign co-chair for United Way of Hampshire County.

What did you want to be when you grew up? An adult. Seriously! I have been dying to be 30 since I knew what 30 was, and here I (almost) am.

How do you define success? To me, there are many categories of success — family, career, overall comfort in life. I guess, at the end of it all, I define success as the number of people who remember how you positively influenced their life in one way or another.

What three words best describe you? Goal-oriented, efficient, planner.

What do you like most about Western Massachusetts? We have it all: the hometown feel, amazing restaurants, access to healthcare and education, and beautiful natural attractions.

Who has been your best mentor, and why? My parents. They are an amazing team who support me in anything and everything I want to do and encourage me to be the best I can be every day.

What actress would play you in a movie about your life? Apparently, Mandy Moore, because someone just stopped me in the store and said I look like her — but I haven’t heard that before!

What are you passionate about? Family, friends, work, and maintaining a vibrant economy here in Western Mass. We are all in this together. Our community is as good as those around us, and helping each other helps everyone.

What person, past or present, would you like to have lunch with, and why? My Grandma Joan. I didn’t get to know her past my young childhood, and I would love to have a chat with her now as an adult.

40 Under 40 Class of 2018

Director of Community Relations, the Law Offices of Mark E. Salomone; Age 33; Education: Associate degree, Holyoke Community College; BA, Elms College

Yahaira Antonmarchi

Yahaira Antonmarchi

Antonmarchi was born in Puerto Rico to military parents; her mother was in the Air Force, and her father in the Army. When her parents retired from the military, the family settled in Western Mass., where Antonmarchi attended school mostly in South Hadley before graduating from Holyoke High School. Afterward, she went right to work in a small administrative office, after which she was hired at the Law Offices of Mark E. Salomone. While working for the firm full-time, she earned degrees from HCC and Elms College, and obtained a license to sell real estate.

What did you want to be when you grew up? My upbringing was very strict and disciplined, and the value of hard work was instilled in me from an early age. Although I can’t recall having an interest in any specific profession, I know I always wanted to work hard. I remember being a young girl and thinking that women in business suits seemed so powerful, like they had worked their asses off to get where they were, and they demanded respect for it. I thought that was so impressive. I wanted to be a woman in a business suit — or perhaps just the embodiment of what a woman in a business suit conveyed to me at the time.

How do you define success? I think being successful isn’t so much about your own accomplishments, but what you inspire others to accomplish. To be told that I have motivated someone or that someone looks up to me makes me feel far more successful than any degree, award, or accolade ever will.

What are you passionate about? I’m passionate about the advancement of individuals or groups for which advancement may seem unlikely — those who have the cards stacked against them. As a minority woman from a low-income background, I know what it is to be the underdog. It is truly inspiring to see disadvantage turn to motivation, motivation to action, and action to advancement.

Whom do you look up to, and why? Growing up, I saw my father walk from our home in Holyoke to work in West Springfield and back every day to provide for our family. The sacrifices that my mother has made for the sake of my two brothers and me almost make me question whether I could ever be even half the mother she is. The answer to this question will forever be my parents.

40 Under 40 Class of 2018

Realtor, Cohn & Co. Real Estate; Age 31; Education: BS, Keene State College

Amanda Abramson

Amanda Abramson

Abramson grew up on a 100-acre sheep farm and was involved in 4-H throughout her life. She attended high school at Northfield Mount Hermon and college at Keene State. Abramson has always felt the need to be involved in her local community and has carried that sentiment through to her career as a local Realtor, where she was Top Producer of the Year at Cohn & Co. in 2017. She currently lives on a farm in Greenfield with her husband, Sam, and two dogs.

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

How do you define success? Being financially stable while living the life I love.

What three words best describe you? Passionate, energetic, determined.

What do you like most about Western Massachusetts? The beautiful landscape.

Who has been your best mentor, and why? My father. He has an unbelievable moral compass and work ethic, and loves his community.

What actress would play you in a movie about your life? Jennifer Lawrence.

What are you passionate about? Animal welfare.

Whom do you look up to, and why? My older sister. She is the wisest, most grounded person I know.

What will work colleagues say at your funeral? It’s so quiet now.

What person, past or present, would you like to have lunch with, and why? Jane Goodall. Her work in animal advocacy is amazing, and she has acted on her passion for animal welfare all over the world.

Opinion

Editorial

If you haven’t noticed yet (and you probably have, because that special section is where everyone turns first), BusinessWest has changed up the format when it comes to presenting its 40 Under Forty honorees.

In years past, there were short profiles written by staff members, who, by the way, considered that assignment among the most enjoyable within a given year. However, this year, we decided to switch things up and offer a questionnaire of sorts.

Indeed, we gave our honorees a series of questions and informed them they could answer as many as they wanted, so long as they kept to a word count. The questions ranged from what would be considered traditional — “How do you define success?” — to the decidedly not so traditional — “What will work colleagues say at your funeral?”

Almost everyone answered that first one, and very few took a stab at the latter, but that’s not important.

What is important is that this year, those of us at BusinessWest decided to let our honorees do more of the talking — and they certainly did. And by doing so, they’ve given all of us some things to think about.

We’ll get back to that in a minute. First, the class of 2018…

Like those that came before it, this class is diverse in every respect, meaning everything from gender to geography to the fields they’ve chosen. Indeed, virtually every sector is represented by these 40 individuals, including healthcare, financial services, education, nonprofit management, law, retail, and more. And many of them have chosen to work for themselves, not for someone else, something we’re seeing more of in recent years.

And, like most all of the 440 honorees who came before them, the members of the class of 2018 are involved in the community, supporting nonprofits and causes ranging from the Zoo at Forest Park to Link to Libraries to the United Way, and putting their many talents to a different, commendable use while doing so.

Unlike those previous classes, though, these honorees got to tell us a little more about themselves. They had more opportunity to tell us what’s on their minds and about what’s important to them. And, again, they took full advantage of it.

Like when we asked them which actor or actress would portray them on the big screen. People gave nods to Sandra Bullock, Brad Pitt, Paul Rudd, and even Robert Redford. We think — we hope — he meant a much younger Robert Redford, but we digress.

Perhaps the most intriguing question, and the one that generated the most responses, was that one about success and how it is defined. We understand that there is certainly a politically correct way to answer this question, but we believe our honorees were quite sincere when they implied strongly (and we’re paraphrasing here) that success isn’t measured by the number on the paycheck — although that’s part of it.

Instead, our honorees noted, it’s measured by how happy and fulfilled someone is — not by the job they hold, but by the life they’re living.

One honoree actually summoned that old ‘I don’t live to work, I work to live’ line, but the others were saying essentially saying the same thing.

If you read all 40 responses (that will take time, but make some; it’s worth it), you’ll find that many of these individuals count their parents as their best role models and mentors, and consider it their unofficial mission in life to have someone write the same thing about them in 20 or 30 years.

Overall, it’s very refreshing and, as they say in this business, good reading.

If you haven’t done that yet, get to it next.

Education Sections

Piece by Piece

Elms College Financial Aid Director Kristin Hmieleski

Elms College Financial Aid Director Kristin Hmieleski

It’s hardly news that college costs have consistently risen over the past two decades, outpacing both inflation and incomes. But there are a host of resources families can access to help bring those costs down and reduce the initial sticker shock. Still, putting the pieces together takes a combination of hustle, clear communication, hard work, and often sacrifice, all in search of what students hope will be a life-changing degree.

 

Bryan Gross calls them “success stories” — incoming students who weren’t sure they could afford college, but somehow manage to make it happen.

“You’ll see a lot of media attention and articles about sticker shock, the cost of tuition, fees, room, and board, and it makes families very nervous,” said Gross, vice president of Enrollment Management and Marketing at Western New England University (WNEU). “But we do work very hard to make college affordable for families, and the sticker price is not what they end up paying.”

But it doesn’t happen overnight.

“It is a lot of piecing things together,” said Kristin Hmieleski, Financial Aid director for Elms College. “We always tell students, ‘you’re not going to get this for free, so let’s look at the resources at hand. What can you get through federal and state aid? What has the institution already offered you by way of merit? What else can we offer based on need? Worst-case scenario, you may have to pay out of pocket or take on additional loans.’ It’s almost like a puzzle we put together.”’

It’s a puzzle that has become increasingly challenging over the past couple decades, as college costs have steadily risen, often outpacing inflation and average income. According to the College Board, which tracks these trends annually, tuition and fees at private, four-year instititions increased by 1.9% from 2016-17 to 2017-18, to an average of $34,740. Meanwhile, public, four-year institutions saw an average increase of 1.3%, to $9,970.

Those increases are substantially lower than the spikes seen during the Great Recession. In 2009-10, for example, private institutions raised tuition and fees by 5.9%, and public schools posted a 9.5% increase.

However, the College Board noted, students still shoulder a heavier burden this year, because even those modest price hikes outpaced grant aid and tax benefits. And that places more pressure on financial-aid officers to help families, well, assemble that puzzle.

The key, both Hmieleski and Gross said, is communication — and lots of it, starting early.

“We do open houses, and as prospective students are looking at Elms College, we talk about different resources they can look at,” Hmieleski said, noting that plenty of opportunities exist beyond the award package — based on academic merit and financial need — that the college puts together for each enrollee.

“They might not know every single website to look at, but we give them some hints about community resources they can look into,” she explained. “Do they belong to a church? Do the businesses their families work for offer scholarships? The students need to do some hunting themselves. Have they reached out to guidance counselors? They might know of some opportunities.”

It’s not an easy process, and it takes legwork and often sacrifice. But if the end result is a degree and a career pathway, families are more than willing to make the effort.

Knowledge Is Power

Gross said communicating with students starts well before they ever sit down in a classroom.

“Being a private institution, being well aware of the current state of the economic landscape, giving families direct and clear information regarding their financial-aid package is really important for us,” he said.

Bryan Gross

Bryan Gross says communication with families — both early and often — is key to helping them forge a strategy to pay for college.

To that end, WNEU started a program three years ago called Culture of Financial Wellness, which includes several components, starting with financial-aid counseling, during which officers help families navigate the process of piecing together available resources. Meanwhile, during spring open houses, financial-aid workshops are offered to inform and educate parents about the financial-aid process to help them make the right decisions for their student.

Following those are SOAR, the university’s Summer Orientation and Registration sessions, featuring presentations by Peter Bielagus, known as “America’s Financial Educator,” who provides information to parents about financing their student’s education.

The final piece of Culture of Financial Wellness continues after the student has joined the campus. The Freshman Focus program offers programming and talks to help students successfully transition to college life, including an overview session each fall on finances and spending designed to teach students about credit-card debt and making sound financial decisions in college and beyond.

“We want to educate students and help them understand the importance of living within your means,” Gross said. “That’s the circle of life — we want to help students for the rest of their lives.”

But that help begins at the financial-aid office, where the allocation of resources has been subtly shifting. This year, the College Board reports, federal loans account for 32% of all student aid, followed by institutional grants (25%), federal Pell grants (15%), tax credits and deductions (9%), state grants (6%), private and employer grants (6%), and veteran and military grants (6%).

“We put together a strategy for each student based on their academic performance,” Gross said. “We offer them scholarships, and of course federal and state grants typically get offered, and after that we have need-based grants we offer depending on their circumstances, and typically at the bottom of all that is federal work studies.”

Hmieleski said some 80 to 100 Elms students benefit from federally funded work-study jobs, 7% of which must be targeted at community-service work, such as the America Reads program administered locally by Valley Opportunity Council, in which college students tutor children after school.

“Unfortunately, federal funding has been so limited — it gets cut every year,” she said, noting that some students work at campus jobs funded by the college, while others secure part-time employment off campus.

Gross said certain enrollees benefit from special circumstances. “Veteran students are a population we work with; we help students directly apply for veterans benefits, and they might be eligible for ROTC as well.”

The bottom line, he told BusinessWest, is that students are given a full picture of what resources are available so they can figure out how to fill in the gaps, even if that means living at home.

“We want them to live on campus, but we want families to make an informed decision. It’s amazing how many families don’t even think about that,” he said. “We just don’t want families to be flat-footed when they receive their first bill.”

Beyond the Gloom and Doom

As Gross noted, he’s gratified by the success stories, but they’re not the whole story, unfortunately.

“To be honest with you, every college also has stories of families that fill out an application for federal aid, then come to us and say, ‘this is not our reality; we can’t afford to pay that.’ We work with families to come up with a plan, and it may work, but it may not work.”

In some cases, he said, students will instead opt to begin their education at a two-year community college. No matter what the outcome, though, he tries to make sure the decisions are made from a place of copious information.

“Families know that it’s not just a matter of crossing their fingers and closing their eyes, and somehow it comes together. You really have to have a plan, and you have to use college and community resources to help you through the process.”

No matter how much thought goes into a strategy, Hmieleski added, it’s impossible to de-stress the process of financial planning for college.

“No matter where you are in life, even if you have wealth, money is always stressful,” she said. “When some people hear about finances or anything involving money, their reaction is almost to shut down and not listen because they don’t feel like they’ll ever understand it.

“But we deal with a lot of first-generation, low-income students here at Elms; we are here to support those students,” she went on, noting that the college is invested not only in their ability to pay for school, but their academic success and keeping them enrolled. “OK, you’re here, you’re able to afford it — now let’s make sure you’re academically successful.”

But it begins with that first look at the unassembled puzzle, and all the decisions that go into putting it together. Hmieleski recalled one student — whose academic record was strong — that she worried about every fall, wondering if she’d be able to continue on, due to tight finances. But each year, the family somehow managed, and she graduated.

“I get goosebumps in so many situations when it looked like doom and gloom, like the student wouldn’t be able to come here, but we work on it,” she said. “And when they’re able to walk through that door, it’s a thrill.”

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]

Education Sections

Smart Strategy

Adam Metsch says he works to help make the many moving targets that emerge in the college-selection process move a lot less.

Adam Metsch says he works to help make the many moving targets that emerge in the college-selection process move a lot less.

Adam Metsch was asked to explain why individuals who retain his services should look upon the fees they pay him as an investment, rather than merely an expense.

And he would spend the next several minutes answering that question in several different ways, using both words and numbers. They were all effective in getting the point home, but perhaps none more so than his simple comparison to buying a home.

“When you buy a house, there’s a mortgage broker, a Realtor, and a lawyer to ensure that the transaction goes through smoothly,” said Metsch, president of East Longmeadow-based the College Advisor of New England. “When people buy a college education, very often, it’s on the emotions of a teenager, because the parents are going through the same learning curve at the time the kid is. So there’s no way to protect their $250,000 investment or their $125,000 investment, whatever it might be.

“If you look at what someone might pay me in fees, that’s about one-fifth what someone would pay to the lawyer, for the Realtor’s commission, and the broker when they buy that house,” he went on. “And the investment is nearly as big; think about it.”

As noted, he had several other methods for answering that question, including a very powerful use of numbers. Indeed, 91% of what he called “College Advisor students” — those who arrived on campus through his assistance — stayed that their enrolled college for four years, compared to the national average rate of 51%, a huge consideration given the soaring sticker price of a college education today.

Metsch, who’s been helping students and parents make what he called “more scientific decisions” about which college to attend for more than two decades now, offers these words and numbers often, because even though his profession has grown considerably in recent years in terms of the numbers of people handling such work, many people are still not aware that such advisors exist and that they can make an extremely daunting process far less so.

Getting that message across is one of the items on Metsch’s do-list, but he’s far busier handling a client list involving parents and students across the region. He provides a wide array of services and coaching on everything from when students should take certain standardized tests to which schools would make the best fits, to how parents can go about paying for the school their child eventually settles on.

Slicing through it all, Metsch said he and his staff help “reduce the movement in a lot of moving targets.”

That’s a colorful phrase he used to describe how his company helps take time, complexity, confusion, and anxiety out of a process that might (maybe ‘would’ is the better word) otherwise involve much larger quantities of each.

When asked how it does this, Metsch would go on in great detail, and we’ll get to those of those thoughts later, but he summed most of it up by saying his company works very hard to get young students to take ownership of the college-selection process, a necessary quality given the high financial stakes involved, but also because many of them don’t take such ownership, and with often dire consequences, poor decision making, and missed opportunities.

For this issue and its focus on paying for college, BusinessWest talked at length with Metsch about his business, his profession, and the mindset students and parents should take as they approach one of the most important decisions they’ll ever make.

Schools of Thought

There’s a map on the wall in the lobby area of the College Advisor’s suite of offices. It identifies essentially every college and university in the country, and at a glance, it’s quite revealing.

Massachusetts has so many of these institutions, there isn’t room for all the names within the confines of the state’s borders, thus they’re placed out over the Atlantic Ocean. In Wyoming, by way of contrast, there are just a few lines for the entire state.

Knowing where the colleges are, however, is just a very small part of the equation when it comes to the process of choosing a school, and the many moving parts, or targets, as Metsch called them, now explain why this profession of college advising has grown considerably after the past quarter-century.

Back in the early ’90s, this was the domain of high-school guidance counselors and a few individuals (mostly women) with backgrounds in social work who often worked part-time out of their homes helping parents and students navigate school-selection matters and options for financing an education.

Over the years, as many of these issues became more complex and parents and students realized they could use some assistance, more of it became available, although there are still not many people doing this kind of work, said Metsch.

And there are tiers within this profession, he noted, adding that some financial advisors will add these services to their portfolios, often as a way to sell more annuities and related products. Parents should look for individuals who can put the letters CEP (certified educational planner) on their business card, said Metsch, adding that he has done so for years now.

As such an advisor, he said he provides counsel on a broad range of subjects, which, as noted earlier, include such things as tests and when they should be taken, colleges and which ones might make the right fit, timelines for decision making, and how to pay for an education.

He said that many parents and students are still of the belief that they can do all this themselves, perhaps with some help from the high-school guidance counselor, and often find out that they’re in over their head or that they’re wasting money and an equally precious commodity — time.

He offered an anecdote to get some of his points across.

“I got a call two months ago from a family that said they thought they could do this on their own,” he recalled. One of the parents said, ‘when we went to Northeastern University, we realized they didn’t have the major my daughter wants. She was interested in looking at the school, but she didn’t realize they didn’t have her major; that was half a day we didn’t need to spend.’”

Busy parents don’t have many half-days to waste, he went on, adding that this family may have been using outdated information or relying on word of mouth. In any case, the proper research wasn’t done before the student and parents gassed up the car and drove across the state.

That’s one very simplistic example of how unscientific many searches are, said Metsch, adding that his business specializes in removing the prefix from that word.

And it does so with every aspect of the process, he added, noting that his team, which has more than 90 years of combined experience, has visited more than 550 colleges and universities across the country and can offer first-hand insight into a broad range of schools.

Staying with that anecdote he offered earlier, Metsch said this was a case where the parent clearly wanted the student to take ownership of the process — and that student did, but wasn’t properly equipped, or properly motivated (or both), to carry out that assignment responsibly.

Which brings him back to that notion of moving targets.

“If you look at financial-aid eligibility, many parents have no idea what they can afford,” he explained. “They’re just looking at a $60,000 price tag, and that’s paralyzing them. Then you have the question about how this school figures out who gets scholarships or need-based aid, so that’s a moving target. The kid doesn’t know what he wants to study, so that’s a moving target. So where do you start the process?

“We’re able to come up with a plan that takes into account how much it’s going to cost at a variety of schools based on the different formulas schools use,” he went on. “We can do an eligibility analysis, and, like an accountant, can reduce your tax burden and increase your eligibility for financial aid.”

There is both an eligibility review and an affordability review, he went on, which really does a deep dive into just what parents can realistically afford, taking into account a host of factors including everything from how loans are paid back to how many children the couple has, to how much money the family will save when the child leaves the house for college.

“Some families may not be able to afford what the formulas say they have to pay,” Metsch went on. “So that means we have to look more at schools where the student can get academic scholarships. We may also say to a student, ‘here’s the threshold you want to get your test scores to, because if you just go up another 20 points, you’ll get another $10,000 from this particular school.’”

Grade Expectations

This is what Metsch means by a more scientific approach to this complex, time-consuming process.

And such science is obviously critical given the high stakes for all those involved and the long-term implications of the decisions being made.

“There are all these moving targets,” he said in conclusion. “And if you can’t freeze-frame them, it’s a complete crapshoot, and no parent wants that.”

And that’s probably the best reason, he went on, why people should look at his services as an investment, not an expense.

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

Departments Picture This

Email ‘Picture This’ photos with a caption and contact information to [email protected]

Healthy Beginnings

More than 100 community stakeholders, CHD staff, and well-wishers gathered to officially welcome the new CHD Greenfield Center for Wellness to 102 Main St. in downtown Greenfield on April 20. The center, a partnership of CHD and Community Health Center of Franklin County, officially opened for business on Monday, April 30. CHD invested nearly $6.5 million through a combination of private funds, MassDevelopment tax-exempt bonds, and historic tax credits to transform the historic Sears building into a state-of-the-art community health center. Pictured at top: Jim Goodwin, president and CEO of CHD, with Natalie Blias, executive director of the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce. Bottom: Robert Babcock, market president with TD Bank, with Kimberley Lee, vice president of Development at CHD.
Healthy BeginningsHealthy Beginnings 2

Caritas Gala

Mercy Medical Center staged its annual Caritas Gala on April 21 at the MassMutual Center. The gala, with its Motown-inspired theme “Reach Out,” raised funds to support Mercy’s Pathway to Care: Addressing the Opioid Crisis through Intervention, Education, and Treatment. Gala organizers presented two Caritas awards at the event, named after Sister Mary Caritas, SP, vice president of Sisters of Providence congregation and long-time president of Mercy Medical Center. The first went to Gov. Charlie Baker for his vision and leadership around prevention and treatment efforts for those suffering from substance use disorder and his support of individuals and families in recovery. “Recognizing that the opioid crisis is one of the most significant public health issues facing America, Gov. Baker has mobilized efforts across the Commonwealth to tackle the issue through prevention and treatment services; he was a unanimous choice for this important award,” said Mark Fulco, President of Mercy Medical Center and its affiliates, as he presented the honor. The second Caritas Award was presented to Daniel Keenan, vice president of Advocacy and Government Relations for Trinity Health of New England, for his advocacy efforts on behalf of patients at Mercy Medical Center and Providence Behavioral Health Hospital. An attorney and former state representative, he is active in behavioral health advocacy including work with the Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association and the Massachusetts Association of Behavioral Health Systems. Below, from left, Fulco; Sister Caritas; Baker; Robert Roose, MD, MPH, FASAM, vice president of Behavioral Health, Mercy Medical Center; and Sister Kathleen Popko, SP, president, Sisters of Providence congregation. At bottom, from left, Fulco, Baker, and Keenan.Caritas GalaCaritas Gala 2

buy ivermectin for humans buy ivermectin online buy generic cialis buy cialis