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Estate Planning

Signs of the Times

Hyman Darling says the calls started coming in several weeks ago.

At first, there were a few, and then, as the news about the COVID-19 pandemic became steadily worse and the grim reality of the situation became ever more apparent, the volume started increasing.

On the other end of the line were people looking to update a will or estate plan, or, more likely, finish the one they’d started but never finished or finally get started with one, he said, adding that there are obvious reasons why.

“Everyone knows someone who knows someone who has the virus, and they’re worried — about their parents, their brothers, their cousins … somebody,” said Darling, a partner with the Springfield-based law firm Bacon Wilson and one of the region’s pre-eminent estate-planning specialists. “And there’s more people sitting at home with less to do; they’re paying attention to this and thinking about it. The news is very distressing, and people are responding to it.”

Meanwhile, healthcare workers, and especially those on the front lines of the crisis, don’t have to watch on TV — they can see it right in from them — and, thus, they’re responsible for many of these calls to Darling and specialists like him across the area.

This phenomenon, if it can be called that, is certainly keeping area estate planners much busier than they were, providing some much-needed peace of mind to those who are watching the news and seeing the death tolls rise, and even adding some new phrases to the lexicon, like ‘driveway signing.’

Hyman Darling

Hyman Darling

“Everyone knows someone who knows someone who has the virus, and they’re worried — about their parents, their brothers, their cousins … somebody. And there’s more people sitting at home with less to do; they’re paying attention to this and thinking about it. The news is very distressing, and people are responding to it.”

That’s the phrase Liz Sillin, an estate-planning specialist with Springfield-based Bulkley Richardson, summoned as she talked about one of the more challenging aspects of this development: documents need to be signed and notarized, and at this moment (things may well change), Massachusetts does not allow electronic signatures for such documents as wills and healthcare proxies.

That’s why there really are signings in the driveway — and with all the proper precautions taken for preventing or at least minimizing the spread of the virus.

“We take as many steps as possible to keep us all away from one another and not cross-contaminate the paper,” said Sillin, who has now been part of a few of these elaborate exercises, which involve the lawyers and four participants — the party creating the document, two witnesses, and a notary. “Everyone brings their own pen, and everyone steps back while one person signs, preferably without touching the paper with his or her hand. We use lots of hand sanitizer; we use a clipboard, and we sanitize the clipboard. It’s kind of a bizarre process, but there are people for whom getting these documents done is paramount, and if remote signing isn’t legal, this is the only way we can do it.”

Liz Sillin

Liz Sillin

“Everyone brings their own pen, and everyone steps back while one person signs, preferably without touching the paper with his or her hand. We use lots of hand sanitizer; we use a clipboard, and we sanitize the clipboard. It’s kind of a bizarre process, but there are people for whom getting these documents done is paramount, and if remote signing isn’t legal, this is the only way we can do it.”

Mike Simolo, an estate-planning specialist with Springfield-based Robinson Donovan, who, like most all of his counterparts, has taken part in a few driveway signings himself, agreed. And, like others we spoke with, he said that, while it’s unfortunate that it took a pandemic to get people to do what they should have some time ago, he’s glad that many have been motivated to get this important work done.

“People who had been putting this off for one reason or another are suddenly deciding not to put it off anymore,” he said. “They’re calling up, hoping to get a plan a plan in place sooner, rather than later.”

With the accent on sooner.

And while their phones are ringing more often, those we spoke with noted that they are apprehensive that some, in an effort to get something done, and in a hurry, will take shortcuts, perhaps visit one of the legal websites out there, or, worse still, take the DIY route.

“This is LegalZoom’s dream situation,” said Simolo, referring to the popular website that provides legal assistance. “People are waking up, watching the news, and realizing, ‘I don’t have anything.’”

He said that, while people can certainly take that route, he projects that many who do will leave out something or make a mistake that could have serious implications later, when loved ones are left to settle an estate (more on that later).

Mike Simolo

Mike Simolo

“People who had been putting this off for one reason or another are suddenly deciding not to put it off anymore. They’re calling up, hoping to get a plan in place sooner, rather than later. ”

For this issue and its focus on estate planning, BusinessWest looks at how the COVID-19 pandemic is prompting many to get important estate-planning work done, and how the legal community is responding.

Where There’s a Will…

As she talked about her greater workload and when and why it came about, Gina Barry, another partner and estate-planning specialist with Bacon Wilson, used the story of a pharmacist at one of the local hospitals — an individual with a number of the health risks that make him especially vulnerable to the virus — to touch on a number of the relevant points in this intriguing development.

“He’s working long hours in the hospital,” she said, “and he was terrified — and he probably still is — that, because of his high-risk concerns, he would be one of those who would contract the virus and not survive it.

“We started his plan a few years back,” she went on. “Recently, he e-mailed me and said, ‘I have no right to ask this, given that I delayed a bit, but can you rush?’ And I said, ‘absolutely, I can rush.’ I dropped everything and got it done.”

Continuing that story, Barry said this individual managed to get the notary from the hospital and two of his co-workers together to sign these documents, and she Zoomed in for the gathering to make sure everyone was signing in the right place.

As noted, this anecdote touches on a number of the many elements of this story, from the fear exhibited by healthcare workers to the need to move fast; from the logistics involved with getting a signing done to the technology used by lawyers to get the documents signed, sealed, and delivered.

And it’s a story that is now playing itself out countless times across the region.

Indeed, while not everyone calling to write or update a will or a related document is in healthcare — and the lawyers we spoke with said these individuals have been given first priority — most everyone is terrified. And they’re also in a hurry.

And, for the most part, estate-planning specialists are able to accommodate them.

Simolo said a process that might normally take several weeks can be expedited and handled in perhaps a week to 10 days, with a fairly simple will being done in just a few days.

Meanwhile, many of these wills and other documents — living wills and healthcare proxies are also being sought — are being created in what would be considered non-traditional ways. Indeed, since face-to-face meetings are all but out given new social-distancing guidelines, estate-planning specialists are using the phone, Zoom, and other vehicles for communicating with clients and getting documents reviewed.

“People don’t care about coming in now,” said Darling. “They’re happy to do the telephone messaging, e-mails, Zoom … as long as it gets done, they don’t care if they meet us in person.”

Interest in getting documents written and notarized is especially acute among those in healthcare, and often it’s those individuals’ loved ones who are getting the ball rolling.

“I’ve been contacted by the husbands and wives of doctors,” Simolo said. “They’re saying, ‘let’s get this done as soon as humanly possible.”

Sillin agreed, and noted that there is interest among those old and young to have their affairs in order.

“Just today, I got a call from someone who is a doctor — he’s very young and has a young family,” she explained. “He’s in a facility that has cases around him, and he’s like, ‘yikes, I have to do something.”

But interest is across the board, said those we spoke with, adding that some of those calling are finally getting around to having these documents written, while others are realizing that the ones they have are dated and need to be made current.

“People are at home reading about nothing but COVID-19,” said Sillin. “They begin to contemplate this aspect of life, and we’ve been getting a lot of calls from people of all ages who want to get going on some estate planning.”

Simolo agreed.

“It’s mostly been people who don’t have a plan in place or had a plan in place 25 years ago, when the kids were 3,” said Simolo. “Now, the grandkids are 3 — that kind of thing.”

But while those we spoke with are certainly pleased that their phones are ringing more — for themselves, but especially for their clients — they are concerned that many may try to do this work online or even draft something themselves.

“It’s been my experience that, nine times out of 10, something’s missing from those documents,” said Darling, adding that, in many other cases, documents are not signed properly. “You get what you pay for, and mistakes made now can be very costly later — not for the deceased, but for their loved ones; litigation is very expensive in a will contest, not to mention the emotional stress that it brings on family members.”

Barry agreed and summoned an analogy she’s used many times during her career — too many to count by her estimate — when talking about do-it-yourself wills and related documents.

“You can pull your own tooth, too,” she said. “But would you rather visit a dentist or tie a string to a doorknob and try it that way?”

Peace of Mind

Finishing her story about the pharmacist in one of the local hospitals, Barry said that, at the conclusion of the signing — which, again, she witnessed via Zoom — she asked her client if he now had some peace of mind.

“He signed, and his shoulders must have dropped like four inches visibly,” she told BusinessWest. “They were up around his ears, and he just relaxed and dropped his shoulders. And I said to myself, ‘this is why we’re doing this.’”

And doing a lot of this.

There aren’t very many bright spots to be found in the midst of this pandemic, but this is clearly one of them. People across the region are becoming proactive and getting needed documents in place.

And that’s allowing many more people to sigh, relax, and drop their shoulders.

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

Senior Planning

The Four Key Documents of an Estate Plan

By Gina Barry

Consider this — tomorrow, you take a terrible fall.

You are injured to the point that you cannot communicate, or worse yet, you pass away. No one expected this to happen. Your loved ones are reeling. They are in shock and not thinking clearly.

Gina Barry

By Gina M. Barry, Esq.

They are now immediately called upon to act on your behalf. Do you know who will handle your affairs? Have you given that person the legal authority they would need to do so without added cost, time, and administrative difficulties? If your estate plan is in place and up to date, your affairs can be handled efficiently and effectively, leaving your loved ones to grieve the tragedy without all the added stress of navigating your affairs blindly and without authority.

Thus, every adult should have an estate plan in place. Fortunately, a basic estate plan is quite simple to establish. It requires four documents:

Last Will and Testament

The will is the document most people think of when contemplating an estate plan. Your will directs how your probate assets will be distributed after you pass away.

When you die, your probate assets are those assets held in your name alone that do not have a designated beneficiary. If you pass away without a will, your estate will be distributed in accordance with the Commonwealth’s intestacy laws, which may not be as you would have wanted.

A common misconception is that a will is not needed unless you have a lot of assets; however, a will can do much more than simply distribute assets. A will is necessary for you to name a personal representative (formerly known as executor), who will carry out your estate. Your personal representative will gather your probate assets, pay valid debts, and distribute the balance as set forth in your will.

Further, if you leave behind minor or disabled children, a guardian can be named in your will to take custody of these children. Likewise, a trust can be established in a will to provide ongoing protection for minor or disabled children as well as for other beneficiaries who should not receive their inheritance outright, usually due to spendthrift concerns. When there is no will in place, your power to make these designations and to direct the distribution of your property is forfeited.

Many also believe that, if every asset is jointly owned or has a designated beneficiary, a will is not necessary. For such a plan to be successful, the joint owner or beneficiary must survive you. If they do not survive you, your estate will need to be probated, which is when your will would direct the distribution of those assets.

Further, there are some instances where joint ownership cannot carry out your wishes, such as when you have more than one child, but cannot add all of their names on the same account due to the financial institution’s practices or because one or more of your children cannot be trusted to have access to your account as a joint owner during your lifetime.

Healthcare Proxy

A healthcare proxy is a document that designates a healthcare agent, who would make healthcare decisions for you if you were unable to make them for yourself.

Your healthcare agent would step into your shoes and make your decisions as you would if you were able. For example, your agent may decide whether a certain medication should be taken, a certain medical procedure should be done, or an admission or discharge from a medical facility should occur. Should you lose capacity and not have a healthcare proxy in place, your loved ones would need to petition the Probate Court to become your guardian, which is a lengthy, expensive, and public process that most would rather avoid.

‘Living-will’ language is normally included within the healthcare proxy, as it addresses your end-of-life decisions and generally sets forth that you do not want extraordinary medical procedures used to keep you alive when there is no likelihood of recovery. This can be a difficult decision to carry out; therefore, care should be taken to name someone who would be able to honor that decision.

If you have a terminal illness or are of advanced age, you also should consider establishing Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (MOLST) in addition to your healthcare proxy. A MOLST is a form completed by you and your physician that relays instructions about your care. A MOLST would eliminate the need for living-will language in a proxy, but the best practice would be to reference the MOLST in your proxy.

Durable Power of Attorney

A durable power of attorney is a document that designates someone to make financial decisions for you. This document is usually in full force and effect when it is signed, but it is expected it will not be used unless you want help with or are unable to handle your own financial affairs.

It is also possible to grant a springing power that does not take effect until incapacity arises. Should you lose capacity and not have a durable power of attorney in place, your loved ones will have to petition the Probate Court to become your conservator, which, just like the guardianship process, is also lengthy, expensive, and public.

The durable power of attorney is a very powerful document with authority that is as broad as the powers granted within it. It gives power to the person you name to handle all your financial decisions, not just pay your bills. In most cases, the person named will be authorized to handle your real estate, life insurance, retirement accounts, other investment accounts, bank accounts, and any other matters involving money, such as tax returns and applications for public benefits.

As such, the person chosen to serve in this capacity should be someone with financial savvy who can be absolutely trusted to use your assets for only your benefit.

Homestead Declaration

For Massachusetts homeowners, a homestead declaration, once properly recorded in the Registry of Deeds, will declare your principal residence to be your homestead. The homestead declaration protects the equity in your primary residence up to $500,000 from attachment, seizure, execution on judgment, levy, or sale for the payment of debts.

In some cases, such as advanced age or disability, the equity protection can be up to $1 million. If a homestead declaration is not recorded, there is an automatic $125,000 of equity protection. It should be noted that, in addition to some other specific exceptions, a homestead declaration will not protect your real estate from nursing-home costs or tax liens.

Conclusion

While incapacity and death are not the most joyous of topics, when faced with them, most people would prefer to have a plan in place to ensure their needs and goals will be met.

You can help your loved ones avoid expensive legal hassles related to your ongoing care and your estate. Individuals with more complicated estates may require different or additional documents to fully protect their interests, but for most, an estate plan is only four documents away.

Gina Barry is a partner with the law firm Bacon Wilson, P.C. She is a member of the National Assoc. of Elder Law Attorneys, the Estate Planning Council, and the Western Massachusetts Elder Care Professionals Assoc. She concentrates her practice in the areas of estate and asset-protection planning, probate administration and litigation, guardianships, conservatorships, and residential real estate; (413) 781-0560; [email protected].

Guide to Senior Planning Special Publications

Guide to Senior Planning

What was once a demographic ripple has become a full-blown wave — and it’s getting bigger.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2000, the number of adults age 65 and older was 35 million, or 12.4% of the total population. In 2016, the number of seniors had risen to 49.2 million or 15.2% of the population.

By 2030, the bureau estimates, more than 20% of U.S. residents will have passed their 65th birthdays, and by 2035, that demographic will outnumber children younger than 18 — an unprecedented swing.

What does all this mean?

It means it’s time to prepare — the sooner, the better.

As the Baby Boom generation continues to march into their retirement years — at the rate of 10,000 per day — Americans are living longer than ever. But what that life will entail, post-65, can wildly vary depending on lifestyle preferences, health status, finances, and more.

The questions are myriad. What levels of care are available, and what do they include? How will I pay for all of this, especially if I, or my parents, live well past 80 or 90? How do I approach mom or dad with my concerns that they might not be able to live alone anymore? What’s an estate plan, and what documents do I need to worry about?

It’s a lot to think about, and no single guide can answer all those questions. But hopefully, this special section will sort through some of the confusion and get those conversations started.

Reserve Your Space for the 2020 Senior Planning Guide

The 2020 Senior Planning Guide will be inserted into the Aug. 17 issue of BusinessWest issue and  the July/August issue of Healthcare News and will also be available online as an interactive flipbook. Sponsorship & advertising opportunities are available. 

For more information on sponsorship and print ad rates contact:
Kate Campiti 413.781.8600 (ext. 106) [email protected]
Kathleen Plante 413.781.8600 (ext. 108) [email protected]

Departments People on the Move
Alexandra Fach

Alexandra Fach

Meghan Morton

Meghan Morton

Genevieve Brough, president of Finck & Perras Insurance Agency Inc., recently announced the firm has hired two new employees. Alexandra Fach and Meghan Morton will serve as personal-lines account managers. Fach will work in the firm’s Easthampton office, and Morton at the Florence location. Fach holds a bachelor’s degree in communication technology and visual communication and a master’s degree from Lesley University in Cambridge. She has worked in the industry since 2013 and also holds state insurance licensure. Morton is a certified insurance service representative and a certified insurance counselor. She holds state insurance licensure and has worked in the industry for six years.

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Andrew Caires

Andrew Caires

Pathlight, a provider of services for residential and community services for people with intellectual disabilities, has named Andrew Caires its chief financial officer and vice president of Administration, effective April 9. Caires has significant experience in human services. He was the financial director for Hawthorn Services for 15 years. When Hawthorne merged with the Center for Human Development, he became CHD’s director of Fiscal Services. Most recently, he was the controller for the Williston Northampton School. Caires has a bachelor’s degree in business administration/accounting from Western New England University and an MBA from UMass Amherst. He has maintained his certified public accountant (CPA) designation. Pathlight has been providing programs and services to people with developmental disabilities since 1952. Its programs include residential homes, supports for independent living, family-based living, recreation, enrichment, employment supports, family resources, autism supports, and more.

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Amanda Carpe

Amanda Carpe

The Gove Law Office announced that Amanda Carpe has joined the firm as an associate attorney focused on real-estate transactions, estate planning, and estate administration. Carpe earned her juris doctor from Western New England University in 2016. While in law school, she interned with Gove Law Office and for the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families, where she appeared on behalf of the Commonwealth in child-endangerment cases. She also clerked for Judge Charles Belsky. She began her career in Worcester, where she worked on complex estate planning, elder-law matters, guardianships and conservatorships petitions, and probate administrations.

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Dean Brown

Dean Brown

Teresa Wurszt

Teresa Wurszt

Florence Bank announced recently that Dean Brown and Teresa Wurszt were named to the President’s Club for 2018. The honor recognizes superior performance, customer service, and overall contribution to Florence Bank. Brown, a card operations specialist in the Operations Department in the main branch in Florence, began work at Florence Bank in 2008. Wurszt, an assistant commercial loan administration manager in the main office in Florence, joined the bank in 2015. With nearly 20 years of banking experience, she was praised by her colleagues for her knowledge, collaboration, and dedicated work ethic.

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Erika Gleason

Erika Gleason

Pathlight, a provider of residential and community services for people with intellectual disabilities and autism, named behavior specialist Erika Gleason as the first recipient of its Donald Fletcher Scholarship. The $5,000 scholarship, which will be awarded yearly, is meant to assist an employee in obtaining an undergraduate degree. A committee of Pathlight board members and staff made the selection after receiving applications from employees. The scholarship is named after Pathlight’s former Executive Director Donald Fletcher, who was committed to helping staff pursue their education. This scholarship is in addition to Pathlight’s current tuition-reimbursement program. Gleason started at Pathlight in 2013 as a direct support professional, supporting people with intellectual disabilities and intensive behavioral needs, but quickly moved up the Pathlight career ladder, becoming a behavioral specialist this year. In her new role, she is responsible for checking in with all of Pathlight’s residential homes, as well as conducting safety-training sessions that teach people how to support individuals with special needs. She is currently working toward an associate’s degree in psychology at Holyoke Community College. Her goal is to transfer to Westfield State University, where she hopes to earn her bachelor’s degree.

•••••

Gov. Charlie Baker announced Patrick Carnevale as director of the Governor’s Western Mass. Office in Springfield. Carnevale brings almost 20 years of experience in public service and will be the administration’s primary liaison between Western Mass. constituents and communities. With 18 years of public service in the Commonwealth, Carnevale has spent much of his career in emergency-preparedness response and recovery. He most recently served as regional manager for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), where he was responsible for emergency management in Central and Western Mass. Since 2002, he has held multiple roles in the State Emergency Operations Center, responding to natural disasters, developing and implementing municipal preparedness plans, allocating state and federal funding and grants, and improving emergency management in 161 communities. Carnevale graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and received his MBA from Western New England University. He also attended the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative and the National Preparedness Leadership in Homeland Security at Harvard University. He holds 14 certificates relating to emergency-preparedness disaster management from the Emergency Management Institute, the National Hurricane Center, and MEMA.

Daily News

The Gove Law Office announced that Amanda Carpe has joined the firm as an associate attorney focused on real estate transactions, estate planning, and estate administration.

“Amanda is a very valuable addition to our firm, and will be supporting our growing real estate department, as well as helping clients plan for their future and negotiate the probate process,” said Michael Gove, founding partner of Gove Law Office.

Carpe earned her J.D. from Western New England University in 2016. While in law school, she interned with Gove Law Office, and for the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families, where she appeared on behalf of the Commonwealth in child-endangerment cases. She also clerked for Judge Charles Belsky.

Carpe began her career in Worcester, where she worked on complex estate planning, elder law matters, guardianships and conservatorships petitions, and probate administrations.

The Gove Law Office, with offices in Ludlow and Northampton, is a bilingual firm with attorneys licensed in Massachusetts and Connecticut who provide practical, solutions-oriented guidance to clients in the areas of residential and commercial real estate, estate planning and administration, business representation, personal injury law, commercial lending, and bankruptcy.

Agenda Departments

‘Protecting Your Assets’ Panel

April 18: Springfield Partners for Community Action Inc. will host “Protecting Your Assets Part III” starting at 6 p.m. at Springfield Central Library, 220 State St. The event is in recognition of National Financial Literacy Month and is free and open to the public. Call (413) 263-6500 to reserve a seat. This year’s panelists include Julius Lewis of the Metrocom Group and the Lewis and Marrow Financial Hour, which airs Wednesdays on STCC radio; and attorney Sara Miller, who specializes in elder law and estate planning. New this year is attorney Martin O’Connor, an authority on tax issues and who helps low-income, non-English-speaking taxpayers understand their rights and responsibilities as taxpayers.

Caritas Gala

April 21: Plans are underway for Mercy Medical Center’s second annual Caritas Gala at the MassMutual Center in Springfield. The gala, with its Motown-inspired theme “Reach Out,” will raise funds to support Mercy Behavioral Health Care and the Mercy Emergency Department’s Opioid Community Outreach for education, intervention, and treatment. The Caritas Gala will begin at 6:30 p.m. with a cocktail reception, live entertainment from the band Motor City Magic, and a silent auction. Dinner will be served at 8 p.m., following by a live auction and dancing until midnight with music from the band Radiance. For more information or to purchase tickets to the Caritas Gala, visit www.mercycares.com/caritas-gala.

Mayors’ Economic Forum

April 26: “Mayors Meet Millennials” is the title of the 2018 New England Knowledge Corridor Mayors’ Economic Forum at Goodwin College in East Hartford, Conn. The program begins with coffee and conversation from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m., followed by the conference program from 8:30 to 11 a.m. Participating mayors include Domenic Sarno (Springfield), Richard Kos (Chicopee), Marcia Leclerc (East Hartford), Erin Stewart (New Britain), and Luke Bronin (Hartford). Registration options and more information will be available soon.

BFAIR Annual Meeting

April 27: Berkshire Family & Individual Resources Inc. (BFAIR) will host its annual meeting at Berkshire Hills Country Club, 500 Benedict Road, Pittsfield. The breakfast, set to begin at 7:30 a.m., will include the presentation of several awards for employee recognition, as well as the recognition of the community partner of the year, Richard Alcombright, former mayor of North Adams, longtime advocate for people with disabilities, and currently serving as vice president, Local Business & Customer Relations manager at MountainOne. Additionally, the chairman of the board will offer remarks on the organization’s continued expansion throughout the Berkshires and into Hampden and Hampshire counties. This year’s keynote address will be delivered by Chris May, an advocate and photographer with Down syndrome. This event is sponsored by Greylock Federal Credit Union. The cost is $10 per person. To attend the annual meeting, RSVP by Friday, April 20 to Carol Fox at (413) 664-9382, ext. 40, or [email protected], or online at www.bfair.org.

Document Shred Day

April 28: Kelley & Malmborg Investment Consulting Group announced it will host a document shred day event on Saturday, April 28 at 9 a.m. at the Northampton Senior Center, 67 Conz St. The event, co-hosted by Valley Green Shredding, is open to the public, with all proceeds going to the Northampton Senior Center. Shredding will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis until the truck is full or 11 a.m., whichever comes first. A maximum of three boxes per car will be accepted, with a $5 minimum donation. No household items, electronics, metal clips, or rubberbands will be accepted.

Financial-industry Forum

May 3: Training and Workforce Options (TWO), a partnership between Holyoke Community College and Springfield Technical Community College (STCC), will host an employer-engagement forum focused on the financial-services industry from 8 to 10 a.m. at STCC’s Scibelli Hall, Rooms 701 and 702. The forum will provide financial professionals with information on workforce-development training opportunities and related services offered by experienced trainers from HCC and STCC. TWO representatives also will discuss how regional businesses can secure Massachusetts Workforce Training Fund Grants to enhance training efforts for their workers. The forum is geared toward financial professionals and their businesses, with the goal of gathering input about workforce-development needs. The event is free, and refreshments will be provided. The deadline to register is April 27. To register, visit www.eventbrite.com and search ‘STCC.’

Community Shredding Day

May 11: The Hampden County Bar Assoc. is partnering with Pro-Shred Security and Century Investment Co. to hold a community shredding day from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Century Shopping Center, 219 Memorial Ave., West Springfield (to the right of Bob’s Discount Furniture). Shredding protects private information, and recycling helps the environment. This event is free and open to the public (four-box limit), with a donation of a non-perishable food item for a local food pantry.

Excel Skill Training

May 14-18: Tech Foundry will offer a four-day Excel skill training the week of May 14-18 (every day but May 16) from 9 a.m. to noon at 1391 Main St., ninth floor, Springfield. Because its first Excel class offered to area companies and their employees was such a success, Tech Foundry is eager to meet the Excel needs of more area employers and their employees. The class will cover advanced formulas; tables and formatting; conditional formatting; advanced charting; pivot tables and pivot reporting; VBA and macros; using Excel productively; data tables, simulations, and Solver; Excel integration; and optimizing Excel. The cost per student is $750. To register, e-mail [email protected]. Employers with fewer than 100 employees are eligible for a 50% tuition reimbursement from Commonwealth Corp.

NAMI Walkathon

May 20: The National Alliance on Mental Illness of Western Massachusetts will be holding its 18th annual walkathon, “A Journey of Hope and Recovery,” at Stanley Park’s Beveridge Pavilion Annex in Westfield from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The walk is suitable for all ages and will directly benefit the continuing efforts of NAMI – Western Mass. to help improve the lives of individuals living with mental illness and their families. Among the festivities will be guest speakers, entertainment, refreshments, and raffles. For further information, call (413) 786-9139 or visit www.namiwm.org/events for entry and sponsorship forms. Volunteers are needed.

‘Thrive After 55’ Wellness Fair

June 15: State Sen. Eric Lesser and Health New England announced that they will host the second annual “Thrive After 55” Wellness Fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Springfield College’s Blake Athletic Complex, located at 263 Alden St., Springfield. The fair is free and open to the public. With more than 40 local organizations ranging from health and fitness to nutrition to elder law, the event will connect residents of the First Hampden & Hampshire District with information and resources to help them thrive. The free program includes a boxed lunch, educational seminars, hundreds of raffle prizes, and access to information and experts to talk to. To RSVP, call (413) 526-6501 or visit www.senatorlesser.com/thrive.

40 Under Forty Gala

June 21: BusinessWest’s 12th annual 40 Under Forty Gala is a celebration of 40 young business and civic leaders in Western Mass. The lavish cocktail party, to be held starting at 5:30 p.m. at the Log Cabin in Holyoke, will feature butlered hors d’oeuvres, food stations, and entertainment — and, of course, the presentation of the class of 2018, which will be unveiled in the April 30 issue of BusinessWest. The 40 Under Forty sponsors include PeoplesBank (presenting sponsor), Northwestern Mutual (presenting sponsor), Isenberg School of Management, the MP Group, Mercedes-Benz of Springfield, Health New England, Development Associates, Renew.Calm, and YPS of Greater Springfield (partner). Tickets will go on sale soon at $75 per person (tables of 10 available), and the event always sells out quickly. For more information, call (413) 781-8600, ext. 100, or e-mail [email protected] Also at the gala, the fourth Continued Excellence Award honoree will be announced. Nominations will be received at businesswest.com/40-under-forty-continued-excellence-award until May 14. Candidates must hail from 40 Under Forty classes prior to the year of the award — in this case, classes 2007-17 — and will be judged on qualities including outstanding leadership, dedicated community involvement, professional achievement, and ability to inspire. The award’s presenting sponsor is Northwestern Mutual.

Agenda Departments

Women’s Leadership Conference

April 6: Lena Waithe, the actor, producer, and writer who, in 2017, became the first African-American woman to win an Emmy Award for comedy writing, will be interviewed during Bay Path University’s 23rd annual Women’s Leadership Conference (WLC). The one-day event has become the region’s prime women’s leadership event for professional networking and enrichment. Waithe first made headlines in front of the camera as Denise in the critically acclaimed Netflix series Master of None. She co-wrote the “Thanksgiving” episode, for which she won the Emmy for Best Writing in a Comedy Series. As a writer, she is the creator and executive producer of The Chi, a coming-of-age story that follows six interrelated characters in Chicago’s South Side. As a producer, her credits include the upcoming film Step Sisters. She was also a producer on the Sundance darling Dear White People and Tiffany Johnson’s short film Ladylike, which can be found on YouTube. Delivering the WLC’s morning keynote address will be noted social psychologist Amy Cuddy, who teaches at Harvard Business School and is a New York Times bestselling author. Focusing on the power of nonverbal behavior, prejudice, and stereotyping and how people can affect their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, Cuddy teaches thousands of people how to become more present, influential, and satisfied in their professional and personal lives. Keynote speakers will share their perspectives on this year’s conference theme, “Be Curious,” motivating and inspiring attendees to engage curiosity in their daily lives. Nancy Shendell-Falik, Lisa Tanzer, and Kirk Arnold, regional leaders in the fields of healthcare, retail, and technology, will discuss the obstacles they’ve overcome during a lunchtime panel with a moderator and an opportunity for audience questions. Additionally, breakout sessions will be led by Stephen Brand, executive director of Global Learning & Development, Strategic Alliances at Bay Path; Cy Wakeman, president and founder of Reality-Based Leadership; Dr. Tasha Eurich, organizational psychologist, blogger, and New York Times bestselling author; and Linda Galindo, renowned speaker, author, and educator on organizational and individual accountability. Bay Path University’s Women’s Leadership Conference has garnered more than 22,000 attendees and featured more than 150 prominent speakers throughout its history. For further information on the conference and to register, visit www.baypathconference.com.

Alzheimer’s Benefit Gala

April 7: The Pioneer Valley Friends of Alzheimer’s Assoc. will hold its fourth annual Alzheimer’s Benefit Gala at the Log Cabin in Holyoke starting at 5:30 p.m. The festivities will include live entertainment, food, and raffles. Entertainment will include the Blend, Richie Mitnick and Friends, and Now’s the Time Jazz Sextet. Ashley Kohl will serve as the evening’s host. The event will feature the sale of artwork created by residents of assisted-living and skilled-nursing communities located throughout Western Mass. This part of the program — “Painting the Face on Alzheimer’s” — will include art that was created using the ‘memories method,’ which focuses on the process of creating by encouraging self-expression through art among those facing dementia. This year, Seymour Frankel will receive the Distinguished Fundraiser Award for his fundraising efforts for the last 23 years in support of the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. For many years, he has been the largest donor to support the walk. The evening’s proceeds will fund various educational programs for the local Alzheimer’s Assoc. chapter, the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, and referral services for families who have loved ones with the disease. Tickets are $50 per person or $475 for a table of 10. For online ticket orders, visit www. eventbrite.com. Tickets may also be purchased by contacting Claudette Smart at (413) 636-5462 or [email protected]. Make checks payable to PVFAA (Pioneer Valley Friends of Alzheimer’s Assoc.) at P.O. Box 164, Agawam, MA 01001.

Valley Community Development Celebrates 30 Years

April 12: In honor of its 30-year anniversary, Valley Community Development will hold a celebration at Hadley Farms Meeting House, and Executive Director Joanne Campbell announced that the organization’s $400,000 anniversary fundraising goal has been met, including $32,000 raised from first-time donors to the nonprofit. Campbell said the celebration is one new way to educate community members about the nonprofit’s mission to empower people with low and moderate incomes to manage and improve the quality of their lives through the development of affordable housing, economic opportunity, and small-business development. The event is open to the public and will kick off with a cocktail reception from 6 to 7 p.m. Dinner and the keynote speaker, Charles Blow, an op-ed columnist for the New York Times, will follow from 7 to 9 p.m. Tickets cost $125 and are available online by visiting valleycdc.com. Blow writes about politics, public opinion, and social justice. He is a CNN commentator and was a Presidential Visiting Professor at Yale University last year. He is also the author of the best-selling memoir Fire Shut Up in My Bones, which tells his story of growing up in the Deep South with a fiercely driven mother and four brothers, and his escape after a trauma. At the celebratory event, Blow will speak on the general theme of social justice. “It will be very timely and appropriate for the work we’re doing right now,” said Campbell. “Valley Community Development is involved in navigating the crisis in housing and serving people with very low incomes. We collaborate with regional and local organizations to work on these local issues.”

‘Protecting Your Assets’

April 18: Springfield Partners for Community Action Inc. will host “Protecting Your Assets Part III” starting at 6 p.m. at Springfield Central Library, 220 State St. The event is in recognition of National Financial Literacy Month and is free and open to the public. Call (413) 263-6500 to reserve a seat. This year’s panelists include Julius Lewis of the Metrocom Group and the Lewis and Marrow Financial Hour, which airs Wednesdays on STCC radio; and attorney Sara Miller, who specializes in elder law and estate planning. New this year is attorney Martin O’Connor, an authority on tax issues and who helps low-income, non-English-speaking taxpayers understand their rights and responsibilities as taxpayers. “I am sure there will be something for everyone, along with great information sharing,” said Paul Bailey, executive director at Springfield Partners.

Caritas Gala

April 21: Plans are underway for Mercy Medical Center’s second annual Caritas Gala at the MassMutual Center in Springfield. The gala, with its Motown-inspired theme “Reach Out,” will raise funds to support Mercy Behavioral Health Care and the Mercy Emergency Department’s Opioid Community Outreach for education, intervention, and treatment. Dr. Mohamed and Kimberly Hamdani, along with Paul and Anna Mancinone, are honorary chairpersons for the Caritas Gala. Longtime supporters of Mercy Medical Center, Dr. Hamdani has served as chairman of Surgery, chairman of Credentials, and president of the medical staff at Mercy, and Paul Mancinone serves on the board for Trinity Health Of New England. The Caritas Gala will begin at 6:30 p.m. with a cocktail reception, live entertainment from the band Motor City Magic, and a silent auction. Dinner will be served at 8 p.m., following by a live auction and dancing until midnight with music from the band Radiance. Preregistration is required by Friday, March 23. For more information or to purchase tickets to the Caritas Gala, visit www.mercycares.com/caritas-gala.

Mayors’ Economic Forum

April 26: “Mayors Meet Millennials” is the title of the 2018 New England Knowledge Corridor Mayors’ Economic Forum at Goodwin College in East Hartford, Conn. The program begins with coffee and conversation from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m., followed by the conference program from 8:30 to 11 a.m. Participating mayors include Domenic Sarno (Springfield), Richard Kos (Chicopee), Marcia Leclerc (East Hartford), Erin Stewart (New Britain), and Luke Bronin (Hartford). Registration options and more information will be available soon.

Excel Skill Training

May 14-18: Tech Foundry will offer a four-day Excel skill training the week of May 14-18 (every day but May 16) from 9 a.m. to noon at 1391 Main St., ninth floor, Springfield. Because its first Excel class offered to area companies and their employees was such a success, Tech Foundry is eager to meet the Excel needs of more area employers and their employees. Hundreds of workers in the Pioneer Valley alone use Excel on a daily basis, yet only a small fraction have the training and skill needed to maximize job success and productivity. The class will cover advanced formulas; tables and formatting; conditional formatting; advanced charting; pivot tables and pivot reporting; VBA and macros; using Excel productively; data tables, simulations, and Solver; Excel integration; and optimizing Excel. The cost per student is $750. To register, e-mail [email protected] Employers with fewer than 100 employees are eligible for a 50% tuition reimbursement from Commonwealth Corp.

40 Under Forty Gala

June 21: BusinessWest’s 12th annual 40 Under Forty Gala is a celebration of 40 young business and civic leaders in Western Mass. The lavish cocktail party, to be held starting at 5:30 p.m. at the Log Cabin in Holyoke, will feature butlered hors d’oeuvres, food stations, and entertainment — and, of course, the presentation of the class of 2018, which will be unveiled in the April 30 issue of BusinessWest. Also, the fourth Continued Excellence Award honoree will be announced. The 40 Under Forty sponsors include PeoplesBank (presenting sponsor), Northwestern Mutual (presenting sponsor), Isenberg School of Management, Health New England, the MP Group, Mercedes-Benz of Springfield, Renew.Calm, and partner YPS of Greater Springfield. Tickets will go on sale soon at $75 per person (tables of 10 available), and the event always sells out quickly. For more information, call (413) 781-8600, ext. 100, or e-mail [email protected].

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield Partners for Community Action Inc. will host “Protecting Your Assets Part III” on Wednesday, April 18 starting at 6 p.m. at Springfield Central Library, 220 State St. The event is in recognition of National Financial Literacy Month and is free and open to the public. Call (413) 263-6500 to reserve a seat.

This year’s panelists include Julius Lewis of the Metrocom Group and the Lewis and Marrow Financial Hour, which airs Wednesdays on STCC radio; and attorney Sara Miller, who specializes in elder law and estate planning. New this year is attorney Martin O’Connor, an authority on tax issues and who helps low-income, non-English-speaking taxpayers understand their rights and responsibilities as taxpayers.

“We have another great panel this year with Julius returning for the third year along with attorneys Miller and O’Connor,” said Paul Bailey, executive director at Springfield Partners. “I am sure there will be something for everyone, along with great information sharing. I encourage the community to come out.”

Added Synthia Scott-Mitchell, director of Community Services, “those of us that are in the Baby Boomer generation and looking toward retirement if not already retired, this is for you. Also, as many of us become caregivers for our parents, this is for you.”

Guide to Senior Planning Special Publications

A New Specialty Publication of Healthcare News & BusinessWest

The specialty guide is intended to serve as a roadmap, containing a glossary of terms, worksheets, lists and thoughtful questions specific to senior living planning.

Featured Sections: 

  • Senior Living Options
  • Estate Planning
  • Paying for Care
  • Transitioning
  • Resources

This specialty publication will be featured in the May 28 issue of BusinessWest and the June issue of Healthcare News and online as an interactive flipbook. Sponsorship & advertising opportunities are available.

Click for Sponsorship Opportunities
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For more information and print ad rates contact:
Kate Campiti 413.781.8600 (ext. 104) [email protected]
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Law Sections

Positive Prognosis

healthlaw-184399153The field of law that focuses specifically on healthcare is diverse, challenging, and constantly changing, and that presents growth opportunities at a time when some fields of law are seeing job stagnation. But many law students aren’t aware of these possibilities, which run the gamut from malpractice litigation to end-of-life planning; from medical-records compliance to helping people navigate the complexities of the mental-health system. And those opportunities are only expected to keep expanding.

Barbara Noah says she took a winding path to her career as a law professor, one who specializes in the rapidly changing world of health law.

“When I graduated from law school, I was thinking more of the style of practice and the sort of things I’d like to do,” said Noah, professor of Health Law at Western New England University (WNEU) School of Law, during a recent panel discussion about health-law careers.

After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1990, she wasn’t interested in litigation, and instead went to work for a Washington, D.C.-based law firm with a strong focus on regulatory compliance.

“Our role was to counsel clients, which were mostly pharmaceutical and medical-device companies, on how to keep in compliance with the regulations issued by the Food and Drug Administration,” she explained. “It wasn’t about getting new drugs approved; these were already-approved products, and we were making sure clients were following appropriate safety rules.”

She found the field so interesting that she eventually transitioned into a long career, first at the University of Florida and since 2005 at WNEU, teaching the many facets of health law.

To name just a few of those, healthcare lawyers interpret the complex healthcare regulations and statutes that govern the administration of health services, advising hospitals, physicians, pharmaceutical companies, insurers, and other providers on issues ranging from licensing, reimbursement, and risk management to malpractice litigation and general corporate management.

One panelist at the WNEU event, Judith Feinberg Albright, who works for Devine, Millimet & Branch in Manchester, N.H., started her career as a paramedic before enrolling in law school and taking a particular interest in health law. She developed a secondary interest in litigation through moot-court experiences during those years, and now defends healthcare providers against malpractice claims in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

“I see many people in health law with non-traditional pathways, people with some previous career in healthcare — like you see engineers and architects in intellectual-property law,” she noted. “It’s a pretty diverse group of folks.”

Some jobs are more unique than others. Deb Grossman, another panelist, serves as general counsel with Physician Health Services, an arm of the Massachusetts Medical Society that helps physicians deal with personal and behavioral-health issues and navigate their way back to work.

“Doctors don’t really like lawyers much; they see them as a threat of some kind,” Grossman said. “But I want to be supportive. I’ve been in different roles that were not always supportive, but now I’m in a very conciliatory position.”

After working for a large law firm earlier in her career, she explaned, she went looking for a lifestyle change, and took a job with the state handling the licensure of medical professionals, before taking on her current role.

“I became a much better lawyer,” she said, telling students gathered at the panel discussion that, yes, she made less money working for the state, “but what I gained in experience and autonomy as an attorney, I think was really invaluable.”

It’s just one example, Noah told BusinessWest afterward, of how a shifting healthcare field is cultivating many opportunities for lawyers that students might not hear about on a regular basis during their law-school years — which is why the panel was assembled.

“What’s included in the sweep of healthcare law is broader than people initially think; they think of medical malpractice or something to do with health insurance, but it’s a much broader field than people typically understand,” she said. “And a number of these aspects of health law are in flux right now, and they might be areas of growing demand for the purposes of careers.”

A Different World

One of those changing areas of the law is healthcare compliance — for example, how hospitals are complying with the privacy rules of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA.

“Although HIPAA has been around for quite a while, every hospital of any size has a compliance office that makes sure medical privacy requirements are being met,” Noah said. “And now with the switch to electronic medical records, it’s created a whole new set of questions for HIPAA in information sharing, and I’m hearing that data security is a big issue which impacts compliance.”

The second growth area concerns the overlap between elder law and health law, driven mostly by the aging of the Baby Boomer population. Not only are older Americans making plans for their estates, Noah said, but they’re becoming more keenly aware of their own mortality, and considering issues like advance care directives, healthcare proxies, and end-of-life preferences, such as do-not-resuscitate orders and decisions on nutrition and breathing assistance.

recent panel discussion at WNEU School of Law

From left, Barbara Noah, Judith Fineberg Albright, Deb Grossman, and Dylan Mawdsley talk about their very different health-law careers at a recent panel discussion at WNEU School of Law.

“There are all sorts of questions, and more attention is being focused on them,” Noah said. “But there’s still a real reluctance to do much advance care planning until faced with a bad diagnosis. That’s an issue that’s going to need more well-trained attorneys in the future to reach this large and aging Baby Boomer population.”

The third big shift that could affect health law is, of course, the ever-changing Affordable Care Act, which has been threatened by the recent federal tax law that repeals its individual mandate.

“We’re keeping on top of how the Affordable Care Act is being changed, amended, and manipulated, and how that impacts the system of healthcare delivery. It’s a moving target,” Noah explained. “Without the individual mandate, if healthy people aren’t buying in anymore, the pool is sicker, and that drives up prices.”

According to Nick Sumski, an LSAT teacher for Kaplan Test Prep, health law is a compelling area of law because everyone has to touch the healthcare system at some point in their lives.

“Health law is such a big growth field with an incredible amount of opportunity, especially in the coming years,” he noted last month on the Kaplan website. “No one knows how it’s all going to work moving forward, and there is going to be a big demand for lawyers to help figure it out.”

Dylan Mawdsley, another panelist at the WNEU event, is assistant general counsel for the state Department of Mental Health, advising DMH staff in their decision making and compliance with laws, and representing the agency before probate and family courts.

He originally went to college as a political science major, but pivoted to law school afterward, starting his career in estate planning — right when the Great Recession hit, which was a bad time for that area of law. The work he does now, often serving as a liaison between doctors, patients, and the court system, is gratifying and presents a great deal of autonomy.

“I really feel like the work we do is good work,” he said, “helping people get treatment and services they wouldn’t otherwise be able to access.”

Meaningful Work

When Grossman was in law school, she recalled, she learned a lot about corporate law and litigation, but not much else, and certainly not what she’s doing today.

“This niche of work is very, very satisfying, it’s important work, and the schedule allows me to raise my kids,” she said. “Law students should know there’s a whole world of jobs out there, that aren’t typical law-firm, corporate types of jobs.”

Sumski said students shouldn’t feel like they have to pick any kind of specialization right away.

“Keep an open mind in those first-year classes; you might be surprised by the area of law that ultimately interests you,” he noted. “If you are interested in health law, however, you should take some introductory classes in the subject matter and see if a particular aspect of the field interests you. Health law is an incredibly broad field that touches on many different aspects of law. There’s a lot of opportunity in the area. The job market for lawyers is getting better, but it’s not great, so it makes sense to go into an area that is in demand.”

That demand, Noah said, is driven partly by the fact that health law is so interconnected, with so many moving parts.

“Any student who goes into health law is going to need a deep knowledge of the particular area they’re focusing on,” she noted, “but also a broad, contextual understanding of how the whole healthcare finance and delivery system works in this country — and it’s a very messy, complex, and inefficient system.”

And one that’s constantly changing, presenting plentiful opportunities for law students and career changers willing to think outside the jury box.

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]

Departments People on the Move
James Harnsberger

James Harnsberger

After an extended national search, James Harnsberger has been named associate vice president for Graduate Education, Grants, and Sponsored Research at Springfield College. President Mary-Beth Cooper and Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Martha Potvin recently made the announcement. Harnsberger will join the college on Feb. 15, and will be responsible for elevating the status of graduate education at Springfield College as well as for increasing the college’s capacity to generate and support externally funded grants and sponsored funding. “In both of these primary responsibilities, his thoughtful approach, his experiences in supporting students and the work of faculty, and his success in managing large contracts and overseas operations will serve him well,” said Potvin. A linguist and speech scientist with extensive experience in experimental phonetics, forensic acoustics, and clinical applications, Harnsberger comes to Springfield College from the University of New Haven, having previously overseen the launch of an international branch campus as campus dean. His responsibilities included international grants and contracts, program development, and operations, as well as the inaugural Academic Bridge Program for international students at UNH. Harnsberger earned his doctorate in linguistics from the University of Michigan, where he conducted research on cross-language variation in the perception of non-native speech sounds. Following a post-doctoral fellowship at Indiana University, he served at the Department of Linguistics at the University of Florida, conducting research on the perception of speaker characteristics such age, gender, emotion, dialect, stress, and deception. His research has been published in numerous academic journals and reported in the popular media, including ABC News Primetime, BBC Radio, and Science News. He has served as a linguistic consultant in numerous criminal and civil cases in the U.S., as well as government agencies including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Defense Academy for Credibility Assessment, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and the House Armed Services Committee.

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Dr. Mark Dumais

Dr. Mark Dumais

Dr. Mark Dumais was appointed to the position of chief medical officer for Mercy Medical Center. In this position, he provides clinical leadership and administrative direction in developing and attaining strategic and operating objectives related to medical practice and patient care at Mercy Medical Center and its affiliates. He also serves as a liaison between administration and the medical staff and provides leadership in advancing quality initiatives, clinical care, patient satisfaction, and physician/employee satisfaction. With almost 20 years of clinical leadership experience, Dumais most recently served as a medical hospitalist at Massachusetts General Hospital and as an instructor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Before coming to Boston, he served as chief medical officer and Senior Vice President of the University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center (UMCRMC) in LaPlata, Md., where he oversaw performance management, quality, safety, risk management, compliance, and privacy, and gained extensive experience in population health, physician network planning, and information technology. Prior to his role at UMCRMC, he served as vice president of Medical Affairs, clinical chief of Internal Medicine, and director of hospitalists at Southern Maryland Hospital Center in Clinton. Board-certified in internal medicine, Dumais received his medical degree from Harvard Medical School in Boston and completed his internship and residency in internal medicine at Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, N.C. In addition to his medical education, he holds a master’s degree in business administration from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. “Dr. Dumais brings a wide range of clinical, operational, and leadership experience to this important position at Mercy Medical Center. We are pleased to welcome him to the Mercy team,” said Mark Fulco, president of Mercy Medical Center and its affiliates. Added Dumais, “Mercy Medical Center has a longstanding reputation for delivering high-quality, patient-centered care, and I welcome the opportunity to serve as a leader at this outstanding facility.

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Karri May

Karri May

Pinck & Co. Inc., a comprehensive real-estate-development and project-management services firm, announced Karri May joined the firm’s Springfield office as senior project manager. May brings to the firm 13 years of design and planning experience with a focus on healthcare, design for the aging, commercial, and higher education. She also has extensive client-management and business-development experience and will help grow the firm’s portfolio in Western Mass. and Connecticut. She previously worked at Steffian Bradley Architects as senior associate, where she specialized in the design and planning of healthcare projects in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York. Prior to that, she worked at Amenta/Emma Architects as a project architect, focusing on design for higher education, commercial, and senior housing/accommodations. May earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Pratt Institute and is a registered architect in Connecticut, a member of the American Institute of Architects, and a LEED-accredited professional. She also holds a Massachusetts Certified Public Purchasing Official Program designation and a Lean for Healthcare certificate. She is a frequent keynote speaker at industry and community events, has volunteered as a design mentor with CANstruction — a charitable organization for the design and construction industry — and has received several awards, including a Woman on the Rise designation from the Connecticut Professional Women in Construction. “As we continue to position our business to grow in Western Massachusetts and Connecticut, I am thrilled that Karri has joined our team,” said Jennifer Pinck, president and founder of Pinck & Co. “Not only does she bring a high level of expertise in planning and design and project management, she is passionate about the lasting impact built environments have on communities. Karri shares our commitment to putting our clients’ best interests first and going above and beyond to help them realize their vision.”

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MGM Springfield President and Chief Operating Officer Michael Mathis announced that his full executive team is now in place. The team, a diverse group of industry professionals, will lead operations for MGM Springfield, set to open later this year. “This is an all-star team,” Mathis said. “Together, they bring years of experience and a broad expanse of skills that strengthens the deep bench of talent we already have in place. Each of them is committed, not only to the day-to-day objectives of their positions, but also to the greater role this property will play in the community. This team is the backbone of MGM Springfield, and we will proudly reflect and represent the diversity of the region in which we work.” For the 12th consecutive year, MGM Resorts International has been recognized as a Top Company for Diversity by DiversityInc, one of the nation’s leading sources on workplace-diversity management. Almost 69% of the company’s employees are minorities. About 44% of employees in MGM Resorts’ management ranks are women, while minorities comprise 43% of MGM Resorts’ management ranks. “The beating heart of MGM Springfield is our commitment to diversity,” Mathis said. Besides Mathis, the MGM Springfield management team also includes Anthony Caratozzolo, vice president, Food & Beverage; Alex Dixon, general manager; Anika Gaskins, vice president, National Marketing; Brian Jordan, director, Surveillance; Monique Messier, executive director, Sales; Sarah Moore, Vice President, Marketing, Advertising & Brand; Marikate Murren, vice president, Human Resources; Jason Rosewell, vice president, Facilities; Jason Rucker, executive director, Security; Lynn Segars, vice president, Slot Operations; Gregg Skowronski, executive director, Hotel Operations; Talia Spera, executive director, Arena Operations; Seth Stratton, vice president and general counsel; Courtney Wenleder, vice president and chief financial officer; and Robert Westerfield, vice president, Table Games. In 2000, MGM Resorts became the first company in the gaming and hospitality industry to voluntarily adopt a formal diversity and inclusion policy. This is a critical pillar of the company’s enterprise-wide social-responsibility platform, which also includes community giving and environmental sustainability as key elements.

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Mary Chiecko

Mary Chiecko

AdCare chose Mary Chiecko, Community Services representative for Western Mass., as its Employee of the Month for January. “Mary Chiecko is always positive and a great listener, which is key to knowing what our referral sources need and want,” said Georganna Koppermann, vice president of Marketing and Development at AdCare. “As part of ‘Team Springfield,’ Mary has connected new patients with our expert clinical staff helping to make Springfield the second-largest outpatient office in our system.” Chiecko’s diverse sales experience includes working as a toxicology representative, presenting services to addiction-treatment facilities, primary-care physicians, and pain-management practices regionally. She has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from American International College in Springfield.

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Megan Murphy Wolf

Megan Murphy Wolf

The Solidago Foundation, a Northampton-based national social-justice foundation, announced it has hired Megan Murphy Wolf as director of partnerships. A newly created position, the director of partnerships will focus on developing, supporting, and enhancing partnerships for the Solidago Foundation. Wolf will be responsible for the design and implementation of donor cultivation and engagement, as well as foundation partnership strategies. “Megan joins our team with deep expertise in creating meaningful partnerships across unlikely actors, as well as a legislative background that will enhance our support of grassroots advocacy groups,” said Elizabeth Barajas-Román, CEO of the foundation. “We are happy to welcome her at this exciting time for the organization.” Wolf brings a strong background in both development and public-policy work. Prior to joining Solidago, she worked as director of class campaigns and annual fund leadership giving at Amherst College. During her time at Amherst, she was successful in her personal solicitations, securing multi-year pledges and outright gifts, increasing the yearly totals by 300% and successfully breaking Amherst giving and participation records every year. She has also worked as legislative director for two congressmen in the U.S. House of Representatives. “This is an incredible opportunity to be a part of an organization with a long history of impact within the field of social justice, sustainability, and the fundamental right to work,” Wolf said. “I have focused my career on these important issues, and I believe we have the ability to create positive social change through collaboration and collective support for shared goals. I’m honored to join the Solidago family and be a part of this impressive group of people dedicated to support for the common good.” Throughout her career, Wolf has worked to create partnerships, both political in nature and as fund-building coalitions, to bring about positive social change. As director of partnerships, she will be responsible for working on developing programming and content for donor recognition and campaign-related programs and events for the foundation. “I am thrilled to have Megan join our team and looking forward to working with someone with her expertise as we move forward with our new business model,” said Jeff Rosen, chief financial officer of the foundation. “Adding Megan to the team will enhance our ability to bring resources to the field and amplify our impact at an important time for our partners.”

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Marty Holmes was recently named top corporate search consultant at Management Search Inc. Holmes, president of the West Springfield division of the privately held recruiting firm, was recognized with the organization’s prestigious President’s Club Award for sales excellence in 2017. This year also marked Holmes’ 30th anniversary with Management Search Inc. Throughout his tenure, Holmes has worked to perfect a time-tested recruitment process and, in the process, has established deep roots in the market with a diverse client base in manufacturing and a niche focus within the shooting-sports industry. His hands-on consultative approach, along with his extensive knowledge of the industries he works in, have worked together to build and strengthen his reputation among clients and candidates alike. Headquartered in West Springfield with an office in Providence, R.I., Management Search Inc. has grown to become one of the largest privately held recruiting firms in New England, boasting 35 years of recruiting experience and 15 established consultants.

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On Jan. 1, Aelan Tierney became the third principal and the president of Kuhn Riddle Architects. Tierney joins Jonathan Salvon and Charles Roberts, who became principals in 2010 when Chris Riddle retired. John Kuhn passes the torch of leadership and ownership to these three, and he will continue to work on selected projects at Kuhn Riddle. Kuhn Riddle Architects moves into the future as a woman-owned architecture firm as Tierney now owns the majority share of the company. She will continue to work on architectural project design, while also taking on a larger role in day-to-day management of the firm, focusing on business growth and maintaining a strong connection with clients and business partners. “I see this transition as an opportunity to carry on the legacy of Kuhn Riddle Architects, as well as an opportunity for growth,” said Tierney, who has been an architect at Kuhn Riddle Architects since August 2005. “I am honored that the partners have put their faith and trust in me to take on such an important leadership role. We will continue the company culture and its legacy of good design, excellent service, commitment to the environment, and giving back to our community that John Kuhn and Chris Riddle have built over the last 40 years.” Kuhn Riddle projects in which Tierney has played a lead role include Amherst Montessori School and Children First in Granby, the Kringle Candle flagship store and Farm Table Restaurant in Bernardston, the historic Easthampton Town Hall performance space for CitySpace, the Northeast Veterans Rehabilitation and Training Center in Gardner, Olympia Oaks multi-family affordable housing in Amherst, PVPA Charter School Theater in South Hadley, and projects at American International College, Western New England University, and Elms College. Kuhn Riddle Architects has been in business since Riddle and Kuhn founded it in 1977, when they negotiated a $500 fee to produce a design for Northampton’s Armory building renovation and rented two drafting tables in a fellow architect’s office. Since that time, the firm has become a well-known architectural firm in the Pioneer Valley and designs commercial, educational, and residential projects throughout Massachusetts.

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Terry Ramey

Terry Ramey

A seasoned chief information officer for some of the world’s largest healthcare payor organizations, Terry Ramey has joined Holyoke-based healthcare consultancy VertitechIT as an executive project officer (EPO). He will lead engagements with large healthcare systems as the company continues to expand operations throughout the East Coast and across the country. Ramey previously held senior technology titles at PerformRX (a subsidiary of AmeriHealth Caritas), Penn Mutual Life Insurance, CIGNA Health Services, and Dendrite International. As a nationally recognized healthcare technology executive, he says he was looking to make an impact on the provider side of the industry. “At CIGNA, Penn Mutual, and other major payor organizations, my responsibilities were to leverage technology to positively affect the bottom line,” he noted. “At VertitechIT, I have the opportunity to help transform hospital IT departments with a direct impact on patient care. It’s not often that an IT executive gets to do that.” VertitechIT CEO Michael Feld agrees. “Our work at work at major health systems goes far beyond designing and implementing cloud strategies, overhauling infrastructure, and streamlining operations. As an EPO, Terry will counsel clients on the IT initiatives that can literally change the way doctors do their jobs.” Working at the executive level within a healthcare organization, EPOs oversee a collaborative office of the CTO (oCTO), implementing VertitechIT’s proprietary LeverageIT process. Working side by side with senior internal managers, the oCTO refines strategic directives and implements tactical solutions that make organizations more profitable and efficient.

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Max Kiperman joined the Red Lion Inn culinary team as executive chef of the Red Lion Inn’s Main Dining Room, Widow Bingham’s Tavern, and the Lion’s Den. As executive chef, Kiperman will work closely with Vice President of Culinary Development Brian Alberg and Sous Chef Jim Corcoran on all future food- and beverage-related development in addition to day-to-day kitchen management. With a tenure of more than 25 years in the culinary industry, Kiperman comes to the Red Lion Inn most recently from Lucca in Boston’s Back Bay, where he worked as sous chef, and as culinary consultant to the Viceroy Hotel and Resort in Zihuantanejo, Mexico. Kiperman began his culinary career at Rosalie’s Restaurant in Marblehead before training under three Michelin chefs, including Sylvain Portay and Alain Ducasse. Kiperman now brings his expertise and passion for cooking with locally sourced products to the Berkshires. “Max’s diverse culinary portfolio and his commitment to the farm-to-table movement make him the perfect addition to lead the Red Lion Inn’s culinary team,” said Alberg. “We are confident his leadership and expertise will elevate the inn’s dining experience and continue to evolve the offerings to exceed our guests’ culinary expectations.” Kiperman’s extensive résumé includes work in hotels and resorts such as the Ritz Carlton properties in San Francisco, New York City, and Boston, and the Four Seasons Hotel and Resort in Nevis West Indies; restaurants like On Lot Restaurant in Hong Kong and Mix Restaurant in Las Vegas; and work as a private chef in New York and Connecticut. Recently refreshed breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus await guests at the Red Lion Inn’s Main Dining Room and Widow Bingham’s Tavern, highlighting the inn’s long-standing relationships with local and regional purveyors. The inn offers guests two additional dining options, the Lion’s Den, with nightly live entertainment, and seasonal outdoor dining in the Courtyard from June through September.

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The Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts, in partnership with the Estate Planning Council of Hampden County and the Pioneer Valley Estate Planning Council, has awarded Kate Kane the 2018 Distinguished Advisor in Philanthropy Award. The award was presented by Katie Allan Zobel, president and CEO of the Community Foundation, and Amy Jamrog, wealth management advisor at the Jamrog Group, at a luncheon on Jan. 9. The purpose of the Distinguished Advisor in Philanthropy Award is to recognize the important work that professional advisors (estate-planning attorneys, financial advisors, and accountants) do in encouraging their clients to engage in local philanthropy for the region. As Zobel noted, “professional advisors play a quiet and often unsung role in advancing philanthropy. The Community Foundation has been working alongside local advisors for over 25 years, and we see first-hand the meaningful work they do by connecting their clients’ generous intentions to needs in our community. Their efforts have helped create a significant base of funding for scholarships and grants to nonprofits in our region.” Zobel also said she is pleased to be giving this award to its first female recipient. Past awardees include George Keady III, Dick Gaberman, Dennis Bidwell, Jack Ferriter, and Steven Schwartz. Kane received a plaque and $1,000 to recommend as a grant to the charity of her choice. Kane is managing director of Northwestern Mutual in Springfield, where she matches clients’ needs with innovative solutions utilizing insurance services and internationally recognized investment products. “Financial advising is a business of words and stories,” she said. “The numbers are simply tools to further the pursuit of hopes and dreams for ourselves, our families, and our communities. We give our clients the gift of listening to their stories and helping them connect with the right decisions to fulfill their aspirations and leave a legacy.” Well-known for her volunteerism and philanthropic spirit, Kane is a former board member (2008-15) and past board president of the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts. She currently serves on the boards of directors for Elms College and Girls Inc. of Holyoke and is vice chair of the board of trustees for Springfield Museums. She co-wrote the original business plan for the local chapter of the Dress for Success, which supports the career and economic advancement of women, and she serves as a business mentor for many young entrepreneurs in the region. Kane has been recognized with many awards in the past for her commitment to strengthening her community, including Affiliated Chambers of Commerce of Greater Springfield’s Richard J. Moriarty Citizen of the Year in 2015, Western Mass Women magazine’s Professional Woman of the Year in 2012, Professional Women’s Chamber Woman of the Year in 2011, and a BusinessWest Difference Maker in 2009.

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Edward Alford of South Hadley was installed as president of the 1,800-member Realtor Assoc. of Pioneer Valley on Jan. 9. The installation of officers and directors took place at the Log Cabin in Holyoke. More than 100 people attended the organization’s 103rd annual installation ceremony. Donald Thompson, the association’s 2008 president, served as emcee for the event. The other officers installed were Kelly Bowman as president-elect, Sue Drumm as treasurer, Elias Acuna as secretary, and Rick Sawicki as immediate past president. The directors installed include Shawn Bowman, Peter Davies, Janise Fitzpatrick, Sara Gasparrini, Sharyn Jones, Cheryl Malandrinos, Sue Rheaume, and Russell Sabadosa. Alford was joined by Massachusetts Assoc. of Realtors (MAR) President Rita Coffey, who served as the installing officer. Coffey’s leadership team from MAR was also in attendance, including Anne Meczywor, president-elect; Kurt Thompson, secretary/treasurer; Paul Yorkis, immediate past president; and Rob Authier, CEO.

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Heather Roy recently completed the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Pro Coach certification at Conca Sport and Fitness (CSF). Members have been losing more than 20 pounds thanks to the innovative nutrition and fitness plan offered by Precision Nutrition and Conca Sport and Fitness, CSF owner Steve Conca said. He added that being able to deliver comprehensive fitness and nutrition programming that gets results and is easily adaptable for busy lifestyles was paramount in the company’s decision to move forward with the certification program. CSF, which opened in 2009, provides fitness coaching both online and in the studio, either in a one-on-one or small-group environment.

Departments People on the Move
Michelle Chase

Michelle Chase

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

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Jennifer Plassmann

Jennifer Plassmann

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

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John Gannon

John Gannon

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

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Susan Hillis

Susan Hillis

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

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Kailee Wilson

Kailee Wilson

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

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Tara Brewster

Tara Brewster

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

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

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

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

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — The Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts, in partnership with the Estate Planning Council of Hampden County and the Pioneer Valley Estate Planning Council, has awarded Kate Kane the 2018 Distinguished Advisor in Philanthropy Award. The award was presented by Katie Allan Zobel, president and CEO of the Community Foundation, and Amy Jamrog, wealth management advisor at the Jamrog Group, at a luncheon on Jan. 9.

The purpose of the Distinguished Advisor in Philanthropy Award is to recognize the important work that professional advisors (estate-planning attorneys, financial advisors, and accountants) do in encouraging their clients to engage in local philanthropy for the region.

As Zobel noted, “professional advisors play a quiet and often unsung role in advancing philanthropy. The Community Foundation has been working alongside local advisors for over 25 years, and we see first-hand the meaningful work they do by connecting their clients’ generous intentions to needs in our community. Their efforts have helped create a significant base of funding for scholarships and grants to nonprofits in our region.”

Zobel also said she is pleased to be giving this award to its first female recipient. Past awardees include George Keady III, Dick Gaberman, Dennis Bidwell, Jack Ferriter, and Steven Schwartz. Kane received a plaque and $1,000 to recommend as a grant to the charity of her choice.

Kane is managing director of Northwestern Mutual in Springfield, where she matches clients’ needs with innovative solutions utilizing insurance services and internationally recognized investment products.

“Financial advising is a business of words and stories,” she said. “The numbers are simply tools to further the pursuit of hopes and dreams for ourselves, our families, and our communities. We give our clients the gift of listening to their stories and helping them connect with the right decisions to fulfill their aspirations and leave a legacy.”

Well-known for her volunteerism and philanthropic spirit, Kane is a former board member (2008-15) and past board president of the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts. She currently serves on the boards of directors for Elms College and Girls Inc. of Holyoke and is vice chair of the board of trustees for Springfield Museums. She co-wrote the original business plan for the local chapter of the Dress for Success, which supports the career and economic advancement of women, and she serves as a business mentor for many young entrepreneurs in the region.

Kane has been recognized with many awards in the past for her commitment to strengthening her community, including Affiliated Chambers of Commerce of Greater Springfield’s Richard J. Moriarty Citizen of the Year in 2015, Western Mass Women magazine’s Professional Woman of the Year in 2012, Professional Women’s Chamber Woman of the Year in 2011, and a BusinessWest Difference Maker in 2009.

Daily News

AMHERST — Theresa Curry has been named executive director of Planned Giving at UMass Amherst. Curry, an attorney, has extensive experience in business and organizational development, nonprofit giving, and gift administration.

“We are delighted that Theresa Curry will be joining UMass Amherst’s development team,” said Vice Chancellor of Development and Alumni Relations Mike Leto. “She brings deep expertise in estate planning to this role, as well as her considerable impact and success in fund-raising for higher education.”

Curry comes to UMass Amherst from the University of New Hampshire Foundation, where she held several senior management positions in gift planning since 2012. Most recently, she served as assistant vice president for Gift Planning and Administration at UNH. She established UNH’s gift-planning program and played a major role in its recent $275 million fund-raising campaign.

Previously, Curry established gift-planning programs as regional director of Philanthropy at the ALS Assoc. and as the capital campaign manager for Merrimack College. She has worked as an employee, consultant, volunteer, and lawyer in gift planning since 1998. She holds a juris doctor degree from the William Mitchell College of Law in Saint Paul, Minn., and a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of Minnesota. She is also a triathlete and distance runner.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Robinson Donovan, P.C. promoted former law clerk Kailee Wilson to the role of associate attorney following her admission to both the Massachusetts and Connecticut bars.

Wilson is a 2017 graduate of the University of Connecticut School of Law. While attending law school, she also interned with the school’s Tax Clinic, gaining skills and insights that have proven invaluable to her current business practice. In addition, she is now a member of the Massachusetts Bar Assoc., the Hampden County Bar Assoc., and the Connecticut Bar Assoc.

“Kailee had a very successful year at Robinson Donovan, P.C., and we are thrilled that she is expanding her role at our firm,” said Partner James Martin. “Kailee has been a real asset to our firm, and we look forward to her having a successful career here.”

Wilson assists clients in the areas of business and corporate counseling, commercial real estate, and estate planning. Outside of work, she channels her passion for advocacy into her role as a volunteer coach with the Special Olympics and in the Alumni in Admissions program for her alma mater, Bates College.

Daily News

HOLYOKE — Attorney Karen Jackson of Jackson Law, an elder-law and estate-planning firm, will teach a series of classes highlighting the latest developments in elder law and estate planning at Holyoke Community College. The six-hour course, called “Elder Law and Estate Planning: What You Need to Know,” will be presented in three two-hour sessions, on Mondays, Oct. 16, 23, and 30, from 6 to 8 p.m.

Jackson will present comprehensive subject matter on what she calls “The Core Estate Plan,” in which she will explain core documents and provide stories and examples. She will also discuss “The Probate Process, Start to Finish” and “Medicare, Community Care Programs, and MassHealth Planning.”

“The course will explain the basic building blocks of an estate plan and a plan for home and nursing-home care,” Jackson said. “From that foundation, we will also consider the various specialized trust documents that support this planning. I will clarify the probate process and what it means to probate a will. And, finally, we will explore current MassHealth issues that are affecting seniors.”

While participants may attend one, two, or all three sessions, they must still pay the full course cost of $85. To register, call Holyoke Community College at (413) 552-2500 or visit www.hcc.edu/bce.

Departments People on the Move
Kristen Lemoi

Kristen Lemoi

Florence Bank promoted Kristen Lemoi to the position of vice president, Marketing manager. She joined Florence Bank in June 2011. Prior to her recent promotion, Lemoi had served as the assistant vice president, Digital and Merchandising manager for Florence Bank, and played an integral part in the 2014 launch of the bank’s new brand. In her new role, she will help steer the bank’s strategic marketing decisions. Lemoi received her bachelor’s degree in marketing from UMass Dartmouth. She is currently on the board of the Cancer Connection, and holds the title of certified financial marketing professional from the ABA Institute of Certified Bankers.

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Max Kernizan

Max Kernizan

Facial Cosmetic & Maxillofacial Surgery, P.C. announced that Max Kernizan, DMD has joined its oral-surgery practice. Richard Fraziero, the practice’s owner, said Kernizan “is bringing to Western Mass. the excellent surgical skills that our patients have come to expect from our surgeons at FCMS. He will be performing full-scope OMF [oral and maxillofacial] surgery in our surgical office, as well as at Baystate Medical Center. We are very excited to have Max join the Valley’s premier OMFS practice.” Kernizan completed his undergraduate education at Philadelphia University, graduating magna cum laude, and earned his dental degree at Temple University in Philadelphia. While in dental school, he achieved the Oral Surgery Scholarship award and served as vice president of the Anesthesiology Honor Society. Following dental school, he completed his specialty training in oral and maxillofacial surgery as chief resident at Yale New Haven Hospital in New Haven, Conn. He will begin treating patients at 382 North Main Street, East Longmeadow, in September. Kernizan is trained in the full scope of oral and maxillofacial surgery. His primary clinical interests include orthognathic/corrective jaw surgery, wisdom teeth removal with sedation, dentoalveolar surgery, dental implants, and repair of traumatic facial injuries. He maintains certifications in BLS, ACLS, PALS; currently has affiliations with the American College of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and the American Assoc. of Cosmetic Surgery; and is an AO CranioMaxillofacial affiliate. To schedule an appointment with Kernizan, at (413) 525-0100. He will also be offering same-day emergency appointments based on the direction of the patient’s general dentists; area dentists may press option 1 to be directed to a front-desk coordinator.

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The board of directors of the Springfield Regional Chamber (SRC) has elected officers to lead the organization: Tricia Canavan as chair, Mark French as vice chair, Barbara-Jean Deloria as treasurer and David Parke, Esq. as secretary. Canavan is president of United Personnel. A member of the boards of directors of the Affiliated Chambers of Commerce of Greater Springfield and the Springfield Chamber of Commerce prior to its merger, she most recently served as the vice chair of the SRC board of directors. Canavan lends her leadership to other boards of directors including the Baystate Health Foundation, Springfield Public Forum, and the Northampton Chamber of Commerce. French is the advertising director of the Republican/MassLive/El Pueblo Latino. He has been a member of the SRC board since its inception and served on the Springfield Chamber Board prior to its merger. He also served as chair of the Marketing and Advertising Council at New England Newspaper and Press Assoc. and in various leadership roles on the board of directors for the New England Newspaper Advertising Executives. Deloria is a senior vice president at Florence Bank. She has served as the SRC’s board treasurer since its inception. Prior to that, she was a member of the Affiliated Chambers of Commerce of Greater Springfield (ACCGS) board of directors since 2005 and served as its board treasurer. She is a past president of the West Springfield Chamber of Commerce and Dress for Success Western Massachusetts and serves on the Massachusetts Small Business Review Board. Parke is a partner with Bulkley Richardson and a member of its business and finance department, focusing on general corporate and business matters, mergers and acquisitions, and other transactional work. He, too, served in a leadership capacity on the ACCGS board prior to its merger and was instrumental in the formation of the Springfield Regional Chamber. He serves on Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education, Inc. Business & Commercial Curriculum Advisory Committee and is past chair and current member of the Friends of the Homeless board of directors. Also elected as new members of the SRC board of directors were Marc Criscitelli, senior vice president for HUB International New England, LLC; Lou Curto, financial consultant with Private Wealth Management Group; David Ference, vice president, Commercial Lending for TD Bank; Tejas Gandhi, chief operating officer for Baystate Health; Jeffrey Trapani, Esq., a partner with Robinson Donovan Madden & Barry, P.C.; and Jenny MacKay, representing the Professional Women’s Chamber.

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The East of the River Five Town Chamber of Commerce inaugurated President Edward Zemba of Robert Charles Photography at its recent annual meeting at the Starting Gate at GreatHorse. Robert Charles Photography has been a member of the ERC5 since 1974, and Zemba has been participating in chamber events for more than 20 years. The annual meeting also ushered in First Vice Chair Charles Christianson of CMD Technology and celebrated the continued efforts of Treasurer Joe Lawler of the Gaudreau Group. Past President Dennis Lopata of Life Care Center of Wilbraham relinquished his responsibilities to Zemba.

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Former state Rep. Benjamin Swan has been named the recipient of the 26th annual Ubora Award conferred by the African Hall subcommittee of the Springfield Science Museum. In Swahili, Ubora means “excellence.” Swan was nominated by Denise Jordan and Fred Allen Swan. As a civil-rights activist, Ben Swan was the Western Mass. coordinator for the monumental 1963 March for Jobs and Freedom, and he is recognized as the preeminent leader of the 1960s civil rights movement in the city of Springfield, and he served as president of the Greater Springfield branch of the NAACP. For 24 years, Swan served as state representative for the 11th Hampden District, retiring this past January. As a community leader, he helped launch a number of community-based organizations such as Northern Education Service and the former Springfield Action Commission. Swan provided moral, legislative, and financial leadership and support to the Springfield Schools, community-based organizations, minority veterans groups, substance-abuse treatment, cultural festivals, the Springfield Arts Council, Springfield Technical Community College, and the UMass Downtown Center.  As an artist and the creator of the long-standing Black Love Experience radio program, Swan provides community updates in educational and cultural activities and shares inspirational black classical music. Swan graduated from the former Springfield Technical High School. He received his bachelor’s degree from the Fashion Design Institute and his master’s degree in education from UMass. He completed advanced graduate work at UMass, and received an honorary doctorate from Westfield State University. He has received many awards and recognitions, including the 1990 “Eye on the Prize” Award.

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The board of directors of the Professional Women’s Chamber (PWC), a division of the Springfield Regional Chamber, has elected its officers to lead the division:

Laurie Cassidy has been re-elected president. She has been executive director of the West Springfield Council on Aging/Senior Center since 2010. She is in the second year of her two-year term as president;

Gillian Palmer has been newly elected as vice president. Palmer, a PWC member since 2014, is Business Development coordinator at Eastern States Exposition. Palmer also serves as vice president of Finance of the Meeting Professionals International CT River Valley chapter, special events chair of the Rotary Club of Springfield, and a Bay Path University Alumni Council member. She is a member of BusinessWest’s 40 Under Forty Class of 2017;

Caron LaCour was re-elected as treasurer. She is a certified public accountant working with Burkhart Pizzanelli, P.C.;

Jeannie Filomeno was also re-elected as assistant treasurer. She is Human Resource manager at Marcotte Ford Sales Inc., her family business where she has worked since graduating college. She has served on the PWC board for three terms.

Liz Rappaport, a third-generation property manager at Century Investment Co., was re-elected as secretary; and

Janet Casey will continue to serve as past president for one more year.

•••••

Kelly Koch

Kelly Koch

Raipher, P.C. announced that Kelly Koch and Isaac Fleisher recently joined the firm. Koch began her career with a clerkship for judges in the Western Mass. Probate and Family Court. She then spent six years in the Domestic Relations department at Bulkley, Richardson and Gelinas, LLP. She is well-versed in domestic relations and probate law and has handled domestic and international custody disputes, multi-million-dollar divorces, and alimony modifications. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Brandeis University as well as a JD and an LLM in estate planning from Western New England University School of Law. She is a member of the Hampden and Hampshire County Bar Associations, the Massachusetts Bar Assoc., the Women’s Bar Assoc., and the ACLU. Fleisher comes to Raipher, P.C. with 10 years of in-house counsel experience at Tams-Witmark Inc. in New York City. He counseled corporate executives on business and legal issues, negotiated licensing agreements, and managed copyrights. At Raipher, P.C., he works with startups and entrepreneurs in a range of industries and has developed an expertise in the renewable-energy sector, helping investors and developers acquire, finance, and build commercial solar-power facilities throughout the Northeast. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan University, graduating with honors, and his JD from Brooklyn Law, graduating cum laude. He is a member of the Massachusetts Bar Assoc., the Hampshire County Bar Assoc., the New York City Bar Assoc., and the New York State Bar Assoc. In his free time, Isaac volunteers with Legal Food Hub, a nonprofit providing free legal services to farmers and food entrepreneurs in New England. He serves on the board of the Lander-Grinspoon Academy.

•••••

Terry Poloski of Monson Savings Bank was recognized recently by the Warren Group, publisher of Banker & Tradesman magazine, in its its annual report of the top mortgage originators in Massachusetts. Poloski was named one of the top five mortgage loan originators in Western Mass. for the second straight year. Poloski has been with Monson Savings Bank as a mortgage originator for the past five years. She has more than 38 years in the banking industry, is a member of the RAPV Affiliate Group, and participates in BNI.

•••••

During the National Assoc. of Clean Water Agencies’ (NACWA) Utility Leadership Conference and 47th annual meeting in St. Louis, representatives of the association’s nearly 300 member utilities elected Joshua Schimmel, executive director of the Springfield Water and Sewer Commission, to a seat on its board of directors. NACWA, headquartered in Washington, D.C., is a national leader in clean-water advocacy, and Schimmel’s leadership will be instrumental in helping to shape and improve clean-water policy that impacts all states and cities. Schimmel has more than 24 years of experience at the Springfield Water and Sewer Commission, participating in all facets of the water and wastewater utility business, from operations to engineering to customer service to financial and regulatory issues. Appointed executive director in 2016, he worked proactively with the Board of Commissioners and commission staff to advance efforts to create financial stability, implement an aggressive capital-investment program, and develop a sustainable operating strategy while keeping rates affordable and service reliable.

Daily News

HADLEY — A recent study has discovered that 38% of financial advisors expect to retire over the next decade, which means a new wave of wealth managers are stepping up to the plate. In light of this demographic shift, Forbes has released its first-ever list of “America’s Top Next-Gen Wealth Advisors.”

Among those earning a place on this prestigious list is UMassFive College Federal Credit Union’s Nick Cantrell, a financial advisor registered through CUSO Financial Services, L.P., who specializes in retirement planning, investment management, socially responsible investing, insurance planning, and estate planning with Massachusetts State employees, healthcare professionals, and employees of colleges and universities.

In order to be considered for this honor, Cantrell was required to complete a lengthy performance survey covering areas such as compliance records, client retention, revenue production, and assets managed. He has been a financial advisor for more than 10 years, and has worked at UMassFive College Federal Credit Union since 2012. He maintains office hours both in Worcester and Northampton.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Raipher, P.C. announced that Kelly Koch and Isaac Fleisher recently joined the firm.

Koch began her career with a clerkship for judges in the Western Mass. Probate and Family Court. She then spent six years in the Domestic Relations department at Bulkley, Richardson and Gelinas, LLP. She is well-versed in domestic relations and probate law and has handled domestic and international custody disputes, multi-million-dollar divorces, and alimony modifications.

She earned her bachelor’s degree from Brandeis University as well as a JD and an LLM in estate planning from Western New England University School of Law. She is a member of the Hampden and Hampshire County Bar Associations, the Massachusetts Bar Assoc., the Women’s Bar Assoc., and the ACLU.

Fleisher comes to Raipher, P.C. with 10 years of in-house counsel experience at Tams-Witmark Inc. in New York City. He counseled corporate executives on business and legal issues, negotiated licensing agreements, and managed copyrights. At Raipher, P.C., he works with startups and entrepreneurs in a range of industries and has developed an expertise in the renewable-energy sector, helping investors and developers acquire, finance, and build commercial solar-power facilities throughout the Northeast.

He earned his bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan University, graduating with honors, and his JD from Brooklyn Law, graduating cum laude. He is a member of the Massachusetts Bar Assoc., the Hampshire County Bar Assoc., the New York City Bar Assoc., and the New York State Bar Assoc. In his free time, Isaac volunteers with Legal Food Hub, a nonprofit providing free legal services to farmers and food entrepreneurs in New England. He serves on the board of the Lander-Grinspoon Academy and is an active member of the local Jewish community.

“Bringing two unique talents like Kelly and Isaac aboard adds further depth to our services and allows us to continue to offer our clients the best and most diverse legal resources,” said Raipher Pellegrino, managing partner of Raipher, P.C. “They are great additions to our team and great assets to our clients.”

Law Sections

Courting Change

Eric Gouvin

Eric Gouvin says law students, like the customers of any business, want return on their investment.

Enrollment was already declining at law schools nationwide when the Great Recession hit, drying up the legal job market and driving the applicant count even lower. That forced a mass contraction at institutions across the U.S., including Western New England University School of Law. But its dean says the strategies undertaken to provide more return on investment for students has brought stability, and the future looks brighter than it has in years.

Few law-school leaders are surprised that enrollment is slightly higher nationally than it was a few years ago — if only because it couldn’t get much lower.

In fact, said Eric Gouvin, dean of Western New England University (WNEU) School of Law, 100,600 individuals applied to law schools during the 2003-04 cycle. In 2014-15, the number was 55,700.

That’s a stark decline, but the numbers are starting to tick up — slowly. Still, no one expects them to soar anytime soon, meaning this has become a new normal across the country — with a few exceptions, like Harvard, which will always have its pick of top applicants.

One reason for the enrollment drop was a declining job market for lawyers, one that began before the Great Recession but accelerated quickly after the 2008 financial crisis. By 2012 or 2013, graduates were finding it very difficult to secure positions right out of school.

To be honest, we were probably making too many lawyers for too long. In the good old days, we just kept saying, ‘we’ll take you; we’ll teach you law,’ but there weren’t necessarily enough jobs for those people. Then, in the Great Recession, people were graduating into an economy that was close to failing. Not only were there no jobs, but existing jobs were being eliminated. Those new graduates were devastated.”

“To be honest, we were probably making too many lawyers for too long,” Gouvin said. “In the good old days, we just kept saying, ‘we’ll take you; we’ll teach you law,’ but there weren’t necessarily enough jobs for those people. Then, in the Great Recession, people were graduating into an economy that was close to failing. Not only were there no jobs, but existing jobs were being eliminated. Those new graduates were devastated.”

That job-market crisis has alleviated significantly, if only because fewer students are seeking a career in the legal field, and law schools — again, with a few, high-profile exceptions — have been forced to contract.

“We can engage in magical thinking, wanting to bring back the good old days, or we can be realistic,” Gouvin told BusinessWest. “The market is saying fewer people want to go to law school. If you’re not Harvard or Georgetown, you have to take that reality into account.”

Just before Gouvin became dean in 2013, the school launched a strategic plan to assess its current situation amid the national enrollment crisis, and where it needed to be given that environment. Part of WNEU’s strategy focused on giving students more return on investment, including a tuition freeze, instituted during the 2013-14 school year and extending through 2017-18.

“A lot of our competitors didn’t do that, so we have essentially cut tuition by not raising it,” he said. “We’re 15% to 20% lower than Quinnipiac, Suffolk, and New England Law, so we’re producing on that end of return on investment.”

The school has been generous with scholarships, too, he said, so its $39,400 annual tuition actually translates to an average of $21,000 per student. “That’s is a pretty darn good deal today.”

With the lowered revenues, of course, WNEU had to keep a close eye on expenses, and it was able to shrink staff through retirements, so that the school, staffed for 550 students when Gouvin arrived, is now staffed for 300 — a notable contraction, he said, but typical of what’s happening across the country.

“With some smart planning on the expense side, we figured out how to offer the same programs with fewer people,” Gouvin said. “As the student body contracted, we needed fewer teachers. One concern some alums might have had was replacing tenured faculty with adjuncts, but that’s not true; since I’ve been here, we’ve had 32 adjuncts a year, all teaching upper-level electives. The core programs are taught by full-time, tenured faculty members.”

The school has also tried hard to avoid unnecessary debt to keep overhead down, he added. “There’s a lot of competition out there to build these incredibly beautiful, palatial buildings, but I don’t have that hanging over my head. I have staff and program expenses, but I don’t have huge debt service.”

Still, keeping tuition down by reducing expenses is only one way to provide that much-discussed ROI that today’s law students crave. The other is to give them more of what they need to secure employment, and on that front, WNEU hasn’t let them down.

Case Studies

For instance, the school has added new programs, some of them to attract students who aren’t necessarily looking to pursue a career practicing law. Such initiatives include a master of laws and letters (LLM) degree in estate planning and elder law, introduced in 2004. More recently, the school added a master’s-degree track in the same discipline.

“We identified that need early on, with the population aging, and a lot of wealth still to be transferred from Baby Boomers to their kids,” Gouvin explained. “We’ve been in a good spot with the elder-law and estate-planning programs we’ve offered, and have expanded them.”

Another focus has been on what Gouvin calls student-centered professional education.

“Student-centeredness is in the water here. I think the students care about each other and have the chance to get to know their professors pretty well. They have an incredible support system, very customer-friendly, problem-solving-oriented,” he explained. “I can’t take credit for that; it was already part of the culture. It’s a real selling point for Western New England.”

But he has led efforts to “up our game” in that area, particularly through the use of clinics — in areas such as criminal defense, criminal prosecution, elder law, and immigration (the latter in cooperation with Community Legal Aid), in which students blend classroom instruction with work on real cases, under the guidance of local attorneys.

The newest clinic centers on family-law mediation. “We’re the only school in the Commonwealth working with the family courts. It’s groundbreaking, and we’re quite proud of it.”

In fact, Gouvin said, about 88% of all students get involved in clinics and externships, understanding the value of developing not only real-world legal knowledge, but the soft skills that will make them more employable.

WNEU School of Law

Eric Gouvin says WNEU School of Law has raised its game by adding new programs and clinics aimed at giving students real-world experience.

In making these community connections, Western New England benefits from its position as the only accredited law school in the Commonwealth west of Greater Boston, Gouvin noted. This uniqueness ensures a broad range of opportunities in the form of internships and clerkships.

“That’s one of our strengths; we have many quality placements with federal judges, state courts, law firms, nonprofits. It’s not like we’re competing with six other law schools to get those spots. And it’s the kind of experience employers find valuable and relevant. For a small school, we nail that.”

I’ve got a police officer, an HR person, a computer tech person, an insurance guy who does construction litigation … none of those want to be practicing lawyers, but they see they can be more effective in their roles by knowing more about the law. A lot of people out there realize law is handy, even if they don’t want to be lawyers.”

WNEU School of Law has also expanded its appeal by launching a master’s degree in law for students who have no intention of becoming lawyers, but who take classes alongside juris doctor students to develop an expertise in legal matters to bring to their chosen career, be it accounting, insurance, banking, journalism, fund-raising, or any number of other disciplines.

“I’ve got a police officer, an HR person, a computer tech person, an insurance guy who does construction litigation … none of those want to be practicing lawyers, but they see they can be more effective in their roles by knowing more about the law,” Gouvin said. “A lot of people out there realize law is handy, even if they don’t want to be lawyers.”

Meanwhile, dual-degree programs like WNEU’s JD/MBA aim for the same type of cross-disciplinary expertise. “It’s never just law; it’s always law and something,” he said. “For students to gain knowledge in their fields and marry that with a law degree, I think that can give them a boost.”

After all, he added, “it’s hard to imagine any aspect of human activity that doesn’t have a legal component to it. We’ve never made less law; we’re always making more.”

Making an Appeal

That simple truth will always provide a stream of young people interested in practicing law, even if that stream has weakened in the new millennium.

“The market four years ago was in shambles, and we’re seeing that it has come back — not to where it was prior to the Great Recession, but it’s probably more sustainable now,” Gouvin told BusinessWest. “The good news is that Western New England and just about every other law school have contracted; instead of pumping 200 graduates a year into a market that can’t absorb them, we’re now graduating 100 into a market that can absorb them.”

Academically, the school must be doing something right, he added, noting that, despite a recent preference for applicants with high GPAs over high LSAT scores, WNEU ranks fifth in the state on percent of students passing the bar, behind only Northeastern, Harvard, Boston University, and Boston College. “That’s with students whose LSATs would have predicted they’d have trouble with the bar.”

Furthermore, Gouvin expects graduates’ job prospects — and, as a result, interest in a law degree — to increase as older lawyers, whose assets were battered by the Great Recession and may have postponed retirement because of it, start seriously considering life after law.

“Many waited until housing and the stock market recovered,” he said, “but now, it may be that more folks see their way clear to retiring.”

At the same time, he was quick to add, the industry is changing, and retiring lawyers won’t be replaced by the same number of newcomers. Technology has reduced some of the workload for attorneys, while paraprofessionals are performing many of the duties lawyers handled a generation ago.

“That being said, there should be a net outflow from the profession,” he went on. “The median age of lawyers has been increasing for the past two decades.”

In other words, the future seems bright for WNEU, which started in 1919 as the Springfield branch of Northeastern, holding classes at the YMCA on Chestnut Street.

“Like I tell alums, we’ve been here 100 years, and we’ll be here another 100 years,” he said, and that’s plenty of time to cultivate new relationships between students and the legal community they one day hope to work in.

He cited a survey UCLA conducts each fall with its incoming freshmen, asking them what they want to do with their lives. Since 2000, the percentage saying they wanted to practice law has been on the decline, from 5.2% in 2000 to a recent low of 3.2%. But in the past two years, the number shot back up. It’s just another data point, Gouvin noted, to encourage those, like him, who are invested in the legal profession.

“Again,” he said, “these are hopefully signs not only that people think going to law school is a good idea, but that going to law school actually is a good idea.”

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]

Features

Sensational Six

40under40contdExcellenceLogo2016
When gathering her thoughts on this year’s six nominees for the Continued Excellence Award, Susan Jaye-Kaplan summoned none other than Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“I believe Dr. King once said, ‘we’ll judge people based on what they do, rather than what they look like,’” said Jaye-Kaplan, co-founder and president of Link to Libraries and one of three judges for BusinessWest’s third annual award program honoring extremely high achievers in the region. “The talent, commitment, and caring of all the nominees makes one proud to be in this community, where, for many of our citizens, giving is a moral responsibility.”

BusinessWest launched the Continued Excellence Award in 2015 to recognize past 40 Under Forty honorees who have built on the business success and civic commitment that initially earned them that honor. The first two winners of the award were Delcie Bean, president of Paragus Strategic IT, and Dr. Jonathan Bayuk, president of Allergy and Immunology Associates of Western Mass. and chief of Allergy and Immunology at Baystate Medical Center. Both had been named to the 40 Under Forty class of 2008.

The winner of the third annual award will be announced at this year’s 40 Under Forty gala, slated for June 22 at the Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House in Holyoke.

The six finalists, as determined by scores submitted by three judges — Jaye-Kaplan; Dana Barrows, Estate & Business Planning specialist with Northwestern Mutual; and Bill Grinnell, president of Webber & Grinnell insurance — are, in alphabetical order:

Michael Fenton

Michael Fenton

Michael Fenton

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

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

Jeff Fialky

Jeff Fialky

Jeff Fialky

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

Former president of the Young Professional Society of Greater Springfield, Fialky currently serves as chair of the Springfield Chamber of Commerce, and is also on the board of trustees of the Springfield Museums, where he chairs the membership and development committee and is the incoming vice treasurer. He has also served on boards and committees such as the Jewish Federation of Pioneer Valley, Leadership Pioneer Valley, DiverseCity OnBoard, the YMCA, and the Pioneer Valley chapter of the American Red Cross.

Scott Foster

Scott Foster

Scott Foster

In 2011, Foster, an attorney with Bulkley, Richardson and Gelinas, was honored as a 40 Under Forty member not only for his work with that firm, where he specializes in general corporate, business, and finance matters, but for his chairmanship of the Forest Park Zoological Society, his work with the Family Business Center at UMass Amherst and the university’s Entrepreneurship Initiative, and his then-recent efforts to co-found Valley Venture Mentors (VVM), a nonprofit organization that connects talented Pioneer Valley entrepreneurs with mentors in the business community.

While his leadership roles at work and on civic boards have expanded in the past six years, Foster’s most significant achievement since then may be the growth of VVM from an all-volunteer organization to a nationally recognized entrepreneurship engine with an annual budget of $1.2 million, six full-time employees, and a track record of helping seed the Pioneer Valley with a culture of successful startups. He spends hundreds of hours each year improving the environment for entrepreneurs, who in turn are helping to lift an entire region.

Nicole Griffin

Nicole Griffin

Nicole Griffin

Griffin spent 12 years in the insurance industry before launching her own business, Griffin Staffing Network, in 2010. Her work there, helping teens and adults acquire job-related skills and find temporary and permanent employment, earned her 40 Under Forty recognition in 2014, as did her generosity with her time and resources, from founding Springfield Mustard Seed, in response to clients who wanted to become entrepreneurs, to her involvement with a host of community-focused organizations.

Over the past year, Griffin has mentored young mothers through the Square One mentorship program and the New England Farm Workers Council’s teen-mom program, as well as leveraging the skills of her staff to provide recruiting opportunities and career guidance to current and graduating students at area colleges and universities. She was also recognized with the Community Builder Award from the Urban League for helping meet employment needs in Springfield. Meanwhile, she has ramped up her mentorship efforts for young entrepreneurs, chaired a Women’s Leadership Council event that raised $15,000, and lent her support to events benefiting Revitalize CDC.

Amanda Huston Garcia

Amanda Huston Garcia

Amanda Huston Garcia

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

In 2011, she left her position with JA — but still plays numerous roles in the organization — and became a full-time professor at Elms, where her passion for teaching young people about entrepreneurship and financial literacy remains strong. In addition to helping create the Elms MBA program (and serving as its interim director for a time), she developed a partnership between Elms and JA, recruiting more than 60 college students each year to teach JA programs. She also forged a classroom partnership between Elms and Putnam Vocational Technical Academy and is working on a program to help Putnam students earn college credits. She also introduced Elms accounting students to a national business-ethics debate competition, where they finished first in the region twice.

Meghan Rothschild

Meghan Rothschild

Meghan Rothschild

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

Since then, Rothschild has stayed busy, transitioning from a board seat with the Melanoma Foundation of New England to a job as marking and PR manager, where she’s the face of the organization’s “Your Skin Is In” campaign. She has testified in Boston and Washington, D.C. in support of laws restricting tanning beds. Meanwhile, she hosts a community talk show on 94.3 FM, and co-founded chikmedia, a marketing firm that specializes in nonprofits and fund-raisers — all while supporting a raft of area nonprofit organizations. Most recently, she joined the board of the Zoo at Forest Park, donating her time to its marketing and PR initiatives, and participated in events benefiting the Holyoke Children’s Museum, Junior Achievement, and a host of other groups.

About the Judges

Dana Barrows

Dana Barrows

Dana Barrows began his association with Northwestern Mutual while a full-time law student at Western New England School of Law. He has used his law background to help clients address a wide range of personal, business, and estate-planning needs, often working closely with their other professional advisors. He has developed a financial-services practice in the areas of estate and business planning. He specializes in working with high-net-worth individuals and owners of closely held businesses in the areas of business continuity and estate planning. Barrows also serves on a variety of professional and community boards and is very active within the Northwestern Mutual’s Financial Representative Assoc.

Bill Grinnell

Bill Grinnell

As president of Webber and Grinnell Insurance, Bill Grinnell oversees a company with 30 employees serving 5,000 clients. Currently vice president of the board of River Valley Investments, he has also served as board co-chair of the United Way Campaign from 2013 to 2015, Northampton Planning Board member from 2014 to 2016, trustee at the Academy at Charlemont from 2009 to 2012, board chair at Hampshire Regional YMCA from 2009 to 2010, vice president and board member at Riverside Industries, board member of the Employers Assoc. of the NorthEast, and board member of the Northampton Chamber of Commerce. His agency also supports countless nonprofits in the region.

Susan Jaye-Kaplan

Susan Jaye-Kaplan

Susan Jaye-Kaplan is not just the co-founder of Link to Libraries — an organization whose mission is to collect and distribute books to public elementary schools and nonprofit organizations in Western Mass. and Connecticut — but also founded Go FIT Inc. and the Pioneer Valley Women’s Running Club. Her many accolades from regional and national organizations — far too many to list here — include being named a BusinessWest Difference Maker in 2009, the program’s inaugural year. She is a member of the Women’s Sports Foundation and a requested speaker at conferences and universities throughout the area. She works part-time as a consultant for the Donahue Institute at UMass Boston.

“It is inspiring to have had the privilege to read about the varied accomplishments of the nominees presented,” Jaye-Kaplan said regarding the judges’ challenge of considering dozens of Continued Excellence Award applications and trying to determine which to nominate this year — and, in the coming weeks, which to name the winner for 2017. “I can see these young people are  responsible to the communities in which they live and work, the environment, and to the bigger community as well. It is an honor to see this in our community.”

Daily News

LONGMEADOW — Most people dream of the day they can retire, envisioning hammocks and travel, maybe volunteering and spending more time with family and friends. Achieving this dream is much more likely for those who plan and prepare for their financial future. And yet, according to an Ipsos/USA Today survey of 1,250 adults aged 45-65 conducted in January, only 59% say they’re very or somewhat prepared for retirement.

JGS Lifecare will host a retirement-planning seminar, “Securing Your Retirement,” on Wednesday, June 7, from 6 to 7 p.m. at Ruth’s House, 780 Converse St., Longmeadow.

David Fedor, president of Fedor Financial Group in West Springfield, will discuss how to transform Social Security into a winning retirement strategy. Fedor is a certified financial planner and chartered retirement-planning counselor, and an active member of the Estate Planning Council of Hampden County since 2008. In addition, he joined the Western Mass. Eldercare Professional Assoc. in 2013 to stay current with issues facing the elderly.

“At JGS Lifecare, we provide for more than just the physical needs of our clients and residents,” President and CEO Martin Baicker said. “We offer programs and services designed to improve their overall well-being. Our JGS LifeEd Community Education Program allows us to offer educational seminars that benefit not only our clients, but our community as well.”

As part of the JGS LifeEd Community Education Program, this event is free and open to the public. Registration is requested by calling Mary-Anne Schelb at (413) 567-6212, ext. 3105.

Departments People on the Move
Jacqueline Charron

Jacqueline Charron

The Professional Women’s Chamber (PWC) announced that Jacqueline Charron, chief risk officer and senior vice president of Operations and Information Technology for PeoplesBank in Holyoke, has been named the PWC 2017 Woman of the Year. The Woman of the Year award is presented to a woman in the Western Mass. area who exemplifies outstanding leadership, professional accomplishment, and service to the community. This award has been given annually since 1954. Liz Rappaport, secretary of the PWC board committee, said the selection committee was thoroughly impressed with Charron’s work-life balance, as evidenced by her pursuit of education while managing her career and being the mother of four children. “The PWC recently had a work-life balance panel at a luncheon, and we loved how, through her application, Jackie personified work-life balance,” Rappaport said. Charron earned a bachelor’s degree in economics at Mount Holyoke College while working as a teller at PeoplesBank. She went on to receive an MBA from the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst. She has done post-graduate work at Babson College (Mass. Bankers Assoc. School of Financial Studies), Villanova University (master certificate in Lean Six Sigma), and the Dartmouth College Tuck School of Business Leadership Program. After 32 years, Jackie continues to build a successful career at PeoplesBank, where today she leads a team of 40 associates in deposit operations, information technology, electronic banking, and risk and compliance. She has served at the leadership level of many community and business organizations, including the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, Girls Inc., the South Hadley and Greater Holyoke chambers of commerce, and United Way of Pioneer Valley. She also enjoys volunteering at the Holyoke St. Patrick’s Day Road Race and at activities and fund-raisers that support her children’s academic and athletic interests. She can be found working the concession stand at a high-school girls’ soccer game or attending a gala for the Fine Arts Center or Bright Nights. A celebration in Charron’s honor will be held on Thursday, June 1 at 5:30 p.m. at the Carriage House, Storrowton Tavern, 1305 Memorial Ave., West Springfield. Reservations may be made online at www.springfieldregionalchamber.com or by contacting Jessica Hill at [email protected].

•••••

Jim Ayres

Jim Ayres

United Way of Pioneer Valley (UWPV) announced that its board of directors has appointed Jim Ayres the organization’s next president and CEO, effective June 12. Ayres, who currently serves as the CEO of the United Way Hampshire County, will succeed Dora Robinson, UWPV’s most recent president and CEO and current president emeritus. Ayres comes to UWPV from United Way of Hampshire County (UWHC), where he has served as CEO and executive director since 2011. During his tenure there, he expanded the donor base and increased both funding diversity and overall revenue at a time when many United Ways nationally had experienced shrinkage. Prior to joining UWHC, he served for 12 years as the executive director of the Center for New Americans, an education and resource center for immigrants, refugees, and other limited-English speakers in Western Mass. With roots in the Springfield public schools, where he worked as a parent community and involvement coordinator, he has extensive experience working with school systems, local and state governments, community coalitions, workforce boards, and other nonprofit organizations to develop programming and policy. He is the incoming board president of the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network and an adjunct professor of Nonprofit Administration and Philanthropy at Bay Path University. He holds master’s degrees from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst. UWPV will celebrate Ayres’s arrival at the organization’s 95th-anniversary celebration on Wednesday, May 31 at the Barney Carriage House at Forest Park.

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Mark Foster

Mark Foster

Jay Seyler

Jay Seyler

Shana Hebdrikse

Shana Hebdrikse

Jessica Menard

Jessica Menard

PeoplesBank announced the appointment of Mark Foster to vice president, operational risk manager; Jay Seyler to vice president, business banking officer; Shana Hendrikse to business banking officer; and Jessica Menard to commercial credit officer. Foster brings more than a decade of financial and audit experience, and holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Connecticut. He is an RSA Archer-certified administrator and was named a 2015 RSA Archer Innovation Award winner. Seyler possesses more than 30 years of banking and financial experience, and holds a bachelor’s degree from Bryant University and an MBA from Western New England University. Hendrikse brings more than a decade of banking and financial experience, and holds a master’s degree from Colorado State University and a bachelor’s degree from Saint Leo University. She has completed training through the New England School of Financial Studies at Babson and holds a certificate in financial studies. Menard possesses close to a decade of banking and commercial-loan experience, and holds a bachelor’s degree from Bay Path University. She has completed training through the Risk Management Assoc., the Massachusetts Bankers Assoc., and the Center for Financial Training.

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Hyman Darling

Hyman Darling

Bacon Wilson, P.C. announced that attorney Hyman Darling recently took the oath of office as the incoming president of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA). He was sworn in as president at NAELA’s annual conference along with other incoming members of the executive committee, and will officially assume his duties as NAELA president on June 1. In addition to accepting the office of the presidency, Darling was also honored as a NAELA fellow for 2017. The fellow designation is the highest honor bestowed by NAELA, and is granted to members who have careers in elder law and who have made exceptional contributions to the field. Election as a NAELA fellow signifies an attorney recognized by his peers as a model for others, and an exceptional lawyer and leader. The most significant component in the selection process is commitment and contributions to NAELA through committee participation, programs, and leadership. Upon accepting the fellow award and the presidency, Darling proceeded to address his NAELA colleagues, thanking them for record-high conference attendance and laying out his plans for the coming year. Much to the delight of the audience, his remarks were delivered entirely in rhyming verse. Darling is a partner at Bacon Wilson, where he has practiced since 1981. He concentrates in the areas of trusts, estates, taxes, estate planning, probate, guardianships, special needs, and elder law. Prior to joining Bacon Wilson, he served as a trust officer. He has been a frequent presenter for both the Massachusetts Bar Assoc. and Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education. He has also spoken for NAELA at several conferences, both local and national. He is an adjunct faculty member at both Western New England University School of Law and Bay Path University. Darling serves on many local planned-giving committees, and is a frequent lecturer for professional and civic groups in the Pioneer Valley. He is a member of the Special Needs Alliance, and is also a former president of the Hampden County Estate Planning Council.

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Kevin Maltby

Kevin Maltby

Bacon Wilson, P.C. also announced that attorney Kevin Maltby is a recipient of 2017’s Excellence in the Law Pro Bono Award from Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly. He was recognized for his pro bono efforts in connection with the Springfield District Court’s Lawyer for a Day program. With the support of the Hampden County Bar Assoc., Maltby led the 2012 effort to establish the weekly program, and he is currently working on significant expansion of pro bono services offered by the Hampden County Legal Clinic. He was inspired to initiate the Lawyer for a Day program after taking note of numerous people trying to represent themselves in court, often unsuccessfully, due to their unfamiliarity with the law and court procedures. In addition to the District Court Lawyer for a Day program, Maltby contributes his time to numerous other pro bono programs, including the Massachusetts Bar Assoc. Dial-a-Lawyer program, and the Hampden County Bar Assoc. Lawyer on the Line program. He is the current president of the Hampden County Bar Assoc., where he also serves on the pro bono committee. He is a member of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s standing advisory committee on professionalism, and is an adjunct professor at Bay Path University, where he teaches advanced litigation.

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Thomas Walbridge

Thomas Walbridge

Community Health Programs has named Thomas Walbridge its new chief financial officer. He will oversee the health network’s budget, financial operations, and planning. Walbridge has served as chief financial officer and vice president for the Kinsley Group Inc. and as CFO for the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority; he was also director of finance and human resources at Six Flags New England. His early professional career was spent in the banking sector in Pittsfield. He holds a business degree from Babson College and an MBA from Western New England University. CHP finished its 2016 fiscal year with an operating surplus of nearly $700,000, on revenues of $14 million. During that year, CHP increased its patient and client numbers from 16,000 to more than 22,000, with the addition of two new practices in North Adams and other new-patient outreach. During 2016, employment at CHP grew from 140 to 175 and continues to expand. Walbridge is also the founder and operator of LuckBridge Sports LLC, a company that creates affordable, inclusive team-building opportunities for youth and coaches in the developmental and advanced instruction of baseball and basketball. He volunteers in his community with youth sports programs, the American Red Cross, the March of Dimes, the Agawam Chamber of Commerce and the Agawam Rotary.

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Christopher Scott

Christopher Scott

Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) announced the hiring of Christopher Scott as the dean of the School of Health & Patient Simulation. Scott had been the interim dean since the retirement of Michael Foss in 2016. His previous positions at STCC include assistant dean for the School of Health & Patient Simulation and director of Clinical Education and SIMS Medical Center. Scott will lead a school that offers the most competitive programs at STCC and is home to the Northeast’s largest patient-simulation training facility. The SIMS Medical Center at STCC provides a clinical setting to train students as well as healthcare providers. Scott played a key role in expanding the facility when he was hired as director in 2010. At the time, the center included 18 patient simulators and five rooms and provided 3,000 simulation experiences each year. Today, there are 52 simulators and 12 rooms, or simulation areas, and more than 20,000 simulation experiences. As dean, he is responsible for the overall leadership of the school as well as for the daily and long-term operation of all the credit and non-credit health programs. About 800 students are enrolled in credit and non-credit programs. The school includes more than 100 full-time and part-time faculty and staff. Scott sees his mission as helping to meet the community’s health care needs and ensuring access to the degree and certificate programs, which include cosmetology, dental assistant, dental hygiene, diagnostic medical imaging, interdisciplinary health studies, medical assistant, medical laboratory technician, nursing, rehabilitation therapies, respiratory care, and surgical technology. Scott, who holds a master’s degree in health education and curriculum development from Springfield College, is currently is completing his doctorate of education in higher education administration from Northeastern University in Boston. A certified healthcare-simulation educator, Scott earned his bachelor’s degree in emergency medical services management from Springfield College.

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Bruce Marzotto

Bruce Marzotto

Lee Bank announced that Bruce Marzotto, senior vice president of Commercial Lending, has been named a Community Bank Hero by the Warren Group and Banker & Tradesman. Community Bank Heroes is an annual award that honors the achievements, commitment, and dedication of financial professionals who go above and beyond for their institution and community. Award recipients are nominated by their peers and selected by Banker & Tradesman’s editorial board; this year’s 13 winners hail from community banks throughout Massachusetts. Marzotto has been with Lee Bank for 10 years and has worked in banking in Berkshire County for 40 years. After receiving his associate’s degree at Berkshire Community College, he continued his education through banking courses with the American Institute of Banking as well as the New England School of Banking at Williams College. As former treasurer of the Southern Berkshire Chamber of Commerce, Great Barrington Little League, and Boy Scouts of America Troop 23, he is continuing his community involvement as a trustee of the newly organized Great Barrington Municipal Affordable House Trust. The Community Bank Heroes awards will be distributed at a dinner event on Tuesday, May 23 at the Hyatt Regency Boston hotel. Recipients will be featured in the May 22 issue of Banker & Tradesman. To see a full list of the Community Bank Heroes and for more information about the awards dinner, visit www.thewarrengroupevents.com/communitybankheroes.

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Sharon Dufour, chief financial officer for Luso Federal Credit Union, and Kimberly Anderson, Community Relations representative for Luso, were recognized on National Financial Educators Day for their hard work and dedication to promoting financial-literacy education in Ludlow, Hampden, and Wilbraham. Nominated by Junior Achievement of Western Massachusetts, Dufour and Anderson, supported by Luso Federal Credit Union and a grant from the Joseph and Anna C. Dias Family Foundation, help bring financial-literacy education to thousands of youth in the three communities. Every child in Ludlow schools and St. John the Baptist School, kindergarten through grade 8, participates in a JA program each year, as well as all the students at Thornton Burgess Middle School in Hampden and Wilbraham Middle School. Dufour and Anderson not only secure the funding for the programs, but recruit and train nearly 100 volunteers to deliver the programs. Dufour and Anderson also teach multiple JA programs each year.

Banking and Financial Services Sections

Beyond the Numbers

Managing Principal Julie Quink, left, and Principal Deborah Penzias

Managing Principal Julie Quink, left, and Principal Deborah Penzias

The two youngest partners at Burkhart Pizzanelli say they’ve learned well from the accounting firm’s founders, who have long cultivated a relationship-driven culture that builds not only business, but, more importantly, trust. It’s a model they hope to build upon in the coming decades, with the goal of helping clients navigate the many facets of growing a successful enterprise.

To those outside the accounting industry, it may seem like a dry, numbers-driven game.

But that’s not the case at West Springfield-based Burkhart Pizzanelli, said Managing Principal Julie Quink, noting that each of those numbers tells a story, and it’s a story she and her team want to hear and understand.

“We’re very relationship-driven in terms of our clients, and also with our team — we’re a very close-knit team; that’s how we function,” Quink said. “We don’t want to be one-and-done, where we prepare your tax return and don’t hear from you until next year. We want to reach out often to see how things are going. We want to hear when positive things are happening.”

That leads to new business opportunities, said Partner Deborah Penzias, but also a deepening of trust between Burkhart Pizzanelli and its clients that often results in decades-long business relationships.

“We stress the relationship aspect of it; that’s really important to us,” Quink added. “Our topmost priority here is quality, and building relationships is second.”

The company dates back to 1986, when Richard Burkhart and Salvatore Pizzanelli, still partners with the company today, went into business together as an accounting, tax, and consulting firm. A third partner, Thomas Pratt, joined them soon after, and the three steadily grew the firm. Penzias came on board in 1998, followed by Quink in 2011, and today, the five partners are among 18 total employees, performing services in a variety of areas.

“We provide your traditional tax and accounting services, and we also do a lot of things other firms don’t do,” Quink said. “We have a forensic accounting practice, we have our own bookkeeping group in house, and we have access to a third-party administrator on site who can help with defined-contribution plans and plan design.”

 

We don’t want to be one-and-done, where we prepare your tax return and don’t hear from you until next year. We want to reach out often to see how things are going. We want to hear when positive things are happening.”

 

The firm specializes in a number of industry groups, including healthcare, construction, affordable housing, auto dealers, manufacturing, nonprofits, professional services, real estate, restaurants, and wholesale and distribution. “It’s a good mix,” Quink said.

In all those areas, she and Penzias stressed that the company’s culture is one of collaboration, honesty, mutual respect, and trust, and that means forging relationships with all the members of a client’s financial-advisory team, which may include an attorney, an investment adviser, a bank, and an insurance agent. “We’re all part of the financial team advising the business,” Penzias noted.

Whether dealing with a small-business client with $100,000 in revenues or a $100 million entity, that philosophy stays the same, Quink added.

“We like to function as a team. If we find something is not in our bailiwick to deal with, we refer it out. We feel that we should be advising on our core competencies, and if something is outside that realm, we’ll refer it to one of the others on the team. There’s a lot of crossover with legal counsel in terms of estate planning, divorce situations, and business planning. That’s why it’s important for us to work as a team.”

Current Events

It’s equally important to stay on the cutting edge of the accounting and business-advisory world, which Burkhart Pizzanelli does in two critical ways.

“We recently rolled out to the team what our financial picture looks like, where we spend our money,” Quink said. “If you look at it as a pie graph, clearly the biggest piece is our human capital, our people. But the next-biggest buckets where we spend our resources are education and technology.”

“The industry has changed so much since I started in business, when we were preparing tax returns by hand with pen and paper,” Penzias said by way of explaining the commitment to current technology. “That has evolved over the years. Now, we replace our computers on a three-year cycle, whether they need it or not. We’re constantly adding new programs, new tools, so we can delegate the calculation tasks to computers and focus on what’s really important to a business.”

Julie Quink

Julie Quink says she sees Burkhart Pizzanelli as a critical part of a client’s financial team.

Quink added that clients are encouraged to use as much technology as possible, both because it creates an electronic trail, and to make their operations as convenient as possible for them. “We’re conscious of the security piece of it, and we’re very secure,” she added.

Burkhart Pizzanelli also invests substantial resources into continuing education, far beyond the minimum requirements of licensing authorities, the partners explained. This includes industry-specific and technical training in the areas in which they operate and want to expand.

Most team members require at least 80 hours of education every two years to retain their certifications, which they usually split into 40 hours each year. But those industry-specific certifications require additional education and may push them well past 60 hours annually.

“The firm pays for this education and makes sure they’re current with what’s happening in different industries, and that we have appropriate knowledge to work in these areas,” said Quink, who became a certified fraud examiner last year. “We should have a working knowledge of any business we’re serving.”

She reiterated that continuing education isn’t just beneficial, but an integral part of the business. “There are certain educational criteria we need to meet. Some folks here have their insurance licenses and are able to help underwrite policies. On the tax side, we need specialized tax knowledge; most of our people here can do tax returns, so the majority of our people get tax training every year to make sure they’re up on their education. We don’t ever want to be in a situation where we’re serving industries we don’t have expertise in.”

Penzias agreed. “We would refer away before doing something we couldn’t handle,” she said, noting that expertise combined with candor helps build trust with clients. “The best referral sources are happy customers.”

The company’s culture is producing happy employees, too, Quink said, noting that more than half of them have been with the firm more than 10 years.

Community Ties

That kind of retention bolsters a relationship-oriented culture that also manifests itself in the community. Many Burkhart Pizzanelli employees volunteer with local organizations in various capacities, including board membership, advising, and other forms of service.

“One thing we stress here is community service,” Quink said. “We encourage the team and provide time during the day or evening to attend events or be involved. We feel like we make a difference in the West Springfield area — both with clients and in our community. We feel it’s important to be a good community partner.”

“We want to give back,” Penzias added, “and we encourage that in our team.”

Meanwhile, the firm continues to expand its reach in professional areas as well. Take Quink’s certification as a forensic accountant, which allows her to work with legal counsel — sometimes on the plaintiff side, sometimes the defense — to help build a case in matters ranging from divorce to business disputes.

“What we don’t do is come up with an opinion on innocence or guilt — just a pattern of facts to help with the case,” she explained. “It’s not just hard numbers; you see what causes people to do things, what motivates them, and it’s often not pleasant for clients because there’s a level of trust that’s been violated, or it may be a marital situation where one spouse is hiding assets from the other. It’s a little more interesting than just doing a tax return.”

The company continues to expand its traditional services as well, now boasting 10 CPAs but also strengthening client relationships on matters from transactional needs to succession planning.

SEE: List of Banks in Western Mass.

“Tom has one client who’s been with him more than 40 years,” Quink said. “They may not need the same level of service anymore, but they stay because of the relationship aspect. They feel comfortable that we’re giving them the best advice for their situation. Clients look to us for advice, and we provide that. If we’re not able to help them with some particular aspect, we refer them to one of the trusted people we deal with.”

As the youngest partners, and the ones who will eventually be fully in charge, Quink and Penzias want that culture to spur the next 30 years of growth at Burkhart Pizzanelli. As a professor at Elms College, Quink has access to a pipeline of talent she can observe and evaluate in the early stages; four of the firm’s employees are Elms graduates.

Counting on Them

In such a diverse business, they added, everything comes back to those relationships they touted multiple times — those real people, with real issues, behind the numbers.

“We’ve seen companies start from seedlings and grow and watch the next generation take over,” Penzias said. “I’ve worked with the parents, and then the kids take over, and we have to foster those relationships as well. It is very gratifying to see our clients succeed.”

But even when they struggle, Burkhart & Pizzanelli has a place — perhaps an even more important one, Quink said.

“When clients aren’t doing so well, I think we shine there,” she said. “We can provide a lot of insight, alternatives, and strategies. At some point in each business’ life cycle, they’ve had some struggles. Most of our clients are closely held, family-run, not publicly traded companies. Family businesses have their own dynamic — and we understand the dynamics of a family business.”

Being there for all aspects of a clients’ business also creates a personal bond as well, Quink said, recalling a client who lost his spouse, and one of the very first calls he made was to Burkhart. “We have so much impact on people’s lives; it’s impressive,” she said. “But, likewise, so is the impact our clients have on our lives.

“As we evolve as a firm, Debbie and I are the future owners; ultimately, she and I will own the firm,” she went on. “With that happening, we are also grooming the next wave. We’re always forward thinking; we’re finding our replacements, too. We’ll be here awhile, but it takes awhile to build referral networks and understand how the business works and really gain experience in the industry. We’re grooming our next leadership team.”

That grooming and training goes far beyond the technical aspects of the accounting industry, Penzias said, but extends to soft skills and relationship building, which are as much art as science, but are critical to continuing the culture first cultivated by the firm’s original partners.

“Trust is important, and relationships are important,” Quink said — much more important, in fact, than the dry numbers on a computer screen.

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]

Departments People on the Move
John Cook

John Cook

Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) entered a new chapter in its 50-year history last month with the inauguration of John Cook as its sixth college president. The installation ceremony at STCC’s Scibelli Hall Gymnasium featured a mixture of pageantry, tradition, and celebration. The event opened with a processional led by the STCC Ceremonial Brass Ensemble, followed by the Bearer of the Mace and more grandeur befitting such formal occasions. After the presentation of the presidential medallion, Cook spoke about the college’s rich history, while looking ahead to the future. “Springfield Technical Community College carries an incredible legacy, and it is an absolute privilege to champion who we are becoming in this, our 50th year, and during a time of renaissance and innovation all around,” he said. Christopher Johnson, chair of the STCC board of trustees, praised the new president for his efforts since taking the helm. “The board of trustees is delighted with its selection of Dr. John Cook as STCC’s president. It has been a pleasure working with Dr. Cook during this academic year as we strive to continue to improve the lives of our students. Dr. Cook has done a great job in his inaugural year to keep STCC moving forward as the Commonwealth’s only ‘technical’ community college,” Johnson said. Brian Tuohey is president of the Collins Companies, sponsor of the inauguration. He also is a longtime member of the STCC Foundation board of directors and its past president. He noted, “I have been very impressed with Dr. Cook’s commitment to and involvement with the STCC Foundation and our new board. His enthusiastic leadership and direction have been key components in re-energizing this very important asset, both for our college and our students.” Cook’s induction office falls during the 50th anniversary of the founding of STCC. He succeeded Ira Rubenzahl, who guided the college for 12 years. Cook took over the reins to become the sixth president of STCC on Aug. 1, 2016. Before the inauguration ceremony, the STCC Foundation hosted a VIP luncheon that included business community partners, community stakeholders, and representatives from other education institutions.

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Shannon Asselin

Shannon Asselin

David Ferraro Jr.

David Ferraro Jr.

Melissa Hall

Melissa Hall

Private Financial Design, LLC (PFD) recently announced the promotions of Shannon Asselin and David Ferraro Jr., and welcomed Melissa Hall to the company. Asselin was promoted to executive administrator. She began her career with PFD in 2014 as a client services assistant, bringing more than 14 years of experience in customer service, which included head teller for a local bank. Over the past two years, she has advanced her skills in the financial-services industry with further training and education. She has been honored for excellence in her work with PFD’s broker dealer and clients. She will oversee the administrative operations and client services for PFD while taking on more corporate responsibilities. Ferraro has been promoted to financial advisor. He has been working as an administrator since July 2016 so he could learn the procedures and compliance needs for his clients. His affiliation with PFD began when he interned in 2010, and he was a part-time administrator for several years while attending college. Ferraro graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Bryant University, where he studied financial services and economics. He leveraged his education to win the National Financial Plan Competition sponsored by the International Assoc. of Registered Financial Consultants. While attending Bryant, he served as chairman of the Macroeconomic Committee of the Archway Investment Fund. In this role, he developed the investment strategy for this $1 million endowment fund. His work at PFD will be focused on financial and estate planning, investment management, and retirement plans. He is currently pursuing the education and training requirements to become a certified financial planner. Hall has joined the team at PFD as a registered administrator. She has more than five years of experience in the financial-services industry, starting first with a mutual insurance company and later working with an independent certified financial planner for several years. She is currently FINRA Series 6 licensed and will be actively working toward other licensures in the near future. Beyond financial services, Hall has many years of customer-care experience, including many years of volunteer work at her church and on the foreign mission field. She will be helping to develop best business practices, as well as designing new processes to enhance customer service. Private Financial Design offers comprehensive financial planning for both personal and business needs, including fee-based investment-advisory services, retirement plans, and other wealth-management services.

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Berkshire Bank announced the promotion of Mark Pedrotti to Vice President, Marketing Officer. Pedrotti began his career with Berkshire Bank as a college intern from Johnson & Wales University in 2006. He was offered permanent employment in 2008 as eMarketing and website administrator and has continued to learn and grow within the marketing department, taking on new titles and increasing challenges as the years have progressed. “Mark is a key member of Berkshire Bank’s marketing team, and this promotion reflects his dedication to his position,” said Elizabeth Mach, senior vice presient, marketing officer. “We are proud of his accomplishments and look forward to his continued growth in the future.” Pedrotti continues to cultivate his career by acquiring new knowledge and challenging himself in and out of the office each day. In his new role, he will manage the strategic initiatives of Berkshire Bank’s digital properties, in addition to assisting with the overall integrity of marketing assets. Outside of the bank’s marketing department, Pedrotti is also engaged with his community. He is an active participant of the Berkshire International Film Festival, and has been since its inception. Passionate about film and the Berkshire region, he does his best to merge the two, spending much of his time immersed in the outdoor community, always with a camera in hand.

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Jessica Collins, Executive Director of Partners for a Healthier Community, has been appointed to Gov. Charlie Baker’s Special Commission on Behavioral Health Promotion and Upstream Prevention. The commission is tasked with investigating “evidence-based practices, programs, and systems to prevent behavioral-health disorders and promote behavioral health across the Commonwealth. The Commission is comprised of an interdisciplinary group of leaders in behavioral health, prevention, public health, addiction, mental health, criminal justice, health policy, epidemiology, and environmental health. The Commission is zeroing in on three overarching questions: what’s working in behavioral-health promotion and upstream prevention? How can we better fund what’s working? And what can we achieve if we fund what works? More information can be found at promoteprevent.com/mission.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Bacon Wilson, P.C. announced that attorney Hyman Darling recently took the oath of office as the incoming president of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA). He was sworn in as president at NAELA’s annual conference along with other incoming members of the executive committee, and will officially assume his duties as NAELA president on June 1.

In addition to accepting the office of the presidency, Darling was also honored as a NAELA fellow for 2017. The fellow designation is the highest honor bestowed by NAELA, and is granted to members who have careers in elder law and who have made exceptional contributions to the field. Election as a NAELA fellow signifies an attorney recognized by his peers as a model for others, and an exceptional lawyer and leader. The most significant component in the selection process is commitment and contributions to NAELA through committee participation, programs, and leadership.

Upon accepting the fellow award and the presidency, Darling proceeded to address his NAELA colleagues, thanking them for record-high conference attendance and laying out his plans for the coming year. Much to the delight of the audience, his remarks were delivered entirely in rhyming verse.

Darling is a partner at Bacon Wilson, where he has practiced since 1981. He concentrates in the areas of trusts, estates, taxes, estate planning, probate, guardianships, special needs, and elder law. Prior to joining Bacon Wilson, he served as a trust officer. He has been a frequent presenter for both the Massachusetts Bar Assoc. and Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education. He has also spoken for NAELA at several conferences, both local and national. He is an adjunct faculty member at both Western New England University School of Law and Bay Path University.

Darling serves on many local planned-giving committees, and is a frequent lecturer for professional and civic groups in the Pioneer Valley. He is a member of the Special Needs Alliance, and is also a former president of the Hampden County Estate Planning Council.

Features

Real-world Education

Valley Venture Mentors co-founder Paul Silva

Valley Venture Mentors co-founder Paul Silva

Valley Venture Mentors has long cultivated entrepreneurship in the Pioneer Valley through programs like its signature Accelerator, which provides education and support for aspiring business owners to hone their ideas. VVM’s Collegiate Accelerator, set to begin in June, is a different beast, focusing on a younger group with startup ideas and tossing them into a more demanding, time-intensive experience than the traditional Accelerator. But they do have something in common with their older peers: they don’t know anything. Yet.

Paul Silva recalls how Valley Venture Mentors was born out of entrepreneurship classes he and his fellow co-founders, Scott Foster and Jay Leonard, were teaching at UMass. But the vast majority of participants in VVM’s programs have been past their college years.

“But the student demand was there all along,” Silva said. “College students needed this.”

Which is why the Springfield-based nonprofit — which aims to build, support, and maintain an entrepreneurial renaissance in Western Mass. — launched a Collegiate Accelerator program this summer for college students and recent graduates. Twenty startups have been chosen to participate in the eight-week program, which was funded by multiple sources, including an anonymous donor who made a significant contribution.

“The donors agreed with us: ‘hey, we have great kids in our schools, or great kids are born here and go somewhere else to school. What they need is a great reason to stay,’” Silva told BusinessWest. “We want to show them that, if they want to create a startup, this is the place you can do it, and there’s no better time in their lives.”

There are some important differences between VVM’s traditional Accelerator and the collegiate version. While the adults in the former program dedicate one long weekend a month, the college students are essentially working a 40-hour schedule for eight weeks, with 20 hours per week spent in the classroom and another 20 in the field, meeting potential customers and honing their idea into a workable business plan. The accelerator will run weekdays from mid-June through August, and participants will receive a $2,000 stipend.

“We can run the program over the summer and not conflict with their studies,” Silva said. “Local kids can participate over the summer, and kids who come here for school can stay here over the summer. So we’re keeping all these great kids here; we give them our intensive program, and we get those great minds to stay local.”

We’re giving them an internship at their own startup, and they’re getting paid. We’re taking eight weeks of their summer, leaving time at the beginning and end, and we make it intense.”

Silva noted that participants will learn how to pitch their startup and how to raise capital, and will benefit from successful entrepreneurs and business leaders who will serve as speakers and mentors.

It is in some ways the best job of their lives so far, he added. “We’re giving them an internship at their own startup, and they’re getting paid. We’re taking eight weeks of their summer, leaving time at the beginning and end, and we make it intense. It’s a full-time job.”

VVM worked with a variety of partners, from the Grinspoon Charitable Foundation to area colleges, to publicize the Collegiate Accelerator and attract applications. Being chosen for one of the 20 slots was a two-part process. In the first, the applicants judged each other’s ideas blindly — no name, age, gender, or race information was attached. From that peer review, a number of startups were chosen to attend a screening party where they made their elevator pitch before at least 10 different VVM members, who grilled them about their ideas.

It’s an intense process, Silva said, but superior to coming before, say, a three-member panel and needing unanimous approval. With that model, if someone has an idea involving video games and one of three judges simply hates video games, it’s over. With 10 or more judges, there’s more leeway for those biases to be filtered out. And applicants who were not chosen were given plenty of practical feedback that might make them more likely to be chosen next summer.

Knowing Nothing

For those taking the plunge this June, the first lesson is a mantra that has been used often at Valley Venture Mentors.

“The foundation of our program is, you don’t know anything, and neither does your business partner,” Silva said. “All you have is a good idea.”

That idea requires testing through actual field work, he said. “Maybe I want to make video games for blind people. And it turns out that blind people are mostly older and don’t give a darn about video games, but they do miss socializing. So now I’ve learned more about them, and about social isolation.”

Perhaps that leads to a different idea for a video-game company, or a completely different type of company focusing on the needs of blind people. Those crossroads pop up all the time for young entrepreneurs, he explained. In fact, Silva said most entrepreneurs at the idea stage are 90% wrong, and the idea is to discover where they’re 10% right, and build on that.

VVM’s overarching goal is to catalyze the entrepreneurial renaissance in the Pioneer Valley.

VVM’s overarching goal is to catalyze the entrepreneurial renaissance in the Pioneer Valley.

A few of the 20 participants in the Collegiate Accelerator have actually received money in exchange for products, but most have not gotten that far, nor should that be expected at this stage of the game, Silva said.

“I tell them a startup is not a job where you make money; it’s where you figure out how to make money. A business is a job where you make money. The goal is to grow your startup into a business. If people are already giving you money, that’s a great signal, but it’s not the goal.”

The students participating in the 2017 Collegiate Accelerator include:

• Boman Container Homes, Springfield Technical Community College (STCC): offers a variety of customizable container homes, offices, and cabins for sale, ranging from economic to luxurious;

• Bystand, Hampshire College: connects certified bystanders, who rarely use their skills, with people nearby who are in need of immediate medical assistance;

• CognitEyes, UMass Amherst: makes affordable, comfortable, eye-tracking glasses, helping identify diseases, assess fatigue, and understand consumer behavior;

• DetraPel, Babson College: a super-hydrophobic liquid repellent that repels any liquid from almost any surface;

• El Cherufe Chile Paste, Greenfield Community College: offers a unique hot flavor profile to lovers of all things spicy in a versatile paste form;

• In Case Audio, UMass Amherst: installs speaker systems into vintage suitcases to create a stylish yet portable speaker and amp;

• Love Jones Renaissance Café & Lounge, STCC: a cozy, sophisticated lounge and café that provides customers with an ambiance that fosters individual and group creativity and networking;

• Lymph + Honey, Hampshire College: provides access to healthful, wholesome, and sustainable natural hair- and body-care products;

• Mitho MoMo, Mount Holyoke College: brings authentic Nepalese foods back to their people in the U.S. at affordable prices with the convenience of a microwave;

• Peace of Mind Home Inventory, STCC: personal asset inventory for insurance and estate planning;

• Redflowers, Smith College: promotes, empowers, and engages black identities and black women;

• Salad Express, Elms College: an inexpensive healthy fast-food experience;

• Shesabelle Chandeliears, Smith College: adds versatility and variety to modern jewelry owners’ earring selection;

• Socialopolis, UMass Amherst: a virtual and augmented reality software and hardware development firm;

• STEAMporio, STCC: STEAM education marketplace with a focus on the maker and DIY communities;

• Studio 26, Holyoke Community College: an inspiring network that strengthens the community and encourages growth and self-expression through the arts;

• The Schwa Company, Smith College: provides on-demand, real-life translators through an app 24/7, eliminating language barriers;

• The Travel Unicorn, Mount Holyoke College: an LGBTQ+ travel guide dedicated to sharing stories of love and travel, connecting LGBTQ+ travelers to safe and fun travel destinations;

• Vidvision, Babson College: offers a suite of interactive lead-generation tools to help SMBs drive ROI on their video content; and

• Zirui Collective, Mount Holyoke College: a beauty tech company that builds a compact, modular, customizable makeup kit that is space-efficient and travel-friendly.

Catalyzing the Valley

When asked what the end goal of the Collegiate Accelerator should be, Silva said it’s similar to VVM’s overarching goal of catalyzing the entrepreneurial renaissance in the Valley.

“One of the most underutilized assets in the Valley is our college students,” he said. “We know from personal experience, and from the experience of others around the country, that if you shower young entrepreneurs with love and support, they’ll be more likely to find success, to remember you, and to stay here. Not everyone is going to stay, of course, and not everyone should stay; if what you’re doing is perfect for Silicon Valley, then you should go to Silicon Valley. But this is a great region for all kinds of startups.”

Besides, he added, startups that leave the area often become ambassadors of sorts, or allies, of the Pioneer Valley. One team from London that took part in a VVM Accelerator has since helped three other teams expand their business in the United Kingdom.

“We are dedicated to helping entrepreneurs launch and thrive. Students are one of the most high-potential populations our region has, and with a bit more help, they could really have an impact here,” Silva said. “We can’t wait to learn about their ventures and help them take the next steps to launch.”

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]

40 Under 40 The Class of 2017

Assistant Professor of Accounting, Elms College; Sole Practitioner, Cathro LLC; Age 36

Charlotte CathroCharlotte Cathro calls herself a “solver.”

Math has always come easily to the licensed certified public accountant, and she is passionate about simplifying complex concepts and helping students and business clients reach their goals.

When Cathro was told the Corporate Tax course in the Elms College master’s program needed to be revised, she took it upon herself to revamp the curriculum and made the material more relevant and easier for students to understand.

Cathro serves on the Elms faculty budget committee, and is a member of the Society of Certified Public Accountants and the American Institute of CPAs. She has worked in public accounting since 2002 and was a former manager at Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C. in Holyoke.

She enjoys disseminating knowledge, which she has done via presentations at Forbes Library in Northampton, and for Merrill Lynch, Click Workspace, and the Estate Planning Council of Hampden County. She has written articles for BusinessWest and HCN, and helps clients with personal and professional financial situations.

“I try to find solutions for people, and if I can’t answer a question directly, I look things up or use my network, which I believe is incredibly important,” she explained. “If you are willing to help others, you can call on them when you need to. It’s how the world goes around.”

She and her husband, Patrick, are parents to 6-year-old Oliver and 2-year-old Graham. She volunteers at their schools and is passionate about rescuing animals. She has two dogs and a cat, serves as a foster parent for animals, and has driven across the Northeast to rescue them. She is a member of the MSPCA and treasurer for Dakin Humane Society, where she led the search committee for the organization’s executive director and helped it choose a new financial director, and is also involved with New England Bassett Rescue and Looziana Bassett Rescue.

Cathro serves on the Look Park Auction Committee and loves taking her children there. She was treasurer for DEAF Inc. and has volunteered for Boston Cares, Operation Hope, and Junior Achievement.

“I’m a good listener, am constantly problem solving, and love animals,” she said. “They are always there for you.”

Cathro strives to emulate that quality, as she finds solutions to help people, organizations, dogs, and cats.

—Kathleen Mitchell

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — The Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley has been helping family-owned and closely held companies from around Western Mass. since 1994, through a series of educational dinner forums and morning workshops, roundtables, and customized consults.

The center’s strategic partners contribute to that professional development in the areas of accounting, banking, leadership, insurance, wealth management, staffing, and law, and BusinessWest is the media partner for the center. Now, the law firm Bacon Wilson will take on the role of the FBC’s legal sponsor-partner.

“We are thrilled at this opportunity and consider it perfectly in line with Bacon Wilson’s long history of working with family businesses in the Pioneer Valley,” said Julie Dialessi-Lafley, one of Bacon Wilson’s shareholders with specialties in estate planning, employment, real estate, and business/corporate law. “We are particularly pleased to note that our team of attorneys can not only help members of the FBC with ‘typical’ business considerations, but we can also connect the legal dots between business ventures, real estate, estate planning, family law, and much more. Our goal is to provide members of the FBC with customized techniques and information they can put to practical use right away to benefit their businesses and our entire community.”

The schedule of educational events for the Family Business Center is at fambizpv.com.

Daily News

SOUTH HADLEY — Private Financial Design, LLC (PFD) recently announced the promotions of Shannon Asselin and David Ferraro Jr., and welcomed Melissa Hall to the company.

Asselin was promoted to executive administrator. She began her career with PFD in 2014 as a client services assistant, bringing more than 14 years of experience in customer service, which included head teller for a local bank. Over the past two years, she has advanced her skills in the financial-services industry with further training and education. She has been honored for excellence in her work with PFD’s broker dealer and clients. She will oversee the administrative operations and client services for PFD while taking on more corporate responsibilities.

Ferraro has been promoted to financial advisor. He has been working as an administrator since July 2016 so he could learn the procedures and compliance needs for his clients. His affiliation with PFD began when he interned in 2010, and he was a part-time administrator for several years while attending college. Ferraro graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Bryant University, where he studied financial services and economics. He leveraged his education to win the National Financial Plan Competition sponsored by the International Assoc. of Registered Financial Consultants. While attending Bryant, he served as chairman of the Macroeconomic Committee of the Archway Investment Fund. In this role, he developed the investment strategy for this $1 million endowment fund. His work at PFD will be focused on financial and estate planning, investment management, and retirement plans. He is currently pursuing the education and training requirements to become a certified financial planner.

Hall has joined the team at PFD as a registered administrator. She has more than five years of experience in the financial-services industry, starting first with a mutual insurance company and later working with an independent certified financial planner for several years. She is currently FINRA Series 6 licensed and will be actively working toward other licensures in the near future. Beyond financial services, Hall has many years of customer-care experience, including many years of volunteer work at her church and on the foreign mission field. She will be helping to develop best business practices, as well as designing new processes to enhance customer service.

Private Financial Design offers comprehensive financial planning for both personal and business needs, including fee-based investment-advisory services, retirement plans, and other wealth-management services.

Departments People on the Move

Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C. (MBK) announced the following:

• Kara Graves, CPA has been promoted from audit and accounting senior associate to Manager. Graves, who has been with MBK since 2011, has spent the past six years developing a diversified technical skill set with a focus in the company’s commercial audit niche. She has also had the opportunity to develop a leadership skill set, serving as the in-charge accountant on a variety of large-scale projects. During that time, she has demonstrated her ability to lead teams through challenging projects, all while delivering a quality client service experience. Before coming to MBK, Graves worked as an associate at a regional public accounting firm in Westwood. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Roger Williams University and a master’s degree from Western New England University;

• Joe Vreedenburgh has been promoted from from audit and accounting associate to Senior Associate. Vreedenburgh, who was promoted to senior associate in the audit and accounting niche, has been with MBK since 2014. His promotion is the result of his continued commitment to technical development, excellent client service, and team-oriented approach. As a senior associate, he will be leveraging his 10 years of accounting experience to help lead teams in conducting the audit process. He specializes in commercial audits and accounting, employee-benefit plans, not-for-profit entities, and individual and business taxation. He earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of Washington and holds an master’s degree from UMass Amherst. He is a member of the AICPA and MSCPA and treasurer of the Hitchcock Center for the Environment;  and

• The company welcomed Nathan Nicholson to the firm as a Tax Senior Associate. Nicholson comes to MBK from the Ayco Company, L.P., a subsidiary of Goldman Sachs in Latham, N.Y., where he worked as a tax associate, handling individual, trust, and gift-tax returns for high-net-worth individuals. He has a range of experience working with governmental, nonprofit, and for-profit entities, including banking, manufacturing, healthcare, real estate, and small family-owned businesses. He holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Siena College. He has mentored high-school business classes on the basics of tax preparation and financial planning.

“Kara and Joe have worked hard to develop themselves technically and as leaders within our organization,” said partner Howard Cheney, CPA. “Our succession plan demands that our next generation be not only technically competent, but ready to deliver premier service and value our clients have come to expect. We are confident in Kara and Joe’s ability to provide that exceptional experience, and Nathan’s addition to our team only serves to strengthen our next generation.”

•••••

Bert Gardner

Bert Gardner

Caolo & Bieniek Associates Inc., a full-service architecture, planning, and interior-design firm located in Chicopee, announced that Bert Gardner has become a principal. A graduate of Roger Williams University, Gardner is a registered architect in Massachusetts and New Jersey. Since joining Caolo & Bieniek Associates in 1999, Gardner has served in key roles on numerous project teams with increasing levels of responsibility. Most recently, he has been the project architect for projects at Westfield State University, UMass, and the Dupont Middle School in Chicopee (former Chicopee High School), and is currently overseeing the Maple Street Elementary School project in Easthampton. He has been an active board member for the Chicopee Boys & Girls Club, serving as president in 2013 and 2014. Caolo & Bieniek Associates has been providing architectural services since 1955. Its design process integrates a creative approach to problem solving with a sustained commitment to client needs. The firm’s scope of services includes renovations, adaptive reuse, new construction, facilities assessment, feasibility studies, master planning, interior design, historic preservation, and sustainable and ‘green’ design expertise.

•••••

Elizabeth Daley

Elizabeth Daley

Elizabeth Daley, a 20-year veteran in the public and private accounting sector and a 10-year employee of Webber and Grinnell Insurance, has been named Finance Manager at the agency. Daley is also concurrently pursuing her SHRM-CP certification in human resources from Westfield State University School of Graduate Studies. She will oversee accounting, finance, and human resources. “Elizabeth has been a great asset to our organization for many years, and it’s nice to fill this position from within the agency,” said company President Bill Grinnell. “The fact that Elizabeth has chosen to earn her Society for Human Resource Management certification is a professional distinction that sets her apart and further elevates both her own and the agency’s credentials.”

•••••

Blair Robidoux

Blair Robidoux

Elise Kowal

Elise Kowal

Melissa Mann

Melissa Mann

Country Bank announced that Blair Robidoux has been appointed Branch Manager of the West Street Office. It also welcomed two new branch managers to its Retail Banking division — Elise Kowal and Melissa Mann. Robidoux has been with the bank for 12 years and began her career as a teller before working her way up to branch manager. Robidoux’s strong operational and management skills, along with her desire to help people, provides leadership at one of the bank’s busiest offices. Kowal is located at the West Brookfield office and has been in banking for more than eight years. She began her career at Country Bank as a teller and worked her way to a teller supervisor position before moving to the bank’s Corporate Risk Department. She will graduate this summer from Western New England University, where she is studying for her bachelor’s degree in business administration. “I love working with people, educating others, and providing encouragement and guidance in reaching their professional and financial goals,” she said. Mann will work in the Belchertown office. She has been in the banking industry for 14 years in various positions in Western Mass. and Central Conn., most recently at PeoplesBank in Sixteen Acres. She is a graduate of Belchertown High School. Relocations, family needs, and professional development have brought her back to Belchertown. “As a branch manager, I’m most proud of the personal connections that my team builds with our customers,” she said. “We want our customers to know just how much we appreciate them.”

•••••

Robert Cummings

Robert Cummings

Robert Cummings, CEO and founder of American Benefits Group (ABG), has been nominated for the 2017 EBN Innovator Award by Employee Benefit News, a leading national benefits-industry publication serving 106,800 senior-level benefits decision makers across all platforms. This audience includes human-resources executives and benefits directors, whose sphere of responsibility and influence spans health and retirement plans, voluntary benefits, legal and regulatory compliance, employee training and development, benefits procurement, technology, strategic direction, and finance. Cummings founded ABG in 1987 and was an early adopter and innovator of flexible spending accounts in the late 1980s. The company added COBRA administration services and commuter benefit accounts in the 1990s, and health savings accounts and health reimbursement arrangements when they came into being in the early 2000s. For decades, ABG focused exclusively on working with Western Mass. employers, providing full benefits strategy, funding, communications, and administrative solutions. The company began to focus on a national expansion of its specialty employee-benefits administrative services beginning in 2007. Today, ABG serves a diverse base of more than 1000 employer clients nationwide from its home offices near downtown Northampton. ABG’s employer clients range from small and mid-size businesses to high-profile Fortune 1000 employers and global organizations, covering all of the continental U.S. Recognition on the national stage is not new for ABG. In 2014, the Institute for Health Care Consumerism presented the company with a Superstar Innovator Award, and in 2015 ABG was recognized by its platform provider, consumer account technology giant Alegeus Technologies, as its national Customer Service Champion. ABG also serves as the preferred platform partner for consumer-account-based plans and COBRA administration services for NFP, one of the largest global insurance and corporate benefits brokers and consultants. Cummings has been on the leading edge of technology innovation since before the Internet, as ABG was one of the first benefits administrators in the nation to adopt debit-card payment technologies. The ABG debit card allows consumers to pay expenses from their consumer pre-tax accounts directly at the point of service, and auto-substantiates the majority of their transactions. ABG was one of the first adopters of web-based participant portals and mobile applications that offer instant account access and management anytime, anywhere. In 2010, ABG was again at the forefront of the market with its introduction of a live participant-feedback review portal, where participants could rate their experience and post live reviews that are shared online. Basically a private Yelp review and rating portal for its own clients, the company has leveraged this to garner thousands of five-star feedback reviews. Working with the top global benefits consulting and brokerage organizations like Mercer, Lockton, HUB, Gallagher, and NFP, as well as leading independent benefits consulting and brokerage firms from across the country, ABG has been able to achieve consistent growth. In 2016, the company grew revenue by a record 35%, and it has achieved compound annual growth since 2010 of more than 20% per year.

•••••

Springfield College Assistant Professor of Physical Education Tan Leng Goh recently received the 2017 Hally Beth Poindexter Young Scholar Award presented by the National Assoc. for Kinesiology in Higher Education (NAKHE). The award was presented at the annual NAKHE Conference in Orlando, Fla. “Tan Leng Goh’s recent award from NAKHE is a true testament to her commitment to her scholarly work,” said Springfield College School of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation Dean Tracey Matthews. “I look forward to her continued scholarly successes at Springfield College.” During the 2017 NAKHE’s annual conference, Goh presented her paper titled, “Children’s Physical Activity and On-task Behavior Following Active Academic Lessons.” Goh’s presentation focused on the amount of hours a day children remain sitting when receiving academic instruction. Goh’s presentation hypothesizes that sitting for an extended amount of time is detrimental to children’s physical health, and may cause off-task behavior in the classroom. The purpose of the study was to examine the effect of active academic lessons on children’s physical activity and on-task behavior. The NAKHE organization provides a forum for interdisciplinary ideas, concepts, and issues related to the role of kinesiology subdisciplines in higher education with respect for social, cultural, and personal perspectives. Kinesiology is an academic discipline that involves the study of physical activity and its impact on health, society, and quality of life. It includes, but is not limited to, such areas of study as exercise science, sports management, athletic training and sports medicine, socio-cultural analyses of sports, sport and exercise psychology, fitness leadership, physical-education teacher education, and pre-professional training for physical therapy, occupational therapy, medicine, and other health-related fields.

•••••

Berkshire Bank Foundation Inc., the philanthropic arm of Berkshire Bank, announced the appointment of Thomas Barney to its board of trustees. Barney, a certified financial planner, is a senior vice president and wealth advisor with Berkshire Bank Wealth Management in Lenox. Barney has spent more than 19 years with Berkshire Bank, rejoining the wealth group out of retirement to work on all aspects of client relationships, including financial planning and strategy implementation. He previously served as an officer of the foundation. “While Berkshire Bank has grown as a successful company, serving the community has always been at the forefront,” he said. “The Berkshire Bank Foundation was established to demonstrate the bank’s dedication to its communities and neighbors. I am honored to join their board and support the foundation’s work.” The mission of the Foundation is to strengthen and improve quality of life in communities where Berkshire Bank or its affiliates have offices. The foundation supports programs that enhance opportunities for children and adults, specifically in the areas of community and economic development, education, and meeting the needs of low- and moderate-income individuals. The foundation also administers the bank’s comprehensive volunteer program, called the X-Team, in addition to a scholarship program for high-school seniors. Barney has more than 40 years of experience working on investments, trusts, and planning, including tenures at Michigan Avenue Financial Group of Chicago, Bank of Boston’s Private Bank, Fleet Investment Services, and the First National Bank of Geneva. He is a member of the Estate Planning Council of Hampden County, recently serving as its treasurer, vice president, and president. He is a graduate of Monmouth College, Loyola University of Chicago, the National Trust School, and the Trust Management School at Northwestern University. “We are so pleased to welcome Tom to the foundation’s board as he shares our vision to support the many community needs throughout our growing footprint,” said Lori Gazzillo, director of Berkshire Bank Foundation. “Tom’s close community ties and breadth and depth of knowledge will serve as a valuable asset to our talented board.”

Daily News

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

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

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

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

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

Business of Aging Sections

The Write Stuff

By Gina Barry, Esq.

Gina Barry

By Gina M. Barry, Esq.

It should come as no surprise that the general population of the U.S. is aging. According to the Administration for Community Living, which was created by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, people who were age 65 or older represented 14.5% of the population in 2014, and that number is expected to grow to 21.7% of the population by 2040.

When aging, most people would prefer to have a plan in place to ensure that their needs and goals will be met, even if they are incapacitated or pass away. While many people believe they do not have enough money to need an estate plan, the need for an estate plan is not solely related to the amount of one’s wealth.

As explained below, a basic estate plan is comprised of four legal documents and is quite simple to establish.

Last Will and Testament

A will directs the disposition of the probate estate. The probate estate consists of assets held in the decedent’s name alone that do not have a beneficiary designated. When a person passes away without a will, their estate will be distributed as directed by the Commonwealth’s intestacy law, which may not be as they would have desired.

A common misconception is that a will is not needed if every asset is jointly owned or has a designated beneficiary. Of course, there must be a surviving joint owner for this plan to work. If both owners pass away simultaneously in a common accident, the estate will need to be probated, as there will be no surviving joint owner.

A will is also necessary in order to designate a personal representative, who will carry out the estate. The personal representative will gather the probate assets, pay valid debts, and make distribution of the estate to the beneficiaries as set forth in the will. Further, if the decedent leaves behind minor children, a guardian can be designated in the will to take custody of these children.

Likewise, a trust can be established in a will that would provide ongoing protection for minor children — or possibly for other beneficiaries who should not receive their inheritance outright, usually due to spendthrift concerns. When there is no will in place, the power and ability to make these designations and to direct the disposition of property is forfeited.

Healthcare Proxy

A healthcare proxy is a document that designates a healthcare agent, who would make healthcare decisions in the event of incapacity of the principal (person signing the proxy). The healthcare agent would step into the shoes of the principal and make decisions as they would if they were able. For example, they may decide whether a certain medication should be taken, whether a certain medical procedure should be done, or whether there should be an admission or discharge from a medical facility.

 

While many people believe they do not have enough money to need an estate plan, the need for an estate plan is not solely related to the amount of one’s wealth.”

 

‘Living will’ language is normally included within the healthcare proxy. The living-will language addresses end-of-life decisions and generally sets forth that the principal does not want extraordinary medical procedures used to keep them alive when there is no likelihood of recovery. This can be a difficult decision to carry out; therefore, care should be taken to name someone who would be able to honor that decision. Individuals who have an advanced illness may choose to establish medical orders for life-sustaining treatment (MOLST) in addition to a healthcare proxy.

A MOLST is a medical order form completed by a patient and their physician that relays instructions about a patient’s care, including stating which treatment should be given or otherwise withheld. A MOLST would eliminate the need for living-will language in a proxy, but the best practice would be to reference it in the proxy.

Durable Power of Attorney

A durable power of attorney is a document that designates someone to make financial decisions. This document is usually in full force and effect when it is signed, but it is expected that it will not be used unless you are unable to handle your own financial affairs. It is also possible to grant a springing power that does not take effect until incapacity arises.


Rehabilitation Facilities in Western Mass.


The power of attorney is a very powerful document that is as broad as the powers granted within it. It gives authority to the designated person to handle all financial decisions, not just pay bills. In most cases, the person named will be authorized to handle real estate, life insurance, retirement accounts, other investment accounts, bank accounts, and any other matters involving money.  As such, the person chosen to serve in this capacity should be someone with financial savvy who can be trusted without reservation.

Homestead Declaration

The homestead declaration, once properly recorded in the Registry of Deeds, declares a principal residence to be a homestead. The homestead declaration protects the equity in the primary residence up to $500,000 from attachment, seizure, execution on judgment, levy, or sale for the payment of debts.

In some cases, such as advanced age or disability, the equity protection can be up to $1 million. If a homestead declaration is not recorded, there is an automatic $125,000 of equity protection.  In addition to some other specific exceptions, a homestead declaration will not protect the real estate from nursing-home costs or tax liens.

Conclusion

With these four documents, most people can help their family members or trusted companions avoid expensive and painful legal hassles related to their ongoing care and their estate.

Individuals with more complicated estates may require different or additional documents to fully protect their interests and their beneficiaries, but for the majority of people, an estate plan is only four documents away.

Gina M. Barry is a partner with the law firm Bacon Wilson, P.C. She is a member of the National Assoc. of Elder Law Attorneys, the Estate Planning Council, and the Western Mass. Elder Care Professionals Assoc. She concentrates her practice in the areas of estate and asset protection planning, probate administration and litigation, guardianships, conservatorships, and residential real estate; (413) 781-0560; [email protected]

Daily News

PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Bank Foundation Inc., the philanthropic arm of Berkshire Bank, announced the appointment of Thomas Barney to its board of trustees. Barney, a certified financial planner, is a senior vice president and wealth advisor with Berkshire Bank Wealth Management in Lenox.

Barney has spent more than 19 years with Berkshire Bank, rejoining the wealth group out of retirement to work on all aspects of client relationships, including financial planning and strategy implementation. He previously served as an officer of the foundation.

“While Berkshire Bank has grown as a successful company, serving the community has always been at the forefront,” he said. “The Berkshire Bank Foundation was established to demonstrate the bank’s dedication to its communities and neighbors. I am honored to join their board and support the foundation’s work.”

The mission of the Foundation is to strengthen and improve quality of life in communities where Berkshire Bank or its affiliates have offices. The foundation supports programs that enhance opportunities for children and adults, specifically in the areas of community and economic development, education, and meeting the needs of low- and moderate-income individuals. The foundation also administers the bank’s comprehensive volunteer program, called the X-Team, in addition to a scholarship program for high-school seniors.

Barney has more than 40 years of experience working on investments, trusts, and planning, including tenures at Michigan Avenue Financial Group of Chicago, Bank of Boston’s Private Bank, Fleet Investment Services, and the First National Bank of Geneva. He is a member of the Estate Planning Council of Hampden County, recently serving as its treasurer, vice president, and president. He is a graduate of Monmouth College, Loyola University of Chicago, the National Trust School, and the Trust Management School at Northwestern University.

“We are so pleased to welcome Tom to the foundation’s board as he shares our vision to support the many community needs throughout our growing footprint,” said Lori Gazzillo, director of Berkshire Bank Foundation. “Tom’s close community ties and breadth and depth of knowledge will serve as a valuable asset to our talented board.”

40 Under 40 Features

Editor’s Note: Again this year, five individuals have been chosen to score the nominations submitted for the 40 Under Forty competition. In keeping with past practice, BusinessWest has chosen two former winners to be part of this panel (and a third owns a 40 Under Forty plaque from the Worcester Business Journal). As always, BusinessWest has sought out individuals with experience in business and entrepreneurship.

Ken Albano

Ken Albano

Ken Albano

Attorney Kenneth J. Albano is the managing partner of Bacon Wilson, P.C., and a member of the firm’s corporate, commercial, and municipal practice groups.

In addition to his legal practice, he is very active in the local community. He is chair of the board of the March of Dimes Western Mass Division, and serves on the Board of the New England Chapter of the March of Dimes. Albano is also a board member with Behavioral Health Network, where he has served for more than 20 years. He also works with the American Cancer Society, Make-A-Wish, and the ALS Association.

In June of 2015, Albano was honored with the Mass. Bar Association’s Community Service Award in recognition of his exceptional volunteer work.

 

Jean Deliso

Jean Deliso

Jean Deliso

Jean Deliso, CFP is president and owner of Deliso Financial and Insurance Services. She focuses on financial preparation for retirement as well as times of transition such as divorce or widowhood.

Deliso has been working in the financial field for 30 years, her first seven in public accounting and the balance working in the financial-services industry. She has been a member of New York Life Chairman’s Council since 2012 and a qualifying Member of the Million Dollar Round Table for the past 18 years.

She currently serves as chairman of the board of the Baystate Health Foundation, and is immediate past chairman of the Community Music School of Springfield. She is also past chairman of the board of the YMCA of Greater Springfield, past board member of Pioneer Valley Refrigerated Warehouse, as well as past trustee of the Community Foundation of Western Mass. and the Bay Path College advisory board. She is a supporting member of the National Assoc. of Life Underwriters and the Hampden County Estate Planning Council.

Samalid Hogan

Samalid Hogan

Samalid Hogan

A 40 Under Forty winner in 2013, Samalid Hogan is director of the western regional office of the Mass. Small Business Development Center (MSBDC) Network. She has more than 12 years of economic-development and project-management experience.

In 2015, she was the consulting project manager for the Holyoke Innovation District on behalf of the MassTech Collaborative and Pioneer Valley Planning Commission. Previously, she was the senior project manager and brownfields coordinator at the City of Springfield’s Office of Planning and Economic Development. Hogan also served as a senior economic-development and policy analyst at the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, and founded CoWork Springfield, a networking organization and co-working space.

In 2016, Hogan was awarded a Grinspoon Entrepreneurial Spirit Award and recognized by the Massachusetts Latino Chamber of Commerce as a Woman Trailblazer and Trendsetter.

Patrick Leary, CPA

Patrick Leary

Patrick Leary

A member of BusinessWest’s inaugural 40 Under Forty class in 2007, Patrick Leary is a partner at Moriarty and Primack, an accounting firm with offices in Springfield and Lincoln, Mass., and Bloomfield, Conn., and directs accounting, auditing, and business-advisory services. His concentration is on closely held and family-owned businesses, as well as providing business-advisory services for a wide variety of industries.

He serves as the first vice chairperson of the Greater Springfield YMCA, chair of the board of directors of Human Resources Unlimited, a member of the of the board of directors and executive committee of the Springfield Regional Chamber of Commerce, treasurer of United Way of Pioneer Valley, and treasurer of the Colony Club.

Leary is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Massachusetts Society of Certified Public Accountants. He is licensed to practice public accounting in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York.

Matt Sosik

Matt Sosik

Matt Sosik

Matt Sosik began his career in banking with the FDIC in Holyoke. In 1997, he became the CEO of Hometown Bank in Webster, Mass. After serving in that capacity for nearly 17 years and growing Hometown Bank almost 1,000%, he accepted the role as CEO and president at bankESB in 2013.

Since his arrival, he has overseen two mergers and has more than doubled the size of the parent holding company to more than $2 billion.

Sosik is a member or former member of numerous nonprofit boards, including United Way chapters, the Rotary, and hospital boards. He was a 40 Under 40 honoree in 2001 with the Worcester Business Journal.

Agenda Departments

Wheelchair-basketball Clinic

Feb. 20: CDH Disability Resources will offer a free wheelchair-basketball clinic from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at CHD’s gymnasium at 69 Capital Dr., West Springfield. There is no cost to attend, and all participants qualify for raffles, prizes, and giveaways. The clinic will be led by Paul Weiland, a certified health and physical education teacher with an adaptive physical education certification. Weiland, Adapted Sports Program coordinator for Chapter 126 Sports & Fitness, has coached wheelchair basketball at the high-school and college levels and was part of the USA Paralympics wheelchair-basketball selection committee in 2008. He will be supported by volunteer staff, including therapeutic recreation students from Springfield College and varsity basketball players from Springfield College and American International College. For people interested in getting more involved with wheelchair basketball, in addition to the Feb. 20 clinic, Disability Resources is offering a 10-week program on Friday evenings from March 3 through May 5, 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., at the Pace Gym, 69 Capital Dr., West Springfield. Players will be taught fundamental skills and game-related strategies while focusing on the values of teamwork and respect. To learn more about wheelchair basketball or to sign up for programs, contact Levine at (413) 788-9695.

Real-estate Licensing Course

Feb. 22: Beginning Wednesday, Feb. 22, the Realtor Assoc. of Pioneer Valley will sponsor a 40-hour, 14-class sales-licensing course to help individuals prepare for the Massachusetts real-estate salesperson license exam. The course will be completed on March 23. Tuition costs $359 and includes the book and materials. For an application, call the Realtor Assoc. of Pioneer Valley at (413) 785-1328.

Estate Planning for Blended Families

Feb. 23: Linda Manor Assisted Living will host a discussion at 5:30 p.m. about meeting the estate-planning challenges of blended families. The event is free and open to the public, but those wishing to attend are asked to register by calling (413) 588-3316. A light dinner will be served. Attorney Valerie Vignaux of the law firm Bacon Wilson is a specialist in estate planning and elder law. Her discussion will focus on the unique challenges blended families can face. Common concerns are asset division, guardianship, long-term-care planning, and future decision making.

‘Create at the Carle!’

Feb. 27 to March 20: The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art will offer adult art classes for people 55 and over thanks to a new grant from Aroha Philanthropies. “Create at the Carle!” is a new program for adults interested in expressing themselves through visual art. The first of a series of three workshops, this one on printmaking, begins Feb. 27 from 10 a.m. to noon, and runs for eight weeks. The cost is $90, or $76.50 for members. Teaching artist Lynn Peterfreund, who concentrates on printmaking, painting, and drawing, is offering this class for beginners or more experienced students. The goals are to learn processes, become more aware of different art styles, and learn to identify and tell one’s own stories with visual tools. Enrollment is limited to 20 participants. The workshop includes a visit from artist Lyell Castonguay, who will share his woodcut technique and experiences as director of BIG INK, and concludes with an art show for friends, family, guests, and the general public to enjoy. “Create at the Carle!” is presented in partnership with Aroha Philanthropies to support the development and expansion of Artful Aging programs. The Carle was selected as one of only 15 nonprofit organizations throughout the U.S. to receive a grant from Aroha Philanthropies through its new national initiative, Seeding Artful Aging. Following printmaking, additional classes in 2017 will include guest artists teaching collage and bookmaking. For more information about the classes or to sign up, visit www.carlemuseum.org.

Whiskey & Cigar Night

March 2: It’s official: whiskey passed vodka as the number-one spirit of choice in the U.S. back in 2014, and the trend is more than a passing one. The Springfield Symphony Orchestra’s Whiskey & Cigar Night, slated for 6 p.m. at Nadim’s Downtown Mediterranean Grill, provides novice and connoisseur whiskey drinkers with a chance to savor a variety of vodkas, while raising funds for the SSO’s artistic, education, and community programs. For a $75 admission ticket, attendees will enjoy a variety of cigars on an outdoor patio, food-pairing stations to accompany the drink, and several stations to taste a wide variety of whiskey, from Scotch and Irish whiskey to bourbon and rye. Expert representatives from local distributors and distilleries will be on hand to answer questions and provide tasting notes. In addition to the whiskey, food, and cigars, a silent auction will be running throughout the event, featuring sports memorabilia, high-end experiences, and trips. Participation is limited to ensure the highest quality experience for all attendees. Nadim’s Downtown Mediterranean Grill is located at 1390 Main St., Springfield. To learn more or purchase a ticket, call (413) 733-0636, ext. 118, or e-mail [email protected]

Caritas Gala

March 11: Plans are underway for Mercy Medical Center’s first annual Caritas Gala at the MassMutual Center in Springfield. Themed “All You Need Is Love,” the inaugural gala will raise funds to expand and enhance Mercy Behavioral Health Care’s Opioid Treatment and Addiction Recovery programs. The major goal of the project is to create a new inpatient step-down treatment program for post-detox services, giving individuals a better chance at long-term recovery. John Sjoberg and Brenda Garton-Sjoberg are the Caritas Gala honorary chairpersons. Sjoberg serves as chairman of the board for Mercy and as vice chairman of the board for Trinity Health New England. Garton-Sjoberg has served as honorary chairperson of Mercy Gift of Light. “Brenda and I are inspired by the selfless work of the Sisters of Providence, and our family has made their legacy our personal mission,” said Sjoberg. The Caritas Gala will begin at 6:30 p.m. with a cocktail reception, live entertainment from the band Beantown, and a silent auction. Dinner will be served at 8 p.m., followed by a live auction and dancing until midnight. Pre-registration is required by Feb. 17. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.mercycares.com/caritasgala.

Mini Medical School

March 23 to May 11: Itching to get out of the house as the winter draws to an end? Consider signing up for a little dose of continuing education as part of Baystate Medical Center’s Mini Medical School, where you can broaden your knowledge of the field of medicine with professors from the teaching hospital. Mini Medical School, which begins its spring session on Thursday, March 23, offers area residents an inside look at the expanding field of medicine, minus the tests, homework, interviews, and admission formalities. The program continues through May 11. Baystate’s Mini Medical School program is an eight-week health-education series featuring a different aspect of medicine each week. Classes this spring will include sessions on various medical topics such as surgery, deep-brain stimulation, emergency medicine, dementia, pathology, and several others. For a full list of topics and instructors, visit www.baystatehealth.org/minimed. While it is not difficult to be accepted into the program, slots are limited, and early registration is recommended. Many of the students, who often range in age from 20 to 70, participate due to a general interest in medicine and later find that many of the things they learned over the semester are relevant to their own lives. The goal of the program, offered in the hospital’s Chestnut Conference Center, is to help members of the public make more informed decisions about their healthcare while receiving insight on what it might be like to be a medical student. Baystate Medical Center is the region’s only teaching hospital, and each course is taught by medical center faculty, who explain the science of medicine without resorting to complex terms. All classes are held Thursday nights starting at 6 p.m. and run until 8 or 9 p.m., depending on the night’s topic. No basic science knowledge is needed to participate. Each participant is required to attend a minimum of six out of eight classes in order to receive a certificate of completion. Tuition costs $95 per person and $80 for Senior Class and Spirit of Women members. To register, call (413) 794-7630 or visit www.baystatehealth.org/minimed.

Difference Makers

March 30: The ninth annual Difference Makers award program, staged by BusinessWest, will be held at the Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House. The winners, profiled in the Jan. 23 issue and at businesswest.com, are the Community Colleges of Western Mass. (Berkshire Community College, Greenfield Community College, Holyoke Community College, and
Springfield Technical Community College); Friends of the Holyoke Merry-Go-Round; Denis Gagnon Sr., president and CEO of Excel Dryer Inc.; Junior Achievement of Western Mass.; and Joan Kagan, president and CEO of Square One. Tickets to the event cost $65 per person, with tables of 10 available. To order, call (413) 781-8600, ext. 100. Difference Makers is a program, launched in 2009, that recognizes groups and individuals that are, as the name suggests, making a difference in this region. Details on the event will be published in upcoming issues of the magazine. Sponsors include First American Insurance; Health New England; JGS Lifecare; Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C.; Northwestern Mutual; O’Connell Care at Home; Royal, P.C.; and Sunshine Village.

Education Fair & Expo

April 4: Jared James, a national real-estate speaker and trainer, will be the featured speaker at the 24th annual Education Fair & Expo taking place at the MassMutual Center in Springfield. The event is sponsored by the Realtor Assoc. of Pioneer Valley. The program features a day of educational presentations including two breakout sessions from James, three continuing-education classes, and two technology classes. A sellout trade show with more than 50 vendors is anticipated. Anyone interested in attending as a trade-show vendor should contact Kim Harrison, membership and meetings coordinator at the Realtor Assoc. of Pioneer Valley, at (413) 785-1328 or [email protected] by March 10.

‘Mini Golf in the Library’

April 7-8: Friends of the Holyoke Public Library will host its second annual “Mini Golf in the Library” fund-raiser on the weekend of April 7-8. Hole sponsors and event sponsors are now being recruited. Funds raised help the Friends of the Library support library programs and resources, especially those for children and youth. Sponsors will be publicized and thanked in local media, social media, and the library’s website in connection with this event. Logos of sponsors will be printed on the scorecard given to each player. Names of sponsors will be displayed in the library, ranked by level of sponsorship. Sponsors will be invited as guests to the Friday-evening cocktail party, with the opportunity to preview (and play through) the course. In addition to event sponsors and hole sponsors, the event planning committee, chaired by Sandy Ward, is seeking donors of in-kind services and items for a silent auction to be held during the Friday cocktail party. Hole sponsorships start at $250. Those who wish to sponsor (and decorate) one of the 18 holes are encouraged to act quickly, as holes are sold on a first-come, first-served basis. Event sponsorships are available at five levels ranging from $250 to $1,000. An exclusive title sponsorship is possible at $2,500. For more information, visit www.holyokelibrary.org/aboutfriendsgolf.asp or e-mail Sandy Ward at [email protected]

Law Sections

Value-added Proposition

Amy Royal

Amy Royal says her marketing strategy has long emphasized providing helpful resources through blogs, newsletters, and seminars.

There was a time when law firms simply didn’t advertise their services; it was considered unseemly. Those days are long gone, and marketing is now an accepted, even necessary part of the business. But for today’s practices, marketing goes well beyond print and radio ads. With the help of the Internet, firms are increasingly getting the word out by writing articles and blogs on important legal issues and connecting with the public through informational seminars — building credibility with the public and possibly creating clients down the road, but adding value for audiences in the meantime.

Generations ago, Michele Feinstein said, the legal profession’s code of ethics was simple when it came to promoting a law firm.

“It was, ‘thou shalt not advertise,’” said the shareholder attorney with Springfield-based Shatz, Schwartz & Fentin. “Then it changed, but it’s still a very regulated thing — the question of what constitutes appropriate advertising.”

To prove it, she dug out a thick volume of Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court codes and eventually found the professional-conduct guidelines addressing marketing, or, to quote the section title, “Communications Concerning a Lawyer’s Services.”

This two-page-long rule governs appropriate outlets for advertising and what firms can and cannot promise in ads, among other minutiae. Feinstein is right: the rules are much more lenient today, with language conceding the importance of television and print media in reaching the public. But — aside from the more-strident messaging sometimes employed by personal-injury firms — it’s still an industry whose marketing echoes its restrained past.

Michele Feinstein

Michele Feinstein

When I started my practice, we never thought about marketing. Certainly, they never tell you about that in law school. But the practice has had to evolve with the modern-day realities of how people meet and connect, and how they find and talk with their lawyers.”

 

That’s not to say there aren’t other ways to stand out, however.

“When I started my practice, we never thought about marketing. Certainly, they never tell you about that in law school,” Feinstein said. “But the practice has had to evolve with the modern-day realities of how people meet and connect, and how they find and talk with their lawyers.

“Certainly, word of mouth is important, but these days, the modern equivalent is the Internet: search engines, blogs, newsletters, and other forms of Internet presence,” she went on. “That technology didn’t exist 20 years ago.”

Shatz, Schwartz & Fentin has employed the Internet like many other area firms have: not only to get its name out, but to do so in a way that provides value to clients and the public, she explained, such as an online newsletter that focuses on estate planning and elder law, and a blog that addresses issues in myriad areas of the law. Traditional print media is useful too, she said, as seen in the articles the firm writes for BusinessWest and other outlets.

Amy Royal also sees the benefits of a multi-pronged approach to marketing. Her Northampton-based employment-law firm, Royal, P.C., hosts a robust blog; the firm’s attorneys contribute articles to area press outlets (including, again, BusinessWest); and they also conduct seminars and trainings for the public and fellow lawyers alike.

“We stay abreast of developments in the law, both on the federal and state side, and we tailor our trainings as well as our blog posts to making sure our clients stay up to date,” she said. “There are a lot of moving parts, a lot of change happening on the federal side, going to an entirely different administration … on any issue, we want to demonstrate credibility for perspective clients, so hopefully people say, ‘they’re experts in that area.’”

That credibility and recognition often translates into more business, a philosophy shared by Michael Gove, who launched the Gove Law Office, LLC, in Northampton in 2013.

Michael Gove

Michael Gove

I think [our marketing efforts] ensure that we’re top of mind for people. Then, when someone has a legal issue, they may think of us, because they saw us recently in the paper, or online, or at a chamber event. We find we get referrals from those things.”

 

When it comes to marketing, he told BusinessWest, he has always focused on three areas: personal relationships with referral sources, trying to find reasons to be in the news as much as possible — for example, distributing press releases when the firm adds an attorney — and online marketing, which includes some paid advertising but more informational material, including a blog, providing resources to people who might then turn to Gove for legal services.

“I think it helps ensure that we’re top of mind for people,” he said. “Then, when someone has a legal issue, they may think of us, because they saw us recently in the paper, or online, or at a chamber event. We find we get referrals from those things.”

In a crowded market for law firms, those referrals and phone calls out of the blue are valuable, said the lawyers we spoke with about their marketing strategies. But laying the groundwork for that recognition doesn’t happen overnight.

Standing Out

Royal understands the importance of standing out in the Western Mass. legal community.

“There’s a lot of competition here in a small area; we’re saturated with lawyers in our region, and we have a law school here turning out new lawyers every year,” she said. “So what do you do to set yourself apart?”

The first step, she said, was focusing on a very specific niche — in her case, as a boutique firm that represents employers only — and building a brand around that niche in a number of ways.

“Our  niche provides a natural focus for our marketing strategies,” she explained. “Because of our defined services, we’re not everything to everyone, and maybe that’s a recipe for failure — to be too generalized. We’ve really focused on our marketplace and focused on developing a strong, recognized brand with targeted, consistent messaging.”

That messaging takes both active and passive forms, she added. Passive outreach includes the blog, newsletters, seminars, social-media outreach, trade shows, and anything that establishes the firm’s expertise in its field without being an actual, traditional advertisement — something Royal has largely eschewed, though both her firm and Shatz, Schwartz & Fentin utilize BusinessWest as part of their marketing efforts each year.

“We don’t do passive marketing thinking we’re going to have a direct sale from it, necessarily, but just to build brand awareness in the community,” Royal explained. “Then, of course, we do active marketing, direct relationship building. That happens in a variety of ways: through community involvement, business events, networking events, where we zero in on who our target is.”

Feinstein agrees that outreach that amounts to sharing information with the public brings marketing benefits that may not be realized right away.

“We write articles, we give seminars where we speak to the public, we do advanced trainings for lawyers — quite a bit of that. We feel that these sorts of marketing efforts, if they don’t immediately create a client — though they may — they certainly, at minimum, give us secondary recognition. People see our blogs, read our articles, hear our name when we’re giving a talk, and later on, if they need a lawyer and ask around and our name comes up, it’s familiar.”

In fact, it’s impossible to tell when such efforts will result in client work, she said. Sometimes it’s the next day, and sometimes it’s years down the road, when someone comes in with materials they’ve been saving since the event, and now they need help.

“The fact that they also see we’re doing trainings for other lawyers, which we do a lot of, I think confirms, or enhances, the fact that we are knowledgeable in a particular area and are recognized by our peers as such.”

While passive marketing has its benefits, Gove said, he’s not averse to paid ads as well. Most of his efforts in this area are targeted at avvo.com, a website with a national reach. “It’s a way for people who need answers to legal questions find lawyers. We’ve found a lot of success there.”

As for more traditional media advertising, Gove said he plans more narrowly targeted messaging. As a bilingual firm, he wants to expand more into Spanish-speaking communities, so he intends to approach media outlets that have inroads in that population.

“But, really, the three main pillars to our marketing are personal relationships, getting in the news, and being visible online. We’re definitely not advertising in the Republican or in the yellow pages. It’s not like it was 20 years ago.”

That said, the strategy has largely paid off for this growing firm, which expanded with a second office in Ludlow in 2014. “I think we’ve done a good job of growing, by making sure we’re visible and helpful.”

Word Up

Feinstein also considers her firm’s various passive marketing efforts to be a form of help, of public service.

“All we’ve ever done — writing articles, whether for legal journals or the Reminder or BusinessWest; lecturing and giving talks; that kind of stuff — gets our name out, gets the word out, but it also provides value, and we feel like that comes back to you in one way or another. It doesn’t have to be a one-to-one correlation. That’s fine with us; we have an obligation to serve the public by providing information, which we take seriously.

“People appreciate the difference between that kind of marketing and some general slogan, like ‘call us and we’ll fight for you,’ or ‘we’ll take your case seriously,’” she went on. “We provide real information and something to think about, and if people have concerns, we tell them to see their advisor. Whether that advisor is us or someone else, we’re still providing value.”

The Supreme Judicial Court’s rules on advertising state that “questions of effectiveness and taste in advertising are matters of speculation and subjective judgment,” which is a far cry from “thou shalt not advertise.” But lawyers should take their messaging seriously, Royal said.

“A lot of law firms maybe don’t think of themselves as a business first, which they are; they think of themselves as practitioners first,” she told BusinessWest. “But we treat this law firm as a business and attack our marketing that way. What we’ve done has been very strategic from the beginning.”

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]

Banking and Financial Services Sections

Family Matters

 

Some of the team at BRP/Grenier

Some of the team at BRP/Grenier, from left: Kelly Landron, Pat Grenier, Kim Galinski, and Lindsey Arventos.

As one of eight children, Patricia Grenier says she really doesn’t need any more family. Yet, as principal at BRP/Grenier, her growing financial-services practice, she treats clients like family members — which often means helping them make tough decisions.

One client was transitioning into assisted living and needed $200,000 immediately, and wanted to take it from her investment account. But the market was down, so Grenier was loath to do that.

“Her response was, ‘I don’t care what you do, just find me the money,’” she told BusinessWest. “So I called an associate at a bank and asked him if we could coordinate an equity line for this woman.” They did, and six months later, she sold her home, paid off the equity line, and moved into the facility.

“Those are the kinds of things we think about,” she said. “If all we focus on is investments, we would not go beyond and start asking the appropriate questions that need to be asked.”

Another client called about wanting to buy a car, and asking about loan options. “I asked, ‘why are you taking out a loan? You have enough money invested. You can use your own money.’ She was elderly; there was no need for her to have debt.”

In short, BRP/Grenier is an investment-strategy firm that goes well beyond its advertised services, which run the gamut from financial planning and education savings to retirement strategies and estate planning. Grenier considers it all life planning, which encompasses far more than crunching numbers.

Clients want to protect what they have but also grow it, and helping them do so takes a comprehensive understanding of their lives and goals — what’s important to them, what their resources are, and what their challenges will be to get there. With close to $200 million under management, it’s a responsibility she takes seriously.

“There are all kinds of issues to resolve: do they need more cash flow? Maybe there’s too much liquid, too much invested. Do they have a will? We’ll prod them to do a will or trust, those kinds of things.”

Those are questions she and her firm are asking many more clients these days, following the acquisition of a practice in Wethersfield, Conn. (more on that later). Getting to know the ins and outs of those lives is a challenge Grenier embraces, because it’s key to helping them succeed.

“I try not to focus on what the market is doing currently,” she said. “It’s a long-term strategy, so I focus on your life — what will make your life better. Temporary moves in the market won’t make a big difference in the scheme of things.”

Getting to Know You

Grenier says her skills as a listener, problem-solver, planner, and fact-checker were developed at a very young age, as the family interpreter and liaison for her large, family of Ecuadorean immigrants. So she enjoys learning the details of clients’ situations to help them formulate a big-picture perspective.

“Some things that people might find daunting, we think are really easy to handle,” she said. “For example, they might not be able to make ends meet, and they’re charging monthly expenses on a credit card. We’ll work on cash flow, figure out how to reprioritize spending. Maybe it’s time to downsize their home, or buy things for less money.”

Pat Grenier

Pat Grenier says crafting a strategy for long-term financial security begins with fully understanding the goals, circumstances, and challenges of each client.

While many clients are concentrated around the pre-retirement years, Grenier said, she helps people in all stages of life — for example, young professional couples making enough to save but worried about mortgages and school debt and saving for their kids’ college education, and knowing they’re in an income bracket that isn’t making them rich, but won’t be a magnet for financial aid. So they need a strategy.

And young people don’t start out with the advantages past generations did, notably the idea that they’ll work for one employer and retire with a healthy pension that will see them through their retirement years. These days, young professionals expect to progress through several jobs, none of them offering pensions. So it’s up to them to navigate investment options like 401(k)s and other vehicles.

“It’s a dynamic process. Life isn’t black and white, and we have to adjust,” Grenier said. “If there’s a job change or an illness or a birth or a divorce, we have to make sure we can adjust their plan so that it’s a viable plan that works for them. Everyone’s different, so the plan is going to be different for everybody.

“We want to help them achieve their goals, and sometimes we have to be the reality check,” she went on. “We have to say, ‘no, you can’t do this; you don’t have enough money.’ And sometimes, we need to say, ‘yes, you can buy that home on the Cape; you can afford it.’ So it works both ways.”

After a while, she explained, as she gets to know clients better, they come to trust her and her team, and they’ll be more comfortable divulging personal matters.

“I feel like sometimes I know them better than their own family members. And sometimes I have to protect them,” she said. For example, one client was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and her nephew wanted power of attorney, but she didn’t feel he’d do a good job and recommended she pick someone else.

That said, Grenier can’t force anyone to make a financial decision.

“People have to be willing to cooperate. They have to want to be willing to make changes. If not, it’s not going to work. And sometimes it’s not going to work. Maybe they’re not willing to make the change. But it’s our job to explain, in our professional opinion, what they need to do to realize their goals.”

Not every decision is bottom-line based. One client was selling her business to family members and wanted to know how much she should get for it — not necessarily top dollar according to its value, but what she needed to strike a fair deal for her family, yet be able to live comfortably in retirement. “So we needed to make a projection about life expectancy and her needs, and once we figured that out, it was easy to come up with a number.”

Branching Out

Grenier was looking to expand her practice’s footprint when she learned that Joseph Connelly, owner of the Wethersfield Investment Center, was looking to retire. A few months after he and Grenier met, they agreed their cultures were a good match, and Wethersfield became a division of BRP/Grenier in September.

The Wethersfield office, which had previously operated under a different name, became the Wethersfield Investment Center in 2003 when Connelly assumed full ownership and became a Cadaret Grant-registered financial professional. The fact that Wethersfield and BRP/Grenier share the Cadaret Grant connection has made for a smooth transition, Grenier said.

“It’s in Connecticut, so it’s a different market, different laws, things like that, but a lot of the same principles apply,” she told BusinessWest. “I’m getting to know the clients, starting to delve into their lives, telling them, ‘you can count on us to help you with whatever you need help with.’ I know I have big shoes to fill. It’s a big challenge, but I love a challenge.”

All this makes for what she calls an exciting time in her business, but through the growth, she doesn’t want to lose track of the personal involvement that characterizes her relationships with clients. She began her career working for large houses where she had no time to get to know clients, and that frustrated her and drove her to become an independent advisor in 1990. And people welcome the sometimes necessary hand-holding it takes to help them navigate downturns in the market and, sometimes, in their own families.

“Maybe it’s my personality, but I tend to get way involved in people’s lives, maybe because I’m one of eight kids,” she said. “Every person who comes to me is treated as if they were my own family. And every person on my staff, that’s how they look at our clients, too.”

And it’s satisfying, Grenier said, to see financial strategies pay off in the form of peace of mind.

“In this business, we are so overregulated, and we have to love our business to be in it,” she said. “We want to retire people well, and it’s so gratifying to get a note from a client thanking me for what they currently have. I want to help people lead the good, comfortable life they’re accustomed to.”

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]

Departments People on the Move
Christina Royal

Christina Royal

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

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

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Michael Gove

Michael Gove

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Andrea Gauvin

Andrea Gauvin

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

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Allison Ebner

Allison Ebner

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

Daily News

WARE — Holyoke Community College, in collaboration with the Quaboag Valley Community Development Corp., is offering a busy schedule of non-credit classes this winter and spring.

Registration is open for a variety of convenient and affordable professional-development, workforce-training, and personal-enrichment college courses at the Quaboag Region Workforce Training and Community College Center at 79 Main St., Ware, also known as the E2E — Education to Employment Center. Courses include:

• ServSafe Prep & Exam: Jan. 16 and 23, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (two sessions, $109); March 7, 14, and 21, 3-6 p.m. (three sessions, $109); May 9, 16, and 23, 3-6 p.m. (three sessions, $109);

• Emergency Medical Technician Training, Feb. 14 to June 22, 6-10 p.m. (38 classes, $1,099);

• HeartSaver CPR AED, March 14, 6-9 p.m. (one session, $45);

• First Aid, March 16, 6-9 p.m. (one session, $45);

• How to Get Debt Free, April 4, 6-9 p.m. (one session, $39);

• Basic Home Repair, April 13, 20, 27, and May 4, 6-8 p.m. (four sessions, $99);

• Career Planning, Goal Setting, and Assessment, April 18, 6-9 p.m. (one class, free);

• Elder Law and Estate Planning, May 1 and 8, 6-9 p.m. (two sessions, $85); and

• Nursing Assistant Exam Preparation/Home Health Aide: call for class times.

For more information or to enroll, call (413) 552-2500 or visit www.hcc.edu/bce.