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Daily News

GREENFIELD — Anthony Worden, president & CEO of Greenfield Cooperative Bank and its parent company, Greenfield Bancorp, MHC announced today the operating results of the bank’s latest fiscal year as announced at the 117th annual meeting of the bank on June 21. Worden reported that FY 2022, which ended March 31, was very successful and the assets of the bank grew by $41.4 million (5%) over the prior year.

Other results include:

  • In FY 2022, GCB originated more than $166 million in loans of all types, including $61.3 million in residential mortgages, $92.0 million in commercial loans,

$45.6 million in municipal lending, $9.2 million in home equity loans and lines, and

$1.2 million in MassSave® ‘’zero-interest” energy loans.

  • GCB had an increase of $50.5 million in deposits (7.4%) over the past year;
  • The pre-tax operating income for Greenfield Cooperative Bank was $4.416 million for the year ended March 31, 2022 and the net income after taxes was $3.454 million;
  • GCB’s Tier 1 Capital to average assets is 10.5%. The bank is considered “well capitalized” by all regulatory definitions.
  • As a result of these solid earnings, the bank and its employees were able to contribute more than $180,000 to 200 community groups and charities throughout both Hampshire and Franklin County during the past fiscal year.
Daily News

GREENFIELD — Greenfield Community College announced that Michelle Schutt will serve as the college’s 11th president, effective July 18.

Currently serving as the vice president of community and learner services at the College of Southern Idaho (CSI), the state’s first Hispanic serving institution, Schutt was chosen from a competitive pool of four highly qualified candidates.

“I am honored by the opportunity to serve Greenfield Community College as its next president and I look forward to ensuring that we meet the evolving needs of the students, employees, alumni and community members we serve,” Schutt said.

With more than 20 years of experience in higher education, Schutt has held leadership roles in all facets of education, including student affairs, academic services, and community learning. Schutt’s leadership throughout her career has produced measurable enrollment and retention results. Schutt oversaw an enrollment increase of 3% at the College of Southern Idaho (CSI), the state’s first Hispanic serving institution, during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020- nationwide decreases due to the pandemic and an expected institutional decline was 15%.

Daily News

GREENFIELD — Phillip Ringwood ’99, ’03, was awarded the GCC 2021 Distinguished Alumni award at the college’s recent board of trustees meeting.

“Phil is an extraordinary leader and graduate who has accomplished so much since leaving GCC,” said GCC President Yves Salomon-Fernández at the event. “We are just so proud to honor him as this year’s Distinguished Alumni Award recipient.”

The annual Distinguished Alumni Award was established by the Greenfield Community College Alumni Association to recognize and honor an alumni of GCC who has achieved substantial public recognition for their accomplishments or success.

Ringwood has worked at DIAL/SELF Youth and Community Services, a community-based non-profit agency that has been serving the youth and communities of Western Mass. since 1977, for more than 20 years and served as the executive director since 2012. The organization provides a wide array of services that foster youth empowerment and community service. Over the course of the last four decades, more than 40,000 area youth have been served by the agency in Franklin, Hampshire and Hampden Counties and the North Quabbin region.

In this role, he is especially proud of his experience advocating for the Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Bill in the MA Legislature, informed by his own experience as a 15-year-old homeless youth. He actively included the community in developing the case for support to present to the delegation in support of the initiative.

“Phil is a leader within the community, always stepping up to the next challenge. He is collaborative and has helped form a solid network of community service organizations within the region” said Alexandria Green-Atchley, one of his DIAL/SELF colleagues who submitted a nomination for him.


Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Christina Royal

Christina Royal

Yves Salomon-Fernández

Yves Salomon-Fernández

Harry Dumay

Harry Dumay

Three local college presidents are among only 13 nationwide to be recognized last week for leadership in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion by the Assoc. of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) and the education-technology company Cengage.

Holyoke Community College President Christina Royal, Greenfield Community College President Yves Salomon-Fernández, and Elms College President Harry Dumay were among that select group of 13 to receive the AAC&U-Cengage Inclusion Scholarship, which recognizes college and university presidents whose outstanding leadership to advance liberal education has resulted in reduced equity gaps, improved inclusion and belonging for minority students, and reformed hiring practices to promote greater diversity.

“Growing up as a first-generation, low-income, multi-racial college student, I understand some of the challenges today’s students face and the importance of having an inclusive environment where everyone can thrive,” said Royal, who was also honored last week by BusinessWest as one of the 2020 Women of Impact. “These are very important issues to me personally and professionally, as well as to our college community, and I’m honored to receive this recognition on behalf of HCC.”

The recipients were announced on Jan. 22 at the AAC&U Presidents’ Trust Symposium, part of the organization’s virtual annual meeting. The symposium brings together higher-education leaders from all institutional types to explore the most pressing issues facing colleges and universities and to share strategies for success.

“I am honored by this recognition, and I am most proud of the work that my colleagues and I are engaged in at Greenfield Community College with and for our local communities,” Salomon-Fernández said. “We know that a more just and equitable world is most conducive to citizenship and democracy.”

The other recipients of the 2021 AAC&U-Cengage Inclusion Scholarship are Sandra Boham, president of Salish Kootenai College in Montana; Roslyn Clark Artis, president of Benedict College in South Carolina; Karrie Dixon, president of Elizabeth City State University in North Carolina; Alicia Harvey-Smith, president of Pittsburgh Technical College in Pennsylvania; Walter Kimbrough, president of Dillard University in Louisiana; Valerie Roberson, president of Roxbury Community College in Massachusetts; Ron Rochon, president of University of Southern Indiana; Ivy Taylor, president of Rust College in Mississippi; Dwaun Warmack, president of Claflin University in South Carolina; and David Yarlott Jr., president of Little Big Horn College in Montana.

“We are so excited to be able to support these amazing higher-ed leaders who are making a real difference by reducing inequities and increasing access to education. At Cengage, we believe learning transforms lives, and the work of these leaders is so critical in giving students the opportunity to better their lives and in creating an educated, informed, and just society.”

Four Massachusetts presidents made the cut, two more than any other state.

“AAC&U is proud to recognize and support these exceptional leaders in their efforts to advance equity and quality as hallmarks of a liberal education across a diverse range of campuses and student populations,” AAC&U President Lynn Pasquerella said.

The AAC&U-Cengage Inclusion Scholarship recognizes higher-education leaders who support and advance quality, equity, and student success in undergraduate education. This includes improving degree completion or transfer for students from underrepresented groups; closing equity gaps in student success; improving diversity in hiring practices and creating more equitable hiring policies; and increasing the sense of belonging, well-being, and inclusion among students from historically underserved populations (including racial and ethnic minorities, religious minorities, and LGBTQIA students).

“We are so excited to be able to support these amazing higher-ed leaders who are making a real difference by reducing inequities and increasing access to education,” said Fernando Bleichmar, executive vice president and general manager for U.S. Higher Education at Cengage. “At Cengage, we believe learning transforms lives, and the work of these leaders is so critical in giving students the opportunity to better their lives and in creating an educated, informed, and just society.”

In recognition of their accomplishments, the AAC&U-Cengage Inclusion Scholarship recipients will each receive a one-year, complimentary AAC&U campus membership and a one-year complimentary membership in the AAC&U Presidents’ Trust, a diverse network of CEOs who are committed to advancing the vision, values, and practices that connect liberal education with the needs of an increasingly diverse student body, a global workforce, and thriving communities. The trust provides members with access to dedicated resources and events as well as exclusive opportunities to promote their thought leadership.

Workforce Development

Meeting the Need

Dawn Creighton says she’s excited about finding solutions to area employers’ needs.

During her decade-long tenure as regional director for Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM), Dawn Creighton’s role was basically to support member businesses in the 413.

“I went out and met with member companies, with their executive directors, and they would tell me what their biggest business challenges are, and I would try to find them a solution,” she told BusinessWest. “Sure enough, every single one of them said, ‘Dawn, if you could get me the bodies, I could double my workforce.’ No matter what the industry was, I’d meet with the HR person, and she’d say, ‘oh my God, Dawn, help me find somebody.’”

In those years, she formed connections between companies and resources like the region’s colleges and universities, but she wanted to be more than a connector.

And now she is. In her new position, as chief Workforce Development officer for Greenfield Community College (GCC), she can actually help build the programs that create that worker pipeline — and she’s excited about the possibilities.

“This opportunity became available, and I was like, ‘wait — I actually get to do something about this.’ It’s really exciting.”

Creighton, who works at GCC’s Downtown Center at 270 Main St. in Greenfield, had been on the job only three weeks when she sat down with BusinessWest to share that excitement, although she described her job in vague terms for a reason: at the moment, she’s mostly listening — and learning.

“What’s the purpose of higher education if we’re not building the student for the workforce they’re entering? We get it, and want to be able to do that.”

“My first 30 days have been really meeting with the employees at GCC and what they’re doing in the community. Then I’m spending the next 30 days meeting with the employers in the community, finding out what their needs are to make sure we’re building the programs they need. Then the next 30 days will be spent with our community partners, finding out how we can build programs together,” she explained.

“Once all that comes together, we’ll be figuring out what we’re already doing and doing well, and building new programs,” she went on. “What does that look like? Do we need to add more technology training? What are the needs of the community?”

Creighton is no stranger to GCC — she’s a 2005 graduate of the college who began her career as an employment specialist at MassLive before becoming AIM’s regional director for Western Mass. in 2009. During her tenure at AIM, she served thousands of employer members, uniting them around issues ranging from healthcare and employment law to sustainability, budgeting, and hiring.

In doing so, she developed an understanding of the diverse needs of employers across the region, including manufacturing, but she is also invested in furthering innovation and bolstering the creative economy. Thus, she’s in a good position to help GCC integrate the liberal arts and technical education it offers, said college President Yves Salomon-Fernandez.

“As an alumna, we are especially proud of Dawn’s professional achievements and are delighted that she wants to serve her alma mater and community this way,” Salomon-Fernandez said. “She rose to the top in the search process. There is much anticipation for her to lead us to new heights.”

Growth Potential

Among her responsibilities, Creighton oversees the college’s non-credit programs, from manufacturing to personal enrichment — “you’d be amazed how many people are interested in taking ukulele lessons and salsa dancing and tango.”

But when it comes to crafting programs that better train students for fertile career opportunities — thus helping companies grow — “there’s always more potential, and that’s why I’m here,” she said.

“Many, many moons ago, the impression [of community colleges] from the business world was, ‘here’s our student, take it.’ Now the business community has a chance to be the model for the student,” she went on. “What’s the purpose of higher education if we’re not building the student for the workforce they’re entering? We get it, and want to be able to do that.”

The college is currently crafting a strategic plan, seeking input from the community and companies of all types and sizes, to better hone and respond to those workforce needs, she explained. “It’s an exciting time, and the vision for what people want to see from the community college is huge. We’re reaching out to people and asking for their time to help us build the product they need — the student.

“They’re so excited to have their voice heard,” she added. “They’re calling me and telling me what they need, and they want to be a part of it — ‘how can I help?’ It’s this contagious vibe of getting involved. I’ve had people say, ‘if you build this program or do this training, I’ll even send some of my people in to talk about it in a real-world context. I’ll even do apprenticeships; I’ll do internships.’ They’re not interested in a handoff; they want to be hands-on.”

The goal, Creighton noted, is to get those ‘bodies’ in positions of need — actually, not just any bodies, but well-trained individuals — and help companies grow, at the same time establishing Western Mass. as a strong job market, attracting still more talent, which helps companies grow more, and it becomes a snowball effect.

“Every industry has a shortage of people,” she said, but specifically people with essential life skills — what some call soft skills, though she doesn’t like that term. “It sounds fluffy — but it’s real.”

For example, many employees and job seekers simply don’t understand the need to be punctual, or to stay off their smartphone during work hours, or that a 9-to-5 job means actually working 9 to 5. “To some people, it’s common sense; to others, it’s not. It’s just not an environment they’ve been in.”

And while Millennials have gotten a bad rap, this soft-skills gap spans the generations, Creighton said. In fact, in many ways, Millennials are a positive force, forcing companies to rethink old ways of doing business.

“With all this new leadership in the community, it’s just a fun, exciting buzz and vibe in Franklin County.”

She recalled participating on a panel with a banker who told her about a job he had early in his career. He was so savvy with technology, he’d get a day’s work done in five hours, but his boss wouldn’t give him additional duties, as not to show up his co-workers, so once his day’s work was complete, he’d sit at his desk, buried in his phone.

“Everyone looks at him like he’s this slacker,” she said. “He ended up leaving — no surprise there. And how many other people are leaving because they’re underutilized?”

The bottom line is that companies and their employees can learn from each other to help each other succeed, she explained — and that’s another way organizations can grow.

New Blood

As the former board president of Dress for Success, Creighton also built Foot in the Door, a workforce-readiness program dedicated to helping women develop critical skills for entering and re-entering the workforce. So she’s no stranger to these issues.

And she’s energized by all the new blood in regional leadership. For example, Salomon-Fernandez has been on the job just a year, and so has Diana Szynal, executive director of the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce.

“With all this new leadership in the community, it’s just a fun, exciting buzz and vibe in Franklin County,” Creighton said. “Everyone’s saying, ‘let’s try it this way,’ and nobody’s saying, ‘no, we did that before.’ And we’re working collaboratively together.”

While touring manufacturers and other businesses to determine what they need to grow, she added, it’s important to understand that many tools and programs are already in place. “We just need to package them differently. I’m excited when I hear the things people want and realize we’re already doing it and we could just do it in a more robust way.”

Finally, Creighton wants to celebrate the region’s economic successes while striving to add to them — and make sure GCC has a key role in doing so.

“So many people talk about how many people leave the region. OK, people leave — we get that,” she said. “But let’s focus on how many people stay, and what their economic impact is on our community. That’s where our focus should be.”

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]