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2021 Women of Impact Judges

Soon, BusinessWest will unveil its Women of Impact for 2021, our fourth annual celebration of area women who are accomplishing great things, standing out in their field, and doing impactful work in the community. As in past years, we’ve asked a panel of three independent judges to read and review dozens of nominations to determine the class of 2021. They are:

Michele Cabral is interim executive director of Professional Education and Corporate Learning at Holyoke Community College and director of Training & Workforce Options. She started her career as a CPA for KPMG Peat Marwick, graduated from the Leadership Development Program at CIGNA Insurance Companies, and joined Farm Credit Financial Partners Inc. as CFO and COO. At HCC, Cabral has held positions as an Accounting professor, then dean of the Business and Technology Division, and she currently leads the HCC Women’s Leadership Series.

Dawn Fleury is the first senior vice president of Corporate Risk at Country Bank in Ware. In her current role, she oversees the bank’s comprehensive risk-management programs. Before joining Country Bank, she had a 21-year career with the FDIC as a commissioned senior bank examiner in the Division of Supervision. Fleury serves on the board of Christina’s House in Springfield, which provides transitional housing for women and their children, as well as educational programming as families transition from homelessness to permanent, stable living environments.

Ellen Freyman is a shareholder with Shatz, Schwartz and Fentin, P.C. in Springfield. Her practice is concentrated in all aspects of commercial real estate: acquisitions and sales, development, leasing, permitting, environmental, and financing. She has been recognized for her community work and was named to Difference Makers and Women of Impact by BusinessWest, Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly Excellence in Law, and the Professional Women’s Chamber Women of the Year. She also earned a Pynchon Award from the Ad Club of Western Massachusetts.

40 Under 40 Class of 2021

Meet This Year’s 40 Under Forty Judges

BusinessWest launched its 40 Under Forty program in 2007 to recognize the area’s rising stars, and it has since become a coveted honor throughout Western Mass., shining a spotlight on individuals who have excelled professionally, but also in their service to the community.

Nominations for the 15th annual celebration have closed, and the judges are hard at work evaluating 170 unique nominations — close to a record, and an indication that the pandemic has not slowed this program’s energy or importance to the region.

The class of 2020 — who will be profiled in the May 10 issue of BusinessWest and honored at the 40 Under Forty Gala on June 24 at the Log Cabin in Holyoke — will, as usual, be chosen by five independent judges, who bring broad experience in entrepreneurship, business development, and civic engagement, among other traits. Here’s a quick look at each of them.

Kim Alli is a vice president and commercial loan officer at Greenfield Savings Bank and is also a member of the GSB PPP loan task force and the bank’s contributions committee. She serves on several community boards, including the Hospice of the Fisher Home, the United Way of Hampshire County community investment committee, and the Cooley Dickinson golf committee. She is also a member of the GCC Foundation campaign team, ambassador for the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce, and a Rotarian for Amherst and Northampton.

For the past two decades, Paul Bailey has been the executive director of Springfield Partners for Community Action, the federally designated community action agency serving the Springfield area. Previously, he worked at the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development for 11 years, where he oversaw the state’s 252 public-housing authorities. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from UMass Amherst and serves on the board of directors of the Springfield Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Hampden County Workforce Board.

For the past nine years, Pia Sareen Kumar has been co-owner and chief strategy officer of Universal Plastics Group, representing a family of plastics-manufacturing businesses headquartered in Holyoke and stretching into in New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. She started her career as an investment banker at JPMorgan Chase and was a global director of strategic partnerships at American Express. She holds an MBA from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business and a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University.

Lenny Underwood launched Underwood Photography in 2004, providing an array of services ranging from headshots, parties, and weddings to photo shoots, slideshows, and photo-booth rental. He is also a certified personal fitness trainer. He then founded Upscale Socks in 2016, which supports local nonprofits and schools with the Suit Your Soles campaign, which matches a sock donation for every purchase. He is a member of St. John’s Congregational Church, the Brianna Fund for Children with Physical Disabilities gospel concert planning committee, and the Way Finders board.

Peter Wirth

Born and raised in Germany, Peter Wirth started working for Mercedes-Benz straight out of college. After holding several positions in marketing and product management, her relocated to the U.S. and took a job with Mercedes-Benz USA. After successfully launching the SLR McLaren and the new C-Class for the U.S. market, he transitioned into retail and managed sales operations for two large New York Metro Mercedes-Benz dealers. In 2017, he and his wife, Michelle, started their own business and opened Mercedes-Benz of Springfield.

Events Features

Meet the Judges

With nominations now closed for BusinessWest’s Alumni Achievement Award, it now falls to three judges — Vince Jackson, Keith Ledoux, and Cheri Mills — to study the entries and determine the sixth annual winner.

The award, sponsored by Health New England, was launched in 2015 as the Continued Excellence Award, an offshoot of BusinessWest’s 40 Under Forty program, which recognizes young professionals for their career accomplishments and civic involvement. Rebranded this year as the Alumni Achievement Award, it is presented annually to one former 40 Under Forty honoree who, in the eyes of the judges, has most impressively continued and built upon the track record of accomplishment that earned them 40 Under Forty status. The award will be presented at this year’s 40 Under Forty Gala. The date and location of the event are still to be determined due to reopening guidelines.

For each application, the judges have been asked to consider how the candidate has built upon his or her success in business or service to a nonprofit; built upon his or her record of service within the community; become even more of a leader in Western Mass.; contributed to efforts to make this region an attractive place to live, work, and do business; and inspired others through his or her work.

The judges will first narrow a broad field of nominees to five candidates, who will be informed that they are finalists for the coveted honor — an accomplishment in itself. They will then choose a winner, the identity of whom will not be known to anyone but the judges until the night of the event.

Past winners include: 2019: Cinda Jones, president, W.D. Cowls Inc. (40 Under Forty class of 2007); 2018: Samalid Hogan, regional director, Massachusetts Small Business Development Center (class of 2013); 2017: Scott Foster, attorney, Bulkley Richardson (class of 2011), and Nicole Griffin, owner, ManeHire (class of 2014); 2016: Dr. Jonathan Bayuk, president, Allergy & Immunology Associates of New England (class of 2008); 2015: Delcie Bean, president, Paragus Strategic IT (class of 2008).

The judges are:

Vincent Jackson

Vincent Jackson

Vincent Jackson is executive director of the Greater Northampton Chamber of Commerce, a role he took on last year. He is also the founder and CEO of the consulting company Marketing Moves, which provides companies — from Fortune 500 corporations to small businesses — with strategic and innovative marketing support. Before founding the company in 2000, Jackson worked for a decade as a senior product manager at PepsiCo, two years as an assistant product manager at Kraft Foods, and three years as a senior systems analyst at Procter & Gamble Company.

Keith Ledoux

Keith Ledoux

Keith Ledoux is vice president of Sales, Marketing and Business Development at Health New England. He has more than 25 years of experience in the insurance industry and has a background in sales, healthcare information technology, and strategy development. Prior to joining HNE in 2019, he served as senior advisor and board member for MiHealth in Medway. He began his career at Tufts Health Plan in Waltham, where he rose to become regional sales manager, and also held senior leadership positions at Fallon Health in Worcester and Minuteman Health and Constitution Health, both in Boston.

Cheri Mills

Cheri Mills

Cheri Mills is a business banking officer with PeoplesBank, and has worked in banking for 32 years. She began her career in 1988 as a mail runner, working up to banking center manager in 1997, and eventually discovered a love of business banking. She takes pride in assisting business owners with achieving financials goals. She is currently the president of the Rotary Club of Chicopee, treasurer of Junior Achievement of Western Massachusetts, and a board member with the Minority Business Council in Springfield.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

40 Under 40 The Class of 2020

After Nominations Close on Feb. 14, They’ll Choose Class of 2020

Time is running out to nominate individuals for BusinessWest’s 14th annual 40 Under Forty, a program launched in 2007 to recognize rising stars in Western Mass., and has since become a coveted honor throughout the region.

Nominations will be accepted until Friday, Feb. 14. A successful nomination will be detailed and thorough, listing an individual’s accomplishments within their profession as well as their work within the community. Nominations can be completed  HERE.

The class of 2020 — who will be profiled in the April 27 issue of BusinessWest and honored at the 40 Under Forty Gala on June 25 at the Log Cabin in Holyoke — will, as usual, be chosen by five independent judges, who bring broad experience in entrepreneurship, business development, and civic engagement, among other things, and include three past winners. Here’s a quick look at each of them.

Mychal Connolly

A member of the 40 Under Forty class of 2011, Mychal Connolly currently serves as chapter chairman of SCORE Western Massachusetts, a nonprofit that gives free mentoring to people looking to start, grow, or exit a business. He is the author of the book Launch and Stand Out, a guide to starting and growing a business with creative marketing and branding, and an accompanying podcast. In addition, he leads Hundred Grand Plan, a group that works with entrepreneurs and business owners looking to earn their first $100,000. He was named one of America’s Top 100 Urban Entrepreneurs and is also a 100 Men of Color honoree for his work in the community.

 

Jose Delgado

As director of Government Affairs at MGM Springfield, Jose Delgado manages relationships with state and local elected and administrative officials, represents MGM’s legislative agenda in Massachusetts, and builds and maintains relations with host communities and community stakeholders. Prior to that, he was a pre-admissions adviser and recruitment coordinator for the University Without Walls at UMass Amherst. A member of the 40 Under Forty class of 2014, his community roles have included vice chairman of the Springfield Puerto Rican Parade Committee, a board member of the Young Professional Society of Greater Springfield, and a founding member of Suit Up Springfield.

 

Claudia Pazmany

As executive director of the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce, Claudia Pazmany blends business-development skills with deep experience in capital campaigns, philanthropy, community engagement, social media, and alumni. She is also the advisory board president of CHD’s Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampshire County and has served as president of Friends of Amherst Recreation. Pazmany has served on many search committees and been a judge for the Berthiaume Center for  Entrepreneurship at UMass Amherst, and is currently working to support Greenfield Community College’s workforce-development initiative, serving on its Future of Work advisory committee. 

 

Payton Shubrick

Payton Shubrick, a 40 Under Forty honoree in 2019, is a home office technology strategist at MassMutual, where she has focused on fostering an innovative culture with the creation of ideation spaces that have evolved into open workspaces throughout the home office. She has also worked on multi-generational relationships, supporting understanding between senior and millennial employees. Additionally, she serves on the company’s diversity, inclusion, and equity committee, focused on the notion of ‘belonging’ for all employees. She most recently launched an adult-use marijuana establishment, 6 Brick’s LLC, and consults with Smallify, an innovation capacity-building firm.

 

Donna Yetter

Donna Yetter is a principal in Commercial Services at Melanson Heath, a certified public accounting firm in Greenfield.  For more than 30 years, she has been a trusted accounting and tax advisor, working closely with clients in need of tax-planning and personal and business tax-preparation services. A member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Massachusetts Society of Certified Public Accountants, she also has extensive experience as a certified estate and trust specialist, which allows her to expand her range of services and partner with law firms and investment advisors who do not have full-time staff dedicated to this specialized area.

Features

About the Judges

A panel of judges was kept quite busy over the past few weeks, reading, evaluating, and eventually scoring nearly 200 nominations for the Forty Under 40 Class of 2019.

Yes, that’s a record, and it’s a clear indication of how coveted that designation ‘BusinessWest 40 Under Forty honoree’ has become within the 413.

Who will be most recent 40 people able to add that line to their résumés? The judges are concluding their work, and the letters alerting the winners should be going out sometime this first full week in March. They will be announced in late April, and the gala is in June at the Log Cabin.

To say the judges had their hands full this year is an understatement. But it is a very capable group that includes one previous winner, representatives of a number of business sectors, and a few players within the burgeoning entrepreneurship ecosystem within the region. Here are the judges for this year’s competition:

Michael Buckmaster

Michael Buckmaster

Michael Buckmaster, vice president of Commercial Banking for Community Bank, N.A. He has more than 30 years of experience within the banking industry working for a wide range of institutions, from global market leaders in corporate and investment banking in The U.K. to U.S. regional and community banks within the areas of small-business and middle-market commercial lending. Current specialties include commercial banking loan origination and relationship management for small and medium-sized businesses, and commercial investment real-estate financing within the New England region.

He serves as board president for Hartsprings Foundation (an affiliation of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampden County), and as a board member for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampden County and for the East of the River (ERC5) Chamber of Commerce.

Kristin Leutz

Kristin Leutz

Kristin Leutz, CEO of Valley Venture Mentors (VVM), a nonprofit organization based in Springfield offering mentorship, startup accelerators, and co-working space to build the innovation economy in Western Mass., and 40 Under Forty honoree in 2010.

Previously, she was the director of Development for RefugePoint, an innovative NGO, working to help at-risk refugees by improving humanitarian systems. She also consulted with the global philanthropic membership organization Women Moving Millions, creating strategic communications to catalyze unprecedented resources for women and girls. Before that, she served as vice president for Philanthropic Services at the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts, where she led donor services, professional advisor engagement, fundraising, and communications.

She earned a master’s degree in industrial/organizational psychology from Springfield College, a bachelor’s degree from Colgate University, and her yoga teacher certification from Kripalu.

Julie Quink

Julie Quink

Julie Quink, CPA, CFE, managing principal of the accounting firm Burkhart Pizzanelli, P.C.

A graduate of Elms College with a bachelor’s degree in accounting, Quink joined the firm in 2011. She is involved in the accounting and consulting aspect of the practice and manages engagements of various sizes and complexities. She also performs services relative to forensic and fraud-related engagements.

Quink is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the Mass. Society of Certified Public Accountants, and the Assoc. of Certified Fraud Examiners. She is licensed to practice in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and is a certified fraud examiner.

Active in the community, she serves in a number of boards for the Quaboag Hills Chamber of Commerce, Baystate Wing Hospital, and Square One. She’s also a member of the School Committee of Pathfinder Regional Vocational Technical High School.

Christina Royal

Christina Royal

Christina Royal, president of Holyoke Community College. Royal is the fourth president of Holyoke Community College and the first woman to lead the school since it was founded in 1946.

She holds a Ph.D. in education from Capella University and a master’s degree in educational psychology and a bachelor’s degree in math from Marist College.

She sits on the boards of directors for the United Way of Pioneer Valley, the Mass. Technology Collaborative, and the American Assoc. of Community Colleges’ Commission on College Readiness. 

Before coming to HCC in January 2017, she served as provost and vice president of Academic Affairs at Inver Hills Community College and previously 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 for Marist College, her alma mater. 

Gregory Thomas

Gregory Thomas

Gregory Thomas, executive director and lecturer at the Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship. He works with constituents on campus and throughout the Commonwealth to develop and execute partnerships while also teaching courses in entrepreneurship and innovation.

A 1991 UMass Amherst graduate, Thomas held senior-level global roles in his more than 20 years with Corning Inc. In his last five years at Corning, he was a strategist in the Innovation Group. He is also the immediate past president of the UMass Amherst Alumni Assoc. board.

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