Home Posts tagged May 2024

Tri-State SHRM Conference

May 13-15: The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) announced that the Tri-State SHRM Conference, the largest human-resources (HR) conference in New England, will take place at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn. The conference aims to unmask the changing face of HR by providing HR leaders with the necessary tools to stay ahead of the curve. The multi-day event will feature keynote speakers, educational breakout sessions, interactive games, multiple business networking opportunities, and an expo showcasing the latest HR technology and trends. The conference will cover a variety of topics, including “Building a FOMO Workplace Culture,” “SEAT of Success: How Top Performers Never Settle for Balcony Seats,” and “Beyond Productivity: the Unseen Risks of Employee Stress and Burnout in the Workplace.” There will be 24 sessions available in total, featuring more than 27 speakers. Register online at tristateshrm.com.


Workers’ Compensation Seminar at Royal Law

May 14: Proposed changes in workers’ compensation laws aim to hold employers to a higher standard, as well as increase employers’ potential liability. At a seminar from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. at the Royal Law Firm, these changes and recent legislation regarding workers’ compensation will be discussed in detail to ensure employers are aware of the consequences of not following new practices. Attorney Trevor Brice will discuss the recent changes and potential upheaval in the workers’ compensation world. The firm is located at 33 Elliot St., Springfield. The cost is $30 per person. Registration is required, and seating will be limited. Contact Heather Child at [email protected] to register or with any questions. Checks should be made payable to the Royal Law Firm.


Designer Showhouse at Cassilis Farm

June 1-30: Construct Inc., a nonprofit provider of affordable housing and supportive services to residents in 15 towns across the Southern Berkshires, announced its first Designer Showhouse fundraising exhibition. Slated for the entire month of June, the Designer Showhouse will highlight the elegant, creative work of more than a dozen local and regional designers, as well as landscape architects and visual artists. Each exhibitor has been assigned a space at Cassilis Farm, an iconic, 27-acre, Gilded Age estate that Construct, along with the New Marlborough Housing Development Committee, purchased at auction with the intention of renovating and converting it into 11 much-needed affordable-housing apartments. The Designer Showhouse pays homage to the theme “Nature in the Berkshires” and displays the transformative, custom work of award-winning designers, whose areas of focus range from real-estate staging and interiors to styling and iconic textile design. Room themes range from a swan nursery inspired by a local swan rescue area to a picnic-under-the-stars nod to Tanglewood to an equestrian-heavy library drawing inspiration from the estate’s former existence as a hackney horse-breeding farm. The Showhouse will be a timed, ticketed walk-through and will be open to visitors through five weekends in June. Timed tickets cost $40 per person and can be purchased online only, at constructberkshires.org/construct-designer-showhouse.


Free Shred Days

June 8, 22: bankESB invites customers and members of the community to two free shred days at local offices. Events will be held from 9 to 11 a.m. (or until the truck is full) on the following dates and at locations: Saturday, June 8 at 770 Main St., Agawam; and Saturday, June 22 at 241 Northampton St., Easthampton (two trucks at this event). No appointment is necessary. Local residents can reduce their risk of identity theft by bringing old mail, receipts, statements or bills, canceled checks, pay stubs, medical records, or any other unwanted paper documents containing personal or confidential information and shredding them safely and securely for free. A professional document destruction company will be on site in the bank’s parking lot and can accept up to two boxes of documents per person.


40 Under Forty Gala

June 20: BusinessWest will celebrate the 18th annual 40 Under Forty at the MassMutual Center in Springfield with fine food, music, networking, and the presentation of the class of 2024, profiled in the April 29 issue of BusinessWest and at businesswest.com. The 40 Under Forty sponsors include presenting sponsor PeoplesBank and partner sponsors the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst, Live Nation, Mercedes-Benz of Springfield, and Mercy Medical Center/Trinity Health. The event will also feature the announcement of the 10th annual Alumni Achievement Award, presented by Health New England. Tickets cost $125 each. To reserve tickets, visit businesswest.com/40-under-forty/40underforty.



June 21-23: Registration is now open for Hooplandia, the second annual 3×3 basketball tournament and festival, at www.hooplandia.com. The three-day event includes levels of play for all ages and divisions. Hooplandia launched in 2023. Taking place in the heart of Greater Springfield, the birthplace of basketball, the event is hosted by Eastern States Exposition (ESE) in West Springfield and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield. Most games will be played on the ESE grounds, with special games held at the Hall of Fame. Seventy-five basketball courts will be set up to accommodate more than 650 games played by approximately 2,100 participants of all ages. Divisions of play have been created to provide an all-inclusive environment for players of all ages and playing abilities. The diverse divisions include young girls, boys, women, men, high-school-level, college-level, OGs, veterans, and more. Players are invited to build teams of four, create their own unique team name and uniforms, and register at www.hooplandia.com. Team fees range according to age, and children in the under-8 category are free of charge. Hooplandia will once again partner with Boys and Girls Clubs throughout the region as its designated philanthropic partner, providing $10 from every paid team registration to support the mission and programs of the clubs. Sponsorship opportunities are available. For inquiries, email [email protected].



July 11-14: Tickets are now on sale for Yidstock: the Festival of New Yiddish Music. Now in its 12th year, Yidstock brings the best in klezmer and new Yiddish music to the stage at the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst. Highlights this year will include the Klezmatics, Frank London, Eleanor Reissa, Judy Bressler, Daniel Kahn, and many more. Concert passes are available and include admission to all concerts and the two dance workshops. Individual tickets are also available for purchase for those who can only attend for part of the weekend. This year, livestream concert passes will allow friends from afar to experience Yidstock from the comfort of their homes. These passes only include access to the seven concerts; they do not include access to talks, workshops, or the film screening. Visit yiddishbookcenter.org/yidstock for more information and to purchase tickets.

People on the Move
Doug Anderson

Doug Anderson

David Glidden, president and CEO of Liberty Bank, and the bank’s board of directors jointly announced that Doug Anderson was unanimously elected chairman of the board at its March meeting. The election of Anderson comes after the unexpected passing of longtime Chairman Mark Gingras on March 7. Gingras served as Liberty’s board chairman since 2007 and board member since 2001. Anderson’s role as a Liberty Bank corporator and board member began in April 2018. During that time, he has served on the credit risk, audit, compensation, and governance committees, and most recently as chair of the credit risk committee. He brings decades of diverse leadership experience in banking, finance, management, and operations to the role of chairman. His extensive background includes senior executive roles as president of the former Savings Bank of Manchester (SBM) until 2004 and chairman, president, and CEO of the former Open Solutions. He spent 14 years at Unisys, an international technology company, and served on the board of directors for the former New Alliance Bancshares Inc. Beyond Liberty’s boardroom, Anderson, a graduate of the University of Connecticut, has been a dedicated and generous community partner. This includes his philanthropic support and board service for many organizations and causes, such as the Connecticut Science Center, SBM Charitable Foundation, Manchester Community College Foundation, and Connecticut Foodshare. He also served as chairman of the Liberty Bank Foundation.


UMassFive College Federal Credit Union announced new leadership for its board of directors. Jacqui Watrous has been elected as board chair, Ruth Yanka as board vice chair, and Jeremy Bentley as board secretary. Watrous has served on the UMassFive board of directors for more than seven years, including most recently as board vice chair. She holds a BBA in finance and an MBA from the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst. Now retired, she previously worked at UMass Amherst for more than 30 years, having held a variety of positions in the finance and systems fields, including most recently the role of executive director of Administrative Systems in Finance. Yanka has volunteered on UMassFive’s board for more than 12 years, serving in many capacities, including board member and secretary. She holds a master’s degree in program administration from UMass Amherst and has served on the board of many nonprofit organizations in a variety of positions, from member to treasurer to president. Her work history responsibilities have always included operations, budget, and personnel. She currently holds the role of executive director, A&F Operations in Administration and Finance at UMass Amherst. Bentley first joined the UMassFive board of directors in 2022, having previously served as a volunteer on the credit union’s asset and liability management committee when he moved to the area after completing his Ph.D. in accounting from Cornell University. He currently serves as a research foundation director for the Institute of Management Accountants and in multiple positions with the American Accounting Assoc. He is also the Richard Dieter & Susan Dieter faculty fellow and an associate professor at UMass Amherst, where he teaches financial and managerial accounting and examines how accounting systems change the way people think about and report on their performance. With this transition in board leadership, Robert Harrison ends a decade-long tenure in the role of UMassFive board chair. He will continue serving as a board member of the credit union.


Eunice Bragg

Eunice Bragg

American International College (AIC) announced the appointment of Eunice Bragg as vice president for Institutional Advancement. As an accomplished fundraiser and relationship leader, Bragg brings valuable expertise in building relationships, inspiring team culture, and employing metrics to meet fundraising goals for the institution. In her new position, Bragg will oversee fundraising and stewardship relationship initiatives and will be responsible for strengthening engagement with AIC alumni and community partners. She will play a vital role in the campaign to restore Courniotes Hall, the health-sciences building damaged by fire last summer after a lightning strike. After earning a bachelor’s degree at Taylor University and completing her master’s degree in strategic fundraising and philanthropy at Bay Path University, Bragg served as director of Development at the Discovery Center (now RE-Center) in Hartford, Conn. She then assumed the role of director of Annual Giving at Hampden Hall Country Day School in New Haven, Conn. Returning to her alma mater, she became director of Major and Planned Gifts at Bay Path. She joins AIC from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, where she most recently served as director of Development and Leadership Gifts.


Whittlesey announced that its CEO and managing partner, Drew Andrews, has been included in Forbes’ inaugural “America’s Top 200 CPAs” list. Curated by Forbes’ editorial team, this list features the top CPAs in public practice across the U.S. The rigorous selection process involves independent nominations and recommendations from various CPA societies and associations. Candidates are evaluated on numerous criteria, including certifications and credentials, years of experience, industry specialization, professional achievements, community involvement, thought leadership, diversity of client base, ethical and regulatory compliance, and innovation and technology adoption. Andrews has been leading Whittlesey since 2008 and has significantly influenced its trajectory. He has grown the firm’s revenue to more than triple its original size and expanded its operations to include three offices throughout Connecticut and Massachusetts. His innovative approach has notably advanced the firm’s capabilities and strengthened client relationships. In addition, he serves a select clientele. His dedication extends beyond corporate management to personal mentorship and community involvement. He actively develops talented professionals within the firm, providing guidance and support as a mentor and coach. He is committed to philanthropy and has held prominent leadership positions on boards of several local nonprofit, business, religious, and charitable organizations, contributing significantly to community-enrichment efforts.


Gilbert Nieves

Gilbert Nieves

Community Bank announced that Gilbert Nieves has been promoted to district manager. In his new role, Nieves will oversee strategy and operations for branches in Vermont and Massachusetts, ensuring administration of the bank’s financial goals and objectives, including business development. He will also be responsible for staff training, coaching, and professional development for continued excellence in customer service and operations. With more than two decades of experience in the financial industry, Nieves first joined Community Bank in 2019 as branch manager of the Springfield location. In that role, he oversaw daily office operations, including sales and customer-service activities, to ensure operational efficiency, integrity, and adherence to policies and procedures. Prior to that, he served the Springfield community in other banking and financial roles, including vice president and branch manager at Webster Bank and assistant city treasurer for the city of Springfield. Outside of the office, Nieves is an active member of the community, serving his congregation as a Bible instructor and volunteering at Springfield Public Schools. In addition, he facilitates financial-literacy workshops at the Gándara Center, as well as first-time homebuying seminars at Way Finders. He is also a member of the Springfield Chamber of Commerce and Business Network International’s Springfield chapter. He holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Universidad Metropolitana in San Juan, Puerto Rico.


Fontaine Bros. Inc. announced the addition of Jason Boudreau as project executive and Mark Fulton as senior superintendent. They bring more than 40 years of combined experience working together on complex building projects throughout Western and Central Mass., Connecticut, and beyond, making them a valuable addition to the Fontaine team. Boudreau and Fulton have been working together for more than 20 years. They have successfully delivered work for notable clients such as Amherst College, Baystate Medical Center, Berkshire Medical Center, UMass Amherst, Williams College, and many others, and earned certifications from the American Society for Health Care Engineering and the International Code Council for Tall Mass Timber Buildings.


Rachel Dionne

Rachel Dionne

Polish National Credit Union (PNCU) announced that Rachel Dionne, assistant vice president and credit risk officer, has joined the board of directors of Providence Ministries. PNCU, a full-service community credit union, is committed to meeting community needs and fostering growth. The organization emphasizes community engagement through corporate leadership and volunteerism. Dionne is dedicated to community service. Her volunteer work includes more than a half-decade on the board of trustees for Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter Public School, membership on the school’s finance committee, involvement in a youth ministry group, service on the Southampton Finance Committee, and as an eucharistic minister at Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Church in Westfield. She now adds the Providence Ministries board membership to her list of contributions. With nearly 35 years of experience in accounting and finance, Dionne joined PNCU in 2017. In her role, she analyzes complex commercial financial information, oversees commercial lending policies, and manages loan administration, loan servicing, and credit teams. She is a two-time graduate of American International College (AIC) with degrees in accounting and nonprofit management.


The Center for EcoTechnology (CET), an environmental nonprofit dedicated to advancing just and resilient climate solutions, announced the appointment of Julia Riseman as its inaugural director of Philanthropic Investments. With her experience and commitment to climate-change mitigation, Riseman will help accelerate CET’s growth and impact during this decisive decade for decarbonization. Riseman brings a wealth of expertise in development strategy and relationship building, honed through her years of dedication to causes throughout the U.S. and Canada. Through consulting, she has helped organizations raise more than $350 million through her consulting firm, Riseman Consulting, and during her 14 years at the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, providing consulting services to grant-supported recipients. Prior to becoming a consultant, she was the Development director at the Center School, an independent school in Amherst, and she co-founded two nonprofit organizations, Friends of Northampton Trails and Health in Harmony, an international environmental organization working with local communities to save rainforests in Brazil, Madagascar, and Indonesia. Her strategic vision and commitment to CET’s mission is expected to propel the organization into a new era of expansion and influence. As director of Philanthropic Investments, Riseman will be instrumental in cultivating partnerships, securing funding opportunities, and fostering connections with stakeholders to fund targeted projects and further CET’s impact across a dozen states. Her leadership will play a pivotal role in advancing the organization’s strategic goals and expanding its reach across the country.

Company Notebook

Gateway City Arts Sells Complex to LightHouse Holyoke

HOLYOKE — Gateway City Arts (GCA) announced it has signed a purchase and sale agreement with LightHouse Holyoke for the transfer of the three-building arts complex at 92 Race St. in Holyoke. LightHouse is a competency-based middle and high school for self-directed learning. It first opened in Holyoke in 2015 and began a collaboration with Holyoke Public Schools in 2017, and now has partnerships with six public districts. The move offers a significant opportunity to expand its existing programs. The new facility will feature similar non-traditional learning spaces as those currently existing at LightHouse, presently just down the block at 208 Race St., including a maker space, music studio, and recording studio, which have already been instrumental in nurturing creativity and inspiration among students who may not have previously enjoyed school. Plans for the three-building, 40,000-square-foot facility include a Production Academy integrated into the two on-site performance spaces, the 100-person-capacity Divine Theater, and the much larger 500-person-capacity concert venue, creating scaffolded training and internship opportunities for young people to learn the many skills associated with the entertainment and event-production industry, from lighting and sound to artist management and beyond. Similarly, the café will reopen as a public restaurant, with integrated courses and internships in all aspects of running a café, leading to paid work and future career opportunities. The facility also hosts an 8,000-square-foot maker space that will continue on as a community maker space, complete with a wood shop and ceramic studio, both hosting classes and workspaces for LightHouse students and accessible to the larger community as well.


Community Bank Plans to Expand Branch Presence

DEWITT, N.Y. — Community Bank announced a strategic plan to expand its branch presence in select markets throughout 2024 and 2025, including two new branch locations in the New England region. The new branches will include an additional location in Springfield, as well as the bank’s first physical branch in New Hampshire, having broken into that market with a commercial banking presence in 2023. The bank’s current presence in New England includes 28 branches throughout Vermont and Springfield. This announcement comes as newly appointed President and CEO Dimitar Karaivanov officially steps into his role this year and begins to execute his strategic vision for the bank. As Community Bank expands into promising markets with strong potenial for growth, it is reimagining the customer in-branch experience with clean, modern designs that encourage customer and banker collaboration, local community tie-ins, and staff that can handle a wide array of financial needs. The bank will bring a full suite of consumer, business, and municipal banking products and services, including no-closing-cost mortgage options, business loans and lines of credit, and competitive CD offerings. The move to establish additional branch locations in New England is a substantial investment that will allow the bank to better serve clients and aid in local economic development by creating new jobs, contributing to community efforts, and fostering financial stability. In addition to expanding in New England, Community Bank will continue to grow its branch presence throughout New York’s Western, Central, and Capital regions, as well as throughout Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania.


Summit House Wealth Partners Recognized by Forbes

SOUTH HADLEY — Summit House Wealth Partners, a private wealth-advisory practice with Ameriprise Financial in South Hadley, was named to the list of “Best-in-State Wealth Management Teams” published by Forbes. The list recognizes financial advisors and their teams who have demonstrated high levels of ethical standards, professionalism, and success in the business. The rankings are based on data provided by thousands of the nation’s most productive advisors and their teams. Summit House Wealth Partners was chosen based on assets under management, industry experience, compliance record, and best practices in its practice and approach to working with clients. Summit House Wealth Partners is led by Stephen Duval, CFP. The team also includes financial advisors Ed Boscher, Mike Otto, and Justin Osowiecki, and support staff Debra Whalen, James Lucey, Matthew Mitchell, Patricia Belanger, Jennifer Gray, Morgan Szczygiel, and Nicole Old. They have collectively served the South Hadley community since 1992.


Goodwill Industries Receives Grants for Job Skill Programs

PITTSFIELD — Goodwill Industries of the Berkshires and Southern Vermont announced it has received $8,500 in grants from Berkshire Bank, Greylock Federal Credit Union, and MountainOne Bank to support its Soar for Success employability skills program. The nonprofit social-services organization received an additional $2,500 from Greylock Federal Credit Union toward promotion and other costs associated with its annual meeting in October. Goodwill’s Soar for Success program focuses on job training in custodial skills, customer service, and employability skills guidance for individuals preparing for job interviews, as well as providing interview and work attire. The program is offered free of charge to all Berkshire County residents. Services are provided at Goodwill’s career centers in Pittsfield and North Adams and online. Goodwill sells donated clothes and other household items at a discounted price to aid in funding training and educational programs for individuals seeking employment.


Comcast Delivers Gig Speeds to Xfinity Mobile Customers

PHILADELPHIA — Xfinity Mobile and Comcast Business Mobile devices can now connect to millions of new Xfinity Mobile hotspots and receive internet speeds over WiFi up to 1 gigabit per second. By delivering a faster connection over Xfinity’s WiFi network, Comcast is helping ensure customers can stream, game, chat, download, and surf wherever they are. Today, 90% of the mobile data traffic on Xfinity Mobile devices travels over WiFi, not cellular. With more than 23 million WiFi hotspots giving customers a speed boost, Xfinity Mobile aims to deliver a better experience to support data-intensive applications when traditional cellular networks can’t keep up. Comcast has invested more than $20 billion over the past five years to upgrade and expand the Xfinity network and introduce new, innovative features like WiFi Boost to support the constantly increasing number of connected devices consumers use both inside and outside of the home. For more information or to sign up for Xfinity Mobile, visit an Xfinity store or www.xfinity.com/mobile.


Davis Foundation Supports Irish Cultural Center

WEST SPRINGFIELD — The Irene E. and George A. Davis Foundation awarded the Irish Cultural Center of Western New England (ICCWNE) a $100,000 grant toward its $2 million goal to help create a community performance center at its Morgan Road facility. The grant will support the ICCWNE’s Capstone Campaign. Funds from the Capstone Campaign will be used to complete the community performance center, which will serve the needs of the greater region for concerts, events, meetings, and private functions. It will provide a home for local, regional, national, and international performance groups, making it a full-scale regional base for Irish heritage and culture as well as a center for cross-cultural collaboration. The space will be able to house performances by major Irish cultural groups, such as Dublin’s Abbey Theatre, as well as regional performers of all ages. Formerly the home of the Elks Lodge, the facility had been vacant for five years prior to the ICCWNE taking possession of it through a partnership with the city of West Springfield. Improvements have included developing a vibrant, Irish country-style restaurant, pub, and meeting and gathering place for the community. With 11,500 square feet of space on four floors, the facility has become the ideal home for the Irish Cultural Center, which was established in 1999.


Eastman Donates Monitoring Equipment to Springfield FD

SPRINGFIELD — Eastman, in partnership with Northern Safety, donated vital medical equipment, known as oximeters, to the Springfield Fire Department. This donation marks a significant and continued collaboration between Eastman, a global specialty manufacturing company with a plant in Indian Orchard, and the Springfield Fire Department, in serving the local community. The equipment being donated consists of 17 high-tech, portable oximeters, which are essential for monitoring vital signs in emergency situations. The Fire Department’s need for the oximeters was learned by Eastman at an Eastman Community Action Program gathering of local neighborhood and community officials sponsored regularly by Eastman Indian Orchard. The oximeters are advanced medical devices capable of accurately measuring blood oxygen levels and heart rates, crucial parameters in assessing a patient’s condition during emergencies such as fires, accidents, or medical crises. These Concord models are rechargeable with large digital displays. Seventeen pediatric finger clips are being donated alongside the oximeter units. These can be used to save the lives of children, including infants.



Tenth Local Farmer Awards Help 100 Farms Make Improvements

AGAWAM — Checks of up to $2,500 have been sent to 100 Western Mass. farms that are recipients of this year’s Local Farmer Awards. Supporting a diverse range of farm operations and infrastructure projects, the Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation, in partnership with Big Y and the Massachusetts Society for Promoting Agriculture, along with other funders, issued a record number of awards in the program’s 10th year. A team of independent reviewers read each of the 199 applications submitted this year. These reviewers selected 100 farms to receive a 2024 grant from the Local Farmer Awards. The capital projects include the purchase of an egg-washing machine, livestock pasture expansion, reusable harvest bins, a cover-crop flail mower for reduced tillage, mobile chicken coops, and many more. The program funders collectively contributed more than $230,000 this year to assist these local farmers. Funders include the Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation, Big Y, Massachusetts Society for Promoting Agriculture, PeoplesBank, Ann and Steve Davis, Charles and Elizabeth D’Amour, Barbara Deslauriers, Audrey and Chick Taylor, Andrews, Farm Credit East, Hood, the DeNucci Group at Merrill, Baystate Health, Country Bank, Eastern States Exposition, Three County Fair, bankESB, and Franklin First Federal Credit Union. Anyone interested in supporting the 2025 Local Farmer Awards should email Cari Carpenter, director of the program, at [email protected].