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.
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.