Home Posts tagged Nonprofit Management
40 Under 40 Class of 2018

Youth Counselor and Operations Coordinator, CareerPoint; Age 25; Education: BSW, Westfield State University

Saul Caban

Saul Caban

Caban grew up in a tough section of Holyoke, and early on knew he wanted to be a role model for at-risk youth and others like himself. He is passionate about service and excited to be back working in the Youth Department at CareerPoint, where he continues to deliver intensive counseling to young people in his community, helping them gain awareness of their skills and interests and guiding them on a path to success in the workforce and beyond. The second youngest of six siblings in a first-generation family, Caban was the first to graduate high school, the first to graduate from college, and the first to be admitted to graduate school. He is now working on the completion of an MPA in nonprofit management at Westfield State University.

What did you want to be when you grew up? Growing up, I wanted to be a lawyer, but now I’m still working on my plan to pursue a leadership career in higher education and/or workforce development.

How do you define success? To me, success is when I am performing well and satisfied with my position. It is knowing that my work and efforts are adding value to my company, but also to my overall life and the lives of other people.

What three words best describe you? Outgoing, witty, efficient.

What do you like most about Western Massachusetts? I love the people.

Who has been your best mentor, and why? I’ve had several amazing mentors come into my life, including my current supervisor, Gladys Lebron-Martinez (pictured); Steve Leiblum, former director of the NEARI Jump Start after-school program; and Holyoke legend Steve Dubilo, who left his legacy behind, and I’m proud to have been his ‘son’ for many years before his death. These three have introduced me to amazing people and the resources that I need to be successful in an ever-evolving world.

What goal do you set for yourself at the start of each day? To bring out the best in someone, so that they, in turn, bring out the best in the next person.

What will work colleagues say at your funeral? Saul brought a lot of energy and positive spirit, and he could always be counted on.

What person, past or present, would you like to have lunch with, and why? My mom. Because I don’t get to see her as much as I want to.

40 Under 40 Class of 2018

Director, Annual Giving & Grants, Cooley Dickinson Health Care; Age 33; Education: BS, Westfield State University; UMass Dartmouth

Nathan Bazinet

Nathan Bazinet

Bazinet’s background includes work in healthcare philanthropy, nonprofit management, and small-business operations. He is an active volunteer for the Zoo in Forest Park and Education Center, where he served as interim executive director for the 2017 season, before transitioning into president of the Forest Park Zoological Society, the zoo’s managing board. He also serves as president of his condo association. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with Orion and Aurora (the Zoo’s timber wolves), road trips, running, and Neil Diamond concerts.

What did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to own Jurassic Park, be a government agent (James Bond), and have a side job as an architect. The first two are still life goals.

Who has been your best mentor, and why? Diane Dukette has played the greatest role in helping to define and shape my career path. She is a patient teacher, a model for acting with integrity, and the definition of a strong support system — always reminding me to never change who I am, professionally or personally. Her support as a mentor, and the opportunity to work under her leadership at both Mercy Medical Center and Cooley Dickinson, has been critical to many of my career successes.

What are you passionate about? Giving back. The zoo is my current volunteer priority, and has been for several years. Having the chance to work with an amazing team and board to completely restructure and reinvigorate this Springfield icon was both challenging and incredibly fulfilling. Bonus: who wouldn’t love hanging out with timber wolves on the weekend?

Whom do you look up to, and why? My mom, for teaching me about life, and the importance of wearing sunglasses indoors; Christopher, for showing me safety, trust, and love (never give up); and my best friend, Peter. If I had to embarrass one of them with detail, it’s Peter. He’s a super-smart doctor, an author, and a world-renowned ethicist. More than that, as I’m an only child, he’s the closest I’ve had to a brother for longer than I can remember. Thanks for always having my back (and for putting up with my innumerable shenanigans).

What will work colleagues say at your funeral? Probably my mantra — “every day’s a great day!”



If you haven’t noticed yet (and you probably have, because that special section is where everyone turns first), BusinessWest has changed up the format when it comes to presenting its 40 Under Forty honorees.

In years past, there were short profiles written by staff members, who, by the way, considered that assignment among the most enjoyable within a given year. However, this year, we decided to switch things up and offer a questionnaire of sorts.

Indeed, we gave our honorees a series of questions and informed them they could answer as many as they wanted, so long as they kept to a word count. The questions ranged from what would be considered traditional — “How do you define success?” — to the decidedly not so traditional — “What will work colleagues say at your funeral?”

Almost everyone answered that first one, and very few took a stab at the latter, but that’s not important.

What is important is that this year, those of us at BusinessWest decided to let our honorees do more of the talking — and they certainly did. And by doing so, they’ve given all of us some things to think about.

We’ll get back to that in a minute. First, the class of 2018…

Like those that came before it, this class is diverse in every respect, meaning everything from gender to geography to the fields they’ve chosen. Indeed, virtually every sector is represented by these 40 individuals, including healthcare, financial services, education, nonprofit management, law, retail, and more. And many of them have chosen to work for themselves, not for someone else, something we’re seeing more of in recent years.

And, like most all of the 440 honorees who came before them, the members of the class of 2018 are involved in the community, supporting nonprofits and causes ranging from the Zoo at Forest Park to Link to Libraries to the United Way, and putting their many talents to a different, commendable use while doing so.

Unlike those previous classes, though, these honorees got to tell us a little more about themselves. They had more opportunity to tell us what’s on their minds and about what’s important to them. And, again, they took full advantage of it.

Like when we asked them which actor or actress would portray them on the big screen. People gave nods to Sandra Bullock, Brad Pitt, Paul Rudd, and even Robert Redford. We think — we hope — he meant a much younger Robert Redford, but we digress.

Perhaps the most intriguing question, and the one that generated the most responses, was that one about success and how it is defined. We understand that there is certainly a politically correct way to answer this question, but we believe our honorees were quite sincere when they implied strongly (and we’re paraphrasing here) that success isn’t measured by the number on the paycheck — although that’s part of it.

Instead, our honorees noted, it’s measured by how happy and fulfilled someone is — not by the job they hold, but by the life they’re living.

One honoree actually summoned that old ‘I don’t live to work, I work to live’ line, but the others were saying essentially saying the same thing.

If you read all 40 responses (that will take time, but make some; it’s worth it), you’ll find that many of these individuals count their parents as their best role models and mentors, and consider it their unofficial mission in life to have someone write the same thing about them in 20 or 30 years.

Overall, it’s very refreshing and, as they say in this business, good reading.

If you haven’t done that yet, get to it next.

Company Notebook Departments

Bay Path MS Program in Nonprofit Management Named to Top-10 List

LONGMEADOW — Bay Path University’s master of science (MS) program in Nonprofit Management and Philanthropy has been named to the top 10 in the nation, as ranked by thebestschools.org. The university’s program has been recognized among the top online graduate nonprofit-management programs annually since 2014. This year, Bay Path ranked 10th on the list as one of just two New England colleges to make the cut. According to thebestschools.org, graduate-degree programs in nonprofit management were selected for the ranking based on academic excellence, types of courses offered, faculty strength, rankings, awards, and reputation, including the college’s reputation for effectively providing online degree programs. The MS in Nonprofit Management and Philanthropy at Bay Path University, open to men and women, is offered completely online or on campus, either full-time or part-time.

VVM Appoints Six Executives in Residence

SPRINGFIELD — Valley Venture Mentors (VVM) announced the addition of six new executives in residence (EIRs) who will serve as guest educators and leaders to the 36 startup companies in the 2018 VVM Startup Accelerator program. The program provides intensive training, a network of skilled mentors, and funding that enables startup founders to establish and grow their businesses at a fast pace. EIRs represent experienced industry leaders, creatives, and strategists, as well as social-impact entrepreneurs from around the country. This first-ever group of EIRs will join the VVM staff team in providing day-to-day instruction over the course of four intensive, boot-camp-style weekends from February through May. The program culminates in the 2018 VVM Accelerator Awards at the MassMutual Center on Thursday, May 24. The EIRs include Bethany Martin, principal of B Martin Studio, mentor at Pilotworks, and faculty member at the Pratt Institute; Gustavo Bottan, co-founder and CEO of Opt4America senior mentor at MIT – Sandbox and the MIT CCLP Leadership Program; Joe Bush, executive director for the Worcester CleanTech Incubator; Steven Bellofatto, co-founder of ION Design and former adjunct faculty member at New York University in Manhattan, Department of Design & Digital Arts; Tanya Menendez, co-founder of Maker’s Row, and named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list, People en Espanol’s “Most Powerful Latinas,” Business Insider’s “Coolest People in Tech,” and PopMechanic’s “25 Makers Who Are Reinventing the American Dream”; and Zaza Kabayadondo, director at Smith College for the Design Thinking Initiative and former program advisor at Stanford University’s Learning, Design, and Technology masters’ program.

STCC Biotech Program Wins Gold Level Endorsement

SPRINGFIELD — Graduates of the biotechnology programs at Springfield Technical Community College are well-prepared for careers in the life sciences, according to a leading science-education organization. The Massachusetts Biotechnology Education Foundation (MassBioEd) endorsed STCC’s biotechnology associate degree and certificate programs at the Gold Level. MassBioEd concluded that graduates of the degree and certificate programs “are ready for the life-sciences workforce.” The STCC program met the core competencies defined by biotechnology industry and academic leaders who worked with MassBioEd, a nonprofit organization with a mission to build a life-sciences workforce in the region through educational programs that inspire students and engage teachers. Core competencies required for endorsement include following good laboratory practices, lab techniques, and exhibiting appropriate workplace behaviors, among other requirements.

Berkshire Hills Reports Q4 Operating Results

PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Hills Bancorp Inc. reported that fourth-quarter pre-tax income grew by 82% to $19.5 million in 2017 compared to $10.7 million in the prior year. This improvement was due to business development and the benefit of mergers, including Worcester-based Commerce Bancshares Corp. which was acquired on Oct. 13, 2017. Net income after tax was impacted by an $18 million non-core charge to income-tax expense resulting from federal tax reform enacted near year end. This reform is expected to benefit future earnings due to a lower statutory federal tax rate beginning in 2018. Net income after tax totaled $55 million in 2017 compared to $59 million in 2016. The tax charge noted above reduced fourth-quarter earnings per share by $0.40 and resulted in a fourth-quarter net loss of $0.06 per share in 2017, compared to a profit of $0.32 per share in 2016. Fourth-quarter core earnings per share improved by 4% to $0.58 in 2017, from $0.56 in 2016. The measure of core earnings excludes the above tax charge and also excludes other net non-core charges primarily related to merger costs. These costs in the fourth quarter of 2017 were mostly related to the Commerce acquisition, which increased assets by $1.8 billion, or 19%, to $11.6 billion at year end.

O & P Labs Opens New Prosthetic Center

SPRINGFIELD — O & P Labs announced the grand opening of its Prosthetic Center at 3500 Main St. in Springfield. The local prosthetic company has been serving Western and Central Mass., Northern Conn., and Southern Vermont for more than 30 years. O & P Labs is best known for its local, state-or-the-art fabrication lab, which allows patients to receive fittings, repairs, and adjustments quickly. The 3D printer decreases production time, and digital scanning technology creates highly customized prosthetic sockets.

Main Street Hospitality Sells Elm Street Market

STOCKBRIDGE — Sarah Eustis, CEO of Main Street Hospitality, announced the sale of Elm Street Market to Verson Inc., headed by brothers Rajesh and Rajeev Verma from New Jersey. New management took over operation of the market immediately when the sale was completed last month. The Elm Street Market, previously owned and operated by Main Street Hospitality, has been a local favorite and community staple for more than 20 years. “We stopped at Elm Street Market on our way to visit my son at college and immediately fell in love with the restaurant and Stockbridge,” said Rajesh Verma. “The market is a strong community anchor, and we intend to keep it that way, building on its existing strength and evolving its local food offerings over time.” Verson Inc. is a family-owned business that owns and operates a group of deli and catering shops in New York City. Verma plans to keep the current staff while adding more prepared foods to the menu.

Community Foundation Joins Partnership to Boost Arts, Creativity

SPRINGFIELD — The Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts (CFWM) and the Barr Foundation, a private foundation based in Boston, announced the launch of Creative Commonwealth, a partnership between Barr, CFWM, and four other Massachusetts community foundations. This new initiative is rooted in the belief that investments in arts and creativity build thriving communities, and it aims to promote the vital leadership role community foundations can play to advance the arts. Creative Commonwealth will pave the way for community foundations to deepen and grow support for artists and cultural organizations. Along with CFWM, the community foundations partnering with Barr on this effort are the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, the Community Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts, the Essex County Community Foundation, and the Greater Worcester Community Foundation. The Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts has been awarded $500,000 over 24 months to pilot ideas that emerged from a planning process the foundation undertook in 2017, with funding from Barr to identify opportunities, needs, and priorities. CFWM efforts will focus on testing innovative ideas to connect arts to other sectors, providing training to build the capacity of small organizations and assessing the need for a regional arts hub to advance collaborative opportunities.

River Valley Counseling Opens Easthampton Office

EASTHAMPTON — River Valley Counseling Center opened a new office location in Liberty Commons at 2 Mechanic St, Easthampton. The new office offers behavioral-health services for individuals and families. This new location follows five months after River Valley Counseling Center began offering school-based services within all of the Easthampton Schools. School-based therapy is outpatient therapy; however, these services are coordinated with the school to provide easy access to appointments for students and families and to assist with school-related problems as needed. Services available at the Easthampton location include individual, couples, family, and group psychotherapy for adults, adolescents, and children. Clinicians help the client, couple, or family identify the concerns or issues that will become the focus of treatment. Both the client and clinician work together to determine the most effective treatment needed. The frequency and duration of counseling sessions is determined based on individualized treatment plans. For additional information or to schedule an appointment with River Valley Counseling Center, call (413) 540-1234.

Monson Savings Announces Public’s Choices for Giving

MONSON — For the eighth year in a row, Monson Savings Bank asked the community to help plan the bank’s community giving activities by inviting people to vote for the organizations they would like the bank to support during 2018. The top vote getter was Boy Scouts of Western Massachusetts, followed, in order of votes, by Wilbraham United Players, Shriners Hospitals for Children, Scantic Valley YMCA, River East School-to-Career, Link to Libraries, Rick’s Place, Academy Hill School, Behavioral Health Network at Valley Human Resources, and Monson Free Library.

Daily News

LONGMEADOW — Bay Path University’s master of science (MS) program in Nonprofit Management and Philanthropy has been named to the top 10 in the nation, as ranked by thebestschools.org.

The university’s program has been recognized among the top online graduate nonprofit-management programs annually since 2014. This year, Bay Path ranked 10th on the list as one of just two New England colleges to make the cut. The program has also been rated as one of the top-10 most affordable online master’s degree programs in nonprofit management in the U.S., according to affordablecolleges.com.

“We are proud to be recognized among the leading national programs for nonprofit management — an honor that affirms feedback we’ve received from our students year after year praising its flexible, online format and personalized instruction,” said Sylvia de Haas-Phillips, the program’s director and assistant professor. “Our MS in Nonprofit Management and Philanthropy is focused on developing emerging leaders in the field. An approach that takes theory to practice, coupled with applied learning opportunities, continues to result in nonprofit professionals prepared for the challenges and opportunities present in today’s nonprofit sector.”

According to thebestschools.org, graduate-degree programs in nonprofit management were selected for the ranking based on academic excellence, types of courses offered, faculty strength, rankings, awards, and reputation, including the college’s reputation for effectively providing online degree programs.

The MS in Nonprofit Management and Philanthropy at Bay Path University, open to men and women, is offered completely online or on campus, either full-time or part-time.


Impact Hire

Jim Ayres

Jim Ayres

Jim Ayres, who took the helm at the United Way of Pioneer Valley this past spring, arrived knowing he would be leading the organization through a time of significant change and challenge. His elaborate to-do list includes efforts to increase efficiency, do a better job of telling the United Way’s story to the younger people who probably don’t know it, and continuing the work of building coalitions to take on the many issues confronting the region’s communities and families.

There’s an old map hanging on the wall just inside the door to Jim Ayres’ office within the United Way of Pioneer Valley’s suite at the TD Bank building.

One of many he owns, it depicts Hampden and Hampshire counties and the areas just outside them, which means it covers the territories served by his last two employers — the United Way of Hampshire County was the other.

There’s no visible date on the map, but there are plenty of clues as to how old it may be. For starters, Dana, one of four towns disincorporated in 1938 to make way for the Quabbin Reservoir, is on the map. (Greenwich, Prescott, and Enfield were the others). Also, Holyoke takes what’s known to some as its ‘old’ shape, meaning the one before the area in Northampton known as Smith’s Ferry (that finger-shaped sliver of land so recognizable on today’s maps) became part of the city in 1909.

The map drives home the point that changes to the region’s landscape came about slowly, over several decades.

And that is in sharp contrast, in most respects, to the changes in the landscape for the United Way as a whole, the two that serve the region on the map, and the one based in Springfield in particular.

Indeed, that suite of offices downtown is roughly half the size it was just a few years ago (the Springfield Symphony Orchestra now occupies the other half), and the group working there is also about half the size it was not long ago. And most importantly, its annual fund — the amount it puts to work in the communities it serves — is about half as big (roughly $2 million) as it was.

A decision by MassMutual to no longer run a traditional United Way campaign and instead contribute to groups serving the community through its own foundation played a huge role in those developments, but other factors have contributed as well.

These include everything from changes in the demographic breakdown of the region’s business community (there are far fewer large employers now) to changes in how businesses of all sizes give back to the community — there’s more direct giving now, and also a host of new vehicles such as Valley Gives Day and individual foundations like the one at MassMutual.

“United Ways are in a place where technology, giving practices, and general educational changes have all changed the work that we need to do,” Ayres explained. “And while for a long period of time United Way was a household name and people widely understood what United Ways did, a lot of that has changed.

“There are a lot of other options now for people to give to support organizations in their community,” he went on. “It really behooves our organization to make the case as clearly as possible about what we do and the benefits of giving through this particular option.”

All this adds up to a serious, complicated, even painful period of adjustment that is very much ongoing, said Ayres, who last spring took on the job of leading those efforts for the UWPV.

He did so for a number of reasons, including the fact that he isn’t daunted by stern challenges; in fact, he’s always embraced them. Also, though, he believes he possesses the proper skill set for the multi-faceted task at hand, including the ability to build coalitions, strong communication skills — both within an organization and externally as well — and even achieving success in a region dominated by small (make that very small) businesses, Hampshire County. He also has an MBA, one focused on nonprofit management, and another degree in international relations focused on migration issues.

There are a lot of other options now for people to give to support organizations in their community. It really behooves our organization to make the case as clearly as possible about what we do and the benefits of giving through this particular option.”

“My career in Western Mass. has been about bringing people together in communities to make communities a better place to live and a better place for kids to grow up,” he explained.

Ayres said this adjustment period for the UWPV involves a number of initiatives, from work to become leaner and more efficient to efforts to better tell the agency’s story and relate its still-substantial role in bettering life for residents of area communities, to initiatives that go well beyond merely writing checks.

For this issue, BusinessWest talked at length with Ayres about his new assignment with the United Way of Pioneer Valley, and also about the changing landscape for the United Way and philanthropy in general, and how organizations like the one he now leads must adjust to those changes.

Change Agent

As noted earlier, Ayres brings a diverse skill set to his current role, one amassed through nearly 30 years of work in education and nonprofit management, realms he says have more similarities than most would believe.

A graduate of Hampshire College, where he concentrated in “political and social issues in education,” he started his career in Boston’s Chinatown and surrounding neighborhoods as co-director and lead classroom teacher for the Boston Catholic Chinese Community Children’s Program.

After relocating to Western Mass., he went to work for the Springfield Public Schools, specifically as education summit coordinator and ‘community involvement coordinator.’ In that role, he said, he built effective coalitions between the school system and community stakeholder groups, including neighborhood associations, human-services providers, parent groups, communities of color, and private industry.

From there, he went to work for the Hampshire County Action Commission, serving as project director of the Hampshire County Family Network. In that role, he developed and administered a multi-agency collaborative that provided comprehensive services for families and children. Later, he became executive director of the Northampton-based Center for New Americans, a regional education, advocacy, and resource center for immigrants and refugees in Western Mass.


His career with the United Way began in 2011, when he became CEO and executive director of the Hampshire County agency. During his tenure there, he was credited with energizing the organization and expanding the donor base, funding diversity, and overall revenue at a time when most United Ways were going in the other direction.

“I had worked in individual organizations, but had been very interested in addressing challenges from a strategic level and from a macro level,” he noted while explaining why he joined the national organization. “And United Ways are organizations very well-suited to do that; we have relationships with the nonprofit service community, and we have relationships throughout the business community and with individuals as well. And United Ways are uniquely positioned to pull those assets together to make a difference, so I was excited to join the United Way and do that work.”

His track record of success in Hampshire County certainly caught the attention of UWPV’s board as it went about the task of finding a successor to the retiring Dora Robinson, and Ayres came on board late last spring.

Since then, he’s been focused on what he called “structural changes,” a broad term used to describe efforts to enable the agency to operate as efficiently as possible while still carrying out its multi-dimensional mission, shore up relationships with existing businesses, and develop ways to recover the donations lost from MassMutual’s decision.

At the same time, he and the agency continue to proactively adjust to that changing landscape described earlier, he said, adding that both assignments obviously constitute work in progress.

As he talked about the assignment he’s assumed — and the situation facing all United Ways across the country — Ayers said the challenges come on many levels, including one that Baby Boomers probably couldn’t fathom — name recognition and awareness.

Indeed, while those who grew up decades ago are well-versed when it comes to the United Way name, mission, and even some of the controversies that have enveloped the agency over the years, Millennials are far less familiar with the organization — and the concept.

“We’re finding more and more young people we approach either in the workplace or in the community who are very open to the idea to the idea of supporting the United Way, but haven’t necessarily heard of it before,” he said. “Or, if they have heard of it, they aren’t necessarily familiar with what it is that the United Way was created to do. So introducing ourselves, or re-introducing ourselves, is very important.”

And in that respect, the United Way has dropped the ball, or at least taken its eye off it, he went on, adding that, in many ways, it failed to realize these generational differences.

“A lot of United Ways didn’t recognize the degree to which generational changes were going to impact our work and have wound up playing catch-up,” he explained, adding that this was a challenge to most all United Ways, including the UWPV.

Forward Progress

Another challenge, obviously, is to maintain the ability to stand out amid the many other ways that individuals and businesses can contribute to nonprofits and causes.

“The history of United Way, and a piece of where we see our impact, is allowing people to give easily through payroll deduction — giving where they work,” he told BusinessWest. “And giving with the trust to know that the dollars they give will have a long and lasting impact. Part of the power of United Ways come from our ability to aggregate those gifts; so, even though roughly 40% of the gifts we receive are from people giving between $1 and $4 per paycheck, we’re able to aggregate those into significant-size grants that really change the capacity of the organizations we work with.”

A lot of United Ways didn’t recognize the degree to which generational changes were going to impact our work and have wound up playing catch-up.”

Overall, the United Way and individual chapters like the UWPV have to do a better job of telling their story, said Ayres, adding that this is just one of the subjects discussed at the regular gatherings of United Way officials.

Part of this ‘telling the story better’ involves making it clear the many ways in which this is still your father’s, or your mother’s, United Way, but one that nonetheless has changed with the times. And these discussions focus on everything from a more results-driven approach to the agency’s giving to the ways it goes beyond awarding grants, to its ongoing ability to bring groups together to tackle larger problems that require such coalition-building efforts.

And Ayres had specific thoughts on all of the above, starting with the coalition-building work, which, he said, is essentially the essence of the United Way.

“This organization is based on the idea that, to create a meaningful and lasting impact in our community, very few of us have the resources, the time, or the volunteer hours to do that on our own,” he said. “But if our businesses, our employees, and our neighbors are able to come together and work on challenging problems together, we’re able to have a much stronger impact than we would alone.”

And this operating philosophy is being put to work, and to the test, with efforts to assist those who have left hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico for communities in Western Mass.

“Many of the funders in Hampden County have been asking the question, ‘what can we do to support those individuals, and what can we do help the organizations that are going to helping those displaced people coming in, and what can we do to shore up the core functions that those organizations already provide so they don’t have to pivot away from their core services?’” he said. “So United Way convened a core group of eight or nine foundations and funding organizations to look at how we can use our dollars collaboratively.”

A fund has been established by the United Way to provide grants to the welcome centers that are assisting those displaced by the hurricane, he went on, adding that this is just one example of the agency’s coalition-building powers, and also an example of how it can and does go well beyond the traditional payroll-deduction method of raising funds for specific causes.

“This was a case of philanthropic organizations putting our heads together and saying, ‘how can we be stronger?’” he went on, adding that, moving forward, the United Way will playing even more of a convening role, as he called it, because this is one of its greatest strengths.

Mapping Out a Course

Getting back to that map on Ayres’ wall, it does a good job of driving home the point that time doesn’t stand still.

Dana, Prescott, Greenwich, and Enfield were erased from the map almost 70 years ago. And the Smith’s Ferry area has played a huge role in Holyoke’s history.

Time doesn’t stand still for the United Way, either. Thus, it is incumbent upon the organization to change with those times in order to be relevant and continue to carry out its important work.

It doesn’t say as much on Ayres’ job description, but that’s essentially what he was hired to do.

And he believes he’s in the right place at the right time.

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

Education Sections

A New Chapter

Laurie Flynn says her new role with Link to Libraries enables her to make her passions — reading and children’s literature — her profession.

Laurie Flynn says her new role with Link to Libraries enables her to make her passions — reading and children’s literature — her profession.

Laurie Flynn says it’s not often that one gets to make their passion their profession.

And it was the opportunity to do just that which prompted her to put aside a budding marketing business she co-founded a few years ago and become president and CEO of Link to Libraries (LTL), the decade-old nonprofit that, as the name suggests, puts books on the shelves of school libraries and other agencies and promotes childhood literacy on many levels.

“It just seemed like this serendipitous, perfect opportunity to bring together what I’ve learned professionally and my personal passion for children’s literature, and also for reading and writing,” said Flynn, who has made LTL only the latest example of making her passion her work.

Indeed, Flynn, who returned to college (Simmons College in Boston, to be more specific) in 2011 to earn a master’s degree in writing for children, has long been a children’s book reviewer for Kirkus Reviews, handling middle-grade and young-adult books across all genres. And for nearly two years, she was the Western Mass. regional coordinator for Reach Out and Read, a nonprofit that works to incorporate books into pediatric care and encourage families to read aloud together.

Desiring to take her work with literacy and children’s literature to a still-higher level, Flynn assumes many of the responsibilities carried out by Susan Jaye-Kaplan, co-founder of LTL, as it’s called, along with Janet Crimmons, in 2007. Jaye-Kaplan told BusinessWest she will remain quite active with the organization, as a board member, fund-raiser, and volunteer, among other roles, but acknowledged that, as LTL continues to grow, geographically and otherwise, it was time for the nonprofit to hire a paid, full-time president.

LTL’s warehouse at Rediker Software is crammed with books bound for area schools and nonprofits.

LTL’s warehouse at Rediker Software is crammed with books bound for area schools and nonprofits.

“This was a very necessary step to continue growing Link to Libraries and broadening its impact,” she said of the decision to hire a director. “We were at a crossroads, growth-wise, and this was the direction we needed to take.”

Flynn, who moved into LTL’s donated office space at Rediker Software in Hampden in late September, told BusinessWest that her first few months will be spent “learning the territory,” a phrase with multiple meanings.

First, there is the actual physical territory, meaning the dozens of schools and nonprofits across Western Mass. and Northern Conn. that LTL serves; she’s already visited several, and more trips are scheduled. There is also LTL’s operating structure, complete with a network of hundreds of volunteers handing assignments ranging from reading in the classroom to packing books bound for area schools.

And there’s still more to that word ‘territory,’ including everything from the art and science of selecting the books that will be distributed to soliciting new sponsors for LTL’s hugely successful Business Book Link program, which recruits businesses large and small to sponsor individual schools.

Actually, Flynn was already familiar with much of this territory through her work reviewing books, with Reach Out Read, and also work as an LTL volunteer. Indeed, she was, and would like to go on being, a volunteer reader at Homer Street School in Springfield.

But she acknowledges that she has much to learn, and is eager to get on with doing so.

For this issue and its focus on education, BusinessWest talked with Flynn about her new role and her decision to turn her passion for books and childhood literacy into her new business card.

Turning the Page

Flynn brings an intriguing résumé to her role with LTL, one that includes time working in both Parliament and the U.S. Capitol.

The former was a relatively short stint — an internship undertaken while she was enrolled at the London School of Economics in 1993. The latter was much more involved, covering the first half-dozen years of her professional career.

A Washington, D.C. native, Flynn started working as deputy press secretary for U.S. Sen. Judd Gregg (R-New Hampshire) in January 1995, and a year later became his press secretary, serving in that role until 1998, when she became communications manager in the office of the Secretary of the Senate.

In that role, and also as a staff assistant handling special projects and communications in the office of the Clerk of the House, she was heavily involved with press inquiries and other aspects of construction of the $621 million U.S. Capitol Visitor Center (CVC), a large underground addition to the Capitol complex that opened in 2008.

After relocating to Western Mass., she became an independent communications consultant, specializing in event planning and execution, product launches, and writing of documents related to corporate marketing and mission.

And after spending two years with Reach Out and Read, she co-founded Red Mantel Communications (her partner had a red mantel in her home, where the two would often brainstorm), which specialized in media and public relations, event planning, and other communications-related work.

“I was fortunate enough, since it was our own company, to focus on communications work I really wanted to do,” she explained. “Much of it had to do with nonprofits and with helping corporations focus their philanthropic giving as a way to generate good press for not only the business, but also the organization; we really tried to focus on local agencies when we could to help raise their visibility.”

Among her clients was Balise Motor Sales, which had already forged a unique relationship with Homer Street School — the late Mike Balise, a principal with the company, purchased winter coats for students there — and took it to a higher level by adopting the school through LTL’s Business Book Link program.

Flynn, who read to fourth-graders at Homer Street, said she was content in her work with Red Mantel, but when she heard that LTL was going to commence a search for its first full-time paid director, she became intrigued.

But first, she needed convincing that Jaye-Kaplan, the energetic face of the nonprofit, was really going to take at least a small step back in her role as leader of the agency.


“I couldn’t imagine her actually stepping away — I thought she would change her mind, which would have been fine,” Flynn said. “But she was firm — she was going to step back.”

The position attracted a number of applicants, most of them with backgrounds in education, nonprofit management, or both, and Flynn eventually prevailed in a search process that ended in early September.

Looking ahead, Flynn said her informal job description is to build on LTL’s solid foundation and advance its work to not only put books on library shelves and in students’ hands, but to encourage young people to read and impress upon them the importance of doing so to attain jobs and careers.

“I just have a deep love and appreciation for the importance of reading in kids’ lives,” she told BusinessWest, adding that the Business Book Link program is an important part of this mission.

And not simply because the businesses donate money to purchase books for the schools they’re sponsoring. A perhaps even bigger component is how those businesses become involved with the schools — by reading to students, but also funding field trips and other initiatives — and having their employees visit the classrooms and become role models of sorts.

“That community involvement, and getting representatives of the business world to come into the classroom and take the time to sit down with those kids … that’s just so important and so unique,” Flynn explained.

Overall, she said would like to see the organization broaden its work and its mission in some important ways, but without ever straying from its reason for being.

“I’d like to see Link to Libraries grow as a resource — a source of literacy information and a way to connect teachers with books,” she explained. “I’d love to see us expand that way and create a new niche, as a children’s literacy resource.”

Meanwhile, she would like to use books and reading as a way to help young people “find their own voice.”

“By sharing a love of reading and stories,” she told BusinessWest, maybe we can inspire kids to write their own.”

As she contemplates how to do that, Flynn said the region’s many noted children’s authors, including Jane Yolin, Holly Black, Richard Michelson, and others, could play a role in such work.

“These authors could become a resource for teachers and educators in our community, offering them new and interesting ways to approach reading to kids to make it interesting and relevant.”

Book Smart

As LTL celebrates 10 years of carrying out its unique mission, this is an appropriate time to pause and reflect, said Flynn, adding that the milestone, and her arrival as the first paid director, are turning points for the organization.

Together, they symbolize the beginning of a new chapter in the history of the agency. And while the specific plotline of this chapter isn’t known yet, the story is likely to be one of continued growth and deeper impact within the community.

As for Flynn, she is excited to be helping to script this chapter. That’s to be expected when your passion becomes your life’s work.

—George O’Brien

Daily News

LONGMEADOW — Bay Path University, partnering with the Human Service Forum, will host a free conference and workshop, “Hot Topics: Meeting Your Mission Through Integrated Communications Strategies,” for area nonprofit management and leadership on
Friday, June 9.

The session is being presented by Bay Path’s MS in Nonprofit Management and Philanthropy and MS in Strategic Fundraising programs and will begin at 7:30 a.m. at the Blake Student Center, where Amy Sample Ward, CEO of the Oregon-based Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN), will present to attendees.

The morning session and presentation by Ward will be followed by a hands-on workshop at Wright Hall that will provide building blocks for area nonprofit professionals. The program, “Community-Driven Communications,” will outline community-driven communication strategies, including the use of social media, and provide templates and plans attendees can complete and implement with their organizations.

According to Sylvia de Haas-Phillips, director and assistant professor of the MS in Nonprofit Management and Philanthropy and MS in Strategic Fundraising programs, the event will help nonprofits more effectively use digital, social, and mobile technologies in engaging supporters and in collaborating with other community organizations.

Full participation in the breakfast presentation and afternoon workshop earns CFRE points towards certification or recertification. Those interested can register by clicking here.

Ward is a speaker and author; her latest book is Social Change Anytime Everywhere: How to Implement Online Multichannel Strategies to Spark Advocacy, Raise Money, and Engage Your Community. In addition to serving as CEO of NTEN, she is dedicated to educating and supporting organizations nationwide in using integrated communications strategies to create meaningful engagement, helping nonprofits make lasting change in their communities.

The Human Service Forum is an association of nonprofit and public agencies in the Pioneer Valley providing trainings, roundtable networking opportunities, and advocacy for its members.
An economic-impact report published by the Human Service Forum indicated that more than 50,000 people are employed at more than 1,000 nonprofits in the Pioneer Valley.

According to de Haas-Phillips, “nonprofits in the region represent a significant sector both economically and in terms of the services they provide to improve the quality of living in the Pioneer Valley. Providing a no-cost forum to nonprofits to help their managers better utilize traditional, social, and other communication strategies in realizing their missions is an important community service for Bay Path.”

Bay Path inaugurated the Nonprofit Management program in 2007 in response to the growth of the nonprofit sector in the local economy.

“The pace of change in the digital world and in the nonprofit sector today has created an environment where many nonprofit staff are overwhelmed with options and often choose not to adopt new tools or test new strategies,” Ward said. “This conference is designed to help nonprofit professionals understand better the role technology already does play in their work and identify opportunities that are right for their organization.”

Briefcase Departments

Leadership Pioneer Valley Campaign Kicks Off

SPRINGFIELD — Leadership Pioneer Valley’s leadership campaign committee gathered last week to announce outreach efforts for LPV’s class of 2018. The committee includes emerging leaders in education, banking, insurance, healthcare, local government, and nonprofit management. In small teams, they plan to connect with employers, community leaders, and prospective class participants throughout the region. They’ll work through June to identify the most promising applicants. Only 40 spots are available for the class of 2018, which begins in September. LPV’s 10-month regional leadership-development program engages the Pioneer Valley’s up-and-coming emerging leaders through learning and exploration. Participants are trained in leadership skills by experts in a classroom setting. They also attend in-depth field experiences across the region, where they meet with local leaders and explore the region’s economy and culture. Applied leadership experience is developed through work on projects for local nonprofits and government agencies. To date, more than 200 individuals representing more than 90 companies, organizations, and municipalities have participated. “Leadership Pioneer Valley made me a better collaborator, and it’s exciting to revisit that skill in partnership with other alums as we seek out new LPV participants who can help the Pioneer Valley succeed,” said Pat Gagnon of Baystate Health and LPV’s class of 2015. The campaign committee will seek out individuals in all sectors and focus on recruiting those committed to growing their personal, professional, and civic leadership. Applicants will be considered in a competitive application process that prioritizes diversity by employment sector, geography, race, gender, and sexual orientation. Emerging leaders, mid-career professionals with leadership potential, and those looking to better the Pioneer Valley should consider applying. Now entering its seventh class cycle, LPV alumni are leading in many ways throughout the region. Graduates are receiving promotions, growing businesses, running for elected office, and governing nonprofit boards. Together, the group represents a regionally unique leadership network reaching into every community. The deadline for LPV class of 2018 applications is July 3. Applications and further information can be found at www.leadershippv.org.

Unemployment Up in February

BOSTON — Local unemployment rates increased in 22 labor-market areas, remained the same in one area, and dropped in one area in the state during the month of February, the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development reported. Compared to February 2016, the rates were down in 23 areas and remained the same in one area. Six of the 15 areas for which job estimates are published recorded seasonal job gains in February. Gains occurred in the Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Springfield, Worcester, Peabody-Salem-Beverly, Brockton-Bridgewater-Easton, and New Bedford areas. From February 2016 to February 2017, 13 of the 15 areas added jobs, with the largest percentage gains in the New Bedford, Barnstable, Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Taunton-Middleborough-Norton, and Lowell-Billerica-Chelmsford areas. In order to compare the statewide rate to local unemployment rates, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the statewide unadjusted unemployment rate for February was 4.2%. Last week, the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development reported the statewide seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased to 3.4% in the month of February. The statewide seasonally adjusted jobs estimate showed a 10,100-job gain in February, and an over-the-year gain of 57,700 jobs.

Speaker Sisterhood Adds Two Public-speaking Clubs

NORTHAMPTON — The Speaker Sisterhood, a network of public-speaking clubs for women with clubs in Springfield, Amherst, Northampton, and South Hadley, is adding two new clubs, one in Greenfield and a second Northampton club, for women who want to become more confident speakers. Both new clubs scheduled open houses. The Northampton open house was held on April 6 at Click Workspace at 9 1/2 Market St., and was be led by Cathy McNally, a corporate communication trainer with a background in stand-up and improv comedy. The Greenfield open house will take place on Tuesday, April 18 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at 170 Main St., and will be led by documentarian and communication coach Carlyn Saltman, innovator of the coaching method known as Video Mirror Feedback. Angela Lussier, CEO of Speaker Sisterhood, says that the mission of the clubs is to provide a community for “women who want to increase confidence, boost public-speaking skills, have fun, and maybe even change the world.” Lussier, a well-known public speaker and author of three books, added that “each Speaker Sisterhood club is more than just a place to practice speaking in front of a group. It’s a tribe of women who are supporting and empowering each other to follow their dreams by building confidence in their voice.” According to McNally, who is also the Speaker Sisterhood program development director, the program uses interactive activities, humor, and other tools that engage women at all skill levels. “We draw on fun exercises from the comedy world to make sure women have a blast at our meetings. At our open houses, guests can get a sense right away of the lively and supportive atmosphere we create together.” According to Saltman, women can attend two club meetings for free before deciding to join. “We want to give every woman who visits a chance to see if the club is a good match for them.” Saltman said the group covers the topics that meet the needs of most public speakers: storytelling, persuasion, humor, body language, and thinking on one’s feet. “Women are a powerful force in our world, and we want to bring them together to help them better articulate their ideas, stories, and views. We believe that is exactly what the world needs right now,” said Lussier of the Speaker Sisterhood, which formed in 2016, has several clubs in Western Mass., and is expected to expand nationwide in 2017.

Single-family Home Sales Down in February

SPRINGFIELD — Single-family home sales were down 23.3% in the Pioneer Valley in February compared to the same time last year, while the median price was up 3.2% to $180,000, according to the Realtor Assoc. of Pioneer Valley. In Franklin County, sales were down 31.3%, while the median price fell 25.4% from a year earlier. In Hampden County, sales were down 21.9%, while the median price was up 3.8%. And in Hampshire County, sales fell 13.0% from February 2016, while the median price was down 4.7%.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Leadership Pioneer Valley’s leadership campaign committee gathered last week to announce outreach efforts for LPV’s class of 2018. The committee includes emerging leaders in education, banking, insurance, healthcare, local government, and nonprofit management. In small teams, they plan to connect with employers, community leaders, and prospective class participants throughout the region. They’ll work through June to identify the most promising applicants. Only 40 spots are available for the class of 2018, which begins in September.

LPV’s 10-month regional leadership-development program engages the Pioneer Valley’s up-and-coming emerging leaders through learning and exploration. Participants are trained in leadership skills by experts in a classroom setting. They also attend in-depth field experiences across the region, where they meet with local leaders and explore the region’s economy and culture. Applied leadership experience is developed through work on projects for local nonprofits and government agencies. To date, more than 200 individuals representing more than 90 companies, organizations, and municipalities have participated.

“Leadership Pioneer Valley made me a better collaborator, and it’s exciting to revisit that skill in partnership with other alums as we seek out new LPV participants who can help the Pioneer Valley succeed,” said Pat Gagnon of Baystate Health and LPV’s class of 2015.

The campaign committee will seek out individuals in all sectors and focus on recruiting those committed to growing their personal, professional, and civic leadership. Applicants will be considered in a competitive application process that prioritizes diversity by employment sector, geography, race, gender, and sexual orientation. Emerging leaders, mid-career professionals with leadership potential, and those looking to better the Pioneer Valley should consider applying.

Now entering its seventh class cycle, LPV alumni are leading in many ways throughout the region. Graduates are receiving promotions, growing businesses, running for elected office, and governing nonprofit boards. Together, the group represents a regionally unique leadership network reaching into every community.

The deadline for LPV class of 2018 applications is July 3. Applications and further information can be found at www.leadershippv.org.

Departments People on the Move

Local news hires, promotions, awards, and appointments February 6, 2017


Barb Chalfonte

Barb Chalfonte

Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) announced the promotion of Barb Chalfonte to serve in the newly created role of Vice President of Institutional Effectiveness. The creation of the new position elevates Institutional Effectiveness (IE) and underscores the importance of seeking to enhance the college’s processes and promote student success, said STCC President John Cook. With Chalfonte at the helm, IE will become its own division and have a broader reach. Previously, Institutional Effectiveness had been nested under Academic Affairs. Chalfonte, who came to STCC in 2010, had served as dean of Institutional Effectiveness and senior research analyst. In her new role, Chalfonte will report directly to Cook and serve as part of his cabinet. Created in 2012, Institutional Effectiveness helps sustain and improve the teaching and learning environment through ongoing data and research-based planning, assessment, and improvement processes. The work of this division going forward will be to facilitate and promote planning and analysis throughout the college. “We collaborate with diverse groups to review the college’s mission, goals, and outcomes and demonstrate the achievements of our faculty, staff, and students,” Chalfonte said. Often colleges have several offices charged with enhancing pedagogy, institutional research, enrollment analysis, and assessment. STCC, however, is one of only a few community colleges in the Northeast that integrates this work into a single entity. Bringing these offices under one umbrella fosters collaboration toward the mission of supporting students as they transform their lives. The Institutional Effectiveness department includes the offices of Assessment, Institutional Research, and Professional Development. The department also supports strategic planning, process improvement, enrollment reporting, and New England Assoc. of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) accreditation activities and reporting, and convenes the Student Success Council. Since 2012, the IE department has helped to obtain more than $2.7 million in funding, including a $650,000 state grant for assessment-related work and a state-funded convening grant to explore initiatives and research related to Hispanic-serving institutions. IE was part of a group that crafted a $2.1 million Title III grant that supports pedagogy- and cultural-competency-related professional development. Members of the IE team contributed to the $3.4 million HSI-STEM grant that the college received last year to help Hispanic and low-income students obtain degrees in science, technology, engineering, and math. Chalfonte brings a background in science and learning research to the position. She earned a doctorate from Princeton University in cognitive psychology and a bachelor’s degree from Williams College in psychology. She is an adjunct faculty member in the Psychology Department at Westfield State University. After receiving her Ph.D., she taught in the Psychology Department at Mount Holyoke College and worked as a researcher at the National Priorities Project in Northampton before joining STCC. She served as data coach for Achieving the Dream, an initiative that champions institutional improvement and student success. Part of her work was to help community colleges close race/ethnicity- and income-based achievement gaps.


Matthew Sosik, president and CEO of bankESB, announced the promotion of three individuals:

Maryann Geiger was promoted to Senior Vice President and Director of Operations. She joined the bank in 2002 as Deposit Operations supervisor and in 2003 was promoted to Deposit Operations officer. She was promoted to assistant vice president, Deposit Operations in 2006 and was promoted to vice president, Deposit Operations in 2013. Geiger is responsible for implementing strategic initiatives and management of customer service and operations of the bank’s call center, electronic banking channels, ATM network, and processing of deposit products and services. She is also responsible for Bank Secrecy Act and fraud management. She has more than 36 years of banking experience and graduated from the New England School of Financial Studies. She is a volunteer for Highland Valley Elderly Money Management Services;

Michael Fitzgerald was promoted to Assistant Vice President, senior IT officer; He started with the bank in 2004 as a systems administrator and was promoted to IT manager in 2011. In 2014, he was promoted to IT officer and then to senior IT officer in 2015. He graduated from the Graduate School of Banking’s Bank Technology Management School in 2013. He is a volunteer for Junior Achievement of Western Mass. and participates with his family running Toys for Tots fund-raisers and collecting jars of peanut butter and jelly to donate to local food pantries; and

Emily Drapeau was promoted to Assistant Vice President, Electronic Banking. She joined the bank as a teller in 1995 and was promoted to customer service representative in 1997. She became a senior teller in 2000 and Deposit Operations specialist in 2001. She was promoted to Deposit Operations supervisor in 2004 before being promoted to Deposit Operations manager in 2011. She was promoted to Deposit Operations officer in 2014. She graduated from the New England School for Financial Studies in 2012.


Jessica McGarry

Jessica McGarry

Country Bank announced that Jessica McGarry has joined its Commercial Lending Division. McGarry brings with her 17 years of experience in the industry. Beginning as a part-time teller, she worked her way through the branch system for several years, then to the commercial credit department, where she learned commercial lending from the ground up. She has been a commercial lender in the Worcester market for the past four years, coming to Country Bank from Webster Five. McGarry earned her bachelor’s degree in business from Nichols College, was a recipient of the Forty Under 40 designation in 2014 from the Worcester Business Journal, and was a member of the Leadership Worcester class of 2015-16. “As a person, I am serious and diligent when it comes to my work. I take great pride in making sure my customers are well taken care of, with the right products, a high level of service, and a lender that is both qualified and caring,” McGarry said. “I live and work in Worcester County, so the success of the people and businesses here is something that I hold close to my heart.”


Margaret Tantiallo

Margaret Tantiallo

For the first time since the organization was founded in 2005, Dress for Success of Western Massachusetts will have a full-time executive director to lead the organization and expand its impact in the region. Margaret Tantiallo brings more than 20 years of experience and proven success in nonprofit management. Her past employment includes a senior leadership position for a nonprofit organization with more than 65,000 members and an $11 million budget. She is experienced in strategic planning, philanthropy, governance, board relations, and program management. “We are beyond thrilled to welcome Margaret to the Dress for Success team,” said Dawn Creighton, president of the Dress for Success board of directors. “It’s amazing what has been accomplished by our team of volunteers over the years. In order for us to grow and positively impact the lives of more women in our community, we needed someone dedicated to work of the organization on a full-time basis. Margaret’s experience and caring, compassionate personality make her the perfect fit.” Margaret earned her undergraduate degree from SUNY Buffalo and her master’s degree from Springfield College. She currently serves as vice president of Belchertown Day School and as treasurer of the Hampton Ponds Assoc. Dress for Success of Western Massachusetts is on a mission to promote the economic independence of all women by providing professional attire, a network of support, and the career-development tools to help women thrive in work and in life.


Matthew Scott

Matthew Scott

American International College (AIC) has announced the promotion of Matthew Scott to Dean of students. In his new role, Scott will oversee the Department of Student Life, which includes the Office of Residence Life, the Saremi Center for Career Development, and the Center for Student Engagement. Among the services and programs that fall under Scott’s purview are residence education, housing operations, student success and retention, student conduct, student activities, diversity and community engagement, international student advising, and campus recreation programs such as intramural sports, fitness and wellness programs, and the fitness center. Scott served in residence-life and student-involvement roles at area colleges before joining AIC in 2013 as the associate dean of students and director of Residence Life. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Springfield College and received his master’s degree in higher education administration from UMass.


Lynne Colesano, formerly of Health New England and an insurance professional since 1998, has joined Webber & Grinnell Employee Benefits LLC. She will be responsible for consulting with companies and supporting them with their employee-benefits programs. In addition, her SHRM-CP certification as a professional in human resource management will further help Webber & Grinnell be a trusted advocate for its clients. “I am privileged to introduce Lynne to the community,” said Michael Welnicki, the division’s head. “She brings unparalleled insight into the benefits, insurance, and financial challenges of organizations of all scopes and sizes, and the expansion allows Webber & Grinnell to add group medical, dental, life, and disability insurance to its portfolio of business insurance.”


Community Enterprises announced the appointment of Paula Tessier as Director of Employment and Training Programs at the Greenfield office. She will manage all aspects of those programs and implement the organization’s mission and values by overseeing community-based employment and training services for individuals with disabilities. Previously in Boston, Tessier managed statewide community programs in youth violence and suicide prevention and also managed federal grants that refined protocols for the state Department of Public Health. She has a history of assisting Greenfield residents, as she was previously responsible for overseeing the coordination of five local, grass-roots, anti-poverty programs. She also managed the Woman in Action Center and the local Food Pantry sites while serving as the Community Programs director for Community Action of Franklin County. Tessier earned her master’s degree in social work from the University of Connecticut and completed master studies in international and intercultural service, leadership, and management at the School of International Training in Brattleboro, Vt.


Proteus Fund appointed activist, advocate, nonprofit executive, and philanthropic leader Paul Di Donato as its new President and CEO. He brings a wealth of experience from his 30 years of fighting for justice and equality in the areas of LGBTQ rights, HIV/AIDS and public health, gender and racial justice, and other rights and social-change issues. He has served as interim president of Proteus Fund for the past year and worked at the organization for more than nine years. Di Donato served for eight years as director of the Proteus Fund’s Civil Marriage Collaborative (CMC), a funder collaborative that granted more than $21 million in its 11-year existence to advocacy organizations engaged in comprehensive public-education and organizing efforts. The strategic philanthropic leadership provided by the CMC contributed to the massive turnaround in public opinion and support on this issue, culminating in the June 2015 Supreme Court ruling extending marriage equality nationally. “We couldn’t have asked for someone with greater philanthropic, leadership, and networking skills, combined with a deep understanding of Proteus’ social-justice work,” said Jason Franklin, chair of Proteus Fund’s board of directors. “Paul played a central role on a critical issue where our side had a clear win — civil marriage. Philanthropy must play an even greater and more aggressive leadership role to achieve these types of victories which will be needed now more than ever.” This past year as interim president, Di Donato has successfully overseen a record-breaking grant-making year, a deepening of the scope and impact of the program portfolio, and development of important new work opportunities. He feels the organization’s greatest strength is that it engages philanthropists as strategic partners, utilizing a collaborative approach to create outcome-oriented social-justice grant-making initiatives. “Of central importance to our success is the ability to master the delicate balance between crafting and executing effective long-term philanthropic strategies while remaining flexible enough to shift tactics and priorities in response to evolving circumstances on the ground,” Di Donato said. “Every program, every issue area we work on is more relevant and urgent than ever given this current social, economic, and political climate.”


Maria Acuña

Maria Acuña

Kathy Hardy

Kathy Hardy

Stephen Holstrom

Stephen Holstrom

Stefanie Renaud

Stefanie Renaud

The Gray House recently inducted four new board members to a three-year term: Maria Acuña, Kathy Hardy, Stephen Holstrom, and Stefanie Renaud. The newly elected board president is Kathleen Lingenberg. Other board officers are Susan Mastroianni, Vice President; Rick Marcil, Clerk; and Candace Pereira, Treasurer. Acuña is broker/owner of Maria Acuña Real Estate, a family-owned business located on Sumner Avenue in Springfield. Hardy has been the human resource manager for the Springfield Housing Authority since 2009. Holstrom is an attorney at Alekman DiTusa, LLC in Springfield. Renaud is an associate in the Springfield office of Skoler Abbott & Presser. Lingenberg is the owner of Community Outcomes in Longmeadow, which provides consulting services on housing and community-development activities. Mastroianni is a media consultant and was previously partner and director of Media Services at FitzGerald & Mastroianni Advertising in Springfield. Marcil is the owner of Golden Ear Studios, a voiceover and music studio in Southwick. Pereira is a commercial portfolio loan officer for Farmington Bank in West Springfield. The Gray House is a small, neighborhood service agency located in the North End of Springfield at 22 Sheldon St. Its mission is to help neighbors facing hardships to meet their immediate and transitional needs by providing food, clothing, and educational services in a safe, positive environment.

Daily News

EASTHAMPTON — The Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts named experienced fund-raiser Monica Bogatti the foundation’s new director of Philanthropy.

Borgatti comes to the Women’s Fund with a strong fund-raising background, including experience creating and coordinating strategic fund-raising plans, special-event planning, and planned-giving campaigns. In addition, she has been a long-time volunteer for the Women’s Fund, serving on several of the organization’s committees, including the grant-making committee, which has awarded more than $3 million since 1997.

“We are thrilled to welcome Monica to the organization,” said Elizabeth Barajas-Román, CEO of the Women’s Fund. “Her dedication to the fund’s mission is evident in her over eight years of volunteer service. Monica has outstanding fund-raising and partnership skills, familiarity with our donors, and a passion for our work. I’m confident all this will allow her to hit the ground running.”

Prior to arriving at the Women’s Fund, Borgatti served as the Major and Planned Giving officer for WGBY. A native of Western Mass., she is the immediate past president of Women in Philanthropy of Western Massachusetts and currently serves as an at-large board member. She also volunteers as a team coach for Leadership Pioneer Valley. She is an alumna of Bay Path University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in nonprofit management and philanthropy. In 2011, she was named a 40 Under Forty honoree by BusinessWest.

“It is with great excitement that I join the Women’s Fund team,” Borgatti said. “I look forward to connecting more people to this dynamic organization while helping to expand our impact and influence.”

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — For the first time since the organization was founded in 2005, Dress for Success of Western Massachusetts will have a full-time executive director to lead the organization and expand its impact in the region.

Margaret Tantiallo brings more than 20 years of experience and proven success in nonprofit management. Her past employment includes a senior leadership position for a nonprofit organization with more than 65,000 members and an $11 million budget. She is experienced in strategic planning, philanthropy, governance, board relations, and program management.

“We are beyond thrilled to welcome Margaret to the Dress for Success team,” said Dawn Creighton, president of the Dress for Success board of directors. “It’s amazing what has been accomplished by our team of volunteers over the years. In order for us to grow and positively impact the lives of more women in our community, we needed someone dedicated to work of the organization on a full-time basis. Margaret’s experience and caring, compassionate personality make her the perfect fit.”

Margaret earned her undergraduate degree from SUNY Buffalo and her master’s degree from Springfield College. She currently serves as vice president of Belchertown Day School and as treasurer of the Hampton Ponds Assoc.

Dress for Success of Western Massachusetts is on a mission to promote the economic independence of all women by providing professional attire, a network of support, and the career-development tools to help women thrive in work and in life.

Daily News

LONGMEADOW — A recent article published by thebestschools.org has named Bay Path University’s master of science program in nonprofit management and philanthropy among a list of the top 10 best in the U.S.

The program ranked 10th on the list, and was one of just two New England colleges to make the cut, along with Northeastern University.

“We are very pleased to be ranked in the top 10 nationally for graduate programs in nonprofit management for the second year in a row,” said Melissa Morriss-Olson, provost. “This is a competitive field — there are many online graduate nonprofit programs — and Bay Path’s program is truly a high-quality program that prepares professionals with exactly what they need to lead and manage nonprofit organizations. This honor confirms what our students have been telling us for along time — they love the online format and find it to be highly personalized and dynamic.”

According to thebestschools.org, graduate-degree programs in nonprofit management were selected for the ranking based on academic excellence, types of available classes, faculty strength, rankings, and reputation.

Bay Path’s MS program in nonprofit management and philanthropy, open to men and women, is offered completely online or on campus, either full-time or part-time.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Freedom Credit Union recently welcomed Gina Noblit and Charlene Smolkowicz to its management team.

Noblit joined Freedom as director of Human Resources, managing the HR activities for the credit union, which employs a staff of about 130. Noblit has more than 31 years of HR experience in both healthcare and manufacturing. She comes to Freedom from Baystate Health, where she was a senior Human Resources consultant. She earned her master’s degree in human resource technology from American International College and her bachelor’s degree from Westfield State University.

Smolkowicz joined Freedom as commercial credit manager, member business lending. Her primary responsibility is to assure the consistent application of and adherence to commercial credit policy and current regulations, strengthen commercial underwriting standards, monitor portfolio risk, as well as develop and maintain sound commercial credit quality. Smolkowicz has 18 years of experience in the finance industry, including expertise in credit/financial analysis, business development, and relationship management. Most recently, she was associate vice president, portfolio/relationship manager with People’s United Bank for nine years, where she specialized in nonprofit, healthcare, and higher education, in addition to commercial and industrial lending. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Northeastern University and a graduate certificate in nonprofit management from Bay Path University.

Daily News

SHEFFIELD — Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation announced the third round of deadlines for competitive grants in 2016. Covering the period from July through September, the summer cycle of deadlines is open to regional nonprofits, and includes the foundation’s two largest annual grants for regional artists and arts organizations.

Harvard Business School’s Governing for Nonprofit Excellence Scholarship is designed to enhance the leadership skills of nonprofit board chairs or vice chairs. Taught by a team of Harvard faculty members who specialize in nonprofit management and valued at $4,500, this program explores four core nonprofit governance competencies: board leadership, strategic stewardship, performance measurement, and financial oversight. Applications are due Aug. 8.

The Artist’s Resource Trust Fund for Organizations provides grants to nonprofit organizations to purchase, exhibit, or commission work created by regional artists. Grants of up to $10,000 will be awarded. Applications are due Aug. 1.

The Berkshire Environmental Endowment Fund supports projects that focus on improving water quality and protecting the community’s natural resources. Applicants must be able to match the grant in cash or in-kind services. The fund has $20,000 available for grantmaking. Applications are due Sept. 30.

Meanwhile, for artists, the Artist’s Resource Trust Fund for Individuals provides grants to artists, age 35 or older, who seek funding to produce, exhibit, or commission their work. Grants of up to $10,000 will be awarded. Applications are due Aug. 1.

The Martha Boschen Porter Fund supports emerging artists and artists who want to take their work in a different direction. Grants of up to $5,000 will be awarded to individual artists or collaborative efforts. Applications are due July 15.

For the application process for all grants, visit www.berkshiretaconic.org/searchgrants. For the application process for all scholarships, visit www.berkshiretaconic.org/searchscholarships.

Departments People on the Move
John Hunt

John Hunt

John Hunt has been named chief executive officer of Healthsouth Rehabilitation Hospital of Western Massachusetts in Ludlow. A speech-language pathologist by trade, he received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UMass Amherst. Hunt’s career in rehabilitation has spanned almost 30 years as a clinician, director, administrator, private practicioner, consultant, and educator, both regionally and nationally. He has served as a guest speaker and lecturer on the topics of motor speech and swallowing disorders in the neurologically impaired population. His focus has been the improvement of patient care and superior clinical outcomes in the post-acute continuum.


Matthew Sosik, president and CEO of bankESB, announced the following:

Timothy Czerniejewski

Timothy Czerniejewski

Timothy Czerniejewski, has joined the bank as Assistant Vice President and Credit Analyst. He served as a credit analyst for the last seven years at TD Bank, where he had been working since 2007. He is also a self-employed tax preparer and financial advisor with his mother under the name H&T Tax Services in Westfield. He obtained his bachelor’s degree from Western New England University. He is a Six Sigma White Belt, a certified tax preparer, and a Springfield Leadership Institute graduate, as well as a program committee member for the Springfield Boys and Girls Club, a volunteer at the Westfield YMCA, and a volunteer with Revitalize Springfield;

Lori Ingraham

Lori Ingraham

Lori Ingraham has been promoted to Vice President and Controller. She joined the bank as a teller/encoder in 1988 and was promoted to operations assistant in 1989. She became operations/audit assistant in 1991 and compliance/CRA manager in 1997. She was promoted to auditor in 1998, to assistant treasurer in 2006, and to assistant vice president controller in 2013. Ingraham graduated from Holyoke Community College and has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Westfield State University. She is a member of the Easthampton School Committee, Easthampton Dollars for Scholars, and the Easthampton Parent Council. She is the management committee chairperson and vice president of Friends of Hampshire County Homeless Individuals. She is also on the Westhampton Congregational UCC property committee and Christian education committee; and

Meagan Barrett

Meagan Barrett

Meagan Barrett has been promoted to Human Resources Officer. She joined bankESB in 2008 as a human resources assistant. She obtained her professional in human resources (PHR) certification in 2012 and was promoted to benefits specialist. Prior to working at the bank, she was a human resources generalist for Clarity Imaging and worked at CompUSA for 10 years, including as a human resources and operation manager. In her new role, she is responsible for employee relations, benefits, wellness, employee event coordination, and recruiting. Barrett has an associate’s degree from Holyoke Community College and was working towards a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Rhode Island College. She is involved with the Easter Seals 5K planning committee and Easthampton’s All-4-Kids event.


Greenfield Cooperative Bank (GCB) recently announced six promotions. The new assignments are:

Mary Rawls

Mary Rawls

Mary Rawls, Vice President, Compliance. Rawls has more than 22 years of experience in banking, and is responsible for ensuring bank compliance with the numerous banking and consumer laws and regulations. She also coordinates various regulatory and compliance examinations for the bank;

Adam Baker

Adam Baker

Adam Baker, Commercial Loan Officer. Baker has more than eight years of experience in banking, primarily in commercial lending. He is based in the King Street, Northampton Cooperative division of the bank, and is responsible for developing new commercial-loan business in the bank’s market area, with a focus in Hampshire County;

Chelsea Depault

Chelsea Depault

Chelsea Depault, Commercial Loan Officer. Depault is based at the 62 Federal St. location of Greenfield Cooperative Bank, and is responsible for developing new commercial business in the bank’s market area, with a focus in Franklin County. She has more than seven years banking experience with GCB, most recently as a senior credit analyst;

Christine Gagnon

Christine Gagnon

Christine Gagnon, Residential Mortgage Originator for the Hampshire County marketplace. Gagnon’s new duties will complement in her current position of assistant vice president at the Northampton Cooperative division of GSB. She will be responsible for assisting consumers looking to buy or refinance their home and to develop mortgage business through ongoing relationships with local realtors. She has more than 18 years of experience in banking with Northampton Cooperative Bank;

Janet Rosenkranz

Janet Rosenkranz

Janet Rosenkranz, Loan Analyst. Rosenkranz has been in banking for the past 20 years, starting with Vanguard Bank and the former Springfield Institution for Savings. She will be based in the King Street, Northampton office and is responsible for monitoring commercial credits and will assist in managing the overall bank-loan portfolio; and

Kari Welch

Kari Welch

Kari Welch, branch Manager at the 67 King St. location of the bank’s Northampton Cooperative division. Welch has been with the bank for more than five years. She will be responsible for overall management of the King Street branch and its staff and operations.



F. Adam Yanulis

F. Adam Yanulis

Following the firm’s recent stockholder’s meeting, Tighe & Bond announced the promotion of F. Adam Yanulis to Vice President of Business Development. Since joining the firm two and a half years ago, he has strengthened the delivery of the firm’s engineering services throughout New England. With more than 30 years providing leadership to the public-sector engineering community, many in the region know Yanulis well. Over the years, he has worked closely with numerous municipalities to facilitate engineering and environmental solutions for water-resource, stormwater, environmental, and other infrastructure challenges. Although he works primarily out of Tighe & Bond’s Westwood office, his involvement is region-wide. Yanulis serves as a commissioner for the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission, and sits on the board of directors of the Waterworks Museum in Chestnut Hill and the New England Water Works Assoc. He also is on the New England Water Innovation Network’s advisory committee, and a member of the Massachusetts Water Infrastructure Finance Commission steering committee. In addition, he is finishing his term on the board of directors of the American Water Works Assoc.


Tyler Leahy

Tyler Leahy

van Schouwen Associates, LLC (vSA) announced the addition of Tyler Leahy to its business-to-business marketing team. In his new role as strategic communications manager, Leahy’s work will involve account management, writing, social media and content development, public relations, and business development. Leahy arrives at vSA with unique experience as a communications professional in the Pioneer Valley, working in the media as well as the nonprofit sector. He most recently served as staff writer for two local newspapers, the Chicopee Register and the Ludlow Register. “Tyler has a knack for tailoring communications to the demands of individual projects. His strategic and tactical marketing aptitude will be invaluable to our clients,” said Michelle van Schouwen, vSA president. Leahy graduated from Springfield College with a bachelor’s degree in 2015, majoring in communications and English.

Bay Path University announced that Melissa Morriss-Olson, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, is one of 23 senior-level administrators in higher education nationwide selected by the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) to participate in the 2016-17 Executive Leadership Academy. Morriss-Olson will participate in two seminars in Washington, D.C. on July 11-13, 2016 and June 19-21, 2017. She will also engage in readings, webinars, and a mentoring program. In addition, she will develop a professional experiential learning plan focused on specific areas of presidential responsibility. The academy is intended to help prepare provosts and vice presidents to serve as effective college presidents. Morriss-Olson joined Bay Path University in 2006 as a faculty member and founding director of the graduate programs in Nonprofit Management and Strategic Fundraising. In 2009, she became the university’s first Graduate School dean, during which time she was integral in establishing the Center for Distributed Learning and several new graduate degrees, and strengthening the graduate student-support infrastructure. She obtained a Ph.D. in educational leadership and policy studies from Loyola University of Chicago in 1995. Developing the talents of women and girls is a personal passion of hers, and she volunteers on behalf of a number of organizations that share this concern. “Melissa Morriss-Olson has taken Bay Path to new heights,” University President Carol Leary said. “As provost, she has spearheaded initiatives that have increased undergraduate enrollment and overseen the development of the university’s thumbprint — Bay Path’s distinguishing educational aspirations — and our Women Empowered as Learners and Leaders (WELL) program. She is an effective and natural leader, and her participation in the CIC Executive Leadership Academy will be an incredible milestone both for her and for Bay Path.”

Daily News

LONGMEADOW — Bay Path University announced that Melissa Morriss-Olson, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, is one of 23 senior-level administrators in higher education nationwide selected by the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) to participate in the 2016-17 Executive Leadership Academy.

Individuals chosen for the year-long program are vice presidents or cabinet officers in higher education who may wish to consider a presidency of an independent college or university. Morriss-Olson will participate in two seminars in Washington, D.C.; the opening seminar will take place July 11-13, 2016, and the closing seminar will be held June 19-21, 2017. She will also engage in readings, webinars, and a mentoring program. In addition, she will develop a professional experiential learning plan focused on specific areas of presidential responsibility.

The academy is intended to help prepare provosts and vice presidents to serve as effective college presidents. “Competition for the available places in the program was intense,” said CIC President Richard Ekman. “The review committee found the nomination materials to be most impressive. They (and I) believe that Morriss-Olson has the potential for highly effective leadership as a college or university president.”

Morriss-Olson joined Bay Path University in 2006 as a faculty member and founding director of the graduate programs in Nonprofit Management and Strategic Fundraising. In 2009, she became the university’s first Graduate School dean, during which time she was integral in establishing the Center for Distributed Learning and several new graduate degrees, and strengthening the graduate student-support infrastructure. A first-generation college student, Morriss-Olson obtained a Ph.D. in educational leadership and policy studies from Loyola University of Chicago in 1995. Developing the talents of women and girls is a personal passion of hers, and she volunteers on behalf of a number of organizations that share this concern.

“Melissa Morriss-Olson has taken Bay Path to new heights,” University President Carol Leary said. “As provost, she has spearheaded initiatives that have increased undergraduate enrollment and overseen the development of the university’s thumbprint — Bay Path’s distinguishing educational aspirations — and our Women Empowered as Learners and Leaders (WELL) program. She is an effective and natural leader, and her participation in the CIC Executive Leadership Academy will be an incredible milestone both for her and for Bay Path.”

Fifty-nine percent of participants in the first Executive Leadership Academy cohort (2009-10) have since advanced in the higher-education ranks, and 34% of participants in a recent cohort (2014-15) have already moved up in the ranks.

“These indicators suggest that CIC is helping to meet the leadership needs of higher education by offering highly effective leadership-development programs for modest fees to member institutions,” Ekman said.

The academy is co-sponsored by CIC, the American Academic Leadership Institute (AALI), and the American Assoc. of State Colleges and Universities. Tom Kepple, president of AALI and president emeritus of Juniata College in Pennsylvania, is the program director. For more information, visit www.cic.edu/executiveleadershipacademy.

Daily News

CHICOPEE — The Greater Chicopee Chamber of Commerce has named Jessica Roncarati its new president. The chamber’s board of directors voted unanimously to approve her appointment, and she began work on April 25.

Roncarati, a lifelong resident of Chicopee, most recently served as executive director of the AIDS Foundation of Western Massachusetts Inc. She has held both professional and volunteer leadership positions with a number of local nonprofits, including Bay Path University, Women in Philanthropy of Western Massachusetts, Hawthorn Services, and the Springfield Museums Assoc. She is a member of Business West’s 40 Under Forty class of 2012. She is a graduate of chamber member Elms College, and received her master’s degree in nonprofit management and philanthropy from Bay Path University.

As president, Roncarati will work with the chamber’s staff and constituents to further its mission to advance economic and civil well-being for all citizens of the Greater Chicopee area. She believes her most immediate focus is to build relationships among local businesses, government, and citizens in order to promote a sense of community.

“By connecting with the chamber, businesses have the chance not only to network and advertise their services, but to make Greater Chicopee an even better place to live and work,” she said. “We have an increasingly diverse business base to build upon, and events that we collaborate with the city on, such as the Tree Lighting, Halloween Costume Walk, Block Party, and 5k Run, bring more patrons to the area each year. It’s an exciting time to be a chamber member, and I look forward to making connections that will promote our local businesses.”

40 Under 40 The Class of 2016

Manager of Community Impact, United Way of Pioneer Valley; Age 36

LaTonia Monroe Naylor

LaTonia Monroe Naylor

It’s not every day that a new mother decides, not long after maternity leave, to pursue a complete career change, including pursuit of a master’s degree and starting from scratch at a nonprofit organization, after already securing a successful position in the corporate sector.

But that’s exactly what LaTonia Monroe Naylor did. She followed her heart into the career that had been beckoning her again and again, and today serves literally thousands of people as the manager of Community and Volunteer Engagement with the United Way. It was a tough decision — Naylor and her husband were raising a young family, and taking the job would entail a salary reduction. But she’d already found happiness through other nonprofit endeavors, including as an early champion and organizer of Deborah House Second Chance Transitional Housing, established in 2010 in Springfield.

“Working with a corporation was nice, but I wanted to help people,” she said, noting that she earned her master’s degree at Bay Path University in nonprofit management and philanthropy. For good measure, she also picked up a certification in volunteer board and governance. Soon after, she accepted a position with the United Way.

“I definitely feel like a lot of the things that make us more visible in the community come from the people who have a real passion for this kind of work,” she said.

Naylor has a particular passion for helping young people, both through the United Way’s programs that connect community resources to the families and individuals who most need them, such as Students Engage Springfield — a program that expands and creates new outlets for college students to connect to service-learning opportunities — and other endeavors, including Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno’s Anti-violence Task Force.

“Things like that give me a chance to work on other important issues that aren’t necessarily part of the United Way’s core mission,” she said, “and help to make Springfield a great place to live.”

Today, Naylor’s family has swelled to four children, and it’s this brood, along with her husband of 15 years, who propel her, along with their faith.

“I’m a believer, and I feel that is a big part of being successful for me,” she said, adding that her future plans include pursuing teaching opportunities and perhaps taking on an executive director’s position with a youth center someday.

Her biggest goal, though, will continue to be nurturing her community for everyone who lives within it, from family to friends to strangers passing by.

— Jaclyn Stevenson

Photography by Leah Martin Photography

Daily News

HOLYOKE — The ninth annual 40 Under Forty award program, staged by BusinessWest, will be held at the Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House tonight. The sold-out event honors the region’s most accomplished and civic-minded professionals under age 40, and this year’s class was profiled in the April 20 issue.

This year’s winners represent virtually every sector of the economy — from financial services to manufacturing; retail to healthcare; technology to nonprofit management; education to law. They also show the seemingly innumerable ways people can give back to the community.

This year’s event features a new wrinkle — the Continued Excellence Award, presented to the previous 40 Under Forty honoree who has most impressively built upon their track record of excellence. The finalists are Delcie Bean, Kamari Collins, Jeff Fialky, Cinda Jones, and Kristin Leutz, and the winner will be announced at tonight’s gala.

The 40 Under Forty program and gala are sponsored this year by Northwestern Mutual (presenting sponsor), Paragus Strategic IT (presenting sponsor), Fathers & Sons, the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst, Moriarty & Primack, and United Bank.

Departments People on the Move

Marie Bowen has been appointed assistant vice chancellor for human resources at UMass Amherst following a nationwide search. Bowen, who will join the university administration in August, will serve as the chief human-resources officer for the campus. She will be responsible for developing human-resources policies and strategies, and will advise Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy and the Campus Leadership Council on human-resources policies, procedures, and regulations. James Sheehan, vice chancellor for administration and finance, said, “we are excited to have someone of Marie Bowen’s caliber join the UMass Amherst community. She brings a wealth of human-resources experience to this key position, most recently serving as the associate dean and chief human resource officer at the Harvard Law School. Prior to that, she served as the director of human resources at the Massachusetts Port Authority. We look forward to working with Marie in her new role and on new initiatives that will continue to make UMass Amherst an employer of choice for faculty and staff.” Bowen graduated cum laude from Harvard College and received a master’s degree from Simmons College and a juris doctor degree from the University of Virginia School of Law. She is also certified as a senior professional in human resources.
Florence Bank announced that Rachel Dionne has been named to the President’s Club for 2015. Employees nominate their peers for the President’s Club honor, which recognizes superior performance, customer service, and overall contribution to Florence Bank. Dionne, a commercial credit analyst who has been with the bank since 2011, was nominated by numerous colleagues. Dionne is a graduate of American International College, where she received a bachelor’s degree in accounting and her master’s degree in nonprofit management. Her numerous volunteer endeavors include serving as a board of trustees member with the Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter Public School in South Hadley; she is also a member of the school’s finance committee. In addition, she is a youth ministry group volunteer, eucharistic minister, and lector at Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Church in Westfield. “We received so many comments about Rachel — everything from ‘I was amazed at how much work she was able to accomplish on a project and still maintain her regular workload’ to ‘she always goes well above what is expected of her,’” said John Heaps Jr., president and CEO of Florence Bank. “Rachel’s remarkable work ethic and sincere desire to contribute make her an outstanding member of the President’s Club.”

Brian Risler

Brian Risler

Farmington Bank announced the appointment of Brian Risler as assistant vice president, mortgage sales manager for the Western Mass. region. Risler will lead Farmington Bank’s efforts in building a team of residential loan specialists serving the Western Mass. market. In addition, he’ll originate first mortgages in concert with Farmington Bank’s commercial-lending team in Western Mass. and the bank’s future branch offices opening later this year in West Springfield and East Longmeadow. “We are thrilled to have Brian join our growing team of experienced, local banking professionals serving Western Massachusetts,” said John Patrick Jr., chairman, president, and CEO of Farmington Bank. “We look forward to Brian’s leadership, expertise, and local decision-making skills in creating and servicing mortgages for our customers.” Risler has more than 15 years of experience in residential mortgage banking in Massachusetts. He comes to Farmington Bank from Residential Mortgage Services Inc., where he served as branch manager for its Easthampton office. Since 2005, Risler has served as an affiliate member of the Realtor Assoc. of Pioneer Valley (RAPV) and serves as the co-chair of RAPV’s Education Fair & Trade Expo Task Force. In addition, Risler serves on the Government Affairs/Realtor Political Action Committee, which promotes the legislative agenda of the Massachusetts Assoc. of Realtors; as president of the Mill River BNI, a networking group of area businesses; and as a member of both the Greater Easthampton and Greater Northampton chambers of commerce. He received a bachelor’s degree in business administration/finance from Stonehill College. Farmington Bank is a full-service community bank with 22 branch locations throughout Central Conn., offering commercial and residential lending as well as wealth-management services in Connecticut and Western Mass. For more information, visit farmingtonbankct.com.
Heidi-Jo Kemp

Heidi-Jo Kemp

North Brookfield Savings Bank (NBSB) announced that Heidi-Jo Kemp has joined the bank as vice president and residential loan officer. “Heidi-Jo is an excellent and valued addition to our lending team,” said North Brookfield Savings Bank President and CEO Donna Boulanger. “Her experience and expertise are well-known in the area, making her a wonderful asset to our growing customer base and expanding Mortgage Center. I am confident that she will be a great benefit to our current and future customers wishing to purchase or refinance a home.” Kemp is a graduate of the New England School for Financial Studies at Babson College. She began her banking career at Country Bank in 1988 and was a standout performer for 27 years, receiving numerous awards and being active in many community organizations. She joins NBSB’s Mortgage Center team, comprised of a group of skilled mortgage professionals led by mortgage expert Donna Tiso, senior vice president and retail lending manager. “I’m very excited about joining North Brookfield Savings Bank,” Kemp said. “Donna Tiso has assembled a very capable and strong retail lending team at the NBSB Mortgage Center, and I’m very proud to be a part of it. I look forward to helping people navigate the home-buying process, so that individuals, couples, and families can finance the home of their dreams.” Kemp is a member of several community organizations, including the Central Mass. South Chamber of Commerce, the Quaboag Hills Chamber of Commerce, the Worcester Regional Assoc. of Realtors, and Woman in Business Inc. North Brookfield Savings Bank is a mutual savings bank with full-service branches in North Brookfield, East Brookfield, West Brookfield, Ware, Belchertown, Palmer, and Three Rivers. To contact Kemp for assistance purchasing or refinancing a home, call (774) 452-3918 or e-mail [email protected]. For residential-loan information, contact the Mortgage Center at (508) 867-1302 or [email protected].

Daily News

FLORENCE — Florence Bank announced that Rachel Dionne has been named to the President’s Club for 2015.

Employees nominate their peers for the President’s Club honor, which recognizes superior performance, customer service, and overall contribution to Florence Bank. Dionne, a commercial credit analyst who has been with the bank since 2011, was nominated by numerous colleagues.

Dionne is a graduate of American International College, where she received a bachelor’s degree in accounting and her master’s degree in nonprofit management. Her numerous volunteer endeavors include serving as a board of trustees member with the Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter Public School in South Hadley; she is also a member of the school’s finance committee. In addition, she is a youth ministry group volunteer, eucharistic minister, and lector at Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Church in Westfield.

“We received so many comments about Rachel — everything from ‘I was amazed at how much work she was able to accomplish on a project and still maintain her regular workload’ to ‘she always goes well above what is expected of her,’” said John Heaps Jr., president and CEO of Florence Bank. “Rachel’s remarkable work ethic and sincere desire to contribute make her an outstanding member of the President’s Club.”

Daily News

HOLYOKE — The ninth annual 40 Under Forty award program, staged by BusinessWest, will be held at the Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House the evening of June 18.

The event honors the region’s most accomplished and civic-minded professionals under age 40, and this year’s class will be revealed and profiled in next week’s April 20 issue. This year’s winners represent virtually every sector of the economy — from financial services to manufacturing; retail to healthcare; technology to nonprofit management; education to law. They also show the seemingly innumerable ways people can give back to the community.

Always one of the most anticipated events and best networking opportunities on the calendar, the June 18 gala will feature lavish food stations, entertainment, and the introduction of this year’s class. Tickets cost $65 each, with tables of 10 still available. Tickets can be ordered by calling (413) 781-8600, ext. 100, or by visiting www.businesswest.com.

The 40 Under Forty program and gala are sponsored this year by Northwestern Mutual (presenting sponsor), Fathers & Sons, the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst, Moriarty & Primack, Paragus Strategic IT, and United Bank.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Lou Kornet, vice president and chief of staff at the Markens Group Inc. (TMG), has been designated as a certified association executive (CAE).

Conferred by the American Society of Association Executives, the certification is the highest professional credential in the association industry. To be designated as a certified association executive, an applicant must have five years experience in nonprofit-organization management, complete a minimum of 100 hours of specialized professional development, pass a stringent examination, and pledge to uphold a code of ethics.

“Although the certification process was rigorous, it was well worth the effort,” said Kornet. “I am already implementing some of the tips and best practices I learned so as to provide our clients even more value.”

Only 4,000 association executives across the globe currently hold the title of CAE, not only due to the rigorous requirements of certification but also because it designates a lifelong commitment to the profession that continues even after certification has been achieved. To maintain the certification, individuals must undertake ongoing professional-development activities in association and nonprofit management.

“I am thrilled that Lou Kornet has earned the honorable status of CAE,” said Ben Markens, president of the Markens Group. “Lou’s achievement reinforces TMG’s commitment to delivering high-quality association-management services that are informed by industry best practices and proven strategies for success.”

For for information about the company, visit markensamc.com.

Daily News

HOLYOKE — JERICHO, the Bureau for Exceptional Children & Adults, has announced the appointment of Maria Burke as associate director. JERICHO is well-known for its programs and services, begun by Fr. Robert Wagner and continued by Sr. Joan Magnani, emphasizing inclusion for all people with disabilities in Western Mass. over the past 44 years.

“I am delighted that Maria has been named associate director,” said Magnani. “Working with her allows us to move forward with new strategic-planning efforts focused on how we can best serve the families and individuals living with disabilities, as well as the professional agencies and staff who care for these people in Western Mass.”

Burke brings expertise in many areas of nonprofit management and a substantial fund-raising history in the region, as well as a strong personal focus on the needs and challenges facing many families and individuals living with disabilities.

In the coming years, JERICHO will expand services to parents and family members. It will provide assistance in understanding the services that are available throughout the region and the state, and help connect the private and public sectors, so that all are able to successfully navigate the many stages of life and achieve full integration. JERICHO will continue its mission of breaking down barriers for all. Religious services and education will remain a core provision, and the organization will always welcome people of all faiths and backgrounds.

“This is a very exciting time for JERICHO, having someone with Maria’s leadership qualities to guide JERICHO’s mission and who has vast experiential knowledge to assist all who we serve throughout the region,” said Michael Sullivan, JERICHO board president.

Added Burke, “I look forward to continuing this important work, as well as expanding our reach with new partnerships, training, and networking opportunities to serve the many families who face difficulties and challenges. It will be wonderful to include new people and provide services that make life at least a bit easier for all families and providers serving the disabled.”

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — Loomis Communities announced the appointment of Craig Johnsen as administrator at Loomis Lakeside at Reeds Landing. In this role, Johnsen is responsible for administering and overseeing the day-to-day operation of the retirement community in Springfield, as well as serving as a member of the Loomis Communities Senior Leadership Team.

Johnsen is a licensed nursing-home administrator with more than 30 years working with older adults. “I found the work I love to do at an early age,” he said.

Prior to joining Loomis Communities, he served as executive director of Eastview at Middlebury in Middlebury, Vt. He holds a bachelor’s degree in long-term-care administration and has completed a graduate fellowship in strategic and financial planning with Leading Age and Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management at Harvard University.

Loomis Lakeside at Reeds Landing offers independent-living cottages and apartments, assisted living, skilled nursing care, medical offices, and primary-care physician services, all under one roof. Loomis Communities the longest-serving provider of senior living in the Pioneer Valley, providing continuing care, specialized care, and health-wellness resources on four campuses: Loomis Lakeside at Reeds Landing, Applewood in Amherst, Loomis House in Holyoke, and Loomis Village in South Hadley.

Health Care Sections
Joanne Marqusee Takes the Reins at Cooley Dickinson

CDHdpARTWhen Boston’s Beth Israel Hospital merged with Deaconness Medical Center 18 years ago, Joanne Marqusee was there to witness the aftermath.

And it wasn’t pretty.

“I learned about what organizations should not do when they merge,” said Marqusee, the new president and CEO of Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton, taking over for Craig Melin, who had steered the CDH ship for a quarter-century and through both quiet and turbulent seas.

With Cooley Dickinson having recently finalized a merger of its own, with Massachusetts General Hospital, she reflected on the smoothness of that transition compared to the tumult that followed the Beth Israel Deaconess deal in 1996.

“Being across the street from each other, in some ways it seemed like the perfect merger,” said Marqusee (pronounced ‘mark-a-see’), who joined the BI team in 1992. She noted that the two institutions had complimentary specialties; for example, Deaconess was known for surgery, while BI had a stronger medicine program. “On paper, it seemed like a match made in heaven. But in some ways, there really wasn’t enough attention paid to how to bring two cultures together, how to manage people through that situation. And it really matters.”

Staff from the two Boston institutions became notoriously suspicious of each other. “People didn’t want to work in teams. Fortunately, I had been there only three years, so I didn’t define myself as a ‘BI person.’ I didn’t have this bias based on what side of the street I worked on. That didn’t define my contribution to the corporation.”

On the bright side, however, “when the organization was in such flux, with people coming and going, there were a lot of opportunities,” she said. “So I was given more and broader responsibilities — often in areas I didn’t necessarily have any background in.

“I kind of learned over time that management is management,” she continued. “Particularly as a non-clinical person moving up in healthcare, I applied the same approach to problems involving people, whether in a clinical or non-clinical area.”

Having most recently served as executive vice president and chief operating officer at Hallmark Health System, located just north of Boston, a job she accepted in 2009, Marqusee is embracing her first stint in the CEO’s chair, and has been pleased with the way Cooley Dickinson and Mass General are coexisting.

“The distance makes it almost easier; people don’t feel threatened,” she told BusinessWest. “And they have been terrific. We can call there for help; they have such intellectual capital. I spend at least one day a month at MGH and feel like a part of their team, which is nice.”

Matthew Pitoniak, who chairs the CDH board and led the search committee tasked with replacing Melin, is impressed with Marqusee’s acumen for bringing different teams together within an expansive health system, one that includes the hospital, the Cooley Dickinson VNA, and a number of other practices.

“We set out to identify a person capable of leading our care system into the future,” he said. “We also wanted a strong collaborator who can bring together the components of our care system for optimal patient care, and a leader who could build upon our affiliation with Massachusetts General Hospital while strengthening our local system.”

On a Mission

Marqusee was raised outside New York City in a family that was politically involved and socially conscious. “All my siblings and I ended up doing mission-based work in one way or another.”

Attending Cornell University, she didn’t know what career path she wanted to take, but she had a love for international affairs and languages, so she majored in linguistics. But she eventually felt a call to nonprofit management.

“I thought, ‘should I be a social worker?’” she said. “But I had a sense that a better fit would be to look at how whole organizations work and to make an impact there.”

While earning a master’s in public policy from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, she decided she was more analytic than she’d suspected, and wound up working in New York Mayor Ed Koch’s first administration. There, in 1984, she was exposed to the Health and Hospitals Corp., which ran 11 public hospitals, five nursing homes, and dozens of ambulatory-care sites. It was a $2 billion corporation with 50,000 employees.

“After about a month, I realized I wanted to be in the healthcare world,” she said. “It was so complicated; I had the sense I could spend decades in healthcare and have different roles and always be learning.”

From there, Marqusee joined Beth Israel in 1992 and eventually ascended to senior vice president of operations for the merged system. She eventually ran most support and ancillary areas of BI Deaconess, including the Laboratory, Pharmacy, Radiology, and other clinical areas, as well as non-clinical areas such as housekeeping and patient transport.

“I got an appreciation for the fact that hospitals aren’t just doctors and nurses, even though TV and movies tell us they are,” she said. “I really got to see how, if you could tap the creativity of what’s considered support staff, it can make a great deal of difference.”

Take transport personnel, for example. “Follow one of them around for a day and see what a difference they make in healthcare,” she said, noting that patients are often already anxious and confused as they’re being moved from a room they know to somewhere unfamiliar, and a transporter who engages that patient with information and compassion makes a huge difference. “If nobody talks to them, it can be quite frightening.”

Eventually, though, Marqusee sought a new challenge. “I loved BI Deaconess; I loved the fact that it was an academic center. But personally, my interest and skill set is on the clinical side of medicine, and while teaching and research are good — we want to find a cure for cancer and teach the physicians of the future — my skills at managing people, bringing people together, can make more of a difference on the clinical side. I wanted to work in a community hospital.”


Joanne Marqusee takes over at CDH in an era of growth and new construction for the community hospital.

So, in 2009, she took over operations of the community-based Hallmark Health System, which is comprised of acute-care hospitals Lawrence Memorial of Medford and Melrose-Wakefield of Melrose, with more than 300 beds, as well as several ambulatory-care centers, a home-health agency, and a school of nursing. There, Pitoniak said, she spearheaded improvements in clinical quality and safety, financial stability, service excellence, and employee, physician, and patient satisfaction.

“Hospitals are complicated cities with 24/7 operations, involving doctors, nurses, phlebotomists, transporters, people who make sure supplies get where they need to go — it’s this complicated dance to make sure everything gets done right,” she said.

“There are a lot of policy issues, but also the question of, how do you make such a complex organization work better? How do you make teams work better?,” she went on. “The emergency room, for instance, is an amazing thing — think of all the different parts that have to come together to move everyone from A to B.”

In her five years at Hallmark, she said, she helped standardize practices and managed to improve both patient and employee satisfaction, while better engaging physicians — even while battling the onset of a recession that made life difficult for all community hospitals.

“In 2009, it was awful. People were losing their jobs, and if not them, their spouse was losing their job. It had a huge effect in all hospitals,” she said. “We were able to get through that and find ways to reduce costs while improving care. As a non-healthcare person, I like to apply the quality-improvement approaches of other industries, like the LEAN approach that Toyota uses. That’s very helpful in bringing frontline staff together, standardizing workflow, and finding ways to keep the patient at the center.”

Marqusee added that she wants employees at all levels to enjoy their jobs. “That’s important. People like it when they have fun and work as a team. For staff, it’s important to balance the seriousness of what they do with enjoying the community they work in. People come to healthcare, usually, because they care about what they’re doing.”

Western Swing

While Marqusee loved being in a community hospital, she occasionally missed the learning experiences of an academic medical center, and the opportunity to lead a Mass General-affiliated CDH appealed to her. “I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but when this came up, I was really excited; it seemed like the perfect job for me. It’s a community hospital that’s very well-regarded with high quality scores — very, very impressive.

“I hadn’t thought I would leave the Boston area, but my twins grew up and were in college, and my husband recently retired,” she went on. “Northampton seems like such an ideal area, really, with the culture and level of activity here. We can be connected with Boston, and not far from New York.”

She cited the hospital’s well-known infection-control efforts as one example of how CDH has been a leader.

“The focus on quality is clearly embraced here; physicians and staff are proud of being innovators,” she said. “Some people think hospitals and healthcare systems are solely based upon healing people, but harm can happen in hospitals. We want to make sure people don’t leave with an infection, and we make a priority of that. The housekeepers are passionate about this issue. They think, ‘what I do makes a difference in whether patients get sick here or not.’”

At the same time, Marqusee takes the reins amid controversy over a state investigation into several serious incidents in the Childbirth Center, including two infant deaths and a failure to properly treat high blood pressure in a mother, leading to a stroke that caused her death. The hospital has since reorganized the center and its affiliated nurse-midwife practices and launched a corrective action plan.

“We’re trying to be out there and communicating,” she said, noting that the recent tragedy comes on top of stress that already existed related to the Mass General merger and Melin’s announced retirement. “It’s been a year and a half of people not knowing what’s going to happen. So we communicate with them the good and the bad, the issues we need to work on, trying to be honest so we can get better. We’ve been as open as we can about the Childbirth Center to staff and the community.”

She credited Melin with steering the hospital with a steady hand amid an ongoing shift in the healthcare industry toward accountable care, which emphasizes efficiencies of treatment. “In America, we use more healthcare, but we don’t necessarily have better health outcomes.”

She said Northampton is a progressive community when it comes to understanding, for example, that more MRIs are not necessarily better, but added that the industry has a long way to go toward a less-wasteful system of care.

“Physicians get paid to see patients; they don’t get paid to talk on the phone,” she noted as another example. “But even five minutes on the phone can be more valuable than having them come into the hospital, be exposed to more germs, and maybe be encouraged to take an unnecessary test.”

What Cooley Dickinson can do, Marqusee said, is improve its own processes, and that begins with better communication between departments.

“We’re trying to understand where our systems do not work as well as they could, to connect the departments with one another, communicate better between the day shift and evening shift,” she said.

“The departments themselves run quite well; this place is strong operationally. They don’t need a leader to come in and tell food services or the ICU how to run their department, but they could use help linking to one another in interdisciplinary teams,” she continued. “Most errors in healthcare tend to be around communication or handoffs, radiology to ICU, day shift to evening shift, communication between nurses and physicians, nurses and technicians. I’ve been interested in finding where the gaps are and setting priorities for improvement projects.”

Take the Emergency Department, for example. “That’s such a complicated place — the doorway to the organization in many ways; a hospital’s reputation in the community tends to rise and fall with the Emergency Department,” she told BusinessWest. “But the ED staff themselves say we could do much better with the way we communicate with people upstairs, so in the fall, we’re launching a major project to reorganize how we work in the ED, make it even better.

“Right now, patients are happy with it,” she stressed, “but if they spend less time here, it would make them even happier.”

Talk It Out

In her first two months on the job, Marqusee has been busy spending time in many different areas of the hospital and, in fact, the entire CDH network. “I’m trying to make people understand that it’s not just a hospital; Cooley Dickinson is also the VNA, off-site physician practices, radiology, and rehab,” just to name a few, she said.

“I’m also trying to meet people from different shifts — nights, weekends, evenings. It’s a whole new world at night, so I’m trying to understand their challenges, too. I’m just trying to create some visibility; I don’t want anyone to think the CEO is a suit in the corner office they can’t talk to. I want to have a culture that’s not hierarchical, where the frontline staff understand that I care about them, and they can talk to me.”

The bottom line, Marqusee said, is that, despite recent challenges, a well-regarded hospital system has the ability to improve, and that’s not a task she takes lightly.

“I feel like this community values Cooley Dickinson, and that doesn’t just happen,” she said. “It’s years of reaching out and providing valuable services.”

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]

Departments People on the Move

Jessica Young

Jessica Young

Florence Savings Bank announced that Jessica Young has been selected as a recipient of the President’s Award for 2014. The President’s Award is an annual tradition established by the bank in 1995. It affords employees opportunities to nominate their peers for this prestigious award, which recognizes outstanding performance, customer service, and overall contribution to Florence Savings Bank. Young, a Senior Teller at the Bank’s Florence branch, joined FSB in 2011. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and liberal arts from Southern Vermont College in Bennington. The Sharon Springs, N.Y. native was nominated by her peers for “her personable, friendly, and outstanding customer service,” said Diane Gould, Senior Vice President and Human Resources Director, who added, “Jessica’s peers applauded her calm demeanor in even the most challenging situations, as well as her creative problem-solving skills.” John Heaps Jr., President and CEO of Florence Savings Bank, said, “we are very pleased that Jessica received such strong support and recognition from her peers and has won the President’s Award for 2014. Every day she demonstrates her deep knowledge of banking and dedication to our customers.”
Todd C. Ratner

Todd C. Ratner

The regional law firm Bacon Wilson, P.C. announced that Todd Ratner, Esq. has been honored by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly as a 2014 “Excellence in the Law” honoree. This event recognizes 25 up-and-coming attorneys for their outstanding accomplishments in the legal community in 2013. Ratner is a member of Bacon Wilson’s Estate Planning and Elder Law department whose practice includes sophisticated estate-planning issues. Additional areas of practice include commercial and residential real estate together with general business and corporate law. Ratner serves on the boards of many charitable entities, including co-chair of the Alzheimer’s Assoc. Tri County Partnership, is a graduate of the Affiliated Chambers of Commerce of Greater Springfield’s Leadership Institute 2007, and taught elder law at American International College. He is a frequent lecturer and has written numerous business, estate-planning, and real-estate articles. Ratner earned his JD from the Pennsylvania State University School of Law, his MBA from Boston University Graduate School of Management, and his bachelor’s degree from Babson College. With 40 attorneys, Bacon Wilson, P.C. is the largest law firm in Western Mass. The firm’s four offices are located in Springfield, Westfield, Northampton, and Amherst.
Easthampton Savings Bank
announced the following:
Holly Fuller

Holly Fuller

Holly Fuller has been promoted to Senior Branch Officer. Fuller joined ESB in 1997 as a teller and was promoted to Customer Service Representative in 2000. She was promoted to Assistant Manager of the South Hadley office in 2006, and in 2008 was promoted to Branch Manager of the Locust Street, Northampton office. Later that year, Fuller was promoted to Branch Officer. She is a member of the Chesterfield Finance Committee and the Northampton Elks. Fuller has volunteered for Relay for Life, Big Brother Big Sisters, and the Northampton Chamber of Commerce. She has worked with area schools on various finance and budget projects;
Pamela Bronner

Pamela Bronner

Pamela Bronner was promoted to Assistant Vice President Branch Officer. Bronner joined the bank in 2002 as a Senior Branch Officer in Belchertown. She came to the bank with 24 years of prior banking experience. She held multiple positions with Baybank, ending in Branch Manager. She was a Branch Manager for BankBoston/Fleet Bank, a Branch Officer at Florence Savings Bank, and a Branch Manager at Citizens Financial Group;
Katrina Dziedzic

Katrina Dziedzic

Katrina Dziedzic has been promoted to Assistant Vice President Branch Officer. She joined ESB as a Branch Officer in Westfield in 2007, and in 2011 was promoted to Senior Branch Officer. She had 22 years prior banking experience with Bank of America and its predecessor banks. Dziedzic has an associate’s degree from Springfield Technical Community College. She is currently a member of Kiwanis of Westfield, treasurer for Our Savor Lutheran Church in South Hadley, and treasurer for the Business Improvement District in Westfield;
Karen Craig

Karen Craig

Karen Craig has been promoted to Senior Branch Officer. She joined ESB as Assistant Branch Manager of the Hadley office in 2001. In 2012 she was promoted to Branch Officer of the King Street, Northampton office. Craig had more than 15 years of banking experience at BayBank, BankBoston, and Fleet, where she progressed from Teller to Head Teller, Sales and Service Representative, and Senior Sales and Service Representative and Assistant Branch Manager. She is a member of the Northampton Rotary and the Northampton Chamber of Commerce; and
Susanne deVillier

Susanne deVillier

Susanne deVillier has been promoted to Senior Branch Officer. She joined ESB as a Branch Officer in Agawam in 2010. She had 15 years prior banking experience with TD Bank, as Retail Banking Officer, at Hampden Bank as a Branch Manager, and at SIS Bank as a Retail Banking Officer. She has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from American International College. She is co-founder of the Down Resource Group of Western Mass., is involved in Griffin’s Friends for Children and Families, is an active board member of Blandford Ski Club, and is involved in fund-raising for various school programs.
Loomis Communities announced the following:
JoAnne O’Neil

JoAnne O’Neil

JoAnne O’Neil has been appointed Director of Sales and Marketing at Loomis Lakeside at Reeds Landing. In this role, she is responsible for educating older adults and their families on the benefits of living in a community that offers independent-living cottages and apartments, assisted living, skilled nursing care, and medical offices, with primary-care physician services, all under one roof. “I feel like I have come home because my parents lived at Loomis Lakeside at Reeds Landing for many years,” said O’Neil. Prior to joining Loomis Communities, she worked as Director of Resource Development at HAPHousing. She holds a master’s degree in nonprofit management and philanthropy from Bay Path College and a bachelor’s degree in public health from the UMass Amherst; and
Kristina Hontz

Kristina Hontz

Kristina Hontz has been appointed Clinical Nurse Liaison. In this role, Hontz provides education to area physicians, hospital staff, individuals, and families on the rehabilitative and long-term care available at the Nursing Centers at Loomis House in Holyoke and Loomis Lakeside at Reeds Landing in Springfield. In addition, she conducts pre-admission assessments and works with Loomis Communities staff to develop new programs and services. Prior to her appointment, she was a Charge Nurse at Loomis House Nursing Center. Hontz is working on her BSN at Elms College.
The members and board of Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Co. (MMWEC) recently elected directors and officers of the organization, which is entering its 45th year in service to the consumer-owned municipal utilities of Massachusetts. MMWEC was created in 1969 and became a nonprofit, public corporation and political subdivision of the Commonwealth in 1976, empowered to issue tax-exempt bonds to finance energy facilities for the benefit of municipal utilities and their customers.
• Paul Robbins, a gubernatorial appointee to the MMWEC Board of Directors, was re-elected by the board to his third one-year term as Chairman;
• Peter Dion, General Manager of the Wakefield Municipal Gas & Light Department, was re-elected by the MMWEC membership to his sixth one-year term as President of MMWEC.
Representatives of MMWEC’s 21 member municipal utilities also re-elected three directors to three-year terms on the board, including:
• James Lavelle, Holyoke Gas & Electric Department Manager;
• Philip Sweeney, Marblehead Municipal Light Department Commissioner; and
• Jonathan Fitch, West Boylston Municipal Light Plant Manager.
Additional MMWEC officers for the coming year, as elected by the board, are:
• Ronald DeCurzio, Chief Executive Officer and Secretary;
• Matthew Ide, Treasurer;
• Stephen Smith, Assistant Treasurer;
• Nancy Brown, Assistant Secretary; and
• Nicholas Scobbo Jr., General Counsel.
Other MMWEC directors, elected previously by the membership, are:
• Kevin Kelly, Groton Electric Light Department Manager;
• Gary Babin, Mansfield Municipal Electric Department Director; and
• Jeffrey Cady, Chicopee Electric Light Manager; and
• Sean Hamilton, Sterling Municipal Light Department General Manager.
Meghan Fallon

Meghan Fallon

Springfield-based FIT Solutions LLC announced that Meghan Fallon has joined the company as a Technical Recruiter. In her new role, Fallon will be responsible for sourcing technical talent in the information technology field for FIT Solution’s client base in Massachusetts and Connecticut. She brings with her several years of staffing and recruiting experience across a wide spectrum of industries. She has a bachelor’s degree from UMass Amherst in sociology and communications.

40 Under 40 Events
Nominations Are Being Accepted for the 40 Under Forty Class of 2014

40under40-LOGO2012Jeff Fialky called it “quality control.”
That’s how he chose to describe the third and final phase of his process for scoring the more than 100 nominees for BusinessWest’s 40 Under Forty Class of 2013.
Fialky, a member of the Class of 2008 and one of five judges of last year’s candidates, said he started his assignment by simply reading each of the nominations in their entirety, without assigning any scores, to get what he called a “flavor, and basis of comparison.”
“I then flipped the stack back over and went through them again,” he went on, adding that he did so with some gauges, or barometers, that would help him assign a number — 1 through 10 — to each of those nominations. The so-called quality-control work came the following morning, after a good night’s sleep and with some fresh perspective, when he went through the pile one more time to assess the numbers he assigned to each candidate to make sure he was totally comfortable with each one.
“I think I probably changed a dozen scores — not significantly, maybe one number up or down, based upon comparisons with the other nominees,” he said, adding that he’s not sure how the other judges went about their work last February, but he’s quite sure that the subjectivity that is part and parcel to the judging process is one of the things that makes the 40 Under Forty competition unique and what he called a “perfectly imperfect” undertaking.
“This 40 Under Forty program is about distinguishing oneself in the community,” he noted. “Whether it’s personally or professionally, it is truly a comparative exercise, and the fact that judges come at it in different ways makes it more compelling.  And while those approaches are different from each other, the end result is a great compilation of leadership in the Valley.”
Mark O’Connell agreed. The managing partner of Wolf & Co., with offices in Boston and Springfield, he also judged the Class of 2013, and took a decidedly different tack, what he called a more “analytic approach.”
Elaborating, he said he assigned hard numbers to certain aspects of candidates’ résumés — with a specific total of points awarded for such things as owning one’s business, getting involved with area nonprofits, and earning acclaim within one’s profession. The process, he said, took some of the subjectivity out of the equation.
“It became a mathematical process, essentially, and I was able to draw a line under the first 40,” he said, noting that, while his method may have been different from those used by others, he believed it worked, because only a handful of “his” top 40 were not eventually identified as winners.
By mid-February, another group of five judges (they’re profiled on page 18) will be developing their own strategies for assigning scores for what will likely be another 100 or so candidates in this, the eighth edition of the 40 Under Forty competition.
It all began in late 2006, said BusinessWest Associate Publisher Kate Campiti, when the magazine decided to embrace a concept used by a number of business publications across the country to identify, profile, and celebrate rising young stars in a given community.
Over the years, individuals from nearly every sector of the economy — from healthcare to retailing; technology to law; banking to nonprofit management — have made the list and climbed to the podium in late June to accept their plaque and the applause of friends, family, colleagues, and fellow recipients past and present.
The Class of 2013 was especially diverse, with the list of winners including a charter school founder, a construction company owner, several lawyers, an environmental scientist, and the vice president of sales for a company making next-generation hand dryers.
It was a class that surprised Fialky in some respects, and in a positive way.
“What I really enjoyed about my experience judging was seeing all the talent potential in the valley,” he explained. “You know that there’s been so many honorees over the prior years, and you intuitively think that the talent pool has been exhausted. But then you look at all the nominations, and you realize that it’s only the tip of the iceberg that’s been tapped.
“Some years favor service providers, some years favor nonprofit managers, some favor entrepreneurs, and some favor strength of character,” he went on, referring to the general makeup of the previous six classes. “I think last year’s class had an element of all four of those things.”
O’Connell concurred. “I think this was a great class — I came away very impressed,” he said, “and also feeling very good about the future of this region.”
There are now 280 people in the unique fraternity that is 40 Under Forty, said Campiti, noting that many of them have moved on to different jobs and different challenges, and some of them now have a different area code on their cell phones, but their 40 Under Forty plaque usually goes with them wherever they go.
Fialky agreed.
“It’s become a symbol of excellence, a symbol of leadership, if you will,” he said, adding that 40 Under Forty has become both a brand and something to aspire to.
The popularity — and importance — of the 40 Under Forty program has been driven home by the steady growth and evolution of the annual 40 Under Forty gala, this year to be staged on June 19 at the Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House in Holyoke. Last year, the event drew a sellout crowd of more than 650 people, who were treated to fine food, perfect weather, and an eclectic array of music, chosen by the winners to accompany their ascension to the stage.
“The gala has become a happening, a not-to-be missed gathering that is also the year’s best networking opportunity,” said Campiti, adding that those who wish to attend must act quickly, because the gala traditionally sells out weeks before the event.
Before anyone can move to the stage to get their plaque, however, they must be nominated. And both Campiti and Fialky, who has been on both sides of the equation — as both candidate and judge — stressed repeatedly that 40 Under Forty is a nomination-driven process, something that is still lost on many who wish to forward a name and résumé for consideration.
“That’s where it starts, with the nomination,” said Campiti. “It needs to be complete, it needs to be thorough, and it needs to essentially answer the question, ‘why is this individual worthy of a 40 Under Forty plaque?’”
The nomination form requests the basic information on an individual, said Campiti, and can be supported with other material, such as a résumé, testimonials, and even press clippings highlighting an individual’s achievements in their chosen profession or within their community.
Nominations must be received by the end of the business day (5 p.m.) on Feb. 7. Judges will then score those nominations, and the winners will be notified by mail by the end of the month.
The chosen 40 will be profiled in the magazine’s April 21 edition, with gala tickets going on sale soon thereafter. For more information, call (413) 781-8600, ext. 100.

Fast Facts
What: The 40 Under Forty nomination process
Deadline: Feb. 7 at 5 p.m.
How to Nominate: Use the form in BusinessWest (it will also appear in subsequent editions), or go here.
For More Information: Call (413) 781-8600, ext. 100, or visit www.businesswest.com.
The 40 under forty Gala: June 19
Where: The Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House
Tickets: They’ll go on sale in late April and will first be made available to winners and their families and employers.

Nonprofit Management Sections
Nonprofit Managers Face a Host of New Questions — and Challenges

Sarah Tsitso at the new outdoor play area at the Boys & Girls Club Family Center in Springfield.

Sarah Tsitso at the new outdoor play area at the Boys & Girls Club Family Center in Springfield.

Sarah Tsitso has been spending a lot of her recent spare time on eBay, looking for 1920s garb.
She needs a dress and some accessories for a Nov. 17 fund-raiser at the Museum of Springfield History that she has created for the Boys & Girls Club Family Center, which she serves as executive director. It’s called ‘Jazz Fantasia,’ billed as an opportunity to experience the so-called Harlem Renaissance (which Tsitso has studied extensively) with jazz music, dinner, and both live and silent auctions.
“It’s something really different — which you definitely need these days,” said Tsitso, adding that, when it comes to raising funds for the family center (or any nonprofit, for that matter), a large dose of imagination and a willingness to look well beyond the traditional golf tournament or the usual event venues are certainly necessary.
And that’s just one of the many ways in which the lives of nonprofit managers have changed in recent years, she told BusinessWest. New challenges range from heightened competition for available funds to a need for far greater accountability when it comes to how funds are expended; from a critical need to create partnerships and collaborations with a host of constituencies to simply securing the operational funding to keep the lights on.
“The new buzzword is ‘measurable outcomes,’” she said, adding that most all donors are seeking (or demanding) them these days.
Kirk Smith, executive director of the YMCA of Greater Springfield, agreed, and used the phrase “new questions” to describe what nonprofit managers are facing these days, adding quickly that, to succeed, they need thoughtful, specific, and effective answers.
“Before, you could put together a good mission statement, and people would give you money based on just that — but those days are long gone,” he explained. “Now, what they want to know is your track record — how have you demonstrated that what you’re doing is effective?
Kirk Smith

In this new environment for nonprofits, Kirk Smith says, organizations and their leaders must do many things well, but above all else, they must be able to effectively communicate.

“They want to know how efficient you are, how strong your organization is, and who it’s collaborating with,” he continued. “And then, there’s the bigger question, which comes in two parts: ‘how are you going to use my support to leverage further support?’ and ‘when that funding runs out, what’s next? How sustainable is that program or initiative?’”
These are questions that nonprofits are not used to answering and didn’t have to answer until maybe a decade or so ago, he continued, adding that, overall, this responsibility is a good thing for all parties involved, because greater accountability helps an organization stay on mission, and statistical evidence of success is far more effective than anecdotal evidence when it comes to gaining additional support.
To succeed in this changed environment, organizations and their leaders must do many things well, said Smith, adding that, above all else, they must be able to effectively communicate. And there is much that goes into this, he went on, adding that it means everything from relaying an organization’s mission to conveying how well it is meeting stated goals, to sustaining a dialogue with funders about what they see as priorities and would like to accomplish.
“Today, it’s not about asking for money, but asking for a conversation,” he said. “Donors are not just people who give you money; you have to understand them and tap into what’s important to them, not what’s important to you.”
Summing it all up, Dora Robinson, executive director of the United Way of Pioneer Valley, said today’s nonprofit managers must wear many hats, and, in a word, be “generalists.” Elaborating, she said, while they still must be devoted to the mission — that part won’t change — they must also develop new programs, be well-versed in financial matters, be effective managers of employers and groomers of talent, and, overall, be visionaries.
“People have to manage from soup to nuts,” she explained, “ and it’s a real challenge keeping all those balls in the air while at the same time looking for new opportunities. Now, you have to be a solid fiscal manager; the new leadership requirements for nonprofits are to not only be a good friend- and fund-raiser, but also a good manager.”
The phrase ‘operate like a business’ is overused and somewhat of a cliché when it comes to nonprofit management, said Andrew Morehouse, executive director of the Food bank of Western Massachusetts, but it’s quite accurate.
A recent graduate of the MBA program at the Isenberg School of Management, Morehouse said nonprofit managers today must be adept in everything from strategic planning to teamwork building to Stephen Covey’s famous seven habits.
For this issue and its focus on nonprofit management, BusinessWest talked with several administrators about the changed — and still changing — landscape, and what it means for their organizations.

Exercise in Creativity
As she talked with BusinessWest about her organization — which traces its roots back to 1899, when it was a settlement house in Springfield’s North End — and the many challenges involved with nonprofit management, Tsitso took a break for a tour that helped her get several points across.

To be successful today, Dora Robinson says, nonprofit managers must be “generalists.”

To be successful today, Dora Robinson says, nonprofit managers must be “generalists.”

She stopped in what she called the “library in progress” to talk about partnerships — in this case, one with the organization Link to Libraries, which has helped the family center stock its shelves and put books in the hands of children who don’t have many, if any, at home.
She pointed out the large kitchen, and, while doing so, talked about how the center doesn’t just feed children, but engages in educational programs about proper nutrition — a reflection of changing times, heightened awareness about the problem of childhood obesity, and a broader mission. And while traversing the hallways, she mentioned her desire for a capital campaign aimed at expanding the nearly 50-year-old Acorn Street facilities.
The highlight, though, was a new outdoor play center that was almost ready for prime time. An addition to the offerings at the family center, the facility was created in response to several recognized needs and goals — especially a desire to provide outdoor recreation to children who have limited access to both playground equipment and fresh air.
“My daughter goes to Springfield public schools, so I know first-hand how little time they get outside,” Tsitso noted. “Recess is nothing — if they get it at all, it’s 10 minutes, and there’s very little playground equipment. And most of the children in this neighborhood live in apartments, and oftentimes, it’s not safe to walk around.”
So she applied for a grant through the Boston-based Amelia Peabody Foundation to build a playground, and she admits that this was somewhat of a hard sell.
“It was a tough one, because they don’t typically fund playgrounds, and they weren’t interested in funding this one,” she recalled. “But the pitch I made to them was about childhood obesity and diabetes, and the fact that we need to provide opportunities to keep children active in any way we can. I convinced them that this was important.”
Together, Tsitso’s commitment to creating an outdoor play area and her success in securing the funds to get it done reflect many of the challenges facing nonprofit managers today — everything from the need to be creative and persistent in the pursuit of funds to fully knowing and understanding what drives those who eventually open their checkbooks.
“Years ago, many of the managers of nonprofits were former corporate executives,” said Tsitso as she attempted to sum up the new environment. “They would go to their corporate contacts and very passionately pitch the cause … and people would just start writing checks.
“It worked — for that time and that purpose — but it doesn’t work anymore,” she continued. “I can’t just waltz into MassMutual and ask them to cut me a check for a $1 million. That’s not going to work; I wish it would, but it won’t. You really need to spend time and steward donors and figure out how your mission and what you’re trying to accomplish falls in with that corporation and the goals that they’ve set for themselves.
“It’s all about finding that symmetry between nonprofit and business,” she went on. “What businesses really want to support at-risk youth in our community? Some are very interested in the arts, some are into cancer research; you have to find the right match for you.”
Using different words and phrases, Smith said essentially the same thing, putting heavy stress on the need for nonprofits large and small to be accountable, while also providing something else for donors: bang for their buck.
“Donors want to understand how their support is making an impact,” he told BusinessWest, adding that, to help in this process, nonprofits must provide more quantitative (rather than qualitative) evidence than ever before, meaning those measurable outcomes. “Accountability is much greater — there’s no more ‘here’s $10,000, go help some kids.’ The conversations have to be at a much higher level than that, and I think that’s appropriate.
“Charitable giving is up in America,” he continued. “But it’s more competitive in terms of fund-raising, and you need to be prepared to be held accountable, moreso than you did in the past.”

By the Numbers
As an example, he pointed to the Y-AIM Program, which matches at-risk teenagers with mentors, with the goal of keeping them in school and seeing them through to graduation. The initiative was created with the initial support of Big Y, and First Niagara and Health New England have been more recent backers, said Smith, noting that all those involved have been looking for evidence that it’s working.
“People need to see some specific numbers,” he said, adding that, with Y-AIM, there are some.
“This program is about addressing at-risk high-school students who have very low GPAs, are repeaters, and have low attendance and behavior problems,” Smith explained. “We started at Sci-Tech [the High School of Science and Technology] with 40 kids, and we graduated 39 of them; 36 went to college, one went into the military, and one went into the Job Corps.”
With those numbers in hand, program administrators have been able to gain the attention and support of other donors, said Smith, adding that Y-AIM has expended from one school to three and now four. “If we weren’t able to demonstrate success and track the data, we wouldn’t be where we are now.”
But quantifying results is often difficult for smaller nonprofits, said Tsitso, and especially with her organization, where the goal is often prevention.
“It’s harder to measure the ‘don’ts’ than the ‘dos,’” she explained. “Our outcomes are really non-outcomes; we start with a child who’s 6 or 7 years old, and through the services we provide, they don’t get pregnant at 14, they don’t join a gang, they don’t drop out of high school, they don’t engage in risky behavior, and they don’t end up in jail.
“We can measure our children, but it’s a long-term measurement,” she continued. “We’re talking about a 6- or 7-year-old; let’s see where they are at 20. It’s not something we can measure on a one-year grant cycle.”
Beyond this dilemma, however, the advent of greater accountability has brought other challenges for nonprofits, said Robinson. Elaborating, she said that, in this changed environment and its greater emphasis on programming and measurable outcomes — what she called “moving the needle” — basic operating costs often get overlooked.
“One of the big questions today for organizations like the United Way is, how do we keep the infrastructure in place to really support and promote our mission and our work?” she explained. “You need to have an administrative infrastructure in order to do the kind of work that needs to be done in communities — so who pays for that?”
This challenge is compounded by unfunded mandates at both the state and federal level, she said, as well as by new reporting requirements dictating that work be done electronically, which constitutes a major burden for many smaller agencies.
“Some can’t meet these costs,” she told BusinessWest, “and while some can, often they do it at the expense of direct services.”
And this brings her back to that notion about nonprofit managers being generalists and keeping a large number of balls in the air at the same time, especially when so much emphasis is on programs and quantifying the results they’re generating.
“The funders want to provide funds for the programs, but not necessarily the operations,” she explained. “And that makes it almost impossible for some nonprofits; those organizations then have the additional burden of doing fund-raising. Not only are they trying to manage and bring in resources through contracts from state and federal foundations, they now have to do fund-raising to cover the gaps.”
Meanwhile, they have to be able to attract and effectively manage talent and get a team to move in the same direction, she went on, adding that, for many, this requires additional education, such as an MBA, or work in college programs specifically tailored for nonprofit managers (see related story, page 22).

Getting the Mission Accomplished
While acknowledging that some things have indeed changed for nonprofits, Morehouse said many aspects of effective management in this realm have simply been “rediscovered.”
At the top of that list, he told BusinessWest, is that all-important element of trust, and the need to establish and maintain it with all constituencies, including the many different funders of the organization, from corporations, individuals, and foundations to state and federal government.
“There are certain basic elements of humanity that make social enterprises work, whether be it a for-profit business or a nonprofit business,” he explained. “We’re social enterprises where human beings have to interact to create a product or service to get it out the door — and trust is a very important element.
“Employees want to be able to trust one another; partners in a business relationship want to be able to trust one another,” Morehouse continued. “And when you have that trust, respect, and fairness in a relationship, you can create a lot more productivity, whether it be producing a good or providing a service, because people want to do it; they feel good about it and they’ll go the extra mile, not just because they believe in a mission, but because they believe in their peers and their partners.”
Another element that has in many ways been rediscovered, or re-emphasized, he went on, is the need to create and strengthen relationships and partnerships at all levels.
These include the organization’s board, donors, the communities being served, other nonprofits, and especially the internal partners — emergency providers (pantries) that distribute the food to clients. Such relationships help stretch available funding, he explained, while also enabling organizations to take their missions in new directions and become something else that nonprofits must be in this day and age: nimble.
“One of the efforts that we’re undertaking for the next few years is to work with our network of emergency providers to create efficiencies through better collaboration and cooperation, and some of that will result in reducing duplication of effort,” Morehouse said.
Tsitso echoed those comments, noting that the family center has successfully forged partnerships with groups ranging from Link to Libraries to Rick’s Place (which counsels children who are grieving lost parents) to Girl Scouts of America (there’s now a troop at the center) to broaden its mission and better meet it.
“These partnerships are allowing us to do a lot more with less,” she explained. “They allow us to offer far more than homework help and free gym time; we can really put together a slate of programs that kids enjoy.
“Because these other organizations are willing to work together with us, we’re able to expand our reach, expand our visibility, partner on some grants, and share important information, because we’re serving basically the same population.”
This talk of partnerships and collaboration brings Smith back to his comments about how nonprofits shouldn’t be asking for money these days, but instead asking for conversations. And these talks have changed, he went on, noting that, instead of asking how a corporation or foundation can help the Y, the Y is asking how it can help those entities reach their stated goals.
“First, we explain to them who we are, and detail the depth and breadth of our work,” he said, “and then we ask, ‘what do you want to see addressed in the community?’
“That’s the question we ask funders, whereas in the past, we would say, ‘we have a menu of programs — pick one.’ Now, it’s ‘what do you want to see addressed in the community?’” he continued. “‘Is it education, childhood obesity, teen pregnancy … what needs to be addressed?’ And then we ask them, ‘if we’re able to put something together consistent with meeting that need, will you fund it?’”

Changes of Note
For Jazz Fantasia, Tsitso and her staff at the family center will give the history museum the look and feel of the Roaring ’20s for an event that will be a decidedly different kind of fund-raiser.
For her and other nonprofit managers, though, there is no turning back the clock when it comes to what is expected — and demanded — of them, and the myriad challenges they face.
This is a different era, a time for those new questions, as Smith called them, and for terms such as accountability, measurable outcomes, partnerships, and collaboration.
And they will define the landscape for the foreseeable future.

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

40 Under 40 The Class of 2012
Executive Director, AIDS Foundation of Western Mass.

Crevier-JessicaWhile working toward her master’s degree in Nonprofit Management and Philanthropy at Bay Path College, Jessica Roncarati-Howe was asked by a professor — a trustee of the AIDS Foundation of Western Mass. — to assist with one of that organization’s events.
It turned out to be a life-changing experience.
“When I met with people and saw how dedicated and passionate they were, I was completely hooked,” she said. “After less than a year, I was invited onto the board of trustees.” About five years into that role, that board wanted to hire an executive director, and she got the job.
“I wanted to build a career around working with people with that much passion,” said Roncarati-Howe, who is also an accomplished visual artist. “It was a thrilling prospect.”
And also a challenging one. As the foundation’s only paid staff member, she’s in charge of marketing and development, administering the grant program, co-chairing most events, and overseeing a cadre of volunteers and interns — “everything from vacuuming to major executive roles.”
The AIDS Foundation has three missions: providing financial assistance to about 100 patients a year for expenses like rent, utilities, medications, and other basic needs; educational components, including the training of young peer educators to bring awareness into high schools and colleges; and referral services to help people with the disease access health care and other resources.
Those efforts are making a difference. Greater Springfield has the highest rate of infection in the state, with 1,200 known AIDS patients in the City of Homes alone — many more than that, actually, since typically, only 1 in 5 victims know they’re infected. So Roncarati-Howe knows that her organization’s initiatives are saving lives.
“Every time I’m able to help a person find the services they need, or they receive a grant from the foundation, it could be life-saving or life-altering. It is just unspeakably gratifying,” she said.
“How many people can get out of bed every day and do something they absolutely love?” she added. “Not only that, I’m able to do something that directly affects quality of life for people in our community. I can’t overstate how grateful I am to have that opportunity.”
— Joseph Bednar

40 Under 40 Cover Story The Class of 2012
The Young Business and Community Leaders of Western Massachusetts

In 2007, BusinessWest introduced a new recognition program called 40 Under Forty. It wasn’t unique — business journals across the country have similar initiatives — but it was new to this region.

It was designed to enlighten the region and introduce it to 40 rising stars in the realms of business, nonprofit management, and community service. It was also created to inspire others to become leaders and find their own ways to join the ranks of 40 Under Forty winners. Five years later, the program continues to succeed on all levels, and a 40 Under Forty plaque has become a coveted prize across the four counties of Western Mass.
It has become a symbol of excellence, an honor that speaks to the energy, drive, passion, and commitment to help others that all the winners share.
With that, we introduce the Class of 2012, a diverse group that includes entrepreneurs, professionals, nonprofit managers, a state senator, and a police sergeant. The stories are all different, but the common denominator is that these young men and women possess that most important of qualities: leadership.

2012 40 Under Forty Winners:

Allison Biggs
Christopher Connelly
Scott Conrad
Erin Corriveau
Carla Cosenzi
Ben Craft
Michele Crochetiere
Christopher DiStefano
Keshawn Dodds
Ben Einstein
Michael Fenton
Tim Fisk
Elizabeth Ginter
Eric Hall
Brendon Hutchins
Kevin Jennings
Kristen Kellner
Dr. Ronald Laprise
Danielle Lord
Waleska Lugo-DeJesus
Trecia Marchand
Ryan McCollum
Sheila Moreau
Kelli Ann Nielsen
Neil Nordstrom
Edward Nuñez
Adam Ondrick
Gladys Oyola
Shardool Parmar
Vincent Petrangelo
Terry Powe
Jennifer Reynolds
Jessica Roncarati-Howe
Dan Rukakoski
Dr. Nate Somers
Joshua Spooner
Jaclyn Stevenson
Jason Tsitso
Sen. James Welch
Karen Woods

Photography for this special section by Denise Smith Photography

Meet Our Judges

This year’s nominations were scored by a panel of five judges, who accepted the daunting challenge of reviewing more than 110 nominations, and scoring individuals based on several factors, ranging from achievements in business to work within the community. BusinessWest would like to thank these outstanding members of the Western Mass. business community for volunteering their time to the sixth annual 40 Under Forty competition. They are:

• Scott Foster, partner in the Business & Finance Department of the law firm Bulkley Richardson, develops practical, cost-effective legal strategies that complement the goals of the business and the business owner. His clients range from startups seeking venture capital to established businesses preparing for a transition to the next generation or a transfer to new owners. Foster, a member of the 40 Under Forty Class of 2011, is the co-founder of Valley Venture Mentors, an organization that provides critical mentoring to early-stage, pre-seed companies. He also serves on committees of local organizations focused on growing the business and entrepreneurial community in the Pioneer Valley.
• Jaimye Hebert is currently a vice president of Commercial Lending at Monson Savings Bank. Previously she worked for People’s United Bank (formerly known as the Bank of Western Massachusetts) as a vice president of Commercial Lending and various other positions, including credit officer and portfolio manager. A graduate of Springfield Technical Community College and Western New England University and a 40 Under Forty honoree in 2011, Hebert is a lifelong resident of Western Mass. and serves on the STCC Foundation board of directors. She is also actively involved with local organizations, including the American Cancer Society Relay for Life and the Pioneer Valley Junior Soccer League.
• Lynn Ostrowski is the director of Brand & Corporate Relations at Health New England. Her role includes oversight of brand, marketing and advertising, graphic design, communications, community relations, sponsorships, public relations, and government affairs. She recently joined the faculty of Elms College, appointed program coordinator for the Health Services Administration undergraduate degree. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Health Fitness and her master’s degree in Health Promotion & Wellness Management from Springfield College, and her doctorate in Health Psychology from Capella University.
• Kirk Smith is president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Springfield, a position he took just over a year ago. He has been an operator of residential facilities and a nonprofit executive, minister, and motivational speaker for more than 17 years in Ohio, Florida, and Massachusetts. Smith holds a bachelor’s degree in Science of Human Services and a master’s in Organizational Management and Leadership from Springfield College. Smith has been featured on several national and local television shows and in news publications and magazines discussing YMCA work in urban communities and professional staff development.
• Jim Theroux is the Flavin Professor of Entrepreneurship at UMass Amherst. He had a business career in the cable-TV industry that began with Time-Warner Cable. After several years there, he went out on his own by raising $20 million in venture capital to start a new cable company. That company was sold in 1991, at which time Theroux joined the faculty at UMass Amherst. There, Theroux has partnered with scientists to form new companies. He is a co-founder of two biotech ventures and a food-science company. In addition to angel investing, Theroux is an advisor to many area businesses. He received his MBA at Harvard University and his doctorate in Educational Technology at UMass.

Sponsored by:
Education Sections
WNEU Program Introduces Young People to the Nonprofit Realm

Julie Siciliano

Julie Siciliano says the board intern program has injected youth into area institutions, while opening students’ eyes to the world of community service.

Julie Siciliano says that things tend to move slowly in the world of academia, especially when it comes to the process of taking concepts for new learning initiatives from the drawing board to the classroom — in whatever form it may take.
There is a great deal of due diligence involved in such matters, noted Siciliano, dean of the College of Business at Western New England University, adding that at her school — and across higher education in general — building consensus on if, when, and how to proceed with new ideas can often be a time-consuming proposition.
Such was not the case, however, with a relatively new course of study at WNEU — the so-called “nonprofit-board-internship” program. As the name suggests, the for-credit initiative places students on the boards of area nonprofits — the YMCA of Greater Springfield, the Pioneer Valley Chapter of American Red Cross, and the Springfield Boys & Girls Club were early participants — and gives them full voting privileges.
First suggested by College of Business adjunct faculty member Gerry Fitzgerald in early 2008, the program was ready to be implemented for the next semester, a much quicker pace than is generally the rule with such matters.
“That’s because everyone could see early on that this was going to be a real win-win,” said Siciliano. “It was going to be a win for the nonprofits, and a win for the students taking part; the organizations would get an injection of youth on their boards, and the students would gain an appreciation for the important work these nonprofits do — and become involved in that work.”
And just three years in, it’s apparent that this optimism, not to mention those fast-tracking efforts, were well warranted.
Tashia Kay

Tashia Kay says her time spent on the board of the Springfield Boys & Girls Club provided a number of learning experiences.

Consider these comments from Tashia Kay, who spent a year on the board of the Boys & Girls Club, as exhibit A: “It was great to be part of an organization that was passionate about the kids and the community, and not just focused on money and profits,” she said, drawing a distinction between what she saw in her Business classes and what she observed on the board. “I was very lucky to be part of the board for the seven months I was there.”
As for input on the nonprofit side, Rick Lee, director of the Pioneer Valley chapter of the Red Cross, was among the many who went into the program with optimism and high expectations. But even with all that, he remembers being pleasantly surprised, not by the many ways his organization has benefitted — he fully anticipated that an infusion of youth would become a real asset — but how the participating students gained confidence he could see and hear as the year went on.
Rick Lee, director of the Pioneer Valley chapter of American Red Cross

Rick Lee, director of the Pioneer Valley chapter of American Red Cross, says the board intern program has helped introduce young people to career possibilities in the nonprofit realm.

“While these young people have certainly made some contributions to our organization and helped to move things forward, I also saw in the time each one of them was with us, progress in their own personal development that was just as gratifying and just as important,” he explained. “They brought youth to the discussion and different viewpoints, and over the course of their year gained a great deal of confidence and ability to express opinions and back up what they were saying.”
Beyond this development professionally, there are many other benefits to be derived from this program, said Lee, especially the ability to introduce young people to the realm of nonprofit management and perhaps inspire them to make this a career.
“As someone who has been in nonprofit work for more than 30 years now, I’ve always been aware of how important it is to attract young people to the kind of work we’re in,” he said. “Whether it’s attracting them as a paid staffer in the future, or, as we’re trying to do here, getting them to think about their role as a leader so they may choose a different career path — as a leader in a nonprofit organization when they’re a young professional, not just when they’re in their  ’40s.”
This is exactly what has happened with Diane Garcia, a business major who graduated in 2009 and took part in the pilot program that launched the nonprofit-board initiative. She said her experiences with the YMCA of Greater Springfield definitely helped determine her career course, which has taken her into the nonprofit realm in a few different ways.
Indeed, upon graduating from WNEU, she accepted an Americorps Vista position in the National Development Office of Jumpstart in Boston. And today, she works for Boston-based Commongood Careers, an executive search firm that specializes in finding top-level managers for nonprofits.
“My position at the YMCA really jump-started me into thinking about going that route,” she said, adding that she didn’t arrive at WNECU’s business school thinking about working for nonprofits, but her role on the board definitely widened her scope of thinking.

Seats at the Table
Garcia admits that she’s not a big baseball fan. She can’t recall, for example, which member of the Red Sox organization took the podium as keynote speaker for the YMCA’s huge spring fundraising breakfast in 2009 (it was knuckleballer Tim Wakefield).
What she does remember, however, is all the hours she spent helping to plan the event and then work it. Specifically, she recalls the teamwork necessary to pull off such a happening, and the satisfaction that comes when it is staged successfully.
“It was a lot of work, and it was interesting to see how it all came together,” she said. “Working on the event gave you an appreciation for the organization and the role it plays in the community.”
This is what Fitzgerald, Siciliano and others at WNEU had in mind when they blueprinted the nonprofit-board program. They wanted to create learning environments that would accomplish a number of goals — everything from giving students confidence-building experiences, to opening their eyes to the intriguing world of nonprofit management, to injecting youth onto those boards.
The program is still a work in progress, but most believe that to say it is accomplishing those goals would be an understatement.
Here’s how it works: Students in Business, Management, and Accounting are encouraged to apply for the internships, said Siciliano, adding that many are actually recruited by faculty members. There are a few prerequisites — a 3.0 grade point average, for example — but mostly, faculty and administrators are looking for individuals with leadership skills and an interest in serving the community.
Meanwhile, they are also recruiting nonprofits on which students can serve, organizations that, first and foremost, are open to the idea of a 21-year-old sitting on their board with full voting privileges (some are not) and that can offer those valuable learning experiences mentioned earlier.
It’s all part of a comprehensive matching process, said Siciliano, adding that from the beginning, the school has worked to create solid fits that maximize the experience for both parties.
And for this coming year, the school has created five such matches, involving the YMCA, Boys Club, Red Cross, United Way, and Dress for Success. The individual experiences will be different, said Siciliano, but there are important common denominators — especially opportunities to learn and participate.
And both of these qualities come in a number of varieties, said Gary McCarthy, executive director of the Springfield Boys & Girls Club. He noted that his organization has nearly two dozen board members, but even within that large group, the WNEU students who have served on that body have managed to stand out and make notable contributions.
“We found that the young people from Western New England were very committed to the process,” he said. “They were very vocal, and when they were passionate about something they definitely spoke up and put in their 2 cents and their recommendations on things.”
He specifically recalls them being active in efforts to engage the large alumni base.
“They were involved with some others in getting a Facebook page up and staging reunions,” he recalled. “They also got engaged in our fundraising events, like the Festival of Trees, and so they learned about the many aspects of putting on large events, like recruiting volunteers and public relations work, but they were also there on the front lines and doing the work.”
Meanwhile, the students also helped build stronger bridges between the club and the college, creating more connections in matters such as mentoring, he said, adding the organization has had student board members from both WNEC and UMass Amherst, and has forged stronger relationships with both institutions through those programs.

Votes of Confidence
Kay remembers all the work that went into the Festival of Trees, the hugely popular program in which businesses, institutions, and area families donate decorated trees, which are then raffled off, with the proceeds supporting club programs.
“I got to take part in the planning and behind-the-scenes work,” she explained, “but I really had no idea just how big this was and how many companies got involved to help the club. The day of the event, I was running around, helping everyone put trees together, getting the electricity going, making sure there was enough room for everyone, working on the premiere party, selling raffle tickets … and it was great to see what everyone was working so hard for.”
What she remembers more from her year on the board, though, was taking part in key votes on a proposal to merge the agency with another Boys & Girls Club, a concept that was eventually rejected.
“I got to be part of that decision, which was a real learning experience,” she recalled. “There was a feasibility study to determine if it was beneficial for us to move forward with the merger, and in the end, we decided that it just didn’t make sense to do it.
“Each club gets grant money, and if there was a merger, there would be one entity, and less money to go around,” she continued. “Taking part in that important vote was a real experience for me.”
Other participants in the program have had the opportunity to become involved with similarly important decisions and the research that goes into them.
Indeed, Lee told BusinessWest that the injection of youth to his board has come at a time of what he called “watershed change” for the Red Cross, and the interns have added tremendously to the dialogue.
“It began three years ago, and it has escalated over the past 11 months,” he said of the fast-paced evolutionary process. “It has literally changed the way chapter borders are defined, and changed the roles of staff members and board members; it has upset a number of apple carts as we try, to extend the analogy, and restack the fruit for the 21st century.
“And having young people be part of those discussions has helped with the breadth of the discussions we’ve had,” he continued, “and brought some different perspective to the conversation.”
Lee and other nonprofit managers we spoke with expressed the hope that the students’ experiences would inspire them to continue their involvement with nonprofits after they left the respective boardroom — and the college. And the reality is that many of them are.
Kay, for example, said she does a lot of work with nonprofits as a part-time accountant with Nicholas Lapier, CPA, and is confident that wherever her career takes her she will make time to get involved in the community.
Meanwhile, Garcia said her work with Jumpstart, as well as her current position with Commongood are reflections of her desire to make work within the community part of her career portfolio.
“I really enjoy working at Commongood,” she explained, “ because it’s a combination of the two things I love the most — working with nonprofits and HR and recruiting, which I developed an interest in while I was in college. This is perfectly in the intersection of the two.”
Her sentiments about nonprofits are reflected in the comments she offered for a piece in the spring-summer edition of the newsletter for the School of Business: “My internship on the board of the YMCA opened my eyes to a whole different idea of what business can be,” she said, “and how my skills can really serve others.”

The Bottom Line
Tom Marsh will be among the students serving on boards starting this September. His assignment is with the YMCA, and he’s hoping to take his experiences in sports and fundraising — he founded the club soccer program at WNEU, which involves both — and his desire to get involved in the community, and make them the basis for what he believes will be a memorable learning experience.
“I’m really excited about the prospects of getting a real-world experience and seeing how decisions are made and ideas arise,” he said when asked about his upcoming stint on the Y board. “I’m just hoping that I can contribute to the process and learn things I can take with me on my career path.”
Those who have done this before him would say he’ll accomplish all that and much more.

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

40 Under 40 The Class of 2011
Program Manager, Human Resources Unlimited, Lighthouse

Jeffrey Trant

Jeffrey Trant

It’s called the HRU Café. That’s the name given to a new venture, a unique start-up business located at the Springfield Jewish Community Center (JCC) that brings together most of Jeff Trant’s passions under one roof, or operation.
These include social work, which he’s been doing virtually all his life — currently as director of a facility called Lighthouse, a community rehabilitation and employment organization managed by Human Resources Unlimited (the HRU part of that name) — and also business, or, in this case, the all-important business side of nonprofit management.
And then, there’s the coffee. “That’s been a serious vice since grad school,” he said.
The café, open since Valentine’s Day, employs disabled and disadvantaged adults and thus brings awareness to the large and diverse JCC community about the abilities of all people, disabled or otherwise, said Trant. Doing this, and hopefully breaking even financially, he said, helps explain what he means when he says he’s “an untraditional social worker.”
“When you have the credentials I have, you’re automatically sort of put in this box — when people hear the words ‘social worker,’ they assume you do one of two things, that you do child-protective services, meaning you take kids who are abused or neglected away from families, or you do psychotherapy with people. I do neither. What I do is very important work — it’s working with folks who don’t have a voice and helping them get one. That cuts across all facets of society, and it’s all about building stronger communities.”
Through Trant’s leadership, Springfield-based Lighthouse, which he took over in 2008, has undergone a successful restructuring, and now serves more than 500 men and women recovering from the effects of mental illness.
Trant’s only passion not represented by the café is golf, which he calls the “great equalizer,” and a way to “decompress” from his hard and often trying work at HRU, trying to give his clients a voice.
Trant credits his wife, Rachel, with helping him find a balance between work, life, golf, and coffee.
— George O’Brien

40 Under 40 The Class of 2011
Resource Development Director, Pioneer Valley Habitat for Humanity

Monica Borgatti

Monica Borgatti

On her climb to the top, Monica Borgatti said she was left gasping for breath. That is, as a volunteer for the American Lung Assoc. (ALA) Fight for Air climb held in the stairwells at Monarch Place, where she has been a fund-raising tour de force in the last three years.
Since earning a bachelor’s degree from Bay Path, Borgatti has worn many hats — she has licenses in auctioneering and real estate, and worked for a heating and cooling company. “I’ve even worked in a hotel and coffee shop,” she said.
But, she added, “none of those things were calling out to me, telling me what I needed to be doing. It was always working for someone else, making money for someone else, and it never felt amazing.
“I’ve got a pretty loud voice, and I’m fairly outgoing. I have strong opinions, and I’m not afraid to fight for what I think is right,” she continued. To channel that voice in the working world meant a return to her alma mater, where she finished a master’s degree in nonprofit management and philanthropy in 2010.
In the months since then, she has quickly proven herself an invaluable asset to the regional chapter of Habitat for Humanity. “When people ask me what I do for work,” she said, “often I see them recoil — like they’re thinking, ‘you ask people for money?’
“But it’s more an opportunity to have people give their philanthropic dollars in a meaningful way for them,” she explained. “At Habitat, we can offer those people a hand up to achieve something better for themselves. We all share this community, and we need to do the best we can to make it welcoming and healthy, to make it a good place for everyone.”
And with her team at the ALA, the Little Engines, Borgatti has been helping to raise awareness and funds for lung cancer. With her team of no more than four other volunteers and 24 flights, they have raised more per capita in the last two years than any of their fellow climbers — one step at a time.
— Dan Chase

Agenda Departments

Deliver Perfect Pitch

May 12: Learn concrete and easy-to-master tools to help you in every sales situation no matter what the environment or what you sell during “Deliver the Perfect Pitch,” 9 to 11 a.m., at the Scibelli Enterprise Center, 1 Federal St., Springfield. Sheldon Snodgrass of www.steadysales.com in Williamsburg will be the presenter. The program is sponsored by the Mass. Small Business Development Center Network. Cost is $40. For more information, call (413) 737-6712 or visit www.msbdc.org/wmass.

AIM Annual Meeting

May 14: John Ratzenberger, best known for his role as Cliff in the television comedy Cheers, will deliver the luncheon address at the Associated Industries of Massachusetts’ 95th annual meeting at the Westin Hotel in Waltham. Ratzenberger is a passionate advocate for the future of American manufacturing and the need to teach young people to work with their hands. He will discuss the foundation he started to help young people learn the rewards of fixing things themselves, building something useful, and inventing products that create economic opportunity. AIM’s annual meeting is planned from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will bring together some of the brightest business and academic minds in Massachusetts to answer the pressing economic questions of the day. For more information, visit www.aimnet.org.

Wine Tasting and Auction

May 14: The Chicopee Chamber of Commerce will host its annual beer/wine tasting and auction at the Castle of Knights on Memorial Avenue in Chicopee from 6 to 9 p.m. The event, a fund-raiser to support the chamber and its many initiatives, is being sponsored by Chicopee Savings Bank. The event will feature fine food, a large variety of wines and beers to sample, and myriad auction items to bid on. Back by popular demand is the Collectibles Road Show. Representatives from Antiques Roadshow will be on hand to appraise attendees’ valuables. Those with items such as old coins, jewelry, or collectibles are encouraged to bring them to the show. Tickets are $20 each. To reserve tickets, call (413) 594-2101, or visit www.chicopeechamber.org.

Pancake Breakfast

May 15: The Spirit of Springfield will once again serve up what is reputed to the world’s largest pancake breakfast from 8 to 11 a.m. on Main Street in downtown Springfield. The event, marking Springfield’s 374th birthday, is the 25th edition of the annual pancake breakfast. It will also feature entertainment and activities. Tickets are $3 for adults and $1 for children. For more information, call (413) 733-3800 or visit www.spiritofspringfield.com.

13th Annual Rays of Hope Survivors’ Day

May 15: Breast-cancer survivors and their friends are invited to attend the 13th annual Rays of Hope Breast Cancer Survivors’ Day, from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Sheraton Monarch Place Hotel, One Monarch Place, Springfield. Breast cancer activist Geralyn Lucas, author of Why I Wore Lipstick to My Mastectomy, will serve as keynote speaker at the annual event, sponsored by the Comprehensive Breast Center at Baystate Medical Center and Rays of Hope. Lucas will discuss what it was like being diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 27 just after landing her dream job as an editorial producer with ABC television’s 20/20 news program. A graduate of Columbia University School of Journalism, she later became director of public affairs at Lifetime Television and left the network in 2008 to work on the screenplay for Why I Wore Lipstick.  The television movie premiered on Lifetime in October, starring Sarah Chalke of the hit TV show Scrubs. In addition to the keynote address, participants will be able to select from two workshops on a number of topics, including ‘The Fat Factor,’ ‘Yoga and Healing,’ ‘Breast Cancer Therapy and the Heart,’ ‘Oncoplastic Surgery,’ ‘Fashion Do’s and Don’ts,’ ‘A Good Night’s Sleep,’ ‘Hooping Harmony,’ and ‘Acupuncture and Oncology.’  There will also be a special Creative Coping Art Workshop offered only in Spanish. Rays of Hope founder Lucy Giuggio-Carvalho and Dr. James Stewart, chief of the Division of Hematology/Oncology at Baystate Medical Center, who co-authored the recently published The Everything Guide to Living with Breast Cancer, will be on hand to sign their book, which will also be available for purchase at the event. Throughout the day, participants can visit with several exhibitors who will sell a variety of breast-related products, as well as vendors selling arts and crafts. A continental breakfast and buffet luncheon will be served. Registration is required. The cost is $25 per person, with the remaining cost underwritten by Rays of Hope. For those unable to afford the fee, scholarships are available through Sandy Hubbard at the Rays of Hope Community Outreach Office at (413) 794-2828. Parking will be validated. For more information or to request a registration form, call (413) 794-9556 or visit www.baystatehealth.org/raysofhope.

Business Plan Basics

May 20: The Mass. Small Business Development Center Network will host “Business Plan Basics” from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Amherst Town Hall, first-floor meeting room, 4 Boltwood Walk, Amherst. The workshop will focus on management fundamentals from start-up considerations through business-plan development. Topics will include financing, marketing, and business planning. The cost is $35. For more information, call (413) 737-6712 or visit www.msbdc.org/wmass.  

Food for Thought

May 25: Learn how social-media marketing can help grow a business at the next Food for Thought luncheon, sponsored by BusinessWest and The Healthcare News. The event will be held at Samuel’s at the Basketball Hall of Fame from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. John Garvey, president of Garvey Communications Associates, and Mary Fallon, the agency’s media director, will present a talk about “Online Impact and Social Media for Small Business.” The $20 cost includes lunch. RSVP by May 21 with Melissa Hallock at (413) 781-8600, ext. 10, or [email protected].

Joomla! Workshop

May 26: Tamar Schanfeld of TnR Global Joomla! Services of Greenfield will present a daylong boot camp on creating an interactive Web site for small businesses. The workshop is planned from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Scibelli Enterprise Center, 1 Federal St., Springfield. Attendees will learn to plan a site, enter and edit content and menus, and install extensions. Comfort with Microsoft Word and an Internet browser is required. The workshop does not include e-commerce or shopping-cart features. Cost is $75. For more information, call (413) 737-6712 or visit www.msbdc.org/wmass.  

Green Remediation Conference

June 15-17: The Environmental Institute at UMass Amherst, the U.S. EPA Office of Superfund Remediation and Technology Innovation, U.S. EPA New England, and the Mass. Department of Environmental Protection will host the International Conference on Green Remediation: Environment – Energy – Economics, in the UMass Campus Center. The conference will address the full range of environmental, energy, and economic aspects of green and sustainable remediation, taking into account the energy requirements of treatment systems, air emissions, water-use requirements and impacts on water resources, land and ecosystem use and impacts, energy use and renewables, material composition, reuse, and waste generation. The conference is expected to attract more than 400 attendees, including a wide variety of representation from state and federal agencies, academia, various industries and utilities, and the environmental, engineering, and consulting community. Booths cost $1,000, and tables are $600. For more information or to register online, visit: www.teiconferences.com/greenremediation  ,  or call (413) 545-2842.

Hot Topics in Philanthropy

June 18: “Convergence: How Five Trends Will Reshape the Social Sector” is the focus of the upcoming Hot Topics in Philanthropy Breakfast hosted by Bay Path College. Nonprofit professionals are invited to attend the free event, which will examine a recently published study by La Piana Consulting, a national firm dedicated to strengthening nonprofits and foundations. The breakfast will be held in the Blake Student Commons from 7:30 to 10 a.m. From generational and other demographic shifts to the rise and impact of social media, there are several trends driving the future of the nonprofit sector. La Piana Consulting examined these various developments as part of its research initiative NonprofitNext, funded by the James Irvine Foundation. Written by Alex Hildebrand, David La Piana, Melissa Lendes Campos, and Heather Gowdy, the report describes the growing importance of networking as a means for effecting change, as well as the role of volunteerism and civic engagement in society, among other movements, and their impact on the nonprofit industry. The first to bring La Piana Consulting’s report to the region, Bay Path will feature Gowdy as the keynote speaker. A panel discussion will follow her address. The breakfast is free, but registration is required. To register, visit www.baypath.edu  or call (800) 782-7284, ext. 1056. The event is co-sponsored by the Graduate School at Bay Path College’s master’s in Nonprofit Management and Philanthropy program and its graduate certificate program in Fundraising Management and Nonprofit Management.

40 Under Forty Gala

June 24: BusinessWest will celebrate its 40 Under Forty Class of 2010 at the Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House with a gala to begin at 5 p.m. The event, which has become a spring tradition in Western Mass., will feature fine food, entertainment, and special presentations of the Class of 2010. Tickets for the event are $60. To order tickets or for more information, call (413) 781-8600, ext. 10, or e-mail [email protected] .

Area Colleges Are Applying Imagination to Enrollment- building Efforts
Numbers Game

AIC’s Peter Miller says that colleges need to be more sophisticated than ever to reach enrollment targets.

American International College is targeting young people in China, as well as individuals who simply can’t find a seat at a four-year school in California. Meanwhile, UMass Amherst is putting added focus on out-of-state students. These are just some of the strategies being applied as area colleges seek to bolster their enrollment numbers, which have been steadily rising over the past several years.

This is the season that high-school seniors have been waiting for all year. Upcoming graduation? Guess again.

By May 1, all students expecting to go on to college this fall will need to make their decisions regarding where they will go. It’s called Candidates’ Reply Date, and for the admissions departments at area four-year colleges, this time of year is critical.

The word from local colleges is that application numbers are strong for the incoming freshman class of 2010, mirroring a trend in place for the last several years.

It has been widely reported that, during the first months of the recession, students were returning to school in record numbers. But that trend toward higher application numbers, and resulting higher enrollment sizes, are the only constants in the admissions process. In Western Mass., colleges saw their class sizes swell, but in many cases the competition for those students has led to substantive changes in the admissions process.

At American International College, Vice President for Admission Services Peter Miller said that the school is far more sophisticated than ever before in how it does its job. From national and international outreach all the way to use of social media, the role of admissions is more important than ever to secure those target numbers. Some schools go to great lengths in their use of contemporary technology, but Miller only half-jokingly said, “if I ever text-message for a prospective student, I’ve told my colleagues to shoot me!”

The numbers game for student population has changed the admissions techniques, but it also has led some schools to focus on their brand image — the goods and services that can be sold to high-school prospects.

In these highly competitive times, improved campus amenities make a big difference, said Mary DeAngelo, interim director of Enrollment Management at Springfield College. “We have recently opened two new facilities that help in making the college appealing to prospective students. We have a brand-new campus union that just opened in January. Students are thrilled with it. Last fall, 2008, we opened a new recreation and wellness facility, which is second to none.”

UMass Amherst Chancellor Robert Holub has publicly stated his goals for gradual growth of the student body to better represent the school’s status as a state flagship university. His goal has a focus on attracting out-of-state students, whose tuition money stays on campus, rather than state students’ payments, which are filtered into the state revenue stream.

There has been wide support of his initiative, but voices on campus have publicly criticized the cost of attracting such a population, and the means to make it happen. The numbers game of student enrollment has reached a critical stage for colleges attempting to keep up with years of record student populations, but some ask, when is not enough too much?

Digital Readout

DeAngelo said that the school year beginning in fall 2009 has been “very interesting.”

“I think you’ll hear that from just about any private school,” she continued. “And it was because of the economy. We were very uncertain how enrollment would turn out, even though application numbers were good, and interest was high. But families were really anxious. When they are sitting at the kitchen table on April 27, they had to ask themselves, ‘can we afford a private college?’”

Others echoed that sentiment. While the recession caused many families to take a sober look at their expenses for higher education, 2009 was a great year for the state’s flagship Amherst campus. “We set a record last year, and the year before,” said Ed Blaguszewski, director of the school’s News and Information Office.

“We have been at over 30,000 applications for the last three years for incoming freshman,” he continued, “and we believe that continues to indicate a very strong interest in the value of a UMass education, at an affordable price.”

Kathleen Wrobleski, director of Communications and Marketing at Bay Path College, called the economic downturn “a double-edged sword.” While students and families grapple with the cost of a college education, when times are tough, people historically head back to school.

With finances as a potential pitfall to prospective students, she said that is one area where Bay Path stands out. “We recognized early on that people shouldn’t have finances as a barrier to going to college. We’ve made institutional changes to make that happen. For the undergraduate program, and the Saturday program, there are more scholarships. We have a very aggressive program.”

She said that Bay Path’s method of admissions is different than most, with undergraduate, one-day, and graduate programs accepted on a rolling basis throughout the year. Every October, however, a snapshot of all three populations is offered for statistical analysis. From that perspective, Wrobleski said that Bay Path’s enrollment was at 2,000, the highest in the college’s history.

Tools of the Trade

By the time President Obama made a pledge last year that the U.S. will “have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world,” the numbers across the nation were already steadily edging toward that goal.

Statistics from the U.S. Department of Education show that, over the past 10 years, the percentage of students who go on to college within 12 months of high-school graduation has increased significantly. In 2007, that number was at 67% of the nation’s youth. Competition for those best and brightest is at an all-time peak as well, college officials say.

According to Wrobleski, Bay Path has something unique to offer as a means of driving students to their campus. “We develop programs that are very career-focused, and very responsive to the job market.”

Elaborating, she said, in its graduate program, Bay Path “has an MBA in entrepreneurial thinking and innovative practices, the only one of its kind in the area. And then we have an MS in nonprofit management. These are closely linked to many of the job opportunities in this region.”

DeAngelo said that her job is essentially the top of a pyramid that extends over the campus, with recruiting new students seen as “everyone’s job.”

“And that comes from the top down,” she continued, “which it needs to, in order to be successful. Dr. Richard Flynn has been president for 11 years, and from his first day on this campus, every time he has a chance to speak to all members of the college community at one location, he says that recruiting students is everyone’s job. What that means is we enjoy great support from the faculty, other administrators, coaches — who are a great recruiting force for us — from students, and phenomenal support from our alumni base.”

At AIC, Miller agreed that recruitment is a campus-wide endeavor. He, too, credits the school’s current administration as influential. “As our first new president in many, many years, Vincent Maniaci came in with a lot of enthusiasm and vision, and he wanted to move AIC forward.”

What that has translated into is expansion of several programs and departments at the school, both locally and far afield. New departments and majors have been coupled with an increase in athletics, and the coaching staff has been given full-time status in order to take more than one for the team.

“If we want to get to the number that we want to each year,” Miller explained, “we know that we need to rely on the football coach to recruit 75 students. We set goals for each coach, but we’ve added new teams. There’s been enormous success with a new track and field team in attracting students.”

As full-time faculty, the coaching staff operates on several levels. In addition to their ability to recruit, they are also often closely linked to the students’ performance at school. Miller said that this is an enormous aid in student retention from year to year.

“Those numbers, from freshman year on through graduation, have been improved,” he said, “by about 7% between the last years, and by 5% between the years prior.”

Go East, Young Man

Miller had just returned from a recruiting trip to China, which he said was the college’s newest focus for out-of-state students.

Parallel to the college’s accreditation process a few years back, something revisited every 10 years, was a period of self-study for the vision of AIC.

“We decided that we wanted to be more global in what we were doing,” he said. “We’ve created some pretty significant goals in internationalizing the campus, both for our current students and integrating into the classroom what international students can bring to the campus. China is a country that we’ve targeted, one obvious reason being the millions upon millions there. We wanted to be a player in that, so we set up a recruiting center there.”

And prior to setting their sights overseas, AIC had established a presence in the beleaguered California state college system.

While the Commonwealth has had its share of budget woes in the last couple of years, the California Department of Education has been faced with nothing short of a crisis: too many students, not enough vacancies, and, most importantly, not enough money. At the end of February, Jack Scott, chancellor of that state’s community colleges, said 200,000 students would be unable to return to campus this fall because there simply isn’t any space for them.

Miller said that, because access to a four-year degree for those community-college students has been made so difficult, he and Maniaci spent a week building a beachhead for students to come to AIC.

“How are we going to make ourselves attractive?” he asked. “Well, initially, we decided that we were going to offer a $10,000 scholarship to those students, anyone graduating from a community college in California. As a marketing tool, that really grabs you.

“But,” he continued, “we can’t just drop in once a year and expect that we’re going to win people over. We need an ongoing presence on those campuses. We heard that from all the schools. So we’ve hired a transfer counselor to eventually be full-time out there.”

State of Affairs

The Bay State’s budget woes are nothing to sniff at, either.

Between 2008 and 2010, Beacon Hill slashed 37% in state support for higher education, the largest percentage reduction in the country. As one means to address that, Blaguszewski said, “the state legislature has provided us an incentive over the last five or more years to work effectively in recruiting out-of-state students.

“We want to maintain access for students in Massachusetts,” he continued, “and we’re not diminishing that. But the extra spaces we’re creating are targeted at out-of-state students. Not only will that add to the dynamic aspect on campus, but it will be a revenue generator. We get to keep out-of-state tuition on this campus, whereas state tuition goes back to the state coffers.”

In a recent essay printed in the New York Times, Professor Nancy Folbre of UMass Amherst’s Economics Department likened the measure to students as “the new cash cows.”

She said the intensified marketing campaign aimed at out-of-state students is a well-meaning strategy that could backfire for several reasons.

“Administrators can feel pressure to invest in new facilities that look good on the glossy brochures … rather than improving student advising or course availability,” she wrote, and “if more students are added without increasing the number of faculty and staff, students get less individual attention and can’t get into the courses they need to graduate.

“The percentage of students taught by full-time, tenure-track faculty members per student at state universities has steadily declined in recent years,” she added.

A new plan to increase out-of-state expansion involves rewarding individual departments more adept at recruiting outside the state line, she noted. Given Massachusetts’ striking distance to the Empire State, Folbre humorously noted that a colleague “has offered to publicly renounce the Red Sox in favor of the Yankees.”

At AIC, Miller said that, in his 35 years in college admissions, the industry might have evolved, but some things will always stay the same. “What will never change, as long as I’m in this role, is the notion of relationship marketing.”

Technology, technique, and sometimes tactics might all be keeping pace with competition, but, he added, “there’s a fine balance in implementing all the things necessary for moving a student a certain way without losing sight of that student as a person.”

Springfield College Makes Its Entry into the Competitive MBA Market
Getting Down to Business

Kathryn Carlson Heler says the timing is right for Springfield College to roll out its MBA program, and especially the concentration in nonprofit management.

As she talked about Springfield College’s new MBA (master’s in business administration) program to be launched in a few months, Kathryn Carlson Heler said that, in many ways, the school is going back to its roots.

By that, she meant a return to what was a strong focus on management of organizations such as YMCAs and other nonprofits — with curriculum grounded in business — that would match a concentration on athletics that would give the college its national and international reputation.

“When the college was founded 125 years ago, it was created to educate the YMCA secretary, who today we would call the executive director,” said Heler, professor of Business Administration at the college and director of the MBA program. “And when you look at the curriculum that these secretaries followed, it was business, and there were courses in bookkeeping, management, and reaching out to the community that you were to attract, or what we would call marketing.

“And of course, there was the athletic side,” she continued, “and the secretary could decide if he wanted to take the management track or the athletic track. But somewhere down the road, the management track fell away, and Springfield College became known for the athletic side. So we’re going to back to where we began.”

It is doing so with an MBA offering that comes with two concentrations, one in management and the other in nonprofit management, and the timing for bringing such products to the market couldn’t be better, Heler told BusinessWest.

Indeed, now more than ever before, nonprofit agencies must be run like businesses, and their managers must have the skill sets of a successful business owner, she said, adding that, in the business world, an MBA is becoming more of a necessity for managers looking to climb the ladder.

“The definition of a nonprofit today is that of a mission-based business, and those two words sum it up,” she explained. “They have to run like a business, they have to show a profit, and they are under many of the same rules and regulations that any small business is.

“Most nonprofits are selling a product,” she continued, “and they’re marketing a product. And for social entrepreneurs, they’re looking for new ways to raise money beyond the annual campaign.”

Meanwhile, with the economic picture still muddled, and many college graduates facing an uncertain job market, some individuals are choosing to stay in school and get a graduate degree rather than fight for jobs that are few and far between.

“This is a good time to be doing this,” said Heler. “Right now, there are roughly nine people for every job that comes available. People are being turned off by that, and they’re deciding to stay in school.”

Considering these and other factors, Heler, who came to SC from Indiana to get the new initiative off the ground, is generally optimistic about the prospects for the latest addition to the region’s roster of MBA programs. She told BusinessWest that there has been strong interest in the offering — from both those aforementioned college students looking to stay in school and those already working at area nonprofits and businesses who want to take their knowledge and skill sets to a higher level.

The nonprofit management concentration is fairly unique, said Heler, adding that the new, 30-credit program features an optional one-year track that will appeal to many, but also a two-year track that includes a corporate residency. Meanwhile, all courses are taught by full-time faculty members, rather than adjuncts, unlike many competing programs.

For this issue, BusinessWest looks at Springfield College’s entry into the MBA market, and why it does so with a large degree of confidence.

Course of Action

When asked about the factors that prompted SC administrators to become a player in the MBA realm and create a program specifically for nonprofit managers, Heler had some numbers ready to help make her case.

The first one was 5,200. That’s the latest unofficial count on the number of nonprofits in the Springfield-Hartford area that SC is marketing to. The next was 35,000 — the number of people who work in the nonprofit arena followed by 19%, or the share of the local economy that is comprised of nonprofits. And according to a nationwide study completed in 2006, there will be a need over the next decade for 600,000 new senior managers in the nonprofit realm as a result of new organizations coming online and the retirement of many current managers.

“So the market is there for such a program,” said Heler, adding quickly that, in addition to the quantity of nonprofit managers as a major consideration, the issue of quality is a matter as well.

In other words, the boards running nonprofit agencies want real business leaders at the helm of their organizations.

“In the past, educating nonprofit managers has been done through conferences and workshops,” she explained. “These managers have come up through the field. Now, there’s a real call for these people to be professionals. Nonprofit education now means making sure managers, supervisors, and executive directors have business knowledge, skills, and tools.”

All these factors indicated a strong need, and a niche that Springfield College, which has a proud reputation of training nonprofit leaders, could capitalize on.

It is meeting that need with those two MBA offerings, or concentrations. Both feature seven core courses, including ‘Economics of the Firm in Contemporary Society,’ ‘Research Methods and Statistics for Business and Nonprofits,’ and ‘Corporate Social Responsibility and Ethics,’ but feature different concentration courses.

The Management option includes ‘Managerial Accounting,’ ‘Project and Information Systems Management,’ and ‘Organizational Behavior and Leadership,’ while the Nonprofit Management model features ‘Leadership and Governance for Nonprofits,’ ‘Accounting for Nonprofits,’ and ‘Fund Development and Philanthropy.’

Both packages are drawing some attention, said Heler, adding that she expects 15-20 students for the first classes, to begin this summer. These will be diverse classes, she continued, noting that she’s signed up some currently with area businesses and nonprofits, some current undergraduates (including a few from SC) who want to pursue an MBA now instead of slugging it out in a tough market, and a even a few individuals who joined the Peace Corps, have returned from various assignments, are experiencing difficulty finding the right job, and have chosen instead to seek a graduate degree.

“We’re going to have people ages 22 to 50,” she explained. “That’s going to be a fascinating mix that will make learning a great experience.”

Erin Vermette will be one of those students on the younger end. The Belchertown resident, who is currently wrapping up a bachelor’s degree in Marketing online from the University of Phoenix, decided to pursue an MBA now instead of entering the job market — or trying to gain entry.

“The way the economy is right now, I’m not saying I couldn’t get a job, but it would certainly be more difficult,” she said. “I think it makes more sense to get the MBA now, and have an edge when I do compete for jobs. An MBA is becoming more of a prerequisite for many positions today.”

Vermette said she did some comparing and contrasting of area programs, and decided that SC’s provided the needed flexibility — she currently works in day care and wants to continue doing that while pursuing her degree — and an attractive course mix.

“I’ve been talking courses online for 2 1/2 years, and decided I wanted to go back to the campus,” she explained, adding that her ultimate goal is to work in the fine arts, perhaps in marketing for a gallery.

School of Thought

Heler told BusinessWest that it will take perhaps five years for a program like SC’s new MBA to become established and reach stated goals for enrollment.

She believes that the offering has the right mix of qualities — from course selection to scheduling flexibility to that specific concentration in nonprofit management — to meet or exceed that timetable.

If she’s right, then the new program will represent a degree of progress — literally and figuratively — for the college, the students, and area nonprofit agencies.

George O’Brien can be reached at

[email protected]

Sections Supplements
AIC’s New Business Dean Wants to Make a World of Difference
Lea Johnso

Lea Johnson wants AIC business students to get an education with an international flavor.

Lea Johnson says she won’t ever forget the impact a 2006 trip to Africa made on her views about conducting business in a global environment.

At the time, she didn’t see much value in going on the excursion, which was a mandated part of her doctoral program. But a “flash point” of awakening occurred when a colleague remarked that it was sad so many children there didn’t have shoes.

The African professor they were talking to reacted with anger, Johnson said, and explained that going barefoot in their country was not necessarily a sign of poverty.

“If you could have seen the anger in her eyes. We sat in stunned silence,” she recalled. “We were administrators from all over the U.S., but we didn’t understand their culture or apartheid and the inequality that still exists until we were actually there.”

The experience caused her to vow that, if she was ever in charge of an international business graduate program, she would make sure students understood the importance of culture and history.

Johnson is in that position today as the newly ap-pointed dean of the School of Business Administration at American International College. In this issue, BusinessWest takes a close look at her vision for the future as she explains why teaching established business skills to students is no longer enough to guarantee success.

Flying High with Ideas

Johnson, who assumed her new role in early July, said one of her first priorities is to restructure the program. “We can no longer keep education in the silos,” she explained. “It was OK until about 15 years ago, but things have changed. We talk about a global economy, and we really have an obligation to make sure students understand cultures and economies outside our own. We need to become sensitive and know what is expected, what a country’s protocol is, and what is off-limits to discuss.”

That means providing more students with an international experience, which is in line with AIC’s mission. The business school’s undergraduate and graduate programs are based in Springfield, but in the past two years satellite operations were established in Ireland, Italy, Bangkok, and London. Johnson said they hope to open another location in the UK in about a year.

However, only a handful of students participate in the programs in Ireland and Italy. The Bangkok and London programs are more popular, and this fall, 50 MBA students will study at those remote sites, with 25 in Bangkok and 25 in London.

Recently, John-son accepted 40 new students into the MBA program in Springfield, hailing from Russia, Africa, China, and India, as well as the U.S.

“Think how rich it will make classroom discussions,” Johnson asked, adding that a foreign dentist and physician are part of the new Springfield student body. Still, she would like to see more U.S. students do a semester abroad and be matched with mentors in those countries.

That experience should be valuable, and Johnson plans to consider moving the Bangkok and/or London programs to a different continent. The idea to move their location came to her during a 30-hour return flight from a recent graduation ceremony in Bangkok. The AIC students there presented an impressive array of completed projects. But she believes future graduates might benefit more from studying in countries with emerging economies.

“I thought, ‘let’s rachet it up.’ There are different types of deans,” she said. “Some just keep the train running on time, and others try to take the organization to the next level. I’d like to think I am one of those deans.”

To that end, she plans on putting a team together to explore where it would make the most sense to relocate the program.

“The demand in education is for us to focus on the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) economies, which are emerging,” she said. “Russia and Brazil are percolating on a back burner, and they are potential superpowers to watch,” Johnson said.

She also plans to review the school’s undergraduate programs this fall and will explore the possibility of having students study how major businesses set themselves up in foreign countries. “It would be fun to study how they deal with cultural problems, language barriers, currency, and economic structures,” she said. “If we are training students to become managers and potential leaders, they need to be aware of global issues.”

Johnson is not a new face at AIC. She was hired a year ago as associate dean of the School of Business. Her areas of expertise are integrated marketing communications, program development, and entrepreneurship. Her background includes positions with the federal government and stints as the director of advertising campaigns in the private sector.

She founded a national trade magazine for the public relations profession, and has worked in administration at Suffolk University School of Management and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Still, Johnson was very surprised when she was asked to head up AIC’s School of Business, because she had not applied for the position. “I was very excited, honored, and thrilled,” she said. “It is a terrific opportunity.”

AIC’s business school has added a new faculty member who will focus on green economics. The new position is only a beginning, however, as Johnson wants to market the college’s business programs around the globe.

“I am hoping to double the faculty,” she said. “I want to introduce and expand the areas of economics we teach and also build new courses in international study.”

Johnson has already added courses to the fall roster in nonprofit management, and says AIC’s new president, Vincent Maniaci, supports her ideas.

Another goal is to forge new, local partnerships. “I plan to convene an industrial advisory council in the late fall with senior business leaders who can give us good advice as we conduct our curriculum reviews,” she said. “They will be able to tell us about emerging needs in their industry.”

Making classes more accessible to working people, via blended programs which utilize online learning, is an idea Johnson hopes to bring to fruition. “We need to explore different models,” she said. “This is another area the Advisory Council could help us with, especially if their employees became students here. We need to look at what students really need along with what employers really want.”

Two-week internships abroad for MBA and nonprofit students are also on the burner. Many students work full-time, but would be able to use their vacation to take advantage of this opportunity, said Johnson, noting that adding more courses to the college’s menu could complement those experiences. “I would like to add business courses that relate to culture and the economic state of different countries,” she said.

In April, AIC’s business school was awarded a prestigious accreditation from the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education. While all of the college’s programs are accredited through the New England Assoc. of Schools and Colleges, the new accreditation is specific to business education. Johnson said the process has taken years to complete and involved site visits, self-study, and follow-up reports.

“It’s a new accreditation for schools with a focus on teaching and student learning outcomes,” she said. “There are 1,500 business schools in the U.S., and less than one-third of them have earned this.”

Course of Action

In order to maintain its standing, AIC will have to focus on practices that promote excellence in business education through a benchmarking process, which allows school administrators to assess whether their goals are being realized.

Johnson said she’s excited about the challenge and enthusiastic about expanding the program so that graduates enter the market prepared to be successful anywhere in the world.

That’s just part of what she considers a truly global focus on business, education, and life in general.