Home Posts tagged PeoplesBank
People on the Move

Jill Monson-Bishop

The American Cancer Society (ACS) recently welcomed Jill Monson-Bishop into the role of Community Development manager. She comes to the ACS with expertise in networking, relationship building, marketing, project management, and more. Prior to joining the American Cancer Society, Monson-Bishop was one of the opening-day team members at MGM Springfield, with responsibilities including internal communications and employee events. She also owns Inspired Marketing, now a consultative marketing agency, but at one time a full-service marketing and event-planning company serving clients such as Smith & Wesson, Adam Quenneville Roofing, and Northwestern Mutual. Previously, she was a radio personality in Western Mass. on stations such as WMAS, Rock 102, WHYN, and more. Community engagement has always been a priority for Monson-Bishop, who, over the years, has been involved with organizations such the Young Professional Society of Greater Springfield, Square One, YWCA, the Springfield Regional Chamber, the Drama Studio, and more. She is a graduate of Bay Path University with a MBA in entrepreneurial thinking and innovative practices, and she earned her bachelor’s degree in communication and media studies at Westfield State University.

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Jeffrey Neumann

Valley Solar, LLC announced the appointment of Jeffrey Neumann as lead master electrician. Neumann started with Valley Solar in April 2019 and will oversee all electrical operations. Prior to working at Valley Solar, Neumann was the electrical foreman at Hampshire College from 2010 to 2019. There, he supervised a crew of four journeyman electricians and oversaw all aspects of the the college’s Electrical Department, including supervision of crews, planning, budgeting, installations, and maintenance of campus electrical systems. He also oversaw several solar projects while at Hampshire and has performed solar installations involving single-phase residential wiring as well as more complex three-phase commercial projects.

 

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Linda Morgan, an attorney with extensive experience in higher education, has been named vice president and general counsel at Springfield College, effective Aug. 26, President Mary-Beth Cooper announced. Morgan will provide legal counsel and guidance to the leadership of the college and will serve as secretary to its board of trustees. She will be a member of the president’s senior leadership team. Joining Springfield College with 13 years of service as a practicing attorney and more than six years in positions of senior-level organizational management and financial administration, Morgan is well-practiced in providing leadership to institutional compliance with laws and regulations pertinent to higher education, including the Higher Education Opportunity Act, Title IX, FERPA, HIPAA, and the Jeanne Clery Act. She provides experience in broad aspects of law and related matters, including contracts, agreements, litigation, legal investigations, dispute resolution, mediation, business formation, compliance, and management. She is admitted to the bars of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the State of New York, the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, and the U.S. Supreme Court. Morgan most recently worked for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, providing expertise in areas of employment-law adjudication and related statutory interpretation. Her previous experience also includes service as associate dean for Gender Equity at Bard College, grant administrator within the School of Medicine at the University of Maryland, and an attorney in private practice. She earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Maryland University College and a juris doctor from Western New England University School of Law. She has teaching experience as an adjunct professor at Holyoke Community College and Greenfield Community College.

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Jean Deliso

Jean Deliso, CFP has been selected for membership in the Nautilus Group, a service of New York Life. The Nautilus Group is a planning resource comprised of financial professionals experienced in taxes, law, life insurance, accounting, and charitable giving. Deliso’s access to this exclusive resource enables her clients and their other financial advisors to benefit from the group’s collective experience and solutions as they apply to the protection, accumulation, and distribution of wealth to individuals, families, and business owners throughout the country. Deliso is president and owner of Deliso Financial and Insurance Services, a firm focusing on comprehensive financial strategies that position clients for a solid financial future. Her 30-year experience has led to a focus in certain fields, such as cash management, risk management, investment, and retirement planning. She has developed an expertise in assisting business owners with protecting and securing their future. She is also fully committed to educating individuals regarding their finances and frequently conducts workshops advocating financial empowerment. She has been a member of New York Life Chairman’s Council since 2012 and a qualifying member of the Million Dollar Round Table since 1999. Members of the Chairman’s Council rank in the top 3% of New York Life’s sales force of more than 12,000 licensed agents in sales achievement. Deliso currently serves on and is past chairman of the board of the Baystate Health Foundation and the Community Music School of Springfield. She has also served on the board of the YMCA of Greater Springfield and the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts.

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Darcy Fortun

The Ad Club of Western Massachusetts recently recognized the Innovation Series with an award in the Video Series category. The Innovation Series is a documentary-style video series produced by Darcy Fortune, producer for Garvey Communication Associates Inc. (GCAi), for PeoplesBank. The series explored Valley Venture Mentors and some of its more unique entrepreneurial teams. The series was hosted by Matthew Bannister, first vice president of Marketing and Innovation for PeoplesBank. According to the bank’s website, the six-episode Innovation Series was designed and produced with the belief that PeoplesBank can not only be innovative, but help inspire innovation as well. The series garnered considerable media attention, with feature stories appearing in BusinessWest and several other area media outlets, as well as a sizable viewing audience. GCAi also distributed the Innovation Series through social-media channels, where it accumulated almost 400,000 total impressions, 100,000 engagement actions, and 90,000 video views at the time of the award. Fortune’s team included GCAi’s John Garvey as producer, Mary Shea as project manager, and James Garvey as digital dissemination manager. Matthew Derderian served as director of photography. Fortune is an experienced media professional and video producer, having served on assignment desks for both ABC and FOX News affiliates and developed videos and animations for GCAi clients including Connecticut Orthopaedic Specialists, Cape Cod Cooperative Bank, MP CPAs, PeoplesBank, Peter Pan Bus Lines, and Winchester Savings Bank. She also just released two new pro bono videos for the Children’s Study Home and Wild Care of Cape Cod.

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Yvonne De Faoite

Elms College announced it will host an Irish Fulbright language teaching assistant (FLTA) during the 2019-20 academic year. Yvonne De Faoite of Limerick, Ireland, will teach Irish (Gaelic) language and culture. The Irish FLTA position is co-sponsored by the Irish Cultural Center of Western Massachusetts. De Faoite earned her primary teaching degree from Froebel College of Education in 2008. In 2012, she spent a year in Australia, where she gained international teaching experience. She recently completed a master’s degree in Irish immersion education from Mary Immaculate College in Limerick. Prior to that, she completed a diploma in educational leadership in University College Dublin. De Faoite’s educational interests include immersion and second-language acquisition. As a Fulbright Irish FLTA, she will teach the Irish language and culture to Elms College students and to community members through the Irish Cultural Center. She will also take classes at Elms.

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Robert Burnell has been appointed executive chef of all dining venues at the Red Lion Inn. In his new role, Burnell oversees the day-to-day culinary operations of the main dining room, Widow Bingham’s Tavern, the Lion’s Den, and the seasonally open courtyard. In addition, Burnell will collaborate with Brian Alberg, vice president of Culinary Development, on all future food- and beverage-related development, including specialty menus for Red Lion guests and private parties. With nearly 20 years in the food, beverage, and hospitality industries, Burnell was previously executive chef at Gedney Farm in Marlborough. With a passion for clean cooking and eating, coupled with expertise in modern food trends, Burnell revamped menus to incorporate locally sourced items, along with gluten-free, vegetarian, and keto options for diners. He also strived to deliver exceptional client experiences for weddings, community events, and private dining. Additional hospitality experience includes five years as a property developer for Berkshire Hotels Group, during which he implemented construction projects for both hotels and restaurants.

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Sean Sormanti

Michael Tucker, president and CEO of Greenfield Cooperative Bank, announced that Sean Sormanti has joined the bank as senior vice president – Human Resources. Most recently, Sormanti was director of Human Resources at Strategic Information Resources in Springfield. In his new role, he will be responsible for recruiting, planning, coordinating, and managing the activities of the bank’s Human Resources department. He will be based at 63 Federal St. in Greenfield. Sormanti has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maine. He currently holds a professional in human resources certificate and is an active member of the Western Mass. chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management.

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Joseph Baker

 

Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation (BTCF) announced that Joseph Baker has joined its team as vice president of Finance and Administration. He will oversee finances, investments, human resources, and operations for the $152 million foundation. Baker previously served in leadership roles at other community foundations for 13 years, most recently as vice president of Finance and chief financial officer at Fairfield County’s Community Foundation. Before that, he was director of Finance and Administration at the Community Foundation of Greater New Britain. He brings to BTCF a background in nonprofit finance and development, as the former head of a United Way and a nonprofit service organization. He also developed Danbury Children First, a parent-led community initiative. Baker earned his MBA from the Yale School of Management and a bachelor’s degree in economics and Spanish from Colby College.

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Bob Cummings has been re-elected to serve as president of the National Assoc. of Professional Benefits Administrators (NAPBA). A  NAPBA trustee since 2007, Cummings was first elected NAPBA president in 2015, and has been an instrumental force in the emergence of the consumer-directed healthcare industry over the past 20 years, orchestrating the growth of NAPBA as the primary compliance-standards and best-practice organization for third-party employee-benefits administrators serving the consumer-directed healthcare industry. As CEO and founder of American Benefits Group (ABG), a leading national employee-benefits administrator located in Northampton, Cummings has been a pioneer of the consumer-directed healthcare industry before the term even existed. ABG was one of the first administrators of flexible spending accounts (FSAs) in 1989 along with COBRA, billing-administration, and commuter-benefit accounts in the 1990s. When health savings accounts (HSA) and health reimbursement arrangements (HRA) were enabled under the Internal Revenue Code in 2002, ABG was one of the early leaders in administering consumer-directed healthcare plan designs. As pre-tax, account-based plans became a linchpin of most employer benefit-plan designs along with high-deductible health plans, NAPBA was founded to promote compliance and best-practice standards in the administration of pre-tax, account-based plans. All NAPBA member organizations are third-party administrators focused on the administration and service of employer-sponsored plans for consumer-directed pre-tax accounts such as FSAs, HSAs, HRAs, and commuter benefits, as well as COBRA administration services. Collectively NAPBA member organizations provide services to more than 30 million employee healthcare consumers nationwide.

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Richard Venne, president and CEO of Viability, announced longtime staffer Richard Horton’s promotion to vice president of Administration and Finance. Horton joined Community Enterprises, one of the nonprofits that merged to become Viability, in July 2008 as director of Community Staffing. Before joining Viability as a staff member, he had executed consulting work to revive and re-engineer the Community Staffing operations. Over the next decade, his role expanded, first becoming director of Financial Planning and then associate vice president of Administration and Finance. He is known throughout the organization for serving as project manager for the implementation of Viability’s electronic health record and outcomes-management system. Two years ago, during the merger of Community Enterprises and Human Resources Unlimited into Viability, he led the effort to bring the infrastructure of the organizations together, focusing on technology and facilities. Entering its third year as Viability, the agency’s focus is on the creation, integration, standardization, and improvement of systems and processes. In his new role, Horton will play a central role in helping achieve that goal.

Banking and Financial Services

Landmark Decision

Tom Senecal, left, and Andrew Crystal

Tom Senecal, left, and Andrew Crystal, vice president of O’Connell Development, look over blueprints for the new banking center now taking shape at the site of the Yankee Pedlar.

Tom Senecal says PeoplesBank first looked at the historic Yankee Pedlar property as the potential site a future branch roughly three years ago.

‘Looking’ didn’t advance to anything further, though, said Senecal, the bank’s president, because at the time, the efforts to ‘save the Pedlar,’ as the campaign concerning the beloved restaurant and gathering spot came to be called, was ongoing, and hopes to keep that landmark in its long-time role were still somewhat high.

Fast-forward a year or so, after many restauranteurs had looked at the Pedlar and essentially passed on it, deeming it too large and too expensive to maintain as a restaurant — and hopes for keeping the property a restaurant had all but dissolved — the bank was back for another look.

“We thought we could do something special for the city.”

And what it saw was opportunity — and in a number of forms, said Senecal.

First, there was an opportunity to save the most historically significant piece of the property, the home to John Hildreth, “overseer of the making up department of the Farr Alpaca Company,” according to Mass. Historical Commission documents concerning the property and, later, a lawyer, judge, president of Crystal Spring Aqueduct, and “president-clerk” of the institution that would become PeoplesBank.” (Note: Officials at PeoplesBank cannot confirm that Hildreth was president, but they also can’t confirm that he wasn’t).

But there was also an opportunity for the bank to consolidate and modernize two of its branches in Holyoke — one on South Street in the Elmwood neighborhood, and the other at the corner of Hampden and Pleasant Streets in the Highland neighborhood, and create a new state-of-the-art facility.

“As we’ve been remodeling all our other branches, we thought there was no better way to do this in Holyoke than put all this together in one centralized location between those two branches in an historic building that we certainly have the ability and the desire to retain and keep as an historic building,” he explained. “We thought we could do something special for the city.”

The Hildreth House, constructed in 1885

The Yankee Pedlar

The Yankee Pedlar

Specifically, that something special is preserving the Hildreth House itself — the hip-roof Queen Ann dwelling built in 1885 that was later added on to several times — for use as a community center, while also building a new state-of-the-art, 4,700-square-foot banking center.

Also to be preserved are many pieces of memorabilia from the Pedlar, including a stained glass window originally from the Kenilworth Castle, a historic Holyoke mansion torn down in 1959, wainscoting, and even ‘Chauncy the Butler,’ the wooden figure that greeted visitors to the Pedlar.

The next chapter in the history of the property will begin the Tuesday after Labor Day weekend, said Senecal, with the opening of a property that will blend the old with the new, the nostalgic with the environmentally friendly.

“We’re doing this in the long-term best interests of the community; quite frankly, no one would spend the kind of money we’re spending on refurbishing this and doing this — no one.”

It’s a project Senecal said is in keeping with the bank’s large and visible presence in the community, and also in keeping with its desire to be on the cutting edge of both of emerging banking technology and ‘green’ architecture and building practices.

He chose to categorize the undertaking, which comes with a pricetag he opted not to disclose, as an investment, one he described this way:

“We’re doing this in the long-term best interests of the community; quite frankly, no one would spend the kind of money we’re spending on refurbishing this and doing this — no one,” he said. “We’re going to be here for a long time. Holyoke is our mainstay, it’s our headquarters. It’s our community.

“We’re a mutual bank, and we want to do the right thing for the community,” he went on. “This bank is going to be here for a long time.”

Building Interest

Senecal told BusinessWest that that the bank has long had a pressing need to modernize those branches in the Elmwood and Highland neighborhoods, both nearly a half-century old in his estimation.

And it was with the goal of finding a replacement for the latter that he said he personally drove the length of Northampton Street to scout potential options.

“I went all the way from Hampden Street to Beech Street looking for various properties that might work,” he explained, adding that the Pedlar property was among those considered. He said he was aware that other businesses were looking at the property, located at the well-traveled corner of Northampton St. (Route 5) and Beech Street, but this was at a time when hopes to keep the Pedlar a restaurant were fading but still alive.

As those hopes eventually dissipated, the bank eventually came forward to acquire the property and announce plans for the consolidation of both branches in that area into the new location that, as noted, would blend new construction with renovation of the Hildreth House — it’s ground floor, anyway, into a community center.

The 4,700-square-foot banking center will feature state-of-the-art banking technology, such as video tellers and cash dispensers, but also include memorabilia from the Yankee Pedlar.

The 4,700-square-foot banking center will feature state-of-the-art banking technology, such as video tellers and cash dispensers, but also include memorabilia from the Yankee Pedlar.

“At the time, I was looking at something to replace the Highland location,” said Senecal. “But as I got closer to the South Street location, it made all the sense in the world to consolidate both branches, because the Pedlar was far more centralized than I thought when I set out.”

Beyond geography, the Pedlar site offered a chance, as he said earlier, to modernize banking at the institution’s Holyoke branches, and do so seamlessly.

“If you look at our branches in West Springfield, Westfield, East Longmeadow, and Sixteen Acres, those branches were built 10-15 years ago — they’re pretty modern and up-to-date,” he explained. “Our brand in Holyoke is extremely dated compared to those. So in order to get existing branches up to our current brand, you’d have to gut the branch, and if you gut the branch, you can’t operate the branch. This provides us an opportunity to close on a Saturday and open on a Tuesday, with no customer traffic impact.”

The bank’s plans were initially greeted with some resistance by those behind the ‘save the Pedlar’ initiative, but it waned as it became clear that the bank would not demolish the Hildreth House, the historically significant portion of the property.

“This project provides a statement of who we are in the Holyoke community.”

As Senecal explained, the property is not on the National Register of Historic Places (it is on the state’s list) essentially because of those aforementioned additions, including the so-called Opera House, a banquet room, and the enclosure of a wrap-around porch to expand the restaurant, undertaken in the ’80s.

While the interior of the Hildreth House was gutted to make way for the community room — to be used by area nonprofits free of charge — and other portions of the property were razed or moved, visitors to the new branch will certainly get a taste of, and feel for, the Pedlar when they head inside, said Senecal.

“The final product will incorporate a lot of the significant historic memorabilia from the Pedlar,” he explained, adding quickly that, originally, there were hopes and expectations that more of these items could be on display. However, due to size constraints and functionality issues, the collection won’t be as large as anticipated.

“Chauncy the Butler will be in the lobby, and in the Hildreth House will contain other historic memorabilia,” he went on. “The ‘hunter’ stained glass painting, which used to be in the main restaurant portion of the Yankee Pedlar, has been refurbished, and that will hang in the main branch, and the wainscoting from the entrance to the original Pedlar will be in a similar area in the community room, and some of the pictures will hang in the corridor between the branch and the community room.”

Also, a few historic gas lanterns, more than a century old, that were mounted on and around the Yankee Pedlar have been refurbished, he said. They’ve been converted to electric and will be positioned on a patio constructed outside the Hildreth House.

Beyond the historic and nostalgic, however, the new facility will also feature state-of-the-art banking technology, including video-banking machines and cash dispensers, as well as cutting-edge ‘green’ building practices. Indeed, the bank will look to have the project, being undertaken by O’Connell Construction (the general contractor and construction manager) and Western Builders, become LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified.

“This project provides a statement of who we are in the Holyoke community,” said Senecal, summing up the initiative and its many characteristics.

The Bottom Line

Returning to the scouting trip be took down Northampton Street a few years ago, Senecal said there were very few properties that both suitable for what he wanted to do and for sale at the time.

One that fit both categories was an old BayBank Valley branch that he looked at and thought about. But another party beat him to the punch.

“I’m kind of glad they did,” he said, noting, in retrospect, that the site probably was not big enough for what he had planned. And if he had pursued that property, he probably could not have gone ahead with the Pedlar project.

One that, as he said, provided a chance to do something special — for the bank and especially the city.

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

Banking and Financial Services

Financial Environment

PeoplesBank recently issued its annual Corporate Green Report in conjunction with Earth Day 2019. Through its green values and actions to support environmental sustainability, PeoplesBank believes it can help make the region a healthier place to live, work, and raise a family. The bank puts these values to work throughout the year through its charitable donations, volunteerism, support of green-energy projects, and construction of LEED-certified offices.

“As a mutual bank, we are focused on our values of innovation, community support, environmental sustainability, and employee engagement,” said Tom Senecal, president and CEO of PeoplesBank. “Environmental sustainability is really the meeting place of all those other values. It is a way we can be innovative, support the community, and engage our associates in a way that is meaningful.”

Added Philippe Michaud, a loan service associate at PeoplesBank and co-chair of its environmental committee, “a business’ responsibility is to try and influence its communities toward being more sustainable. The environment is a core belief that is built into the fabric of our organization. That goes a long way toward what we do in the community.”

Community banks, like PeoplesBank, are not generally known for building green offices, but PeoplesBank has a LEED Gold-certified office in Northampton, a LEED Gold-certified office in West Springfield, and a LEED Silver-certified office in Springfield. The LEED-certified office in Springfield, the first of its kind in the city, won a Green Seal from the city of Springfield.

The bank’s newest branch in Holyoke will also seek LEED certification once construction has finished. Pursuing that objective means the new branch will be constructed and operated as a green building. Some of the highlights include:

• Reuse of a portion of the existing Yankee Pedlar building (the historic Hildreth House);

• Reduction rainwater runoff on the site and use of landscaping that requires no irrigation;

• Use of low-flow water fixtures and high-efficiency HVAC; and

• Use of building materials that have low or zero volatile organic compounds and are sourced locally where possible.

In addition, the exterior wall is highly efficient and allows for the flow of air vapor in two directions, meaning the wall will ‘breathe’ throughout the year, leading to a cleaner indoor environment.

Three PeoplesBank offices (Northampton, West Springfield, and 330 Whitney Ave. in Holyoke) have electric-vehicle-charging stations. The bank is also launching a “Choose to Reuse” campaign designed to eliminate the use of disposable paper products internally.

“As a mutual bank, we are focused on our values of innovation, community support, environmental sustainability, and employee engagement. Environmental sustainability is really the meeting place of all those other values. It is a way we can be innovative, support the community, and engage our associates in a way that is meaningful.”

During the past year, PeoplesBank was recognized by Independent Banker magazine for its environmental sustainability efforts and, for the fifth year in a row, the bank was voted “Best Green Local Business” by Daily Hampshire Gazette readers. The bank is also a past recipient of the Sustainable Business of the Year Award and Associated Industries of Massachusetts’ Sustainability Award.

Over the course of the last year, PeoplesBank provided more than $58,000 in support for green initiatives in Western Mass., including:

• A mobile farmers’ market that travels to underserved and food-desert areas of Springfield and surrounding communities;

• The Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture Food for All campaign;

• The Center for EcoTechnology’s Eco Fellows and support of over 100 community education events;

• The annual Source to Sea Cleanup of the Connecticut River, which also includes hands-on participation by a team of volunteers from the bank;

• The Mount Holyoke Wetlands Restoration Project, conducted by Restoration Ecology Summer Scholars;

• Scientific environmental education at the Hitchcock Center for the Environment; and

• ValleyBike, the region’s new bike-sharing program.

PeoplesBank is also a longtime leader in sustainable-energy financing, and the bank’s commercial lenders are recognized for their expertise in creating financing packages for green-energy power generation. To date, the bank has financed more than $183 million in wind, solar, and hydroelectric power-generation projects, an increase of $17 million in just one year.