Page 73 - BusinessWest May 12, 2021
P. 73

    Deepika Bains Shukla
Chief, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Springfield; Age 39
     Deepika Shukla always savors the moment in court when she states her name and declares her representation of the United States
of America.
“I don’t just rattle off my name because for
someone like me to stand up and represent the United States is a real honor,” she said.
A naturalized citizen who was born in Canada and lived in Chelmsford before moving to Western Mass., Shukla is chief of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Springfield — the first woman of color to run the Springfield office and the youngest to attain the chief’s position.
In a normal legal setting, a lawyer’s job is
to always try to win a judgment for the client. Working for the Department of Justice had a strong appeal to Shukla because a U.S. attorney takes a different approach to the law.
“At the DOJ, your objective is to pursue justice,” she said. “It’s not about winning, it’s about doing the right thing.”
Shukla oversees eight U.S. attorneys and five staff members in the Springfield office, which covers the four counties of Western Mass. While many cases involve prosecuting federal crimes, the Springfield office also brings civil-rights actions against various entities. Shukla takes a special interest in these cases.
“I have experienced discrimination in my life,
Christopher Thibault
Owner, Filmmaker, and Director, Chris Teebo Films; Age 38
“His camera was his paintbrush, and his canvas his screen.”
That’s how Judy Matt, president of the Spirit of Springfield, chose to sum
up the life and work of Chris Thibault, who created some stunning videos for the agency and its Bright Nights holiday lighting display in Forest Park. As she did so, one could sense the pain of having to use the past tense — a pain felt by all who
and I feel that’s an important perspective to bring to the job,” she said, adding that she has also successfully prosecuted hate-crime cases.
While in college, Shukla became a U.S. citizen, calling it one of the greatest days of her life. The day was September 6, 2001, when she and a roomful of people all rejoiced in becoming Americans. The sense of elation
was short-lived when, five days later, the tragic events of 9/11 took place.
“Suddenly, I found that people who look like me and my family were being targeted as victims of hate crimes because of the way we looked and just for being ourselves,” she said — an experience that motivated her to give a voice to people who are not often heard from in the justice system.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” Martin Luther King Jr. once declared, a quote that resonates strongly with Shukla.
“Wherever we see injustice, it’s our job to correct it,” she said. “If we let it go, it becomes a threat to our whole justice system.”
—Mark Morris
     came to know him, even if only for a short while.
Thibault is BusinessWest’s first posthumous 40 Under Forty honoree. He passed
away in February, during the nomination period, and the many who nominated him felt firmly that, because of his body of work, his professionalism, the manner in which he touched those he worked with and for, and the way in which he took
a long and difficult cancer battle public and inspired countless people in the process, he earned a place within the class of 2021.
And they’re right.
Thibault was an entrepreneur, launching his production company, T-Bo Productions, in 2004. But while he was a businessman, he was, to most, an artist — one who took ideas and goals and turned them into video works of art. Over the years, he worked with a number of area clients, including Spirit of Springfield, Big Y, Mercedes-Benz of Springfield, the Greater Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau, Health New England, and many others.
There were no small projects in his mind, said his wife, Missy, and he approached every project with passion and energy.
“Some people can immerse themselves in their work, and it can have a negative effect — like it was too much,” she explained. “With him, it seemed like a very natural balance. He put everything he had into each and every project. That’s how he did things.”
He kept doing things that way even as cancer ate away at his body and made it more difficult to work and create, and this was just one of the many ways he inspired others. Another was the way he and Missy shared their cancer battle with the world.
“That just came naturally to us because we love to document,” she explained. “He always said, ‘the story is king,’ and he had a story of his own that he felt he had a responsibility to tell.”
By telling it, he took his already-considerable talents as an artist to an even higher level.
—George O’Brien
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