Page 30 - BusinessWest September 1, 2021
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The 2021 Alumni Achievement Award Finalists
In 2015, BusinessWest added a new and intriguing wrinkle to its 40 Under Forty recognition program. It was called the Continuous Excellence Award,
since renamed the Alumni Achievement Award (AAA). As that name suggests, it was created to recognize a
40 Under Forty honoree who has continued to build on their track record of excellence — both in their chosen field and in service to the region. This year, a panel of three judges — Carla Cosenzi and Peter DePergola, the two AAA award winners in 2020, and Keith Ledoux, vice president, Commercial Line of Business and Business Development at Health New England, which sponsors the AAA program — identified the five finalists for 2021. The winner will be announced during the 40 Under Forty Gala on Sept. 23 at the Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House.
The five finalists are:
Tara Brewster: A self- described “recovering entre- preneur,” Brewster was named to the 40 Under Forty class of 2013, when she was co-owner, with Candace Connors, of the clothing store Jackson & Con- nor. After selling the business, she did some consulting before eventually joining Greenfield Savings Bank as vice president of Business Development.
In that role, she continues
a pattern of involvement in
the community — especially Hampshire County — that began more than a decade ago, when she was with Jackson & Connor. She has been active with a number of causes and organizations, including the Hampshire Regional YMCA, the Downtown Northampton Assoc., the Greater Northamp- ton Chamber of Commerce, MassHire, the Double Edge Theater, Safe Passage, and many others. Recently, she added a new, quite different line to her résumé: radio per- sonality. Indeed, she has suc- ceeded Ira Bryck as the host of the weekly Western Mass. Busi- ness Show on WHMP.
Gregg Desmarais: A mem- ber of the 40 Under Forty class of 2015, Desmarais has built on his professional résumé and strong record of service to the community since walking down the red carpet. He has steadily risen in the ranks at TD Bank, and is now vice pres- ident and senior client rela- tionship manager for TD Pri- vate Client Group, a business of TD Wealth. In the commu- nity, he has given back in sev- eral ways, including as chair- person for three years during the Community Foundation’s annual Valley Gives fundraiser, and as a member of the United Way of Pioneer Valley’s grant- approval board. But he is most known for his work for Revital- ize Community Development Corp., where, over the years, he has risen from volunteer to chairman of the board. And he remains quite active with this nonprofit group, in fundraising and also as a house captain for its rebuilding events.
Anthony Gulluni: Another member of the class of 2015, Gulluni, district attorney
for Hampden County, has launched a number of new programs, initiatives, and events, all with the goal of making the county a better — and safer — place in which to live, work, and operate a busi- ness. Among those new initia- tives are the Emerging Adult Court of Hope, which was cre- ated to help high-risk young adults break the cycle of crime and incarceration; a cold-case unit that has experienced a number of recent successes; the Hampden County Addic- tion Task Force; the Western Mass. Human Trafficking Task Force; the District Attorney’s Youth Advisory Board; the Campus Safety Symposium; the Commercial Sexual Exploi- tation of Children Conference; a Stop the Swerve PSA contest for Hampden County high- school students to highlight the dangers of impaired driv- ing; a summer job fair and three-on-three basketball tour- nament and job fair; and many others.
Eric Lesser: Still another member of the class of 2015, Lesser, elected state sena-
tor in the First Hampden and Hampshire District in 2014, has been at the forefront of a number of legislative efforts aimed specifically at leveling the playing field between the eastern and western parts of the state. Perhaps most known for his unwavering support of high-speed rail and efforts to make it reality, Lesser has also been a force in efforts to bol- ster the state’s manufacturing center and raise awareness of the 10,000 vacant manufactur- ing jobs in the four western counties. He has also been at the forefront of efforts to cre- ate the Student Loan Borrower Bill of Rights. His latest assign- ment is as co-chair of the new Future of Work Commission, which will include 17 mem- bers from across the state who will address a topic that was already dominated by question marks before the pandemic.
Meghan Rothschild: A member of the 40 Under Forty class of 2011, Rothschild has added to an already impres- sive résumé in countless ways. For starters, she launched her marketing and public-relations company, Chikmedia, which has grown to a staff of five and now boasts clients ranging from Dunkin’ Donuts to Papa John’s Pizza to Square One. She has also continued and built upon a strong track record of service to nonprofits — and to women in business. Indeed, Rothschild, a finalist for the AAA several times now, has become a mentor to several young women in the region and a coach and resource for many women-owned busi- nesses looking to tell their story. Most recently, she led efforts to create scholarships for women of color pursu-
ing degrees in marketing and public relations, a program that has grown in size as it has attracted the support of other area businesses.
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