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SPRINGFIELD — Jared James, a national real-estate speaker and trainer, will be the featured speaker at the 24th annual Education Fair & Expo taking place on April 4 at the MassMutual Center in Springfield. The event is sponsored by the Realtor Assoc. of Pioneer Valley.

The program features a day of educational presentations including two breakout sessions from James, three continuing-education classes, and two technology classes. A sellout trade show with more than 50 vendors is anticipated. Anyone interested in attending as a trade-show vendor should contact Kim Harrison, membership and meetings coordinator at the Realtor Assoc. of Pioneer Valley, at (413) 785-1328 or [email protected] by March 10.

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SPRINGFIELD — Throughout the month of February, Black History Month, American International College (AIC) is using the college’s social-media platforms and website to feature prominent African-Americans who have helped shape the culture and fabric of our country and our world. Leaders from the civil-rights movement, the military, literature, exploration, sports, and entertainment will be highlighted daily.

As an institution of higher learning with nearly half of its population comprised of first-generation students, one of the hallmarks of American International College is the value it places on diversity.

“The diversity that results from a population with mixed backgrounds is one of our strengths,” said President Vince Maniaci. “AIC is very student-centric and believes that, while a college education includes academic and intellectual growth, it must also include the development of personal, spiritual, and emotional intelligence. We all see things through a different prism based on the environment we come from; being culturally diverse leads to deeper discussions and increased awareness as AIC students make their way into a rapidly changing world.”

To join AIC in this month-long tribute, visit its website at www.aic.edu, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/americaninternationalcollege, or on Twitter, @aiconcampus.

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SPRINGFIELD — The African Hall subcommittee of the Springfield Museums is seeking nominations for the 26th annual Ubora Award and the ninth annual Ahadi Youth Award. The African Hall subcommittee is a volunteer group comprised of educators, business people, and community leaders from the African-American community. The nomination deadline for both awards is March 31.

The Ubora Award is presented to an African-American adult who has demonstrated a commitment to the Greater Springfield area and exhibited excellence in the fields of community service, education, science, humanities, or the arts. The Swahili word ‘ubora’ means ‘excellence.’

Named for the Swahili word for ‘promise,’ the Ahadi Youth Award is presented to a young African-American who has excelled in academics and performed admirable service to the Greater Springfield community. Eligible candidates must be age 19 or younger, live in or have strong ties to the Greater Springfield area, and be currently enrolled in grades 10, 11, or 12.

The Ubora and Ahadi Awards will be presented at a ceremony at the Springfield Museums in September. Nomination forms can be downloaded by visiting springfieldmuseums.org/ubora. For additional information, call (413) 263-6800, ext. 325, or e-mail Valerie Cavagni at [email protected]. Nominations may be e-mailed to Cavagni or mailed to African Hall Subcommittee, c/o Valerie Cavagni, Springfield Museums, 21 Edwards St., Springfield, MA 01103.

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SPRINGFIELDBusinessWest magazine will accept nominations for the 40 Under Forty Class of 2017 through the end of the work day (5 p.m.) on Friday, Feb 17. The annual program, now in its 11th year, recognizes rising stars within the Western Mass. community, which includes Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden, and Hampshire counties.

This year’s group of 40 will be profiled in the magazine’s April 17 edition, then toasted at the June 22 gala at the Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House in Holyoke. The nomination form, which can be found online at businesswest.com (click ‘Our Events’), requests basic information and can be supported with other material, such as a résumé, testimonials, and even press clippings highlighting an individual’s achievements in their profession or service to their community.

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SOUTH HADLEY — The South Hadley & Granby Chamber of Commerce announced the resignation of Dale Johnston from his position as executive director. The chamber’s board of directors will initiate a search to fill this position. Interested individuals can visit the chamber website at shgchamber.com for more details.

The chamber acknowledges Johnston’s efforts and thanks him for his commitment and dedication throughout the years. He was responsible for many accomplishments in his service with the chamber. This past year, Johnston was instrumental in securing a new permanent home for the chamber, partnering with Connie Laplante Real Estate at 2 Lyman St., South Hadley. The chamber board wishes him success in future challenges and endeavors.

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PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Bank announced it has named Jason Edgar director of Wealth Management and interim chief information officer.

In his new role, Edgar will lead the bank’s wealth-management initiatives and oversee its investment process. He joined Berkshire Bank in 2014 and has been Wealth Management’s New England regional leader. Previously, he spent several years with Enterprise Investment Advisors in Andover, where he oversaw investment management. He has spent the last 16 years in wealth management, and holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Connecticut.

“Berkshire Bank is a strong, well-capitalized financial institution that continues to invest in wealth management with the recognition and promotion of talented team members to support our clients’ financial goals,” said Sean Gray, chief operating officer of Berkshire Bank. “We are delighted to designate Jason with this new director position as an extension of Berkshire Bank’s commitment to a customer-focused approach.”

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SPRINGFIELD — Bacon Wilson P.C. is pleased to announce that Melissa Gillis and Thomas Reidy have been promoted to shareholders of the firm.

“Melissa and Tom are exceptional attorneys and have distinguished themselves with their hard work and commitment to their clients and the firm,” said Managing Partner Kenneth Albano. “It has been a pleasure watching over the years as they worked to grow their individual legal practices and their community involvement. On behalf of all of our shareholders, we look forward to working with Melissa and Tom for years to come.”

Gillis is a member of Bacon Wilson’s family-law team. She regularly represents clients both in court and for alternative dispute resolution, and is a certified mediator. She is a trustee of Elms College.

Reidy is a member of Bacon Wilson’s real-estate and zoning team, where he handles land use, zoning, permitting, real-estate, environmental, and licensing matters. He focuses his practice in Bacon Wilson’s Amherst location, where he represents the interests of both individuals and businesses. He serves on the board of the UMass Court Club, and received the Super Lawyers Rising Star Award for 2015 and 2016.

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SPRINGFIELD — Beginning Wednesday, Feb. 22, the Realtor Assoc. of Pioneer Valley will sponsor a 40-hour, 14-class sales-licensing course to help individuals prepare for the Massachusetts real-estate salesperson license exam. The course will be completed on March 23.

Tuition costs $359 and includes the book and materials. For an application, call the Realtor Assoc. of Pioneer Valley at (413) 785-1328.

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PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Bank Foundation announced that it awarded a total of $1,862,265 in grants to nonprofit organizations operating in the bank’s footprint in 2016. The giving represents a 3% increase in contributions compared to 2015. The grants supported a variety of education and community-development initiatives, as well as health and human service and cultural programs.

“Our philanthropic investments impacted millions of individuals in 2016, helping to enhance economic opportunities and improve the quality of life for members of our community,” said Lori Gazzillo, vice president and director of the Berkshire Bank Foundation. “We are so pleased to continue our support of so many community initiatives throughout our footprint.”

In total, the foundation’s funding affected more than 5 million individuals who received programming support from nonprofit organizations in the areas of education, especially reading, as well as community and economic development, including affordable housing, downtown revitalization, and employment. In addition, the foundation also helped meet the basic needs of individuals through funding to various health and human services initiatives.

Berkshire Bank Foundation recently announced changes to its philanthropic strategy, allowing it to continue meeting the growing needs of the communities it serves, while maximizing the impact of its contributions. As part of the transition, the foundation will continue to focus its funding in the areas of education and community/economic development, but will now seek specific outcomes associated with the programs it supports. In addition, the foundation plans to allocate a limited pool of funds to basic-need funding that will rotate each year to provide organizations doing good work, but that don’t necessarily fall within the foundation’s major focuses, the opportunity to receive funding.

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SPRINGFIELD — Liz Dederer, founder of Selling With Service and co-creator of the 8 Languages of Money, will present “Speak Your Value with the 8 Languages of Money” at the Springfield Regional Chamber’s March [email protected] The breakfast will be held Wednesday, March 1 from 7:15 to 9 a.m. at the Colony Club, Tower Square, 1500 Main St., Springfield.

In this lively and engaging presentation, Dederer will share powerful strategies to close the sale through stronger conversations. She will explain what the 8 Languages of Money are, and how people can use them to build relationships and business.

Dederer’s presentation will be of interest to anyone who is responsible for driving revenue growth. She helps clients increase revenue by using the 8 Languages of Money for team building, leadership, sales, and marketing. Her clients have included Verizon Wireless, JP Morgan Chase, AT&T, Disney, CVS, and IBM. Before starting her own company in 2011, she created training programs and executed sales plans for international retailers and developed growth strategies for startups, turnaround, high-growth, and venture-capital-backed companies.

The breakfast will also recognize Christina Royal, new president of Holyoke Community College, and Revitalize CDC for its 25th anniversary.

Tickets cost $22.50 for Springfield Regional Chamber members in advance ($25 at the door) and $30 for general admission in advance ($35 at the door). Reservations can be made in advance online at www.springfieldregionalchamber.com or by e-mail to [email protected].

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SPRINGFIELD — The Western New England University School of Law will host a regional forum on immigration policy today, Feb. 3, from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. in the Blake Law Center. The recent presidential election has focused significant attention on potential changes to the nation’s immigration laws and policies. While immigration issues have national implications, the ultimate impact can be very local. This symposium will discuss how communities in Western Mass. may be affected.

The forum will feature representatives from local community organizations and law firms that work on immigration issues on a daily basis. The panelists will present their perspectives on current policies, and how anticipated changes in immigration policies may affect the services they provide to their immigrant constituents. The presenters will also explain how interested students and community members can become involved.

The forum will provide accurate information to reduce the misinformation that is raising fears and concerns, and it will further the cooperation and collaboration among local service providers, advocates, and affected communities. Sudha Setty, professor of Law and associate dean for Faculty Development & Intellectual Life, will moderate.

The forum is free and open to the public. For more details, click here.

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NORTHAMPTON — Dr. Robert Fazzi, founder and managing partner of Fazzi Associates, announced that Tim Ashe has been promoted to chief operating officer and is now responsible for the firm’s day-to-day leadership.

Ashe joined Fazzi in 2006 and became a partner in 2007. Since that time, he has led the firm’s Operational Consulting Division to provide organizational, operational, turnaround, and change-management services to home-care and hospice agencies across the country. Under his leadership, Fazzi has helped hundreds of agencies improve outcomes and profitability through best practices in organizational structure, clinical and operational processes, and new models for staffing, supervision, and care management. More recently, he also assumed responsibility for the company’s Outsourced Billing, Finance, and Information Technology divisions.

Along-time leader in the field of home care and hospice, Ashe’s expertise and career has included a unique blend of clinical, operational, fiscal, and academic roles. He is a frequent presenter at national and state conferences and is often asked to contribute to industry forums. He is also the co-director of the 2016-17 National Home Care and Hospice State of the Industry Study.

Dr. Robert Fazzi, the firm’s founder, will continue as Fazzi’s managing partner. But in transferring the leadership of the firm’s daily operations to Ashe, Fazzi will devote more time to the company’s future investments as well as to national and international community-based-care issues that are near and dear to his heart.

“I want to say, at this milestone in Fazzi’s history, that I am extremely proud of what we have accomplished and contributed to our industry thus far, and I’m also incredibly excited about what the future holds,” Fazzi said. “Tim is an incredible leader. I am looking forward to working closely with him as we expand our national and international efforts.”

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LONGMEADOW — The Center of Excellence for Women in STEM at Bay Path University will welcome Dr. Becky Wai-Ling Packard to the Women in STEM Speaker Series for a talk and interactive session on Thursday, Feb. 9 at 5:30 p.m. at Breck Suite on the university’s Longmeadow campus.

Packard is a professor of Psychology and Education at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, where she also directs the Weissman Center for Leadership. She will take a closer look at professional mentoring from both the mentor and mentee perspective during her presentation, “Why Mentoring Matters for Success in STEM.”

Packard will provide guidance and best practices for mentors to help shepherd students in STEM fields. She will also help student participants better diagnose the issues they face, identify priorities, and develop appropriate action plans to best achieve their career goals. Professionals and students across disciplines, career stages, and industries are welcome to attend. Attendees will be eligible to win a signed copy of Packard’s book, Successful STEM Mentoring Initiatives for Underrepresented Students: A Research-Based Guide for Faculty and Administrators.

Packard received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Michigan and a PhD in educational psychology from Michigan State University. Her research focuses on mentoring, with an emphasis on how first-generation college students, women, and people of color construct and sustain successful mentoring networks with a focus on pathways in STEM fields.

This presentation is sponsored by Bay Path’s Center of Excellence for Women in STEM, created in response to the overwhelming need for education, advanced training, and continued support for women who are beginning or advancing careers in STEM. Registration is strongly recommended and available at www.baypath.edu/womeninstem.

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SPRINGFIELD — Today, Feb. 2, the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts is announcing a groundbreaking public-private partnership aimed at driving economic prosperity for young women in Springfield. MassMutual Foundation Inc. — a dedicated corporate foundation established by MassMutual, and a representative from state Treasurer Deb Goldberg’s Office of Economic Empowerment will be available to comment on their commitment to be lead corporate and government partners for the project.

The MassMutual Foundation will also announce it is awarding $150,000 to the Women’s Fund to support the launch of an innovative project called the Partnership for Young Women’s Progress: Springfield (YWP). As part of the project, Goldberg’s office will offer its Women’s Economic Empowerment series, share state-agency-generated research and data, and participate in final recommendations.

“We truly value this partnership that leverages available resources in an innovative and collaborative way,” said Ali Mathias, MassMutual director of Charitable Giving and vice president of the MassMutual Foundation. “This program will not only expand the economic opportunity for young women, but also economic development in the city of Springfield.”

Added Goldberg, “I am thrilled to be participating in this program. Public-private partnerships such as this, are crucial in creating opportunities to empower young women across the state.”

The YWP will elevate the leadership of local young women (ages 12 to 24) to help design a lasting blueprint for investing in the Springfield community that addresses the needs, programming, best practices, policies, and research that will build the pathways to economic prosperity for themselves, their families, and their community.

A three-year pilot will allow partners to create leadership and high-level decision-making opportunities for young women in Springfield, and reward their efforts as part of a Young Women’s Leadership Advisory Council; analyze available data, examine current investments, and identify where partners can make a lasting impact; create a public document with young women’s economic growth and empowerment recommendations; generate and fund a phased action plan for the region that will include re-granting partnerships; and engage message research conducted by a leading national firm that will help shape strategic communications. These strategic communications will be aimed at creating a positive shift from the current negative cultural narratives regarding young women in Springfield.

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SPRINGFIELD — The Advertising Club of Western Massachusetts is seeking nominations from throughout Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin, and Berkshire counties for the Pynchon Award, which recognizes citizens of this region who have rendered distinguished service to the community.

The Order of William Pynchon was established by the Advertising Club in 1915 to recognize and encourage individuals whose lives and achievements typified the ideals of promoting citizenship and building a better community in Western Mass. Past recipients include war heroes, social activists, teachers, volunteers, philanthropists, historians, clergy, physicians, journalists, public servants, and business leaders. A complete list of recipients since 1915 can be found at www.adclubwm.org/events/pynchonaward.

To nominate an individual, submit a one-page letter explaining why the nominee should be considered. Include biographical information, outstanding accomplishments, examples of service to the community, organizations he or she is or has been active in, and the names, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses of at least three people who can further attest to the nominee’s eligibility for induction into the Order of William Pynchon.

All nominees will be considered and researched by the Pynchon trustees, comprised of the current and five past presidents of the Advertising Club. Nominations must be submitted by Tuesday, Feb. 28 to William Pynchon Trustees, Advertising Club of Western Massachusetts, P.O. Box 1022, West Springfield, MA 01090-1022, or by e-mail to [email protected].

Pynchon medalists are chosen by unanimous decision of the Pynchon trustees. The 2017 recipients will be announced in June, with an awards ceremony scheduled for Oct. 19 at the Log Cabin in Holyoke. Recipients are presented with a bronze medal cast with the name and likeness of Springfield’s founder, William Pynchon, and bearing the inscription, “They honor us whom we honor.”

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SPRINGFIELD — Behavioral Health Network Inc. (BHN) has been awarded a $100,000 Mutual Impact Grant by MassMutual through the company’s Mutual Impact community-investment program. BHN will use this grant to bring the Elizabeth Freeman Center’s Money School program model to Springfield.

These Mutual Impact funds will offer Money School to survivors of domestic or sexual violence who are also in recovery from addiction. BHN will provide participants with the skills and supports necessary to move out of poverty. Participants will be given individually tailored financial and career mentoring as well as intensive advocacy and support for their addiction recovery and healing in the aftermath of domestic or sexual violence.

One in four women report experiencing domestic violence. In addition to physical abuse, domestic-violence survivors also experience financial duress, and almost half of domestic violence victims struggle with substance-use disorder.

Mutual Impact is funded by the MassMutual Foundation, a dedicated corporate foundation established by MassMutual. The Mutual Impact program is completely driven by MassMutual employees. Employees choose cause areas and nonprofit organizations to receive funding, make donations which are matched dollar-for-dollar by the MassMutual Foundation to fund grants, and volunteer in support of the organization they select.

“Corporate responsibility and community involvement are part of our DNA, and we take great pride in helping people in the communities where we live and work secure a better future,” said Dennis Duquette, head of Community Responsibility with MassMutual and president of the MassMutual Foundation board of directors. “BHN tirelessly devotes time and energy in support of families in our local community, and we are pleased to support them through the Mutual Impact program.”

Mutual Impact grants were awarded to 21 nonprofit organizations for programs that fit within specific cause areas, including early-grade reading proficiency, food security, violence prevention, family economic self-sufficiency, returning veterans, successful advancement in school, child hunger, and education.

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WARE — Country Bank announced it has donated $50,000 to the Quaboag Valley Community Development Corp., to assist the QVCDC in its commitment to economic development and helping small businesses grow and prosper in the Quaboag Hills region.

The QVCDC offers many programs to help small businesses, including training programs such as computer courses, how to write a business plan, or individual consulting, in addition to offering small-business loans.

“We’re delighted to be able to support our local CDC and all of the work that Sheila and her team does to make Ware and the surrounding towns thrive,” said Paul Scully, president and CEO of Country Bank.

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CHICOPEE — Phillips Insurance Agency Inc. announced two new hires, Amber Dieffenwierth and Sarah Whiteley.

Dieffenwierth is the agency’s new Personal Lines manager. He responsibilities will include growing the agency’s client base for personal auto, homeowners, and related insurance lines. She has more than 15 years of experience in the personal insurance market and holds the AIC (associate in claims) designation as well as a Massachusetts broker’s license.

Whiteley joins the agency as an account manger. She is a graduate of Elms College, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in business management. She previously worked in benefits administration for a regional payroll company.

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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.”

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SPRINGFIELD — This week, Valley Venture Mentors (VVM) celebrated the graduation of participants in its Massachusetts Manufacturing Accelerator. The graduation ceremony took place at VVM World Headquarters at Tower Square in front of a crowd of nearly 100 friends, supporters, and members of the political and business communities.

The Manufacturing Accelerator delivered intensive and immersive training sessions to seven small precision manufacturers over four months to help them identify new revenue streams and connect them with new industries and customers.

“This program is unique because it takes startup methodology and applies it to established manufacturers,” said Paul Silva, VVM co-founder. “We encouraged these businesses to boldly question the way they’ve been doing business for decades and discover new markets and opportunities. We’re very excited about the results.”

Funding for this program was provided by the Advanced Manufacturing Futures Program administered by MassDevelopment.

“The manufacturers who participated in the Massachusetts Manufacturing Accelerator benefited from the creative and thoughtful approach Valley Venture Mentors and its partners took with this program, and MassDevelopment is pleased to support the accelerator with a grant from the Manufacturing Futures Fund,” MassDevelopment President and CEO Marty Jones said. “Congratulations to everyone on this accomplishment, which will help Western Massachusetts’ innovative manufacturing industry continue to grow.”

Graduates of the program include BSS Additive, Boulevard Machine & Gear, Decker Machine Works Inc., Mitchell Machine Inc. and Precise Turning and Manufacturing.

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SPRINGFIELD — Plenty of good seats are available for the ninth annual Difference Makers award program, staged by BusinessWest, to be held on Thursday, March 30 at the Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House in Holyoke.

The winners, profiled in the Jan. 23 issue and at businesswest.com, are the Community Colleges of Western Mass. (Berkshire Community College, Greenfield Community College, Holyoke Community College, and
Springfield Technical Community College); Friends of the Holyoke Merry-Go-Round; Denis Gagnon Sr., president and CEO of Excel Dryer Inc.; Junior Achievement of Western Mass.; and Joan Kagan, president and CEO of Square One.

Tickets to the event cost $65 per person, with tables of 10 available. To order, call (413) 781-8600, ext. 100.

Difference Makers is a program, launched in 2009, that recognizes groups and individuals that are, as the name suggests, making a difference in this region. Event sponsors include First American Insurance; Health New England; JGS Lifecare; Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C.; Northwestern Mutual; O’Connell Care at Home; Royal, P.C.; and Sunshine Village.

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GREENFIELD — Greenfield Savings Bank announced that Kelly Gagnon has been promoted to trust officer in the bank’s Trust & Investment Management Group, Michael Cherry has been promoted to office sales manager at the bank’s Northampton office, and Anna Zadworny has been promoted to office sales manager at the South Deerfield office.

Gagnon joined Greenfield Savings Bank in 2010, and has worked in the financial-services industry for more than 18 years. She is a graduate of Greenfield Community College, a trust graduate of the Cannon Financial Institution, and earned the designation of certified trust and financial advisor from the Institute of Certified Bankers in 2015. She is active volunteering in the community.

Cherry joined Greenfield Savings Bank in 2015 with eight years of experience in the banking industry, and will be concentrating on new business and account development. He volunteers as a member of the board of directors for the Amherst Boys and Girls Club.

Zadworny has been in banking for 26 years and at Greenfield Savings Bank since 2012. She completed the finance program at Babson College with honors, and holds an associate’s degree in business management from Holyoke Community College. She is active in the community as a volunteer for NEF, the Salvation Army, the United Way, and the Northampton school system.

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PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Bank announced the appointment of Allan Costello as president of its wholly owned subsidiary First Choice Loan Services Inc., a mortgage-banking business originating loans across a national platform.

As president, Costello will work with the current leadership team at First Choice Loan Services, including Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Norman Koenigsberg and Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Ralph Picarillo, in developing strategic initiatives. Costello will be instrumental in setting corporate policies and procedures for this subsidiary consistent with the compliance culture at Berkshire Bank. In addition, he will continue to serve as executive vice president for the bank’s Home Lending Division, leading its sales and operations functions including loan origination, underwriting, compliance, processing, and servicing.

Costello has been integral to developing the growth, improved operational efficiencies, and strong mortgage oversight and governance of Berkshire Bank Home Lending. In his new role, he will execute on First Choice Loan Services’ strategic vision and cultural integration as part of Berkshire Bank.

Costello brings more than 30 years of experience in auditing, risk management, compliance, accounting, operations, and banking. He joined Berkshire Bank in 2011 and held the position of senior vice president, Audit before transitioning to the Home Lending Division. Prior to Berkshire Bank, his career was focused on the auditing and financial fields, including director at Accume Partners, divisional vice president of Bank Protection at Charter One Bank, and chief financial officer at Rhinebeck Savings Bank.

“Since opening its doors in 2009, First Choice Loan Services has evolved into an extremely well-respected and nationally recognized leader in the mortgage industry,” Costello said. “I’m excited to join Norman, Ralph, and the rest of their outstanding leadership team and continue to build on their tremendous success.”

Costello holds a bachelor’s of business administration degree in accounting from Siena College and graduated from the American Bankers Assoc. Graduate School of Banking. He is a certified internal auditor and certified fraud examiner.

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SPRINGFIELD — The Valley Blue Sox announced their 2017 schedule this week. As was the case in 2016, the Sox will play a 44-game slate, with their home opener set for Thursday, June 8 against the Winnipesaukee Muskrats at 6:35 p.m. at MacKenzie Stadium in Holyoke.

The Blue Sox have 10 home games slated for the month of June and 12 scheduled for July. This year’s NECBL All Star Game will be played in North Adams on Sunday, July 30. The final Blue Sox home game will be Friday, July 28 vs. the New Bedford Bay Sox. To see the entire schedule, click here.

“The biggest and most important thing is that all but three home games this season will be played on a Thursday, Friday, Saturday, or Sunday,” said Blue Sox President Clark Eckhoff. “That maximizes the accessibility for fans — they won’t have to worry as much about school nights, getting to work the next day, and the like. They can come out and do what they’re supposed to do at a baseball game — and that’s have fun with their families.”

In a slight change from previous campaigns, the Blue Sox will be kicking off 2017 on the road on Tuesday, June 6 versus North Adams as well as ending the regular season on the road against Ocean State on August 1. It’s the first time the Blue Sox have opened on the road in four years, and the first time in three seasons that they’ll close out the season on the road.

“You know the home opener is coming no matter what — but it’s always nice to have those few extra days to get things ready the way you want them to be,” said Blue Sox General Manager Hunter Golden. “For the fans, the slightly later start date will just mean a better experience right out of the gate. Opening day is fun and exciting, but there’s also a lot that needs to get done. We’ll be better for it.”

The Blue Sox promotional schedule will also be released in the coming months, Eckhoff said. “We’ve got some really exciting things on tap. Some staples like Star Wars night and Friday night fireworks will be back — and we’ve got about five new promotions that we think the fans will get really excited about.”

Individual game tickets will go on sale starting March 1 and will cost $7 for adults and $5 for kids and seniors. Season tickets, flex packs, and group tickets are already on sale, and can be purchased either online at www.valleybluesox.com or by calling the Blue Sox ticket office at (413) 533-1100.

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WEST SPRINGFIELD — The West of the River Chamber of Commerce announced its Legislative Breakfast event, which brings members and non-members together for a morning of breakfast and legislative updates.

The event will take place on Wednesday, Feb. 22 from 7 to 9 a.m. at Springfield Country Club in West Springfield. Attendees will have the opportunity to connect with local business people over breakfast, and later will enjoy an informational session, emceed by Anthony Cignoli and presented by a panel of legislators, including State Sens. Don Humason and James Welch, stat Reps. Nicholas Boldyga and Michael Finn, Agawam Mayor Richard Cohen, and West Springfield Mayor William Reichelt. The presenting sponsor is Six Flags New England, and the premiere sponsors are Health New England and OMG Inc.

The event costs $30 for members and $35 for non-members. For more information or to register, visit www.westoftheriverchamber.com or call the West of the River Chamber of Commerce office at (413) 426-3880.

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GREENFIELD — Greenfield Savings Bank has appointed Tara Brewster business development specialist. The position is part of an expansion of the bank’s Commercial Banking Department. She brings more than years of small-business experience, including seven years as owner of Jackson & Connor in downtown Northampton.

“Tara’s 20 years in business makes her a great addition to our commercial business development team,” said Mark Grumoli, senior vice president and commercial loan officer. “Her experience and success running her own business, Jackson & Connor, gives her a first-hand perspective of the financial and banking needs of local businesses.”

Brewster is a Northampton native and graduate of Smith College. Before joining the bank, she worked for independent small businesses and multi-million-dollar companies between Massachusetts and New York City in a wide range of management positions, including manager, promotions director, buyer, regional sales manager, and East Coast account executive.

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SPRINGFIELD — The Creative Strategy Agency Inc. (tCSA) announced the addition of a new position to the agency, welcoming Bridget Delaney as social media coordinator, and also announced the Google certification of Tony Papoutsakis, who joined the agency in June.

“I am thrilled that he is now certified in Google, allowing us to better serve our advertising clients with search-engine optimization and AdWords advertising,” said Alfonso Santaniello, president and CEO of tCSA. “With the growth in the agency this past year, we’ve been fortunate enough to bring on a talent like Bridget.”

Delaney joins the agency with a strong background in social-media marketing, working with organizations within Springfield. She stays on top of all the latest social-media trends and is skilled at creating unique and inspiring content. She possesses a broad range of creative skills that she brings to any project. Her love for simple and classic designs is evident in her work, Santaniello said.

As a social media coordinator, she creates and implements marketing strategies for tCSA clients across all social-media platforms. She then manages these sites and curates engagement among users to produce higher brand awareness.

Before taking her role as tCSA’s social media coordinator, Delaney worked with the Downtown Springfield Business Improvement District and Spirit of Springfield, where she managed social-media pages and assisted in event marketing and planning.

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GLASTONBURY, Conn. — United Financial Bancorp Inc., the holding company for United Bank, announced results for the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2016.

The company reported net income of $14.6 million, or $0.29 per diluted share, for the quarter, compared to net income for the linked quarter of $14.2 million, or $0.28 per diluted share. The company reported net income of $9.9 million, or $0.20 per diluted share, for the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2015.

“In the fourth quarter of 2016, the United Financial Bancorp Inc. team delivered record revenue, record earnings per share, and strong loan growth, all supported by an attractive cost structure and excellent asset quality,” said William Crawford IV, CEO of the company and the bank. “I want to thank our employees for their relentless focus on serving the financial needs of our customers.”

Total assets at Dec. 31, 2016 increased by $54.7 million to $6.60 billion from $6.54 billion at Sept. 30, 2016. Total loans were $4.90 billion, representing an increase of $181.0 million, or 3.8%, from the linked quarter. Changes to loan balances during the fourth quarter of 2016 were highlighted by a $63.9 million, or 9.7%, increase in commercial business loans and a $24.6 million, or 6.3%, increase in owner-occupied commercial real-estate loans. Total residential mortgages increased during the fourth quarter of 2016 by $27.1 million, and total held-for-sale loans decreased $20.8 million. Total cash and cash equivalents decreased $123.3 million, or 57.6%, during the linked quarter, partially due to the company funding loan originations.

Deposits totaled $4.71 billion at Dec. 31, 2016 and increased by $15.7 million, or 0.3%, from $4.70 billion at Sept. 30, 2016. Reflective of growth in newly acquired deposit relationships, increases in the fourth quarter of 2016 included a $20.2 million, or 2.9%, increase in non-interest bearing deposits and a $65.6 million, or 15.2%, increase in NOW checking deposits. These increases were offset by a $115.4 million, or 6.2%, decrease in certificates of deposit, some of which migrated to money-market deposit accounts that reflected growth of $40.5 million, or 3.4%, during the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2016.

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SPRINGFIELDBusinessWest magazine will accept nominations for the 40 Under Forty Class of 2017 through the end of the work day (5 p.m.) on Friday, Feb 17. The annual program, now in its 11th year, recognizes rising stars within the Western Mass. community, which includes Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden, and Hampshire counties.

This year’s group of 40 will be profiled in the magazine’s April 17 edition, then toasted at the June 22 gala at the Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House in Holyoke. The nomination form, which can be found online at businesswest.com (click ‘Our Events’), requests basic information and can be supported with other material, such as a résumé, testimonials, and even press clippings highlighting an individual’s achievements in their profession or service to their community.

Daily News

WESTFIELD — NetLogix engaged a third-party monitoring system, SmileBack, in 2016 that allows customers to rate their satisfaction with each service event. In 2016, NetLogix received an extremely favorable customer satisfaction rating of 99.4%. This is an aggregate rating over thousands of service events from clients.

“We are honored that our clients are happy with the services we provide,” said Marco Liquori, CEO of NetLogix. “We continue to listen to our clients to understand and deliver the best customer experience and IT services in the region.”

NetLogix posts on its website the rolling, 90-day customer-satisfaction (CSAT) scores. SmileBack also recognized NetLogix in its Dec. 21, 2016 blog as being a standout with the highest net CSAT score achieved in 2016. NetLogix is one of thousands of service providers that use the service.

Headquartered in Westfield, NetLogix is a network-management, cloud, and systems technology integrator providing end-to-end solutions that ensure business integrity for small, medium, and enterprise-level clients.

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GREENFIELD — The Franklin County Young Professionals Group (FCYPG), a program of the United Way of Franklin County, will host its first annual Nonprofit Board Fair in partnership with Leadership Pioneer Valley’s Leaders OnBoard program.

The event will be held at Terrazza at the Country Club of Greenfield on Thursday, Feb. 16. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., and the fair runs until 8 p.m. Sponsored by Ramon Financial Services, Greenfield Cooperative Bank, and Franklin First Credit Union, the event is free and open to the public. RSVP is requested by visiting [email protected] or calling (413) 772-2168.

“FCYPG’s first annual Nonprofit Board Fair has been at the top of our young professionals group’s list for quite some time. We are pleased to finally make it happen and support the work of exceptional local organizations here in Franklin County by helping them recruit volunteers and committee and board members,” said Stephanie Gale, director of Resource Development and Community Engagement at United Way.

Currently, 15 organizations will be represented: Leadership Pioneer Valley, Friends of the Franklin County Regional Dog Shelter, YMCA in Greenfield, Franklin County Community Meals Program, New England Learning Center for Women in Transition, Stone Soup Café, Stavros Center for Independent Living, Salvation Army, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Franklin County, LifePath Inc., Franklin County Young Professionals, Center for New Americans, Children’s Advocacy Center, Friends of Children, and Montague Catholic Social Ministries. There’s still time to sign up for a table at the event by e-mailing [email protected] or calling the United Way at (413) 772-2168.

“We are looking forward to this event and working with individuals and organizations to expand and strengthen their pool of volunteers, which is essential to a nonprofit’s success,” said Amy Proietti, program coordinator, Leadership Pioneer Valley, Leaders OnBoard Program. “Local residents looking for opportunities to give back to their community or make connections with area nonprofits are highly encouraged to attend the fair.”

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EASTHAMPTON — 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; Michael Fitzgerald was promoted to assistant vice president, senior IT officer; and Emily Drapeau was promoted to assistant vice president, Electronic Banking.

Geiger 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.

Fitzgerald 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.

Drapeau 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.

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WARE — 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.”

Added Scott Pasquale, first vice president of Commercial Lending at Country Bank, “we are excited to have someone with Jessica’s experience and knowledge of the Worcester area join our staff. She brings with her a commitment to the local community and a great foundation of customer relationships.”

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LONGMEADOW — Bay Path University’s spring Kaleidoscope community-event series kicks off on Wednesday, Feb. 1 with a screening of the film Heroes Don’t Come Home. The event will be held on the Longmeadow campus in Mills Theatre at Carr Hall from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. A discussion with writer/director Jake Hulse and producer Kelly Henshaw, a Bay Path alumna, will follow the screening.

The film tells the story of Tim and Ben, who grew up together in small-town New England. They’re practically brothers, and then their teenage lives are shattered by the events of 9/11, which claims the life of Tim’s father. Both vow to enlist and fight in the war on terror, but Ben wavers, while Tim deploys with the U.S. Marines to Afghanistan. Reunited years later, on a fishing trip in the remote woods of Maine with Ben’s father, an unexpected event forces the two, who have now become strangers, to confront the teenagers they were and the men they’ve become. It’s billed as a moving story of broken promises, shredded friendship, family, and who we would have been.

Heroes Don’t Come Home is a Happy Wasteland production and stars Andrew Casanova, Tyler McElroy, and Robert Schorr.

The university’s Kaleidoscope series aims to foster openness, curiosity, and dialogue concerning issues and topics in our local and global communities, and is free and open to the public. Registration is strongly encouraged and available at www.baypath.edu/events-calendar.

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SPRINGFIELD — Business leaders, public officials, and community members will attend the graduation of the Massachusetts Manufacturing Accelerator, the nation’s first manufacturing accelerator, hosted by Valley Venture Mentors, 1500 Main St., Suite 125, Springfield, on Monday, January 30 at 5 p.m.

Meet the seven Massachusetts manufacturers whose businesses have benefited from the program and learn how they are bringing the manufacturing industry into the 21st Century. Guests includes representatives from Gov. Charlie Baker’s office, the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, and more.

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SPRINGFIELD — Valley Venture Mentors (VVM) announced the 2017 Startup Accelerator cohort this week. The 36 startups, chosen from more than 200 applicants received from around the world, represent high-quality, early-stage startups across more than eight industries, including technology, beauty, healthcare, transportation, and publishing.

“We are excited by the diversity of industries represented in this cohort,” VVM CEO Liz Roberts said. “We are honored that they are choosing to invest their time in our accelerator. They will get intensive training, mentorship, and resources to take their startups to the next level.”

Sixty-five percent of this year’s startups are led by women, and 36% are led by people of color. International teams from Canada, India, and Ghana will participate.

“Educating startup founders is all about helping them minimize their startup risks. Over the next four months, these entrepreneurs and their teams are going to spend time analyzing their products, services, business models, and the markets they intend to disrupt,” said Paul Silva, VVM chief innovation officer and co-founder. “They will learn from successful entrepreneurs — people who have been exactly where these founders are.”

VVM Startup Accelerator participants also develop relationships with funders and are eligible to win up to $50,000 in equity-free cash at the end of the program. The winners will be announced on Thursday, May 25 at an awards ceremony with an expected 600 people in attendance at the MassMutual Center. VVM’s visionary partners include MassMutual, MassDevelopment, the Irene E. and George A. Davis Foundation, MassTech Collaborative, and the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts.

Another aspect of this year’s program is VVM’s partnership with Pathlight, a local organization which serves people with intellectual disabilities. The two organizations put out a national call for entrepreneurs with technology ideas that could increase independence for those with intellectual disabilities. After a rigorous selection process, two such startups were selected to participate in the accelerator: Galactic Smarties and Habit Stackr.

Several of the companies accepted to the 2017 VVM Startup Accelerator are graduates of VVM’s mentorship program, including AlignMeeting, Bhlue Publishing, FootCare by Nurses, Hot Oven Cookies, Listen2aBook, Lumme, RecordME, Streamliners, TripleTote, and Yummy Yammy.

The 2017 VVM Startup Accelerator cohort includes:

• AlignMeeting, business-productivity software facilitating best meeting practices to improve team efficiency before, during, and long after meetings;

• AuCoDe, the Google Alerts of controversies and crisis situations, providing early detection as a signal for hedge funds;

• Barakat Bundle, a curated package of life-saving solutions for mothers and newborns in South Asia;

• Bhlue Publishing, a cloud-based career-development platform for teens and young adults who are struggling to figure out a career direction;

• Bharat Babies, which produces developmentally appropriate children’s books that are inspired by the stories of India and South Asia;

• Connecticut Horse, a bimonthly print and online magazine for horse enthusiasts in Connecticut;

• Emotive Agility Training Center, a consulting company offering training tools and curricula for people with autism to crack the non-verbal code of social interactions;

• Enrichment Express, which provides instructors with the curriculum, materials, and logistical support needed to teach engaging enrichment classes to children 5 to 12 years old;

• Ernest Pharmaceuticals, programmed bacteria to eliminate metastatic cancer;

• Fields Center, which provides help for individuals with autism and families;

• FirmOffer, a software solution for legal recruiting enabling law students to make binding offers to law firms;

• FootCare by Nurses, foot-wellness experts;

• Galactic Smarties, which makes technology that supports independence for people of all ages and abilities;

• GeneRisk, which identifies genetic variants of autism allowing for better understanding of risk and ID targets for more personalized intervention;

• Genoverde Biosciences Inc., an agricultural biotech startup focused on improving crop yield for commercial farming through bioengineering;

• Habit Stackr, which helps people keep daily routines through brain science and a mobile app;

• Hot Oven Cookies, a handcrafted cookie bakery specializing in the delivery and curbside sales of warm, gourmet cookies;

• Kwema, which developed a smart bracelet that can call for help to friends and family, authorities, and Kwema’s safety communities;

• Listen2aBook, which makes audiobook production accessible to everyone;

• Lumme Inc., a startup funded by the National Cancer Institute that develops smart technology to help people quit smoking;

• M1 Tapes, which makes premium, contractor-grade tape measures;

• MEANS Database, a nonprofit technology company devoted to business-friendly food recovery;

• MyBarber, which provides on-site haircuts at offices, apartment complexes, and co-working spaces;

• NERv Technology, which is developing an implantable biochip platform to detect post-operative complications;

• New England Breath Technologies, which developing a pain-free diabetic monitoring device to improve outcomes of patients;

• Nonspec, which has created a low-ost, durable, and adjustable prosthetic system;

• Paysa, which is developing a fingerprint-authorized cashless payment system for stores in rural India with the goal of increasing bank-account owners;

• ProjectMQ, a social-media app for independent game studios and fans worldwide;

• RateFrame, which helps users highlight and share the best parts of any video;

• RecordME, a studio-recording company that provides hardware, engineers, and distribution so content creators and venues can make more money;

• Streamliners, which sells aerodynamic devices to the trucking industry, saving $4,000 per truck per year in fuel costs, paying for itself in three months;

• Trabapido, an online marketplace that helps individuals and businesses find and hire service providers, such as plumbers, painters, and tutors;

• TripBuddy, a ride-sharing startup;

• Tripletote, which manufactures consumer products that help people carry items as they travel, commute, shop, and work;

• VaxAtlas, which provide real-time access to one’s vaccine history, helping to avoid unnecessary repeat vaccines, identify missed vaccines, and alert for outbreaks; and

• Yummy Yammy, which helps busy people eat better, one deliciously addictive sweet potato at a time.

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SPRINGFIELD — The Center for Human Development (CHD) announced that Comcast has made a donation of 25 Dell Latitude laptop computers with an estimated value of $5,000 to its Caring Together residential programs.

“Comcast is committed to digital literacy,” said Dan Glanville, vice president of Government and Regulatory Affairs for Comcast’s Western New England Region, which includes Western Mass. “We want the next generation of young people to be literate, use computers, and understand the resource that computers can be in their lives. Since CHD Caring Together Residential Programs focus on improving the lives of some of our community’s most vulnerable young people, we hope that these laptops can help make a crucial difference in their lives today and for their future. It is truly inspiring to learn of some of the successful stories of these youth, especially considering the challenges they have faced in their life’s journey.”

The laptops will be distributed among the eight CHD Caring Together residential treatment group home locations in Western Mass. Caring Together serves youth who struggle with issues related to trauma, abuse, depression, self-harm, and substance use, among others. CHD’s on-site teams provide the youth with integrated mental-health, occupational-therapy, and nursing services, combined with direct-care staff members who are specially trained and included in the treatment plan. Referrals to all Caring Together residential treatment group homes are made through the state Department of Children and Families or Department of Mental Health.

“Just about everyone these days has a phone, but the young people we serve through Caring Together do not typically come from homes where computers were either available or seen as a learning resource,” said Kimberley Lee, vice president, Office of Advancement at CHD. “The youth we serve are at transition age and may soon be living on their own, so helping them develop independent living skills is truly critical. Comcast understands the breadth and scope of CHD’s work, and their people determined that CHD Caring Together would be a prime and relevant partner to receive these donated laptops. We could not be more excited.”

According to Lee, having computers on site at Caring Together programs will provide great tools to help the residents get organized with homework and research projects at school, access learning resources such as Kahn Academy, improve financial literacy and money-management skills, apply for employment, register for SATs and scholarships, complete applications for higher education, and more.

“It’s important to understand that state contracts and federal funds that help pay operating expenses for Caring Together are highly prescriptive and cannot be used for things like computers,” said Lee. “This generous donation by Comcast will help CHD made a crucial difference in the lives of youth who can benefit greatly from the resources available through digital literacy.”

Daily News

BOSTON — Local unemployment rates increased in all 24 labor-market areas in the state during the month of December, the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development reported. Compared to December 2015, the rates were down in all areas.

Five of the 15 areas for which job estimates are published recorded seasonal job gains in December, with the largest gain in Boston-Cambridge-Newton, followed by the Lowell-Billerica-Chelmsford, Peabody-Salem-Beverly, New Bedford, and Framingham areas. Seasonal losses occurred in the remaining areas.

From December 2015 to December 2016, 13 of the 15 areas added jobs, with the largest percentage gains in the Haverhill-Newburyport-Amesbury, Taunton-Middleborough-Norton, Springfield, and Boston-Cambridge-Newton areas.

In order to compare the statewide rate to local unemployment rates, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the statewide unadjusted unemployment rate for December was 2.8%.
Last week, the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development reported the statewide seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped to 2.8% in the month of December. The statewide seasonally adjusted jobs estimate showed a 6,600 job gain in December, and an over-the-year gain of 75,000 jobs.

The unadjusted unemployment rates and job estimates for the labor market areas reflect seasonal fluctuations and therefore may show different levels and trends than the statewide seasonally adjusted estimates.

The estimates for labor force, unemployment rates, and jobs for Massachusetts are based on different statistical methodology specified by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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SPRINGFIELD — Square One has been awarded a $100,000 grant by MassMutual through the company’s Mutual Impact community-investment program. Mutual Impact is funded by MassMutual employees through the company’s annual employee-giving program and matched by the MassMutual Foundation, a dedicated corporate foundation established by MassMutual. This is the second year that Square One has received a Mutual Impact grant.

“We are so incredibly grateful to the MassMutual team for their belief in our mission and long-standing, generous support for our work,” said Kristine Allard, chief development & communications officer for Square One. “The funds we receive through this grant will support over 1,000 children and families who rely on Square One for innovative literacy programming.”

The Mutual Impact program is completely driven by MassMutual employees. Employees choose cause areas and nonprofit organizations to receive funding, make donations which are matched dollar-for-dollar by the MassMutual Foundation to fund grants, and volunteer in support of the organizations they select. Selected nonprofits have demonstrated excellence in their organization, volunteer opportunities, and community impact.

“Corporate responsibility and community involvement are part of our DNA, and we take great pride in helping people in the communities where we live and work secure a better future,” said Dennis Duquette, head of Community Responsibility with MassMutual and president of the MassMutual Foundation board of directors. “Square One tirelessly devotes time and energy in support of families in our local community, and we are pleased to support them through the Mutual Impact program.”

Mutual Impact grants were awarded to 21 nonprofit organizations for programs that fit within specific cause areas, including early-grade reading proficiency, food security, violence prevention, family economic self-sufficiency, returning veterans, successful advancement in school, child hunger, and education.

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SPRINGFIELD — 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, STCC President John Cook said. 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.

“This is a tangible way to show how much we as an institution value research, data, and assessment,” Cook said. “Given the strategic goals in our Student Success Plan, it’s about integrating process improvement, and putting a large enough umbrella over the work so that it is institution-wide.”

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.

“My academic concentration is how people learn and remember,” said Chalfonte. “That’s the heart of learning and teaching. The key concepts of memory and learning apply to what we do here, to the systems that we build.”

Chalfonte strongly believes in the mission of institutions like STCC, which have an open-enrollment policy that allows anyone with a high-school diploma or equivalent to be admitted. 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.

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