John Brown joined Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company in early 2012 and is a Managing Director - External Investments in the Investment Management Division. Under the direction of MassMutual’s Deputy Chief Investment Officer, Mr. Brown focuses on manager due diligence and asset management of MassMutual capital invested with 3rd party asset managers spanning both traditional and alternative assets.
Prior to joining MassMutual, Mr. Brown led the analysis of several alternative investment opportunities at a private New York-based investment company. In 2007, while in business school, John co-founded a contemporary ready-to-wear apparel business. Prior to entering business school, John held a number of private equity investment analysis and business development related roles with assignments in New York and Japan at Aetos Capital, an alternative asset manager. John began his career in the investment banking division at Goldman Sachs.
John is active in several community initiatives. He is a founding board member of Springfield Preparatory Charter School and co-leads a $5 million venture capital fund focused on driving local economic revitalization through start-up company job growth. He is also an Advisory Board Member of Mutual Impact, which is MassMutual’s employee driven giving campaign that raised over $1.5 million. Mr. Brown earned a BS in Commerce from the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce, an MBA from Columbia Business School and is a CFA charterholder.
Lou Davis is a Financial Planner and Adviser at his firm, the Davis Financial Group, a fee-based financial planning and wealth management company based in Hadley, MA. As a long time entrepreneur, Lou came into the business of financial planning after a variety of other business ventures. Early in his career, Lou founded and ran an entertainment management company while working at Power Station recording studio in NYC. Lou's company, Leeds-Davis Management, focused on developing and managing the careers of musicians, recording engineers and record producers, including a number of Grammy winners.
In the late '90s, Lou co-founded a web-based start-up, BountySystems, that provided B2B and B2C-oriented incentivized viral marketing applications. The team was successful in raising $15 million in venture funding, growing the company to over 60 employees in their midtown Manhattan office, and negotiating multi-million-dollar partnerships and service agreements with some of the day’s top web portals and businesses. After 9/11, Lou returned from NYC to Massachusetts and, after working for several years as a sales, marketing, and business development consultant, Lou served as the VP of Sales and Marketing at Market Street Research, a national marketing research firm based in Northampton, MA.
The transition to financial planning was a natural one for Lou, as so much of what he had done in his earlier life is relevant to and directly informs his work today. Lou is a Registered Representative and holds a Series 7, Series 66 and a health, life, and disability insurance license. Lou serves on committees and boards of various non-profits, including the Hampden County Estate Planning Council, Congregation B’nai Israel, and Cooley Dickinson Health Care. Lou previously served as the President of Lander-Grinspoon Academy and as Vice Presidents of the New England Financial Marketing Association and the New England Society for Healthcare Communications.
Steve Davis is a partner of Ventry Industries LLC, Springfield Ma. He also is a Director of the Irene E. & George A. Davis Foundation, and the former President and Chief Operating Officer of American Saw & Mfg. Company, East Longmeadow, Massachusetts.
Steve also has a rigorous civic life and serves on the Board of Center for EcoTechnology, Springfield Riverfront Development Corporation, Western Mass Economic Development Corp., a trustee of Nichols College Dudley, Massachusetts, Springfield Corporate Support Scheduling Committee and is a Director of the Western Massachusetts Economic Development Council.
In his free time, Steve enjoys skiing, boating, golfing, and hunting.
Jake is the CTO at Big Voodoo Interactive and the founding partner of HelixSix LLC. He holds 20+ years of experience creating internet software & data advertising technology. He is an expert in large scale internet software architecture, data marketing analytics, and mobile app development.
Before his time at Big Voodoo Interactive, Jake was a founding partner at Techistry Inc, and worked as a private consultant for the Earth Day Network out of Washington DC.
From 1992-2015, Dianne Fuller Doherty was the regional director of the MSBDC Western Regional Office. She is now a senior business advisor with the center. Previously, Dianne founded and served as president and CEO of Doherty-Tzoumas Marketing, a full service advertising and public relations firm based in Springfield. Prior to that she was executive director of Downtown Marketing, an organization whose mission was to promote downtown Springfield. Prior to her stint there, she was the director of New Business at a Hartford, Connecticut advertising agency.
Dianne has been active in civic affairs in the Greater Springfield area. She is a founder of the Women's Fund of Western Massachusetts, an endowment to support women and girls. Dianne serves on the boards of the Pioneer Valley Plan for Progress, Bay Path College, the Community Foundation of Western Mass and Tech Foundry. She is also a board member of Digital Divide Data, a U.S.-based social enterprise corporation that offers employment and educational opportunities to disadvantaged youth in Cambodia, Laos & Kenya, by addressing the technology divide.
Dianne is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College and received her MBA from Western New England College. She is the mother of four daughters.
Nick Gardner is the Owner/President of NGM Services Inc, a mechanical services company specializing in plumbing, heating, welding, construction, and Residential, Commercial and Industrial equipment installation.
Nick is a certified Master Plumber and Welder, and has twenty years of experience in mechanical contracting. Nick is an alumnus of Westfield State College and Greenfield Community College.
Brett Gearing is an experienced Institutional investment professional serving in various capacities over the last 20 years. Brett spent most of his career within the Structured Credit group at Babson Capital Management. Roles included deal analysis, asset valuation and modeling, and designer / lead on the development of the teams portfolio management and research system used to manage the teams $13 billion in Securitized assets.
More recently Brett served as Managing Director within the Strategies and Transformation office reporting to the Chief Operating Officer. This role included the Transformation of the firms operations and technology platforms and support of all of the investment teams within Babson; currently managing over $200 billion in AUM.
Other experience includes BPO and technical outsourcing, risk management, derivatives, capital modeling, branding and client onboarding. Brett has also served on the investment committee for the Springfield Venture Fund. Brett currently resides in Suffield, CT and is an alumni of Western New England University holding a BA in Finance/Economics/CIS and an MBA with an International business focus.
Jim Geisman is an advisor, investor and mentor to entrepreneurs and their businesses. He was the Founder and President of Software Pricing Partners, a pricing consultancy. He has been referred to as "one of the grandfathers of software pricing". Age aside, he did create the software pricing consulting niche in the late 80's.
Jim has been a co-founder, director, advisor or mentor to early stage companies and has helped raise more than $25M in equity in various ventures. He spent 24 years as a member of the Board of Advisors of the Professional Pricing Society. He remains active in the MIT Enterprise Forum where he has been a Member of the Executive Committee and Chair of the Start-Up Clinic.
In the past, Jim was the first Director of Marketing at Apollo Computer, the first successful workstation company. He also worked at the company that developed the ARPANET (the precursor to the Internet) and did the original network testing when there were four nodes. Jim is based in Greenfield. He has degrees in Electrical Engineering from Tufts University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.
John Goodhue is the former Chairman of RVI, and the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center, a joint project between MIT, University of Massachusetts, Boston University, Northeastern University, and Harvard University to build and operate a scientific computing center to support the growing demands of faculty-driven research.
John is a business and technical leader with 30 years experience in networking and high performance computing. He has held senior engineering management, general management, and technology leadership positions at established organizations such Cisco and BBN, and has been on the early management teams for several startup companies. John holds a B.S. in Computer Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Bill Grinnell is President of Webber and Grinnell Insurance Agency located in Northampton, MA. Webber and Grinnell specializes in helping mid-market companies manage their risk and control their insurance costs.
The agency prides itself on being more than just a sales organization. They are insurance technicians and help their clients reduce exposure to loss by providing appropriate coverage or other risk transfer avenues. They take great pride in their exceptional service and as a result, their client retention rates are amongst the best in the nation. Lastly, they are dedicated to the highest ethical standards.
In addition to his work at Webber and Grinnell Insurance Agency, Bill was the co-Chair of the 2014 Campaign at United Way of Hampshire County, a Trustee at the Academy of Charlemont, and the Board President at the Hampshire Regional YMCA.
Don is a senior consultant for FranchiseWell, LLC, partner at Allsport Soccer Arena, former President and CEO at Human Resources Unlimited Inc, and current Chief Strategy Office at Viability Inc. He holds an MBA from American International College and a Certificate in Franchise Management from Georgetown University
Rick Kosakowski is a registered patent attorney with 30 years of Intellectual Property legal experience working in law firms and at various business units of United Technologies, including being Chief IP Counsel at Pratt & Whitney and Hamilton Sundstrand. Prior to that, Rick worked for 10 years as an engineer and technician. Currently, he is in private practice.
Rick counsels clients in all aspects of IP law, including patents, trademarks, trade secrets and copyrights. He has prepared and prosecuted hundreds of U.S. and foreign patent applications in a wide range of technology areas for clients including IBM. Rick also focuses on emerging technologies such as AI, Blockchain, IoT and Cybersecurity. Many inventions in these technologies and in more traditional technologies are embodied in software, which is of significant current interest given the recent case law involving subject matter eligibility for obtaining patents on these inventions. Rick helps clients navigate through this rapidly-developing area of law and secure patent protection for their software-based inventions.
Scott Longley is a Managing Partner at Eidolon Consulting. Longley has more than twenty years experience working as an International Operations Executive with global supply chains and management of strategic partners in Europe, Asia and Latin America. He has a proven track record of delivering bottom line results and managing cross-functional teams to meet or exceed identified goals. In addition, Longley brings a solid IT and ERP background, and is fluent in Mandarin Chinese.
Scott also has contributed to the local community as a mentor at Valley Venture Mentors. He is on the Board of Directors at the Westfield Food Pantry, is a member at the Turnaround Management Association, BNI and the Association for Corporate Growth.
Scott received his MBA with a specialty in Supply Chain Management from Thunderbird School of Global Management.
Kevin McAllister is an entrepreneur with 20 years of business executive experience. He served as President and CEO of inRESONANCE, a company that empowers independent school professionals by aiding in workflow management. The organization provides open, customizable FileMaker Pro based solutions for schools and non-profits—serving more than 350 organizations worldwide.
Most recently, Kevin served as the Vice President of Business Development at Education Brands, a family of dedicated, education-focused software and service companies working closely with more than 4,000 schools to help them thrive in today’s diverse educational environment.
Kevin studied Geology at the University of Texas at Austin, and holds a BS from the University of Southern California. To learn more about Kevin, check out his LinkedIn profile.
Mike Michon has 26 years’ experience in building and real estate management. Currently, Mike is the Principal at Interland Real Estate, LLC. He previously worked for St. Michael’s Construction, Corp.
Mike has received a number of building and construction management certifications from Boston Architectural College and Wentworth Institute for Technology, and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Building Construction Technology from Framingham State University.
Paul Nicolai created Nicolai Law Group, P.C. after several years as General Counsel for Friendly Ice Cream Corporation. Nicolai holds a J.D. from Western New England College School of Law and a Bachelors Degree in Political Science from American International College. He also holds a certificate from Harvard Law School Program of Instruction for Lawyers and several business management programs.
During his career Nicolai has developed a broad based understanding of the practice of business role of law in business structures and operations. Nicolai currently serves as the President of Nicolai Law Group P.C.
Matthew Pitoniak has an extensive background in the real estate and service industries.
Matthew has owned and run numerous small businesses, including 11 restaurants (Fitzwilly’s being one of them), several car washes, oil change businesses, dry cleaning firms and a polling firm. Matt’s real estate experience is similarly diverse. He has developed and built several office buildings, commercial development and residential complexes.
In addition to Matt’s investment and entrepreneurial experience, he has contributed to numerous community organizations. He was the past President of the Northampton Chamber of Commerce, President of the Board of Trustees at Cooley Dickenson Hospital, and President of the Cutchins Center for Children.
Philip Silva’s work is focused on revitalizing existing large-scale affordable housing apartment complexes across the country. Since 2011 he has run the Green Wall Group LLC and before that worked with Recap Real Estate Advisors in Boston.
Philip works closely with for-profit, non-profit, and government owners of the affordable properties to help them structure financial transactions. He typically works with owners either buying new properties or with current owners interested in structuring preservation transactions bringing in resources such as LIHTC to fund needed renovations and keep properties affordable for many years to come. His focus is mainly on the remaining stock of federally subsidize properties with project based Section 8 which is the core of the nation’s affordable housing stock, but since no more is being made, must be preserved. He has been involved in closing over 100 transactions and has sourced more than $1.5B in debt. In 2009 he helped originate and close the $513m refinancing loan of Starrett City in NY, the national largest federally assisted affordable housing property with over 14,000 residents.
Philip received his BBA from the Isenberg School of Management at University of Massachusetts, Amherst, with a focus on Accounting and Economics. He is pleased to be back in the Pioneer Valley and enjoys living in the middle of the woods in Sunderland, MA with his wife and two young children.
Norm Smith is an innovative executive adviser to privately held businesses with extensive experience leading and managing complex organizations in sophisticated and challenging environments.
Previously, Norm worked at the MassMutual Financial Group, a Fortune 100 company, for sixteen years, serving for more than a decade as either its Corporate Controller and Chief Accounting Officer or Chief Financial Officer of its U.S. insurance operations. A CPA, he has a held a variety of other senior financial roles including being the Corporate Controller and Chief Accounting Officer of the Paul Revere Insurance Group (now UNUM) when it was publicly traded on the NYSE and Audit Committee Chair for an offshore reinsurer majority owned by Cerberus Capital Management.
Prior to joining MassMutual, he spent six years as a founding member of a hedge fund and hedge fund back office business.
Norm holds both an MBA and a BBA from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Isenberg School of Management. At UMass, he was given the ECAC Merit Medal awarded to the outstanding senior student athlete, and he remains an actively involved alumnus across a range of programs and initiatives.
Richard Tillberg comes to RVI with 25 years of consulting experience, primarily in mediation and real estate development. For the past ten years, he has been running his own consulting company called Richard Tillberg Consulting. His company provides mediation services in all areas, concentrating on real estate, business and legacy disputes. He also facilitates public input or citizen decision-making, primarily with local municipalities.
Before starting his own venture, Richard was Vice President of Urban Futures Inc., Where he consulted for local municipalities relating to public/private real estate development projects.
Richard holds a certificate in Mediation from UC Irvine, an MA in Urban Planning from Morgan State University, and a BA from The College of William & Mary in History and Philosophy.
Joe Valickus has nearly 10 years within investment banking and advisory services, beginning with a short tenure at St. Germain here in Springfield, MA. Thereafter, he spent approximately eight years with UBS (2.5 years of which where he was based in Hong Kong) most recently leading their special situations group, focused on non-traditional financing for corporations, sponsors and high net worth individuals throughout the Americas. There, he accumulated extensive experience across US, Latin American and Asian markets with 25+ and more than US$5 billion in executed transactions.
Since UBS, Joe established Bright Wolf, an advisory and capital solutions group, working with a variety of clients ranging from a multi-billion HK-listed Chinese company to family-owned businesses throughout the US, often with cross-border elements. Bright Wolf advises as well as invests capital.
Joe brings experience leading origination, diligence, structuring, negotiation and documentation processes across most industries and sectors, including for middle market and multi-billion-dollar companies. Joe graduated cum laude from Bucknell University with a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering.
Paul Valickus is the Chairman of the Board and Chief Investment Strategist for D. J. St. Germain & Co. Inc., a Springfield, MA based investment management firm with $800 million in assets under management. Prior to joining D.J. St. Germain, Paul Valickus spent 11 years at General Reinsurance Corporation in Stamford, CT (General Reinsurance is currently a subsidiary of Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway). Attaining the title of Second Vice President, Paul was responsible for the Company’s equity portfolio, totaling $2.5 billion in assets.
Paul graduated from the College of the Holy Cross with a B.A. in Economics/Accounting and he received an M.B.A. in Finance from New York University. He is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and a member of the Hartford CFA Society as well as the CFA Institute. In addition, Paul is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP).
Rob is a Sr. Manager of Commodity Management and Sourcing working for United Technologies-Collins Aerospace. Rob is also president of Dungeons of Hope, a nonprofit focused on fundraising for local charities by playing fantasy role-playing board games.
Rob received his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management from Westfield State College, an MBA from the University of Connecticut and an Executive Certificate in Technology, Operations and Value Chain Management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He holds a Certified Professional in Supply Chain Management (CPSM) certification from the Institute of Supply Management and Certified in Integrated Resource Management (CIRM) certification from APICS. He also an inventor on three patents.
Rob enjoys supporting the Hartford area community by co-hosting a monthly charitable networking event called Finest Hours Hartford. He is also focusing on launching several business and social ventures in his free time and is a member of the Hartford Club. Personally, Rob enjoys traveling with his wife and skiing with his friends.
Allison Werder moved to Western Mass to take on the role of president of MassLive.com – Western Massachusetts’ largest news and information website. During her time at MassLive, it grew into Western Massachusetts’ most popular local news organization with over 4 million monthly visitors. Some of the crucial initiatives Allison spearheaded during her leadership were statewide expansion into Worcester and Boston, rebranding and digital products expansion of the enterprise and building of the new Springfield headquarters and downtown signage.
Allison has previously run digital operations for large publishing companies in NYC such as Parade Magazine at Advance/Conde Nast as well as working at Time Inc.’s Money and People magazines running strategy, finance and digital development. Prior to publishing, Allison spent years in transportation planning and management consulting in Pennsylvania.
She serves on numerous regional boards and committees including: Trustee of Western New England University, Committee Chair of Economic Development Council of Western Mass, Board Member of Valley Venture Mentors, Board Member of Center for Human Development and most recently is a Founding Member of Women Innovators and Trailblazers which aims to provide mentoring and funding for female-led startups in Western Mass.
Allison is a Western Pennsylvania native with a bachelor’s degree from Notre Dame and an MBA from Georgetown. She lives in Longmeadow with her husband, two school-aged kids and German Shepherd.