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.
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.
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.
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 Founder/President of Software Pricing Partners, a pricing consultancy. The firm helps its technology clients realize greater value from the products they sell and the people that sell them by doing value-driven pricing, communicating ROI value through value-based selling, and managing discounts. Software Pricing Partners has worked with clients from N. America, Europe and Japan since its start in 1982. The firm's website is www.softwarepricing.com.
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.
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. He has also been Editor of Software Success, a newsletter for software company CEOs and a Member of the Executive Committee and Chair of the Start-Up Clinic at the MIT Enterprise Forum. 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.
Dr. Khaleghi MD MBA FACEP has co-founded several successful health technology companies, such as StemoniX and EverlyWell, and has served as the Founding Chief Medical Officer of several more. In addition, he has published 8 books, including an Amazon best seller, and he and his work have been mentioned or featured on CNN, 20/20, The Doctors, The Tonight Show, PBS, NBC, and more. Locally, Dr. Khaleghi is President of Westfield Emergency Physicians, and Chief Medical Information Officer at Baystate Noble Hospital. Dr. Khaleghi holds degrees in bioengineering, medicine, and business from UC San Diego, UC Berkeley, and Columbia University.
Andrew Klopfer has experience with over 3 million square feet of commercial real estate, analyzing businesses, client management and selling business opportunities to investors. He is a relationship builder and seller in his heart and thrives on helping organizations and people understand risk and make money. Andrew has spent the past 4 years at ARK Ventures, LLC, where he runs Business Development and Investment Strategy.
Andrew brings strong experience in business development, sales, prospecting, asset management, due diligence, investor presentations, and relationship management. He is passionate about hockey, and was formerly a journalist. Andrew is certified in Real Estate Finance, received his MBA from Babson College, and his BS from Union College in upstate New York.
Bob LaPalme is the Chairman of River Valley Investors. He is a Financial Consultant specializing in the areas of Financial Analysis and Mergers & Acquisitions. He has over 30 years of experience in financial leadership positions with manufacturing organizations. As Chief Financial Officer of Jen-Coat, Inc. in Westfield MA, Bob was responsible for finance, accounting, treasury management, information technology, human resource, and risk management. He was involved in both the buy and sell side of M&A transactions and maintained relationships with equity partners and lenders. As a member of RVI for the past several years, Bob has participated in the evaluation of numerous startups, many of which have resulted in successfully closed deals. He also served as Treasurer on the Board of Trustees of Noble Hospital in Westfield MA. Bob holds a B.B.A and M.S.B.A. from the University of Massachusetts Isenberg School of Management.
Jay Leonard is a Director at Babson Capital. With over 10 years of Finance real estate and structured finance experience, he is currently a Director focusing on economic and policy research. Outside of Babson he has helped grow Valley Venture Mentors over the last 5 years. Previously, Mr. Leonard had stints in Risk Management and real estate.
Jay Leonard is also the Co-Head of the Springfield Venture Fund. The Springfield Venture Fund is an $5 million impact micro Venture Capital fund supporting economic development in Springfield and the Pioneer Valley by investing in primarily seed and pre-seed companies located in Springfield Massachusetts.
He holds an MBA from the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts. He lives in Pelham with his wife and 2 kids.
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.
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.
In 2009 Rick became an entrepreneur after thirty years as a corporate “intrapreneur” - developing new products, customers, markets and businesses. Currently founding his third enterprise, Rick is a partner in InCommN and was a partner at the late lamented Universal Quality Machine.
Rick and his partners at InCommN teach the principles of the Lean LaunchPad to entrepreneurs, non-profits and businesses with a need for quick growth in new markets - encouraging them to make their mistakes early and inexpensively. Rick also shares the techniques and tools of the Lean LaunchPad and the Business Model Canvas with students at a number of local colleges including Smith, The Elms and UMass.
Rick is also mentor and facilitator for early stage start-ups at Valley Venture Mentors and independently is a board member and mentor for a variety of early stage enterprises.
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.
Joseph Steig founded River Valley Investors. Currently, he is CFO at Long River Ventures, a seed and early stage venture fund. Long River is actively investing out of its third fund in New England and the northeastern United States with a sector focus on healthcare and enterprise IT.
In addition, Joseph develops entrepreneurship curriculum and teaches in accelerator programs both in the United States and globally.
Joseph also serves on the Board of Directors of the non-profit lending institution Common Capital, on the board of a new educational non-profit affiliated with Greentown Labs, the world’s largest cleantech incubator.
Joseph has worked in a diverse range of industries from aquaculture to Internet and has extensive consulting experience with universities and innovators on technology commercialization.
Jeff Sullivan has served the needs of small business owners as a commercial banker for several local community banks. In 2014 Jeff left United Bank as its President to pursue other entrepreneurial interests and continue working on community development activities in the Pioneer Valley. In 2015 Sullivan joined M&M Consulting, a risk management advisory firm specializing in the financial services industry, as its President and CEO.
Jeff also serves as President of Waterdog Technologies, a company that assists internet service providers in moving their clients into a virtualized cloud-based network environment, eliminating the need for small businesses to purchase and maintain their own servers and local area networks.
Jeff is President of the Holyoke Chamber Centennial Foundation, Treasurer of DevelopSpringfield, and board member and Strategic Planning chair for the Regional Employment Board of Hampden County, as well as volunteering on several other boards. Jeff lives in Springfield and is married with two children.
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).