2014 Alumnus of the Year John Brennan '71
2013 Alumnus of the Year Col. Timothy Alben G'01
2012 Alumna of the Year Bonnie Malley '83
2011 Alumnus of the Year Nick Fyntrilakis G'04
2010 Alumnus of the Year George Burtch '91
2009 Alumnus of the Year Stan Kowalski III ’92
2008 Alumnus of the Year John M. O'Brien III '74
2007 Alumnus of the Year David P. Kruger '68/G'72
2006 Alumnus of the Year Donald G. Campbell '73/G'79
Alumnus of the Year Award Recipients
Stanley O. Smith '22/H’54
Alumnus of the Year News
Trustee John Brennan ’71, a successful entrepreneur who has given back extensively to his alma mater in both talent and treasure, was presented with the Alumnus of the Year award at the President’s Society Reception on September 29. Ashley Skeete ’10/G’12, after distinguishing herself both in the University community and in the aerospace industry, received the Young Alumni Outstanding Achievement Award at a September 20 ceremony that also honored the Alumni Association Skookum Award winners.
John Brennan ’71
Brennan, who graduated from Western New England in 1971 with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering, has spent much of his career as an entrepreneur. He is President of Summit Company, a privately held investment company with interests in Franklin Valve and Brendford Environmental Systems. Brennan also serves as a consultant for Presedo LLC, a startup company developing a process to reduce the energy used in the production of ethanol.
From 1997 to 2007, Brennan was the owner and president of Valve Systems and Controls, a distributor of valves to the chemical and paper industries. Prior to buying Valve Systems, he held positions with Crane Valves, Limitorque Corp., and Curtiss-Wright.
Brennan currently serves as chair of the Development Committee on the Board of Trustees and is a member of the Board’s Executive Committee. He also serves his alma mater as a member of the College of Engineering’s Advisory Board. In 2004, he was inducted into the University’s Engineering Hall of Fame.
Brennan’s support for the University includes making a lead gift for the recent Sleith Hall expansion and renovation project. He also established the Brennan Family Endowed Scholarship and supports our athletics program through gifts to the Golden Bear Club and makes important gifts to the University’s annual fund.
Ashley Skeete ’10/G’12
Majoring in Industrial Engineering, Skeete concluded her undergraduate education with honors, graduating magna cum laude and receiving the award for Outstanding Senior in Industrial Engineering. At Boeing, she worked as a functional analyst, systems integrator, and programming analyst on projects for several airplanes, including the Boeing 787 and the C17 Globemaster III, a large military transport aircraft.
When Skeete earned her MBA at the University online, her team leadership talent helped her at her next company, GE Aviation, as a program integrator for the CT7 helicopter engine, and then as the evaluations engineer for the GE38-1B helicopter engine.
At GE, her positions focused on project management, with her proudest accomplishment being the hard-fought FAA certification of the CT7-2E1 engine maintenance and overhaul manuals.
Skeete has since left GE to join the Department of Industrial Engineering and Engineering Management as a PhD fellow, with a goal of bringing her industry knowledge into the classroom and becoming a tenured professor.
The multicultural student organization United and Mutually Equal (U&ME) was like a “second home” for Skeete when she was an undergraduate, and she still participates in this group’s activities.
Massachusetts State Police Superintendent and Colonel Timothy Alben G’01 (pictured on the left), praised for playing a pivotal role in the Boston Marathon bombing investigation that resulted in the apprehension of suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was presented with the Alumnus of the Year award at the President’s Reception on September 23. Ryan Turner ’08, who completed his PhD work in neuroscience at West Virginia University and is working on his MD at the same school, received the Young Alumni Outstanding Achievement award at a September 21 brunch ceremony that also honored the Alumni Association Skookum Award winners.
Col. Timothy Alben
For more than three decades with the Massachusetts State Police, Col. Alben has dedicated his career to serving and protecting the people of our Commonwealth. A 2001 graduate of the Western New England’s Master of Science in Criminal Justice Administration program, he has accepted the University’s invitations to come back to campus for speaking engagements.
This past August, Col. Alben was presented with Western New England University’s President’s Medallion Award, which is bestowed upon those who are distinguished in a particular field or in service to an important cause, and who are role models worthy of emulation by all—particularly the University’s students.
In the late 1980s, he was an investigator for the Hampden County DA’s office. In the 1990s he managed the Western Massachusetts Organized Crime Unit of the State Police, where his tenacious efforts led to the indictments of more than a dozen criminals, resulting in three murder convictions, and crippling organized crime in western Massachusetts.
In July 2012, Governor Deval Patrick promoted him to Superintendent and Colonel of the State Police, leading the State’s 2,300 troopers. In this role, following the Boston Marathon bombing on April 15, 2013, Col. Alben helped spearhead one of the most intense manhunts in U.S. history, which ended with an arrest four days later.
“Col. Timothy Alben, thank you for your remarkable service to the public,” said Chairman of the Board of Trustees Kevin S. Delbridge ’77. “We are proud of you and your courageous leadership. We salute you.”
Turner, who graduated from the University with a degree in biomedical engineering, earned a plethora of awards as an undergraduate, culminating in the Marston Engineering Award— granted annually by the entire engineering faculty to the student judged to have the most mature understanding of the principles of professional engineering practice—as well as the Grand Skookum Award, the highest honor bestowed upon recipients of the Alumni Association Skookum Award of Excellence.
Enrolled in the Medical Scholars MD/PhD program at West Virginia University, Turner will have his MD and PhD degrees conferred upon him this May. His PhD work was focused on traumatic brain injury and he is currently applying for neurosurgery residency. He is the author of 25 peer-reviewed papers and four book chapters, and has delivered 28 professional presentations.
Turner’s ties to Western New England University remain tight as he has advised seniors on their capstone design projects and is always willing to talk to students about pursuing medical school.
“No doubt the future holds many more impressive feats yet to be achieved,” said Interim Chair Biomedical Engineering Robert Gettens, who is also chair of Engineering Fundamentals at the College. “For your many accomplishments and how you so admirably represent the University, we honor you this afternoon Ryan.”
Two outstanding alumni were recently honored at Western New England University for their commitment to both their alma mater, accomplishment in their professions, and service to society. Bonnie Malley ’83, executive vice president and chief financial officer at The Phoenix Companies in Hartford, was presented with the Alumna of the Year award at the President’s Reception on September 24. WWLP TV 22 anchor/reporter Matt Caron ’10 received the Young Alumni Outstanding Achievement Award at an October 20 brunch ceremony that also honored the Alumni Association Skookum Award winners.
As an active member of the College of Business Advisory Board since its formation in 2007, Bonnie Malley has provided valuable feedback based on her career background and experience to the Dean and department chairs about new initiatives in the College of Business. She also participates in the annual Beta Gamma Sigma honor society banquet every spring, as well as attending Hartford alumni networking receptions. And, for the past two years, Malley has been the kick-off speaker for the AlumniLinks to Career Success program, an initiative that matches seniors in the College of Business to alumni in order to promote networking and to offer career advice and job shadowing opportunities.
“Whether Bonnie is participating in a board meeting, mentoring students, or attending an honor society event, her energy and enthusiasm and her love for her alma mater are clearly visible,” according to College of Business Dean Julie Siciliano ’81/G’84. “She encourages and motivates all who come in contact with her.”
Malley also serves on the board of the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, the Connecticut chapter of the National Conference for Community and Justice, the MetroHartford Alliance, and The Connecticut Forum. She also is a trustee of The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts and a founding member of United Way Women's Leadership Council. She recently became chairperson of the iQuilt Partnership, which seeks to link downtown Hartford’s historical and cultural attractions through a pedestrian walkway known as a “GreenWalk.”
Matt Caron started behind the scenes at WWLP TV22 shortly after graduation, doing production work and then became assistant newscast director. Since 2010 he has been on camera, and his dynamic breaking news reporting could be seen during the tornado that devastated western Massachusetts in 2011, the destructive October a few months later, and the massive gas explosion in downtown Springfield last year.
His reporting of a civil rights controversy in the town of Orange, Mass., gained national attention. Caron is a talented a multi-platform journalist who can anchor, report, produce, shoot, write, edit, publish to the web, and leverage social media.
Beyond his responsibilities at the local NBC affiliate, Caron remains dedicated to his alma mater and is frequently seen on campus speaking to classes about his experiences as a student or working in the field and meeting with students in the Sophomore Career Connections or AlumniLinks mentor programs.
“Your many accomplishments make you a role model and you admirably represent our University,” said Professional Educator of Communications Brenda Garton-Sjoberg in introducing Caron.
On June 1, 2011, a tornado ripped through Springfield and not only wrecked homes, schools, businesses, and trees. It also stalled the momentum of a city that was slowly recovering from state receivership and the recent recession. Nearly a year later, Nick Fyntrilakis G’04 received the Alumnus of the Year Award for his efforts to get the city back on track, assisting Springfield residents who were impacted by this disaster. View the photo album/slide show.
Fyntrilakis, vice president of community responsibility at MassMutual, is also co-chairman of the Rebuild Springfield initiative and chairman of the Board of Directors of DevelopSpringfield, a private nonprofit group leading the post-tornado plan to revitalize Springfield in conjunction with the Springfield Redevelopment Authority. He is pictured the center with President Anthony S. Caprio and 2010 Alumnus of the Year George Burtch ’91 at the May 16 Alumni Appreciation Dinner at Rivers Memorial Hall.
In his role at Rebuild Springfield, Fyntrilakis “has helped lead a process that took the input of about 3,000 city residents to build a sweeping master plan that will not just rebuild the city—it will also redevelop and create a new city,” said Burtch. “This three-to-five-year plan will make Springfield a more vibrant place than it was before disaster struck.”
About $23 million has been spent on cleanup efforts after the tornado, and about $100 million more is going into this massive plan, with money coming from private companies like MassMutual, donations from the community, and grants on the federal and state level.
“Nick, we applaud you for your tireless and unrelenting efforts, working with residents, business leaders, and stakeholders of the city of Springfield to help craft a vision and a plan for improving the quality of life in our city,” said Burtch. “You are a role model for your co-workers, fellow alumni, and most importantly, our students. We salute you.”
Receiving the LaRiviere Award for Service to the Alumni Board was Mat Nelson ’93, immediate past president of the Alumni Association Board of Directors.
Curt Hamakawa L’83, an assistant professor of Sport Management and the director of the College of Business’ Center for International Sports Business was presented with the Special Projects Award in recognition of his efforts to bring nationally known speakers to campus for the For the Love of the Games speaker series.
The Faculty/Staff Award was presented to Rebecca Sargent in recognition for efforts to provide more than 5,000 University diplomas to alumni. In 2011 Western New England offered all alumni free University diplomas to replace their College diplomas. Sargent is records/commencement specialist, Enrollment Management Group, for Student Administrative Services.
Olivia Mazzarella ’10 was named Young Alumna of the Year. The current Alumni Association Board of Directors Member-at-Large is a frequent speaker in classes, developed and implemented the Career Strategies Seminar in April, and in her professional career started a business and is progressing up the leadership ladder.
“George, you are a role model for your co-workers, fellow alumni, and our students,” said Chair and Associate Professor of Management Jeanie Forray in presenting the Alumnus of the Year Award to George Burtch ’91 at the annual Alumni Appreciation Dinner April 14. “For all you have done for our students, our community, and to enhancing the reputation of your alma mater, we salute you,” she continued. View the photo album/slide show.
Pictured at the event, held at Rivers Memorial Hall, are (L-R) Alumni Association President Mike Coffey G’79, Burtch, and Forray.
Burtch has worked for Hasbro for 38 years in various positions in operations and marketing. For the past seven years he has served as the vice president of global integration, leading a team that works with Hasbro’s global markets to assist in the growth of the company’s game business. His team aids in identifying the needs of the markets and feeding that information to the global brand marketing team. From this, promotional strategies are developed and communicated from the marketing team out to the markets. Additionally, Burtch’s team helps manage the translation process for Hasbro’s global pursuits.
In addition, Burtch is Hasbro’s primary community relations representative for western Massachusetts, overseeing all of the company’s sponsorships to local causes, which include include the Hasbro Summer Learning Initiative and the Hasbro Giving Tree. Through this connection, Western New England College recently worked with Hasbro and Junior Achievement on the Summer Learning Initiative. This program works with high school students who participate in a month-long learning experience led by College students and faculty, focusing on exploring career opportunities and developing interpersonal skills and work readiness skills with tours of Springfield area businesses.
In addition to Burtch’s numerous community volunteer efforts, he is a member of the Western New England College School of Business Advisory Board. “His experience at Hasbro has been invaluable in guiding the curriculum for our International Business minor,” said Forray. “ George has opened the doors to Hasbro, helping to increase internship opportunities for our students, hosting Western New England College classes and clubs at Hasbro, and providing them an insider’s view of the inner workings of an international company.” He also speaks to classes, has recruited Hasbro speakers to address the School’ students, and recently hosted the Sustainability Club for a behind-the-scenes tour at Hasbro to learn about the company’s efforts in leading the industry in green sustainability. “Our students have truly benefited from George’s affiliation with Western New England College,” added Forray.
Also presented with alumni awards were Western New England College Mail Services (Faculty/Staff Service Award), which was accepted by Mail Services Manager Jean Bell. Nathan Schwartz received the Special Projects Award ’06. The Young Alumni Outstanding Achievement Award went to Amanda Poyant ’09, an Americorps Island Fellow in Maine, who is splitting her time between the Deer Isle-Stonington Elementary School (DISES) in Deer Isle, and the Island Community Center (ICC) in Stonington. Poyant assists with technology development and integration at both DISES and ICC, as well as helping with program development and enhancement.
Coffey also acknowledged Skookum Award of Excellence winners in attendance, as well as members of the Alumni Association Board of Directors, and faculty and staff present at the festivities. Special thanks were also given to Office of Alumni Relations Staff Assistant Alison Castellano ’03, who created a musical slide show of alumni events over the past year.
“Stan, for all you have done to develop clean renewable energy—and for all you have done for your alma mater, we salute you,” said Neville S. Bogle ’75/G’81 in presenting the Alumnus of the Year Award to Stan Kowalski III ’92 at the annual Alumni Appreciation Dinner. Pictured at the event, held at Rivers Memorial Hall on April 29, are (L-R) Alumni Association President Mat Nelson ’93, Bogle, Kowalski, and College President Anthony S. Caprio. View the photo album/slide show.
Kowalski is chairman of the board fro FloDesign, Inc. in Wilbraham, MA. The company’s latest venture, FloDesign Wind Turbine Corp., “is promoting the next industrial revolution in clean energy with its innovative wind turbine,” said Bogle. Kowalski was able to secure $50 million in investments in under two years for the turbine, which is more compact and powerful than conventional wind turbines.
Kowalski, who earned a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering at the College, described his company’s efforts to develop technologies for “hot markets,” including a non-lethal weapon that uses advanced fluid dynamics for crowd control, shooting bursts of air. He illustrated the point by demonstrating a popular toy known as an AirZooka, which sends a surprisingly stiff wind at selected targets. He said that green technology, another rapidly expanding market, prompted his company’s venture into wind turbines.
FloDesign and Western New England College are inexorably linked, with FloDesign’s CEO being none other than Kowalski’s father, Stanley Kowalski Jr., dean emeritus of the Western New England College School of Business. FloDesign’s founder and current chief technology officer is Dr. Walter Presz, professor of mechanical engineering at the College. The company’s wind turbine project has included dozens of Western New England College graduates as full-time employees, students as interns, and professors as consultants.
“It’s been a heck of a ride, there’s more to come,” said Kowalski III.
Also presented with alumni awards were Gary Cromack ’80/G’02 (Alfred A. LaRiviere Award for Outstanding Service to the Alumni Association Board of Directors, Alison Castellano ’03 (Raymond Meyers Award for Outstanding Service to the Alumni Association’s Volunteer Management Committee), Anthony Mancini ’95 (Alumni Association Special Projects Award). The Young Alumni Outstanding Achievement Award went to Aaron Kraus ’10, Peter DiNardo ’09, Michael Ormsby ’09, and Michael Melucci ’09 for their work with One-in-Four, a college rape prevention and awareness group.
Nelson, the emcee for the evening, also acknowledged Skookum Award of Excellence winners in attendance, as well as members of the Alumni Association Board of Directors, and faculty and staff present at the festivities. Special thanks were also given to senior communication major Beth Graham, who presented a musical slide show of alumni events over the past year.
President Caprio told those in attendance that what they do for the College “goes beyond boosting our reputation. You help this institution in countless ways, and your strong bond with the College is key to our success.”
Annual Alumni Appreciation Dinner Honors
Those Who Go the Extra Mile for their Alma Mater
Alumni leaders honored at the Alumni Appreciation dinner on April 28 “are true role models to their peers and are exemplary in transforming the College,” said Alumni Association President Mat Nelson ’93. “These individuals participate on the Alumni Association Board of Directors, the Alumni-in-Admissions program, with our athletic teams, and work to increase the presence of the Collegein the community. They are the pride of Western New England College, always making an impact that is felt on campus and beyond.”
Pictured at the event at Rivers Memorial Hall is Trustee Amy B. Lewis ’88/G’00 presenting the Raymond Meyers Award to Neville S. Bogle ’75/G’81. The award is for outstanding service to the volunteer management committee. View photo album/slide show.
Bogle worked with the late Raymond Meyers ’51/G’64/G’01 in shaping the Alumni Association and has devoted his time, talent, and treasure to the College for more than 30 years. Bogle said Meyers was “a man of integrity. Over the years he contributed significantly to the College in his volunteering activities. It was fitting that an award was named in his honor.” Meyers was “a gentleman of great distinction,” he added. I tried my best to emulate some of his style and approach to addressing and resolving issues as we pursued the goals of the Alumni Association.”
Trustee Chairman John M. O’Brien III ’74, who was named Alumnus of the Year, “has seen the College through a myriad of changes, helping it grow into the fine institution we know today,” said David Kruger ’68/G’72, last year’s Alumnus of the Year. “We are thankful for his help in building the College’s momentum during one of the most exciting eras in its history.”
O’Brien and his family were unable to attend the event. Accepting the award on his behalf was Trustee Alfred A. LaRiviere ’51/H’95/H’01.
Also presented with alumni awards were Scott F. Davis ’76 (Alfred A. LaRiviere Award for Outstanding Service to the Alumni Association Board of Directors), Deirdre C. Merlino ’01 (special projects award), Randy J. Milou Jr. ’03/L’06 (Young Alumni Outstanding Achievement Award), and Engineering Professor Eric W. Haffner (Faculty/Staff Service Award). “This event provides yet another opportunity to thank alumni for their overwhelming support,” said President Anthony S. Caprio. “The College’s success depends on a whole host of players, especially the champions of our alumni family.”
Nelson, the emcee for the evening, also acknowledged Skookum Award of Excellence winners in attendance, as well as members of the Alumni Association Board of Directors, and faculty and staff present at the festivities. Special thanks were also given to sophomore finance major Samantha Vigliotti, who presented a musical slide show of alumni events over the past year.
“It is the dedication of people like David Kruger that make an institution great,” said Alumni Association President Mat Nelson ’93 in presenting the College’s vice president for finance and administration with the Alumnus of the Year Award at the annual Alumni Appreciation Dinner. The event took place on April 17 at the Elmcrest Country Club in East Longmeadow, MA. To see a photo album/slide show of the festivities, click here.
Kruger ’68/G’72, who will retire from his current position after serving as an Western New England College administrator for 35 years, has overseen balanced budgets and important building projects during his vice presidency, including the addition to the D’Amour Library with its TV studio and digital learning center, the renovation of the St. Germain Campus Center, and the Blake Law Center addition and renovation project.
“Aside from all the wonderful people he had been has been associated with during his 42 years at the College,” said Nelson, “the highlight of his career has to be the approval by the Board of Trustees to start a College of Pharmacy, along with his involvement in seeing a plan created that adds the first new school on campus in over 40 years.”
Kruger remarked how rewarding it is to look around campus and see the buildings he helped create. “Any time I’ve taken on a project, I’ve focused on not just getting it done, but how to notch it up, how to make it better,” he said. “When we renovated the Campus Center, the question was, ‘How can we turn the lower level into the living room of the campus?’” Indeed, the project met with rave results when it was unveiled in 2004 and continues to be a ‘wow’ factor during campus tours.
According to President Anthony S. Caprio, Kruger has “never held back” in his service to the College. “Everyone is aware of your unique role. We cannot come up with ways wonderful enough to thank and to praise you.”
Kruger, who also established the David P. Kruger Endowed Scholarship, is pictured receiving the award from Alumni Association President Mat Nelson ’93. Other Alumni Award winners were: William E. Dupuis ’79, a two-year Alumni Trustee (Alfred A. LaRiviere Award for Outstanding Service to the Alumni Association Board of Directors); Trustee and former Alumni Association President Amy B. Lewis ’88/G’00 (Raymond Meyers Award for Outstanding Service to the Alumni Association’s Volunteer Management Committee); Sonia Maldonado ’04 (Alumni Association Special Projects Award), and Thomas P. Florence ’82/G’87 (Award for Outstanding Service to the Alumni Association’s Alumni Outreach Committee). The Alumni Association Award for Faculty/Staff went to Assistant Director of Admissions Christopher A. Wystepek ’02, who couldn’t attend the dinner because he was on a student-recruiting trip in California.
The event, emceed by James Tierney, a dual major in economics and mathematics, and a 2007 Skookum Award recipient, also acknowledged some of his fellow Skookum Award winners in attendance, members of the Alumni Association Board of Directors, faculty and staff present at the festivities, along with Trustee Alfred A. LaRiviere ’51/H’95/H’01. Special thanks were also given to freshman business major Samantha Vigliotti, who presented a musical slide show of alumni events over the past year.
Give back in proportion to the benefits you receive—from your family, employer, co-workers, and alma mater. That was the message from Trustee Donald G. Campbell ’73/G’79 after being presented with the Alumnus of the Year Award at the annual Alumni Appreciation Dinner April 19.
Campbell, the vice chairman of TJX Companies in Framingham, MA and co-chair of Transformations: The Campaign for Western New England College, advised those gathered at Rivers Memorial Hall to help the College by donating their time, energy, and resources. “I am sure that all alumni present tonight are here because you value your education,” he said. “So I encourage you to give back. Seek to provide our College with the benefits of your experience, and, to the extent you are able, provide financial support to Western New England College’s Comprehensive Campaign.”
Campbell is pictured at the center with Trustee Kim Mac Leod ’73, 2005 Alumna of the Year, and Daniel McLaughlin ’96, immediate past president of the Alumni Association.
The event, emceed by senior communications major Lacey Girard, honored alumni leaders, student leaders, volunteers, staff members, and donors. Among those feted were Alumni Association President Daniel McLaughlin ’96; who received the 2006 Alfred A. LaRiviere Award for Outstanding Service to the Alumni Association Board of Directors; and Mike Coffey G’79, who was presented with the Award for Outstanding Service to the Alumni Association. McLaughlin’s award was presented by Lynelle Weaver ’97, former assistant director of alumni programs at the College. Brian Toohey, assistant coordinator of campus events, and catering manager Ann Ruete both received the Alumni Association’s Award for Faculty and Staff.
Also acknowledged some of the 2006 Skookum Award winners in attendance, several student leaders, staff members, and Trustees present at the event: C. David Trader, and Alfred A. LaRiviere ’51/H’95/H’01 and his wife Marian.
Campbell’s award was presented by Trustee Kim Mac Leod ’73, last year’s Alumna of the Year. According to College President Anthony Caprio, Campbell embodies all that a college would hope to see in its alumni: “You personify the ideal Western New England College alumnus because you are humble and intelligent; you develop your expertise and knowledge, applying them to a focused goal; you have a strong work ethic; you wish to succeed and see your organization succeed; and you have a manner and way of managing that allows others to perform to their fullest.”