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60 Over 60 Winners
Those to Admire; Those Who Inspire
Michael O'Brien, CEO
Congratulations to the 2018 Class of Connecticut’s 60 Over 60. For the second year, we’ve been honored to showcase some of the state’s most influential individuals who are age 60 or better.
The members of this year’s class are varied and amazing. They include: a husband and wife team who’ve graced the Broadway stage; an EMT who put off checking himself into the ER to deliver his patient first; a prolific author of children’s books; a life-long booster of New England’s non-profits; the founder of the “She is Me” project; the Vice President of Leadership Greater Hartford and a healer of the world.
We are overwhelmed with the contributions each member of the Class of 2018 has made to their worlds; the people they touch every day and their families. And we are honored to present their stories in this publication and with a ceremony at Duncaster on May 19.
Thanks to all who nominated some of Connecticut’s most notable change makers. Their stories remind us that everyone, no matter what their age, can make a difference.
Congratulations to all of you!
Micheal O'Brien, CEO
Click on a picture to read why this individual was selected. Top ten winners are listed in bold and are starred.
- Susan Aller
Susan Bivin Aller - Duncaster - Bloomfield, CT
“Author and Contributor to History”
Not only is Susan Aller a talented author of fifteen biographies for children, she is also the author of three volumes of memoirs, essays and newsletters. She has consistently been an organizer and leader putting her writing and leadership talents to work from Nebraska to Barcelona to Ohio to Connecticut.
Susan’s writings are as varied as a Spanish-American-British cookbook: newspaper pieces in the New York Times and newsletters for the West Hartford Street Ministry. Her biographies for children include intimate profiles of J. M. Barrie, Mark Twain, Christopher Columbus, George Eastman, Tecumseh, Sitting Bull, Louisa May Alcott, Ulysses S. Grant, Mary Jemison, Juliette Gordon Low, Madame C. J. Walker, Florence Nightingale and Anne Hutchinson.
Susan is a founding member of the American Book Collectors of Children's Literature (ABC), and has been an active member throughout ABC's 25-year history. She worked on the capital campaign committees for both the Hartford and West Hartford Libraries, and was Chair of the Advisory Board for the Connecticut Center for the Book at the Hartford Public Library.
A member of the Town and County Club since 1990, Susan served as its President from 2009-2011. She was instrumental in securing funds for many of the physical improvements to the club’s historic building.
Her nominator, Billie Levy, sums her up this way: “Using her great talents as an author, organizer and leader, Susan has given a lifetime of service to the many communities where she has lived. She is soft spoken, kind, diplomatic and giving—a woman to be appreciated and admired.”Back to top
- Janet Baker
Janet Baker - Bloomfield, CT
"Days For Girls Hero"
Janet Baker is the founder of Days for Girls, an international organization that provides health education for girls in developing countries. Janet also founded the organization’s Simsbury chapter at the United Methodist Church where she’s mobilized volunteers of all ages, some as young as six years old.
The program creates kits that support women and girls in the Volta region of Ghana. Janet has encouraged participation of other groups including students who attend schools in Simsbury, Granby, West Hartford, Bristol and UCONN. Janet’s work with Days for Girls has helped improve the dropout rate among girls in Ghana.
In the past, Janet and her husband bought a house to help a family from Vietnam. Janet also provided support services and social services to help the family adjust. When Janet and her family relocated to Bloomfield, they also bought a second house for the Vietnamese family. Today the children of that family have graduated college and universities, created successful businesses and have begun their own families.
Her nominator says, “Jan has the energy to do all of the above in addition to caring for multiple needs of her own extended family. She is the ideal person who represents what you are looking for in a 60 over 60 award.”Back to top
- Dale Bland
Dale Bland - Hebron, CT
“Champion of Rights”David A. Baram has dedicated his life to improving his community. Since 2009, he has served as a member of the Connecticut State House of Representatives for the 15th District. David currently is legislature’s Chair of General Law and serves on the Judiciary Committee and Banking Committee. He was also appointed to the Speaker's Committee on Domestic Violence and the Speaker's Blue Ribbon Commission on Municipal Opportunities and Regional Efficiencies. He also chairs a Task Force to revise the Real Estate Disclosure Form and serves as Co-Chair of an Alimony Reform Committee. In addition to his public service David is the Managing Member of Baram, Tapper & Gans, LLC, a Bloomfield law firm. He served as Mayor of Bloomfield from 1983 to 1989. He served as the Chairman of the Capitol Region Council of Governments (1987-1989), President of the Bloomfield Chamber of Commerce (1997-1998) and Chairman of the Bloomfield Center Fire District Board of Commissioners (2006 - present). An involved member of the Jewish community, David currently serves as a member of the Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Hartford; a board member of Jewish Community Center of Greater Hartford where he chairs the Membership Committee; a permanent Board Member of the Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Hartford, a member of the Anti-Defamation League, Hartford County, a member of the Greater Hartford Jewish Federation and an Honorary Board Member of Federation Homes Incorporated. He is also a Director of SummerWind Performing Arts Center in Windsor. Back to top
- Rayda Ruth Bouma
Rayda Ruth Bouma - West Hartford, CT
“Educator, Supporter and Advocate for Older Adults”
Rayda Bouma has been a lifelong advocate and supporter of those who cannot speak for themselves. After a career in nursing which earned her the distinguished Nightingale Award for excellence, she turned her attention to individuals needing nursing support in their homes. She embraced the mission of Connecticut Community Care, an agency that enables people to receive care in the setting of their choice regardless of age, income or ability. Rayda smoothly transitioned her nursing skills from a hospital to a home setting and began her career as a geriatric care manager, a role she continues to this day. “It is challenging to imagine the hundreds of individuals and families she has educated, coached and supported,” said her nominator, Connecticut Community Care’s president, Molly Gavin. “At the age of 75 Rayda embraces a rigorous work schedule helping clients throughout the state. She assists individuals and families in identifying the unique constellation of services and benefits to address their needs. She keeps the individual and family ‘in the driver's seat’, educating, supporting and advocating for them every step of their journey.”
In addition to her professional work, Rayda is active in her Congregational Church community. She sings in the choir and has been active on many church committees and task forces. She devotes countless hours to the Board of Directors of ChurchCo, a non-profit organization that provides services for people with developmental disabilities.
Molly Gavin sums her up this way: “Rayda Bouma is an inspiring role model for those most fortunate to know her!”Back to top
- Dick Cave
Dick Cave - West Hartford, CT
“Leader. Volunteer. Doer.”
Dick Cave is true contributor and volunteer to the local community. He is a leader, a volunteer, an organizer and a doer. The list of nonprofits that have benefited from his time reads like a Who’s Who of community organizations in Connecticut.
Dick was a founding member of the West Hartford All Sports Council and has been its Treasurer for most of its 40+ years of operation. Even after his kids were done playing sports, he continued to serve as a coach. He also served as Treasurer for The Boy Scouts of America Connecticut. He was honored with the Boys Scout’s highest honor for a volunteer: the Silver Beaver award.
Upon retirement from CIGNA in 1992 Dick became an active volunteer for the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving. During his 25+ years of service, Dick was responsible for programs that increased the ability of nonprofits to bring in more funds and to function more efficiently. Among the programs he spearheaded are The Nonprofit Revolving Loan Fund which provides low-interest loans and lines of credit for 35 nonprofits, Nonprofit Support Program which provides financial help to nonprofits and Agency Automation Program which offers technology consultation and grants to help agencies acquire new equipment.
In honoring Dick for his work, the Foundation described him as “…a fine example of someone who gives back to the community, not only by donating money, but also by donating his time and his talent.”Back to top
- Peter Chenette
Peter Chenette - Hartford, CT
Peter Chenette is an example of commitment to everyone he meets. For that reason, Foodshare proudly nominated him. Volunteering since 2010, Peter has amassed more than 3,000 volunteer hours in his career at Foodshare.
Foodshare is the largest anti-hunger organization in the Greater Hartford area. They distribute surplus food to their neighbors who struggle with hunger through a network of 300 food pantries, meal programs and mobile Foodshare sites.
Each month Peter helps pick up over 2,000 pounds of food from ShopRite West Hartford and Stop and Shop Bloomfield, which is distributed to the Foodshare network. Whenever you ask Peter to help the answer is always yes and he continues to go out of his way to help anyone at Foodshare. If there is too much food to take in one trip, he will either go back to the store that same day or the next.
He is involved in almost every aspect of volunteering at Foodshare from Retail Rescue to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Outreach and everything in between. During Thanksgiving, he leads two very successful Turkey and Thirty fundraising drives, and acts as an ambassador for Foodshare at various community events.
Thanks to Peter, people receive nutritious food and able to live a healthy life. His commitment and dedication has changed the lives of many!Back to top
- Jo-Ann Ciccaglione
Jo-Ann Ciccaglione, South Windsor, CT
“Teen Center Hero”
As the original South Windsor Teen Center Program Coordinator, Jo-Ann Ciccaglione dedicated her professional career to supporting the youth of South Windsor. Word around town is that she did a remarkable job making the Teen Center a viable and valued program. She provided a safe place where the kids could confide in her about any problems at home or in school.
Jo-Ann was also responsible for the creation of several community outreach programs which include the Cornerstone Soup Kitchen, Peter’s Retreat (an HIV/AIDS residential facility) and Rising Stars. Because of her guidance and leadership, the center acts as a home away from home for many young people.
Jo-Ann has a huge heart and advocated tirelessly for the youth. And she continues to wear many hats: mother, confidant, pseudo-counselor and disciplinarian.
Her nominator concludes her nomination with this: “Even now that many of us are now grown adults she still cheers for our successes, holds our hands during our trials and is an encouraging voice when we approach uncharted waters. Jo-Ann is never more than a phone call, text or a knock on her door away.”Back to top
- Scott Cleary
Scott Cleary - South Glastonbury, CT
Scott founded SMC Partners, a consulting firm in Glastonbury. The company, originally founded in 2000 as Telapath, was transformed into SMC Partners in 2007. SMC Partners is a mission-driven organization committed to making healthcare and social services better by designing, building and operating new administrative and care-delivery capabilities, enabled by information technology.
The most remarkable thing about Scott is his ability to foster a workplace based on what he calls “The Molecule.” The idea is to balance four elements: nurtured families, fulfilled teammates, successful clients and servant leaders. His concept is that if these four elements are honored, his staff, clients and company will thrive.
Scott’s title, Chief Servant, sets the tone. He is the first one to roll up his sleeves and live by the mantra, “We all wash the dishes around here.” Scott is an inspirational leader who treats his staff with the upmost respect, continuously seeks opportunities to teach and learn and has even been known to provide paternal advice to his younger teammates.
In Scott’s words, “We succeed or we stumble as a team. It’s not about the individual. Wherever we go to do client work, we really insist on having a team so that we can do the mentoring and the training and the learning. If we stumble and have an issue with a client, that’s no individual’s fault. Hey, let’s get a lesson from that…We celebrate our successes AND we celebrate our failures. The Molecule goes beyond words on a website and is recognized by staff.”Back to top
- Susan Clemow
Susan Clemow - West Hartford, CT
“Champion of Connecticut Nonprofit Organizations”
Susan Clemow has spent her life providing leadership and support to numerous nonprofit groups. For over 25 years Clemow Consulting Group (CCG), the company she founded, helped nonprofit organizations enhance financial security through organizational planning and the effective fundraising. CCG raised over $200M dollars through capital campaigns for organizations in Connecticut and Massachusetts.
Since retiring, Susan has maintained her passion for the work, voluntarily designing and implementing development plans for groups in the nonprofit sector. She served on the Board, Development and Governance Committees of Riverfront Recapture; as the head of the Development Committee for the Aurora Foundation for Women and Girls; and for many years was Chair of The Bushnell’s Development Committee where she now enjoys Honorary Board Member status.
Susan has a life-long love of Elizabeth Park. Most recently she has been a key member of a committee to raise funds for their new Visitor and Education Center. Leading the strategic planning process, she was instrumental in raising almost $1M dollars for the Center and helping it secure a $500,000 bond from the State of the Connecticut.
Susan is a life-long supporter of many of area nonprofits including The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, McLean Foundation, Granby Educational Foundation, The Main Street Community Foundation and YWCA of the Hartford Region. Why does she continue to do it? She puts it this way: “I’d much rather be involved in the community. I spent 22 years with the firm doing this kind of thing. I’ve made a difference. Why stop now?”Back to top
- Thomas Corrigan
Thomas Corrigan - Duncaster - Bloomfield, CT
“Standing Up for the Rights of Others ”
Speaking up for those who can’t has been a part of Tom Corrigan’s life since the late 1960s. As a young parish priest, Corrigan founded the Association of Boston Urban Priests. He was instrumental in the startup of the Pine Street Inn which provided shelter to 200 homeless men suffering from alcoholism. Later in his career, Corrigan co-chaired the Greater Boston Committee on the Transportation Crisis. This committee successfully fought the construction of a freeway that would have displaced 1,300 families. In his final parish assignment, Tom worked alongside the neighborhood residents in the East Boston Parish on the Massachusetts Air Pollution and Noise Abatement Committee which successfully fought the expansion plans and overflight paths of Logan International Airport.
After moving to Connecticut, Tom was appointed Deputy Commissioner for the Department of Aging. This department provided services and advocacy for Connecticut’s elder population. When the Department of Aging was transitioned to the Department of Social Services, Tom became the Director of Elderly Services and oversaw the Community Services, Economic Support, Elder Rights, Nursing Home monitoring and Community Protective Services Ombudsman programs. His work helped protect the lives, rights, economic support and safety of all Connecticut seniors.
Corrigan continued his work with seniors after his retirement serving as President of the Hartford Chapter of CSEA/SEIU LOCAL 2001 Retiree Council 400. His wife and nominator, Carol Forte, made the following case for his nomination: “I believe Tom is a candidate for the 2018 Class of 60 Over 60 because his contributions made a significant difference to the seniors of Connecticut and Greater Boston.”Back to top
- Drew Crandall
Drew Crandall - Vernon, CT
“Entrepreneur, Community Benefactor and Drummer”
For Drew Crandall, leading with his faith is critical. He defines the mission of his company, Keep in Touch, this way: “In purpose and everyday practical reality, we seek to operate in a Christian fashion in word and deed.” This mission serves as the bedrock of the marketing and research monitoring firm he founded in 1988 which helps build business through research, communication, marketing, sales and customer service.
The company is a charter and lifetime member of the Fellowship of Companies for Christ International and his office serves as Metro Hartford headquarters of the organization. The company is also a founding sponsor of Northeast Christians at Work which is also housed in his company’s Vernon headquarters.
“Drew has a long list of things that he has held dear to his heart,” says his nominator, Rene Lambert. He is the moderator at the Union Church Rockville, Director of Jacob's Well Coffee House, President of the Rockville Downtown Association and a member of the board of directors of Connecticut’s Better Business Bureau Foundation.
Drew is the author of three books, An Encouraging Word, The Salt Mine and Owner Talk, Owner Walk. For this busy entrepreneur, relaxation can be found in drumming and volunteering. In fact, Drew has performed as a drummer over 3,000 times across the USA and Europe—including Walt Disney World.Back to top
- Betty Cronin
Betty Cronin - Duncaster - Bloomfield, CT
Betty, is a Registered Nurse who’s always volunteered to help others. When her late husband was hospitalized in the Pulmonary Rehab unit of St. Francis Hospital, Betty began her volunteerism. She got to know the pulmonary rehab department staff during her husband’s illness. After his passing, she maintained her connection as a volunteer. That was almost ten years ago and Betty still volunteers at St. Francis Hospital every week.
Betty keeps her nursing license current so she can help when needed. And she does help: taking vitals, handling patient oxygenation and tracking activities in the gym for rehab patients. During flu season, Betty volunteers to give flu shots. This year Betty and a team of volunteers from St. Francis Hospital inoculated over 11,000 students, staff, visitors and volunteers.
When Betty is not volunteering her nursing skills she serves as the Treasurer of the Duncaster Resident Association and helps in Duncaster’s Turnover Shop. This octogenarian inspires and never tires, still saving and changing lives. Why does she do it? “I like to be busy!” she says. “I’ve always liked to be busy!”Back to top
- Sue Culshaw
Sue Culshaw, Bloomfield, CT
“A Volunteer Retailer With a Cause”
Sue Culshaw knows how to turn things people don’t need into ways to help others. The tireless volunteer has made the Duncaster Turnover Shop into a destination retail experience. And a resource for funds to benefit the local community. The shop is filled with clothing, kitchenware, electronics, small household accessories and furniture donated by Duncaster residents and their families. Sue and her husband, Bill, practice their own brand of personal magic to bring these donated items back to life and make them into tempting purchases. The proceeds go to worthy local nonprofits.
For clothing, art work and decorative items, Sue handles the freshening up. For electronics, she recruits Bill, a former mechanical engineer, to bring back the spark. Bill’s also called into service to haul goods and furniture into the shop.
Sue took over as volunteer manager of the Turnover Shop three years ago as a tribute to Duncaster resident she cared for five years. When this original founder of the shop passed on, Sue wanted to continue her legacy. Today, she comes in daily as a volunteer to collect donated items, clean and freshen them, arrange displays and act as the shop’s chief cheerleader. The sales have more than quadrupled during her three-year reign. The shop is a tempting stop for Duncaster residents, staff, and visitors to the community who often drop into to see what new treasures it offers.
Sue’s latest volunteer job comes after a lifetime of caring for others. She was a caregiver to a number of Duncaster residents before starting her volunteer career at the Turnover Shop’s manager. Before that, Sue had a career as an administrator for a data processing company.
Why does she volunteer to make the Turnover Shop a shopping destination and a source of funds for local charities? Sue sums it up this way: “My goal is put a smile on people’s faces.”Back to top
- Fran Curran
Fran Curran — Portland, CT
“Weaving Friendships ”
For the past nine years, Fran has been the Executive Director, primary designer, and expert weaver for the Hartford Artisans Weaving Center. Fran co-founded the Weaving Center after the therapeutic weaving program at Oak Hill School for the Blind suddenly closed in 2008.
The Weaving Center offers classes for the general public and runs a one-of-a-kind weaving program for the blind, visually-impaired and anyone over 55. Through these programs Fran has inspired hundreds of people every year to become motivated, educated and connect across ages and backgrounds. Participants are able to challenge their creative boundaries and learn something new.
Under Fran’s guidance, the Weaving Center has continued to grow and now has an operating budget of $200,000. Currently the Creative Director of the Center, she now focuses on sharing her unparalleled knowledge of weaving with even more students and creating custom projects for blind and senior weavers of the artisan program.
Fran has changed the lives of many as the Weaving Center serves as something for people to look forward to. One artisan described the center as her “active meditation.” Thanks to Fran, the center allows people to get out, meet new people and learn a new hobby.Back to top
- Dr. Paula DeSilva
Dr. Paula DeSilva - Avon, CT
“A Wonder Woman Who Comforts the World”
Paula helps heal the world. She provides comforting quilts after tragedies, collects and distributes relief items after natural disasters and other catastrophes and delivers medical supplies where there are none.
For her decades of work, Paula has been honored with awards from the March of Dimes, Spiritual Life Center and The Dober Family Foundation. Paula was also recognized by the Malta House of Care as a Wonder Woman in 2015.
Paula’s ability to give from her heart is her true legacy. For nearly two decades she has coordinated volunteers who sew vital clothing items for the Haitian Health Foundation. After the 2010 earthquake in Haiti she collected, sorted and shipped over 5,000 relief items to the devastated area.
Closer to home Paula established "Sandy Hook Quilts2Heal" the morning after the Sandy Hook tragedy. The group brought together 200 volunteers to create individualized comforting quilts for the families of the 20 children and six teachers who were killed in this terrible tragedy. Because the volunteers wanted to continue their work, Paula established Quilts2Heal, Inc., a nonprofit organization whose mission is to "Provide comfort and healing through quilts for those individuals and families who have suffered a loss, illness or challenge in their lives.” For the last five years this group of volunteers has sent comfort quilts to families affected by natural disasters in Moore, OK; Boulder, CO; Lafayette, LA; South and North Carolina. The group also created quilts for several World War II veterans and Connecticut veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Following the tsunami that affected Southeast Asia in Dec 2004, Paula also coordinated a relief effort that sent over 3,000 pounds of medical supplies to Sri Lanka through a relief group she founded. She continues to provide school supplies to The School for the Deaf and The School for the Blind in rural southern Sri Lanka.Back to top
- Betty Domer
Betty Domer — Seabury - Bloomfield, CT
“Making the World a Better Place”
“It seems as though every time I join an organization, Betty Domer is already there,” wrote Betty’s nominator, Foodshare CEO Jason Jakubowski.
About ten years ago, Jason succeeded Betty on the board of Community Health Resources in Windsor. Six years ago he followed her again. This time to the board of Leadership Greater Hartford. “And then on my very first day as CEO of Foodshare, there was Betty Domer!” he wrote.
Betty is a long-time volunteer in Foodshare’s SNAP outreach center, helping hundreds of low-income Connecticut residents gain access to federal SNAP (formerly Food Stamps) program funds. Jason describes her volunteer work this way: “Doing this work requires a gentle yet tenacious demeanor and that's exactly how I'd describe Betty. Not only is she giving of her time, talent and treasure but (more importantly) she is adamantly passionate about the causes which she takes up. Whether it is hunger, mental health awareness or simple community leadership, Betty wears her passion on her sleeve and will always be the first person to rise to any challenge. I adore Betty, as do all of us here at Foodshare. I can say without hesitation that the world is truly a better place because of her... and it could certainly use many many more leaders like her.”Back to top
- C. Tracy Dorman
C. Tracy Dorman - Wethersfield, CT
“Giving Kids a Chance Through Dance”
C. Tracy Dorman (Tracy) has touched the lives of thousands in the Greater Hartford Community through dance. In 1999 she was one of the founding members of Ballet Theatre Company (BTC) and has served as its volunteer Executive Director since 2005. Tracy dedicates 50 hours per week, 50 weeks per year toward sustaining the mission of this nonprofit arts organization. Tracy lives modestly on her pension and rather than draw a salary puts the resources towards supporting BTC’s community outreach programs to introduce dance to those who might not otherwise have access.
As Executive Director, Tracy has overseen the presentation of more than 30 professional ballet productions. Tracy helps select works and choreography, secure guest artists, manage budgets, pursue grants, hire professional dancers from around the world, manage relationships with outside vendors, act as in-house box office and spends countless hours as a costumer for each production. During her tenure Tracy has seen BTC grow from 45 students in 2010 to over 150 students. Tracy is also an educator, still teaching five classes a week.
One of Tracy’s most lasting legacies is BTC’s Children’s Enrichment Program, Giving Kids a Chance through Dance. Tracy founded this program in 2002 to further BTC’s commitment to children in the community by making dance available to all children regardless of means. Initially serving about 50 children a year, this program now reaches over 1,000 underserved children and families annually by providing free tickets to performances, in-studio workshops, and scholarships.Back to top
- Mary Farrell
Mary Farrell — Avon, CT
“Business Leader and Change Maker”
“Few business leaders have done as much to develop and expand a successful business while simultaneously contributing to the support and guidance of social welfare, non-profit and professional organizations and institutions.” That first line in Mary Farrell’s 60 Over 60 nomination says it all.
Mary Farrell joined Mintz + Hoke (M+H) in 1976 and as a primary owner for nearly two decades, Mary remains a shareholder as the next generation of management takes ownership. Today Mary is the agency’s liaison with Worldwide Partners, a global network of 60 agencies in 40 countries where she serves as a board member and member of the Operating Committee for the organization. Mary is the senior account director of M+H’s longest-tenured client and is also responsible for legal matters relating to advertising and communications.
Under Mary’s direction, M+H PR helped to get Connecticut wearing seatbelts, change attitudes about Special Olympians and fight back against the AIDS epidemic. Those same skills helped brand Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, promote banks and insurance companies and launch businesses as diverse as grocery store chains and the country’s second largest casino, Mohegan Sun. She was one of the youngest professionals to receive the Public Relations Society of America’s Lifetime Achievement award.
Mary is deeply immersed in social causes. Currently the president of the board, she has served the Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Violence since 1993 in various capacities including vice president and member of the Executive Committee, Fund Development Committee, and Gail Burns-Smith Dare to Dream scholarship committee.
Mary’s nomination for Connecticut’s 60 Over 60 ended with: “Among associates, clients and colleagues, Mary Farrell is well known for her unflagging energy, high ethical standards and leadership in the face of tough challenges, both professional and societal. Her impact on the communications industry and Hartford area community represents a fundamental and lasting legacy. Her continuing achievements show that 60 is a milestone, not a finish line.”Back to top
- Roselani Ferguson
Roselani Ferguson, Portland, CT
“Connecticut’s Kindest Resident ”
Connecticut benefited greatly when Roselani moved here from Hawaii. Her endless acts of kindness have made her adopted home state a better place to live. Her selfless dedication to others has made the lives of the old and the young better. The reason these heartfelt gestures are so notable is because she performs them all while suffering from chronic pain. However, she doesn’t let that stop her—embodying the spirit of giving to all those fortunate enough to cross her path.
When the head of religious education at St. Mary Church in Portland retired, Roselani was asked to lead the program which she did with gusto. Since then Roselani has joined the Senior Advisory Board for Portland Seniors where she continues to serve.
She touches the lives of old and young throughout her community every day. Roselani has dressed up as Santa; provided Christmas gifts and meals for underprivileged families; bought prom dresses for girls who could not afford them and cooked meals for people when they are sick and homebound.
She currently transports a cancer patient to Yale-New Haven Hospital for treatment so that individual does not have to take several buses. She recently took a 90 year old woman grocery shopping because no one else was able to. Roselani does it all out of the goodness of her heart because she loves to help others.Back to top
- Mark Fox
Mark Fox, Avon, CT
“The Man Who Changes Lives ”
As the founding member and former Chairman of the Board, Mark Fox’s leadership allowed the Journey Home Program to become a model for others across the country. This not-for-profit’s mission is to end homelessness in Hartford’s Capitol Region. Because of his efforts, Governor Dannell Malloy noted that Connecticut’s homeless problem has been dramatically reduced.
On the Journey Home’s website, the organization describes the progress its seen this way: “For the first time in 35 years, everyone we have verified as chronically homeless in Greater Hartford is in the process of finding a home, a home where they will be provided permanent housing with the support services they need. We have built the system we need to maintain chronic homelessness at functional zero while also putting strategies into place to prevent chronic homelessness from happening in the first place.” Mark’s efforts were an important part of that progress.
Mark also volunteers as a Re-employment and Career Transition Counselor. Thanks to his involvement, several hundred Farmington Valley residents have found employment.
Today Mark is active in several ministries for St. Patrick / St. Anthony Church in Hartford as well as playing a role in the Bishop McVinney Foundation.
Mark has changed the lives of many by giving them the opportunity to live their lives in a safe environment and aspire to careers that give them purpose.Back to top
- Harvey Leon Frydman
Harvey Leon Frydman, Bloomfield, CT
For the past four decades Harvey Leon Frydman has been a champion for the nation’s older population. He is a founding member of the nationally recognized O.A.S.I.S. (Older Adult Service and Information Services) and serves as the Director and Municipal Agent for the Naugatuck Senior Center. Harvey is a member of the Connecticut State General Assembly’s Task Force to Study the Needs for Connecticut’s Senior Centers. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Elderly Commission for New Opportunities, Inc., Waterbury as a member of both the Naugatuck Commission on the Elderly and Naugatuck Social Service Network.
Harvey has also been recognized for his work in support of his life-long hometown, Bloomfield. He has served the town as Vice Chairman of the Bloomfield Library Board of Directors, Assistant Bloomfield Registrar of Voters, Justice of the Peace and a member of the Bloomfield Access Television Board of Directors. For his dedication to his community, Harvey was honored with the Connecticut "Hometown Hero" Award, Connecticut Jaycee Outstanding Citizen Award and National Army Citizen Service Award.
His nominator sums him up this way: “It is truly staggering how the efforts of one person can truly make a difference in this world. Not only has Harvey worked in the field of gerontology these many years but [he has] served honorably politically as a devoted advocate for the people of Bloomfield.”Back to top
- Stephen Gryc
Stephen Gryc, Farmington, CT
“The Composer of Connecticut ”
Stephen Gryc’s music has been performed in 46 states and 33 countries in North and South America, Europe, Asia and Australia. He has composed music for some of the world’s leading instrumental soloists including the principal trumpet and trombone players of the New York Philharmonic.
World-class ensembles that have performed his music include the Minnesota Orchestra and United States Marine Band. His music is also distributed by leading publishers in New York, Boston, Toronto and Paris and his works are recorded on nine different commercial labels.
Stephen remains an active composer with an ever-increasing number of commissions and performances on the local, national and international level. One of the most significant aspects of his career is his interest in fostering a sense of community through music.
A Professor Emeritus at University of Hartford’s Hartt School, Stephen composed the university’s official anthem and fight song. His mission with these pieces was to enhance the college experience of generations of students and alums. He also contributed several songs to the town of Farmington for their 350th anniversary celebration.
Today, Stephen collaborates with the music program of the Farmington Schools by serving as a mentor for high school students who are undertaking capstone projects in music. He is a founding member of Connecticut Composers Incorporated, a statewide group of professional and amateur composers and has served as secretary and vice president. The organization sponsors the composers through concerts, recordings and composer collaboration with communities throughout the state. Among his many honors is ASCAP’s highest award in the classical category, the Rudolf Nissim Prize for orchestral music.Back to top
- Dennis Guay
Dennis Guay — Windsor, CT
Dennis Guay has changed the town of Windsor. A former active marine in both Vietnam and Saudi Arabia, Dennis continues to help people through his volunteer work in town. Since his move to Windsor in 2001 the town has changed into a better place and a good part of that is thanks to Dennis’s time and energy.
For more than 10 years, Dennis has been a volunteer for the Windsor Fire Department, rising to the rank of captain. He also volunteered as an EMT for over 5 years at the Windsor Ambulance Service as their chief operating officer. His commitment to others was proved in 2017 when Dennis suffered a heart attack while driving a patient. Dennis completed the run, delivered the patient and then checked himself into the hospital after he knew his patient had been safely admitted.
He has devoted time for the Windsor Food Bank, Project Santa for the Windsor Chamber of Commerce, local fall fair and American Red Cross. He is committed to volunteer work and has completed many classes and certifications. Whenever someone is in need, Dennis is ready to go. After Hurricane Harvey, Dennis responded by spending several weeks in Texas doing mobile feeding throughout the affected neighborhoods.
His commitment did not go unrecognized as he received Citizen of the Year in 2015 by the Windsor Chamber of Commerce. Today, he continues to volunteer every Monday at the Red Cross office in Farmington. His volunteer work over the past 17 years has touched the Town of Windsor. He is an inspiration to all and is always looking out for people.Back to top
- Marie Hakmiller
Marie Hakmiller — Willimantic , CT
“Passionate Volunteer ”
After retiring from a life-long career as a nurse, Marie Hakmiller began a second career as the President of the Mansfield Senior Center Association. The association provides programs, facilities and services that serve to better the mental, physical, and emotional well-being of seniors in Windham and Hartford counties.
She is driven by a passion to help people better their lives and dedicates her time to doing just that. Marie volunteers as a Meals-On-Wheels driver and takes seniors who cannot drive to their medical appointments. She also makes visits to those recovering from surgery that are homebound. Even on Christmas Day Marie is giving to others. Each year, she spends the day volunteering at a hospital gift shop because she “loves the joy it brings to others.”
Her generosity of spirit extends beyond Connecticut. She is currently gathering materials to send to senior centers in Puerto Rico that have been affected by Hurricane Maria.
Her nominator characterizes her this way: “Marie Hakmiller is everything I want to be in life and more. She is selfless, caring and spends all of her time helping others.”Back to top
- Jean Henry
Jean Henry — Newington, CT
“Making a Difference in Women’s Lives”
Jean Henry is a very energetic and friendly person who had no problem becoming semi-retired. In fact, she loves it! But she noticed her friends didn’t feel that way. Many were having a hard time with retirement. Some felt lonely. Some did not know what to do with themselves and some decided that wanted to go back to work.
Jean recognized a real need for a social group for women who are newly-retired so she started a meet-up group called “Newly-Retired Newington Women.” The response to the group was incredible. Not only did women from Newington join but the group has attracted women from all corners of the state.
The group bonds by going to restaurants, museums, wine tastings, blues jams and tea parties. They thrive on whatever Jean schedules. The group allows women to fill up their schedule with fun activities while also bonding with each other. To quote her nominator, “I believe she has REALLY made a difference in these women’s lives…and her own. She really should be on your 60 Over 60 list of CT Women!”Back to top
- Doe Henschel
Doe Henschel, Hartford, CT
“Third Age Leader ”
Dr. Doe Hentschel is too busy to think about her age. At a time when many of her contemporaries have retired, Doe thrives on working full-time.
Doe is Vice President of Leadership Greater Hartford, a nonprofit whose programs train and connect leaders to communities and projects that strengthen those groups. She oversees all of the Leadership’s programs and created and implemented The Third Age Initiative, a program to identify, develop and engage older adults as community leaders. The program has been recognized by the United Nations as an international model to promote healthy aging in the world.
Since its introduction in 2001, more than 350 older adults have enrolled in the year-long program. A 2016 Hartford magazine article reported that in the past 15 years Third Age participants have completed 39 programs in subject fields such as literacy, voter education and the environment. Doe estimated that the participants had invested more than 40,000 hours in greater Hartford.
An experienced administrator in higher education, Doe has a doctorate in urban education with a concentration in administrative leadership/adult education. She retired from a long and distinguished career in academia, including the position of dean of extended and continuing education at the University of Connecticut. “I took early retirement so I could be a hands-on grandmother,” she says. But when a job offer from Leadership Greater Hartford arrived it fit her skills and experience so perfectly she couldn’t resist.
Throughout her career, Doe has published articles and research papers and received numerous awards. She was inducted into the International Adult and Continuing Education Hall of Fame in 2013. In 2016, the Malta House of Care Foundation named her to its list of “Wonder Women” who make a difference in their communities.
Doe lives her belief that the older generation has much to contribute to the world. Older adults, in turn, benefit from meaningful work in terms of better physical and mental health. While working on her doctorate in the late 1970s Doe says, “…we were taught that the national progression of our lives when we got older [was that] we would withdraw and disengage,” she says. “We now know that that is not healthy aging.”
“There is now a significant body of research that continual engagement in purposeful work extends your health in your later years,” she says. That research holds special meaning for Doe who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2009.
Doe can’t imagine a second retirement. “What I can imagine and am anticipating is to develop a plan to step down from my vice president role here, stay on to direct Third Age and participate in training that fits my skill set,” she says. With a work day that often begins with an early breakfast meeting and ends with an evening event or presentation, Doe hopes to cut her work week from 45 hours to 40 hours.
“I’m in love with my life,” she says. “There is not a lot that I would change. I think it’s important for people to be excited about their life. It’s the best medicine.”Back to top
- Jeffrey Kagan
Dr. Jeffrey Kagan - West Hartford, CT
“Doctor, Mentor and Housecall Maker”
Since he was a child, Jeffrey Kagan’s dream was to become doctor. That dream came true and he’s been living it for over three decades, taking on Medicaid patients, mentoring medical students and remarkably, still making house calls.
Jeff practices in Newington, specializing in Internal Medicine and is affiliated with the Hospital of Central Connecticut. His decision to take on Medicaid patients comes from his belief that it is his duty to care for patients no matter what their financial situation is.
For Jeff, giving back to the medical community is also important. He does that by serving as a preceptor for medical students and medical residents. In medicine, a preceptor is defined as “a skilled practitioner or faculty member who supervises students in a clinical setting to allow practical experience with patients.” Jeff’s definition of preceptor includes providing the medical students he supervises with both a learning experience in his office and lessons in how to treat patients with great care and personal interest.
He does all this while sticking to his original belief in the idea of making house calls to his patients. In the beginning of his practice, Jeff made the decision to see patients who could not come to him. Thirty years later, he still does it. He also sees migrant workers on farms during the summer and patients at homeless shelters all year round.
His nominator says, “Jeff is a giver, he gives time to those who are less fortunate in friendship (and in) financial support to many charities. He walks about, quietly lending a hand to others, not looking for recognition for himself.”Back to top
- Bernard Kavaler
Bernard Kavaler - West Hartford, CT
Bernard Kavaler identified a need and decided to fill it. He melded 30 years of experience in diverse fields such as journalism and state government to give an Internet presence to nonprofit organizations and their good works.
As founding principal of Express Strategies, a consulting firm specializing in communications and public policy, Kavaler leads a professional life that keeps him busy. Yet, he carves out time for volunteer work, a life-long priority. “I had always been involved in nonprofits, but since I left state government, I was able to use time in ways that are meaningful to me, my family and the community,” he says.
In 2012, he happily added to his workload by launching the news web site, Connecticut by the Numbers (http://ctbythenumbers.info/), which continues to build readership.
“I had left state service, having worked for state government for many years, and started a public relations business with advocacy writing,” said Kavaler. The firm drew on the skills he cultivated early in his career as general assignment reporter and producer for Hartford’s only all-news radio station. “I wanted to get back into journalism to some degree. Today’s technology afforded me the chance to return to journalism even as I run my own business,” he says.
Connecticut by the Numbers covers public policy issues and demographic data and highlights the work of nonprofits. “There are a lot of government reports that have information that people find helpful but don’t make the headlines,” he says. “I became aware of so many nonprofits that do terrific things but don’t get the publicity.”
Kavaler tries to write five news stories a week, either about a non-profit’s activities or a subject of interest to Connecticut readers. A few years ago, he added a “Week in Review” feature on Saturday along with an opinion article from a contributing writer. The site also offers nonprofits free ad space for those that want to publicize fundraising events, community programs or their mission statements. Among the groups benefiting from free ads are Coats for Connecticut, Connecticut Fund for the Environment, Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund, Hartford Performs, Mary’s Place and Foodshare.
More recently, Kavaler sought out the opportunity to volunteer for another nonprofit that he found “creative and innovative and interesting.” Brackets for Good organizes an on-line bracket-style tournament in March to help nonprofits raise money. Based in Indianapolis, the group expanded to Hartford last year. “I read an article about it locally, and I literally called them to help with publicity,” he says. The 2017 tournament raised more than $200,000 for 60 nonprofits in the Hartford area and expanded to encompass all of Connecticut this year.
Kavaler also serves on the board of organizations such as the Connecticut Foundation for Open Government, Connecticut Main Street Center and Leadership Greater Hartford. He is involved with the Connecticut Refugee and Immigrant Coalition and active in the World Affairs Council’s Maps for All. The program aims to promote a greater awareness and understanding of global issues.Back to top
- Florence Lacey Stella
Florence Lacey Stella - Farmington, CT
Veteran Broadway actress Florence Lacey Stella has countless credits to her name including playing Eva Peron in the original Broadway production of “Evita.” Among her other Broadway roles are Fantine in “Les Miserables,” Irene in “Hello Dolly,” Marianne in “The Grand Tour,” and her most recent Broadway appearance was in the 2011 revival of “Follies.”
Florence’s local performances have delighted audiences at the Goodspeed Opera House and the Connecticut Repertory Theater. She played leading roles in “Pal Joey” at Goodspeed and in “A Little Night Music” and “Wings” on the Repertory’s stage. Her singing and acting talent has earned her roles in national and international touring productions. “[Touring] was a wonderful way to see the world,” she says. But somehow, she always returned to Farmington where she shares a home with her husband, Broadway conductor and local choirmaster, Tim Stella. Florence sings in the choir Tim conducts at West Hartford’s Church of St. Peter Claver. The two also have something else in common - they are the first couple to be recognized as members of the Top Ten list for 60 Over 60.
In 2001, Florence played a stroke victim in Connecticut Repertory’s production of “Wings”. Her character was unable to speak or communicate but found freedom through music. The music captured the woman’s spirit which was locked inside her body due to the stroke. Stella realized that the music interpreted the woman’s story more powerfully than the words. She decided she wanted to create a musical that told the story of a person with Alzheimer’s or dementia. The idea became more personal when someone close to Stella was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
In 2006, she approached composer Matt Conner (she had just appeared in one of his productions) and asked if he would help write the music for the show. Conner brought his partner, Stephen Gregory Smith, on board to write the book and lyrics.
Over the course of almost 10 years, Stella researched dementia, working with a dementia expert at Hebrew HealthCare and interviewing residents at the Alzheimer’s Resource Center, while the trio wrote the music and dialogue.
The musical “Kaleidoscope” made its world premiere at the Creative Caldron in Falls Church, VA in 2017 with Stella playing a legendary Broadway performer working on a comeback one-woman show while in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. The show garnered positive reviews and praise from theater critics.
For the theater-goers, the show didn’t end with the final curtain. “After every performance, we did a talk back,” she says. “Most of the audience would stay because they wanted to tell us their experiences. They wanted to get a conversation started [about Alzheimer’s and dementia].”
“Kaleidoscope” and its message remain close to her heart, even when she’s preparing for her next Broadway role. She hopes the show will help people “feel rather than fear” the disease and contribute to the social movement to change the way we look at dementia. .Back to top
- John Lahey
Dr. John Lahey – Cheshire, CT
”Transformational Educational Leader”
As president of Quinnipiac University for almost 31 years, Dr. John Lahey has distinguished himself as an innovative and dynamic leader. John has served as Quinnipiac’s eighth president since March 1987 and is credited with developing the university’s national presence, including overseeing the establishment of the nationally-recognized Quinnipiac University Poll.
John initiated a strategic planning process leading to the University’s growth which included increasing student enrollment from under 2,000 to 10,000 and expanding the university’s footprint from 100 to 700 acres. Under his leadership the university added the 250-acre York Hill Campus and 104-acre North Haven campus to the main Mt. Carmel campus. During his time at the helm, Quinnipiac increased the number of its academic schools from three to nine, adding the Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine, a School of Law and a School of Engineering. During John’s tenure the university went from a college to a university and from Division II to Division I in athletics.
John is also known for being a business and civic-minded community leader. He oversaw the creation of Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum which is said to hold the world’s largest collection of arts devoted to one of Ireland’s most famished eras. He serves on the Boards of Directors of the Independence Holding Company, Yale-New Haven Hospital, NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Inc. and Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy and Avangrid.Back to top
- David Leff
David Leff - Collinsville, CT
“Canton’s Creative Contributor”
David K. Leff is one of Connecticut's most respected historians and authors. A retired Deputy Commissioner for the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, he writes books that reflect a deep love of New England’s natural resources. His books include Maple Sugaring: Keeping it Real in New England, Canoeing Maine's Legendary Allagash, and the Last Undiscovered Place (about his hometown of Collinsville). He recently completed a stint as the Poet-in-Residence of the New England Trail. He ran workshops and hikes, wrote a book of poetry and prose about the trail during his tenure. David blogs about our Connecticut’s quirky history and speaks at dozens of poetry readings, libraries and historical societies. He also writes for journals like Appalachia and The Wayfarer and sits on numerous boards around the state. His nominator concluded his nomination this way: “In short, he is using his retirement for the good of our community and using his skills as a writer to illuminate our shared heritage for generations to come. I hope that when I am his age I am as active and committed to life and to my home in Connecticut.”Back to top
- John Lemega
John Lemega – West Hartford, CT
All his adult life John Lemega has been a consummate volunteer. A retired partner of the law firm of Halloran & Sage in Hartford, he hasn’t let retirement change his lifelong commitment to helping others. John’s volunteer commitment to the Town of West Hartford included serving on the Democratic Committee, Chairman of the Board of Education and community TV station (WHCTV). He advocated and raised funds for WHCTV to televise town council meetings, events, interviews with candidates for town office and election results.
During the 90s, John was on the Board of the Noah Webster House and served as its Chair. During his tenure, the House developed programs making it more accessible to school children and the public. He and his wife love theater and are long-time supporters of TheaterWorks in Hartford. They raise money for the theater and house actors and stage workers in their home. John also serves on the Finance Council of St. Patrick/St. Anthony Church in Hartford.
Now retired, John has taken his volunteer work in a new direction. He tutors second graders in reading at the Rawson School and is a Spiritual Director at the Spiritual Life Center. There he supports people seeking spiritual direction. He also drives, raises money and serves on the board for the Independent Transportation Network. This West Hartford non-profit transports non-driving seniors and those in need to doctors’ appointments and classes.Back to top
- Molly O'Neill
Rev. Dr. Molly O'Neill Louden — West Hartford, CT
“Spiritual Journey Woman and Guide”
The Rev. Dr. Molly O’Neill Louden has experienced a number of life-changing moments over the course of her 75 years. They have shaped her beliefs, her thinking, her faith and the way she treats others. In nominating Molly for 60 Over 60, her husband, Bruce Louden summed her up in one word: “amazing.”
Molly graduated summa cum laude from college when she was 23 and the mother of two children. While living in the South in the 1960s, she agreed to lead a summer vacation school for her church only if it was integrated. The school was a success but Molly was “blackballed” from the leading women’s organization in her community.
The Loudens moved to Connecticut in 1969 and Molly continued to work for racial and social justice. She became a deeply involved member of Trinity Episcopal Church where she became chair of the fundraising committee and taught Sunday school. She also taught in the Head Start program at Stowe Village in Hartford.
In the 1970s, Molly became the first development officer at Hartford College for Women while remaining involved with Trinity Church. She recognized a vocation and entered Yale Divinity School, graduating in 1983. When she was ordained in 1984, she was one of the first female priests in the Episcopal Church nationally. Currently, she is the priest associate at St. James’s Episcopal Church in West Hartford where she developed and leads a healing ministry, a caregivers’ group and a pastoral calling group.
While serving in her first parish, St. Mark’s in New Britain, Molly started a feeding ministry that involved a number of churches and became a large social service institution in the city. She ministered at St. Andrew’s in Meriden for four years when her life took another turn. Molly decided to enter a doctoral program. Equipped with her psychology undergraduate degree and a Ph.D. in pastoral care, she started her own psychotherapy practice in the 1990s. In 2001, she and a colleague founded Gestalt Pastoral Care to teach counseling skills to clergy and other religious.
In the past year, Molly’s faith has deepened as a result of a pilgrimage to Iona, a small island off the coast of Scotland and the seat of Celtic theology. The Celts’ theology, their commitment to the earth, to the Divine Feminine and to justice resonated with Molly. “I had been ordained for 33 years and had never found a theology that worked for me. When I went to Iona, I knew I was home,” she says. Since the trip, Molly has become the facilitator of a Greater Hartford Celtic spiritual group that meets for services once a month.
Molly shows no signs of slowing down. She recently assumed another commitment, joining the student affairs committee at Goodwin College as a friend, ambassador and psychotherapist. She was drawn to the school due to its “brilliant, cutting edge [mission] to help young women, especially mothers, to get an education and a career.” “Back to top
- Ann Marino
Ann Marino- Newington, CT
For 40 years, Ann Marino routinely exceeded a full-time work week. Even with a demanding job as a nurse and Director of Health Services of the south-central region for the former State Department of Mental Retardation, she found time to “give back” by volunteering for her church, the Church of Christ Congregational in Newington.
Ann left Connecticut for Hawaii after graduation from nursing school. She spent one year in the Aloha State before returning to Connecticut. “I missed my family and New England,” she says. Upon her return, she began what would become a lengthy nursing career for the State of Connecticut. In 2005, a year before she retired, Ann was named “Nurse of the Year” among all of the nurses in the state’s employ.
Ann loved her work and says she enjoyed the opportunity to make a difference in the life of a patient as well as their family. “I’ve always been interested in family dynamics and treating the individual through their families,” she says. “I developed personal relationships with a lot of the families.” As part of her work, Ann saw how much time and treatment must be devoted to support her intellectually challenged patients. She also became particularly interested in how the other children in the family where affected.
Since her retirement, Ann has undergone back surgery but has not slowed down. She still participates in the Zumba dance exercise program and volunteers on numerous committees for her church and the town.
She has assumed many church leadership positions over the years, including church moderator and chair of the Deconate and currently, chair of the Mission and Social Action Committee. She also serves as the liaison between Church of Christ Congregational and Newington’s human services department.
At holiday time, Ann coordinates the church’s Giving Tree program, which collects gifts for needy families. She also helps with the distribution of these gifts and food to the recipients. Beyond her church, this active retiree has been part of the Core Leadership Team with Family Promise of Connecticut, one of almost 200 affiliates of its kind in the United States. The organization hosts homeless children and their families in places of worship.
Newington’s Lucy Robbins Welles Library also benefits from Ann’s energy. She is a board member of the Friends of the Library and volunteers at the library two days a week. She introduced the idea of a media sale after learning about it at a library consortium conference. The sales have been popular, bringing in extra money to fund Friends’ programs.
In 2015, the town of Newington recognized Ann as one of two “Volunteers of the Year, ” praising her as a dedicated and positive role model. “I try to live my life so I will make a difference in other people’s lives,” Ann was quoted as saying in an article about her award. “I feel that I’ve been given a lot of gifts in my life, and it’s time to give back.”Back to top
- Nick Mason
Nick Mason — Simsbury, CT
Nick Mason’s long career in the financial area of the banking and insurance industries prepared him well for the many volunteer positions he has held in his retirement. Nick has served his town well in a variety of positions from elected member of the Simsbury Board of Finance to the treasurer for the Old Drake Hill Flower Bridge. But it was for his position as Treasurer of Simsbury Community Television (SCTV) that his nominator, Station Manager Karen Handville, wanted to single him out. “I can talk first-hand about Nick’s inspiring commitment and contributions as SCTV Treasurer,” she says in her nomination. “In 2009, our treasurer unexpectedly had to move out of state leaving us in a pinch. It was suggested to me at a Chamber of Commerce meeting to ask Nick if he would be interested in serving as our treasurer. I hardly had the question out of my mouth when with a smile, he said yes. Nick has successfully ushered SCTV through a few important changes: adding online banking, online purchasing, investing and setting up a payroll service, in addition to creating budgets and providing monthly reports to the Board of Directors.”
Nick also donates his time to the Farmington Valley VNA, Simsbury’s Chamber of Commerce, Simsbury P.A.C., Powder Forest Homes, SLOCO, Farmington Valley Rowing, Manchester Symphony Orchestra & Chorale, Christ Church Avon, Porsche Club, and SBM Charitable Foundation.
His nominator sums him up this way: “It is inspirational to me that Nick has such energy and drive, can stay organized and help so many different corners of the community. I admire that.”Back to top
- Faith Messer Fuerst
Faith Messer Fuerst - West Hartford, CT
“Believer in a Greater Future”
Faith Fuerst’s energy and dedication to making a difference in her community is rare. For 15 years she taught in the Hartford Public Schools in the fields of special education and curriculum, striving for equity, raising test scores and improving attendance.
Faith is passionate about paring down the dismal statistics that show that almost 25 percent of Connecticut students place no value on graduating from high school. They feel this way because they can neither see a way to afford college nor imagine anything but menial jobs upon graduation. The program Faith founded, and is currently working on getting funded is called Generations-For-Aging. It will provide high school graduates with 50+ mentors, knowledge and hope for a successful occupation and future.
Faith volunteers her talents to the Blue Hills Civic Association, Achieve Hartford, Hartford Public Schools and Weaver Redesign School Culture and Climate Group. She chairs the council at Whispering Brook Farm in Tolland, which provides three programs: Art for Families; Art for the Challenged and Art for Traumatic Brain Injury Patients (which includes veterans).
Faith’s service as a spiritual director is demonstrated in all areas of her life. She sings with the West Hartford Women’s Chorale and in the choir of Congregation Beth Israel and frequently shares her voice and knowledge of music with the Kehilat Chaverim community. This is a local community of friends that explores and expresses Jewish identity independent of synagogue affiliation. Her nominator sums her up this way: “Her leadership, mentorship, joy and genuine love of community and connections is infectious and inspiring.”Back to top
- Robert Newbold
Robert Newbold – Newington, CT
“Man on a Mission”
Robert Newbold calls his medical crisis “a stroke of luck.”
On March 20, 2017, Bob collapsed in his office. His coworkers heard a thud and found him conscious and alert but unable to speak or move his right side. They called for an ambulance, and the paramedics who arrived suspected a stroke and administered a powerful medication that dissolves clots. On the way to Hartford Hospital, Bob stared at the ceiling of the ambulance and “plotted my next course.” “I was thinking, ‘I guess I’m going to be left-handed now,’ and ‘I’ll be sending emails now’ because I couldn’t speak,” he says.
Bob, who had received a clean bill of health just a month before the incident, knows that he is one of the lucky ones. Doctors at Hartford Hospital successfully removed the clot from an artery in his brain- using a special procedure in interventional radiology. “I had the stroke but I came out of it,” he says. “Two days later, I was home walking my dog.”
But Bob was not exactly ready to put the episode behind him. He felt a debt to the medical personnel who helped him and a desire share his story. “This just opened up a new little mission for me,” he says.
Bob was always active in the community, but since the stroke, Bob’s mission has changed. Today, he’s intent on making others aware of the signs of a stroke and understanding the importance of getting to the hospital quickly.
To date, Bob has given almost 20 presentations on the subject. He spoke at Hartford Hospital’s annual stroke survivor conference, has been interviewed for newspaper articles and television stories and has worked with the hospital’s media relations department to create a video based on his experience.
His mission has been recognized on a national level. Dawn Beland, one of his nurses in the Stroke Center, nominated him last year for a national RAISE award from the National Stroke Association. Bob received the award for Outstanding Stroke Survivor. “I got the call [from the Association] and thought they were looking for a donation,” he says, adding that the nomination rules prevented Beland from telling him. “It was totally unexpected and out of the blue.”
In his talks, Bob leaves explaining the technical and medical aspects of strokes to health professionals and concentrates on more personal tips from his experience. “People listen to you because you’ve lived it,” he says. “I tell them to make sure and call an ambulance.” He describes how the EMTs worked on him the entire way to the hospital. “I got an easy pass right into the stroke unit,” he recalls, adding that the emergency room medical staff knew “everything about me” because they had been in touch with the paramedics.
Bob often tells his audience that he feels like the stroke never happened but he is not ready to hang up his public speaking hat. He believes the stroke was the impetus for him to “pay it forward.”Back to top
- Marilyn (Cris) Noble
Marilyn (Cris) Noble - Tariffville, CT
“Simsbury TV’s Steadfast Volunteer”
Cris Noble is everywhere. She teaches Sunday School at her church, sings with the Intonations and Sweet Adelines and has been a steadfast and dedicated volunteer for Simsbury Community Television, Inc. (SCTV) since 1994. This non-profit organization runs on a very small budget and is very dependent on volunteers like Cris. She is a long-time and active member of the SCTV board of directors, alternating roles between secretary and treasurer.
Cris and her husband keep the citizens of Simsbury informed. Together they record and live stream the Board of Education and Zoning Commission meetings. She truly is the definition of a volunteer as she is always willing to jump in and help no matter what the task.
Cris is so committed to helping that she has been known to trek out in bad weather or when she is not feeling well to cover town meetings. For many years, Cris also manned a camera and helped with training in the SCTV studios. Her all-around knowledge has not only kept her active, but also kept SCTV on the air. “To be able to do all of this for 24 years on such a regular basis is an inspiration to me,” adds her nominator.Back to top
- Louis Pepe
Louis Pepe - Simsbury, CT
"Empathetic and Humble Professional"
“Lou Pepe is an extraordinary human being with a huge heart.” This quote from Andrea Barton Reeves, President/CEO of HARC, sets the stage for Lou Pepe’s nomination. His commitment to the organization she leads goes back over 30 years when Lou was the principal at Pepe & Hazard, the firm he founded.
Under Lou’s leadership, Pepe & Hazard was one of the first employers in the Greater Hartford area to offer meaningful, dignified work for people with intellectual disabilities. Pepe & Hazard, now McElroy, Deutch, Mulvaney & Carpenter, has been a supported employment site with five team members for the last 32 years. ”Lou is deeply committed to helping people with disabilities live with dignity and inclusion. He believes in our mission and has supported our work personally and professionally for over 30 years,” Barton-Reeves goes on in the nomination.
In his professional life Lou is a partner and litigation attorney at McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter, LLP who focuses his practice on business torts, contract disputes and construction contract cases. He represents his clients in state and federal courts as well as in arbitration, mediation and other ADR proceedings.
Lou has been a mentor to countless young attorneys, leading the charge to form a formal mentoring and training program for newly minted attorneys. He believes in the power of the law to bring justice not only to the powerful but to those who are disenfranchised and often unable to advocate for themselves. He is a past president of the Connecticut Bar Association and a leader in the Connecticut Bar Foundation. His nomination concluded with this quote, “Lou is the epitome of professionalism, empathy and humility.”Back to top
- Daria Plummer
Daria Plummer – South Windsor , CT
Although she is a retired teacher, Daria Plummer is an energetic, active senior who continues to give back to the community. She taught for 39 years in South Windsor and continues to be involved with public education. For seven years she dedicated her time selecting books and reading to school children as part of the Senior Advisory Council’s Reading in the Schools Program. She also served as chair for the Elementary Schools Referendum Project which funded two new schools in South Windsor.
Today, Daria holds the position as chair of the Senior Advisory Council. She helps with the Senior Center’s Telephone Reassurance Program to inspire seniors to get a smart phone in order to remain connected. She is also a member of the Garden Club where she volunteers her home to be a part of the garden tour.
Continuing to work with children she tutors at Timothy Edwards Middle School. She maintains her relationship with former students and still goes to their graduations. She truly has made an impact on the students and the school.
Daria balanced a career, volunteer activities and family life. Her actions are genuine and giving is something she enjoys. She is described to be loyal, positive, giving and inspirational’ a hero to many. As her nominator says of her: “Dedicated, loyal, responsible, passionate, energetic, positive, giving and inspirational…that’s Daria. She is my hero.”Back to top
- Karl Prewo
Karl Prewo - Vernon, CT
"Bolton Lakes’ Beneficent Hero"
Since his retirement from UTC, Karl Prewo has been very involved in preserving the Bolton Lakes. As one of the founding fathers of The Friends of the Bolton Lakes, Karl spends countless hours monitoring the lake’s water quality. He also works closely with Wesleyan University to track chemical deposits.
In recent years, the middle and lower Bolton Lakes have been overrun by invasive algae. To secure the proper treatments, Karl reached out to the neighboring towns and the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection for funding as well as establishing watershed and lake-management procedures.
To ensure the lakes’ preservation, Karl has organized seminars led by Dr. Robert Thorson and a research team from Wesleyan. The seminars keep the public educated about issues involving the health of the Bolton Lakes. In addition to the seminars, he also sends e-mails to the neighbors regarding concerns they might have about the lakes and any new regulations.
His nominator concludes, “Thanks to Mr. Prewo we can still enjoy the lakes!”Back to top
- Albert (Al) Rosenfield
Albert (Al) Rosenfield – West Hartford, CT
“Intensive Education Academy’s Chief Cheerleader”
Al Rosenfield has been contributing to the Intensive Education Academy (IEA) since 1971. Today at 90 years old Al still serves as the sponsorship chair for IEA’s annual STARS Gala and helps the school bring in more donations and attendees each year. His intentions have always been for IEA to grow. His involvement in the community is selfless and compassionate.
In the past Al dedicated his time to setting up swimming lessons, horseback riding or simply just bringing in speakers to the school. He would even donate 10 percent of his sales from his business accounts to the school. In November 2017, Al reached his own personal milestone, he had his Bar Mitzvah at Temple Emanuel. He lost his father at age 13 so he didn’t have it when most Jewish children celebrate this important event.
Today Al is constantly checking in with others and connecting with new people. He has a strong passion for people, life and service. His friends describe him to be more energetic and enthusiastic than many will ever hope to be. Al remains to be active, humble and youthful, serving as an inspiration to all. One of his two nominators sums him up this way: “It has been said that if you ask anyone in town about Al Rosenfield they will only have the nicest words to express their feelings about him.”Back to top
- Rob Rowlson
Rob Rowlson - West Hartford, CT
“Transforming a Town and Changing Lives ”
When Rob Rowlson retired as West Hartford’s Director of Community Services, he had been a key part of the town’s transformation. He helped reshape the town’s business landscape into what it is today, a dynamic, regional center for shopping, dining and entertainment. During Rob’s 16 years as the town’s Director of Community Services and Business Development Officer, he oversaw dramatic changes in West Hartford including the development of Blue Back Square. Today, West Hartford is recognized as one of the nation’s Top 10 communities in which to raise a family.
Since Rob’s retirement from town service, he has become an independent economic development consultant in both the public and private sectors. He also serves as Senior Vice President for Goman + York Property Advisors, LLC where he offers his expertise on both public and private sector development projects. The firm’s team of 20 real estate and economic development professionals provides a suite of services covering all critical aspects of real estate and economic development.
Rob was recognized as one of 50 Most Influential People in Hartford County by Hartford Magazine and continues to serve on a variety of boards for for-profit and not-for-profit organizations.
The people of West Hartford are able to live in a family friendly area with endless places to go thanks to Rob’s remarkable efforts.Back to top
- Deanne Shapiro
Deanne Shapiro – West Hartford, CT
“Fighter for Social Justice and Diversity”
Deanne Shapiro has made it her life’s work to fight for social justice and diversity. She was the co-founder of such organizations as the Charter Oak Cultural Center, West Hartford Initiative on Racial and Ethnic Diversity and Center for Change.
In addition to being a part of the beginning of the Charter Oak Cultural Center Deanne has also served on the Board and as an officer. For the West Hartford Initiative on Racial and Ethnic Diversity she continues as a volunteer leader as well as volunteering as a consultant for the Center for Change which was involved in civil rights and social action.
Deanne’s business life is all about facilitating change for organizations and individuals. She is the Owner/President and Principal of Life Skills Associates LLC. The firm has a 35+ year track record of successes in organizational development and effectiveness. It provides training, consultation and facilitation services in diversity and inclusion, sexual harassment awareness and prevention, change management, strategic planning, teambuilding, group dynamics and facilitation, leadership and supervisory development, customer service, board development, executive coaching, communication skills, negotiation and conflict resolution, stress and time management and staff development.
Deanne also co-founded Kehilat Chaverim in 1978 and continues as an active volunteer in the organization. This is a self-directed Jewish congregation founded to provide a welcoming spiritual and cultural community for individuals and families seeking to celebrate Judaism and Jewish identity and culture without the formality, expense, or constraints of larger traditional Jewish institutions.Back to top
- Don Shaw Jr.
Don Shaw Jr. - Granby, CT
Don Shaw has retired twice from professional life but today he is busier than ever. Drawing on his professional experience at Accenture, a consulting firm, and for the City of Hartford, Don logs countless hours of volunteer work with Habitat for Humanity of Hartford, the First Congregational Church in Granby and other non-profit organizations.
“Public service has always been something I’ve done,” he says. In the late 1990s, Don became involved with Habitat. “My travel schedule [for Accenture] had slowed down and I got involved in a couple of committees [at that time].”
In 2003, Don retired from Accenture and went to work for the City of Hartford where he focused on planning and finance. He soon realized that his day job and volunteer work with Habitat meshed quite nicely. “The combination of the two things was ideal,” he says, adding that he also drew on his experience as assistant town manager of Wethersfield, a job he held early in his career. “I had a good understanding of the City of Hartford, the government and the community in general. I had built a network of contacts. It was a unique situation to serve the City of Hartford and to serve Habitat by giving it more visibility in the community. It was really fulfilling.”
He joined the Habitat board in 2002, served as chair from 2004 to 2008. He and was interim executive director in 2012 for almost two years. As an emeritus board member, Don continues to be active in Habitat. He helped with Habitat’s project to build 16 townhouses on South Marshall Street in Hartford. He worked on the formation of a neighborhood coalition with the Hartford Public Library, Stowe Center, Salvation Army and Catholic Charities. In tandem with the Asylum Hill Neighborhood Association, the coalition continues to create and organize ways to improve the lives of the neighborhood’s residents.
“Our Habitat homeowners are really pioneers on the street,” he says. “We have an obligation to improve the neighborhood [for all residents], not just build houses.”
Don also is active in his church, working closely with teenagers who have volunteered for Habitat projects and who have invited him on their service trips and retreats.
In 2016, he joined the board of Mercy Housing to promote public-private collaborations to prevent homelessness and to help at-risk folks before they lose their homes. Last year, Don began writing a blog called “Red Truck Stonecatcher.” He reports on projects and events that “show what people are doing to make a world a better place.”
One of the perks that Don enjoys from his varied volunteer work is the chance to make new acquaintances. “I get so much out of getting to know all of these diverse folks,” he says. “That is how friendships begin.”
“Connections make all the difference,” Don says. Key to forming those connections is the ability to listen to the other person. “I learned early on [in my career] that I had to listen,” he says. “That has served me well.”Back to top
- Donna Smith
Donna Smith - Colchester, CT
“Messenger of Beauty”
Donna Smith knows how to turn adversity into beauty. She became a quadriplegic during a boating accident in 1990. Her daughter and nominator, Candice Smith, describes it this way: “My mother was paralyzed 27 years ago. I was nine years old and can remember that day like it was yesterday. Over the years my mom has turned tragedy and limitation into perseverance.”
What inspires those who meet Donna is that she paints animals, scenery and flowers by holding the brush between her teeth. In 1995, Donna joined the Mouth and Foot Painting Artists, a world-wide organization run by the artists. The organization enables these artists to enjoy a secure livelihood from their work as well as giving them purpose. Many members of the organization have achieved international recognition through work produced with brushes held by their teeth (as Donna does) or clenched between their toes. In Donna’s case that recognition came when her pieces were put on display as part of the Sister Kenny International Art Show that displays the artwork of those with disabilities.
But there is more to Donna than just her painting. Here’s how her daughter described it in her nomination: “She inspires many people but has truly taught her daughters and grandchildren about strength and reshaping how we live, to live our lives to the fullest and to never give up. My mother … has created a sanctuary for wildlife around her home, plays with her grandchildren and teaches us all that there is light wherever we make it. There is no one I admire more.”Back to top
- Esther Spigel
Esther Spigel - West Hartford, CT
“Fernridge Park’s Rescuer ”
As a longtime resident of the neighborhood bordering Fernridge Park in West Hartford, Esther Spigel watched with concern as this busy neighborhood park began to show signs of decline. Being a regular user of the park for many years, Esther became determined to make sure the park’s decline did not continue.
After talking to town officials it became clear that, with so many competing demands for town resources, it was no longer possible to fund anything but basic maintenance for the park.
Instead of giving up, Esther took it upon herself to find like-minded neighbors who shared her concern for the future of the park. In 2012, she arranged regular meetings with town officials to find out how the group could be most useful.
Under her leadership the group decided to develop a long-range plan for the park and raise the money to implement the plan. In 2014 the organization, now called Friends of Fernridge Park, was incorporated and received Federal recognition as a tax-exempt charity.
With the support of the town, members of the community and landscape architects from UCONN, the group developed a plan. In early 2017 Friends of Fernridge Park launched a fundraising campaign to raise money for the first phase of the plan. The group has sponsored a park clean-up day and hosted a summer pool party, complete with disc jockey and children’s activities. They also hosted their first movie night.
Her nominator sums her up this way: “Thanks to Esther’s vision and determination the future of Fernridge Park and the neighboring surrounding it is brighter today than ever!”Back to top
- Judith Stein
Judith Stein - Mansfield , CT
“Voice for Medicare Beneficiaries Nationwide”
Judith Stein is an inspired attorney, writer, advocate and voice for tens of thousands of Medicare beneficiaries throughout the United States. Judy has spent her entire career advocating on behalf of disenfranchised Medicare beneficiaries. Her efforts have led to substantive changes in the interpretation of Medicare regulations particularly regarding home care services.
After graduation from Catholic University of America School of Law, Judy turned her attention to individuals and families who were denied Medicare benefits for insufficient cause. She was the Co-Director of Legal Assistance for Medicare Patients (LAMP), the first Medicare advocacy organization of its kind in the nation. Judy also founded the Center for Medicare Advocacy with offices in Connecticut and Washington DC.
Judy continues to interact with federal legislators and administrators on a regular basis. In 2005 she was appointed as a delegate to the White House Conference on Aging. More recently she was appointed by then Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to serve on the national Long Term Care Committee. In Connecticut she was honored with the coveted Commission on Aging Age-wise Advocate Award. She is also an active member of the Executive Committee of the Connecticut Elder Action Network.
Her nominator, Molly Gavin - a member of the 2017 Class of 60 Over 60 - sums her up this way: “Most folks over sixty will frequently access their Medicare benefit throughout their elder years. Sleep well tonight knowing that Judy Stein is advocating on our behalf!”Back to top
- Tim Stella
Tim Stella - Farmington, CT
“Traveling Conductor ”
Tim Stella’s positive attitude and energetic demeanor belies what must be an exhausting lifestyle. Tim makes the five-hour round trip commute to New York City almost daily to raise his conducting baton for Broadway’s “Phantom of the Opera,” a job he has held for more than 20 years.
When he returns to his Farmington home, his schedule is no less hectic. He serves as music director at the Church of Saint Peter Claver in West Hartford and musical advisor to the Garmany Fund at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving.
“I don’t look at it as work,” he says. “I just love it.” Even when he can squeeze in a bit of down time, Tim is just as apt to listen to music as watch sports, two of his favorite things.
Tim was a student at the Hartt School of the University of Hartford when Church of Saint Peter Claver in West Hartford hired him in 1973. Since then Tim has built an impressive music program at the church. He leads a 50-voice adult choir whose members include his wife, Broadway actress Florence Lacey Stella - a fellow Top 10 honoree in the 2018 Class of 60 Over 60. Some of the choir singers have been with Tim for more than 40 years while others are teenagers.
One of the highlights of his choir work, particularly for the choir members, was a 2013 concert at the Bushnell where the choir performed with the Hartford Symphony in “Symphonic Sondheim – A Tribute to the Composer’s Classics,” conducted by Tim.
Through his choir work at the church Tim has also mentored singers and instrumentalists who have pursued musical careers of their own. One such musician who started playing the cello in fourth grade is now at Bard College on scholarship. “When you see talent like that, you want to nurture it,” he says. “It’s so rewarding.” Over the years, he has continued his commitment to cultivating young talent with guest faculty appearances at the Hartt School.
Tim himself began playing the piano at age five. “I’ve played every day of my life,” he says. In the beginning of his professional life, he was the resident music director for Coachlight Dinner Theater. “I [conducted] maybe 30 musicals before I went to New York,” he says. On Broadway, Tim has conducted a variety of musicals, including “Hello Dolly!,” “The Most Happy Fella” and “Legs Diamond.” His credits also include touring productions of “Hello Dolly!” and “Evita.”
Tim treats every performance as if it’s the first. “Broadway is paid for repetition, but [every performance] is a little different,” he says. He understands that part of his job is to keep the playing fresh, particularly among the orchestra members who are 30-year veterans. “They really are world-class musicians,” he says. “For the audience, it’s new so you have to give them the best you can all the time.”
Tim is contemplating retirement from his Broadway commitments but doesn’t expect to spend less time in the musical world. He says he looks forward “to cultivating my work and life here.”Back to top
- Richard Sugarman
Richard Sugarman - West Hartford, CT
Richard Sugarman knows how to start something. First, it was The Connecticut Forum, then The Connecticut Youth Forum and today Richard serves as the first Executive Director of Hartford Promise. Hartford Promise is a scholarship fund and college access program developed as an incentive to boost student achievement and contribute to the city’s economic growth. Beginning with the class of 2016, Hartford Promise awarded scholarships up to $20,000 to every eligible Hartford resident student attending a four-year college who had been enrolled in Hartford Public Schools since at least the ninth grade.
Many around the country know of Richard as the founder of The Connecticut Forum along with his wife, Doris. The Connecticut Forum is an award-winning, non-profit organization that brings nationally known panelists to Hartford four times a year to discuss a variety of timely and important topics. He served as The Forum’s President for 22 years and was the engine for The Forum’s extensive outreach programming including developing The Connecticut Youth Forum.
He has advised and consulted with many organizations including Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, Melville Charitable Trust; Annie E. Casey Foundation, Connecticut Mirror, Village for Families and Children, Partnership for Strong Communities Office of Consumer Counsel, Children’s Trust Fund, Connecticut Fair Housing Center and Hartford Public Schools.
He has received numerous awards including the Tapestry Award from the Hartford Courant in recognition for bringing diverse communities together, Community Leader of the Year from Leadership Greater Hartford and Renaissance Award for Education from the Hartford Downtown Council.Back to top
- John Sullivan
John Sullivan – Windsor Locks, CT
“A Full Heart Who Brightens Lives”
50 years ago, John Sullivan created “The Locks People” with two of his good friends. The program allows people to visit local nursing homes to sing, tell jokes and entertain residents. Over the years, performers have included his children, non-singing friends from church who dance for the residents and new friends John has met through their shared love of music.
At first, performances were only on Saturdays, but due to popular demand the group now performs during the week. Nursing home residents truly enjoy the enlightening spirit that “The Locks People” bring. At 87, John is more senior than many in his audience and he is still having fun bringing a smile to the residents’ faces with his music.
John also volunteers with his wife Barbara at Loaves & Fishes Soup Kitchen in Enfield. This non-profit provides prepared meals to people who are disadvantaged at the Windsor Locks Senior Center and in the greater Springfield area.
John is filled with endless energy and a full heart to brighten the lives of others.Back to top
- Barbara Sullivan
Barbara Sullivan – Windsor Locks, CT
Barbara Sullivan has been an active and engaged volunteer in her town for many years. The nomination from her son, Dan, talked about how involved Barbara is in the AARP Senior Tax program. She also consults with seniors to help them select the best Medicare Part D plan for their needs.
Barbara is very active at Loaves & Fishes, helping serve meals each week. The local soup kitchen provides hospitality to all those in need by offering meals, aid and companionship at no charge. She even takes the extra step to bring the dish towels home to wash.
Another way Barbara dedicated her time was lobbying with the town for adequate funding for her fellow senior citizens. She is constantly looking out for the best interest of her peers. Today she is an active member of St. Mary Parish.Back to top
- Sherree Sutton
Sherree Sutton - New Britain, CT
As a business woman, Sherree Sutton is comfortable working in the world of numbers. She is a financial analyst for a Hartford firm and a part-time real estate agent with Haldane Real Estate Agency in Bloomfield whose clients are mostly first-time buyers.
Sherree is proud of her work history that includes positions at Hartford’s insurance companies and owner of her own retail shop. She also gave her time freely to non-profit organizations in the Hartford area. But the single mother also had a creative side that she just didn’t have the time to explore.
Over the years, she talked to her son, Kejuan, about her dream to stage a one-woman show. “One day,” he said to me, “I love that you volunteer and that you want to help people with their causes. But it’s time to work on your own project,” she recalls.
Finally, in 2012, Sherree began working and started on a one-woman show about her life experiences. As she pulled together her thoughts, her vision began to change. In keeping with her history of always thinking of other people, Sherree decided not to focus on herself. Instead, she founded “The She Is Me” Project and called upon friends and acquaintances to tell their stories.
The stars of her first production called “She Is Me…Monologues of My Sistersz” showcased five women who wrote and performed their own monologues. “I pulled five friends together, invited them to dinner, gave them journals and told them to go home and write their stories,” Sherree says. “A month later, when everyone got together (I kid you not) every story was something I wanted to showcase,” she says. The topics ranged from childhood abuse to moving past the trauma of infidelity.
The impetus for bringing her idea to the stage was the importance of sisterhood. “We all have female friends from different cultures, different races and different walks of life,” she says. “I wanted to show women that we shouldn’t be tearing each other down but lifting each other up.”
“She Is Me – Monologues of my Sisters” made its debut in 2014 at the Charter Oak Cultural Center to an audience of more than 100 guests. To date, Sherree has staged seven shows, including two on the stigma and secrecy surrounding mental illness.
As part of The She Is Me Project, Sherree created an annual backpack drive that collects backpacks filled with school supplies to donate to local charitable organizations.
In 2017, Sherree took another step toward nurturing her creative side. She made her acting debut in the Ruby’s Realm stage play, “Reap What You Sow,” and followed up with “Don’t Bite the Hand That Feeds You,” also a Ruby’s Realm production.
Between her work schedule and creative endeavors, Sherree has a rich yet busy, life and she wouldn’t have it any other way. She maintains that her most important accomplishment is her role as the mother of her son. She credits Kejuan for pushing her to realize her dreams.Back to top
- Alene Tate
Alene Tate - Ashlar Vllage Village - Wallingford, CT
“Standing Strong But Never Rigid”
Since moving to Masonicare at Ashlar Village 22 years ago, Alene Tate has made a major impact on the community. For three years Alene served as president of the residents’ association and helped write the community’s by-laws. She created and implemented a new Resident Satisfaction Survey and assists the marketing team at open houses.
Alene earned her B.S. in business from the University of Kansas at the age of 18 and became the first woman of color to work in an administrative capacity at the University. In the early 1950s, she received FBI security clearance to work with Bendix Aviation, an atomic energy contractor.
Always active in her church and community, Alene has received numerous honors and recognition for her service including the Episcopal Bishop’s Citation for Service to Church and Community in 1989 and Outstanding Public Service Award from the U.S. Secretary of Health & Human Services. In her local North Haven church Alene became the first female Senior Warden in the history of the parish. She served on several committees of the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut, and on the national church level, was chairperson of the Diocesan Deputation to General Convention. In the Greater New Haven Community Alene served on the Boards of the United Way and Urban League and she was a member of the Mayor's Committee on the Elderly.
In the words of Kerry Hatch, Activities Manger at Ashlar Village, “Alene represents by greatest aspirations: to work hard, to love well, to stand strong in stature but never rigid and above all, to serve as a means of thanksgiving.”Back to top
- Tom Trumble
Tom Trumble - West Hartford, CT
"Builder of Lives and Dreams"
“Tom Trumble spent most of his career selling financial products and services. But, in his heart, Mr. Trumble is a builder. Over the past decades, Mr. Trumble has helped countless numbers of people in need build their lives, build their dreams, and in the process, build strong communities around them.”
Those words came from the podium at a recent Junior Achievement awards ceremony where Tom was honored with the organization’s Spirit of Hope Award. The award recognizes individuals who make lives in their communities better through their hearts, focus on the needs of others and devotion to the public good.
And Tom’s devotion to making communities better places spans the globe. He has helped build houses through Habitat for Humanity for families in Haiti, Mexico, Thailand, Canada and South Africa. For several years he took part in medical missions to a small village in Honduras where he was part of the team that eventually built a permanent medical clinic. He has lent his talents to the boards of Foodshare, Loaves & Fishes, St. Francis Foundation, Capital Community College and Junior Achievement (JA). For his JA work, former president Lou Golden described Tom as someone who’s used to “…throwing himself headlong into causes with unbridled excitement and the passion of a zealot.”
At the conclusion of Tom’s induction award ceremony the presenter summed him up this way: “Tonight we honor an individual whose passion for helping others ignites the flame of hope not only in this community, but in so many villages and towns throughout the world, places where his heart has led him.”Back to top
- Diane Whitney
Diane Whitney - Windsor, CT
“Champion for Equal Justice, Women’s Causes and the Arts ”
Diane Whitney brings her passion to the law, women’s causes, the arts and equal justice for all. In her day job, Diane chairs Pullman & Comley’s Land Use section of the firm's Real Estate and Land Use department. There she practices in the areas of environmental, toxic torts and land-use law.
For the devotion she brings to the practice of law, Diane has been recognized with the Connecticut Bar Association's Women in the Law Ladder Award, Commercial Records’ Woman of FIRE Award (Finance, Insurance and Real Estate) and Connecticut Bar Association’s Charles J. Parker Legal Services Award. She is included in The Best Lawyers in America; Chambers USA and has been on the Connecticut Super Lawyers list since 2006. Diane served as president of Greater Hartford Legal Aid, an organization whose mission is “To achieve equal justice for poor people, to work with clients to promote social justice, and to address the effects and root causes of poverty.”
But the practice of law is only one side of Diane. She has championed the cause of women as a chair and member of the board of trustees for the Connecticut Women's Hall of Fame; sat on the board of the University of Connecticut Law School Foundation and served as a member of the board of the Hartford Symphony. She is truly a role model for attorneys and those who wish to make the community a better place to live and work.Back to top
- Margaret Wilson
Margaret Wilson - Chester Village - Chester, CT
“It is truly a pleasure to nominate Margaret Wilson for this recognition. Margaret is Vice President/President-elect of the Resident Board of Masonicare at Chester Village. A woman of many interests and gifts, she unselfishly shares them with the community-at-large,” so begins the nomination of Margaret Wilson by Masonicare’s Executive Director, Annie Hoefferle.
For the past 20 years, Margaret has served as treasurer of the Connecticut River Gateway Commission which is a state-local compact dedicated to the protection of the 30-mile Lower Connecticut River Valley. She also serves on the town of Chester’s Conservation Commission, is a monthly volunteer at the YMCA’s Camp Hazen in Chester and authors a weekly “Envirotrips” column.
After her retirement, Margaret continued to volunteer on nature and environmental projects at Chester Elementary School where she was a substitute teacher. Her retirement also allowed her to attain her Master Gardener status through UCONN.
Her nominator enthusiastically concludes, “With her passion for the environment and continued love of learning and serving, Margaret is truly deserving of this recognition.”Back to top
- Linda Wylot
Linda Wylot – Enfield, CT
“Inspirer of Young Minds”
“Miss Linda” Wylot has nuttured and enriched the lives of thousands of children in her daycare programs for 43 years. Not wanting to exclude families with significant financial limitations, she occasionally provides free child care and in one hardship case, she even provided free lunches for three children prior to their placement in foster care.
Miss Linda has created a preschool program of exceptional depth and breadth through genuine caring, extensive planning and attention to detail. She starts the children’s day with free play until circle time where she teaches the children to say the Pledge of Allegiance. Each month has its own theme and she makes a lesson to follow.
Every play area is decorated around the theme and the toys are rotated to offer new interests monthly. In addition to keeping the kids engaged in school, she also created a program called VIK: Very Important Kid. Every two weeks the staff selects a child for the honor. That child is then showcased through their favorite things and celebrated in class with special snacks.
Her nominator has watched Linda create endless activities and lessons. She also teaches students how to be kind, thoughtful and respectful. Her atmosphere of positive reinforcement has changed the attitude and behaviors of several children.
Her nomination is concluded with, “In my 40 years as an educator and my own years of parenting, I can honestly say that I am deeply impressed by this woman! Her love and dedication to the children is evident, as it is her passion to provide many opportunities for learning and growth as possible.”Back to top
- Frank Zaremba
Frank Zaremba – Simsbury, CT
“Photographer with a Heart”
Frank Zaremba is a passionate photographer who uses his photographic talents to preserve history and ignite an appetite for photography in others.
Frank’s interest in using photography is best seen in his volunteer work with Operation Photo Rescue. This volunteer network of professional and amateur photographers repairs photographs damaged by unforeseen circumstances such as house fires and natural disasters. Frank works with them to scan images recovered - whatever their condition - and restores them to their original form.
That interest in preserving history also extends to Frank’s volunteer work with the Simsbury Cemetery Association. He led a digital preservation project for them, photographing every grave stone in the lower section of the Simsbury Cemetery. Frank collected the data and created an electronic database of the information that’s available at the Simsbury Free Library and the Simsbury Historical Society.
He is also driven by a need to pass on his love of photography to others, teaching classes at the Simsbury Library, for the Simsbury Camera Club and through the Farmington Continuing Education.
As a member of the Simsbury Camera Club, Frank showcases his own creativity in competitions. He has also served as the club’s judging chairman.
Frank is a frequent speaker for the club and conducts the "After the Break" educational sessions at the club’s monthly meetings. He leads the club’s Photo Walks and Field Trips and links the club with others in the area. He is a true mentor and teacher for club members who want to improve their photography.Back to top
- Darlene Zoller
Darlene Zoller – Veron, CT
“Bigger Than Life Dancer”
A lesser person would need a staff to organize and track Darlene Zoller’s myriad commitments. Fueled by passion, energy and enthusiasm, she takes it all in stride. Darlene is a dancer, an award-winning director and an adjunct professor in the theater division of the Hartt School of the University of Hartford. She is Mama D of Mama D’s Outrageous Romp, an adults-only music, dance and comedy event; a fitness instructor at Big Sky in Vernon and a dance teacher at The 224 Ecospace in Hartford.
And then there’s the Playhouse Theater Group. Darlene is co-founder and co-artistic director of this West Hartford organization which manages the professional theater known as Playhouse on Park. She is also the founder, artistic director and choreographer of stop/time dance theater, a professional dance company in residence at the Playhouse. Over the years, Darlene has directed and choreographed original shows and Broadway musicals at the Playhouse. Her direction of “Chicago” and “I’d Rather Be Dancing” earned her a nod from Broadway World as best director of a musical.
The stop/time dance theater was born in 2003 when Darlene had the idea for a show and, more importantly, the desire to celebrate the talent of local dancers. “Throughout my career, I’d seen wonderful dancers passed over because they weren’t great singers, or they had the wrong hair color, or were too skinny or too curvy or too quiet or too anything!” she says. “As time moved along, I realized that I had a dream – a dream in which all dancers are given their due.”
Darlene rented space at the Playhouse on Park for that first show and five years later after staging shows in other locations, returned to the theater to revive the original show. “The show was designed for that theater,” she says, recalling that the dance group was in rehearsal when “…the next thing I knew, [the Playhouse] was closing.”
Darlene and her business partner, Tracy Flater formed the Playhouse Theatre Group to take over management of the theater. “It was a lot of hard work and [we had] zero money,” she says, but the women succeeded. The Playhouse celebrated its 10-year anniversary in April while stop/time staged an anniversary product in March to mark its 15-year anniversary.
The Playhouse has earned an excellent reputation and draws artists from New York City and around the country. In 2016, when West Hartford took 15th spot on Money magazine’s list of 50 best places to live in the U.S., the publication described Playhouse on Park as the “crowning jewel” of the community and a destination for art lovers.
Darlene may infuse the Playhouse and her dancers with her passion and energy but she doesn’t take credit for their success. “Our longevity is testament to everyone’s hard work.”Back to top