July 26, 2010 | last updated May 29, 2012 9:05 pm

Hartford Business Journal 40 Under Forty 2010 Winner Profiles

Christa Allen

AGE: 32
TITLE: Marketing and sponsorship director
RESIDENCE: Manchester

Career Highlights: I attribute my professional successes to the fact that I have always followed my heart and stayed true to myself in terms of my career choices. The result has been a series of rich experiences full of depth and breadth — I've worked for the renowned Sunken Garden Poetry Festival and have written for the world's most legendary fashion magazine, Vogue. Since joining the retail industry after moving back to CT from NYC in 2004, I've managed multiple super-regional shopping centers, marketed multi-million dollar redevelopments, led task forces assigned to open new acquisitions and served on special assignment in California. My current position at Westfarms, is certainly no exception.

What do you want to be doing in 10 years: I'm a firm believer that life's most unexpected pleasures often reap its greatest rewards. That said, I hesitate to lay out a ten-year "plan"; however, I can say with certainty that I hope to find myself as fortunate as I am today, living a life of great opportunity, of professional promise and personal fulfillment, of always finding what "makes me tick" and then going after it… wholeheartedly.

Biggest Strength: I believe that my background and my education — I have a B.A. in English/creative writing and am pursuing my M.A. in English — give me unique perspective on what it takes to thrive in today's business world. Without a doubt, to be a successful leader, you have to be a strong communicator. What began, for me, as an aptitude and love for the fairly solitary practice of writing has evolved and matured over the years, translating seamlessly into my professional life as a supervisor, marketer, spokesperson and community leader.

Best advice you received: From a very early age, my father would look me in the eyes and tell me, again and again, that I was "the most capable child in the world." Now, as an adult, it's easy to hear the unconditional love of a parent in those words. However, the meaning behind his message has never been lost on me and, as a result, I continue to face life's most defining moments — its challenges and successes, heartbreaks and accomplishments — believing that he was right, that anything is possible.

Community Involvement: After watching my husband's mother bravely fight and sadly lose her battle with breast cancer, I began volunteering for Susan G. Komen for the Cure in 2007, finishing my first year of a two-year term as Race Chair. Also, I sit on AMA-CT's board and on marketing committees for the West Hartford Chamber and Bristol Hospital.

Emma Asante

AGE: 35
TITLE/COMPANY/LOCATION: Community project manager, NBC Connecticut in West Hartford; adjunct professor, Lincoln College of New England in Southington; adjunct professor, Manchester Community College in Manchester
RESIDENCE: New Britain

Career Highlights: I stumbled into television at the beginning of my freshman year in college when I was offered a work-study job at my college's campus TV studio. I fell in love with communications, declared my major, and haven't looked back. Since then, I've worn many hats including marketing specialist, creative producer, and video editor in several media marketing across the country… but launching NBC Connecticut's 'Partners in a Caring Community' initiative and seeing it grow has been a special experience. Everyone has played a role. The community partners are dynamic and inspirational, and my fellow employees are passionate about supporting the important causes. It has been more than a highlight; it has been an honor to watch what our community working together can accomplish.
Also, traveling to Ghana, Benin, and Togo as part of a video production for an outreach organization was a poignant time in my career. I was humbled by the stories of those working to create change, inspired by the entrepreneurial spirit, and excited by the growth in the cities we visited. I also enjoyed meeting my extended family for the first time.
I've also recently started teaching communications at the collegiate level. Watching the students learn and become sophisticated media consumers has been a joy.

What do you want to be doing in 10 years: I would like to own a media business, facilitate corporate social responsibility and diversity programs, and continue to work in education. The sky is the limit!

Biggest Strength: I love to learn! I've found that openness to learning keeps life interesting. I believe that if you're not learning and growing, you're slowly dying inside. To learn is to live.

Best advice you received: My pastor growing up used to say: "Know when to stand up, to speak up, and to shut up." Through that statement, I learned that timing is everything.

Community Involvement: I am a member of the board of directors of the Urban League of Greater Hartford; I'm co-chair of the American Red Cross Blood Services' Diversity Committee and a member of HARC Development Committee. I'm a member of the Urban League of Greater Hartford Young Professionals and an internship site supervisor with the Hartford Journalism & Media Academy.

Philip Barnett

AGE: 36
TITLE: Partner
COMPANY NAME: Hartford Restaurant Group (Wood-n-Tap, Agave Grill, Vaughan's Public House & TD Homer's)
RESIDENCE: Wethersfield

Career Highlights: I opened a business at the age of 23. Next, was opening eight restaurants within the past seven-plus years, with four different concepts. My business partners and I have the Wood-n-Tap, which is an American Bar and Grill; Vaughan's Public House, an Irish Pub; Agave Grill, a modern Mexican restaurant; and TD Homers Grill, a family friendly high energy sports restaurant.
My personal highlights are getting married to my wife, and biggest supporter, Melanie and having our four beautiful children — Owen 7, Olivia 6, Tate 5 and Jillian 3. My children have taught me many valuable life lessons.

What do you want to be doing in 10 years: I would be thrilled to have grown our company and the Wood-n-Tap brand throughout Connecticut (and hopefully beyond) while supporting the local communities and their charities. I feel it is very important to give back to the communities that support our businesses.
Learning. I find it vital to always strive for self-improvement, both for myself and my employees. Lastly, I want to be enjoying my family to the fullest; savoring the small everyday moments along with the monumental ones.

Biggest Strength: My biggest strength is my innovativeness; I am constantly trying to come up with new ideas to keep the Hartford Restaurant Group cutting edge, which will in turn keep it successful and allow it to grow. I have a lot of heart and determination. I never want to become complacent about my businesses. There is always room for improvement.

Best advice you received: My parents were always very positive with me. My mother told me I could do or be anything I ever wanted — and I believed her.

Community Involvement: Over the past seven-plus years, the Hartford Restaurant Group has supported many local charities and community organizations to raise over $100,000. Our community support has helped us to thrive and we want to help our communities thrive. We have supported a variety of organizations from large non-profit charities, such as the Lea's Foundation for Leukemia research and Autism Speaks, to local various school PTO fundraisers and multiple memorial fundraisers. A good portion of our office workers' day is reading and responding to the thousands of requests we get each year. We are so flattered and honored that we are so well known for our eagerness and generosity.

Troy Bataille

AGE: 28
TITLE: Associate
COMPANY NAME: Halloran & Sage LLP

Career Highlights: I have made the most of my relatively short tenure trying to build a well-rounded practice, as well as establish myself as a valued asset to one of Connecticut's leading law firms, Halloran & Sage LLP. On any given day, I could find myself advising a major university on environmental laws and regulations, prosecuting a contract action for a closely held corporation, or defending a national retailer in tort actions.
One key focus in the environmental law arena is my representation of colleges and universities. Along with a team of talented lawyers and environmental engineers, we have developed a novel and innovative "Peer-Audit Program." Over 200 colleges and universities across 10 states participate in the program which allows each campus to learn about and fix environmental compliance issues while at the same time receiving a "clean slate" from the government. There is no program like ours in the country and it allows colleges to work together, open the lines of communication, sustain environmental compliance and ensures that costs are kept low. Over the next few years, I expect to be involved in similar compliance initiatives as they become more prevalent in other industries including hospitals and health facilities, maritime and green law.
I began my career representing major insurance companies in products liability actions and toxic tort actions and I have maintained my connection with the courtroom ever since.

What do you want to be doing in 10 years: I hope to find that my practice and experience have grown exponentially and that I am in a leadership position at the firm.

Biggest Strength: I take pride in being able to relate to people from all walks of life. I believe that if I learn and pay attention to what other people are interested in, I can build better and more dependable relationships.

Best advice you received: "Just do the right thing." Simple, but sage advice from my parents that makes even the toughest decisions a little easier.

Community Involvement: As a young lawyer, one of my biggest regrets is not having enough time to spend on charitable causes. I've volunteered for Habitat for Humanity and AmeriCares, as well as my church and grammar school. Recently, I became a panel member for the Connecticut probate court system where I will be appointed pro bono cases on an as needed basis. I am also a participant in the Connecticut Bar Association-sponsored program to help veterans navigate the benefits process. In addition, I have an active role in Halloran & Sage's support of the Traveler's Championship and the Jaycees.

Daniel R. Canavan

AGE: 35
TITLE: Counsel
COMPANY NAME: Northeast Utilities
RESIDENCE: Glastonbury

Career Highlights: As a defense attorney, an early highlight of my career includes obtaining a defense verdict in my first trial. For most young attorneys, trial work, and acceptance by the bar as a litigator, can remain elusive. There is a unique sense of achievement and confidence after obtaining that first victory for a client, and to a greater extent, that first courtroom success provides recognition as a practitioner and an acknowledgement that you belong.

What do you want to be doing in 10 years: Enjoying life and doing good things while surrounded by close friends and a loving family.

Biggest Strength: I have been told that one of my better strengths is an ability to remain outwardly calm when faced with stressful situations, which has allowed me to become a better attorney in my professional career, a stronger leader as a community volunteer, and a more thoughtful and composed individual in my personal relationships.
Best advice you received: Some of the best advice I have received has come from the Boy Scouts of America, which instructs young scouts to: "be prepared." Many of scouting's traditions and experiences continue to guide my professional strides and personal affairs today. Careers and life do not always proceed as expected, and the more prepared you are for adversity, the easier you will adjust to change and the better equipped you will be for the future.

Community Involvement: My family has enjoyed a proud tradition of community involvement and public service, which has historically included volunteering our time and energy for the good of our neighbors, academic institutions and church organizations. I serve on the board of directors for Operation Fuel, Inc., a not-for-profit organization that provides emergency energy assistance to Connecticut residents who do not qualify for, or have exhausted, governmental energy assistance programs. I recently completed a two-year term as president of the board of directors of the Eastern Connecticut State University Alumni Association. In my capacity as president, I am in the process of developing, along with other board members, an alumni public service project. I also serve as volunteer counsel for Pro Bono Partnership, Inc., which provides pro bono business legal services to nonprofit agencies in Connecticut.

Johnny Carrier

AGE: 32
TITLE: Vice President
COMPANY NAME: J.F.C. Endeavors, Inc., a division of By Carrier, Inc.
RESIDENCE: Farmington

Career Highlights: As a 1999 University of Connecticut graduate, I received a bachelor's degree in structural engineering, and became a licensed professional engineer. Out of high school, I taught myself residential architecture using framing experience and studying the building industry. Over the past 15 years, close to 1,000 homes and condominiums have been built from my designs in the U.S. and Canada. This year, I have been appointed to Septic Advisory Board at the State Dept. of Public Health. In the fall, I take the position of second vice president of the Hartford County Home Builders Association. I have been a board member of the State Home Builders Association for nearly three years.

What do you want to be doing in 10 years: I want to be at the forefront with family, co-workers, and industry leaders in building housing which labels Connecticut as the state with the best overall construction in the country. We at By Carrier strive to build exceptional homes which homeowners, local communities, and colleagues can be proud of. We push an industry-leading five-year warranty and continue to build with better quality, more energy efficiency, and lower long-term maintenance. Specifications and quality are not altered from a smaller starter home to your final dream home.

Biggest Strength: Leadership and vision.

Best Advice You Recieved: "If you work in a field that you love, you will never work a day in your life."

Community Involvement: Four years ago, we began to sponsor and host on-site field trips with local high schools and trade schools. Students in architecture and trades classes alike spend time learning the process of the new construction industry. In attendance, we have licensed trade professionals, sharing their day-to-day involvement, experiences and demonstrating new industry practices. With this, we team up with the HBA of Hartford County's youth design program and donate scholarship money to the school program in which the design winners attend. We want our younger generation to have access to today's methods and technology and one day be our industry leaders.

Michael Carucci

AGE: 31
TITLE: Staff chiropractor
COMPANY NAME: Connecticut VA Healthcare System
RESIDENCE: Wethersfield

Career Highlights: Being selected last year to fill one, of the approximately 40 nationwide posts within the VA system was an honor and privilege. Working in the CT VA System has been wonderful and serving our nation's veterans is an honor. Also, both CT and I are lucky to have three other dedicated and highly skilled chiropractors serving our state's veterans: Dr. Anthony Lisi who is also the director of chiropractic services for the nation; Dr. Chris Coulis who also practices privately in Guilford; and Dr. Todd Kawecki.

What do you want to be doing in 10 years: I see myself working in an interdisciplinary chronic pain management clinic creating innovative and cost effective algorithms for working with this poorly served population. In addition, I also see myself working for either a public or private entity that is committed to influencing public policy at the state or national level.

Biggest Strength: A fanatic commitment to improving; both on a personal and organizational level. I am always trying to think of ways to be more innovative and effective personally and professionally to help meet my team's and my patient's goals.

Best advice you received: Great accomplishments begin as big dreams followed up by small steps, dedication and hard work.

Community Involvement: I have been involved with HYPE (Hartford Young Professionals and Entrepreneurs) for three years now and was recently honored to be elected as HYPE's 2010-2011 chair in June along with Alisa Dzananovic who was named vice chair. HYPE is an initiative of the MetroHartford Alliance that is committed to helping make Hartford a great place for young professionals to live, work and play. We currently have over 2,500 members and host over 60 events a year. Working with Program Manager Julie Daly and the rest of the HYPE volunteers to continue to build on our current success is something I am very excited and committed to accomplishing.

Suzi Craig

AGE: 39
TITLE: Director of marketing and engagement
RESIDENCE: West Hartford

Career Highlights: My career began in book publishing in NYC where I worked on Charles Schulz's Peanuts gift books and helped market books for Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. Back in Connecticut, I authored five books for The Complete Idiot's Guide series and gained experience in online and event marketing. My current work in social media helps clients construct a genuine extension of their value through online conversation and relationships. Fathom generously lets me explore the possibilities of social media and the result has been some very successful experiments such as the monthly networking event CT TweetCrawl which is now run by regional producers across Connecticut. I continue to look for new ways to elevate the online and live experience for clients, friends, colleagues and the boards I serve on: AIGA CT (the professional association for design); Greater Hartford Arts Council's Associate Board and PodCamp CT (first event to be held in October).

What do you want to be doing in 10 years: I want to engage in work that is interesting and progressive. Personally, in 10 years, I will have produced a film and written a book (just not sure what yet) and I will be a seasoned percussionist. Other than that, I don't know what the future will look like but I do know that my life will be filled with laughter, exploration, good friends, an amazing family, new journeys and lots and lots of bacon.

Biggest Strength: My biggest strength is helping people connect to organizations, events and other people worthy of their time and interest.

Best advice you received: "Life begins at the edge of your comfort zone." Learning to be comfortable with being uncomfortable — from failing to enjoying the state of not knowing what's around the next corner — has led to success in ways I didn't think possible. Through every misstep, I learn how to take five different and more fulfilling ones. If status quo is my archenemy, curiosity of life and ensuring better days for those around me is victory.

Community Involvement: I co-organized CT TweetCrawl's biggest success, Operation Home for the Holidays where we raised nearly $12,000 so Connecticut National Guard troops could spend time with their families before being deployed to Afghanistan in early 2010. With GHAC, I organized the Bending Pixels photography event and fundraiser that raised over $3,000, and I continue to help local fundraising efforts via social networking efforts and hands-on volunteering. My community work will grow in the coming years, as there is room to do much more.

Danielle M. Cyr

AGE: 26
TITLE: Account Manager
COMPANY NAME: Co-Communications
RESIDENCE: Manchester

Career Highlights: During my career, I have been fortunate enough to contribute to several campaigns that have been recognized with Big W Awards from the Ad Club of Westchester and Mercury Awards from the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). I have also had the opportunity to give several presentations on social media, including one at Ragan's Best Practices in Media Relations Summit.

What do you want to be doing in 10 years: In 10 years, I hope to be furthering my career in public relations and to have attained my Accreditation in Public Relations designation. As a die-hard baker, I also aspire to have a cake business on the side.

Biggest strength: My biggest strength is my analytical thinking skills. As someone who obsesses over the details, I am able to hone-in on the differentiating factors that set my clients apart from their competitors and quickly identify solutions to problems and/or challenges.

Best advice you've received: The best advice that I ever received came in the form of a poster from my senior year French teacher, Lisa Loeb, of Kingswood-Oxford School. The poster featured a quote from existentialist Jean Paul Sartre, which read: Je suis ce que je suis. Je suis un être humaine. The phrase 'I am what I am. I am a human being.' serves as a constant reminder that everyone is human and that they should not be afraid to be true to themselves and stand-up for their beliefs. As someone who has always believed that one should expect more of themselves than others expect of them, it has also been a gentle way of reminding myself that sometimes you need to stop and enjoy the world around you.

Community involvement: I am actively involved in the Connecticut Valley Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, working to bring new programming to the chapter and helping to advance the profession. The advent of social media has caused dynamic shifts in the public relations industry. I believe we are at a time when leveraging Gen Y's passion for and knowledge of social media, and industry veterans' wealth of experience and expertise, is critical to helping this industry thrive in the future. Through my work with PRSA, I hope to diversify the range of enrichment programs available to PR pros and increase the strategic implementation of social media initiatives among agencies, corporations and nonprofits.

Alissa K. DeJonge

AGE: 33
TITLE: Director of research
COMPANY NAME: Connecticut Economic Resource Center, Inc. (CERC)
RESIDENCE: Middletown

Career Highlights: I began my career at CERC more than a decade ago as an intern, developing databases of demographic and economic indicators for all 50 states. I enjoyed managing the preparation of a series of reports that measures the state's capacity and trends related to economic competitiveness and innovation compared to all states. This year, I participated in the Leadership Development Roundtable, which is a six-month course for emerging nonprofit leaders. The timing of this phenomenal course was perfect, because I recently took the role as director of research after my boss and mentor retired. I am now in charge of the company's business and economic research services, and strategy to provide unbiased and objective research in line with CERC's mission to help keep Connecticut competitive.

What do you want to be doing in 10 years: Over the next 10 years, I want to continue growing my expertise and broadening my influence on the analysis and understanding of the region's economy – eventually to move into the next phase of my career, perhaps with my own television show.

Biggest Strength: I am always eager to learn and get energized when I acquire new information that expands my base of knowledge. Conducting quality work and upholding my commitments are also very important to me.

Best advice you received: My parents were my role models for being a good family member, colleague and community volunteer. My dad always told me that it's not what you earn, but what you spend; so living within one's means is a key to living happily and successfully. And my mom always reminded me to wear my lipstick, because looking presentable is just as important as what you say.

Community Involvement: I have been a member of the Board of Trustees for Mercy High School in Middletown since 2003. It is very rewarding to give back to my alma mater by participating in events and chairing the development committee and I look forward to becoming vice chair of the board this summer. Since 2005, I have spearheaded an annual food drive through CERC for the Amazing Grace Food Panty, which serves almost 9,500 families in the Middletown area. I am also a past president of the Hartford Area Business Economists. In my downtime, I love performing ballet and practicing photography — and am honored that several of my photos have been displayed at the New Britain Museum of Art.

Brian Ferney

TITLE: Director of marketing communications
RESIDENCE: West Hartford

Career Highlights: I guess the biggest highlight in my career is more a trend, than specific moment. Over time I have built a track record of coming into situations and adapting, and succeeding. From changing professions from a golf professional to network sales (E! Entertainment TV — where I exceeded all sales goals), to product management at Time Warner Cable (where I was recognized nationally for an On Demand launch after being in the position for six months) to marketing communication at Comcast (winning a national marketing award for outstanding campaign development with only one year of service in the role) I have been able to adapt to new cultures and succeed in a short term. I feel I have brought value to the companies I have worked for and made a unique contribution in moving the business forward.

What do you want to be doing in 10 years: I would like to be solving versatile marketing problems, with an expansion in the scale of consumer influence. Connecting the dots creatively through strategy and the tactical.

Biggest Strength: Finding creative, practical solutions in a calm and thoughtful way — then selling the concept.

Best advice you received: My dad gave me some great advice as a kid that has always stuck — it was a long conversation, but boiled down it is: Don't beat yourself up over what you 'think' other people think of you; odds are they are too wrapped up in their own world to notice. It was a great lesson at a key time. It keeps me focused on making good decisions based on my own compass. The other great advice is from John Prine, "If you take an inch, you better give a mile."

Community Involvement: Over the past few years, I have been active in youth sports, coaching "Rookie" Girls Softball in West Harford. I also have volunteered time as a "mystery reader" at Webster Hill Elementary School and acted as a site leader for Comcast Cares Day at Camp Ingersoll where I lead a team of over 100 volunteers to help prepare the camp for the 2009 season.

Alicia Flynn

AGE: 30
TITLE: Vice president and chief development officer

Career Highlights: I feel honored to work at a place where my questions were answered and insights considered as much when I was 23 and volunteer coordinator, as they are now being part of the management team. It's amazing to work every day with passionate volunteers and staff, who put their hearts into every action and ask of every task, 'is this truly helping to end hunger?' It is empowering to work in a place that invests in that passion, offering junior staff the time and resources to grow; not many businesses send recent graduates to speak at national conferences, to participate in Leadership Greater Hartford's QUEST program, to serve on the board of the local chamber, or to support disaster relief on the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina. If they did make those leaps, our region would be a stronger and more business friendly place.
Foodshare is a great place to go to work. Every day I get to help lead a stable, efficient, forward-thinking business whose mission is to end hunger in our region. Last year, Foodshare distributed over 12 million pounds of food to help 128,000 hungry men, women, and children. At the same time, it worked to build the partnerships, public commitment, and programs necessary to help these neighbors become self-sufficient. When I think about it like that, every day is a career highlight.

What do you want to be doing in 10 years: I aim to be challenged by a job I am equally passionate about and can learn from each day. I hope to continue to have the opportunity to live in and work for the betterment of the City of Hartford, my adopted home, which I believe in and love, almost every day.

Biggest Strength:

Best advice you received: When I was little, my father told me to do my best and that one of the things he most respected about me was that I was never afraid of failing. Talk of failure might sound negative, but it is absolutely liberating. If you acknowledge that you will sometimes fall short, and you are OK with it, you can set impossible goals and put your whole self into everything you do. You'll no longer be guaranteed a win, but you'll accomplish more than a pragmatic person would ever deem feasible.

Community Involvement: I've been working on a master's degree and recently came off the board of the CNADP, so I'm actually in a transition window. I'm the board president of the Bloomfield Chamber of Commerce, an intermittent volunteer at the Knox Parks Foundation, and am looking for the next big project.

Ryan J. Friedman

AGE: 30
TITLE: Account Executive
COMPANY NAME: May, Bonee & Walsh
RESIDENCE: West Hartford

Career Highlights: In my career as an insurance professional I have had the opportunity to work with businesses of all sizes in a diverse range of industries helping to consult on group benefits programs that best suit their needs. I have always placed great importance on honesty and acting in the best interest of those who have trusted me with their business. I take great pride helping clients grow and prosper while navigating through both good and bad economic environments.
Thus far my greatest career highlight has been the honor of being elected by my peers as chairman of the Hartford Young Professionals & Entrepreneurs (HYPE). I took this responsibility very seriously and treated it as if I were running a corporation with 2,500+ shareholders. During my tenure, HYPE produced over 80 events, all focused on some aspect of professional development and/or community involvement.
I encourage others looking to meet new people while expanding their horizons to seek out HYPE or similar organizations to see how they can have a positive impact in their communities.

What do you want to be doing in 10 years: I want to continue working to strengthen my existing relationships while openly developing new ones. I also plan on looking for more ways to become involved in the civic and economic development of the region. I hope to find myself in a leadership role that provides me with a rewarding outlet for my energy and creativity.

Biggest Strength: My vision. I have always been excited about developing new projects and getting them to the goal line. I am constantly looking for new ways to achieve my goals while bringing excitement to my projects.

Best advice you received: Surround yourself with people that you admire and respect. I have tried to make a practice of this and found that in doing so my own personal development has been rewarded greatly.

Community Involvement: As an active member of HYPE I have used my involvement to expand our charitable initiatives with events such as Tons of Toys and Tee It Up For Charity.
I have served as the vice president for special projects for the Greater Hartford Jaycee Foundation and served on its chapter board as well as the executive committee for the Travelers Championship. My love of sports has prompted my involvement with the First Tee of Connecticut.

Jason T. Gutcheon

AGE: 39
TITLE: Partner
COMPANY NAME: Professional Business Insurers (PBI)

Career Highlights: Some of my career highlights include working as an analyst and associate in the municipal investment banking department at Lehman Brothers in New York. This prestigious job provided me an extraordinary level of financial and business training and aptitude, which enabled me to parlay my skills when joining PBI, a family-owned employee benefits and financial services firm. For the past 12 years, I have helped grow our firm to become a major player in providing employee benefits and financial services to small and medium-sized businesses and individuals in Connecticut and the Northeast.

What do you want to be doing in 10 years: In 10 years, I would like to have continued success in building our firm's presence in Connecticut and the Northeast. PBI in 10 years will offer businesses and individuals a deeper menu of insurance and financial products and services. Deliberate and smart expansion coupled with acquisitions and organic growth will be the recipe to achieve this goal 10 years from now.

Biggest Strength: My biggest strength in business is my ability to firmly understand my client/prospective client's perspective. Understanding their issues as a business owner enables me to fully appreciate their needs. In turn, I am able to develop and deliver solutions that achieve my client's/prospective client's goals.

Best advice you received: The best advice I ever received is to 'Show-Up.' No matter the circumstances, always show-up. 'Show-up', whether it means a meeting, a drop-in visit, a return phone call, etc. In a deeper sense, I took the advice to mean to always be present to those who you wish to conduct business.

Community Involvement: Giving back to the community is a necessary responsibility for a business leader. I have served on numerous boards and committees for the past 12 years. Currently, I am a board member and executive committee member of the Greater Hartford Arts Council, board member of Junior Achievement, corporator of the Hebrew Home and Hospital, and board member of The World Affairs Council.

Jennifer L. Healy

AGE: 34
TITLE: Assistant vice president and annuity pricing actuary
COMPANY NAME: The Hartford

Career Highlights: After graduating from the University of Hartford with a degree in actuarial science, I joined The Hartford's actuarial executive training program. Through my time in this program, I've had the opportunity to work in our different business lines which enabled me to learn the products, customer value proposition, sales process, financials, and the legal framework of each of those businesses. One such role was in the International Division where I was the international product actuary and interim chief actuary. In this role, I was the lead home office actuary responsible for product oversight in our global subsidiaries and for developing products for country expansion initiatives. My experience in International afforded me the opportunity to work with a wide variety of cultures and view the business from different perspectives. The experience also provided me with significant learning opportunities on a personal level, gained mainly through my travels abroad. I learned patience, respect, and to see the world in a different light. I now better value the perspectives of others.

What do you want to be doing in 10 years: As I progress further in my career, I continue to seek roles that allow me to use my actuarial background as a foundation to solve broader business issues. In 10 years, I would like to run a line of business. Thus far in my career, I've been successful in leading the actuarial function and coordinating with other business leaders from other disciplines. To be successful running a business line, I'll need to be the one to bring these experts together and drive the direction of the organization.

Biggest Strength: My ability to build and maintain strong working relationships. I effectively use my people skills to bring together colleagues from differing disciplines and gain consensus to solve business challenges.

Best advice you received: I have been fortunate enough to be surrounded by managers and coworkers who have all taught me important lessons and have helped shape the business leader I am today. Perhaps the advice I rely on most often is from a former manager who challenged me to not be "pigeon-holed" into any particular function or role, rather to keep searching for stretch assignments that help me build new skills, think outside of my comfort zone and see things in a different way.

Community Involvement: I am active in The Hartford's actuarial student program oversight committee for four years and participated in the program's recent volunteer activity at Church Street Eats in Hartford. In addition, I chaired the United Way Campaign for The Hartford's Life Company in 2005. I have helped coordinate a fundraiser for Cystic Fibrosis and worked on a celebrity charity event at the Mohegan Sun casino.

Edward J. Heath

AGE: 35
TITLE: Attorney, Partner
COMPANY NAME: Robinson & Cole LLP
COMPANY'S LOCATION: Our primary office is in Hartford, but we have offices in Boston, Providence, Stamford, New London, New York and Florida.
RESIDENCE: South Windsor

Career Highlights: After graduating from Notre Dame Law School in 1999, I came directly to Robinson & Cole as an associate in the litigation section. I had no geographic ties to Connecticut, so what drew me here was the firm's emphasis on mentoring young lawyers and providing them with courtroom experience. I was fortunate to spend my first several years working with a handful of senior colleagues who are stellar lawyers and wonderful mentors. My practice is focused on four areas of trial work: business litigation, criminal defense, government investigations and probate litigation. In 2007, I was made a partner of the firm and presently hold three positions in the firm: Chair of the Government Investigations & Criminal Defense Practice Team, chair of the Pro Bono Committee, and chair of our in-house Trial Training Program. If I had to pick a single career highlight, it would be a 2008 victory following a four-month jury trial of a business litigation dispute in which the plaintiff sought $80 million from my client.

What do you want to be doing in 10 years: My hope is that I'll be doing exactly what I'm doing now, only I'll be better at it.

Biggest Strength: Understanding what motivates people. That's been useful in and out of the courtroom.

Best advice you received: A few months into my first year of practice, one of my mentors, Chris Hug, said to me: "We lawyers are paid primarily for our good judgment. Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment. So don't be afraid to make a mistake; just don't make it twice."

Community Involvement: As the chair of my firm's Pro Bono Committee, I'm constantly involved in our outreach to the community and always have a few active pro bono matters going. Relatedly, for the last few years I have been a member of the Hartford Advisory Board of the Pro Bono Partnership, a legal services organization for nonprofits. On a different note, I very much enjoy teaching and mentoring. Since 2004, I have been adjunct faculty at UConn Law School, teaching a first-year course on lawyering skills. Until recently I was the faculty coordinator for the law school's mock trial program, which included coaching several of the school's mock trial teams, and had previously coached the East Hartford Middle School mock trial team for a number of years.

Brian P. Henry

AGE: 35
TITLE: Counsel
COMPANY NAME: Robinson & Cole, LLP
RESIDENCE: Manchester

Career Highlights: I have had the good fortune to work with excellent firms and generous people during my 11 years practicing law in Hartford. During my second year in practice, a senior partner entrusted to me a certain group of cases, and my work on those cases eventually led to me being named national counsel for a large international insurance company on various product liability projects. Over the past 10 years, I have handled cases and claims in more than 40 states for that client.
As managing partner of a small law firm for almost seven years, I was proud to contribute to the positive growth of the company in tripling the number of attorneys and seeing a corresponding increase in revenue in just a few short years.
Continuing education is another way in which I have advanced my career. My litigation practice has been focused in the field of fire science and, in 2006, I received the certified fire and explosion investigator designation from the National Association of Fire Investigators, a designation held by only two dozen attorneys in the country.

What do you want to be doing in 10 years: In my law practice, I would like to increase my representation of expert witnesses, a developing field in the U.S. I also hope to expand my teaching role at the University of Connecticut School of Law to offer a substantive course in fire science litigation. On a personal level, I hope to have completed my seminary masters' program and to have identified a meaningful way to apply what I have learned in the community.

Biggest Strength: The ability to organize large amounts of pertinent information into manageable groups. I handle scores of cases and claims in dozens of states, which requires the ability to organize and administer them effectively under literally dozens of different sets of court rules.

Best advice you received: "Don't worry about not clearing your desk at the end of the day. If your desk is ever cleared, then that means you're out of work, and you never want to be out of work."

Community Involvement: I am a proud member of the Rotary Club of Hartford, and serve as its president. Rotary has made significant contributions to dozens of Hartford projects over the last 100 years and having developed an international project to assist the impoverished in Africa.

Jason Hoagland

AGE: 31
TITLE: Senior loan officer/ assistant vice president
COMPANY NAME: Farm Credit East, ACA

Career Highlights: In 2000, with an open mind and virtually no knowledge of agriculture, I tried a summer internship in the Enfield office of First Pioneer (now known as Farm Credit East), the Northeast's largest provider of credit and financial services to the agricultural industry. I quickly realized what a great organization I was working for and what excellent people are involved in this industry.
Today, as a senior loan officer and assistant vice president, my primary responsibilities are centered on successfully developing and growing a diverse loan portfolio, consisting of operating, term and mortgage loans for customers affiliated with farms, part-time farms, hobby farms, residences, recreational properties and niche agricultural endeavors. I manage a $65MM loan portfolio in the Enfield branch and am also responsible for training new credit staff and mentoring summer interns.
I received my undergraduate degree in resource economics (2001) and my M.B.A. (2008) from the University of Connecticut.

What do you want to be doing in 10 years: I strive to make a difference by helping those I work with succeed. Ten years from now, I want to reflect back that I have continued in helping others be successful for the past decade. No single human can change the world alone, but each of us can have an impact on the success and well-being of others by our daily interactions.

Biggest Strength: My biggest strength is also my biggest weakness. My internal desire to accommodate and help others allows me to bring people together and has motivated me to be successful, but occasionally causes me to lose sight of the most important things in my life.

Best advice you received: Surround yourself with winning people. Surrounding yourself with positive, winning individuals and organizations can pay huge dividends in your own personal growth and development. I have had the extreme benefit of surrounding myself with highly capable individuals.
On a personal level, I also received some excellent advice before getting married. Our minister told my wife and I that we were the two most different people he had ever married and that we must always remember the ways that we are truly opposites. Remembering how our differences can be utilized in a successful relationship has helped us maintain an excellent marriage the past eight years, which in turn has helped me be successful on a professional level.

Community Involvement: Since 2006, I have served as president of the Connecticut Agricultural Education Foundation, a nonprofit that supports agricultural education in the state.

Maria A. Loitz

AGE: 39
TITLE: Director of marketing
COMPANY NAME: BVH Integrated Services Inc.
RESIDENCE: New Britain

Career Highlights: I never imagined I would have a career in the construction industry, but after 16 years, I can't imagine anything different. The construction industry is unique because it brings people together from different organizations — architects, engineers, construction professionals, and we all work together. Whether it's on a project, or developing business opportunities, or working on an industry committee, the goal is the same — to educate, network, and build a better place to live, learn and play.
As president of the Society for Marketing Professional Services, I worked with other marketing professionals to educate and connect leaders in the building industry. As a member of the board of directors for the Construction Institute at the University of Hartford, we continually strive to improve the industry by sharing experiences and knowledge, advancing relationships, and developing business leaders. Along the way, we not only build close friendships, but we also build a more a beautiful and sustainable community.

What do you want to be doing in 10 years: My ideal day would begin with a round of golf. If I need to wait a little longer before that happens, I hope that I will continue to grow in my career and keep giving back to the community.

Biggest Strength: I have been told it is my ability to offer perspective and insight in a conciliatory manner, as well as always having a positive outlook (a smile goes a long way). I not only understand the details and mechanics of a situation at hand, but I pride myself on thinking outside of the box and try to imagine the future landscape.

Best advice you received: The best advice is from my husband, who knows me better than anyone: "Hear me now, believe me later." As I grow personally and professionally, I realize that I need to be more open to the wisdom and perspectives of others around me, especially the people I trust most.

Community Involvement: My long-term commitment to the ACE Mentor Program, as a mentor and state chapter president, has given me the opportunity to give back to the community. ACE provides high school students with exposure to careers in the design and construction industry.

Sarah M. Lombard

AGE: 35
TITLE: Law partner
COMPANY NAME: Hinckley, Allen & Snyder LLP
RESIDENCE: Southbury

Career Highlights: My practice area is general corporate and business transactional involving, among other things, mergers, acquisitions and financings, with a developing expertise in continuing care retirement communities, banking law and finance. I've been extremely fortunate to have participated in many sophisticated transactions including forming new banks and helping them raise capital, buying all sorts of businesses, including a hospital, selling a wide range of businesses, including a large international company. One of the most rewarding parts of my career is building relationships with clients and becoming part of their teams in order to be in a better position to advise them on all matters ranging from day-to-day issues to major decisions. From a personal standpoint, being elected to become a partner one year earlier than the minimum partnership track was a highlight for me.

What do you want to be doing in 10 years: My philosophy is to take each day as it comes — you never know what opportunity lies around the next corner.

Biggest Strength: I think that one of my biggest strengths is my approach to practicing law — in order to be able to provide the best counsel to clients, you need to understand their businesses and the people who run those businesses and build relationships with them and I take great pride in that.
Best advice you received: "Be yourself." Starting to practice law in a large law firm can be intimidating for a young lawyer. Being myself and having a sense of humor allowed me to understand that being intimidated for any reason was a waste of time and energy.

Community Involvement: Community involvement, to me, is an ongoing commitment. I am very fortunate to be involved with two organizations that provide incredible services. The first, Interval House, is dedicated to providing services to prevent and break the cycle of family and partner abuse. The second, Camp Courant, is the largest free day camp in the nation.

Scott A. Margolis

AGE: 36
TITLE: Partner
COMPANY NAME: Victor Advertising Service
RESIDENCE: West Hartford

Career Highlights: My professional career started in Los Angeles at a sports agency that represented American soccer players in both MLS and abroad. In 2001, my wife and I moved back to Connecticut and I began working with my father in the family business, Victor Advertising Service (VAS). Since joining VAS, I have helped take the company to the next level, by meeting the needs of the next generation through technology. I launched the VAS website, a monthly e-newsletter, and weekly e-blasts updating clients on new products. Most recently, I have been working with my clients and helping them navigate through these challenging economic times with creative and impactful promotional items while keeping an eye on the bottom line.

What do you want to be doing in 10 years: After working for nine years at VAS, I realize that 10 years is not that far away. My family is and will always be my first priority. With my father as a role model and mentor, I will be positioned to lead VAS to further success while my father enjoys his retirement. Of course, I hope to add a little more golf into the mix.

Biggest Strength: Honesty. While working in Los Angeles and then in Connecticut, I learned that honesty builds and maintains the strongest relationships. With that in mind, I develop and nurture an honest relationship with my clients, listening to them and learning what their needs are and then matching them with my best promotional items.

Best advice you received: My most fulfilling advice has come from my wife, Kim. She has taught me how to give and give from the heart. Her passion for nonprofits has taught me the importance of charitable giving. Whether it is time, experience or money, many nonprofits need our help. "We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give," Winston Churchill said.

Community Involvement: I serve on the Mandell Jewish Community Center board and nominating committee and as co-chair of the annual Scholarship Golf Tournament. I was involved with the American Diabetes Association "2010 Father of the Year" campaign. In the past, I have served on the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford board; I was co-chair of the Young Adult Division and the recipient of the Young Leadership Award. In addition, I have coached West Hartford girls soccer.

Jim Martin

AGE: 34
TITLE: Financial planner, production manager
COMPANY NAME: Barnum Financial Group, an office of MetLife

Career Highlights: After graduating from Holy Cross in 1998, I started at a boutique Park Avenue investment firm in New York before joining the training program at Dean Witter, which later became Morgan Stanley. I worked their Mystic office for seven years. I was recruited to Barnum Financial Group, MetLife's #1 office nationwide in 2005, and became a production manager shortly thereafter, becoming a mentor to the firm's new advisors, and helping to manage the #2 ranked team nationally at MetLife. Since 2008, I have hosted SmartMoney Radio, a weekly Saturday morning radio show on 960 WELI. Additionally, I teach financial education seminars on-site at several local corporations including the New York Stock Exchange, Textron, and at smaller companies.

What do you want to be doing in 10 years: The Barnum Financial Group is like a family, so in 10 years I expect to still be there, just having built a larger financial planning team around me.
Biggest Strength: My biggest strength is that I still try to do business with a handshake, and face-to-face as much as possible. It is so important, in fact, that I've restructured my support team so that I can spend 80 percent of my time with clients instead of in the office.

Best advice you received: When I started in the industry, I had a managing director who would start everyday with a 6 a.m. meeting. He would climb on top of his desk and address the whole firm at once, the whole 40th floor of a New York City skyscraper: "You know, good things happen to those who wait… but ONLY those things left behind by those who hustle, now get to work." I later learned that he owed Abe Lincoln a little credit for this particular quote, but the words rang true. The second bit of advice came as a young athlete. I was lucky to have some amazing coaches who never let me utter the words "I can't."

Community Involvement: I volunteer with the United Way of Central and Northeastern CT, sitting on the allocations and pension and benefits committees. I also serve on the boards of a handful of charities like the Greater Hartford Convention & Visitors Bureau. I support Toys for Tots, the Foundation for Life, and Bikes for Kids but my real passion is in supporting animal welfare organizations, and in rescuing abused dogs.

Jeffrey Moyer

AGE: 39
TITLE: Assistant vice president, regional human resources manager
COMPANY NAME: Chubb Group of Insurance Companies
RESIDENCE: West Hartford

Career Highlights: I started my career in human resources building programs and leading initiatives to develop and grow organizations. It was through this line of work that I knew I wanted to fully engage in human resources delivery and strategy. I was fortunate enough to be selected into Aetna's Human Resource Leadership Development Program and had the opportunity to hold various leadership roles including HR business partner, HR customer support manager, and HR technology strategy lead.
I joined Chubb in 2009, and, as regional human resources manager, I'm directly responsible for the development and implementation of human capital strategies and providing broad scale HR consulting in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic for claims and house counsel; along with communication and HR claim strategy liaison responsibilities for the Eastern Territory. In addition to my regional HR role, I co-chair the Chubb Simsbury Diversity Council and teach recruitment and staffing in Saint Joseph College's human resources management certificate program.

What do you want to be doing in 10 years: I want to being looked upon as one of the most influential human resources technical and thought leaders. Most of all, I want to ensure I continue spending time with my love Kristen.

Biggest Strength: The relationships I've built with my business partners and friends are deep rooted. These relationships are the energy and drive I use to continuously strive to be the best business partner, friend and family man.

Best advice you received: My best friend Brian told me to cherish and hold on to the events and people you rarely get to experience more than once in a lifetime. You will always have the opportunity to pursue career choices and make more money, but you will not always have the opportunity to hold onto what is most important.

Community Involvement: I sit on the board for the Human Resource Association of Central Connecticut. I also volunteer at local workshops to provide career advice. I lead a Kidney Walk team of Chubb employees to call attention to disease prevention.

Victor Mushkatin

AGE: 36
RESIDENCE: West Hartford

Career Highlights: Developer of one of the first secure bank- client applications in Russia in 1996 with unique hologram-based cryptography algorithms.
Founder of AVIcode Consulting LLC, 2001. Grew the business to over 120 people located in 3 countries — USA, Russia, and Belarus.
Founder of AVIcode Inc, 2004. As CTO established company as leader in the application performance management market. Delivered strategic OEM relations with Microsoft and Quest Software.
Author of patents in the area of critical application exception detection, diagnostic and performance management algorithms.

What do you want to be doing in 10 years: If I look back 10 years, there was no AVIcode and not even the slightest indication of what the next 10 years would bring. With my pace and the world around, I can barely predict what I'm going to do in the next three months. I'm sure the next 10 years and beyond will be as exciting and challenging as it is now.

Biggest Strength: Picking the essential out of "stuff." Running a business is like being dropped in the middle of the ocean – you can choose to swim in any direction, but only one will safely guide you to shore. My gut instinct to find the right people and jointly choose the right direction helped us survive the dot com crash as well as the recent economic downturn.

Best advice you received: Our high school computer science teacher distributed a homework assignment and there were two extra tasks to choose from to get an A+ – one is simpler than the other. One student asked why bother picking the more difficult one? The teacher replied: "It all depends where you want to set the bar."
My master thesis professor once was very upset with me and two friends for not being ready with the next chapter. We explained that we could not deliver new ideas on a weekly basis and that we needed more time to think. He said: "Most likely you will not succeed in life. But if you won't work hard you will not succeed for sure!"

Community Involvement: Being physically active is a requirement for a balanced life. I promote Argentine Tango and have taught introductory level dance at a local high school. I have coached children's soccer for children and have organized adult hikes.

Dana Neves

AGE: 37
TITLE: News director
RESIDENCE: Ellington

Career Highlights: Being named news director to the most watched television station in Connecticut at age 33. After being an intern at WFSB, it was a very special moment. Every day I try to remember who we are working for, the viewer. I constantly ask myself, what would they want to know, what questions would they want answered. I try to instill in our staff to 'never assume' always ask the questions you might assume other people know the answers to. Over time, I have learned that assumptions can be dangerous because you are supposing every one of the viewers has paid the same attention to a story that you have, and that's just not the case. And, the more you ask, the more you uncover and hopefully, in the end, inform the viewer and bring them pieces of information they didn't know.

What do you want to be doing in 10 years: The same job! I know it doesn't sound like an aspiration, but I love my job and cannot imagine doing anything else.

Biggest strength: I am a good listener. Sometimes you really have to listen to someone to really hear what they are saying.

Best advice you received: The only person you have to face is yourself.

Community involvement: I volunteered at my son's preschool in Somers and I volunteer to help the Dress for Success Capital Catwalk fundraiser every year. I am on the board for the Mark Twain House; I am a former board member of the Channel 3 kids camp; but still a very active participant in camp events, drives and fundraisers.
This year, in two different ways I organized drives that gave back to the community. First, after the earthquake in Haiti, I went to my general manager with the idea to use the station's reach to help collect money for Haiti. Within 24 hours, WFBS partnered with AmeriCares and we held a collection that raised nearly $100,000. The second was to use the same reach to help the Channel 3 kids camp collect much needed supplies for the camp. Both were hugely successful.

Dan O'Brien

AGE: 29
TITLE: Founder
RESIDENCE: West Hartford

Career Highlights: Being able to conceptualize and put my dreams into action has been the highlight of my career. It is amazing to see what was once an idea and a scribble in a notebook develop and grow even in a declining economy. Myself and überdog have been very fortunate over the last two years, winning a variety of awards and accolades such as Best Doggie Daycare in both 2009 and 2010 by the Hartford Advocate, Best Place to Pamper Your Pet by Hartford Magazine in 2010 and the HYPE (Hartford Young Professionals & Entrepreneurs) Goodwin College Award for our extensive community involvement to name a few. I'm also not terribly sad about leaving corporate America and the daily grind to pursue my dreams and get paid to play with dogs.

What do you want to be doing in 10 years: I hope to continue to pursue what truly makes me happy. I wake up every morning with a smile on my face knowing that I get to do what I love. I hope that in 10 years I still have that same feeling and same love for what I'm doing. I see myself remaining involved in my local community, continuing to advocate for the well-being of dogs (and other animals) and traveling with my family. I also hope to continue to grow überdog as a business, a brand and a leader in the dog care environment.

Biggest Strength: It has been to keep überdog and myself ahead of the curve. I am constantly looking for ways to make myself a more well-rounded business owner as well as to make sure that überdog continues to be the premier dog playcare center in the area.

Best advice you received: It is very simple, my father said: "There is no such thing as a new idea." Being successful in business, big or small, is not about reinventing the wheel. It is about discovering something that you are truly passionate about, learning everything about it and then finding a way to do it better. That fundamental advice continues to drive me day in and day out.

Community Involvement: Community involvement has been one of our core values at überdog from day one. We have been involved and partnered with great organizations such as the Connecticut Humane Society, Labs4Rescue, Autism Speaks, HYPE, D.A.R.E, CARC (CT AIDS Resource Coalition) and the West Hartford Dog Park Coalition, to list a few.

René Alejandro Ortega

AGE: 37
TITLE: Counsel
RESIDENCE: Wethersfield

Career Highlights: I started at Day Pitney as a summer associate in 2002. As a budding land use lawyer in 2003, I had the opportunity to work on a complex land use approval project — Blue Back Square — which, following its opening in November 2007, continues to serve as a successful example of a public and private partnership. I continue to have the opportunity to work on these types of multifaceted projects, most recently assisting our client, Yale University, with the zoning approval for a new School of Management facility. In addition, a good percentage of my practice is focused on assisting clients involved in environmental-related litigation at both the trial and appellate levels in state and federal courts. I have also had the opportunity to serve on my firm's diversity committee, and most recently was appointed to the firm's hiring committee — helping to recruit the next generation of lawyers that will serve our clients and the firm.

What do you want to be doing in 10 years: The impact that our communities have on the environment will continue to be a challenge in the years ahead. In 10 years, I hope to have built a substantial, diverse and interesting legal practice while addressing some of these challenges. I've also been heavily involved in promoting diversity within the legal community and I want to continue to be an active proponent of diversity and be active in the Latino community.

Biggest Strength: I believe my biggest strength is the sense of commitment I inherited from my parents. I am committed to doing the best I can to meet the needs of my clients, committed to raising my young son with the values and work ethic my culture holds in high esteem. I am also very committed to paving the way for other Latinos in the area of business and the law.

Best advice you received: We have to keep moving forward. My parents came to this country from Mexico in the hopes of seeking a better life. Like many immigrants, they had uncertainty about remaining in this country and hoped that after a few years here, they would be able to return to Mexico with greater options. Over 40 years, six children and seven grandchildren later, they made the right decision to remain in this country. Despite life's minor setbacks and uncertainties, I always remember that there's only one way to go — adelante mijo.

Community Involvement: I have sought to serve on organizations that address issues impacting Latino communities. I have been involved with the Connecticut Hispanic Bar Association, serving first as its secretary, later as treasurer, vice president and president. I also serve on the board of Greater Hartford Legal Aid and on the Wethersfield Economic Development and Improvement Commission.

Michele Palma

AGE: 34
TITLE: Vice president of development
COMPANY NAME: Boys & Girls Clubs of Hartford
RESIDENCE: West Suffield

Career Highlights: For the last two and half years, I have had the pleasure of working as the vice president of development for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Hartford. In this capacity, I have implemented the club's first three-year strategic development plan. With a clear fund raising vision and committed board members, we were able to exceed our annual fund goal for the last two years as well as increase corporate giving significantly. Fundraising for an organization with a clear mission and dedication to Hartford's kids is extremely fulfilling. I am in a unique position with the ability to connect community members to a mission that enables young people to succeed despite their challenging circumstances.
Before my profession as a fundraiser, I worked as social worker. One of my highlights in direct care was working at the Department of Children and Families' Wilderness School. I was able to lead groups of teenagers on two-week hiking trips on the Appalachian Trail, teaching them wilderness skills while providing small group and individual counseling. It was truly a highlight to bond with these young people in a therapeutic setting. It was also exciting to work outside every day! Another memorable career highlight was having the opportunity to accompany a group of young people on a 32-day expedition to Australia through a YMCA international travel program. Working within an aboriginal community in the Northern Territory was extremely educational for all of us and the lessons learned there will never be forgotten.

What do you want to be doing in 10 years: Professionally, I would like to be a college professor working with social work students who are interested in bettering themselves and the world they live in.

Biggest Strength: My biggest strength is my enthusiasm and passion for life.

Best advice you received: "Have faith in your worth and act with wisdom." – My mother, Colleen Palma Falaguerra

Community Involvement: I have been an active volunteer for seven years for an international organization called For One World. Over the past three years, I have served as the organization's development chair. This organization works with Ghanaian communities to create new standards for educating children who are in need. In 1997, For One World opened its first private school in Techiman, Ghana. I assist in raising money for need-based scholarship programs for students, especially girls attending the school. We are also funding collegiate scholarships which enable volunteers to travel to Ghana to share skills with Ghanaian teachers. Locally, I enjoy spending time with the young people at the clubs and teaching yoga.

Christopher Paradiso

AGE: 37
TITLE: President
COMPANY NAME: Paradiso Financial and Insurance Services, LLC
COMPANY'S LOCATIONS: Stafford Springs, North Windham and Naugatuck
RESIDENCE: Stafford Springs

Career Highlights: We have a unique way of doing business. Our goal is to help businesses grow while also protecting their business. As a result, we've been featured in industry leading publications including Rough Notes and the Insurance Journal E-Marketing Minute. Personally, the acclaim comes from a strong business sense that demonstrates career maturity. Our agency not only writes business insurance but, as a part of the insurance package, we sit down with our clients and, with my social media engineers, we educate their marketing or HR person on how to market their business through social media and other digital avenues. We show them how to blog (tag), back linking and we make marketing videos for social media pages for them. We also have a special page where our insured's business can place an ad and connect with all my personal insureds. The idea is to connect the two.

What do you want to be doing in 10 years: I want to continue to grow my agency through customer advocacy fueled by innovative marketing and superior customer service. Additionally, I'd like to branch into public speaking in the field of marketing /motivational speaking. The goal is to help make a difference in other business owner's positive outlook on life, which will have a direct effect on their business' bottom line.

Biggest Strength: Effective, crisp communication with exceptional audience awareness, and my tenacity.

Best advice you received: Never be out worked. Always tell your loved ones that you love them because you never know if you will ever get that chance again.

Community Involvement: I hosted the "Legends Night" fundraiser with former Major League Baseball stars Dennis "Oil Can" Boyd, Bucky Dent, Bill "Spaceman" Lee with the proceeds going to the Paradiso Insurance Fund for the benefit of Connecticut Children's Medical Center Fund. The goal of the fund is to raise $100,000 to be used in conjunction with money raised by the Connecticut Children's Medical Center for a new clinical care center that will treat kids with cancer and blood disorders.
We also participated in the Miles for Smiles program benefitting the CT Children's Medical Center and the annual local food drive to benefit the Stafford Food Pantry.

Lisa Petachi

Age: 32
Title/COMPANY: Program manager, Wheeler Clinic; adjunct faculty member, Criminology
Department, Central Connecticut State University
Company Location: Both in New Britain
Residence: New Britain

Career Highlights: My career began in the youth services office of an employment center where I assisted clients with gaining employment and education. Within my first year I created a program that taught youth offenders customer service skills through on-the-job training. I partnered with the community to create a mass-media campaign that involved corporate sponsorships, radio ads, and television commercials, one of which won a national Telly award for best non-profit television commercial. Later, I supervised a program which involved leading over 15 staff members and managing multiple grant contracts. I've had the opportunity to present at several international conferences on topics such as: youth employment, creative programming and motivational strategies. Today, I manage a community justice program that utilizes evidence-based practices to reduce recidivism. I also teach at CCSU, where I bring my practical experience into the classroom.

What Do You Want To Be Doing In Ten Years: My dream is to establish a for-profit company that incorporates social enterprise strategies into its business plan. Once established, I would invest the company profits into a non-profit organization that helps people in need to become self-sufficient and fulfilled members of society.

Your Biggest Strength: I believe that versatility is my greatest strength; I find it easy to adapt to a variety of unique situations and people.

Best Advice You Received: While advice is valuable in the moment, it is people's actions that I tend to remember in the long run. As a first-generation college graduate, I know that I have achieved success in life not just because of the advice I received, but because of the grace of God, and the amazing support of my friends, family, and supervisors along the way.

Your Community Involvement: Last year I completed a nine-month leadership development program through Leadership Greater Hartford, through which I had the pleasure of working closely with seven other Hartford professionals to develop a college preparatory program for Hartford Public High School. I have also volunteered for Dress for Success, and enjoy being involved in my church, Calvary Fellowship. I'm working with High IQ media to create a youth media program.

Dr. Anatoliy Ravin

AGE: 39
TITLE: Dentist
COMPANY NAME: Hospital Dental Group DDS PC

Career Highlights: I am a dentist first and a business owner second. I received my doctor of dental surgery degree from New York University's College of Dentistry in 1999 and my MBA from Northeastern University earlier this year. In 2005, I took over control of a dental practice that was nearly bankrupt and turned it into a multi-million-dollar enterprise. I am the only full-time dentist at Hospital Dental Group, but I have two past-time associates and a total staff of seven. We do just about everything in house — general practice dentistry for all ages. I'm also an attending faculty member with the Hartford Hospital dental residency program. I prefer to think of my life in terms of life success over financial success. I teach my patients the need to for comprehensive healthcare, not to impress anyone but to maintain health because any disease will ultimately distract them from reaching their potential.

What you want to be doing in 10 years: I'd like to be doing a mix of both private practice dentistry and working with corporate and institutional healthcare organizations.

Biggest Strength: My wife, who doubles as a vital part of our office staff, says I'm a go-getter and a perfectionist who "gives a damn." I prefer to live by Emerson's concept — I don't want to ask you 'how are you'. I would much rather know what have you learned since the last time we spoke. I am a life-long learner and I have started learning another foreign language (Spanish) now that I am done with an MBA.

Best advice you received: "Dare to fail." I believe it is a major waste of time trying to improve your weaknesses. You spend a lot more time trying to improve a weakness trying to get mediocre versus focusing on your strengths. Same applies to my business philosophy: People who chase every new opportunity often find themselves unfocused, diffused and diluted.

Community Involement: I provide free dental care to patients at the VA in Rocky Hill. We also provide free dental surgery to handicapped patients referred to us when no one else will take them. I'm the doctor of record for St. Agnes Home, which serves battered, abused and teenage pregnant women. And I volunteer providing dental services to those in need abroad — Haiti and Cambodia.

Jeff Roux

AGE: 36
TITLE: Co-Owner/operator
COMPANY NAME: Excel Fitness

Career Highlights:
1995 Became nationally certified personal trainer;
1996 Received B.S. in exercise science from University of ME – Orono;
1999 Named CT personal training manager of the year (Bally Total Fitness);
1999 Honored as top fitness club for highest dollars over weekly personal training average (Bally Total Fitness – national division);
2007 Opened Excel Fitness in West Hartford with business partner Shawn O'Brien;
2009 Won HYPE's Nerac Business Excellence Award;
2008, 2009, 2010 Excel Fitness voted Hartford Magazine's best gym/fitness center.

What do you want to be doing in 10 years: My passion has always been helping others to be more physically fit and to make changes to promote a permanent healthy lifestyle. I believe I will always be training people, because it's fun and rewarding. I also enjoy teaching and coaching new personal trainers. At Excel Fitness, we would like to buy our own building in order to have tenants and rental income. A few years later, we may consider opening a second Excel location and expanding our services to include therapy and rehabilitation.

Biggest Strength: I have a strong ability to recognize fitness trends and what our clients will benefit most from. Taking swift, decisive action to implement such changes is equally important in gaining and keeping an edge over the competition. My belief in practicing and performing fundamentals daily may be my strongest attribute. I believe mastering fundamentals makes people successful.

Best advice you received: Two principles I've always upheld in my professional and personal life are, "manage the process, not the outcome," and "there is no one more important than the person in front of you." It is my job to make each one of my members feel special, unique, and respected. My customers are my bosses, is one thing I believe being self-employed.

Community Involvement: I am very active in HYPE. I contribute to and participate in Tee it Up for Charity at the Traveler's Championship, and Tons of Toys. Excel Fitness formed a team for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer that raised over $6,000 our first year; we also donate more than 25 memberships and personal training services to charities.

Kevin W. Santini

AGE: 35
TITLE: Vice president
COMPANY NAME: Santini Homes

Career Highlights: Creating neighborhoods in Ellington and Tolland by developing, designing, selling and building approximately 150 homes over the last few years and working for some great clients along the way;
Part owner of the new award-winning Deer Valley Townhomes in Ellington (258 of 450 units now complete) including concept, design, and building consultation;
Board of Directors for Connecticut Home Builders Association for approximately five years; Board of Directors for Harford Home Builders Association for approximately six years; Government Affairs Committee of CT HBA, several other HBA committees over the past 12-14 years;
Design consultation, planning and project management for a new project starting in 2010 at our Santini Villa Apartments property in Vernon;
Attained real estate salesperson and broker's licenses, founded Santini Realty, LLC. in 2002;
Attended approximately 150 home building, management, and sales/marketing seminars at the International Builders Show over the last 17 years;
Developed and worked with a great team- the key to our company's success.

What do you want to be doing in 10 years: Continue to expand and improve our real estate business/team; continue to provide and evolve the best products and services to our customers; help the state of Connecticut become a better place to do business; spend more time with my family.

Biggest Strength: Designing and completing a quality home — or rent or sale — with attention to detail, realizing and surpassing our clients' expectations. And completing it on time. This includes a strong understanding of accurate scheduling and management of the construction and maintenance teams.

Best advice you received:
Do what you love to do.

Community Involvement:
Currently managing Hartford Home Builders project to build Channel 3 Kid's Camp pavilion in Coventry;
Built Habitat for Humanity home in one week as part of Builder Blitz 2006;
Soccer coach for under- 5 team;
Participate in student mentoring program at the Town of Ellington High School;
Donating to several local charities/projects including new YMCA in Ellington;
Hosted jobsite visits for local pre-school.

Daniel A. Schwartz

AGE: 39
TITLE: Member/Partner
COMPANY NAME: Pullman & Comley, LLC

Career Highlights: I've been practicing law for 15 years, the last few as a partner at Pullman & Comley, a full-service law firm in Hartford where I mainly represent companies in employment law and commercial litigation matters. I've had the benefit of representing people and companies big and small and really get personal satisfaction in helping clients find solutions to the challenges they face. My blog, the Connecticut Employment Law Blog (www.ctemploymentlawblog.com), has been recognized as one of the best law blogs in the country by lawyers for lawyers. It has provided me with a great way to keep clients updated on the latest happenings in this ever-changing area. In 2009, the ABA Journal named me a "Legal Rebel," one of 50 attorneys nationwide recognized for their ability to bring innovation and new ideas to the legal profession.

What do you want to be doing in 10 years: If the New York Yankees offered me a position in the legal office, I probably wouldn't turn it down, but besides that, I've found a place that I love. I view being an attorney as a life-long profession — one that has a long and noble history. If I'm still able to help employers and balance my family commitments in 10 years, I'll be very happy.

Biggest Strength: Problem-solving. It probably goes back to the days of doing logic puzzles in Games magazine, but I like being able to figure out issues for clients – even the ones that they don't know they have already.

Best advice you received: Don't try to be someone you're not. I think we spent a lot of time growing up trying to imagine being someone else. The minute you figure out what you're good at and what you enjoy doing is the minute that you can start enjoying the moment without always looking ahead.

Community Involvement: It's been pretty varied. I've chaired the March of Dimes Star Chefs Dinner and served on the advisory board for the Urban League of Greater Hartford for many years. I've been heavily involved with both the Connecticut Bar and American Bar Associations and sit on the ABA's Technology Committee by presidential appointment to figure out was technology can improve the legal profession. (One highlight: We visited Facebook headquarters earlier this year.) I also serve on the ABA House of Delegates where we help shape the policy issues that the legal profession may face.

Amanda May Sirica

AGE: 35
TITLE: Principal
COMPANY NAME: Sirica Marketing & Public
Relations, LLC
RESIDENCE: Farmington

Career Highlights: Founded a marketing communications company at the age of 29 that resulted in winning prestigious accounts and landing the company in the HBJ's Book of Lists. Today, I own Sirica Marketing & Public Relations which specializes in marketing, public relations, corporate communications, events and promotions. As a former news reporter and corporate spokesperson for a Fortune 500 company, I have gained the greatest insight and knowledge to secure success in my field and for my clients. I have achieved numerous awards from the Publicity Club of New England and Public Relations Society of America, as well as secured interviews for clients in top national media outlets, the ultimate form of accomplishment in the public relations field. I have successfully balanced being a business owner and a mother, which has inspired other women to reach for the same goal.

What do you want to be doing in 10 years: In 10 years, I am hopeful to have the same work-life balance that I do today. I am a believer that your life and career does not have to have a road map that is already planned out for you. Given my experience to date, I am prepared for the unexpected twists and turns along the way. I am excited to see where my business leads me as I am fortunate to have a profession that is combined with my personal interests. Letting my intuition drive me has worked over the past decade and I will continue to follow its lead over the next one.

Biggest Strength: My biggest strength is those I surround myself with. My talented network of consultants enables us to provide full-service marketing communications at a consultant level. Personally, my strength comes from my family and friends that encourage my career and provide me with the support needed to balance my life as a professional and active mother of two girls.

Best advice you received: My husband is my greatest career coach. He has taught me that the biggest risks reap the biggest rewards. Without risk, there's no change and without change, there's no growth. Thank you, Rob, for teaching me this strength.

Community Involvement: I'm the vice president of the board of managers for the Wheeler Regional Family YMCA. I am fortunate to be able to lend my talent to an organization that I am personally vested in. I have also served as the vice president of the Publicity Club of New England and am a proud member of the Connecticut Women's Council. I also enjoy providing pro-bono public relations to some of Connecticut's small business owners and non-profit organizations.

David Skoczulek

AGE: 30
TITLE: Director of business development and corporate compliance
COMPANY NAME: Aetna Ambulance Service, Inc. and Ambulance Service of Manchester, LLC.
COMPANY'S LOCATION: Hartford and Manchester

Career Highlights: I started my career in emergency medical services as a 19 year-old EMT, becoming the youngest paramedic in our system at 21. I worked overnight shifts and attended Springfield College, both full-time, graduating cum laude with a B.S. in EMS Management.
At 24, I was promoted to director and for six years I have had the opportunity to develop the strategy and lead the growth of our companies. With a focus on non-emergency lines of business and health facility clientele, I meet with hospital and nursing administrators, police and fire chiefs, town managers, mayors and selectmen. I orchestrate community relations and crisis communications and managed contracting for our messenger model ambulance network.
I've enjoyed every day of developing a 50-year-old company known for a humble and understated manner, yet powerhouse performance. With the right team and the right priorities, we became a positive, consistent and ubiquitous feature in the healthcare continuum for the eight hospitals and 100+ skilled nursing facilities we serve.
Most recently, I was proud to have family and friends by my side as I received my masters in public health with honors from UConn in 2009.

What do you want to be doing in 10 years: I am happy to say that I don't have the perfect answer to this question. I hope to have the challenges and opportunities of leading an organization and to be on the leading edge of a whole new playing field in healthcare.

Biggest Strength: I feel that my biggest strength is that I am tireless. I try to work on everything that I do with equal energy with the knowledge that if I am going to put my name on it, I want it done well. I have trained myself to work long hours and stay focused through distraction.

Best advice you received: My boss, Wayne Wright, taught me to temper passion with patience. He's been heard to say, "Very few times in my business career have I thought, I wish I had moved faster."

Community Involvement: As the vice chair for North Central District Health Department Board of Directors, I have helped guide an agency in delivering public health services to the most populous regional district with the lowest per capita reimbursement. I've gained insight into needs across the age spectrum, serving on the board of directors for the North Central Area Agency on Aging, the Board of Corporators for Eastern Connecticut Health Network and the Manchester School Readiness Council. I am the incoming secretary-treasurer of the Delta Omega honorary public health society at UConn. As a member of the Manchester Rotary Club, I have met civic leaders dedicated to life-long service and was able to start a Rotary Interact Club teaching the tenets of community service at Manchester High School.

Tiffany Stevens

AGE: 34
TITLE: Associate Attorney
COMPANY NAME: McCarter & English, LLP

Career Highlights: I joined McCarter & English four years ago as an associate attorney in its real estate practice group. Since that time I have assisted numerous clients in developing office buildings, shopping centers, hotels, apartment complexes, industrial and warehouse buildings, medical office facilities, residential and commercial condominiums, restaurants, manufacturing facilities, and other commercial real estate projects. I obtain financing for my clients' developments, acquire and dispose of commercial real estate and negotiate commercial leases on their behalves. Prior to joining McCarter & English, I was an associate attorney in the corporate departments of Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker, LLP and Wiggin and Dana, LLP. I also served as a law clerk at the Connecticut Appellate Court. I am a graduate of Villanova University and the University of Connecticut School of Law.

What do you want to be doing in 10 years: I would like to continue contributing to our capital city and the greater Hartford region. While it is rewarding to assist clients with real estate developments throughout the country, I enjoy being able to work on projects that provide services to revitalize and touch my local community.

Biggest Strength: Persistence. Staying focused and remaining committed to overcome any obstacles that may be placed in my path has been an asset both personally and professionally. Of course, the support of wonderful family and friends gives me the strength and support to succeed.

Best advice you received: My pro bono work with wrongfully convicted individuals constantly reminds me of the power of forgiveness. The ability to forgive has been essential to these individuals; the ability to let go of the resentment for the wrong that has been done to them has been a crucial step in allowing them to move forward in their lives. I'm still working towards having the grace to heed this advice.

Community Involvement:
I have devoted a significant amount of time to providing pro bono legal services to individuals exonerated after lengthy periods of wrongful imprisonment. This pro bono work continues to provide some of the most satisfying experiences that I have had throughout my career. Also, I have served on the executive board of the Junior League of Hartford, Inc. supporting this group's goal of eliminating hunger in the Greater Hartford region. I also serve on the executive board of CREW CT, The Real Estate Exchange, a networking organization for women working in the field of commercial real estate and I am an active supporter of Greater Hartford Legal Aid and The Boys & Girls Clubs of Hartford.

Benjamin Sweet

AGE: 35
TITLE: Executive vice president
COMPANY NAME: ForeSite Technologies, Inc.
RESIDENCE: Marlborough

Career Highlights: After leaving a technology leadership role in a Times Mirror subsidiary, I had the freedom to work as an independent consultant for five years working with clients such as Pfizer and Kaman Aerospace. This experience allowed me to make the best use of my commitment and drive to excel as a software architect and leader. It also allowed me to try fun new things such as turning a hobby and interest in home theater into a successful commercial venture.
I brought my industry knowledge and expertise to ForeSite in 2001. As its CTO and executive vice president and together with my friend and co-owner Mike Giuffrida, we've grown ForeSite into one of Hartford's premier providers of IT support and software development.

What do you want to be doing in 10 years: I want to continue to have the flexibility to work with people I like on projects and initiatives that can be fun and challenging. But I want to add "flexibility to work from anywhere" to that, so I can work from Scotland, Japan, or elsewhere. Traveling for vacation is nice, but being able to live somewhere else can be a completely different experience.
Biggest Strength: I am extremely committed. I don't believe in doing something part-way and can't stop before that "thing" is done. I refuse to give less than 100 percent. And through leadership, I've strived to inspire others to buy in and do the same for each and every one of our projects and clients.

Best advice you received: I don't believe it was ever said directly, but something I learned from my dad: "All things worth having in life require effort." This has turned into something my business partner Mike and I say: "If owning a business were easy, everyone would do it." My wife, however, has some more advice for me: "Don't forget to take time for yourself." I'm working on that one.

Community Involvement: I joined the board of the Hartford Children's Theatre in 2008 and have made it a goal to get involved wherever or however I can. This means working with an awesome board team and staff to find innovative and efficient ways to track our constituents, increase donations, and get more kids and families involved — whether in educational programs or at our fantastic shows. My involvement in theatre at an early age helped me to become the person I am today and I strongly believe that the children's theatre is a very special gem in the Hartford area.

Al Tebbetts

AGE: 39
TITLE: Director, production operations
RESIDENCE: Ellington

Career Highlights: I'm director of production operations at DST Output in South Windsor. I have worked in that role for over 10 years, beginning in our Boston-area facility and moving to South Windsor in 2002 as part of a company consolidation. DST Output prints, mails and electronically delivers a variety of transactional documents for many industries including telecommunications, utilities, financial services, and healthcare. I manage all aspects of production. We have over 500 operations associates working in our South Windsor facility and in 2009, printed over 2.5 billion images and mailed over 500 million packages. Prior to joining operations, I worked as a client services manager.

What do you want to be doing in 10 years: Professionally, I hope to be doing many of the same things I am doing today. That is, helping to grow DST Output and to meet our financial and strategic goals. At the same time, I'd like the opportunity to do more and have an even greater impact on the company while continuing to learn new things. My family is the most important thing in my life and I look forward to being there to support them.

Biggest Strength: My biggest strength, in my opinion, is the ability to look at the larger picture or goal and understand what small tasks are going to be required to achieve that goal and ultimately get the job done. I enjoy taking on big challenges, building teams, and working hard on the details that will lead to our mutual success. Understanding and working those details across multiple departments and teams in order to meet the larger goal is critical to DST Output and any company's success.

Best advice you received: My parents have been the source of so much good advice I have received over the years. That said, the best they have given me is to treat people the way you want to be treated. Working with so many people in my current position, and knowing the critical nature of effective communication, this simple advice has gone a long way contributing to any success I have achieved.

Community Involvement: My three children — Albie, Matthew and Olivia — are under 13 and at this point, being involved in their education and recreation is my No. 1 priority. I am involved in Ellington youth sports, including T-ball, baseball, and soccer.

Kimalee Williams

Age: 39
Title: President
Company Name: Faith Asset Management, LLC
Company's Location: East Hartford
Residence: Hartford

Career Highlights: I worked in the real estate and property management industry for 15 years and opened my own business two years ago. In one year, the business grew from five clients to 12 as a direct testament to the hard work and dedication for which my entire team is proud of providing. The most gratifying thing about my career has been the ability to provide elderly and low- to moderate-income residents with clean and safe housing and a high standard of professional services. Just as fulfilling is the work I do in the cooperative housing industry through cooperative-friendly management, spreading awareness and training. I am nationally certified to train nonprofit boards and enjoy traveling across the country to teach owners, staff and agency representatives the benefits of cooperative housing. I also train nonprofit boards on their role as an organization and as an individual member. I train on ethics, financial stability and risks to be aware of as a board member. I am also a licensed real estate sales agent.

What do you want to be doing in 10 years: I would like to have seen my company expand to a national market and be financially stable enough for me to sell it to a capable organization with a similar vision to provide the same services and retire to Jamaica. While enjoying the white sands, sun, food and culture of Jamaica, I plan to try and work with their government to explore the possibilities of developing a like-model of our cooperative housing and our federally-subsidized housing program for the elderly.

Your biggest strength: The ability to motivate others in a positive direction. The gift of encouraging others to look at situations from other angles. Being filled with compassion for all people and having a strong passion for helping others find success, while maintaining the highest level of integrity and professionalism.

Best advice you received: The battle is not yours it's the Lords. Give it to Him. Also, stop trying to fix everything. Let some things take their course and you will find that most times they work themselves out.

Your community involvement: I am president of the Cooperative Housing Association of New England; board member of the National Association of Housing Cooperatives; a member of the Upper Albany Design Committee and member of the audio/visual ministry at The First Cathedral Church in Bloomfield. I am also a member of the Greater Hartford Association of Realtors.

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