January 16, 2012 | last updated June 4, 2012 11:35 am

Movers & Shakers

Robert Croce, vice president of government relations, Valassis
Michael Lecours

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Robert Croce has been named vice president, government relations, at Valassis in Windsor. He joined the national marketing service firm in 1998 after holding positions in local, state and federal government where he served for over 10 years as chief of staff to a member of Congress. He is credited with expanding Valassis' impact and influence on Capitol Hill, the U.S. Postal Service and the Postal Regulatory Commission. He serves on the board of directors and the postal policy committee of the Association of Postal Commerce; the government and postal affairs committee of the Direct Marketing Association; and as co-chairman of the Saturation Mailers Coalition. He also serves as chairman of the board of directors of The Rideshare Co., a Connecticut-based non-profit organization that advocates and manages large employee van and car pooling programs nationwide.

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Stuart J. Safft has joined Schwartz Heslin Group, Inc. as senior vice president and will manage the specialty management consulting firm's practice in Connecticut and western Massachusetts. He has held a succession of financial and general management positions at several multinational firms, founded three companies and helped manage a fourth start-up. Safft has been a management consultant for the past 13 years, focusing on strategic planning and M & A activities, operations/process improvement, and turnaround programs. Safft will be based in Farmington.

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David B. Schaffer has been named a partner in the law firm of Wiggin and Dana. He is a member of the firm's corporate practice department in Stamford. As part of his international practice, Schaffer regularly assists European, Indian and Chinese clients in conducting business in the U.S. Also, William J. Kilgallen, a member of the firm's Corporate Practice Department in New Haven, has been promoted to counsel. His practice focuses on the representation of emerging growth companies with respect to venture capital financing transactions, loan transactions and mergers and acquisitions.

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Matt O'Connor, the spokesman for state public employee unions in last year's budget negotiations, has taken a new position as state political director for Local 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union. 32BJ has 4,500 members in Connecticut, most of them commercial building janitors, and 120,000 members in eight states, making it the largest union of property service workers in the country. O'Connor was previously at CSEA/SEIU Local 2001, which represents state workers, and in that role, served as a spokesman for the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition (SEBAC).

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The Connecticut Council for Education Reform has named Rae Ann Knopf as its first executive director. Knopf moves from deputy commissioner of education transformation and innovation for the Vermont Department of Education. Knopf led a restructuring of the Vermont Department of Education and a redesign of the state's system of standards and accountability with an eye toward closing achievement gaps. Also, Robert Townes has been named to the newly-created position of manager of communications. He has spent nearly 10 years with the American Heart Association, where he most recently served as the senior director of communications in Connecticut, Western Massachusetts and Westchester County, N.Y. The council is a statewide non-profit focused on driving comprehensive education reform.

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Deirdre M. Robinson has been elected to the partnership of Murtha Cullina LLP. She has been a member of the firm's business and finance department and chair of the affordable housing practice group. Robinson represents clients in the area of commercial real estate development with an emphasis on affordable housing transactions. She sits on the Board of Directors of the Wayland Housing Associates, Inc.

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Fandotech of Manchester has added two new business development managers. Sharon Viveiros will serve clients in Connecticut. She has won multiple awards for sales including AT&T's Leaders Council and Gold Club Awards. Robert Lepecki will serve western Massachusetts from the West Springfield office. The firm operates three data centers and provides IT support and infrastructure.

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Barbara Branagan-Mitchell, director of Branagan Communications Consultants LLC has been elected to the board of directors of Brass City Harvest in Waterbury. The non-profit works to help ease hunger and homelessness in the Waterbury area.

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George W. Casey Jr., a retired U. S. Army general, has joined the Governing Board of Colt Defense LLC in West Hartford. General Casey served as chief of staff of the United States Army for four years from April 2007 to April 2011 and was commander of multinational forces in Iraq from July 2004 to February 2007. Colt Defense LLC is designs, develops and manufactures small arms weapon systems for individual soldiers and law enforcement personnel.

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Laurence Hale, chief investment officer for Weiss & Hale Financial in Pomfret Center, has been appointed to the state Investment Advisory Council in Hartford. The council serves as an advisory body to the state treasurer in the oversight of approximately $25 billion in the state's retirement plans and trust funds.

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Gregory Rufa has been hired as a financial consultant with LPL Financial to represent American Eagle Financial Services. He previously held investment positions with Wachovia, Sun Life Financial, Webster Bank, and Mutual Security Credit Union. He is based at American Eagle Federal Credit Union in Plainville.

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Anne Erikson has been named nursing home administrator at Seabury, a 60-bed health center in Bloomfield. She brings more than 20 years of experience to the role of directing the day-to-day operations of Seabury's not-for-profit life care community.

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Margaret Saska has been hired as garden manager at Community Farm of Simsbury and Gifts of Love (Avon). The unique collaboration enables the farm to grow certified organic produce for donation to local food security organizations, of which Gifts of Love is a primary recipient.

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Geoffrey M. Goodale has joined the law firm of Shipman & Goodwin LLP as a partner. He moves from Foley & Lardner LLP in Washington, D.C., where he served as senior counsel in the firm's government enforcement, compliance and white collar defense practice group for more than four years. Prior to becoming a lawyer, Goodale was program manager for the National Council on International Trade Development. He was appointed to the U.S. Court of International Trade's Advisory Committee on Rules. He also is co-chair of the International Trade Committee of the American Bar Association's Section of International Law and immediate past co-chair of the bar's Customs Law Committee. Goodale will be in Shipman & Goodwin's International Trade Compliance and Enforcement practice group, one of the largest in New England. He plans to move to Hartford and will work out of the firm's Connecticut and Washington, D.C. offices.

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Judith L. Rozie-Battle has been named a senior program officer at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving. Her responsibilities will include providing technical assistance to agencies, analyzing grant proposals, recommending grants to the Board of Directors, and monitoring activities supported by each grant. She previously held positions of director, Office of Child Care, Division of Childhood Development, Maryland Department of Education; managing attorney, Legal Aid Society of Hartford County; and director of affirmative action, Executive Office of Human Services, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, as well as program officer at the Hartford Foundation from 1995 to 1999.

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Michael B. Ginsberg has joined Accenture as a partner in the firm's life insurance industry practice in Hartford. Ginsberg previously worked for CGI Technology Services and Solutions as vice president, business development, and for IBM as a client unit director, serving insurance industry clients. He also worked in a variety of positions at Unum and AON, including vice president, sales.

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Deborah Seddon has joined the New England office of Burns & McDonnell in Wallingford as an information management specialist. She most recently was at United Natural Food Inc. in Dayville as a senior business analyst and programmer. She will play a support role on Northeast Utilities projects including the Greater Springfield Reliability Project and the Manchester to Meekville Junction Project.

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Kathleen Ceseretti has joined the Connecticut Convention Center as national sales manager responsible for seven geographical markets in the Midwest. For the past six years, she was director of national accounts at Foxwoods Resort Casino/MGM Grand. Prior to that, she worked for the Greater Hartford and the Providence Warwick convention and visitors bureaus.

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CBRE/New England, a joint venture company with CBRE. Inc., has named Simon Butler and Biria St. John as executive vice presidents and partners to lead the multi-housing group in New England. Butler and St. John rejoin CBRE's multi-housing group after serving as executive directors with Cushman & Wakefield, Inc.'s Capital Markets Group. They will team with Bill Moylan and Chris Angelone, who lead the CBRE/New England Capital Markets in Boston. The multi-housing group includes an office in Hartford.

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Jim Williamson, president of The Community Foundation of Greater New Britain, has been elected chairperson by the Connecticut Network of Community Foundations. The network consists of 10 local community foundations and is an affinity group of the Connecticut Council for Philanthropy dedicated to building community foundation capacity, awareness and advancing a culture of philanthropy statewide.

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Mickey Herbert has been joined the Champions Council at Our Piece of the Pie Inc., a Hartford nonprofit serving urban youth. Herbert recently retired as both the president and CEO of ConnectiCare, a $1 billion health plan in Connecticut and Western Massachusetts, and as executive vice president of ConnectiCare parent company, Emblem Health, a $10 billion company in New York City.

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Michael Lecours has joined Ohanesian/Lecours, Inc., an investment and advisory services firm in West Hartford, as the marketing manager. Previously, he was a senior account executive at Cashman + Katz, an advertising agency in Glastonbury.

Liz Ackerman has joined their IT Services Group at J. Morrissey & Co. as a senior account manager. She will provide contract, contract to hire and direct hire IT solutions to her many clients and candidates. She is also involved in many IT organizations in the staffing industry.

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Ryan M. Burns and Nicolas F. Perry have joined Robinson & Cole's Hartford office as associates. Burns joins the construction practice group, concentrating his practice in construction law, commercial litigation, and surety and fidelity law. Perry joins the business litigation practice group. Prior to joining the firm, Perry was a residential instructor at Alternative Services of Connecticut Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing support for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.


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