This Week
  • Buckingham, Morgan to buy Midtown facility for $5M

  • Online training proving effective at area companies

  • CEO Sameer Penakalapati has grown Avani Technology Solutions

  • Repeat business drives dealership's sales.

  • Chiropractor Melinda Houle helps clients adjust.

  • The Health Care Achievement Awards 2017 supplement.

2012 RBJ Forty Under 40 inductees

Rochester Business Journal
November 9, 2012

Mark Allen
Senior vice president
JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Age: 34
Education: B.A., finance, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio; MBA, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill.

Family: Wife, Leslie; son, 4; daughter, 2

Residence: Fairport

Professional responsibilities: Responsible for handling the commercial banking needs of businesses in and around Rochester. Coordinates and delivers global finance capabilities locally.

Professional and community leadership: Board member and member of the finance and golf committees, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Rochester; member, finance task force, Bethlehem Lutheran Church

Surprising fact: My mom’s parents were born in Estonia, and they immigrated to the U.S. following World War II. Still both alive and living in Webster, their Estonian traditions, cuisine and amazing life story have had and will continue to have a huge impact on me and my family.

Ten years from now: Having returned back home in 2010 following 10 years with Chase in Chicago, an expanded Rolodex should afford me the opportunity to: further grow my banking practice, expand my leadership roles in the community and form friendships with those who will be critical to Rochester’s success in the future.

Mollene Benison
Senior manager
DeJoy, Knauf & Blood LLP
Age: 37
Education: B.S., accounting, SUNY College at Geneseo

Family: Husband, Dan Lynck; daughter, 3

Residence: Rochester

Professional responsibilities: Serves as senior manager in the assurance practice, with expertise in industries including financial services, manufacturing, distribution and not-for-profits. Business adviser to all aspects of clients’ business operations. Technical resource on financial reporting standards, including International Financial Reporting Standards and reporting on controls at service organizations.

Professional and community leadership: Board treasurer, audit committee chairwoman and investment committee member, YWCA of Rochester and Monroe County; member, Jones School of Business Advisory Council, SUNY Geneseo; member, finance committee, Alternatives for Battered Women Inc.

Surprising fact: I played rugby in college in the position of center. This taught me how to deal with challenging situations. I also have a background in music, having played instruments such as the piano, saxophone, guitar and violin. I am originally from the Bronx and a devoted Yankee fan!

Ten years from now: Continuing to expand the services I provide to clients, resulting in growth to my firm. Embracing all challenges in life, especially those resulting from a 13-year-old daughter. Having a golf game that is as good as, if not better than, my husband’s. Enjoying my community leadership roles.

Jean Bezek
Director of Internet services
Innovative Solutions Ltd.
Age: 33
Education: B.S., marketing, Rochester Institute of Technology

Family: Husband, Dan; son, 4

Residence: Webster

Professional responsibilities: Responsible for managing more than 40 customers and their projects. Oversees small online marketing campaigns and large Web applications, works with sales on proposing solutions.

Professional and community leadership: Board member, Ad Council of Rochester; board member, Girls on the Run of Greater Rochester; marketing committee member and parent volunteer, Webster Montessori School; volunteer, JA in a Day, Junior Achievement of Rochester, New York Area Inc.

Surprising fact: For a year and a half, I volunteered my time at a boutique bakery every Saturday morning. From making hundreds of cookies to helping build towering cakes, I was able to take my hobby to the next level and work alongside some very talented people.

Ten years from now: Continuing to learn new things and being encouraged by my family, friends, clients and colleagues. Making a positive difference each day, no matter how small, is a goal I’ll continue to strive for.

Eric Biondi M.D.
Pediatric hospitalist and assistant professor of pediatrics
Golisano Children’s Hospital, University of Rochester
Age: 30
Education: B.S., biochemistry and molecular biology, Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pa.; M.D. Temple University, Philadelphia, Pa.

Family: Wife, Jessie

Residence: Rochester

Professional responsibilities: Provides medical care for hospitalized children. Responsible for mentorship of young physicians and for teaching residents and medical students about pediatric medicine. Guides physicians in developing evidence-based, community projects. Serves as physician leader for one of Golisano Hospital’s three peditaric units. Designs and implements pediatric research.

Professional and community leadership: Assistant director, Child Advocacy Resident Education Track; consultant, Check and Connect Dropout Prevention Program, Wilson Foundation Academy

Surprising fact: My friends and I have a fond affection for pirates. During International Talk Like A Pirate Day in college, we hosted a party complete with a knife-throwing contest. The drywall we were throwing at didn’t hold up so well, but we were able to paste it back together with toothpaste and newspaper. Oh, and I’m also an expert on ninjas.

Ten years from now: My wife is pregnant with our first child, so I don’t know what the next 10 years will bring. I hope I’ll be improving lives of sick children, watching physicians I’ve taught go out into the world to develop their own community-based projects for those in need, and—I will allow myself to believe—watching the Philadephia Flyers finally win a Stanley Cup.

Lanie Bittner
Associate broker
Nothnagle Realtors
Age: 39
Education: B.S., human development and family studies, Cornell University

Family: Single

Residence: Pittsford

Professional responsibilities: Provides residential real estate representation to sellers and buyers throughout the Rochester area. Guides clients through their home sales by analyzing and understanding the local market, preparing comparative market analyses, accurately pricing homes, advertising and marketing properties and negotiating.

Professional and community leadership: Director, New York State Association of Realtors; advisory board member, Rochester Young Realtor Network; vice chairperson, Cure Childhood Cancer Association; board member, Historic Pittsford; member, industry advocacy, professional standards and Realtor bar committee, Greater Rochester Association of Realtors Inc.

Surprising fact: In high school I co-founded a peer support group which launched my college pursuit as a therapist. While in college I switched my focus to business. As a real estate agent, I find that both my business and therapy learnings come in handy on a daily basis.

Ten years from now: Continuing to run a successful real estate practice while spending more time dedicated to community involvement, industry advocacy and finally getting to the last five places in the world I’d like to see.

Christopher Brodhead
Senior vice president of sales and marketing
Sigma Marketing Group LLC
Age: 30
Education: B.A., philosophy/pre-law, MBA, St. Bonaventure University

Family: Wife, Emily; son, one-and-a-half months

Residence: Rochester

Professional responsibilities: Leads the sales and marketing expert areas for Sigma Marketing Group, focusing on demand creation and new business development. Serves as liaison to agency and partner organizations that seek to align their areas of expertise with Sigma’s marketing analytics prowess and direct marketing database creation capabilities.

Professional and community leadership: Board of trustees member and co-founder, Rochester “Mountain in the home,” Mt. Irenaeus Franciscan Mountain Retreat; member, GEH legacy committee and steering committee, Eastman Young Professionals, George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film.

Surprising fact: When I was 17, my 13-year-old brother and I started a band with some friends.  This band played together for over 10 years, which included some touring and the building of a recording studio (which lives in my attic today). Two of the four members (including my brother) became professional musicians.

Ten years from now: Having a very positive impact on others: a great dad with a healthy, happy family, participating heavily in the lives of my children; a co-steward of organizations that serve those in need; a thoughtful business leader with thriving colleagues, collaboratively delivering exceptional value to our customers and our community.

Tamu Brown-Hutchinson
Director of planning and community relations
The Center for Youth Services Inc.
Age: 39
Education: B.A., international business and economics, SUNY College at Brockport; MBA, Simon School of Business, University of Rochester

Family: Daughters, 19, 11 and 9; son, 14

Residence: Rochester

Professional responsibilities: Oversees agency’s management information system, data collection, reporting, and research and evaluation functions. Develops short- and long-term IT strategy, successfully analyzing business needs and providing cost-effective solutions. Translates strategy into tactical department objectives and manages implementation. Directs supervision of board/executive support personnel and Rochester Teen Court program staff.

Professional and community leadership: Treasurer, past vice president of administration, past coordinator, Leaders of Tomorrow mentorship program, National Black MBA Association, Western New York Chapter; co-chairwoman, W Award, past co-chairwoman, Up and Coming Business Women’s Award, Rochester Women’s Network

Surprising fact: Some people have said that I bring a certain calmness or composure to any situation. With that “lamb-like” leadership approach, I also bring the perseverance or fight of a lion.

Ten years from now: By then I hope that my children will have completed or be on their way to completing higher education. I hope to be at a place of resolve and beginning another chapter of great exploration in life, perhaps as an entrepreneur. I know for certain that whatever I am doing, I will always have a desire to continue learning.

Jason Brownlie
Executive vice president
Crosby-Brownlie Inc.
Age: 39
Education: Studies in mechanical engineering, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pa.; Sheet Metal Workers union trade school; master sheet metal journeyman

Family: Wife, Nicole; daughter, 12; stepson 10

Residence: Greece

Professional responsibilities: Estimating, project management, purchasing, department head for all plumbing and process piping operations; implementing new technologies for enhanced prefabrication through building information management coordination or design.

Professional and community leadership: Board member, past chairman and Fire and Ice fundraiser volunteer, American Red Cross, Greater Rochester Chapter; board member, Seneca Waterways Council Inc., Boy Scouts of America; president, Mechanical Contractors Asssociation, Rochester Chapter

Surprising fact: Technology has helped our business grow, stay connected with upcoming projects and keep us competitive. While I embrace it, I am an outdoorsman to the core. My favorite places do not have any reception.

Ten years from now: Slowing down, just a little. Taking some more time with my wife and children and spending a little less time at the office.

Scott Burdett
Vice president, marketing and brokerage services
Flaum Management Co. Inc.
Age: 32
Education: Course work toward B.B.A., James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Va.
Family: Wife, Christina

Residence: Brighton

Professional responsibilities: Responsible for marketing a commercial real estate portfolio throughout the Northeast. Provides leasing, acquisition/disposition, consulting services and commercial brokerage services for a variety of national, regional and local retail, office and industrial clients throughout New York and Pennsylvania.

Professional and community leadership: Board member, Rochester Downtown Development Corp.; board member, Upstate New York Families for Effective Autism Treatment; advisory board member, the Center for Teen Empowerment Inc.; member, facilities committee, Al Sigl Community of Agencies; member, advancement committee, Rochester Area Community Foundation

Surprising fact: I have this odd affinity for creating spreadsheets for nearly every facet of my life, both professional and personal. I had always thought I was just a very organized person until recently when my wife told me it was pretty weird.

Ten years from now: So much has changed for me over the last 10 years that it’s almost impossible to say where I’ll be after the next 10, but hopefully I will continue to enjoy what I am doing with building new relationships and growing old ones.

Rory Burrill
Director of business development
Logical Images Inc.
Age: 38
Education: B.A., economics, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tenn.; MBA, Simon School of Business, University of Rochester

Family: Wife, Rebekah; sons, 8 and 5

Residence: Pittsford

Professional responsibilities: Responsible for developing and managing corporate partnership opportunities related to Logical Images’ products and intellectual property with a focus on driving revenue growth and brand awareness.

Professional and community leadership: Board chairman, Hugh O’Brian Youth Foundation, New York West Chapter; board member, Hugh O’Brian Youth Foundation, New York State; board member and team coach, Pittsford Little League; adjunct professor, E. Philip Saunders College of Business, Rochester Institute of Technology; panelist, Fall Leadership Conference for Student Leaders, University of Rochester

Surprising fact: I have come face-to-face (or at least within running distance) with both a wild brown bear and a grizzly bear. The first happened on a three-week hiking expedition in the mountains of New Mexico and the latter happened last summer on a trip to Yellowstone National Park.

Ten years from now: It is my aim to lead an organization with the goal of improving the quality of patient care. I see technology as a key to improving the process of delivering care and the health of patients. At about that same time, I hope to be graduating two great sons off to college and enjoying some quiet time with my wife.

Amy Calabrese
Vice president, member services
Reliant Community Credit Union
Age: 38
Education: B.S., organizational management, Keuka College, Penn Yan
Family: Husband, Chris; daughter, 7; son, 5

Residence: Canandaigua

Professional responsibilities: Responsible for the efficient and quality delivery of services to members, management of the organization’s retail delivery system, and member service development. Oversees the credit union’s branch network, call center, investment services program and e-commerce.

Professional and community leadership: Board president, Professional Women of the Finger Lakes; board member, Finger Lakes Community College Foundation; member, Team Ali-Gaiters; mentor, Credit Union Association of New York Young Professionals; mentor, Young Entrepreneurs Academy.

Surprising fact: I have a knack for interior design, and I have decorated my own home and many of my friends’ and family’s homes as well. I enjoy it, but I couldn’t make a career out of it because I’m only good at one style—my own!

Ten years from now: I find the following quote meaningful: “You can’t do anything about the length of your life, but you can do something about its width and depth”— Shira Tehrani. Ten years from now I see myself continuing to use my talents to improve the lives of others, both personally and professionally.

Martin Cannon
Director, total compensation
Paychex Inc.
Age: 36
Education: B.A., accounting and finance, Mercyhurst College, Erie, Pa.

Family: Wife, Amanda; twin son and daughter, 4; daughter, 2

Residence: Webster

Professional responsibilities: Responsible for the strategic planning, analysis, implementation, communication and administration of all compensation policies, programs, practices, and procedures. Responsible for executive compensation.

Professional and community leadership: Board president, treasurer, Hickok Center for Brain Injury Inc.

Surprising fact: I am a Fanilow. Try and name a Barry Manilow song that you don’t sing along with!

Ten years from now: Continuing to enjoy my family and being actively involved in my children’s activities while finding new opportunities to make a difference in our community. Professionally, I would like to be at Paychex, working with other senior leaders to ensure Paychex continues to be an essential partner to America’s business owners.

Emily Casey
Retirement plans manager
Sage, Rutty & Co. Inc.
Age: 26
Education: B.S., business administration, SUNY College at Geneseo
Residence: Rochester

Professional responsibilities: Manages the Retirement Plans Services Group. Provides individual 401(k) enrollment meetings, group education meetings and fiduciary oversight.

Professional and community leadership: Chairman and board president, Catholic Family Center Rising Leaders; board member, pension trustee, Rochester Hearing and Speech Center; presenting sponsorship liaison, American Diabetes Association; chairperson, team captain, Sage Rutty Internal Committee; volunteer, Meals on Wheels

Surprising fact: Even though I work in finance, I can’t do math in my head and I’m awful at spelling! I lost those skills shortly after grade school. I am thankful for calculators, spell-check and autocorrect.

Ten years from now: I strive to become one of the leading experts in the field of 401(k) plan regulation, service and employee education. I truly love what I’m doing now; I found my niche in a great company. I can only hope to become better, wiser and more efficient. I would like to eventually become an adjunct professor and grow my Rising Leaders young professional group.

Kim Clark
Director of corporate communication and development
Heritage Christian Services Inc.
Age: 37
Education: B.S., corporate communication, Ithaca College

Family: Husband, Tim; son, 4

Residence: East Irondequoit

Professional responsibilities: Leads development department of a $55 million human services agency serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Rochester and Buffalo. Oversees donor relations, special events, grant writing, government relations, marketing/public relations, values-driven staff communications and volunteer services. Takes advantage to pick up additional writing, layout, photography and design of training components.

Professional and community leadership: Vice president, marketing, Association of Fundraising Professionals Genesee Valley Chapter; president-elect, Pen-Web Rotary

Surprising fact: My parents, Bob and Marie Pieters, banded with other families who have loved ones with special needs to start Heritage Christian Services in 1984. I’ve been with the agency since its founding and serve as a key team player in carrying out the mission as Dad retires as president and CEO.

Ten years from now: I see that I’ve furthered my education and earned credentials like the Certified Fund Raising Executive. I see also that I’ve traveled with Rotary again and that my husband and I enjoy deeper relationships with the people we’ve met there. I, too, do not rule out owning a business.

Courtney Cotrupe
Senior vice president, group director
Partners + Napier Inc.
Age: 35
Education: B.S., communications, Boston University
Family: Husband, Kevin; daughter, 8 weeks

Residence: Brighton

Professional responsibilities: Delivers integrated communications plans, including branding, advertising, digital and shopper marketing solutions, for some of the best-known brands in the world. Leads the agency’s account leadership teams. Plays a leadership role in new business and new client relations, responsible for constructing teams of account leaders, creatives and project managers to deliver the best of the agency.

Professional and community leadership: Board member, Ad Council of Rochester; board member, Rochester Businessman’s Charitable Organization; founding member, Gordon W. Gray Jr. Softball Tournament Fundraiser

Surprising fact: When I left Ogilvy in New York City, I ran a day care program before returning to advertising at Partners + Napier. And I used to hate pizza.

Ten years from now: In 10 years, I hope to continue to be surrounded by great people who make me better. Collectively, we can do amazing things for brands and for the community. I’m also still having fun and can truly say I love my job.

Brendon Crossing
Vice president
Canandaigua National Bank & Trust Co.
Age: 36
Education: B.A., philosophy and pre-law, St. Bonaventure University; MBA, Simon School of Business, University of Rochester

Family: Wife, Christin; son, 8; two daughters, 5 and 6 months

Residence: Victor

Professional responsibilities: Provides financing solutions to small and middle-market companies as well as to real estate developers and investors. Provides personal banking services to high-net-worth individuals in the Greater Rochester marketplace.

Professional and community leadership: Executive board member, chairman, Hoselton Sporting Clays Classic, Seneca Waterways Council, Boy Scouts of America; board member, NAIOP, Upstate New York Chapter; past member, development committee, Heart Ball, American Heart Association

Surprising fact: Some of my lifetime goals include hiking all 46 of the Adirondack High Peaks, hiking the Appalachian Trail and shooting my age in golf. Did I mention these are lifetime goals?

Ten years from now: I hope I’m standing over a putt on the 18th green, trying to break a tie in a competitive match between my three children and me. And I hope they beat me!

Melissa Dempsey
Electrical engineer
Harris Corp. RF Communications division
Age: 25
Education: B.S. and M.S., electrical engineering, Rochester Institute of Technology
Family: Husband, Robert Daminski

Residence: Rochester

Professional responsibilities: Contributes to product development and research in the Advanced Technology group. Focuses experience and efforts towards RF circuit design for military radios.

Professional and community leadership: Board member, research information volunteer, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation; coordinator, university relations, Harris Corp.; PENCIL partnership math tutor, East High School; member, Monroe County Women’s Alliance

Surprising fact: Ever since I began playing piano more than 20 years ago, I have always had a strong passion for music. I planned and prepared to audition for a piano performance major at the Eastman School of Music but then made a spontaneous decision to major in engineering instead. Funny enough, I still ended up in Rochester!

Ten years from now: Ten years from now, I see myself having even more energy, optimism and passion—all of which I will continue to apply to my family, friends, profession and community.

Penny Dentinger
Nixon Peabody LLP
Age: 38
Education: B.S., history, secondary education certificate in social studies, SUNY College at Brockport; J.D., SUNY Buffalo
Family: Single

Residence: Rochester

Professional responsibilities: Provides legal representation in corporate business transactions for private companies, public companies, not-for-profits and individual investors. Specialty areas include mergers and acquisitions, securities compliance and advising on a variety of commercial transactions, including consulting arrangements, licensing, financing and joint ventures. Advises emerging companies from formation through dissolution and provides general corporate advice.

Professional and community leadership: Executive committee member and social/networking co-chairwoman, past secretary and treasurer, Young Lawyers Section of the Monroe County Bar Association; member, capital campaign steering committee, Open Door Mission; member, steering committee, SUNY Buffalo Law Alumni Association, Rochester Chapter; member, business law council, Monroe County Bar Association; volunteer and supporter, Dimitri House

Surprising fact: Practicing law was not a direct path for me. I graduated from a science and technology magnet and had planned on being an engineer, then studied to be a math teacher in college, switched to social studies and taught in the Rochester City School District, ended up in politics for a while thereafter and finally headed off to law school.

Ten years from now: Ten years is a long way off—but from now until then, I hope every day I learn something new, have something to laugh and smile about, and have helped a person in some way, be it a client, family member, friend or stranger.

Elizabeth Amato Fleck
Director of health information technology
Innovative Solutions Ltd.
Age: 32
Education: B.S., psychology and education, St. John Fisher College; M.S., health administration, Roberts Wesleyan College

Family: Sons, 11 and 6

Residence: Fairport

Professional responsibilities: Provides professional consulting services to health care organizations in their use of information technology to improve patient care and quality outcomes and reduce costs. Facilitates community outreach, strategic oversight and project management for organizations that use a health information exchange to improve care coordination for patients with chronic and complex conditions.

Professional and community leadership: Board member, March of Dimes, Finger Lakes chapter; finance committee member, Mary M. Gooley Hemophelia Center; event organizer, VDay for Alternatives for Battered Women and Rape Crisis Service; volunteer, Gilda’s Club Rochester; volunteer, Fairport Little League, Fairport Lacrosse, Fairport Pop Warner

Surprising fact: My dream job is to work in a bookstore. I have a fascination with books, particularly those that are used and unique. It is not uncommon for me to spend hours exploring used book stores and coming home with armloads of books to fill up my built-in bookshelves.

Ten years from now: I see myself as a thought leader working with clients throughout the U.S. in the innovative delivery of health care. I will continue to enhance the representation of women in technology. I will be watching my sons grow into kind, responsible, hardworking young men.

Bret Garwood
Director of business and housing development
City of Rochester
Age: 39
Education: B.A., architecture, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pa.; M.S., city and regional planning, Cornell University

Family: Wife, Christy Field; stepson, 20; daughter, 9

Residence: City of Rochester

Professional responsibilities: Directs the planning and implementation of the city of Rochester’s community and economic development initiatives, including business development, housing development and real estate functions. Facilitates current projects and programs including Midtown Rising, College Town and neighborhood revitalization through the Focused Investment Strategy.

Professional and community leadership: Board commissioner, Rochester Housing Authority; board vice president, Rochester Economic Development Corp.; board vice president, Greater Rochester Housing Partnership; board member, Rochester Housing Development Fund Corp.

Surprising fact: At our home in the city, my family and I raise chickens for eggs, tap maple trees to make maple syrup and created the Waldorf-inspired RiverNorth Kindergarten.

Ten years from now: I really enjoy my work and hope to continue to play a role in improving the quality of life in cities.

Krista Gleason
Corporate communications manager
Eastman Kodak Co.
Age: 36
Education: B.A., English, University of Rochester

Family: Husband, Steve

Residence: Penfield

Professional responsibilities: Manages external and internal communications strategy and execution; serves as spokeswoman and manages media relations; works with global teams to implement communications initiatives.

Professional and community leadership: Board member and member of the women’s education club, EnCompass: Resources for Learning; marketing committee member, Seneca Park Zoo Society; volunteer mentor and program committee member, Public Relations Society of America, Rochester Chapter; volunteer, Ad Council of Rochester

Surprising fact: I was voted class clown in high school.

Ten years from now: I don’t plan very far ahead. I try to be open to new opportunities and possibilities. I hope to raise a healthy and happy family, contribute to my community, continue to grow professionally and have fun doing it all.

Stephen Griffin
Finger Lakes Economic Development Center
Age: 39
Education: B.S., business commerce, Niagara University; MBA, SUNY Buffalo
Family: Wife, Michele; son, 10; daughter, 8

Residence: Penn Yan

Professional responsibilities: Manages operations of the FLEDC; creates and manages the center’s economic development programs, initiatives and services designed to increase and diversify Yates County’s economic base by attracting new businesses and assisting existing businesses in expansion.

Professional and community leadership: Executive committee member, Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council; board member, Keuka Housing Council; executive committee member, Genesee Finger Lakes Regional Planning Council; president, Rochester Finger Lakes Regional Development Corp.; vice president, Penn Yan Youth Basketball

Surprising fact: I am a co-owner of Keuka Creations, an art gallery in Penn Yan featuring Finger Lakes artists.

Ten years from now: Helping to prepare my then-not-so-young children to succeed in college and whatever career they select. Professionally, I hope to continue to make a positive impact in the community and see the physical transformations that result from those efforts.

Jared Haims
Cooper/Haims Advisors LLC
Age: 38
Education: B.S., communications, SUNY College at Brockport; MBA, University of Texas at Dallas
Family: Wife, Megan; sons, 14 and 12; daughters, 10 and 8
Residence: Pittsford

Professional responsibilities: Provides wealth management and tax consulting services to corporate executives, business owners, medical professionals and individuals experiencing major life changes. Responsible for marketing and business development; leads the firm’s institutional practice, which consults and manages private foundations and 401(k) retirement plans.

Professional and community leadership: Titan Business Challenge committee member and Pittsford middle school Finance Park volunteer, Junior Achievement of Rochester, New York Area Inc.; coach, youth hockey; past treasurer, Pittsford Elementary School Parent Teacher Student Association

Surprising fact: My grandfather (97) and grandmother (93) just celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary! They are a big part of my life and will always keep me grounded and give me perspective.

Ten years from now: Continuing to help our clients pursue their wealth management goals and knowing that I’ve made a difference in someone’s life. Spending time with my wife outside of a pool, lacrosse field and hockey rink!

Christopher Johnston
Senior manager
EFP Rotenberg LLP
Age: 35
Education: B.S., accounting, SUNY College at Geneseo
Family: Wife, Jacqueline; daughters, 3 and 11 months

Residence: Greece

Professional responsibilities: Leads employee benefit plan service line and handles scheduling for the attest department. Specializes in manufacturing, non-profit, construction and due diligence engagements. Assists in the recruitment of new staff for the firm and performs peer reviews for other CPA firms.

Professional and community leadership: Board member and finance committee member, Literacy Volunteers of Rochester; member, SUNY Geneseo School of Business Alumni Connections Council; judge/investor, Young Entrepreneurs Academy, Greece Chamber of Commerce; member, American Institute of CPAs

Surprising fact: Unsure about what I wanted to do with my career, I left the firm five years ago  for an internal audit position at a publicly traded company. While I enjoyed this position, I realized that I was passionate about public accounting and returned to the firm a year later.

Ten years from now: I would like to help grow the firm’s private equity and due diligence service line while continuing to service my existing clients and help them meet their goals. Personally, I am looking forward to watching my two girls grow up with my amazing wife, Jackie.

Clayton Jones
Assistant to the provost and vice president
Monroe Community College
Age: 33
Education: B.S., psychology, Florida A&M University, and M.S., psychology, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Fla.

Family: Wife, Sheila

Residence: Brighton

Professional responsibilities: Works with provost and deans as a primary liaison for external academic partnerships. Works across the college as well as with community partners to create partnerships that benefit students and the community.

Professional and community leadership: Board member and Black Scholars planning committee member, Urban League of Rochester, N.Y., Inc.; member, membership committee, Rochester Business Alliance Inc.

Surprising fact: I grew up playing the trumpet, thinking that I wanted to be a professional musician. I studied classical music for 11 years, including five at the Eastman and Hochstein schools of music.

Ten years from now: In 10 years I see myself continuing to work within the community on partnerships that promote access to higher education and student success.

Matthew Kilmer
Senior vice president, wealth management
Sales manager, Central New York Complex
Merrill Lynch

Age: 36

Education: B.A., biology, University of Rochester

Family: Wife, Margaret; daughters, 6, 4 and 2

Residence: Pittsford

Professional responsibilities: Works with business owners, professionals and corporate executives in investment management, legacy planning, succession, liability management and retirement, overseeing approximately $500 million in client assets and liabilities. Responsible for the development and implementation of the Central New York Complex training program for its advisers.

Professional and community leadership: Corporate board member, chairman-elect and member, executive committee, Invest in Youth Campaign, YMCA of Greater Rochester; past member, development committee, Rochester Museum & Science Center; past member, development committee, Seneca Park Zoo Society, past classroom volunteer, Junior Achievement of Rochester

Surprising fact: I had aspirations of going into medicine. Anatomy and physiology labs quickly taught me I had a not-so-mild aversion to blood and internal organs—not a great trait to have as a doctor. I took a random internship at Merrill Lynch going into my senior year and never left the company.

Ten years from now: I see my wealth management practice continuing to expand and improve, developing additional core competencies to further address my clients’ needs. I look forward to having the time, treasure and talent to play a greater civic role in the community. In 10 years, my three daughters will be teenagers; I hope to be sane.

Michael Linehan
Colie’s Cafe, Linehan Holdings
Age: 33
Education: B.S., marketing, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh
Family: Wife, Carolyn; son, 3 months

Residence: Pittsford

Professional responsibilities: Oversees day-to-day operations of each business. Responsible for growing and developing key team members. Creates each company’s strategic plans with the executive teams. Holds those responsible accountable to financial budgets and forecasting.

Professional and community leadership: Board member, James P. Wilmot Cancer Center; co-founder, Wish List Society; board member and past president, Entrepreneurs’ Organization, Western New York Chapter; board member, Wilmorite Inc.; past member, alumni council, McQuaid Jesuit High School

Surprising fact: I’ve always wanted to be a recreational pilot; I’m fascinated by all aviation. In another life I lived in Napa Valley and owned a winery.

Ten years from now: I have three children. I’ve been married to my beautiful wife, Carolyn, for 13 years, and we live in our dream home in Pittsford. I own several companies and continue to get involved and add value to additional businesses. My son Keegan will be attending Notre Dame in four years.

Langston McFadden
Senior litigation associate
Harter Secrest & Emery LLP
Age: 39
Education: B.S., political science, SUNY College at Brockport; J.D., SUNY Buffalo

Family: Wife, Shaleeya; twin sons, 15; son, 6; daughter, 3

Residence: North Greece

Professional responsibilities: Represents small businesses and Fortune 500 and 100 companies in a variety of commercial and civil disputes. Areas of expertise include professional liability defense, construction litigation, complex litigation and premises liability defense.

Professional and community leadership: Board member, Urban League of Rochester, N.Y., Inc.; board member, Monroe County Bar Foundation ; board member, Rochester Black Business Alliance; board member, Greece Basketball Association

Surprising fact: My siblings and I are very close and talk to each other almost on a daily basis. My twin sister has bullied me since high school, and my older brother still sees me as a know-it-all kid, while my 18-year-old brother just sees me as an ATM!

Ten years from now: I will continue to give back to the city of Rochester as a youth mentor and big brother through Big Brothers Big Sisters. I plan continuously providing my clients quality, effective legal advice as a partner with Harter Secrest & Emery.

Molly Mesko
Vice president, marketing
First American Equipment Finance
Age: 30

Education: B.S., agricultural biotechnology, University of Kentucky, Lexington

Family: Single

Residence: Hamlin

Professional responsibilities: Leads all marketing communications initiatives for three areas within the Professional Services Division. Develops and implements strategic marketing activities and communications, maintains separately branded websites, and coordinates events for business development and increased brand awareness.

Professional and community leadership: Board chairwoman-elect and development committee member, Charles Settlement House; member, golf committee, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Rochester; member, Rochester Chapter, American Marketing Association

Surprising fact: Although I’m a marketing professional by day, I’m a farm girl the rest of the time. Growing up in Kentucky, I have been surrounded by horses most of my life—training and showing hunters/jumpers and dressage, riding racehorses and helping provide awareness throughout the U.S. of the rare breed of Shagya Arabians.

Ten years from now: I haven’t completely decided what I want to do when I “grow up.” I have a diverse background, so I hope I can take those experiences and apply them to whatever role I may be in to improve the lives of the people in our community, give children the resources needed to prosper, and play an active role in the growth and success of any organization I’m a part of.

Todd Oldham
Vice president, economic development
and innovative workforce services
Monroe Community College
Age: 38
Education: A.A., Orange Coast College, Costa Mesa, Calif.; B.A., anthropology and history, University of California at Los Angeles; MBA, Chapman University, Orange, Calif.

Family: Wife, Alina; sons, 6 and 4

Residence: Pittsford

Professional responsibilities: Provides leadership in workforce development, career technical education, college partnerships, grants and external funding sources. Serves as the college’s chief outreach officer to business and industry for local workforce development with credit and non-credit education and training.

Professional and community leadership: Board member, Junior Achievement of Rochester, New York Area Inc.; board member, RochesterWorks; college liaison, executive board, MCC Foundation; advisory board member, Monroe County School Business Partnership/Rochester Area Career Education Collaborative

Surprising fact: It wasn’t my career goal to work in higher education, but it has provided opportunities to live in and experience different areas of the country. In hindsight, I am very thankful for these experiences because they have broadened the way I see the world.

Ten years from now: Continuing to learn new things. Working for an organization that is deeply involved in making a difference in people’s lives through work that intersects with business, education and technology. With my wife, enjoying raising my sons.

Todd Pagano
Associate professor and director
Rochester Institute of Technology/
National Technical Institute for the Deaf
Age: 38

Education: B.A., chemistry, SUNY College at Oswego; Ph.D., chemistry, Tufts University, Medford, Mass.

Family: Wife, Susan

Residence: Rochester

Professional responsibilities: Directs the laboratory science technology program at RIT/NTID, which trains deaf and hard-of-hearing students to work as laboratory technicians. Involves students in cutting-edge research in environmental and medicinal applications. Co-editor of the Journal of Science Education for Students with Disabilities.

Professional and community leadership: Member, joint board committee on chemists with disabilities, and  liaison, committee on technician affairs, American Chemical Society; executive board member, Rochester section, ACS; leader in placing deaf and hard-of-hearing students in the scientific workforce; outreach leader in community K-12 education.

Surprising fact: I am an avid fantasy football player. I have used my scientific/mathematical background to develop algorithms for predicting player performance/value. These strategies (sometimes) work; I am a three-time champion of my fantasy football league and anticipate my fourth title this year.

Ten years from now: Continuing to educate the next generation of scientists and making significant contributions to the body of scientific knowledge toward the betterment of the environment and medicine. I also hope to be established as a leader in educational innovation and scientific research/policy.

Mark Prunoske
Senior vice president, finance/chief financial officer
Thompson Health
Age: 39
Education: B.S., business administration/accounting, Mansfield University, Mansfield, Pa.; MBA, Simon School of Business, University of Rochester
Family: Wife, Darcy; daughters, 12 and 10

Residence: Canandaigua

Professional responsibilities: Provides financial oversight of the six corporations of Thompson Health System with operating budgets in excess of $110 million. Oversees patient financial services, patient access, health information management, finance, reimbursement, information technology, accelerated performance improvement and facilitated enrollment. Serves on the finance, audit, and pension and investment committees of the health system.

Professional and community leadership: Treasurer, advisory board, Canandaigua Salvation Army; board member, Healthcare Financial Management Association, Rochester Chapter; member, Medicaid Managed Care Advisory Review Panel; member, finance committee, Healthcare Association of New York State

Surprising fact: I was a C+ student in high school, and math was my most difficult subject. I was told my freshman year in college that based on my high school GPA and SAT scores, I was categorized as “highly unlikely” to complete more than two years of college.

Ten years from now: In a position that allows me to use what I have learned in life to provide a service to the community, either through my job or by volunteering my time.

Spencer Read
Senior architectural designer and senior project manager
Mitchell Design Build
Age: 29

Education: B.S., architectural technology, SUNY College of Technology at Alfred

Family: Fiancee, Cory Daniels

Residence: Irondequoit

Professional responsibilities: Provides comprehensive architectural design and construction services under one roof for commercial and industrial buildings. Responsible for taking projects from first meeting with a client through design, estimating and construction. Oversees employees in the architectural department, construction managers and marketing efforts.

Professional and community leadership: Vice chairman, co-chairman of the Capital Campaign for Kids, Stepping Stones Learning Center; volunteer, Mommies for Miracles; volunteer, Habitat for Humanity; former board member, Habitat for Humanity of Genesee County; member, Finger Lakes Building Officials Association; certified New York State code enforcement official.

Surprising fact: I have always been involved with construction from a very young age, which started because my uncle was an ironworker. I eventually worked eight summers in construction and had a great boss who taught everything he knew. In high school I took a drafting class and decided to go to college for architecture. Luckily, today I have a job where I can do both.

Ten years from now: Continuing to apply experience in architecture and construction to new and larger projects and expanding into development. Becoming a licensed and registered architect. Using my growing knowledge to help promote Rochester and give back to its many deserving organizations.

Brian Reh
President and CEO
Gorbel Inc.
Age: 39
Education: B.S., mechanical engineering, Union College; MBA, Harvard University, Boston

Family: Wife, Gayle; sons, 8 and 5; daughter, 1

Residence: Victor

Professional responsibilities: Defining strategic goals and empowering/aligning our employees to go after those goals. Efforts are grounded by our values, our vision (“We Defy Gravity”) and our mission (“Make Life Easy for us and our customers”).

Professional and community leadership: Board member, ClaireBear Foundation; PENCIL partner, East High School; member, dean’s advisory council, E. Philip Saunders College of Business, Rochester Institute of Technology; member, global competence committee, Victor Central School; president, Monorail Manufacturers Association

Surprising fact: I graduated from Victor Central School. Upon leaving for college, I doubted that I would return to this area. I was fortunate that my career took me to wonderful places, including Florence, Italy, Boston and California. But in the end, I boomeranged back to Victor and am thrilled to be here.

Ten years from now: I hope that I am living with passion and clear purpose. To me that looks like doing my part to build platforms from which other people can succeed in life—within my family, my professional life and communities in need.

Justin Runke
Harris Beach PLLC
Age: 37
Education: B.A., history, Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, Pa.; J.D., Seton Hall University, New Jersey
Family: Wife, Kelly; sons, 7 and 8 months; daughter, 4

Residence: Fairport

Professional responsibilities: Provides legal representation to hospitals and other health care providers in a wide array of transactional matters, including multi-institutional affiliations, acquisitions, joint ventures, physician contracting and physician-hospital integration. Provides legal counsel to health care providers on corporate governance, compliance matters and the role of officers and directors with respect to compliance.

Professional and community leadership: Director, Friends and Foundation of the Rochester Public Library; director, East House Corp.; director, Rochester/Finger Lakes Eye and Tissue Bank; den leader, Cub Scout Pack 225, Fairport

Surprising fact: I launched an acting career in fifth grade, playing the role of Winthrop Paroo in the local high school production of “The Music Man.” That fledgling career continued when I was in sixth grade, as I played the role of John Darling in “Peter Pan.” That acting career came to an end.

Ten years from now: Continuing to keep apprised of the ever-changing health care industry and helping providers navigate through the tangle of state and federal statutes and regulations in a manner that allows them to focus on delivering care to their patients. Together with my wife, Kelly, continuing to support and nurture our children.

Lisa Santelli
Senior legal counsel
Excellus BlueCross BlueShield
Age: 39
Education: B.A., English, SUNY College at Geneseo; J.D., Syracuse University

Family: Single

Residence: Penfield

Professional responsibilities: Dedicated internal legal counsel for the new health care reform legislation. Assists operational departments in their implementation efforts by interpreting the legislation and accompanying regulations. Serves as the internal legal support for the business’s technology and finance staffs.

Professional and community leadership: Member, management committee, Rochester Regional Health Information Organization; member, governance and strategic planning committees, Rochester City Ballet

Surprising fact: I joyfully play in the mud! I have been been pursuing wheel-thrown pottery as a creative outlet for several years.

Ten years from now: I will be continuing to partner with people and organizations to use my legal skills and business knowledge to assist them in reaching their goals. I will also continue to feed my creative appetite by refining my pottery skills and seeking new expressive outlets.

Fina Santiago
Vice president
Vargas Associates
Age: 37
Education: Graduate, Eastridge High School
Family: Husband, Israel; son, 12

Residence: Irondequoit

Professional responsibilities: Oversees key accounts and major projects for the firm. Provides project management guidance and planning services to clients in the areas of corporate, municipal, medical, K-12, higher education and public safety.

Professional and community leadership: Member, family-centered steering committee, and chairwoman, family advisory council, Golisano Children’s Hospital at Strong; board secretary, executive committee member and capital campaign vice chairwoman, Stepping Stones Learning Center; parent and student representative, East Irondequoit Central School District

Surprising fact: My son has a disability, and I feel blessed to have him in my life. Our family has had a tremendous amount of support from organizations like Golisano Children’s Hospital and Stepping Stones Learning Center. I feel strongly about paving the way for other families. I love to volunteer!

Ten years from now: My professional experience and expertise have helped mentor my colleagues further in their careers, and I have been part of the monumental growth of Vargas Associates. On a personal note, I will pray that my family is healthy and happy and I’ll be watching my son start his career and dreams.

Eileen Galinski Thrall
Senior director of development
Rochester Institute of Technology
Age: 36
Education: B.S., natural resources, Cornell University; M.S., natural resource planning, University of Vermont, Burlington
Family: Husband, Mark; daughter, 13 months
Residence: Spencerport

Professional responsibilities: Secures gifts of more than $50,000 for RIT. Coordinates fundraising activities for the Kate Gleason College of Engineering and oversees activities of the assistant director of development and alumni relations. Supervises director of development for the Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences.

Professional and community leadership: President, Junior League of Rochester

Surprising fact: A first-generation American, I grew up speaking only Polish in my first few years. My maternal grandmother, of Irish descent, decided to teach me English so they could better communicate when she was baby-sitting. I have traveled extensively and have been to Poland twice.

Ten years from now: Enjoying the work I do, continuing in the fundraising field. I would like to be either a vice president for development at a local college or an executive director for a small non-profit.

Miguel Velazquez
Chief information officer
Rochester Genesee Regional Transportation Authority
Age: 38
Education: B.S., biology, University of Rochester
Family: Wife, Josephine; daughter, 10; son, 6

Residence: Pittsford

Professional responsibilities: Responsible for setting the strategic direction of the organization. Oversees all aspects of technology initiatives; responsible for the project management office and the performance measurement, research and development department.

Professional and community leadership: Board member, class respresentative, Latino Leadership Devlopment Program, United Way of Greater Rochester Inc.; board member, Ibero-American Action League Inc.; member, advisory committee, Red Cross Next Generation Leaders Program, American Red Cross; board member, Center Information Services Inc.

Surprising fact: I have a fascination with knowing the origin of words and a little bit of an infatuation with the history of the Greek wars of Marathon and Thermopylae.

Ten years from now: I hope to have done a good job raising my kids, see them go off to college and have some time to help rebuild the image of the Catholic Church.

Todd Zyra
Chief operating officer
Klein Steel Service Inc.

Age: 38

Education: B.S., business management, Niagara University; MBA, Northeastern University, Boston

Family: Wife, Mindy

Residence: Brockport

Professional responsibilities: Serves on the executive team and is responsible for supervision, development and discipline of more than 200 people involved in operations, sales, quality and engineering activities related to safety, accuracy, quality, on-time delivery and productivity. Responsible for identifying and achieving company long-term strategic goals.

Professional and community leadership: Foundation board member, Lakeside Health System; president, Buffalo Chapter, Metals Service Center Institute; executive board member and nominations committee chairman, Rochester Regional Veterans Business Council; past chapter president, Business Network International

Surprising fact: I enlisted in the Marine Corps two days after graduating from Niagara University. I have two cairn terriers—Blitz and Fenway, who rule my house.

Ten years from now: I will still be living in Rochester. I will continue to be an effective business leader and active community supporter, with a strong focus on supporting our local veterans.

11/9/12 (c) 2012 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email

What You're Saying 

There are no comments yet. Be the first to add yours!

Post Your Own Comment


Not registered? Sign up now!

To Do   Text Size
Post CommentPost A Comment eMail Size1
View CommentsView All Comments PrintPrint Size2
ReprintsReprints Size3
  • E-mailed
  • Commented
  • Viewed
RBJ   Google