Friday, May 31, 2013

Forgiveness. Client Victor Acquista's June Column for PRIME

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

My Debut Arts Column for The Westfield News

I'm beginning a new stint (actually a comeback) as an arts reporter. My first weekly arts column for The Westfield News runs on Thursday, May 30, and weekly on Thursdays after that.

Kudos to Kurn Hattin Music Director Lisa Bianconi

My Travel Article on New York City picked up by Westfield News

I originally wrote this for PRIME. The Westfield News picked the article up, and I had the opportunity to revise sections of it.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Lisa Bianconi, Kurn Hattin Homes Music Director on the Road to a Grammy

Kurn Hattin Homes Music Director Selected for Grammy Music Educator Award Quarterfinals
WESTMINSTER, VT—Lisa Bianconi, Music Director at Kurn Hattin Homes for Children, has been chosen as one of 217 quarterfinalists from across the U.S. for the first-ever Music Educator Award presented by the Grammy Foundation® and the Recording Academy®.  Bianconi was one of three Vermont music teachers chosen to move on to the quarterfinals round from a total of 30,000 nominations submitted from all 50 states.
The Grammy Music Educator Award was established to recognize current music educators from K-college, in both public and private schools, who have made a significant and lasting contribution to the field of music education and who demonstrate a commitment to maintaining music education in the schools. The award will have its inaugural presentation during Grammy Week in February, 2014.
Kurn Hattin Homes’ Co-Executive Director, Connie Sanderson, nominated Bianconi for the award. Sanderson said, “In her 28 years here, Lisa has had an immeasurable impact on our students’ lives. She doesn’t stop at teaching music; she helps them see music as away of life. Especially for children who are at-risk or in need, music provides a way for them to express themselves and to feel that they’re not alone. Lisa always finds a way to recognize and nurture each child’s talent; her program instills such confidence and self-esteem.”
Bianconi, who has been Kurn Hattin’s Music Director since 1985, is responsible for teaching general music classes, as well as directing the marching, jazz, and concert bands, and the beginning, select, and advanced choirs. She said, “It’s is an incredible honor to be nominated for this award. I’m very lucky to have such supportive, collaborative colleagues and to work at a place where music education is so valued. Many of the children here have not had opportunities to participate in music programs before, be it for financial or other reasons. It’s fantastic to see how brightly they shine when they are given that opportunity.”
This year marked several landmark performances for the Kurn Hattin Select Choir under Bianconi’s direction, including appearing on stage with Grammy-winning fiddler Natalie MacMaster and winning top children’s gospel performer in Western New England public television member station WGBY’s “Together in Song” choral competition. The Kurn Hattin Jazz Ensemble will also perform at the Discover Jazz Festival in Burlington, VT on June 4.
Music has played an essential role in life at Kurn Hattin since the school's beginnings over a century ago. Today, all 105 students participate in one or more aspects of the music program, and all students in grades 4-8 learn and perform on band instruments. The children perform over thirty public concerts in an academic year, and Kurn Hattin also hosts annual invitational concerts attended by jazz bands and choruses from area schools. 
Established in 1894, Kurn Hattin Homes for Children in Westminster, Vermont is a charitable, year-round home and school for boys and girls, ages 6-15, who are affected by tragedy and social or economic hardship. Kurn Hattin Homes transforms the lives of children and their families forever.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Media Relase: Kurn Hattin Homes Horsemanship Clinic

DATELINE: May 20, 2013
Jaimie Scanlon
Rapt Creative
(W) 802-490-2164 (C) 802-579-8545

Horse and Rider Become One at Kurn Hattin Homes for Children

WESTMINSTER, VT| Riders and horse enthusiasts from all over New England converged at Kurn Hattin Homes’ Westminster campus last weekend for the Two-As-One-Horsemanship® Clinic, presented by renowned horse trainers and riding clinicians Bob Jeffreys and Suzanne Sheppard of Middletown, NY. The Two-As-One philosophy, developed by Jeffreys and Sheppard, focuses on teaching riders steps toward better communication with their horse, improved connection and partnership, and a higher degree of harmony between horse and rider, resulting in enhanced riding performance.

Event organizer, Sara Stine is the Director of Kurn Hattin’s therapeutic riding program. Stine said she was glad to be able to share Kurn Hattin’s facilities with the public, and to give others a sense of the type of programming the school offers. “This is a different kind of riding instruction. It’s about building trust and respect with the horse, and seeing things from another perspective.” “There are a lot of parallels with what we do with our children here at Kurn Hattin,” added riding program volunteer Caryl Richardson, “It’s the idea of bringing out the best in someone by treating them with kindness and respect.”

Workshop participant and lifelong rider, Patty Winter, works as a physical therapist at Grace Cottage Hospital in Townshend, Vermont. “There are immense therapeutic benefits to working with horses, both physical and emotional,” Winter said, “There’s an amazing sense of confidence that comes from learning how to communicate with this animal that’s so much bigger and stronger than we are. What we’re learning here today is such an important part of riding.”

Clinic presenters Suzanne Sheppard and Bob Jeffreys travel extensively giving workshops and sharing their expertise on the human-horse relationship. They made the connection with Kurn Hattin Homes several years ago when Sheppard met Sara Stine at training workshop for riding instructors. Sheppard said the pair was pleased to be invited back to Westminster. “We have a common mission with Kurn Hattin in helping people (and horses) be successful and confident. I think there’s a wonderful energy here that’s the result of helping to bring out the best in children, despite their circumstances.”

Established in 1894, Kurn Hattin Homes for Children in Westminster, Vermont is a charitable, year-round home and school for boys and girls, ages 6-15, who are affected by family tragedy, or social or economic hardship. Kurn Hattin Homes transforms the lives of children and their families forever.

High-resolution downloadable photos of this event are available at

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Baystate Health CEO Mark Tolosky to Give Suffield Academy Commencement Address

DATELINE: May 13, 2013

Maeve Ryan
Director of Marketing & Communications
Suffield Academy

Benjamin C. Craft
Interim Director, Public Affairs & Community Relations
Baystate Health


Suffield, Connecticut: Mark Tolosky, President and Chief Executive Officer of Baystate Health and Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, MA, will offer the keynote Commencement Address at Suffield Academy’s 180th Commencement on the Suffield Academy campus on Friday, May 24, 2013. The Academy’s 101 seniors are expected to receive their diplomas during Commencement 2013.  

Mark Tolosky joined Baystate Health in 1992 as Chief Executive Officer of Baystate Medical Center and was promoted in 2004 as President and Chief Executive Officer of Baystate Health.

Baystate Health has been named one of the top 15 health systems in the U.S. (Truven Health Analytics 2012). Baystate Medical Center, the western campus of Tufts University School of Medicine, has been named a top 50 U.S. cardiovascular hospital (Truven 2012), a top 100 U.S. hospital (Truven 2013) and one of the top 10 teaching hospitals in the U.S. for patient safety (Consumer Reports 2013).

Mr. Tolosky plans to speak about resilience and leadership at the Commencement ceremonies. He considers himself a student of leadership, committed to a lifelong journey of excellence and continuous improvement. He enjoys mentoring and teaching young leaders, encouraging them to have confidence and to reach high with clearly defined values.

His sons Matthew and Patrick graduated from Suffield Academy in 2010 and 2011 respectively. Matthew is currently a junior at the University of Vermont and Patrick is a sophomore at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine.

Mr. Tolosky, a native of Lyon Mountain, New York, earned his Bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York in Binghamton, his Master’s degree from Xavier University in Ohio, and his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Maryland School of Law. He was admitted to the Maryland Bar and the Federal Court, and is a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE). Prior to joining Baystate, Mark was Chief Operating Officer at Faulkner Hospital in Boston (where he was promoted to President at the age of 34) and Executive Vice President at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, MA.

Mr. Tolosky served on the Board of the Massachusetts Hospital Association for seven years (including a term as Chairman in 2002-2003) and was named Massachusetts “Health Care Executive of the Year” in 2004. In 2012, he received the Massachusetts Hospital Association’s William L. Lane “Hospital Advocate” Award. Mr. Tolosky also serves on several boards in his community, including the Western Massachusetts Council of the Boy Scouts of America, the Springfield Symphony, and the Economic Development Council of Western Massachusetts.

Mr. Tolosky and his wife, Noreen, live in Longmeadow, MA.

Suffield Headmaster Charles Cahn III will preside over Commencement ceremonies. Graduating senior Anna Strzempko from Westfield, Massachusetts was selected by her classmates to deliver the student address. Daniel Tisch, President of the Suffield Academy Board of Trustees, and Headmaster Cahn will present diplomas and prizes to graduating seniors, who will head to sixty-five different colleges and universities next fall. 

In reference to this graduating class, Headmaster Cahn comments: This is a group that has shown great dedication to each other and to the school. Their positive spirit and many talents will make our world better in the years ahead.”

Headmaster Cahn also noted that the Class of 2013 has been at Suffield during a remarkable period of the school’s history, with more than $25 million of new facilities constructed through gifts to the school and more than 1,000 students interviewing annually for the 120 available openings.

Suffield Academy, founded in 1833, is an independent, co-educational college preparatory school for boarding and day students in Suffield, CT.  Suffield Academy has a tradition of academic excellence combined with an encouraging environment and formal leadership training programs. For information on Suffield Academy’s programs and services: