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Hyman G. Darling, Esq.

Attorney Hyman G. Darling is a partner in the Western Massachusetts firm of Bacon Wilson, P.C., where he has practiced since 1981.  He concentrates in the areas of Trusts, Estates, Taxes, Estate Planning, Probate, Guardianships, Special Needs and Elder Law.  Prior to joining the firm, he was a Trust Officer.  Attorney Darling has been a frequent presenter for both MCLE and the Massachusetts Bar Association as well as speaking for many Springfield civic and professional groups.  He also has spoken for NAELA at many conferences.  He is also an adjunct faculty member in the LLM Program at Western New England University–School of Law and Bay Path College.  Attorney Darling is a member of the Special Needs Alliance and is a member of many local planned giving committees and also is a Past President of the Hampden County Estate Planning Council. He is also currently the President of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys.

James Sicilian, Esq.

Jim Sicilian is a litigator with deep experience in probate controversies. In 2014, he was appointed General Counsel to Day Pitney LLP, a role that includes advising the firm’s lawyers who serve as fiduciaries and those who represent fiduciaries concerning the applicable legal and ethical obligations in those challenging roles.

Jim graduated with honors from Bucknell University and the University of Connecticut School of Law, where he was an editor of the Connecticut Law Review. After graduating from law school, Jim served as law clerk for The Honorable Thomas J. Meskill, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Jim has been recognized as a “Super Lawyer” and has been chosen for inclusion in Best Lawyer in America and as a leading litigation attorney in Chambers USA Legal Directory and Benchmark Litigation: The Definitive Guide to America’s Leading Litigation Firms and Attorneys. Jim’s publications include “The Attorney-Client Privilege in Trust Litigation: Can a Trustee Keep Communications With His Attorney Confidential?” for the 2008 ALI-ABA conference on Representing Estate and Trust Beneficiaries and Fiduciaries.

Laura Schuyler, Esq.

Laura Schuyler is an associate in the Individual Clients department who does estate planning and advises trustees and other fiduciaries. Laura recently co-authored the article “Pivoting to Capture Basis” for the Annual Federal Tax Institute of New England in September 2013. She will speak on related aspects of that topic at the Annual Federal Tax Institute of New England in September, and on “Understanding Latent Trust Insolvency According to the Micawber Equation” at the 2014 ALI-CLE conference on Representing Estate and Trust Beneficiaries and Fiduciaries in Chicago. The Chairman of Day Pitney’s Individual Clients department has referred to her as “the go-to person when there is a tough question that requires both mature judgment and fresh thinking.”

Laura is a 2005 graduate of Amherst College and a 2011 graduate of the University of Virginia school of Law. Prior to joining Day Pitney, Laura served as a law clerk to The Honorable C. Ian McLachlan of the Supreme Court of Connecticut.



Peter Benjamin, Esq.

PETER BENJAMIN is the Litigation Director at Community Legal Aid, the civil legal aid agency serving
Central and Western Massachusetts. He was, from 2009 to 2014, a partner at Benjamin & Bers in East
Longmeadow, where his practice focused on the legal needs of elders and the disabled, including guardianship
and conservatorship. Previously he was the managing attorney of Western Massachusetts Legal Services
(WMLS) in Springfield. As a lawyer at WMLS from 1979 to 2009, he concentrated in legal problems of
elders and in unemployment compensation, and litigated extensively in the Social Security, unemployment
compensation and housing areas. Mr. Benjamin is a former adjunct professor at the Western New England
University School of Law, has taught numerous continuing and community legal education programs and has
written chapters of Legal Tactics, Estate Planning for Aging or Incapacitated Clients and other books. He
holds a B.A. from Cornell University and a J.D. from Columbia Law School.


John Waite began work at the Franklin County CDC in March 2000 and oversees all of the organizations operations and programs.  He has been involved with economic development in Africa, Central Asia and New York City since 1983.  At the FCCDC, John has helped expand the Business Technical Assistance and Lending Program, and helped raise $900,000 to build, equip and operate the Western MA Food Processing Center.  The Center is now 14 years old and has served over 350 food and agricultural businesses.

John has a BA from the University Massachusetts and a Graduate Degree from Columbia University, was a volunteer and staff person with the Peace Corps, worked with CARE International, and consulted for several Microfinance programs.

Joanne Campbell
is the Executive Director of Valley CDC.  We do not have her complete bio. at this writing.

Steve Sperka, MBA, FSA, CLU

Steve Sperka, MBA, FSA, CLU, has been with Northwestern Mutual since 1991. In July of 2009, Mr. Sperka became the vice president of the Long-Term Care Department. Mr. Sperka is an actuary and has performed a variety of actuarial roles including the pricing and design of the company’s long-term care insurance products. He was also previously the director of the Disability Benefits Division of the Disability Income Department. In 2009, Mr. Sperka did a six-month field rotation to the Kentucky/Southern Indiana Network office where he worked closely with financial representatives and field leadership on a variety of projects relating to the sales and marketing of Northwestern products and new financial representative recruiting and development. Mr. Sperka has his BBA degree from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in actuarial science and risk management and has his MBA degree from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. He is a Fellow to the Society of Actuaries (FSA) and a Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU.) He is on the Board of Directors for La Causa, Inc.

Dr, Benjamin Liptzin

Dr. Benjamin Liptzin is chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at Baystate Medical Center and Professor and Deputy Chair of Psychiatry at the Tufts University School of Medicine. He is the author of ove 100 journal articles and book chapters primarily related to geriatric psychiatry. He is a member of the Task Force on Testamentary Capacity of the International Psychogeriatric Association and has presented on the topic at national and international meetings. He was the reciipient of the Jack Weinberg Aware in Geriatric Psychiatry from the American Psychiatric Asssociation.sa, Inc.

Andrew Bellak

Andrew is the founder and CEO of Stakeholders Capital, with an office in Amherst, MA.  Stakeholders Capital is a wealth man­agement firm committed to inte­grating clients’ values with their financial goals.

Prior to founding Stakeholders Capital, Andrew started and suc­cess­fully ran an options trading firm which was ulti­mately acquired by Goldman Sachs
Andrew is an active member of the sus­tainable business community and is an expert on private investment opportunities. He serves as Stakeholders’ Chief Compliance Officer.

Andrew has a BA/BS from the University of Virginia and a Master’s Degree in Education from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He holds the FINRA Series 65 certification.

Brad Bedingfield, Counsel

BRAD BEDINGFIELD is Counsel in the Wealth Management Group of Choate, Hall & Stewart LLP. Brad represents high net worth clients, particularly with regard to lifetime and testamentary transfers, foreign and domestic trust structures, cross-border estate planning, and strategic charitable giving. As a former Tax Law Specialist with the IRS' Exempt Organizations Division, a member of the Boston Bar Association's Tax Exempt Organizations Section Steering Committee, and a member of the Advisory Council of CAF America, Brad also works extensively with tax-exempt organizations, establishing public charities and private foundations, advising on various charitable structures and transactions, and representing charities seeking tax-exempt status, private rulings, or settlement of controversies before the IRS. Brad is a former Co-Chair of the Public Policy Committee of the Boston Bar Association's Trusts and Estates Section, and is a member of the Steering Committee of the Boston chapter of the international Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP).

Congressman Richard E. Neal

Richard E. Neal was born in Worcester, Massachusetts on February 14, 1949 and was raised and educated in the City of Springfield. He is a 1972 graduate of American International College, where he received his Bachelor's Degree in Political Science and was a member of the National Honor Society. He received his Masters Degree in Public Administration from the Barney School of Business and Public Administration at the University of Hartford in 1976.

Richard E. Neal was first elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1988. He represents the First Congressional District of Massachusetts. He is a senior member of the powerful Ways and Means Committee and the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures.  He is also the dean of both the Massachusetts delegation and the New England Delegation in the House.

Congressman Neal has been a lead sponsor of legislation to prevent American companies from moving offshore to avoid paying U.S. taxes. He has sponsored legislation that would increase the national savings rate by encouraging the use of individual retirement accounts, and has worked to make health care and tuition expenses tax deductible for middle class people. He is also a member of the Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee.

Congressman Neal is an At-Large Whip for the House Democrats. He is a co-chairman of the New England Congressional Caucus, where he continues to advocate for the unique regional interests of the six New England States.

William E. Hart, Esq.

Bill Hart is a member of the Trusts and Estates and Business/Finance Departments of Bulkley,
Richardson and Gelinas, LLP. He focuses on estate planning work for people of all walks of life,
including professionals, owners of closely-held businesses, people with artistic and literary
property, and those with real estate holdings in other states and countries. His practice includes
probate estate and trust administration, business matters, non profit organizations and taxation.
Bill received his A.B. cum laude from Amherst College and his J.D. with honors from the
University of Denver. He is admitted to practice in the states of Massachusetts and New York, and
the U.S. Tax Court.

In the community, Bill serves as chairman of the planned giving committee of South
Congregational Church in Amherst, as a building committee member for the Hitchcock Center
for the Environment, and as a trustee of Amherst Academy. He has served as cubmaster and
scoutmaster for the “best troop in the universe.” Bill serves on the professional advisors board of
the Mason-Wright Foundation and is actively involved as a planned giving advisor and volunteer
for numerous non-profit organizations. He speaks frequently to professional and community
groups about estate planning. Bill was named The Best Lawyers® 2015, Springfield,
Massachusetts area Trusts and Estates Lawyer of the Year. He has been selected by his peers for
inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America® each year since 2013.

Bill is a former member of the board of directors of the Estate Planning Council of Hampden
County and a past president of the Pioneer Valley Estate Planning Council.

John D. Flory III

John D. Flory III, renowned cyber security expert, will be sharing his insight and experience in the realm of physical, social and cyber security concepts. During John’s 22 year tenure in the security field he has spoken at numerous conferences including key notes at the Symantec Global conference, New York State School Boards Association, New York Bankers conference, Entrepreneur Organizations and several other diverse venues.

John’s hands on security experience dealing with real time cyber security attacks and remediation offers a valuable resource to organizations cyber preparation.  John’s leading edge approach has allowed him to help create human firewalls as one of the key pillars of defense.

Russell E. Towers JD, CLU, ChFC

Russell E. Towers JD, CLU, ChFC is the Vice President of Business & Estate Planning for Brokers’ Service Marketing Group since 2002.  Russ previously served in a number of advanced planning attorney positions during 22 years with John Hancock Life Insurance Company. He holds a B.A. in economics from the University of Notre Dame and reearned his Juris Doctor (JD) from Suffolk University Law School.  He has published numerous articles for industry journals, including AALU Quarterly, Broker World, and Insurance News Net.  Russ was the recipient of a Kenneth Black, Jr. Award from the Journal of Financial Service Professionals for his article on private split dollar funding of irrevocable trusts in 2008.

Russ has delivered advanced planning seminars to life insurance professionals and has lectured to Society of Financial Service Professional Chapters, Estate Planning Councils, Financial Planning Associations, and Attorney and CPA professional groups across the U.S.  His area of expertise is estate, business, and retirement planning for wealthy business owners, executives, and professionals, and he provides customized case consultation for advanced legal, tax, and insurance plan designs.  He is a member of the National and Rhode Island Societies of Financial Service Professionals (SFSP) and has served as President of the Rhode Island Chapter.  A member of the Rhode Island Bar Association for over 38 years, Russ is also a member of the Association for Advanced Life Underwriting (AALU), the National and Rhode Island Associations of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA), and the Rhode Island and Boston Estate Planning Councils.

Prof. Frederick D. Royal, Assoc. Dean for LLM Programs,
                    Western New England University School of Law

Professor Royal, whose advanced degree is in taxation, served as clerk to United States Tax Court Judge William M. Drennan for two years. Before joining the faculty in 1978, he specialized in the practice of tax law. He has published in the areas of tax procedure and corporate taxation. He is a frequent speaker in the Springfield area discussing various tax-related issues. He also presents talks as part of programs sponsored by Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education, Inc. Prof. Royal is the Director of the School of Law's LL.M. program in Elder Law and Estate Planning.

William F. Cummings, Senior Executive Vice Pesident, Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel, Infinex Financial Group

Bill joined Infinex Financial Group in 2004 as Senior Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel. Prior to that, he was a partner in the Hartford office of Tyler Cooper & Alcorn, LLP, a Connecticut-based law firm, and was the Chairman of the firm’s Broker-Dealer and Investment Management practice group. At Tyler Cooper, his practice focused on the operation and regulation of broker-dealers, investment advisers, trust companies, private investment funds and other financial service companies under federal and state law.

Bill joined Infinex Financial Group in 2004 as Senior Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel. Prior to that, he was a partner in the Hartford office of Tyler Cooper & Alcorn, LLP, a Connecticut-based law firm, and was the Chairman of the firm’s Broker-Dealer and Investment Management practice group. At Tyler Cooper, his practice focused on the operation and regulation of broker-dealers, investment advisers, trust companies, private investment funds and other financial service companies under federal and state law.

Rep. Todd Smola

Rep. Todd Smola is a graduate of Palmer High School in. He earned an associate degree in liberal arts from Holyoke Community College and a Bachelor of Science degree in Geography and Regional Planning from Westfield State College.
Smola began his career in politics in 1997 at the age of 20, when he became the youngest elected member of the Palmer planning board in the city's history. Three years later, he became the youngest elected member on the Board of Selectmen; he served both offices simultaneously. While serving in Palmer, he served as chairman of the Board of Selectmen the Pioneer Valley Planning Commissioner and the education liaison to the Palmer Public Schools .

In 2004, Smola was elected Representative of the 1st Hampden District. Currently, Smola serves on the House and Joint Ways and Means committees.

Susan Stubbs

For the past thirty-five years, Susan Stubbs has been the leader of ServiceNet, a private, entrepreneurial, non-profit organization with an annual budget of approximately $60 million and about 1400 staff. ServiceNet is based in Northampton, Massachusetts, and provides an array of innovative mental health and human service programs including outpatient behavioral health clinics; community-based residential and supported housing services for adults with serious mental illness, developmental disabilities, or addictions; shelter and housing programs for homeless people; vocational services; and home health services.

Sue holds an undergraduate degree in psychology, and she is a licensed social worker with an MSW from Fordham University. Prior to coming to ServiceNet, she held clinical social work and management positions with the Children’s Aid Society in New York City, the New York City Housing Authority, and the Gandara Mental Health Center in Springfield, MA.

In addition to serving as the CEO of ServiceNet, Sue is active in the fields of mental health and human services on the state, national, and international levels. She serves on the boards of two state associations, as well as the board of Mental Health Corporations of America. In addition, she was a founding member of the International Initiative for Mental Health Leadership, and participated in mental health exchange visits to the U.K., New Zealand, Canada, Scotland, Australia, and Ireland.

Jeremiah W. Doyle IV, JD, LL.M., LL.M.

Jere Doyle is a Senior Wealth Strategist for BNY Mellon Wealth Management
and a Senior Vice President of BNY Mellon.  He has been with the firm since
1981.  Jere provides wealthy individuals and families throughout the country
with integrated wealth management advice on how to hold, manage, and
transfer their wealth in a tax efficient manner.

Some of his accomplishments are as follows:

  • 2009 Estate Planner of the Year, Boston Estate Planning Council
  • Editor and co-author, Preparing Fiduciary Income Tax Returns
  • Contributing Author, Understanding and Using Trusts and contributing author of Drafting Irrevocable Trusts in Massachusetts, both published by Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education
  • Quoted in numerous business publications and has appeared as an expert on wealth management issues on CNBC, MSNBC, and CNN
  • Estate Planning Hall of Fame®, National Association of Estate Planners and Councils
  • Distinguished Accredited Estate Planner®, National Association of Estate Planners and Councils
  • Teacher, Graduate Tax Program at Boston University Law School

George Thomas Lewis

George Thomas Lewis joined Skinner, Inc. in 2014 to appraise and handle consignment services. George came to Skinner after running his business, George Thomas Lewis & Co., for over 35 years in Northampton, MA. His expertise is in estate liquidations and antiques. Lewis provides Skinner’s Western Massachusetts estate personal representatives, estate settlement professionals, and individuals with access to the full range of Skinner consignment and appraisal services.

George graduated from Ohio University and obtained his Ph.D. from Temple University. He makes frequent presentations to area historical societies and civic groups on the topics of antiques and their values, and contributes his time and expertise to benefit auctions sponsored by many nonprofit organizations. For over 20 years, he has served as auctioneer for “The Future Begins Here,” a major fundraising event which supports a consortium of youth organizations in Holyoke, MA. He draws on an extensive academic background and professional training, including USPAP certification in personal property appraisal.

Karen G. Jackson, Esq.

KAREN G. JACKSON has been a practicing Attorney since 1978.  Her fields of concentration are Elder Law, including Medicaid planning and MassHealth programs, Estate Planning, Trusts, and Estate Administration.
Attorney Jackson is a working member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, the Western Massachusetts Elder Professional Association, and the Pioneer Valley Estate Planning Council.  Attorney Jackson is on the Board of Directors of the Greater Springfield Estate Planning Council; and, she is Chairman of the Board of ServiceNet, headquartered in Northampton. 

Since 2010, Attorney Jackson has been teaching Estate Planning and Elder Law at Holyoke Community College every Fall and Spring; she has conducted bank trainings; and, has taught attorneys at various programs, including a national webinar on Medicaid.

Attorney Jackson publishes frequently in the Daily Hampshire Gazette and is a guest presenter throughout the year at a variety of conferences.

SDavid Vaughn

Family money can provide wonderful possibilities as well as unique and rarely addressed challenges. David does not offer advice on the financial management of family money, but rather on the personal, parental, educational, social, and emotional aspects of family money.  His focus is on helping our clients to grow and maintain a family ethos that positively integrates and balances economic security in their lives, and the lives of future generations.

David works with parents, individuals, and extended families as they strive to balance the intergenerational complexities associated with family money.

Debra Purrington, Esq.

Debra Purrington is a member of the Trusts and Estates Department at Bulkley, Richardson. She helps trustees to fulfill effectively their duties by delivering advice and practical help throughout the life of a trust. She designed and founded Trustee Support Services, a unique program that covers fiduciary accountings, compliance, distributions, taxation, prudent investor guidance, beneficiary communications, and recordkeeping for trustees. Debra also counsels fiduciaries and administers inter-vivos trusts, including special needs trusts, and other personal trusts.

Debra is a past president of the Estate Planning Council of Hampden County and is a member of the Philanthropic Services Committee of the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts. She has also served as volunteer counsel to many community organizations.

Daniel A. Sotera

Daniel A. Sotera joins us with 30 years’ experience in the areas of estate, fiduciary income tax and  the Generation Skipping Tax.  Dan is a Regional Tax Manager with USTrust, managing their estate tax team servicing the Northeast Region.  Dan has been managing this team since 1996.  Prior to his tenure with USTrust Dan earned his CPA designation working with KPMG LLP as a Senior Tax Manager managing the firm’s Estate Tax Team. 

Dan’s presentation will address various post mortem tax planning opportunities, addressing the means to avoid pitfalls while maximizing tax savings opportunities.  He will also address the various changes to the northeast states estate tax laws in recent years.

Gillian R. Howell

Gillian Howell is the Philanthropic Consulting and Advisory Executive at U.S. Trust in the Philanthropic Solutions Group. Drawing on her 26 years of charitable management experience, Ms. Howell's experience is both deep and broad and includes philanthropic advisory, strategic planning, investment oversight and risk management and private banking.

Ms. Howell leads a team of seasoned philanthropic specialists who are responsible for helping individuals and family foundations identify their philanthropic aspirations with greater efficiency, effectiveness and personal fulfillment. The team also helps nonprofit institutions to fulfill their missions by delivering innovative advisory and administrative services.

Deborah J. Penzias is a Burkhart Pizzanelli PC.  She has over 30 years of experience in public accounting.

Ms. Penzias graduated from The State University of New York at Oswego with a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting.  Ms. Penzias joined the firm in 1998.  She previously worked at a medium-sized firm in Rockville Centre, New York for 13 years prior to her relocation to Western Massachusetts.

Ms. Penzias services a diverse client base and is involved in the accounting, consulting and tax areas of the practice, managing engagements of various size and complexity.

She is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Massachusetts Society of Certified Public Accountants.

Ms. Penzias has served on the Board of Directors of Beit Ahavah, the reform synagogue of greater Northampton.  She has also served on the Board of Directors of Lander Grinspoon Academy and was a member of the Finance Committee.

Thomas R. Pratt, CPA, JD is a principal of Burkhart Pizzanelli PC.  He has over 40 years of experience in public accounting.

He earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Accounting from American International College and a degree of Juris Doctor from Western New England University.

Mr. Pratt is involved in the accounting, consulting, compliance and tax planning aspects of the practice.  His experience encompasses various industries and customers of various size and complexity.

He is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the Massachusetts Society of Certified Public Accountants, the American Bar Association, the Massachusetts Bar Association and the Estate Planning Council of Hampden County.

Mr. Pratt serves as a member of the Board of Trustees and the Board of Investment of Monson Savings Bank and is a Board member and current Chair of Loomis Communities.  Tom has also served on the Finance Committee of the Town of Monson and the Board of Managers of the Monson Home for Aged People, Inc.

Adam Metsch

Adam Metsch is the founder and President of The College Advisor of New England, Inc. with offices in Massachusetts and NY.  Since 1994 they have helped thousands of families through the college selection, admissions, financial, and decision-making process. 

He is a Certified Educational Planner, which is the highest credential in the field of educational consulting, and he is a past Board member of the Independent Education Consultants Association, an international association comprising the top professionals in the field.  To date, he and his team have personally visited over 500 college campuses nationwide. Their approach is to help students discover and understand what they want from their college experience - to develop their voice, broaden their perspective, and find the right schools where they can succeed, and that their parents can support.

In addition to strengthening students options, they identify cost saving strategies and merit scholarships. They address issues students and parents may not see objectively and offer solutions families may not have considered.  This takes much of the anxiety out of the process and helps the college search become more of an adventure and less of a burden;  all the while, saving families thousands of dollars in the process.   His team has helped their clients become admitted to schools across all levels of selectivity at a 21% higher rate than the national average for those schools.  Their students stay enrolled and graduate on time, in four years at a rate of 91 %, compared to the national average of just 50%. Their clients receiving financial aid and scholarships average a 46% reduction in college costs