Jake Berry is currently the District Director for U.S. Representative Annie Kuster in NH’s 2nd Congressional District. He lives in Manchester with his wife, Anna, and their twin boys, Jonah and Evan, and their corgi named Clarence. Jake has previously worked as a reporter and editor at the Nashua Telegraph, the Cape Cod Times and the Keene Sentinel. The perfect NH day for him and his family includes lounging on Newfound Lake, lunch at the Town Docks in Meredith, a hike at Welch-Dickey Loop, and finishing the day at the Woodstock Inn Station & Brewery. A cool fact about Jake is that he is a proud descendant of Josiah Bartlett, one of NH’s signers of the Declaration of Independence!
Jayne O’Connor is the President of the White Mountains Attractions Association. She grew up in the tourism business with her family running a country inn nestled in the White Mountains. Her favorite thing about NH is the proximity to the mountains, the lakes and the oceans and that you can easily visit them all in one day. Although she loves coming home to NH, in the past Jayne and her husband drove cross country 7 times, visiting 48 states and 9 Canadian provinces!
Steve Duprey is the owner of The Duprey Companies. He is a NH native who is married to his wife, Susan, and they have three sons. His favorite hobby is fly fishing on rivers and brooks because he enjoys the zen experience of the extreme quiet and peaceful waters. Steve loves NH for “all of its quirky uniqueness,” its physical beauty, and its long history of inventors, business people and artists that makes for a great mix of creativity. An interesting fact about Steve is that he served as a senior advisor on John McCain’s 2007 and 2008 presidential campaign. Steve enjoyed being a part of the judging process for this year’s Rising Stars Awards because it’s a chance to learn about the future leaders who will help shape this state!
Gayle Henderson is the CTO of Work Opportunities Unlimited. Although she was not born in NH, she has lived here a long time and is extremely proud to call NH her home. NH has been a place that has allowed her to have immense personal and professional career growth. Gayle’s favorite things to do in NH include skiing, camping, hiking, boating and taking long walks through Wagon Hill in Durham. Her favorite seasonal activity is skiing, but her favorite hobby is anything that involves being with her family, which includes her mom, husband, two kids and their black lab, Tucker. An interesting tidbit about Gayle is that, early on in her career, she worked in the computer gaming industry!
Phil Suter is the President and CEO of the Greater Keene Chamber of Commerce. Before his current position, he was the Executive Director of the Regional Consortium for Advanced Manufacturing. Phil was born in Brattleboro, VT and currently lives in Peterborough, NH. His favorite NH activities include kayaking, art tours, live music and exploring aimlessly throughout the Lakes Region and the Upper Valley. Phil especially enjoys golfing because he claims “it’s nearly impossible to be really good,” but he enjoys the picturesque backdrops of the golf courses themselves. What most people would find interesting about Phil is that he served as a U.S. diplomat for about 12 years!
Colleen Cone is the Vice President of Talent & Culture at Skillsoft. Outside of work, she loves to spend her time volunteering, serving on the Board of Directors for Families in Transition and the NH High Tech Council. What she loves about NH, aside from the numerous outdoor activities, is the ability one has to meaningfully participate in the local community, whether in politics or volunteerism. Colleen is very much looking forward to being a part of the Rising Stars Awards. As an HR professional, she knows the importance of recognizing great performance at work and appreciates how Stay Work Play understands the importance of attracting and retaining talent for the Granite State.
George Hotter is the Vice President of Talent Acquisition at Medicus. He is a native New Yorker who moved to NH in the 90s and has raised his family here. George has worked in Human Resources and Talent Acquisition his entire career. He has been a part of building two high tech startups, one of which was bought by IBM. In his free time, George most enjoys himself when he’s spending time with his family. He happens to have a furry family member named Maggie, an 8 year old Irish Jack Russell Terrier, who still has the enthusiasm and energy of a puppy!
Jessica Gelter is the Executive Director at Arts Alive in Keene. She has over 13 years of experience in community outreach, team leadership, event management and program development and evaluation. Jessica lives in the Monadnock region and loves it! The art inspires her, the nature is refreshing and she is able to cherish time with her family. She enjoys hiking, canoeing, fishing and swimming and very much enjoys the arts, especially the outdoor concerts in the summer. She is excited to be a judge this year and for the opportunity to get to know amazing NH young professionals!
Stephen Dignazio is the Executive Director at The Colonial Theatre in Bethlehem. He has served as the founding executive director for the theatre since 2001. Stephen has lived in northern NH for over 40 years and raised his three children there. He says that NH allowed him to “help raise three children to become great human beings.” He is lucky enough to be exposed to all kinds of music at The Colonial Theatre, but he most enjoys classical guitar and country blues. His favorite seasonal activity in NH is walking and writing in the winter because it allows him time to think about what is really important, which he says often means not thinking at all!
Kaitlyn Woods is a Media Specialist for Eversource. Previously, she was an Associate Producer in Creative Services at WMUR-TV 9. Kaitlyn serves on the Board of Directors and school committee at Temple Adath Yeshurun and is on the Board of Advisors for Stay Work Play. She loves to go on adventures with her husband, Luke, and their two kids, Sam, 5, and Max, 4. Some of their favorite things to do are to visit local parks and frequent the Amherst town library. Kaitlyn is thankful for NH’s great music scene, but she has a special place in her heart for music by her little brother’s heavy metal band, Magnatar!
Tom Strickland is the President and Co-Owner of Sequoya Technologies Group. He grew up in Oklahoma and moved to NH with his family in 1997. They moved here to raise their family and experience something different. Although their entire family lives in Oklahoma, Tom says they have never regretted the decision to live here in the Granite State. He and his wife, Debra, started Sequoya Technologies in 2002 and it has become a family business, with their two adult children, Megan and Tyler, as full time employees.
Evelyn Whelton is the Senior Vice President, Retail Lending Market Manager at the Bank of NH. She is fascinated by loons and loves spending her summers watching them (and other wildlife) on the lake. Evelyn is very active in her community and works at the local and state level on numerous housing and workforce related issues. She volunteered to be a judge for the Rising Stars Awards because she knows, because NH is the fastest aging state in the nation, it’s important to have a diverse age range in the workplace. Encouraging young workers and families to live and work here is an important initiative!
Robb Atkinson is the General Manager at NH1 and Senior Vice President at Binnie Media. He has been involved in the media industry for more than twenty years. His favorite season in New Hampshire is definitely winter because he spends all of his time on the slopes. He says he spends more time outside in the winter than he does in the summer! Robb’s go-to NH restaurant is the Franklin Oyster House and his favorite music venue is the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom, where he loves catching a Counting Crows show. One of his most prestigious professional accomplishments is that he has won two Emmys!
Missi Pitcher is the owner of MaxCharles Salon & Spa and a national Colour Educator and Artist for J Beverly Hills. She and her family take full advantage of what NH has to offer. They frequent Rye and Hampton Beach, hike in Stratham Hill Park and try to be outdoors as much as possible. Something you may not know about Missi is that she is a jack-of-all trades! She is also a licensed phlebotomist and used to work as a roofer and exterior painter in her early 20s! She is looking forward to being a Rising Stars Awards judge because she loves seeing people push themselves to be the best that they can be!
Matt Keating moved to NH from Arizona 5 years ago because he “sought the next great American outdoor community.” He is an avid outdoorsman and can be found biking, boating, hiking, and drinking beer. His adventure companion is Carabiner, a Coyote and Rhodesian Ridgeback mix. A fun tidbit about Matt is that he once starred on a shortlived reality TV show called “Tethered” on the Discovery Channel!
Holly Blanchard is the Director of Marketing & Youth Programs at Make-A-Wish NH. She is a NH native and was born and raised in Derry. Aside from her position at Make-A-Wish, she worked for Moo’s Place Homemade Ice Cream for 9 years and taught baton twirling for 11 years. Holly most enjoys the northern part of the state. She recently took the tram to the top of Cannon Mountain and has set a goal to hike every 4,000 footer. One of her most notable accomplishments is that she won the title of Miss New Hampshire in 2015!
Terry Williams is the President and COO of The Keene Sentinel. From 1988-2013 he worked, respectively, as a regional editor, managing editor and publisher, and editor of The Telegraph. He is an avid fly fisherman and takes two trips a year with his kids, who he says are better at fly fishing than he is! Terry is very much looking forward to being a judge and recognizing the up and coming young professionals in our state!
Brandi Emerson is the Human Resource (HR) Director at Scribe Software. She’s a NH native and married to her high school sweetheart, with whom she has 2 kids. Brandi and her family enjoy spending time at the lake, going to local science centers, or just hanging out at home in their backyard. Something you should know about her is that she loves her job! Brandi loves working in HR and says that getting to work in the HR field is the equivalent of a musician whose single goes platinum or a baseball player going pro!
Jac Cuddy is currently the Executive Director of the Mt. Washington Valley (MWV) Economic Council and is a Certified Economic Developer and SCORE counselor. He serves on the boards of the MWV School to Career Partnership, MWV Regional Collaboration, MWV Housing Coalition and Rapid Insight, Inc. Jac is a 5th generation NH native and his favorite local activities include antiquing, going to the beach and skiing. In the winter, he runs a seasonal ski program at Cranmore Mountain!
Jaime Richardson is the Marketing Manager and Officer at Claremont Savings Bank. She has served as the President of the Greater Claremont Chamber of Commerce and has sat on the board for five years. Jaime is extremely fond of Jeep adventures and going camping. She, her husband and two and a half year old daughter love the White Mountains and exploring the Mount Washington Auto Road. Jaime grew up camping and now has a pop up camper that she and her family take on their adventures a couple times a year. Her favorite NH dish comes from Revolution Cantina: the Allegria Bowl, made up of chicken, queso and a side of chips!
Bill Stone is the President and CEO of Primary Bank in Bedford. He started his career here after graduating from UNH and has never left the state or the banking industry. He believes that NH has so many great opportunities. There are diverse job opportunities, whether you are a high-tech professional, service provider, tradesman or craftsman, and there are so many interesting places to visit. Put those both together and Bill says there’s no better place to set down roots and raise a family!
Donnalee Lozeau is the Executive Director of Southern NH Services. She is a lifelong Nashua resident and was elected Mayor in 2007 and 2011. She served 8 terms in the NH House; two as Deputy Speaker. She has been married to her husband David for 35 years and they have three children, three grandchildren and three grand-dogs. Donnalee and her husband enjoy fishing and boating, and because they live on the Nashua River, they have easy access! They also enjoy Milford Oval Events, old home days in Hudson and the occasional county fair.
Chris Forman is the founder and CEO of Appcast. He has worked in the recruiting technology industry for the past 20 years. He is also the founder and CEO of StartWire, CEO of AIRS and the Chief Development Officer of TheRightThing (now ADP). When Chris leaves work, he goes from CEO to farmer. At his home, there are 5 cows, 6 sheep, 20 chickens, 2 pigs, 2 dogs and 2 cats. Because of this, his favorite place to eat in NH is at home with his wife and four kids, where they enjoy homegrown tomatoes, lettuce, asparagus and homemade ice cream.
Crystal Paradis is the CEO of Crystal Paradis Enterprises. She is a writer and organizer whose work involves communications and strategy for different businesses and organizations that have values that align with hers. Her favorite hobby is organizing the annual TEDx event in Portsmouth, TEDxPiscataquaRiver. When she isn’t on the job, you can find her riding her motorcycle named Susan!
Daniel Barrick is the News Director at NH Public Radio. He has lived in Concord for 15 years and has previously worked at the Concord Monitor and the NH Center for Public Policy. Outside of work, you can find Dan walking the Audubon Trails with his kids, swimming at Wellington State Park or, in the winter, skiing the trails at Carter Hill Orchard. For him, the easy access to the beaches and White Mountains are some of what make NH a great place to “stay,” “work,” and “play!”
Anne Duncan Cooley
Anne Duncan Cooley is the CEO of the Grafton Regional Development Corporation. Her favorite NH activities are to go strawberry picking, watch the stars on a cold winter night, and go kayaking on a fall day. What she loves about life here is that you don’t have to choose to “stay,” “work” or “play,” you can do it all in the Granite State. Her favorite NH eatery is Arianna’s in Orford, where she recommends anything that involves Chef Martin’s scallops!
Mike Cashion is a NH native and currently resides in Concord. His professional experience ranges from being a karate instructor for 15 years to being the Manager of Operations and Communications at Alpha Loft. Mike is most happy when he is spending time outside, either cycling or running. His favorite local restaurant is Republic and he suggests eating anything off of the daily specials because it’s always delicious!
Maureen Beauregard is the President of Families in Transition. She has loved raising her family here in NH and most enjoys any activity that involves being on the water. Maureen is a graduate of the University of NH and previously worked for the Department of Child and Family Services. Her most interesting job, though, is when she worked on a lobster fishing boat in the 80s! She is excited to be a judge this year and be witness to NH’s young people who are growing into leaders.
Charles Sayegh is the Managing Director at eDriven Marketing. He is very confident that NH is the best state in the nation. Charles has traveled extensively for past careers and believes that no other state has the same combination of business friendly government, beautiful nature, cost of living, and friendly people that the Granite State has. When asked what his favorite local restaurant is, he couldn’t just choose one! He enjoys the fare at Faro Italian Grill in Laconia, Lago in Meredith and Kitchen Cravings in Gilford. His favorite hobby is aviation and this comes as no surprise because he is a First Lieutenant in the United States Air Force Auxiliary, Civil Air Patrol.
Amberlee Barbagallo is a NH native and the Alumni Leadership Coordinator at Dartmouth College. She attended Plymouth State University where she received a bachelor’s in Political Science. Her favorite season in the Granite State is fall because she loves to attend the Milford Pumpkin Festival, go apple picking and carve pumpkins. Amberlee loves that you can stay and work in NH and you don’t have to give anything up in order to play: beaches, mountains and cities and you can do it all in one weekend. To top it off, she has conquered 11 of the 48 4,000 Footers!
Bill Quigley is the Vice President of Marketing at NH Motor Speedway. What makes NH so special to him is the culture, restaurants and recreation and his favorite place to enjoy it is in the Lakes Region. Bill can be found skiing in the winter, hiking in the fall and racing and on the lake in the summer. Something you may not know about him is that he is a justice of the peace and married a couple on Kodiak Island in Alaska! When Bill was asked why he agreed to be a judge this year he said, “I believe in NH, and while people find their passions in all parts of the world, NH holds a special place.”
Dottie Morris works at Keene State College as the Associate Vice President for Institutional Equality and Diversity. She loves jazz music and going on spontaneous adventures with no destination in mind. When she does have a destination, she loves exploring NH’s White Mountains, hanging out in Portsmouth and Keene and going to concerts at the Bank of NH Pavilion in Gilford. Dottie’s favorite local eatery is Thai Garden in Keene (the Extra Spicy Pad Thai is her dish of choice!).
Dan Clapp is a partner of ReVision Energy and helped open their NH branches. Apart from Dan’s work, he volunteers on the Southeast Land Trust board and is also a graduate of Leadership Seacoast. For fun, he loves exploring NH’s numerous rivers and lakes with his wife, Sarah, and their 2 daughters, Hadley and Larkyn. Dan doesn’t just explore NH though; he has circumnavigated the world and visited 11 different countries along the way.
Lori Evans Alderin
Lori Evans Alderin is the co-owner of The Beal House, a restaurant and inn located in Littleton. She lives north of the Notch with her husband and business partner, Adam, and their soon-to-be two year old daughter. In addition to running The Beal House, she serves on the Board of Trustees at The Derryfield School and on the Littleton Area Chamber of Commerce. Lori loves to be outdoors and go fast, so naturally one of her favorite hobbies is skiing. There’s nothing better to her than a bluebird or powder day to “feel like you’re on top of the world.” What she loves most about NH is the pace, the close knit community and the cost of living that makes it such a wonderful place to “stay,” “work,” and “play!”
Steve Ahren is currently the President of the NH Hospital Association and has been for the past 9 years. Prior to his role as president, he has served in a number of executive roles for the Association. His favorite NH leisure activities include hiking, skiing and relaxing at the beach. But there is a hobby that is especially near and dear to Steve’s heart: baking bread. He’s excited for the opportunity to be a judge for this year’s Rising Stars Awards and the opportunity to acknowledge the inspiring stories of the young people who have been nominated.