Amanda Osmer is a fourth generation steward at Grappone Automotive which was established in 1924. She also serves on the Board of Advisors for Stay Work Play and is a member of the Outreach Committee. Giving back to the community is a vital part of what Grappone does and she feels “blessed to fill the role of collaborating with many of our state’s non-profits to help them in their work.” Amanda is a NH native that lives in Canterbury with her husband, three children, two dogs and homing pigeons. She enjoys traveling around the state, introducing her children to all that it has to offer. She listens to High Range, a NH bluegrass band, plays the banjo and sings. Some of her favorite things to do in NH include trail running, kayaking, eating cider donuts, and going apple and strawberry picking.
Sarah Ashworth is the News Director at New Hampshire Public Radio. She has worked in various newsrooms across the country including as a producer at Minnesota Public Radio, a reporter at Vermont Public radio, and a producer of NPR’s The Diane Rehm Show. “I love that I get to live in a house that was built in 1801 and I get to work in a modern, tech-savvy newsroom!” Originally from Minnesota, Sarah feels “connected to the past in a way I never did growing up in the Midwest and stories of NH’s early history and early settlers remind me of why this is a place people are drawn to live in.” Sarah, her husband, and two year old daughter love to take road trips to find the best breakfast places in NH looking for the best blueberry pancakes, muffins and omelets. A few family favorites – Tucker’s in New London, Maddie’s in Salem, The Friendly Toast in Portsmouth and Lou’s in Hanover.
Ryan Houghton works as the Operations Manager at Dowling Corporation, a mechanical contracting company located in Portsmouth. He was born in Boston, lived in Texas and then moved to Atlanta, GA where he lived for over 20 years. He moved to NH to be with his family and began working for Dowling Corporation soon after. Ryan is a Co-Chair for Catapult Seacoast and has served with the young professionals network for over six years. In his spare time, find Ryan playing golf, skiing, going to the beach or seeing shows at Prescott Park, Meadowbrook or the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom. What made him say “YES!” to being a Rising Stars Awards judge? “I am privileged to be able to have this opportunity and saw this as a chance to recognize others who advocate for young professionals in NH.”
Brandi Emerson is the Director of Human Resources for Scribe Software in Manchester. As Director of Human Resources, Brandi is responsible for creating and implementing an innovative people strategy for Scribe. “In my role, I have the opportunity to make people’s work lives better. Considering how much time the average person devotes to their job, I consider that to be an incredible responsibility and one that I am wholeheartedly committed to and passionate about.” Her and her husband are both native to NH and Brandi couldn’t imagine a better place to raise their two children. She loves spending summer days in the sun at the lake, kayaking, enjoying time outside with the family and has a goal to have a lakefront camp at Alton Bay or Sunapee one day. Brandi is honored to be a Rising Stars Awards judge this year, “it’s important to take the time to recognize those individuals and the organizations that are committed to strengthening our communities. I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of the recognition of NH’s many rising stars!”
Fabio Esposito is the President & CEO of Solidscape Inc. in Merrimack. Solidscape manufactures and markets high precision 3D printers for manufacturing of solid objects designed in CAD. Fabio is in charge of Solidscape’s financial, operational, and strategic growth and brings over 20 years of experience in profitably growing high-tech companies. He graduated with BS and MS degrees in Electronic Engineering and Executive Education from Harvard Business School. He is also a member of Stay Work Play’s Board of Advisors. He and his wife have two children – a son and a daughter. Fabio grew up in Italy which is where he learned to love soccer. In the winter, catch him on the slopes, “the proximity and easy access to ski resorts makes skiing very easy as well as a weekly family activity.”
Leslie Sturgeon is the Visionary and Founder of Women Inspiring Women. Her organization brings women together for empowerment, personal development, business resources and networking. Leslie’s business is her passion – “I love what I do and the people I get to be around.” Her parents ignited the entrepreneurial spirit which led to her starting her first business at age 22. She has been hailed as one of New Hampshire’s “Outstanding Women in Business” and “Women in Business Champions.” A New Hampshire native that grew up on Lake Winnipesaukee, Leslie feels “there are endless possibilities in the Granite State for a great life, career and business and everywhere you turn there are people to help you and cheer you on.” She loves spending time with her two dogs, Murphy and Maddie, who she absolutely adores.
Andre Mills is the Owner/Illustrator of AKM Graphics LLC. After attending college in Massachusetts, he worked for a few startups in the semiconductor industry, but was always freelancing as an illustrator. And eventually he decided to start his own business. Andre has lived in New Hampshire for about 15 years and is originally from Jamaica. He currently serves on the Steering Committee for iUGO, the young professionals network, in Nashua. Being a Rising Stars Awards judge allowed him the opportunity “to be more involved with the community.” Andre enjoys photography, playing soccer, hiking the White Mountains and Mount Monadnock, and enjoying the lake in Wolfeboro.
Elyssa Alfieri is the owner of Lilise Designer Resale, curated collection of name-brand consignment & vintage women’s clothing, shoes & accessories in Concord. A graduate of Southern NH University in 2008, Elyssa has degrees in Retailing and Fashion Merchandising. She is current Chair of the Concord Young Professionals Network & current President of the Board of Directors of Intown Concord. Her favorite hobby since she was a child is sewing and embroidering – it’s one of the only ways to slow her down for any period of time. “The Rising Stars Awards are a fantastic way to reward and retain the local, talented young people in our area… these young pros and companies are making a difference in their communities and totally deserve the recognition!”
Rick Broussard is the Executive Editor at New Hampshire Magazine and McLean Communications. Originally from the South (Louisiana, Florida and Georgia), he has lived in NH longer than anywhere else and is “100 percent committed to my role as an adopted Granite Stater.” Rick is the co-founder of both the NH Theatre Awards and Building on Hope. His day job is to present why NH is such a wonderful place to stay, work and play and he truly believes that the Granite State is “the best place in the known universe.” Rick is also the creator of the NH Pulp Fiction anthology series and is currently co-producing and directing the feature-length film “Granite Orpheus.”
Susan O’Neil is the CEO of Website Publicity in Peterborough. The company provides solutions in Search, Social and Mobile Marketing from strategy to execution. The co-author of Maximize Website Traffic, Susan writes regularly on topics of digital marketing and speaks at industry events. Prior to living in NH, she was an actress in New York City with parts on Ryan’s Hope and One Life to Live. Her and husband, Steven, have three daughters – a completely different experience than being surrounded by five brothers while growing up. During her free time, Susan loves reading American history (especially presidential biographies), watching old movies and spending time on the water. One of her favorite views is coming down Temple Mountain on Route 101 toward Peterborough and seeing Mt. Monadnock framed perfectly.
Aaron Brandt is Vice President of Engineering at Hypertherm in Hanover. After receiving his M.S. in Engineering from Penn State in 1997, he joined Hypertherm and has held numerous roles. Aaron has two teenage children both in high school. “The quality of life is amazing in NH, and the Upper Valley where I am located is a great place to live and work. We are so lucky to have the combination of an abundance of high-tech companies and highly regarded colleges and universities, side by side with breathtaking scenery, short commutes, and great recreation and cultural options.” In his free time, find Aaron doing anything outdoors. Backcountry or resort skiing, mountain and road biking, hiking and running – “some of the best parts of living in NH.”
Linda Saunders Paquette is the Executive Director of New Futures. She works with her colleagues to reduce alcohol and other drug problems in NH by advancing sensible public policies through effective advocacy. Born in New Jersey, Linda moved to NH for law school and ended up staying in the Granite State to raise a family. Between her and her husband, Phil, they have six grown children. They also have four rescue dogs at home. Luna, her five pound Maltese, is her constant companion and comes to work with her almost every day. Some of her favorite things to do in NH are fishing in the Contoocook River, hiking Mount Kearsarge with her dog, snowshoeing in the woods behind her house and visiting Portsmouth.
Jennifer Brennan is the Assistant to the CEO of Primex. She is working on her MBA from Plymouth State University and also studying to become a certified personal trainer. She is passionate about wellness and loves running, hiking, boxing and yoga. She is mom to three rescue animals – one dog and two cats. When asked what her favorite things to do in NH were, she said “one of the best things about NH is that it’s a great place for lots of mini-adventures.” Whether it be gearing up for a hiking and camping trip in the White Mountains, spending time at the beach or visiting local shops and farmers’ markets. “I get to do all of those things right here, in the place that’s home.” Add a good, strong cup of coffee and life is good.
Mike Decelle is the Dean of the University of New Hampshire at Manchester. A NH native and University of NH graduate, he has over 30 years of experience in the commercialization of advanced technologies, in large company environments as well as in small startups. As a lifelong engineer and entrepreneur, he loves working with new, rising talent. Mike has led as CEO five startup companies in the semiconductor and energy industries. His favorite winter activity is skiing, in fact, he was a NH high school Skimeister with performances in alpine, jumping and cross-country. He also enjoys listening to Wilco, vacationing on Winnipesaukee, easting at local restaurants in Manchester and catching music at 3S Artspace in Portsmouth. “You can do everything ‘under one roof’ in NH. Education, work and enjoying the mountains and outdoors.”
Jennifer Pinckney is the Director of Graduate Business Programs at Plymouth State University. She is a strategic marketer with experience in B2C, B2B, non-profit and education sectors. Jennifer grew up in Peterborough and left NH to attend college and graduate school. After deciding that NH was where she really wanted to be, she moved back to the Granite State. “People are friendly and down to earth. I’ve lived all over the state and have worked for some really great and unique companies – and though I love to travel, NH is home.” Her favorite things to do include back country camping, hiking, going to state fairs and discovering local shops, cafes and ice cream shops. Some of her favorite ice cream flavors include: coffee heath bar, cake batter, salted caramel and raspberry truffle – though don’t make her choose just one!
Jim Kennedy serves as the City Attorney for the City of Concord. In this position, he is the head of the City’s Legal Department, which consists of a civil and criminal division. Prior to his position with the City of Concord, Jim served as Assistant Attorney General in the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office. He lives in Concord with his wife, Kristin, two daughters and his yellow lab, Murray. Living in a state that offers it all – lakes, mountains, rives and the ocean – gives him the opportunity to enjoy sports for every season. Some of Jim’s favorite activities include skiing, biking, sailing and tennis. Though his preference, basketball, offers a great break from the day to day. Catch him at Richardson’s Farm in Boscawen when he is craving Maple Walnut ice cream.
Deirdre Fitzgerald is the Marketing and Public Relations Manager for W.S. Badger Company in Gilsum. Badger is a family owned business and family friendly company that makes certified organic and natural body care products – and was also chosen as one of the 2014 Coolest Companies for Young Professionals! Prior to her work in marketing and PR, Deirdre studied art with the intent of becoming a children’s book illustrator. She likes walking and hiking with her dog, Jessie, spending time with family and friends while visiting local eateries and visiting the NH seacoast. One of her favorite seasonal activities is picking and eating locally grown blueberries, strawberries and raspberries. When asked her why she said “YES!” to being a Rising Stars Awards judge, she said “how can anyone say “no” to Kate Luczko? Kate and her team do an amazing job ensuring that the Rising Stars Awards is a fun and meaningful event.”
Greg Sereni is a Commercial Water Specialist at Secondwind Water Systems, Inc. He appreciates “the family feel and culture at our company” which has been owned and operated by NH residents for 25 years. He is also the Chair for the NH and VT chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors Young Professionals Group. Greg grew up in the Granite State and couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. He is a graduate of University of NH where he studied Environmental Engineering. For someone that enjoys hiking, skiing and fishing, NH is certainly in his DNA. He has hiked all 48 of the NH White Mountain 4,000 footers and says “hiking…is a great way to reconnect with nature and clear your mind. Nothing beats hanging out for the afternoon on a summit with 360 degree views.”
Lauren Hughes is a Key Account Manager for Janos Technology, a local manufacturer in the night vision and defense industry. Originally from Connecticut, she relocated to Keene two and a half years ago. When Lauren first moved to the state, she “was often taken aback by how open and friendly strangers were. As I got to know NH and its people, I quickly realized that it’s just how things are here. That readiness to help and openness is commonplace and why I love staying in NH.” Lauren’s favorite seasonal activity is camping. After a recent visit to the North Country, she loved the landscape and looks forward to going back. As for saying “YES!” to being a RSA judge, it’s a way in which to broaden her network and learn about the great things are happening elsewhere in NH. “It’s important to recognize people and groups that are making an effort to better themselves and their environments.”
Michael Behrmann is the Co-Founder of the NH based renewable energy development firm, Revolution Energy. He is also the Director for the New Hampshire Clean Tech Council. The University of NH alum currently lives in Portsmouth with his wife, Erika, and they are expecting their first child in February. He serves on the NH Public Utilities Commission’s Energy Efficiency and Sustainable Energy (EESE) board and the non-profit Rett’s Roost. He has a special interest in photography. And can also be found riding a motorcycle along the beach or up to the mountains, “carving through some fresh powder during the winter, or having a world class meal at one of the Seacoast’s incredible restaurants.” All while leaving time for his favorite seasonal activity – shoveling!
Kelly MacKay is the Director of Sales at New England Wire Technologies. She has been with the company since 1990 (making for 26 years!) – first as a receptionist and then holding several other positions before being promoted to her current role in 2012. Kelly lives in Littleton with her husband and dog, Lexi. She has two children both of which are currently enrolled in college. Kelly enjoys kayaking, hiking in the White Mountains and listening to Jimmy Buffett. Her favorite hobby is running with her husband and friends, especially participating in team relay races such as Reach the Beach – testing endurance, stamina and…friendships!
Joe Reilly is the NH Regional President for Eastern Bank. He’s had a career in banking for 38 years and was a Co-Founder of Centrix Bank in 1998. Prior to banking, Joe considered being a commercial airline pilot and enrolled in the Air Force ROTC program for two years. He is a native to NH and lives here with his wife and two pets. Joe has served on numerous non-profit boards, currently serving on the NH Charitable Foundation, NH Institute of Art and Tufts Health Freedom Plan boards. When he’s not working, you can find him listening to Fleetwood Mac, golfing in the summer and snowshoeing in the winter. As someone who adores everything about the state, he respects what “the Stay Work Play organization is doing to promote awareness of our assets.”
Doreen Richards is an adjunct professor in the science and business departments of Lakes Region Community College and Granite State College. She also works with students in Laconia, Belmont, and Gilford High Schools as a financial aid counselor for the Lakes Region Scholarship Foundation. Being in the Lakes Region allows her family to explore all aspects that NH has to offer from motorcycle rides through the White Mountains to boating on Lake Winnisquam. Doreen’s favorite hobby is volunteering – her daughter has inspired her to give back through volunteering and accepting disabilities through service. Together they volunteer over 400 hours a year with organizations such as the Special Olympics of NH, Laconia Sachem Band Boosters and the creation of NH Miss Amazing.
Dan O’Halloran is a Realtor at Four Seasons Sotheby’s International Realty. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Lake Sunapee Region Chamber of Commerce since 2012. He is the current president of both the Chamber and the Sunapee Region Board of Realtors. Dan and his wife enjoy traveling; getting out of their comfort zone while meeting new people and experiencing new foods. In his spare time, he can be found hiking in the White Mountains, running with dog, Milo, and going out in Portsmouth and Rye. In the winter, Dan coaches skiing in the “Mighty Mite” program at Mount Sunapee and he loves to do skijoring – skiing behind a horse at full gallop while holding a rope, going off jumps and collecting rings.
Melissa Skarupa is the Community Relations Manager at Dartmouth-Hitchcock. She has volunteered time with many local non-profits and currently serves on the Board of Trustees for the YMCA of Greater Nashua and is part of the Nashua Department of Public Health and Community Service’s Access to Healthcare Work Group. As someone that loves the outdoors and the proximity to the water, mountains and the city, you can find Melissa hiking, kayaking and snowshoeing with family and friends. She is especially fond of running as it’s a great way to explore new areas. In fact, she’s run the Boston Marathon three times and fundraised for the Boston Children’s Hospital.
Matt Newton is the Director of the New Hampshire Film & Television Office in Concord. In this role, he promotes the state as a destination for film, television and other types of media production. Matt originally from Maine, came to the Granite State to attend Keene State College. He moved to Los Angeles, CA for a few years before moving back to the state with his wife to start their family. Being fortunate to work in a field that incorporates both public service and his love of the film industry, “New Hampshire has proven to be a wonderful backdrop that offers a relaxed, creative atmosphere.” Matt is founder of the NH High School Short Film Festival and was a named a 2011 “40 Under Forty” honoree. When he isn’t taking in the variety of film festivals in NH, he enjoys grilling, hiking the trails around Concord, going “letterboxing” (or geocaching) with his children and embarking on “playground tours” visiting various communities and exploring their parks and playgrounds.
Larissa Pyer is the Recruiting Coordinator at the Tuck School of Business in Hanover. Born and raised in NH, Larissa lives in Lebanon with her husband and two fur-babies. The self-proclaimed crazy dog-mom enjoys volunteering at the Upper Valley Humane Society in Enfield, is a member of their Community Council and helps with their Positive Paws program working with shelter dogs. As a strong advocate for rescuing animals, she also helped build the Mascoma Valley Dog Park and currently serves as the organization’s Treasurer and Chair to the Fundraising Committee. In her free time, she loves exploring new sections of the rail trail and hiking Cardigan Mountain. Larissa is also a classically trained singer (soprano) and sings with Cantabile, an auditioned women’s chorus based in the Upper Valley. With her favorite season approaching, she looks forward to apple and pumpkin picking – carving pumpkins for Halloween and making homemade apple butter.
Dan Scanlon is a Business Tenant Consultant at Colliers International in Manchester. He grew up in northeastern Massachusetts, but he has lived in southern NH his entire post graduate life. Dan and his wife have four adult children between them, a granddaughter, a grandson on the way, and live with their beagle, Beau. He appreciates NH because “the recreational opportunities provided by the mountains, lakes, rivers and oceans…and there are plenty of good restaurants, music venues and arts and cultural institutions. There’s something for every season.” Dan also plays piano. In fact, he played part-time professionally for 30 years. As a jazz piano aficionado and one who enjoys salsa music, you may find him at The Music Hall in Portsmouth. When asked what made him say “YES!” to being a judge for this year’s awards competition he is, “so impressed with how many young people are actively engaged in our communities. I like that they get recognized, and am happy to participate in the process.”
Karen Pollard is the Economic Development Manager for the City of Rochester. As a Certified Economic Developer (CEcD), her portfolio includes several successful projects to her local community, including the attraction of Safran Aerospace Composites and the expansion of Albany International. Karen serves on the Advisory Board for Great Bay Community College and is a U.S. Small Business Administration District Champion. She is currently working on her MBA from Northeastern University. When family and friends visit her and her bulldog, Lord Stanley, in NH, she plays “tourist” and plans her favorite stay-cation activities; whether it be bringing them to community events and festivals, farmers markets or visiting new restaurants – especially those with outdoor dining.
Bryan Bouchard is a faculty member and co-chair of the Accounting and Taxation Department at Southern New Hampshire University. He also volunteers his time as a board member at Easter Seals NH and serves on its fiscal committee. Bryan, recipient of the 2015 Rising Stars Awards Civic Leader of the Year award, wanted to participate in the process of selecting one of this year’s winners. He enjoys visiting the Seacoast and the Lakes Region, spending time on the water, and attending concerts and sporting events – particularly NASCAR!
Mariah Morgan is founder and Principal of Stout Heart Creative Agency in downtown Portsmouth. After living in Connecticut, Texas and California, she now lives with her husband and two-month-old son in Portsmouth and vows never to leave. Mariah said, “when I moved here, I realized that I’d found my soul-state. NH has so much to offer…so naturally beautiful, has amazing business opportunities, genuine people, and a host of cultural activities.” She enjoys the shows at Prescott Park Arts Festival and The Music Hall in Portsmouth and The Flying Monkey in Plymouth. In her free time, she loves to spend time at the beach, and hike and run with her Rhodesian Ridgeback, Truckee.
Sam Drazin is the founder and Executive Director of an educational nonprofit organization called Changing Perspectives which provides disability awareness programs in schools. As a student and educator with a hearing loss, he uses his life experience to promote understanding to others. Sam is a former elementary school teacher, and has worked with students and educators throughout New England and across the country. In the summer, Sam enjoys boating and spends as much time as he can out on the water. He likes being outdoors – biking, hiking and taking walks with his mixed breed rescue dog, Cami. When asked why he said “YES!” to being a judge for this year’s awards, Sam answered that he is “excited to learn more about what other young professionals are doing in NH.”
Alexandra “Alex” Horton is the owner of Cafe la Reine in Manchester. As someone that lives and works in Manchester, she is actively involved with the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, Intown Manchester, the Manchester Young Professionals Network and serves as a Commissioner with the Manchester Transit Authority. She and her husband adopted their dog, Keefe, a schnauzer mix, from the Manchester Animal Shelter in 2015; another place Alex spends her time volunteering. She loves that NH has mountains and beaches since during her free time, she enjoys outdoor activities like fishing, standup paddle-boarding, kayaking and skiing. You may also find her doing yoga, enjoying a concert at Bank of NH Pavilion or treating herself to coffee ice cream at Sawyer’s Dairy Bar in Gilford.
Matthew Fossum is Senior Counsel of Eversource Energy. Born in Indiana, Matthew moved around a bit as a child before settling in Concord. While attending college in New Jersey, he met his wife and then returned to NH for law school. He currently resides in Bow with his wife, two daughters and their dog, Bayleigh. When asked why he likes living in NH, Matthew responded, “I like how I can live in the kind of community I want, yet be only a short drive from any and everything I might want to do.” As someone that enjoys being active with running, swimming, playing soccer and skiing, the accessibility to the ocean and mountains is essential.
Tina Nadeau currently serves as Chief Justice of the New Hampshire Superior Court in Concord. A passionate supporter of the drug court system, Tina has delivered a TEDx talk discussing the method and how it improves lives and reduces crime. Tina and her husband recently witnessed their nineteen year-old twins complete their first year of college. Some of Tina’s favorite things to do in NH are running road races, beekeeping, visiting Annabel’s for mocha mud pie and singing in Con Tutti in Portsmouth. Last year, Tina was the Rising Stars Awards keynote speaker where she found herself “inspired by the enthusiasm and innovation of the award winners.” Tina also wants “to stay involved with Stay Work Play so I can contribute meaningfully to this state and so I can stay fresh and invigorated by those who push the envelope.”
New Hampshire native, Jessie Levine, works as County Manager for Sullivan County in Newport. She loves working in NH “because it is a small state where the sectors overlap constantly, creating many opportunities for collaboration.” She is a graduate of Leadership NH Class of 2011. Recently diagnosed with ALS in 2015, she doesn’t let it get in the way of her career or spending time outdoors. She enjoys trail running, hiking and taking her dog for a swim in the lake. Though her favorite activity is tapping the trees in the late winter and collecting sap in the spring. When we asked what made her say, “YES!” to being a Rising Stars Awards judge, she said, “I’ve always wanted to be involved with Stay Work Play!”