Our third-annual class of the best and the brightest among Generation Next includes superstars from every walk of life—doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs, creative artists and philanthropists—nominated by friends, family, coworkers and Connecticut Magazine’s editors.
PHOTOS BY BOB GRIER PHOTOGRAPHY
Felix Malitsky, 33, Newtown
This lifelong whiz-kid’s star began to rise in the financial industry almost immediately after he landed a job at Ameriprise Financial right out of college. Malitsky quickly climbed the corporate ladder to field-complex director, and word of his financial prowess began to spread within the industry. In 2010, MetLife Financial Group of New York offered him the position of managing director to direct the sales operations of its flagship New York City office. Within two years, he oversaw a 60-percent rise in profitability for the organization, making it one of the company’s most successful offices in the country. About which, he modestly says, “I couldn’t do this without our talented team—they are the unsung heroes.”
Kimberly J. Weintraub, 32, Fairfield
In an industry with few successful women under 40, Weintraub—of Atlantic Residential Mortgage in Westport—stands out as a top mortgage-loan originator. In the field for 10 years, she’s savvy about real estate and mortgage markets, a creative marketer and user of social media, and passionate about her work. Admirers say she builds strong relationships and gains respect by offering extraordinary “white-glove” service, staying ahead of trends and going the extra mile for clients and colleagues.
Heather Harris, 31, Groton
Harris, office manager for Black Hawk II, a party fishing boat from Niantic, started “Black Hawk and the Community” four years ago. To date, the program has, among its numerous accomplishments, donated thousands of pounds of fresh fish to the local food bank, hosted a pajama party to collect jammies for those in need and organized “Fishing for Wishes” with Make-A-Wish Foundation of Connecticut. “Heather [who is also a special education teacher at Mystic Middle School] has made a difference in the lives of hundreds, if not thousands, of residents in Southeastern Connecticut,” says nominator Greg Dubrule. “We look forward to seeing what she’ll come up with next.”
Quentin Phipps, 27, Middletown
Known to all as “Q,” Phipps is rapidly running through a series of civic positions while still in his 20s. He’s served as chairman of the planning and zoning commission and is at present Middletown’s city treasurer. Phipps is also the executive director of the Downtown Business District, which he hopes can benefit from a relatively unspoiled Main Street and the close proximity of Wesleyan University and the Connecticut River. “It’s a dream job in a lot of ways,” he told The Middletown Press last April. “All the pieces are there to put Middletown at the forefront of conversations on what a city to live in, work in and play in should look like.”
Jordan Cohen Coe, 32, Wethersfield
Growing up working at the family ShopRite grocery store in Manchester, Coe learned all aspects of the business, from stocking shelves and setting budgets to employee relations and customer service. Since graduating in 2005 from UConn with an MBA, her role in the enterprise has expanded; she now oversees many business aspects and 400 employees, as well as “The Exceptional Experience” program, aimed at improving conditions for shoppers and employees. She’s also involved with the community, serving on the boards of The East Hartford Chamber of Commerce, The Friends of the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center and Our Piece of the Pie, which assists urban youth.
Christopher Noland Pisciotta, 39, Greenwich
Want to know about a hairstylist? Ask his regular customers. Marjorie Hilton comes up from Manhattan to Christopher Noland Salon on Greenwich Avenue because “Christopher is excellent at what he does—colorist to the stars” and also for “his wonderful personality and sensible, affable disposition.” Kimberly Van Munching notes his work for many local charities and causes but also that “Chris goes beyond the standard hairstylist questions and engages all his clients in quality conversations.” “Christopher is focused on his clients, his team and his community,” says another. Which is perhaps why his salon is such a local anchor after only two years.
Anthony Webb, 32, New Haven
Webb is not only a Dartmouth and University of Chicago Law School grad who practices corporate law and is pursuing his MBA at Yale, he’s someone who since 2007 has helped 1,000 disadvantaged youth nationwide through a program he created called Boys Speak Out. For example, he organized a “business students for a day” event at Yale for Metropolitan Business Academy students that’s being repeated and has inspired similar programs elsewhere. He was drawn here by Yale’s “reputation for intellectual capital and social responsibility”—lucky us.
Jeannie Kenkare, DO, 38, Cheshire
Kenkare cofounded Urgent Care of Connecticut with the idea that health care in acute situations could be offered affordably, and without the ER wait. Five years, five clinics and 100,000 patients later, she’s chief medical officer, runs clinical operations and supervises 20-plus providers for the $7-million-a-year company, whose patient satisfaction is in the 99th percentile. As testament to her success, she’s been invited to work with the state on health-care cost-containment issues; she also volunteers her services teaching physical-examination techniques at Yale.
Adam D. Milne, 39, Mystic
Despite an intense schedule with Pfizer Inc.—which has him constantly traveling between Boston, New York and San Francisco for his job in operations and finance with the company’s Centers for Therapeutic Innovation—Milne has also shown exceptional hands-on dedication in his after-hours role chairing the board of directors of Horizons in South Windham. He’s currently spearheading a massive renewal and repositioning project for the 33-year-old organization, which provides services and support to people with developmental disabilities, and recently organized its first fundraising gala at the Mystic Aquarium. “Adam inspires the staff to leave behind old ideas about charity and dream big,” says Chris McNaboe, Horizons executive director and president.
Jacquelynn Garofano, 28, Milford
Garofano received a B.S. with honors in physics from Southern Connecticut State University in 2006 and a Ph.D. in materials science and engineering from UConn in 2011; she’s now a materials scientist at United Technologies Research Center. While distinguishing herself as a scholar and researcher, she’s also been making a difference as a mentor and role model—through outreach with underserved inner-city students and as a volunteer educator at Yale. Acknowledging the “great people who guided me into science,” she’s passing the torch to the next generation.
Pete DePasquale, 32, Newtown
Currently government-relations manager with Praxair Inc. of Danbury, the largest industrial gases company in North and South America, DePasquale is the company’s key representative to state and local officials, advocating for policies that promote sustainable business and economic growth. Praxair’s associate general counsel and chief compliance officer, Mark D. Nielsen, has recruited him twice—for his current position and back when DePasquale was still in law school, as a member of the legal team serving Massachusetts’ Gov. Mitt Romney. Then Romney’s chief legal counsel, Nielsen was, and still is, impressed with DePasquale’s aptitude for developing expertise on the issues he tackles, saying, “Pete blends his legal experience with good political instincts, strategic thinking and natural New England charm to help Praxair engage with policy makers from Hartford to Albany and Austin, and, of course, Washington, D.C.”
Tanya Clark, 27, Thomaston
“I’m Polish and Italian, so cooking has always been a big part of my life,” says Clark. Inspired by her teacher at Northwestern Region 7 High School, she set out for Johnson & Wales University, where she got her bachelor’s in food-service management, baking & pastry. Then, after stints at Sweet Maria’s and Panera, she opened Cutie Pies in Thomaston with husband and business partner John Clark III. She’s known for her cheesecakes, tier and wedding cakes, pies, cookies and cupcakes—15 kinds a day! Sweet.
Mark Berardi, 38, Southington
As director of membership and training at the Connecticut Association of Nonprofits in Hartford, the enthusiastic Berardi does his part for the greater good, from championing major human rights issues to helping local animal shelters. His actions as advocate and resource provider to the multiple organizations he represents—many that serve the most vulnerable people in the state—have a direct impact on the mission of each cause. He also manages the education arm of the association, planning workshops, training sessions and an annual conference where attendees get the opportunity to network with peers and find new solutions for success.
Alexandra J. Miele, 25, Westbrook
Miele, a Certified Financial Planner™ with Andriole Wealth Management Group in Madison, graduated from Merrill Lynch’s three-year financial adviser training program in June 2012, a feat that, at the age of 25, shows “incredible drive and dedication,” and “a maturity and professionalism beyond her years,” report nominators. Nonetheless, it’s not all about the numbers with Alex, who is also known for her “passion to invest in her community.” Miele is the youngest board member of the Madison Rotary Club (where she also serves as co-adviser for the Interact Club at Daniel Hand High School), and the Women & Family Life Center in Guilford.
Keith Dakin, 36, Monroe
Radio has always been a passion of Dakin’s. The grad of the prestigious S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse went on to be director of rock programming and digital strategy at Cox Radio’s WPLR in New Haven. His efforts on a 24/7 emergency networking system that provided information to communities without power during Hurricane Irene in 2011 garnered him an invitation to speak at the National Association of Broadcasters Convention, and a promotion to operations manager and director of digital strategy for Cox. He and his team there have most recently created CTBoom.com, a website that showcases offbeat stories from Connecticut and beyond.
Nathan Grube, 37, West Hartford
As tournament director of the Travelers Championship since 2005, the smooth, affable Grube has been the driving force behind the event’s rise to prominence on the PGA Tour as well as the ever-growing funds raised each year for local charities—a record $1.1 million in 2012, which was divided among 100 groups, including The Hole in The Wall Gang Camp in Ashford. Grube spends much of the year preparing for the event and aggressively recruiting the top players in the world, efforts that come to a head during tournament week when he’s also responsible for directing 4,200 volunteers, handling requests from 350 sponsors and satisfying the needs of 160 PGA pros (and their caddies and families). Oh, and don’t forget about making sure the tens of thousands of spectators enjoy themselves, too.
William Haughey, 31, Rowayton
Haughey was a Goldman Sachs investment analyst when a trip to Honduras changed his life—and thousands more. He and his brother Chris founded Tegu, a company now based in Darien that harvests Honduran hardwoods for magnetic wooden blocks, playthings sold abroad that give back to the community. How so? Tegu not only replants more trees than it uses, it provides tuition to keep Tegucigalpan children in school and out of the dumps, where many collect recyclables to pay for school.
Dave Marcoux, 28, Marshall Deming, 28, & Luke Davis, 26, Hartford
The Hartford Denim Co. story reads like a chronicle of The American Dream. Three young entrepreneurs who grew up together in West Hartford start out making jeans by hand in one of their mother’s garages, and after three years of working odd jobs to keep themselves afloat—in addition to continuing to take orders and hand-sew jeans—their high-end pants ($250-$360 a pair) are becoming sought after by fashionistas around the world. The good news is that rather than selling out and letting their jeans be made en masse in a third-world sweatshop, Marcoux, Deming and Davis are sticking to their principles and what has generated success so far. They make their jeans on vintage Singer sewing machines from high-quality materials, using local products when possible (like buttons from Waterbury) and relying on satisfied- customer word-of-mouth rather than any sort of slick marketing plan. The trio is also committed to proudly manufacturing jeans and doing business in downtown Hartford—each pair features a Connecticut-shaped patch that proclaims “Made in Hartford.” The jeansmakers three are also active with their local Neighborhood Revitalization Zone, with Marcoux recently being voted to the board.
Maggie Lord, 30, Fairfield
In 2009, when Lord was planning her wedding in the Wisconsin lake town of her childhood summers, she began blogging about her inspirations and the challenges she encountered. She never imagined then that she’d parlay that into a career. Well, the wedding went off without a hitch, and today, her Rustic Wedding Chic blog is still going strong—in fact, it’s the No. 1 resource for brides looking for advice, tips and venue ideas for their own countrified weddings. Her first book, Rustic Wedding Chic, came out last August, with two more to follow. She’s a sought-after wedding expert, having appeared on TV, radio and podcasts, and is a contributor toThe Huffington Post and DIY Weddings Magazine. Lord also has a line of rustic wedding favors and goods at the Whispering Pines catalog online store.
Erika Wilson, 32, Hartford
As Director of Reporting and Insights at Optum, a subsidiary of United Health Group, Wilson has a commitment to health and wellness that extends to the community around her. Case in point: when she served on Optum’s Health and Wellness Committee, she founded an annual farmers’ market at its Rocky Hill location, where employees could eat healthy and support local farmers. Wilson is also on the board of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Chambery’s Mission Advancement Council, a key member of the United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut Women’s Leadership Council and a staunch supporter of the West Hartford Public Library Foundation. “All this under the age of 40,” marvels her nominator.
Scott M. Harris Jr., 24, Hamden
Elected to Hamden’s town council at the age of 23, Harris is on a quest to improve education and eliminate child poverty. Beyond his council efforts, the UMass grad is electoral campaigns manager for the Great New England Public Schools Alliance (GNEPSA), which seeks to give children and families in search of a great education a voice in the political process. “I grew up poor in New Haven,” he says. “I believe education can change people’s lives—that was the case with me.”
Raeann Groves, 23, Essex
Groves is the youngest honoree, but she’s no less accomplished for that fact. Indeed, she recently celebrated her first anniversary as owner of Silkworm, an upscale clothing boutique in Essex. It’s a role she was well-prepared for, having graduated cum laude from Philadelphia University’s fashion industry management program, interned at Tommy Hilfiger and done a stint at Elie Tahari. In the words of an employee, she has confidence aplenty, “a keen eye for style” and “genuinely enjoys making her customers feel and look great.” Groves is also an active member of the Essex Child & Family Auxiliary and has been actively involved with Teenzone, a program devoted to building self-esteem in girls.
Jennifer Zembruski, 36, Naugatuck
This “super dynamo of a person” (so described by Sheree Marcucci, marketing and public relations officer at Waterbury’s Palace Theater), started her arts business career during her undergrad years as a summer intern at The Bushnell in Hartford. Upon graduation, Zembruski worked at The Bushnell before becoming executive director of the Waterbury Symphony Orchestra and, ultimately, the first person hired by Palace Theater CEO Frank Tavera—who’d been her mentor during her Bushnell internship—when the theater was planning its grand reopening in 2004. Now COO, she handles all the theater’s daily operations and logistics, as well as all programming not included in its Broadway Series. Says Marcucci, “Whether facing Secret Service operatives when former President Bill Clinton visited the venue or a whole host of entertainment industry giants (and their super-sized egos), Jennifer stays cool and keeps the rest of the staff on point and unruffled.”
Jeffrey J. White, 34, Simsbury
An active partner and chair of Robinson & Cole’s appellate practice group, White is as busy—and successful—in court as he is out of it. In addition to winning the Judge Maxwell Heiman Memorial Award for high standards of legal ethics and scholarship, he’s also been recognized by the U.S. District Court with an award for excellence in pro bono work after having provided more than 600 hours of free legal services over the past three years. As chair of the Young Lawyers Section of the Connecticut Bar Association, White has worked with the Billings Forge Community Works to establish an annual holiday party for children, and is an active volunteer board member with the New England Air Museum.
Patrick Riccards, 39, Branford
With education invariably at the forefront of the public agenda both locally and in Hartford, Riccards, the CEO of ConnCAN—the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now—is right in the middle of things, challenging the status quo. During the last legislative session, he worked to promote significant educational reform with legislators, community leaders, parents and others, which led to expanded pre-kindergarten, a comprehensive teacher-evaluation system and increased school-choice options. There’s no telling what this “key voice for education reform” might accomplish in his second year on the job!
Michael D. Goldfarb, 34, West Hartford
Former clerk for Connecticut Supreme Court Justice Peter T. Zarella, Goldfarb has been described as “a truly gifted attorney” in a firm (Murtha Cullina) with many fine ones. Respected for his zealous client advocacy and commitment to the profession, he’s been elected to the Connecticut Bar Association House of Delegates, is director of government relations for CBA’s young lawyers section and worked pro bono for the Connecticut Veterans Legal Center. Having represented Attorney General George Jepsen in litigation regarding eligibility to hold office, he’s often quoted in the media on litigation and elections-law issues.
Elie Ferneini, 36, Hamden
Ferneini “exemplifies a good Connecticut citizen,” says the colleague who nominated him. “He is a father, doctor, educator and role model, but above all, a good person”—you’ll get no arguments here. Ferneini, who received his M.D. and D.M.D. from the University of Connecticut, is an oral and maxillofacial surgeon known not only for his compassion for his patients, but for his work as volunteer faculty at UConn’s schools of medicine and dental medicine and his participation in international medical missions, most recently a July 2012 pilgrimage to the Dominican Republic with a team of his UConn dental students.
Christa Allen, 34, Fairfield
A supercharged retail and fashion professional whose résumé ranges from working at Vogue to currently leading a hard-charging marketing team at Westfarms Mall in Farmington, Allen is also a force in the realm of charitable community activism. Having lost her mother-in-law to breast cancer, she’s won the hearts of those she works with at the Connecticut affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Under her chairmanship in 2010 and 2011, the Komen Connecticut Race for the Cure—an event that traditionally attracts more than 15,000 spectators and raises close to $1 million—experienced the largest growth in its 20-year history. “Christa sets the bar high and inspires others to do so,” says Anne Morris, executive director of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. “She truly creates a sense of ‘team.’”
Carrie Titolo, 25, West Hartford
As a member of the steering committee of The Young Women’s Leadership Program, a project of the Connecticut General Assembly’s Permanent Commission on the Status of Women, Titolo is on a mission to inspire and empower young women to seek leadership roles. Over the last two years, in her role as Communications and Events Coordinator for the Connecticut affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, she has helped the organization provide more than $1 million in community grants to other Connecticut nonprofits. Says her nominator: “Carrie possesses a depth of character, instinctive good judgment, unwavering dedication and relentless work ethic that not only serves her employer well, but benefits the broader community.”
Thomas Tedesco, 34, Glastonbury
From graduate assistant with UConn women’s basketball to director of operations for the WNBA, Tom Tedesco seemed on course to work in basketball administration. But then he joined Outrageous Ventures in Hartford, where he tripled sales in two years and was named COO. Now director of business development for The Music People in Berlin, he oversees new initiatives (e.g., forming a sister company in China) and was instrumental in having the pro audio distributor named a top state workplace. He still plays basketball, and also runs for the cure.
Michael Votto, 34, Wallingford
It’s amazing how often a paper route turns out to be a predictor of later entrepreneurial success. Michael Votto started his at age 7 and kept it going till he was 14, when he gave it up . . . to start a painting company. Today, Votto’s a dynamic attorney—he’s currently associate general counsel of the Knights of Columbus—and, no surprise here, president of a fast-growing, family-run wine-importing, tourism and consulting company called Votto Vines. With his partners, he’s helped organize charitable events benefitting the St. Francis Home for Children in New Haven and the Hospital for Special Care in New Britain. While in private practice, he did pro bono work for Habitat for Humanity and the Mental Health Association of New York City.
Jarrett Solomon, 32, West Hartford
As a senior financial adviser and a certified financial planner at Connecticut Wealth Management in Farmington, where he is overseer of the investment committee, Solomon has established himself as a reliable resource for both investors and other investment professionals. He has published articles in Financial Advisor magazine and Hartford Business Journal, and has been a guest blogger on Forbes.com. Solomon also volunteers in various endeavors: In addition to being a budget coach to low-income families through Co-opportunity, a Hartford-based nonprofit, he mentors youth with Nutmeg Big Brothers Big Sisters, and tutors engineering students in business at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Jeff (Zeke) Zyjeski, 39, Avon
Zyjeski’s always been a hard worker—he put himself through college and law school (at UConn), the first in his family to do so; worked at the state capitol as a staffer for the house judiciary committee; and is now a practicing courtroom lawyer and lobbyist for Gaffney, Bennett & Associates in New Britain. He’s also a practicing Buddhist (he teaches every Sunday), a rabid Phish and Primus fan, and, according to his nominator, is “well-loved, respected and an overall wonderful person.”
Benjamin Gettinger, 33, Milford
Trouble in paradise? Gettinger may be your man. His principal areas of practice with the New Haven firm Lynch, Traub, Keefe & Errante include criminal defense, family law and general litigation, with a focus on high-conflict cases. He’s been described in the media as “the go-to guy in Greater New Haven” for divorces. In addition, he advises municipalities, police officers and politicians on a variety of issues, including labor and employment disputes, Freedom of Information Act requests and general litigation matters. Does he have other ambitions? Could be. Gettinger is president of the Greater New Haven Young Democrats and treasurer of the Milford Democratic Town Committee.
Taryn Mondi, 34, West Hartford
By all accounts, Mondi is a paragon in her field. She’s a senior V.P., Complex Manager of three locations at Wells Fargo Advisors covering 45 advisers, 65 employees, $22 million in revenue and $3.5 billion in assets. She’s a Registered Corporate Coach, and 2010 graduate of the Branch Manager Leadership Program. Somehow she also finds time to be on the executive committee for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Connecticut chapter, helping to raise funds for and organize the annual Light the Night Walks throughout the state. And, in return for letting employees wear jeans on Fridays, she collects $5 from each one, and donates the monies to local nonprofits.
Jeremy C. Lowe, 38, Hartford
Lowe’s job as a trial lawyer at the Hartford firm of Axinn, Veltrop & Harkrider is enough to occupy anyone around the clock (and on occasion it has busied him day and night), but his achievements are hardly limited to the courtroom. The only openly gay partner at his firm, he has a passion for the law, his family and those in need. Lowe’s good work against such giants as Pfizer, Tyco and Kodak has won the plaudits of colleagues, while his pro bono efforts for Adoptions from the Heart and the Hartford Rescue Mission have made him friends in the city and beyond.
Joel Viehland, 36, Washington
Viehland, executive chef at Washington’s Community Table, is a rising star in Connecticut’s restaurant firmament. Since Community Table opened in 2010, it’s been nominated for best new restaurant in America by the James Beard Foundation, and Viehland’s been nominated best new chef in New England by Food & Wine magazine. The Johnson & Wales grad, who previously worked at Gramercy Tavern in New York City, is known for his “unshakable commitment to local food sources”—he’s twice won Slow Foods’ “Snail of Approval.”
Carolyn Kuan, 34, Hartford
From the moment she was appointed the Hartford Symphony Orchestra’s first woman conductor/director in 2011, Kuan has made it her primary goal to turn the HSO into a truly community-interactive arts organization. She’s kicked off each season with a free concert in Bushnell Park, led Discovery Concerts at The Bushnell for hundreds of local schoolchildren, and developed unique programming and collaborations in an effort to draw new and more varied symphony audiences. This season, the HSO Pops! series will celebrate the Goodspeed Opera House’s 50th anniversary and host “Playing with Food!” in which some of Hartford’s great chefs will pair demonstrations of their signature dishes with musical selections chosen by Kuan. “Hartford needs a thriving and thrilling orchestra now more than ever,” says HSO violinist Debby Tyler. “I’m proud to be a member under Carolyn’s leadership.”
(This article was originally published on a different platform. Some formatting changes may have occurred.)
This article appeared in the January 2013 issue of Connecticut Magazine
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