Amherst chamber to bestow A+ awards Oct. 3

  • Shardool Parmar, president of the Pioneer Valley Hotel Group, speaking at the Homewood Suites in Hadley during the grand opening Thursday, May 23, 2019. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Saturday, September 07, 2019

AMHERST — A local hotel management company, residents who have led food collection efforts for the Amherst Survival Center, and the founder of a company that promotes safe destinations for LGBTQ+ travelers are among those being honored with A+ awards by the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce.

The awards, to be presented at an Oct. 3 celebration at the Hadley Farms Meeting House, were announced by Chamber Executive Director Claudia Pazmany this week.

The Lifetime Achievement Award is going to the Pioneer Valley Hotel Group, which owns five hotels in the region and has 104 active part-time and full-time employees at its properties in Hadley, including the Hadley Farms site.

Lisa Solowiej of Amherst and Jocelyn Potter of Hadley are each getting a Community Service Award for the Neighborhood Food Project, in which food drivers are undertaken monthly to bring more product to the Amherst Survival Center.

The Young Professional Award will be presented to Carolyn Forcade, operations and student engagement specialist at the Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship at the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts and the founder of The Travel Unicorn. Forcade assists student start-up businesses and brings understanding of this work from her LGBTQ+ travel guide that connects travelers to safe destinations across the world.

Pazmany said the winners illustrate the changing spirit of business in the 21st century.

“The themes are more universal, from those that represent the human experience, to those that capture state-of-the-art innovation and movement,” Pazmany said.

Other recipients include:

Amherst Innovative Living, which is earning a Leader in Innovation Award for environmentally and economically responsible developments that include AmherstWorks, One East Pleasant, Boltwood Place, Kendrick Place and Olympia Place;

Laura Draucker, director of sustainability at Amherst College, who is getting the Leader in Sustainability Award for leading the creation of a climate action plan adopted by the college’s trustees in January that commits the college to carbon neutrality by 2030;

Jessye Deane, director of communications and development for Community Action Pioneer Valley and the owner of F45 Training Hampshire Meadows, who is receiving the Chamber MVP Award for her volunteer work with the chamber.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.