Hartford Business Journal Articles

Daniels helps build Wepco Plastics’ future workforce

Charles Daniels left the corporate world a few years ago and joined the small, family-owned Wepco Plastics Inc. where he has served as CFO since 2013. Known for moving around in his career, Daniels says he’s there to stay, knowing he’s played a big role in helping turnaround the Middlefield-based injection-molding company.

When Daniels came on board, he was charged with planning, budgeting and getting the business operation in line. It was a tough time for Wepco. After 9/11, they lost a lot of customers because other industries had slowed down and companies were going overseas for short-run production and product development. Once 50-plus employees strong, Wepco had dwindled to just 12 workers. People were covering multiple jobs and doing too much overall.

When Wepco President David Parmalee suggested hiring his childhood friend, Daniels, and company owner Waldo Parmalee agreed to it, things changed drastically.

“He bailed out all of the mistakes that I had been making in the rush, and things started going more and more smoothly,” Waldo Parmalee said. “And I also recognized that he could be a real asset to the company. He has brought the state of Connecticut and my company together on numerous projects, with grants and helping with schooling for some of our employees. He’s changed our bottom line.”

Specifically, Daniels since 2014 has helped increase the company’s income by 13 percent and net profits by 203 percent through cost reductions and grant revenues. Wepco now employs 23 people and specializes in prototypes and short- to medium-run production of plastic-injection molded parts that are designed by customers in the consumer goods, defense, marine, electronics, medical and aerospace industries. They ship to an average of 50 customers a month and work with approximately 150 companies each year.

Daniels, 40, went to college for hospitality management and worked at Marriot International and Bank of America. He started a small business consulting company and got his MBA. He’s currently studying to become a certified management accountant (CMA).

Daniels and both Parmalees go back nearly 30 years. Daniels and Dave Parmalee played on the same little league team, and Waldo Parmalee was their coach.

Daniels’ current “big crusade” is partnering with different Connecticut institutions, community colleges and tech schools to change their curriculums and become more specialized in certain areas in order to help groom a future workforce for the many injection-molding companies in the state.

“There’s a term, the ‘silver tsunami,’ of all these people who are 65, 70 years old working in a factory and when they retire there’s nobody behind them to fill in. So, what do we do?” Daniels asked. “How do we pay for it? Who’s going to train them? A company like us, we’re small. When we have to train somebody it directly affects our productivity because we don’t have a HR department or a training manager.”

To combat this problem, he created a partnership with ARBURG, a manufacturer of injection-molding machines based in Rocky Hill, Goodwin College and The Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology (CCAT) to work together in building a manufacturing employment stream “because there’s such a dearth of people out there.”

“My goal is, hopefully it will take off and they’ll have a good selection of students every year who can come out into the workforce ready to contribute. And we’ll further that by sending people back for continuing education,” Daniels said.

Daniels said he is “constantly looking for new ways to get more bang for our buck.” He earned a grant through Eversource that helped the company examine its business methods, including how it obtains quotes and processes orders. The exercise has helped the company trim costs, reduce lead time, improve customer satisfaction and increase revenue.

Daniels has also helped Wepco use the state’s Subsidized Training and Employment Program (Step Up), which reimburses 50 percent of training costs if a company hires people who are unemployed. “It’s investing in our workforce and in our future. Before we weren’t sending people to training courses because it was expensive and we were losing them for a week,” he explained. Under Daniels’ leadership, Wepco has doubled its trade-show appearances and obtained a grant through the state’s Manufacturing Innovation Fund Voucher Program that allowed it to purchase a software program for its design/mold-building room.

Daniels recently participated on a panel discussion for The National Fund, where he discussed ways to help underemployed people, ages 18 to 29, find jobs. He spoke about the ways Wepco trains youth and how the company finds and works with young people.

Looking toward the future, Daniels said he wants to improve networking with similar companies in the industry.

“Even though we’re looking for the same type of business, if we can work together and save money or share ideas and things like that, there’s some opportunity to share resources,” he said.

Falvey helps PhysicianOne expand urgent care footprint

Since Paul Falvey took over as CFO of PhysicianOne Urgent Care in 2015, the quick-service healthcare provider has doubled its number of locations in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York from nine to 18.

He focused on building a team to tackle areas such as finance, operations and real estate, and searched for communities that lacked urgent care, including Glastonbury.

The market has been receptive to these facilities, Falvey said, which treat non-life-threatening medical conditions and are a cost-effective alternative to the emergency room.

PhysicianOne Urgent Care is owned by physicians and private equity investors and was formed in 2008 by three ER physicians in Southbury. It’s growing a Greater Hartford presence and now has 12 centers in Connecticut, four in Massachusetts and two in Westchester County in New York.

Plans for expansion are ongoing and Falvey is helping lead those efforts.

While building his team, Falvey, who started his career as an accountant and has been involved in medical technology companies and healthcare services companies since the early ’90s, said he’s focused on financial and project management.

“It’s all about making sure you have the right people in an organization because in a smaller resource limited company you have to have people who are willing to do more with less and who don’t necessarily see any barriers to their job and what has to get done. That’s the vision, and the way we approached it,” he said.

Falvey has been instrumental in PhysicianOne’s recent collaboration with Yale New Haven Health to build a continuum of care for patients in Connecticut. “People have a wide variety of healthcare needs over the span of their life cycle. And urgent care is just one of those stops along the way,” he said. “In order for us to really take our business to the next level, it made sense for us to partner with a health system that had all of those other pieces that we don’t have [such as primary care physicians].”

Lynne Rosen, PhysicianOne Urgent Care’s CEO, said Falvey’s role and impact go well beyond optimizing the company’s performance.

“Paul is a partner in shaping our strategy and leading our business development,” Rosen said. “Paul’s integrity and commitment to excellence have positioned the company to be a leader in the market.”

Insurers have been very welcoming of urgent care centers because it’s a low-cost alternative to the emergency room. And while value is “a big part of the equation,” quality and patient care are equally important, Falvey said. And patients are happy that urgent care exists.

“I think it complements the fact, from a cost-efficiency perspective, it’s good care in the right place at the right time,” he noted.

Falvey was tasked with securing capital to finance PhysicianOne’s growth. The group is supported by PineBridge Investments and Pulse Equity Partners. In the past year, they were financed by Enhanced Capital Partners LLC.

Hitesh Shah, Enhanced Capital Partners’ vice president, said Falvey has played a key role in successfully planning and implementing PhysicianOne Urgent Care’s growth initiatives last year and has positioned the company to grow more rapidly in Connecticut.

PhysicianOne Urgent Care is a member of the Urgent Care Association of America. In early May 2017, Falvey traveled to Washington, D.C., to support legislation that would provide veterans greater access to urgent care centers.

“There’s still limited access outside of the VA system, so they just can’t up and go where they want to go [in an emergency] like maybe you and I can do,” Falvey explained. “It seems almost like a no-brainer because it will be good for the veterans, and it will be good for the costs because they won’t be going to the emergency room as much.”

What’s the vision for PhysicianOne over the next year?

“We are still very interested in growth, so growth will be another part of it,” Falvey said. “We will continue to look at new locations, but I think the market is starting to shift a little bit so I think there may be opportunities from an acquisition perspective. There are smaller operators that are seeing the market starting to change, and affiliating or selling to a larger operator may be something that would be of interest. I think that will be our combined focus for next year.”

Love of sports drives Bessette’s corporate, civic success

Andy Bessette’s love of athletics has ultimately led to his nearly four-decade career at The Travelers Cos. and the insurer’s title sponsorship of the professional golf tournament, the Travelers Championship.

The path to becoming executive vice president and chief administrative officer started in college when Bessette was a hammer thrower and four-time Division I All-American athlete.

After graduation, Bessette was an economic geographer who helped companies determine the best locations to open offices. In 1977, he was hired by Sheraton and joined the Olympic Job Opportunities program to compete with the Soviet bloc of countries by working half a day and training during the other half.

In 1980, Bessette won the Olympic trials. Due to the boycott, however, he was unable to compete in the Moscow games. When Sheraton discontinued its program, Travelers hired him for the same initiative in a combined human resources and facilities position.

“I worked in the mail room. I worked in the supply room. I worked my way up from all those basic functions you need to run a company,” he said.

In 1984, Bessette became an alternate on the Olympic team but decided it was time to transition full time at Travelers. He continued his work in HR and facilities where he was in charge of company infrastructure.

Throughout his career, Bessette has witnessed many mergers and acquisitions as well as divestitures.

• In 1995, Travelers merged with Aetna, and the following year, Travelers spun off its healthcare business.

• In 1998, Travelers merged with Citicorp, which became Citigroup, but a few years later, they divested.

• In 2002, Bessette left Travelers and became executive vice president and chief administrative officer at the St. Paul Cos. alongside CEO Jay Fishman.

• St. Paul merged with Travelers in 2004, and Bessette and Fishman returned, keeping their same roles.

“It’s very much a culture of a lot of mixed backgrounds,” Bessette said. “A lot of successes and not so successes, but we’re like a mutt. We’re an accumulation of a lot of different companies.”

Today, Travelers is headquartered in New York, but has major operations in Hartford.

By far, one of Bessette’s biggest accomplishments was working with Fishman in 2007 to take charge of what would become the Travelers Championship. Through research they found that golf was the most popular sport for insurance companies.

“We’ve grown this thing to something that’s just enormous and beyond belief,” Bessette said. “Every year our motto, and I’ve always had this motto throughout my whole life, is that the status quo is unacceptable. You have to always get better. If you’re not better tomorrow than you are today, than you’re going backwards.”

The 2016 championship raised $2.8 million for charity. Of that amount, $1.3 million was allocated to the Bruce Edwards Foundation for ALS Research in honor of Fishman, who battled ALS and succumbed to the disease later that year.

Travelers’ current CEO Alan Schnitzer noted, “The heart and passion Andy brings to everything he does has had an outsized impact on Travelers and the Hartford community. His leadership role with the Travelers Championship has brought millions to the state’s economy each year and generated nearly $13 million for hundreds of nonprofit organizations since Travelers became the title sponsor. It’s safe to say that Andy has made Travelers, our community and everything else he’s touched better than it was before he got involved. He is a leader in every sense of the word.”

Bessette also spearheaded other projects, such as creating a fitness center in the 1980s that survived through the 2000s, renovating the Travelers’ tower and rebuilding the outdoor plaza.

But he’s also enjoyed his work in HR: “The HR side has always been very intriguing to me because there’s a very technical side to HR, and there’s a very human side to HR. You’re always trying to balance the two of those things to make sure that your retirement plans are right but also to make sure that people feel good about what’s going on here and how the place is being run.”

Bessette is a member of many boards and organizations, but as a 1975 graduate of the University of Connecticut, being on the school’s board of trustees is particularly special, he said. He is also the vice chair of the Capital Region Development Authority, which is responsible for housing and leading development and growth in the region.

Working closely with Gov. Dannel Malloy, in the last three years CRDA has built over 1,100 housing units that are over 90 percent leased.

“I’ve been totally blown away that we’ve built all these housing units in Hartford and they get sucked up immediately,” Bessette said. “And it’s not just young people. It’s middle-aged and elderly people who want to get out of houses and come downtown.”

Lawson’s fundraising prowess leaves lasting Hartford legacy

Special events coordinator Margaret Lawson, who is now a private consultant, has led a storied career. She’s rubbed elbows with U.S. and foreign presidents, was a contestant (and winner) on the TV game show “To Tell the Truth,” and earned the keys to the city of Munich, Germany.

Lawson is best-known in Greater Hartford as a fundraising machine, having procured millions of dollars from donors over the years for various organizations, ranging from the Hartford Symphony Orchestra to the American School for the Deaf.

She’s also broken barriers, becoming the first female president in the history of The Hartford Club.

The daughter of Scottish and Hungarian immigrants, Lawson grew up in Milford and graduated from Bryant University at age 19 with a bachelor’s degree in marketing and sales. In the 1960s, she joined Arthur Lumsden at the Greater Hartford Chamber of Commerce where she worked for 18 years, moving her way up from assistant to vice president and corporate secretary.

In 1965, she won International Secretary of the Year, which resulted in her game show appearance.

At the time, the chamber was “the social hub of Greater Hartford,” and people would do anything to get on Lawson’s invitation list to events.

“The only way to do that was to contribute and join the chamber,” Lawson recalled. “I said, for $1,000 you can get on the list.”

“I felt I was doing a lot to help create programs and change the city and make it come alive and do good things. I’ve always had this feeling of giving back.”

One moment she’ll never forget is getting clearance from the U.S. State Department to travel to Germany and help Lumsden organize local business communities there. That’s when the Munich mayor gave her the key to the city.

In 1973, she became one of the first two women to join The Hartford Club. Ten years later, she was the club’s first female president, helping make the club profitable again.

She’s still on the club’s board and has raised over $1 million for the organization. Peter Kelly, founder of Hartford law firm Updike, Kelly & Spellacy, said Lawson “single-handedly” saved the club when it was going through financial struggles.

“She knows the business,” Kelly said. “She’s very good at what she does.”

In 1981, Lawson became the vice president of marketing and the first female executive at specialty insurer Hartford Steam Boiler at a time when women weren’t readily accepted in the corporate workplace. She stayed for 28 years. One of her first tasks was deciding what to do with the vacant 20th floor at their new building on One State Street.

She helped create On20, which has since been named one of the top scenic-view restaurants in the country.

Lawson was responsible for advertising and public relations with the goal of expanding Hartford Steam Boiler’s brand recognition worldwide. She hung a model of the company’s logo in New York City’s prestigious 21 Club and put ads in Fortune magazine about Steam Boiler’s involvement in the development of the channel tunnel between the south of England to northern France.

In the late 80s and early 90s, Lawson created a model on workplace fundraising campaigns, starting with Hartford Steam Boiler. In just a few years, she raised a couple million dollars from employees alone. “Other companies looked at this model and they adapted it to their companies and their employees. And pretty soon we recruited 60 companies in the Hartford area that had workplace campaigns,” she explained.

A big supporter of Junior Achievement, Lawson was chairman for three years and in 1990 traveled with the national board to Moscow to introduce the program to the Soviet Union. She was on the stage with Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin when they signed the papers. Lawson also met Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Jimmy Carter through her connections.

In 2005, she facilitated the grand opening of the Hartford Marriott Downtown while helping the Greater Hartford Arts Council make over $400,000 for its United Arts Campaign. In 2010, Lawson organized a gala to honor Kelly, the Hartford lawyer. The event mushroomed to more than 800 guests and raised over $400,000 for Connecticut Public Television, The International Foundation for Electoral Systems and Malta House of Care.

Lawson also organized CPTV’s 50th anniversary celebration in 2013 and raised $1 million for the network to create a Learning Lab that helps veterans, high school kids and others learn technical and other skills.

“She has done some extraordinary events for us,” said Jerry Franklin, CPTV’s president and CEO, noting that Lawson raised over $2 million for the organization over the past decade. “People love her and admire her because of her tenacity … and people run from her because she is so tenacious and because her follow-up is relentless. And she just won’t give up.”

Lawson said she has no plans to retire. “I think life can be very interesting, but you have to make it interesting,” she said. “I feel there’s an opportunity that presents itself everyday.”

Clark turns the ‘wheels’ at Goodwin College

Goodwin College helps nontraditional students, who often struggle with time, money or support, reach their dreams of earning degrees in many disciplines, including nursing, public health and accounting.

More than 50 percent are the first in their families to pursue higher education.

Over the past 20 years, Executive Vice President and Provost Ann Clark has been instrumental in helping these students fulfill their dreams and growing the college from 400 to 3,500 students with 12 baccalaureate degrees, seven associate degrees and a number of certificates. One of her biggest functions is being a problem solver.

“I think probably the best characteristic for this job is I’m a little bit fearless about talking about things. And as I’ve gotten older I’ve gotten more fearless, not less,” she said.

Clark, 73, met the college president, Mark Scheinberg, in the 1970s. She hired the then 22-year-old for his first position out of school. Twenty years later, he owned the Data Institute and called Clark to help him make the school degree granting, start a nursing program, and build a new campus on the Connecticut River.

Clark was not a nurse, had never worked in a college environment, and Scheinberg did not own a single piece of land near the river, yet they were not deterred. “You see this marriage of two people going, ‘What could go wrong and how could we not accomplish whatever it is we set out to do?’ ” she said.

When she began working with Scheinberg, he told her to find the biggest problem and fix it. Over the years, Clark has worn many hats: chief academic officer, chief operations officer and chief of staff. She also worked in human resources and payroll. She is a bit of a “guru,” according to Scheinberg.

“Much of what I do is outward facing, and I’m negotiating and much more visible,” he said. “Internally, all the things that are happening, the interdepartmental communications and collaborations, all that is being done under her hand. My part looks really, really pretty. Her part ends up being something that is massively important but oftentimes unsung.”

By 1999, the college became degree granting. Goodwin graduated its first nursing class in 2003 and moved to a campus on the Connecticut River in 2008. And while Scheinberg is the face of the college, they both agree that Clark makes the wheels turn.

One of the things Clark has to do is put out the proverbial fires, which often involve students. “I have a tendency when everyone’s going crazy, I get calmer. I used to do a lot of whitewater rafting, mountain climbing and kayaking — some dangerous things I knew if you panicked, you could die,” she said. “So, I don’t panic. I think I strive on stress.”

In March, the nursing director told Clark that an assistant mistakenly sent out a letter of acceptance to a student. Clark had to smooth things over with the family. “I feel really bad we did something to hurt this girl,” she said, adding that the college offered to do whatever they could to rectify the situation, such as providing a tutor. And as long as the student earns the right to enter the program, the college will also pay her tuition.

Clark is able to handle stressors like this with ease. “I’m a believer in never letting them see you sweat. Especially when you’ve got young people around you who are unsure of the next step,” she said

According to Scheinberg, Clark has a talent for saying the right thing in not-so-great circumstances. “What’s beautiful about Ann is that people are comfortable and feel safe in her judgment when she’s making tough conversations in a very, very honest and authentic way,” he said.

In addition to crisis management, Clark hires and manages her staff and believes one of her biggest accomplishments is her ability to pick talented people. Scheinberg agrees, adding that she’s also very good “at helping people architect their work.”

A few years ago, Clark established an endowment scholarship named the David Award after author Malcolm Gladwell’s book, “David And Goliath.” Her husband is also named David. It was created for “the little person who’s had a tough road and gutted it out,” according to Clark. One of her goals is to get the endowment to a sustaining level before she retires, which isn’t happening in the foreseeable future.

Clark continues to look towards the future of Goodwin College. Expansion plans include an international student market as well as residential halls. The college is also in the process of incorporating a master’s degree program. “That may be my last hurrah,” Clark said.

Every year her staff meets at a retreat, and she asks them if it’s time for her to go, and every year they keep saying “no.” As long as she can continue to contribute, Clark said she will keep working.

“My legacy is to see this organization thriving and offering the same kind of support to students who have had a pretty tough way,” she said.

DelMonico is Murtha Cullina’s consensus builder

At a time when there are an increasing number of women being named managing partners at law firms in Connecticut and around the country, Jennifer DelMonico still breaks the mold.

It’s not often that one female managing partner succeeds another, but that’s what happened with DelMonico at Hartford law firm Murtha Cullina, which has six offices in three states. She took over the managing partner position from one of her mentors, Elizabeth Stewart, who helped hire her.

DelMonico attributes it to the way women relate to others.

“Not to stereotype, but I think we’re problem solvers. We try to build consensus. We work with people,” DelMonico explained. “A big part of running a firm like this is dealing with all the partners, making sure people are comfortable with whatever we’re doing and taking the time to sit down one on one and have those conversations and work out issues. I think that may be something women spend a little more time on or think of as more important than men, and it may be an area where it may be good to have a female leader.”

DelMonico joined the firm in 2000 after moving to Connecticut from Atlanta, Ga. She made partner in 2005 and managing partner in 2015. She has been re-elected to a second term as managing partner through 2020.

Prior to becoming managing partner, Delmonico was chair of the firm’s litigation department.

“She did an excellent job. She was in the hot seat, so to speak, in that position when the country was in the throes of the recession,” said Stewart, the former managing partner. “For litigators, and we include our bankruptcy people in our litigation department, that was just a very busy time for us. … All the bankruptcies, foreclosures, employment actions, collections, contract breach cases, you name it, are all coming at us.”

DelMonico managed the 50 or so litigators at the time, making sure everyone’s workloads were balanced and “no one was going insane,” Stewart noted. Meanwhile, Delmonico was continuing to grow the department and helping ensure junior attorneys were learning the practice of law — an enormous responsibility.

“We expect our people who are in those management positions to actually still practice as a lawyer as well,” Stewart explained. “And she did do that. And I think in the midst of that had her third son. It was definitely a heavy load.” DelMonico, 43, is the mother of three children, ages 13, 11 and 7.

As managing partner, DelMonico has continued to work as a trial attorney, representing defendants in tort and product liability cases and commercial litigation. She manages financial and human resource strategies, has expanded the firm by more than 25 attorneys, and introduced appellate, intellectual property and immigration practices.

In the meantime, once a year she gives the “Murtha Talks” to make herself available to the firm’s employees. “I definitely believe the more you get to know someone on a personal level the better you work together, especially because we emphasize teamwork so much,” she explained.

DelMonico has been instrumental in new development initiatives that have helped increase revenues, primarily by focusing on client services. As chair of the firm’s executive committee, she said her goal is “constantly making sure we’re pushing, moving forward, working on longer-term projects like client services and getting the technology in place to improve the firm.”

DelMonico is also a mentor. There is a formal mentoring program for all of the firm’s employees as well as a Women Expanding Business group. She believes one of the reasons the firm has done such a good job retaining women is because there are females in leadership and partnership positions who have done it and understand the challenges.

Thirty-eight percent of the firm’s attorneys are women, higher than the national average.

In February, she presented a seminar entitled: “An MBA Brain in a JD Head: Business Principles Every Lawyer Should Know” at the national DRI Women in the Law Conference in Arizona. “One of the challenges as the industry gets more competitive is you don’t want to just provide legal advice in a vacuum. You want to really understand your client’s business and how it runs, the challenges that they’re facing and provide legal services in that context,” she explained.

DelMonico is also very active in the community. Among a slew of other activities, she serves on the executive committee of the Connecticut Business and Industry Association and is transitioning from vice chair to chair of the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce in April.

“Part of my role as managing partner is to be outward facing and external, helping get the firm’s name out there and working on the various initiatives to improve the Connecticut economy and make it a business-friendly place,” she said.

Morris puts customers, employee engagement first

Webster Bank Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Dawn Morris is devoted to employee engagement and anticipating customer needs. She started her career on the front line before seeking a job in strategy at the corporate level in the early 2000s.

“I just discovered a love for strategy and getting under customer insights and customer needs and really listening to the voice of the customer and designing either products or customer solutions for them that hadn’t existed before. That unlocked this passion of mine to pursue more of a strategy role,” she said.

In 2010, she joined Citizens Bank in Boston as a strategist for business. Less than two years later she became the first to receive the Partner of The Year award for a line of business from marketing. Morris credits that success to extensive research, delving into the minds of small business owners and really learning about their concerns.

She also started a routine at Citizens that she carried over to Webster Bank — volunteering. It built teamwork, and employee engagement skyrocketed. Scores came back for her team at 100 percent engagement, which was unprecedented.

“I think that, in terms of a professional accomplishment, it is really a great representation of what the team did and how we all worked together to make work meaningful and to make people understand, ‘If I work hard at this, I have these other opportunities,’ ” she said.

Morris joined Webster in 2014. She focused on insights — what’s most important to customers, how to develop products, and how to market to them. “Personally, what I loved [at Webster] was so much was focus on the customer. And that’s just my passion too,” she said. “To see companies that are doing the right thing for the customer, and then if you have that philosophy and it’s supported from the top, the customer is always going to respect that and know that. Then you’ll be rewarded.”

One of the first things she tackled was the Living Up To You initiative with the goal of “winning the hearts and minds” of internal employees. “You can advertise anything, but if your employees aren’t really supporting it, it’s not going to work because the first time a customer comes in, if they don’t experience what you’ve been saying it’s going to die,” she said.

According to Webster Bank President John Ciulla, Morris’ marketing vision has paid off. “I am impressed with Dawn’s big-picture thinking; she’s taken our marketing in a new direction,” he said. “This different way of thinking brought together our vendors for a brand summit, integrating and aligning our strategies, helping us better serve our customers.”

The 2016 brand summit was the first of its kind at Webster. Everyone involved shared their insights on the various lines of business, customer insights, marketing measurements, etc., in one place. It enabled those involved to see common threads and work to make Webster’s brand promise even stronger. “It was probably the most powerful 48 hours of my career,” Morris noted.

Morris has also been part of an initiative to develop a women’s network at Webster. “I really think it’s provided opportunities for learning exposure that women perhaps didn’t know they could get at Webster or didn’t have the opportunity before,” she said. “And it’s developed relationships with people about how they can start mentoring too, to really help out and give advice on careers.”

Outside of Webster, Morris, who has two daughters, ages 18 and 20, serves on the board of The Hartford Stage, Marketing EDGE and the Girl Scouts of Connecticut. “I’m very passionate about the Girl Scouts, and how I try to make a difference is maybe applying more of the strategy point in terms of who we’re trying to serve, what are the needs of girls, how are we marketing, and how are we getting membership. It’s almost taking business principles and applying them to a nonprofit.”

In addition, Morris is the co-chair of the Governor’s Prevention Partnership, whose aim is to prevent substance abuse, underage drinking and violence among young people. Joseph F. Brennan, president and CEO of the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, serves with her on the board.

“Dawn just has a very winning way with people. She’s very open to suggestions. She’s got a great personality and works well with a variety of different people. I think that helps her accomplish her goals and encourages others to work hard to support her,” Brennan said. “Her commitment to the cause, taking care of children, keeping children safe, and preparing them for the workforce is something that she shows a real passion for.”

Morris said her proudest accomplishment professionally has been taking opportunities in different companies and being able to drive changes for them in terms of increasing revenue or increasing customer satisfaction.