PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Community College, in partnership with 1Berkshire and The Berkshire Eagle, has launched the inaugural Berkshire County 40 Under Forty awards to recognize outstanding young professionals excelling in their industries through their leadership roles.

The awards night, slated for March 24 at the Berkshire Hills Country Club in Pittsfield, will salute 40 individuals under the age of 40. The honorees will be announced in a special section of The Berkshire Eagle on March 2.

The 40 Under Forty selection process will be competitive and nomination driven, according to Craig Smith, BCC's vice president for institutional advancement and executive director of the BCC Foundation. Nominees will need to have demonstrated a commitment to business success, personal growth and community involvement. A panel of judges will review the nominations and select 40 individuals who best represent those ideals.


BCC President Ellen Kennedy said 40 Under Forty will honor young professionals in Berkshire County which "has a unique business economy ranging from the arts to hospitality to manufacturing" and that has "great potential for growth ... on many levels."

"Young professionals bring new ideas and energy to the region," Kennedy said. "We want them to stay in the Berkshires. Recognizing our current and future business leaders who serve as role models can inspire others to follow in their footsteps."

Nomination forms are available at berkshirecc.edu/40underforty. The submission deadline is 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 6.

The event, which aims to be an annual tradition, is a major fundraiser for BCC. Proceeds will support a variety of initiatives at the college.

"I'm incredibly pleased and encouraged by the enthusiastic response we've received from local businesses thus far," said Smith. "We will be seeking additional sponsors from now through January, and hope to sell out the event. We're off to a great start."

The 40 Under Forty awards night tickets, which will cost $40, will be available for purchase in early 2016 at berkshirecc.edu/40underforty.

The event will include a reception with hors d'oeuvres and light fare. A cash bar will be open throughout the event.

Presenting sponsors of 40 Under Forty include St. Germain Investment Management, General Dynamics Mission Systems, Guardian Life Insurance Company of America and Crane.

For information about sponsorship opportunities, contact Smith at csmith@berkshirecc.edu.

Several leading businesses and organizations are backing Berkshire Community College's first Berkshire County 40 Under Forty awards. Several of their principals offered words of support for what is to become an annual event in the Berkshires.

"It's a privilege to be involved with this inaugural event for the Berkshires. There's a good number of young professionals who work and live in the Berkshires that would make the 40 Under Forty Class of 2016. We know it's important to give back to our community at large and all of us feel that this is a good investment that will benefit the region and we're glad to be part of it." — Tim Suffish, senior vice president and head of equity markets at St. Germain Investment Management

"Recognizing and rewarding top talent is a priority for Guardian. Innovation and forward-thinking are a necessity if Pittsfield and Berkshire County are going to grow and prosper. We are proud to be part of honoring the top 40 Under Forty leaders in our community." — Gordon Dinsmore, senior vice president of individual disability income at Guardian Life Insurance Company of America

"Crane has a long history of civic engagement and investing in the Berkshires. The future of this region is up to our young professionals as they will play a crucial role in workforce readiness and STEM knowledge that is needed in today's global economy. We are pleased to support 40 Under Forty and look forward to seeing Berkshire County's emerging leaders." — Rich Rowe, president of Crane's U.S. Government Products Group

"We are excited to partner with BCC on this event, as it closely parallels a major initiative of 1Berkshire. We need to identify, support and celebrate the accomplishments of the many outstanding young professionals in the region and more effectively connect them with the area business community. 40 Under Forty is a creative means of accomplishing this goal." — Jonathan Butler, president and chief executive officer of the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce and chief operating officer of 1Berkshire.

"General Dynamics Mission Systems is only one of the largest employers in the area and we have been part of the fabric of the community for several generations. The business relies heavily on the dynamic leadership of many people, and we want to support any recognition and investment in the young leaders who will be our torch bearers in the future. When we invest in them, they in turn invest in all of us, and this great business can continue to support both our customers and our community for generations to come." — Carlo Zaffanella, vice president and general manager for the Maritime & Strategic Systems Division at General Dynamics Mission Systems