Happy International Women's Day, County Fare readers!

It just so happens that we've recently received several items of note regarding the accomplishments of women with Berkshire County ties, so today seems like a salient date to celebrate them.

A honorable salute to Sheffield native, Katharine "Kate" Kelley, who on March 2, became the newest member of the U.S. Army's Senior Executive Service as the superintendent of Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. Kelley, the daughter of Joseph and Christine Kelley, took her oath of office during a Senior Executive Service pinning and induction ceremony hosted by Karen Durham-Aguilera, executive director for the Army National Military Cemeteries.

Gerald O'Keefe, administrative assistant to the Secretary of the Army, officiated the event.

According to an article by Courtney Dock for Arlington National Cemetery Public Affairs, this distinction is considered a highly selective leadership role. Durham-Aguilera said that the Senior Executive Service "is one half of 1 percent of the federal workforce," noting that, "In the Army, with a little less than 500,000 civilians, only about 300 are SESs."

Kelley describes Arlington National Cemetery as "a tribute to our country's rich history and how each generation continues to represent our nation with men and women willing to dedicate their lives to its ideals."

She is responsible for the complete operations of Arlington National Cemetery, encompassing 624 acres, nearly 3.5 million annual visitors, 180 primary staff, more than 7,000 annual burials, $25 million in construction projects and capital improvements, and a $71 million operating budget.

She said she is "absolutely humbled," "grateful" and "absolutely honored" to be in this position.

As superintendent, Kelley serves as the Army liaison to the Department of Veterans Affairs, the American Battle Monuments commission, and the National Park Service to develop strategic partnerships, improve support to veterans and their families and enhance the visitor experience at Arlington. She is responsible for the strategic vision for the cemetery; directs with full authority all operational support to the burial and visitation missions; and serves as the foundation for all cemeteries managed across the Army.

Kelley's previous merits include the Naval War College's James D. Forrestal Award for Excellence in Force Planning; Meritorious Service Medal; Superior Civilian Service Medal; Army Commendation Medal; Army Achievement Medal; and Joint Service Medal. Her credentials include: a master of arts degree in national security and strategic studies from the U.S. Naval War College, a master of arts degree in international relations from the University of Oklahoma, and a bachelor of arts degree in political science from Villanova University. She also served as an Army logistics officer, European Command, J4 & 1st Infantry Division, from 1999 to 2003.

"There are three lessons I have learned throughout my career: One, be the kind of person who gets things done. Be a doer. Results matter," she said during her ceremony remarks. "Two, look for the hard jobs. Don't be afraid to take the tough ones. And finally, three, look around for mentors and people you want to be surrounded by."


Bay State native Monique Gabriela Curnen, 46, an actress and Williams College alumna, has been earning acclaim lately for her current role as covert operations team agent Becca Vlasik in the new NBC television spin on the "Taken" franchise.

Andrew Cristi calls Curnen a "rising star" in his March 4 Huffington Post piece highlighting the actress and her character as someone who "helps round out the cast with some diversity — not just in the form of people of color, but also by adding the perspective of a powerful woman to the field."

Curnen's parents are both educators and advocates for the arts; her mother is from Puerto Rico and her father is a New Yorker of Irish and German descent.

The actress has previously appeared in feature films like "Half Nelson," playing Ryan Gosling's love interest Isabel in the 2006 release, then Gotham City Police Detective Anna Ramirez who played opposite Aaron Eckhart's Harvey Dent/Two-Face in 2008's Batman flick, "The Dark Knight." More recent recurring television roles include the 2012 season of "The Mentalist," and the 2015 seasons of "The Following" and "Elementary."

Her upcoming projects include being involved in one of 10 projects receiving grants from the Tribeca Film Institute's 14th annual Tribeca All Access program which supports filmmakers from underserved communities and backgrounds. Curnen serves as a co-producer on a science fiction project called "White," co-written and directed by A. Sayeeda Moreno and co-written by Michah Schaffer. She's also involved in a film called "Model Home" portraying a mother who struggles with bipolar disorder and how it affects her son's life.

Follow Curnen's projects on Facebook or @moniquecurnen on Twitter and Instagram.


Pittsfield resident Barbara Arpante's photography appeared in the February issue of "Preview Massachusetts" magazine, in a feature called, "Your Art Here."

The three photographs (page 17) were of wintry scenes of Pontoosuc Lake, Onota Lake and a snowy night scene.

The article describes Arpante as "a landscape painter turned landscape photographer."

See the full layout online at https://goo.gl/jIICwm.

County Fare, a weekly column featuring "tales from throughout the Berkshires," is compiled by Eagle staffers.