Managing Partner and Financial Advisor Edward “Ed” Sokolowski is a lifelong resident of Western MA. He graduated from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in 1992 with a Bachelor of Science in Finance. As a child he remembers visiting his older sister at her office in downtown Springfield, mesmerized by the sounds and sights of the stock market tickers, Ed knew finance was in his future. In college Ed’s Economics Professor instilled in him the value of investments, explaining that when you lose money it takes twice as much effort to earn it back. It was then he chose to steer clear of quick fix stock trading and pave a career path applying the conservative philosophy of long-term investing.
Ed began the licensing process before graduation and promptly joined EQ Financial Consultants out of college. Within two years, Ed’s hard work and dedication propelled him into management. While Ed always valued slow and steady investments, he thrives under the pressure of risky and challenging environments. In 1995 Ed moved his family to New York, seeking a fast-paced setting to push him out of his comfort zone.
Armed with valuable experience, Ed was recruited back to Western MA in 1999 to work for Palmer Goodell Financial Group, LLC. Ed witnessed the corporate sale of Palmer Goodell to TD Bank and quickly realized the need to provide a local, relationship-focused, comprehensive approach to financial planning. Together with business partners Joseph Leonczyk and Charles Myers, Pioneer Valley Financial Group, LLC opened their doors in March 2002.
President’s Club Advisors benefit from an intensive learning and networking experience designed to help them hone their expertise, share best practices, and provide higher levels of service, education, and leadership to their clients.
Ed received an esteemed Volunteer of the Year Award for his involvement in the preservation of Foley Field/Lake Wallace in Belchertown, MA. During his service as Chairman, Ed tirelessly fought, lobbied, disrupted, and influenced community leaders to preserve the 66 acres. The land is now a place where children and their families enjoy sporting events, nature walks, and environmental exploration. Ed continues to support their efforts to develop and maintain the land, most recently advocating for and supporting the Lake Wallace Sensory Trail project of 2018.
Ed joyfully celebrates the recent milestones of his two adult sons, Ryan and Carter, including marriage and college graduation. Having spent much of their youth coaching football, basketball and baseball, Ed values the development of future generations through education, community support, and outdoor play. A firm believer in giving back, Ed handpicks organizations like the Ludlow Community Center/Randall Boys & Girls Club, Rick’s Place, Head Start and the Michael J Dias Foundation, to support.
Senior Partner and Financial Advisor Joseph “Joe” Leonczyk is a lifelong resident of Ludlow, MA. He graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 1980 with a Bachelors of Science in Nursing. His innate desire to help people and his thirst for learning led him to his initial career as a RN. Working in the Cardiac Care unit of Wing Memorial Hospital proved to be rewarding and undoubtedly meaningful when he met his future wife Maryann, now married 35 years, in that very hospital.
Inspired by his father, a master electrician with hands of steel, Joe built his own home and discovered his love of crafting. With a wife to support and three small mouths to feed, Joe took a risk and started his own bathroom remodeling business while he continued to work part time as a RN. As a small business owner, Joe began to realize the importance of financial planning and developed a passion for the stock market. 10 years later, he put down his tools, closed his home office and transitioned one last time to Financial Advisor. Joe’s ability to wear several hats as nurse, small business owner and family man, demonstrated his innate entrepreneurial yet compassionate spirit.
From there Joe joined EQ Financial Consultants in 1997 and shifted to Palmer Goodell Financial Group, LLC in 1999 with Ed Sokolowski and Chuck Myers. Together they quickly realized the need to provide a truly comprehensive approach to financial planning and opened the doors of Pioneer Valley Financial Group, LLC, in March 2002. Today, Joe is recognized as a President’s Club advisor for 2014; an elite distinction recognizing only the most esteemed financial advisors based on annual production rankings among Commonwealth’s 1,487 financial advisors.
Check the background of this investment professional on FINRA’s BrokerCheck.
Senior Partner Charles “Chuck” Myers was raised in a Boston suburb, relocating to Western MA for college. He graduated from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 1981 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Public Health. At age eleven, Chuck vividly remembers his first volunteer experience when he signed up to help a disabled peer labor through a physical therapy obstacle course. It was from this point forward that his instinctive desire to help others began to blossom, mapping a natural progression towards his major in Public Health. Upon graduation Chuck took a direct service position at the Department of Mental Retardation; his servant’s heart proved invaluable as he was promoted to supervisor within six months. Chuck’s service minded leadership style gracefully led him through a successful twelve-year career at the DMR.
With two small children now in the mix, Chuck opened a local Belchertown Pet Shop while he remained part time at DMR. Having worked with veterinarians and humane societies throughout high school and college, Chuck had developed a devout love of animals. It was Chuck’s hard work and wide smile that turned his shoestring shop into a success. Once he moved to the Pet Shop full time, he spent 10 years helping customers solve problems and earnestly care for their pets. As a small business owner Chuck recognized the need for employee retention and long term financial planning. Once it came time to close his shop Chuck found himself answering Ed Sokolowski’s call for new team members and joined EQ Financial Consultants in 1997. In 1999 he moved to Palmer Goodell Financial Group, LLC with Ed Sokolowski and Joseph Leonczyk; together they realized the need to provide a truly comprehensive approach to financial planning. The doors of Pioneer Valley Financial Group, LLC, opened in March 2002 where Chuck currently manages the Operations Department. When Chuck’s son went off to college at UVM and joined the rowing team, Dad, Dan’s number one fan, decided he needed a high-tech camera to capture the priceless memories of his son’s team. It became evident that Chuck’s natural artistic ability translated behind the lens and he quickly transformed into an avid photographer. Today Chuck most enjoys capturing candid portraits, landscape and wildlife. Look for his favorite photograph of the Dog Tag Garden Memorial in Boston hanging in our office to see just how talented Chuck’s photography eye truly is.
Chuck’s artistic flare doesn’t end at photography; he is also a singing, songwriting and guitar playing extraordinaire. Ask him to play for you his favorite song, “Through A Window,” an easy listen rock single that he has effortlessly layered his voice, guitar, bass and keyboard with other instrumentals. Chuck is very active at his church, where he and his wife are involved in all aspects of serving their greater community. Chuck works to ensure his church is reaching the public through various programs, including their local food pantry and Springfield food kitchen services. A place near and dear to his heart, Chuck met his wife, Christine, at this very church. Christine is a published author and substitute school nurse. The pair have been married for over 5 years, and love to travel together when given the opportunity. Most recently, they ventured out to Arizona to take in the breathtaking landscapes of the Grand Canyon.
When not busy dabbling in his art or serving his church, Chuck and his wife frequently run local races for various charity organizations. They also like to get involved in charitable causes in other ways, like sponsoring a child named Hairath from Tanzania through the Compassion International program or serving as chaperones at the “A Night To Shine” prom for developmentally disabled kids. Chuck and Christine welcomed a new member into their family when they adopted a 10-year-old Siberian Huskey named Foxy, who loves to run and has the youthful disposition of a puppy. The thing Chuck is most looking forward to in the coming year is becoming a grandfather, with a daughter having a baby on the way!
Financial Advisor Peter Leonczyk is a lifelong resident of Ludlow, MA. He graduated from Westfield State University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Management. Before graduating, Peter took advantage of an internship at The Walt Disney Company where he learned what it takes to “make dreams come true”. The program taught Peter the complexities of Resort and Restaurant Management at the highest level, and further developed his already well-established customer service skills.
Peter sought a career which would allow him to impact people’s lives on a deeper level, and he joined PV Financial Group in early 2013. Since joining the firm Peter has earned his AIF® Designation, expanding his skills on retirement plans and retirement plan management. Facilitated by his genuine sense of humor, grounded in trust and friendship, Peter has a natural ability to develop a strong connection with each one of his clients. While the firm and it’s professional nature may come across to some as inaccessible, Peter is passionate about breaking the stigma and focuses on providing quality financial planning and advice to hardworking individuals and families of all income levels in our community. Peter has fostered relationships in the community through his work as an active member of the Rotary Club of Ludlow, where he is able to network with fellow local Rotarians and business owners while doing good in the community.
In his free time, you might find Peter combining his love for the outdoors and athletics by squeezing in 9 holes in an afternoon round of golf, always ready to grip it and rip it out of the box. While thrilled by the long drive, Peter is still searching for his first hole-in-one. During the summer, Peter plays in the Western Mass Wooden Bat League where he takes the mound and enjoys trying to strike out batters with his curveball. Baseball carries sentimental value for Peter, as he and his brother grew up playing together coached by their Dad. Once again, they join together on the field as a tough pitcher-catcher duo.
Peter recently stepped down from coaching the Ludlow Lions Youth Football team, a year after he helped lead the 7th and 8th grade team to an undefeated championship. While retired from coaching, (for now) Peter remains invested in his former players lives and continues to bond with the players by not only attending their high school games, but serving as a mentor as they head into college. Acting on his passion for supporting the youth in our community, Peter is on the advisory board for Ludlow CARES Coalition, a community run non-profit organization addressing issues relating to our community, our youth, our residents and our businesses. Additionally, Peter is involved in Junior Achievement, a volunteer-delivered, kindergarten-12th grade program that fosters work-readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy skills with the use of experiential learning to inspire students to dream big and reach their potential.
Peter and his wife Jessica live in Ludlow with their daughter Emma. He and his family enjoy spending time on the Connecticut River where they fish, paddle board, and barbeque. Displaying his love for cooking, you’ll likely find Peter with a spatula in hand while manning the grill, serving his friends and family.
Financial Advisor Kevin Sylvester, grew up in Enfield, Connecticut and graduated from Enrico Fermi High School. His very first job was working at his family’s store, Caronna’s Market in Enfield, which is still owned and operated by his family to this day. After studying graphics in high school, Kevin started working at a local print shop, quickly moving up the ranks and becoming a manager by 18 years old.
Kevin moved in with his wife Beth in Springfield, Massachusetts and opened his own print shop, making banners and posters for other businesses. He enjoyed the benefit of large scale clientele like Frito-Lay and working as a wholesale printer for local businesses. At this time, Kevin and Beth started a young family raising two boys, Evan and Braidyn. Looking for a career change, Kevin went back to school in 2011 attending the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Kevin worked long days consisting of going into work third shift, bringing his kids to school in Enfield in the morning, and finally finished his day by rushing over to school. Kevin obtained a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mathematics with a concentration in Actuarial Science in 2018, and coupled with his experience, quickly found work in wealth management beginning his career with Edward Jones. His desire to engage clients on a concentrated and intimate role with future wealth needs ultimately led him to his current role with Pioneer Valley Financial Group, a firm he personally feels gives him the ability to center his skills on client satisfaction.
When not in the office, Kevin spends as much time as he can with his family. Kevin spends time on the sidelines of a soccer field, clipboard in hand as he coaches Evan and Braidyn’s soccer teams. At night, you might find them gazing up at the night sky while Kevin jumps at the opportunity to teach the kids all about the wonders of astronomy. His family spends summers at the shore camping in Rhode Island near Mystic and Misquamicut Beach. A man of many talents, Kevin’s hobbies include playing chess, playing the guitar and has been a published writer. He also enjoys the technology sector and tries to find spare time to write code and keep up on computing subjects.
CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Cindy M. Bigras grew up in Central Vermont and graduated from Georgetown University in Washington, DC. Following graduation, she lived in Italy for three years, and, as anyone who knows her can attest, she loves all things Italian. Cindy then spent five years in New York and enjoys frequent trips back to the Big Apple for business and pleasure.
In 1986, when she relocated to western Massachusetts, Cindy’s career in financial services began. For several years, she worked as an agent and as a broker at MassMutual, giving her a solid foundation in risk management that proved essential to a financial planning career. She established her own advisory practice in 1995 and affiliated with Commonwealth Financial Network® in 1999. Her diverse background is an asset in forming strong relationships with clients and their families, which is one of the most rewarding aspects of working as a financial planner.
An avid globetrotter, Cindy is passionate about exploring various places and cultures, working as a freelance travel writer in her spare time. She lives a very active and cultured lifestyle, with an enthusiasm for wine, art, literature, biking, tennis, and photography. A lover of opera, Cindy will watch several Metropolitan Opera performances live from the Met via simulcast each season. When at home, she spends her time decorating in mid-century style and is always on the lookout for cool mid-century kitchen gadgets, art, or furniture.
Around the community, Cindy supports and is a big user of her local library. She also believes in keeping rural land in the hands of individual farmers and buys a farm share from a local Community Supported Agriculture farm every year. Additionally, Cindy is active in the Pioneer Valley Estate Planning Council to stay informed on issues impacting the estate and financial matter of her clients.
Chief Operating Officer, Kelly Haber, was born and raised in Ludlow, MA. Born into a Portuguese family, Kelly’s parents immigrated to the United States before starting a family. They desired to give Kelly and her brother a life full of opportunity. Guided by the dedicated work ethic of her parents, Kelly vividly remembers going to work at her local bakery at 16, upholding her commitment to the tennis team and still maintaining excellent grades in preparation for college. Kelly’s acute attention to detail drove her success then, as it does now.
Kelly went on to attend Western New England University where a career in finance first peaked her interest. Out of school Kelly got her first taste of the Financial Planning industry while working at Northwestern Mutual in Pittsfield, MA as a Sales Assistant. The independent, fast-paced environment prepared her for her subsequent move to MassMutual in Springfield, where she accepted a position as an Investment Analyst in the Operations division. Kelly’s dedicated work ethic and ability to manage and resolve complex problems with efficiency and empathy, quickly identified her as an integral part of the organization. Within a short time, she was promoted into the role of Regulatory Operations Consultant, auditing operations and developing supervisory procedures. During this time, Kelly worked for MassMutual’s broker dealer before accepting another promotion within their Compliance department working as a Compliance Consultant . In this role, she handled various regulatory inquiries and drove changes that positively influenced client experience. The 9 years that Kelly spent working at MassMutual made her well-equipped for the next step in her career.
From regulatory inspections to internal audits, to research and resolution, Kelly’s ability to comb through fine details with precision and accuracy makes her an invaluable asset to our team. Kelly joined PVFG as the Director of Compliance and Operations in early 2016. Armed with her FINRA Series 7 and 24 licenses through Commonwealth Financial Network®, and guided by her caring and personal approach, Kelly has become a dynamic asset to our growing firm. Within six months, Kelly passed the Uniform Combined State Law Examination (also called the “Series 66”), promoting her to Chief Operating Officer. As regulations become increasingly more complex, compliance is one of the most critical functions in any firm. With her new registration, Kelly has become PV’s OSJ Delegate and a registered Investment Advisor Representative. A role well suited for Kelly’s area of expertise, she is now responsible for the general supervision and compliance of the firm and all activities of registered employees.
Because she is a tireless worker who is dedicated to giving back to the community, Kelly has immersed herself in several different civic engagement initiatives. Recently, she has been heavily involved as a volunteer at Rick’s Place, an organization that supports grieving children, teens and their families through facilitated peer activities, school-based programs and community outreach. Kelly also spends time volunteering in Wilbraham schools, and serves on the Wilbraham scholarship committee.
When not in the office or sorting through hundreds of scholarships, Kelly and her husband Barry enjoy time with their family at home in Wilbraham. Labeled as a “tree guy”, you might find Barry around town in Ludlow fearlessly climbing and removing trees.
Kelly and Barry are loving parents to their two adorable sons, Ryan (10) and Gavin (5). After enjoying a trip down to Disney and a cultural experience in Portugal, the Haber family got the travel bug and are now looking into exploring new places around the world. When she’s not cheering Ryan on at his soccer games or shivering in the stands and rooting for Gavin to score a goal in hockey, you’ll often find Kelly in the kitchen trying a new recipe, watching HGTV, enjoying a glass of wine with friends or curling up with a good book.
Chief Financial Officer and Certified Public Accountant Cheryl Hoey provides high-level support for our firm, overseeing company finances, creating and managing budgets, and forecasting trends, as well as helping our Financial Advisors to better serve our Clients with her expertise in tax preparation and auditing.
A lifelong resident of Western MA, Cheryl grew up in the small rural town of Hatfield with her parents and three siblings. An earnest upbringing and strong Polish heritage raised Cheryl to believe that you can accomplish anything with enough dedication and hard work. Cheryl quickly made her way to Bay Path University to turn her dreams into a career.
Upon graduation Cheryl went to work as an Executive Assistant for an Accounting Firm in West Springfield. A naturally organized and meticulous person, Cheryl soon realized her passion for details. Motivated to expand her expertise, Cheryl enrolled in Western New England University’s evening program and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting in 1992 before receiving her certification as a licensed Certified Public Accountant.
Cheryl remained in public accounting for 13 years before entering the private sector. Working at several large firms including Merrill Lynch and the Unum Group taught Cheryl invaluable insights on the inner workings of large accounting departments. Over the next 12 years she continued to hone her skills in the areas of investments, tax preparation, international accounting, and financial risk.
With over 28 years of experience providing accounting services to individuals and businesses across Massachusetts, Cheryl joined PV Financial Group as Chief Financial Officer in 2019. As a CPA, Cheryl employs her proficiency in precisely combing through every detail while preparing financial reports, maintaining historical records, processing payroll, and preparing taxes.
Married for 27 years, Cheryl and her husband Rick delight in their careers, giving back to their community, and spending time with friends and family. Rick owns Micro-Tech Inc. in West Springfield, specializing in service and sales of microwaves for commercial and residential accounts. When not hard at work, you’ll find Cheryl and Rick traveling to new destinations, entertaining at their home in Ludlow, catching a concert with friends, or cheering for their nieces at local soccer tournaments.
As a member of AICPA and MSCPA, Cheryl enjoys collaborating with local professionals in the field.
Director of Client Relations Karen Nogueira is a natural people-person with a caring heart, and impeccable customer service skills. Karen’s philosophy of treating others the way she hopes to be treated allowed her to quickly move through the ranks. Karen began her career as a Bank Teller at West Bank. From there she moved to Luso Federal Credit Union where she was promoted from Teller to head Teller and finally to Branch Manager before joining our team in 2006. At first, Karen came on board as a part-time Sales Assistant. As her children got older Karen’s innate sense of loyalty to the client experience carved out her full-time niche position where she now works as Director of Client Relations. Today, Karen’s devotion to customer service proves to be an invaluable asset to the team. Now in her 13th year with the company, Karen has enjoyed expanding her knowledge on the finance world and building close professional relationships with our clients.
When she’s not working, you’ll find Karen spending most of her free time with her family and two children, Ava and Joseph. Growing up in a Portuguese home, Karen vividly remembers dancing on her father’s toes while listening to Portuguese folk music. Karen passed on her love of music and dance to her daughter Ava, 13, who gracefully participates at Pioneer Valley Ballet. Ava’s talents do not end just in dance; Karen also nurtures Ava’s love of music and encourages her natural abilities when playing both the acoustic and electric guitar. Ava has also picked up field hockey, an activity that’s allowed her to spend time with her friends while exercising her competitive spirit. During soccer season, you can’t miss Karen screaming from the sideline “Go Bubba!” while Joseph, 11, is on the field. Whatever the sport, Karen makes sure to support and cheer him on at every game and practice. In recent years, Karen has discovered a love for running. You’ll mostly see her running around the neighborhood while she trains for the Second Annual Run for Rick’s Place, which she’ll be running with fellow PV team member Kelly Haber. Karen loves to stay active with her kids and is often outside playing soccer and basketball with Joseph, Ava and their two playful dogs, Lulu and Oliver. Karen is also committed to giving back to the community she grew up in, working as a volunteer for Rick’s Place and serving as a committee member for the Fall Festival at the Ludlow Boys and Girls Club.
During the summer Karen also enjoys spending time planting in her garden; pink Hydrangeas are her favorite. Throughout the year she loves to travel, and always tries to bring her children. She believes in the importance of education happening outside of the classroom, and seeks to expose them to different places, food and culture whenever the opportunity arises. Karen was able to visit her homeland for the first time, taking the kids on a trip to Portugal where she grew an appreciation for their heritage and humble beginnings.
Relationship manager, Irene Lawless, has an innate ability to make those around her feel comfortable; her genuine ability to empathize led her to a career in business. Irene attended both Baypath and STCC, and upon graduation she landed her first job at a manufacturing plant. Working in the customer service department, Irene was able to have a first-person perspective of all the workings that went into delivering customers with exceptional service. From conception, to building, packaging and delivery, Irene took heart in ensuring each customer received their custom order on time and with 100% satisfaction.
When the manufacturing plant closed, Irene took a position within customer service at a Roofing company. Differentiated by her acute attention to detail, exceptional follow through and time management skills, Irene was quickly promoted to the Administrative Assistant for the V.P. of Sales. She became an integral part of the company, ensuring each customer received their order to exact specifications.
When not in the office, Irene stays busy at home with her two children, Faith and James. Faith, 20, is currently a sophomore at UMASS Amherst, and is studying Natural Resource Conservation. At home, faith likes to delight the family with her musical talents, skillfully singing and playing the guitar. Both Faith and James work for the Belchertown Recreational Department, where they take on a number of tasks like refereeing basketball games or running the town beach.
Irene’s son James, 18, is a tri-varsity athlete at Belchertown High School and is a basketball star at heart, an activity he and Irene’s husband Jim have enjoyed together since James was in kindergarten. James is currently deciding between attending school at either Springfield College or Endicott College in Beverly. Irene and her family enjoy running, whether it’s running at the Quabbin Reservoir or competing in local races, you’ll often find them together while actively exploring the great outdoors (often with their beloved dog, Bandit, in tow!). Irene and the family are looking forward to taking trips down to Texas to visit Jim’s brother and sister.
Relationship Manager, Fatima Tavares, joined our team in 2014 bringing an exceptional range of customer service skills. Fatima grew up in Portugal, inspired by her hard working parents who moved to the United States before Fatima finished school in order to give Fatima and her sister the opportunity to match their potential. Fatima moved to Ludlow, MA at age 21, where she took a position at Ludlow Textiles. Fatima worked with dedication for 17 years until the business sold. Her hard work and organizational skills propelled her forward; before the Mills closed, her responsibilities included payroll, human resource functions, and reporting and inventory control. While her position as Administrative Assistant was demanding, Fatima generously carved out time for her unpaid position, where she utilized her trilingual abilities (English, Spanish and Portuguese) to help bridge the language gap for many of her coworkers, scheduling doctor appointments, helping pay bills, and much more.
Fatima went on to further her education in Office Systems Technology and found her next position as a Banker at Admirals Bank. Her professionalism and attention to detail quickly identified her as an integral member of the bank and her community. Additionally, Fatima spends time working at Primavera Restaurant in Ludlow, where she previously worked as the manager. Now, you might catch her behind the bar or waitressing, where she delights her customers with a warm greeting and superb customer service.
When not working, Fatima enjoys spending time with her husband and two sons Nick and Fabio, 21 and 24. Fatima proudly describes her hard working children who are High Honors and Dean’s List students. Her oldest son Fabio graduated from Westfield State College, with a degree in Business Management and Accounting. Nick is attending STCC and has dreams of becoming an interior designer. You’ll often find both of her boys at home, enjoying Fatima’s evening meals. She loves to cook and tries to prepare a homemade meal every day, other the occasional family movie night or shopping trip. Fatima is also the loving owner of two Yorkshire Terriers Bella and Mila, who are best friends with one another and like to play in the backyard.
Relationship Manager Kristina Bennett is a native of Holyoke, Massachusetts where she attended Holyoke Catholic High School. In high school, she was a member of the swim team and drama club and served as yearbook editor and class president. She advanced her academic career at UMass Amherst, where she graduated with a degree in Hotel, Restaurant, and Travel Administration.
Kristina leveraged her previous hospitality experience at the Yankee Pedlar in Holyoke and the Chatham Bars Inn on the Cape into a job at Hyatt Hotels in Baltimore, Maryland. Here, she worked for thirteen years as a Sales and Convention Services Manager for Hyatt, InterContinental, and Westin hotels. Through these positions, she gained extensive experience in sales, client service, event planning, and relationship management which has prepared her for her second career in financial services. Her “can do” attitude and natural ability to connect with clients are a perfect fit for our ever-changing industry.
Kristina and her husband, Brian, started their family in 2011 when they welcomed their daughter, Isabel. Kristina served as “CEO” of the Bennett Household for 2 years before returning to work part-time for a hospitality consulting firm as a Sales Training Coordinator. The Bennetts happily relocated back to Massachusetts in 2014 shortly before the birth of their son, George. Staying active, Isabel enjoys Irish dancing and swimming while George plays soccer and also swims alongside his sister. Kristina’s children attend a Catholic school in Holyoke, where she spends much of her time volunteering in the classroom, fundraising and serving on the school board.
Kristina enjoys spending time with her large extended family, vacationing together annually on Cape Cod. More frequently, Kristina and her family will visit her parents’ cottage in Stonington, Connecticut where her children get the opportunity to swim in the ocean. Kristina loves the beach, photography, cooking, and baking. Friends and family would describe her as a “foodie” because she loves to try new restaurants and types of cuisine.
Operations Coordinator and Relationship Manager Kelly Outhuse has been working in the Financial Services industry for more than 13 years. She knows firsthand the meaning of hard work. Kelly’s parents immigrated from Portugal to the United States as a young couple. Kelly vividly recalls watching her parents work tirelessly to create the American Dream for their family. From factory worker to real estate buyers, landlords to small business owners, Kelly’s parents imparted a hearty work ethic and customer service standard that has proven to be intricately woven throughout Kelly’s personal ideals and professional demeanor.
Kelly graduated from Westfield State University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Management. While studying finance she was struck to understand the impact of every day events on the stock market. Learning how financial planning can provide individuals with security amidst the chaos of the economy, Kelly soon discovered her future career path. Kelly’s acute attention to detail and passion for the financial services industry made for a perfect fit in her position in the Retirement Services department at MassMutual in Springfield, MA. Kelly spent nearly four years servicing professional employer organizations, transferring new business, coordinating enrollment meetings and assisting new clients transitioning to 401(k)s. Kelly went on to gain invaluable experience in compliance and account management at the United Health Group in Hartford, CT and Northwestern Mutual in Springfield, MA.
In a recent role as Compliance Specialist at Professional Investors in South Windsor, CT, Kelly realized an inclination towards working directly with financial representatives. Responsible for the processing of new accounts and customer orders for nearly 120 Financial Advisors, Kelly further developed her capacity to carefully review every fine detail while simultaneously managing multiples tasks. Seeking an opportunity closer to home, Kelly joined the PV Financial Group team in early 2017. A self-proclaimed “chatter box” with a sincere sense of community, Kelly rounds out our Operations Department and Relationship Management team with her Life Insurance and Series 7 registrations (through Commonwealth Financial Network). Kelly’s hearty work ethic, genuine enthusiasm and dedication to customer service make for a natural fit within our team.
When not at the office Kelly spends much of her time creating meaningful memories with her husband Jeremy and their 3-year-old and 5-year-old children, Mason and Mila. Both Mason and Mila have laced up their cleats and hit the soccer field, while Mila has also taken up gymnastics and dance. Jeremy proudly co-owns and operates his family’s locksmith business, often dedicating long hours and overnight visits to service emergency calls. To balance their dynamic work schedules, the family enjoys escaping to Cape Cod, exploring local beaches or frequenting Boston for fun family adventures. This year, her and her family are looking forward to an exciting first trip to Disney World. When not discovering new sights, the Outhuse family often entertains family and friends in their Ludlow home. A loyal friend, dedicated Mom and proud community supporter, Kelly’s natural warmth and friendly personality helps to make everyone she meets feel welcome and engaged.
Community Outreach Coordinator Linda Martins was born and raised in Ludlow, Massachusetts, but her family immigrated from Portugal before she was born. The first language she learned was Portuguese. At Ludlow High School, Linda and was very involved in extracurriculars like writing for the school paper, yearbook and serving in the student government where she successfully helped bring back homecoming, which she credits for her current love of project management and event planning. Linda graduated from Westfield State University with a degree in Graphic Design, finishing her last two years while working full-time and going to school at night. While in college, Linda married her husband Gene and they are now going on 16 years of marriage.
Linda’s first taste of professional success came in college, where she worked for Tyco Medical Supplies in the call center and was quickly promoted to team lead at just 21 years old. Upon graduating, Linda took a job with Concentra Medical Center working in sales and running education seminars for companies on Workers Comp. The year she was married Linda’s father had a stroke, prompting her to take a job that was near and dear to her heart at the American Heart Association, where she worked as the Director of Development in Western Massachusetts. She enjoyed putting on events like Heart Walks, Heart Balls and the Go Red For Women luncheon, doing work within the community to raise money for the AHA. During her time in this role, Linda helped raise substantial donations for the organization through large corporate donations and events.
After her husband took a job with Apple, Linda and her family moved down to Florida where she continued her work with the AHA in West Palm Beach. One of her favorite work memories was getting to meet all of the eccentric Palm Beachers. In 2013, Gene earned the opportunity to open the very first Apple store in South America, so the family packed up shop and moved to Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. Unable to work due to her tourist visa, Linda volunteered daily at the American School of Rio De Janeiro, where her son Dominic attended school. Linda worked as the PTA president of the school, which was assembled almost entirely of expats, and Dominic got the experience of making friends with children from all over the world. After Gene completed the project in Rio, Linda and her family moved back to Western Massachusetts where Linda started working as Project Coordinator at Gibraltar Ventures. When Prudential absorbed Gibraltar Ventures, Linda was 7 months pregnant with her daughter Addison. With Gene’s extensive travel for work and with a son already at home, Linda knew that it wasn’t realistic to travel back and forth from Hartford every day, landing her here at Pioneer Valley Financial Group where she is able to work and spend time with her family.
During their free time, Linda and Gene do as much as they can to get involved with activities with their kids. Gene coaches Dominic’s Ludlow Youth soccer team, and Linda volunteers at the school as a member of the PTA and the Book Fair Co-Chairperson for the elementary schools in Ludlow. At just 2 years old, Addison runs the house and has no problem keeping up with Dominic. Linda and her family love to travel, and try to see a different country every year, most recently getting to visit Grand Cayman. The fifth and sixth members of the Martins family are their beloved dogs Manuela Maria DeBarra Martins known for short as Nella, that they brought home from Brazil and their very playful Boston Terrier, Rocco Roland.
Kathy Houle was born and raised right here in Ludlow, and graduated from Ludlow High School before going on to get a degree in Education and English from Annhurst College, a small Connecticut-based Catholic women’s college that ceased operation in the 1980’s After graduating, Kathy realized that she did not want to become a teacher (she hated teaching, actually), so she took a position at Merchants Bank in Boston. After spending a year in Allston, Kathy wanted to be back in the community she grew up in, so she moved back to Ludlow to take a job with the Building Department. Passionate for serving her community, Kathy worked in the Building Department for 24 years before becoming Town Treasure of Ludlow for 3 years. Kathy and her beloved late husband enjoyed several years of the retired life together, and after he passed she desired to get back into the workforce. Kathy saw Pioneer Valley Financial Group as a perfect opportunity, a job that would provide a flexible schedule with a community-oriented, supporting work environment that also happened to be across the street from her home.
Growing up in Ludlow, Kathy adored going on walks and hikes through the woods behind the country club, knowing she wasn’t supposed to but doing it anyways. She’s continued her love of nature walks, but has instead swapped out the woods for the Ludlow Reservoir. Kathy biggest passion is reading, a hobby that started as early as she can remember. When she was 2 years old, she didn’t want anyone touching her books because her brother would keep eating them. From elementary school on, Kathy and her brother practically lived at the library. Not confining herself to one genre, Kathy goes through phases in the types of novels she reads. At one point, all she would read was South American novels, now you can find her reading authors such as Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams.
Kathy’s husband provided her with two step-daughters, and now two step-grandchildren who all live down in Raleigh, North Carolina. Kathy enjoys getting to take trips and visit them, and was delighted to see her step-granddaughter get married last year. In her free time, Kathy volunteers at Christ the King Church and the Polish Club in Ludlow. Her mantra is that if someone needs you to do something, you do it, especially if it benefits the community.
Operations Support Specialist Marcin Mruk was born in Chicopee, Massachusetts and grew up in Hadley, where he graduated from Hopkins Academy. Marcin and his two older sisters are first-generation Polish, as both of his parents grew up in Southern Poland before deciding to move to the U.S. to find work and start a family. Because Polish was his first language, Marcin had to spend extra time learning English throughout elementary school. Growing up, he and his family often went on camping trips together, as they were cost-effective and allowed for quality family time in the great outdoors.
In high school, Marcin became heavily involved with sports, playing baseball and soccer all four years he attended. He was also a member of the ski club, a hobby that has followed him to this day. He and his friends ski throughout the season, hitting the trails around Killington and Mount Snow. Marcin was diagnosed with Diabetes as a sophomore, and actively supported the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation throughout his high school years. Before attending college, Marcin weighed the possibility of becoming a state trooper, but eventually found a home in finance. The financial world appealed to him not only because of his strength in mathematics but also because it would allow him to help people reach their financial goals.
Marcin attended Framingham State University, graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in finance in the Spring of 2019. Throughout college, Marcin continued his interests in athletics, participating in numerous intramural sports. To help pay for school, Marcin took on a variety of jobs, including working as a school bus driver, a server at a restaurant, and manager a liquor store his junior and senior years. His last year in school, Marcin was a member of Framingham State’s entrepreneur program, where he had the opportunity to intern for a startup clothing company. At PV Financial, Marcin is working on becoming a financial advisor. He has plans on achieving the FINRA, Series 7 & 66 registrations provided through Commonwealth Financial Network, as well as a and health and life insurance certifications.