Meet the faces behind Pioneer Valley Books.
Pioneer Valley Books President Michèle Dufresne needs little introduction as the heart of our company and a founding member. She is a former Reading Recovery Teacher Leader. She started writing books when working with some of her first Reading Recovery students who needed some extra motivation. She is passionate about helping teachers with their mission of helping children learn to read and write and love books. One of her favorite things about working here is getting letters from teachers and children. She has four grandchildren: Jaxson, Harper, Mae, and Simon. She loves sharing books with them and watching them grow as readers. In her spare time she loves to take her dogs for walks on the beach in St. Augustine, Florida.
Lauri Yanis, Senior Vice President, is wildly proud to be a part of the Pioneer Valley Books team, focusing on bringing our excellent books into the lives of teachers and young readers all over the world. Lauri is proud to lead the customer-facing teams of our company and often reminds the teams that we may not be saving lives with our books, but we get to change lives. After more than 18 years with PVB, Lauri would rather not choose a favorite character because she'd hate to make any of them feel badly about themselves.
FINANCE AND HUMAN RESOURCES
If Michèle is the heart of our company, then CFO Bob Dufresne is its soul. (He also makes sure all the bills get paid.) In his spare time, Bob likes to work on Physics problems. If he had a superpower, it would be to make sure everyone who needed a great cup of coffee had one. If an actor were to play him in a movie, it would be George Clooney (Michèle may have filled this out for him).
Lisa Ahlstrom, Senior Manager of Accounting and Payroll, oversees and executes the financial transactions of the company. She loves working at Pioneer Valley Books for many reasons, chief among them its mission to promote children's early literacy. In her spare time, she reads cooking magazines, gardens, and tends to her human and animal family. The best piece of advice she's ever gotten? "Make hay while the sun shines."
Jim Coyne is our Staff Accountant, and like any self-respecting money man, his favorite fictional book character is Bruce Wayne. He appreciates the great people and welcoming environment of Pioneer Valley Books; considering his Patronus is the Grinch, that's high praise indeed! In his off hours, he enjoys spending time with family and friends, watching movies, and working out.
Ann Rutkowski is our Purchasing Agent. Ann’s role is evolving, changing and growing daily, with the aim of helping PVB develop a process to aid us in maintaining our inventory levels and get the most bang for our buck. Ann would love to be able to time travel so that she can visit different parts of the world during a variety of eras: Paris in the ‘20s, California in the ‘60s, Amsterdam in the 1700s, etc. Her favorite Pioneer Valley Books character is Jasper the cat “because he likes to eat and sleep, two of my favorite things.”
Accounts Receivable/Sales Tax Specialist Lindsey Litwak's cinematic doppelgänger is most definitely Rose McGowan, and Rose McGowan as Katniss Everdeen, Lindsey's favorite literary character, is the perfect combination. Her PVB favorites are Clarence the Dragon and Little Knight. When not at the office, she loves watching movies, hiking, yoga, and hanging out with friends and family. The best advice she's been given so far: "Keep moving forward and the rest will fall into place."
Rochelle Newbert, Senior Payroll Coordinator, makes sure everyone at PVB is paid correctly and on time. She loves working with people who love reading. As someone who's always up for a good mystery, she's a big fan of our Spy Busters! series. Her list of secretly hoarded items is unexpectedly lengthy, but since children's books are among them, we can't complain. However, she's hard-pressed to pick a favorite fictional character: "I can't pick just one best friend."
Nick Dufresne, Chief Technical Officer, makes sure the internet is working and does all of the in-house software development. When he's not at work, he's spending time with family, running, biking, and swimming. He's also a local swim coach. He secretly hoards spare computer parts that will never be used by anyone.
Andy Klepacki is our Director of Operations and IT (just DoIT!) Andy spends his time supporting the great PVB team while they're doing all the things that they need to do. Andy would love to have the super power of time travel; after all, who wouldn't love to have more time?! When Andy is away from PVB, he spends his "spare" time staying active outdoors, playing baseball and enjoying a range of two-wheeled fun, such as bicycling, mountain biking, and motorcycling. Which would explain his no-longer-secret hoarding habit of hoarding bikes!
Justin Wellman is our Manager of Digital Strategy and Development, which means he assists the executive team in examining the impact of our digital reach, considers new initiatives, and facilitates bringing new ideas into the digital realm. His Patronus is a crow, and his favorite fictional character is Seregil í Korit Solun Meringil Bôkthersa, the lead character of Lynn Flewelling's Nightrunner Series. He hasn't thrown his allegiance behind a specific PVB character yet, but he appreciates that PVB is "truly a mission driven company that makes real and lasting change in the world."
Nate Garland is our Junior Software Engineer, working on the Literacy Footprints Digital Reader, internal business tools, and many new software projects to come. If a movie was made about him, his theme song would be "White and Nerdy" by Weird Al, and he'd be played by Meryl Streep, because "Meryl Streep can play anyone." His preferred superpower is super speed: he could accomplish more per day, travel for cheap, and catch his microwave at 1 second before it dings every single time. His favorite PVB character? Rusty the Robot, naturally.
Software Engineer Veaceslav (V) Falceanu, as part of a team that improves and develops new paths to education through technology, is involved in all the processes related to planning, designing, writing, and testing code. V spends his free time with his family visiting parks and exploring new places, and loves to fish with his son. His favorite Pioneer Valley Books character is Oliver the cat.
By day, Senior Software Engineer Mike Giver works to improve and add features to the Digital Reader, but in his off hours he enjoys woodworking, baking bread, and playing synthesizers. If a movie was made about him, its theme song would the one from "The Price Is Right," and he'd be played by Tom Selleck, circa 1989. He votes for Oliver the Cat as his favorite PVB character, and notes that one of the best perks of working here is having access to so many excellent resources once his daughter is old enough to start reading.
Justin Dufresne is our Principal Software Developer, spending his days writing and testing code to help enhance the Digital Reader. Justin loves to ski, hike, and bike, and is teaching his three daughters to enjoy the same. Naturally the superpower he'd opt for is the ability to fly, so that he could get to the top of the ski mountain faster. The best piece of advice he's ever gotten is, "Stop starting. Start finishing."
Senior Software Engineer Lauren Ball describes her role as "supporting the development of the Digital Reader application and making cool things." If a movie was made about her, its theme song would heavily inspired by 80s synth music, and she'd be played by Miss Piggy. She spends her spare time gaming (both video games and also tabletop games, like D&D), and also likes programming, baking, and cross-stitching. Her favorite piece of advice is, "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”
Molly Dolben, Senior Manager of Production (aka Schedule Wrangler), leads a talented team of creative and accomplished professionals. When she's not here, Molly rides horses and listens to lots of music. Her favorite Pioneer Valley Books character is Rusty the Robot and the best piece of advice she's ever gotten is "Do or do not. There is no try."
Ann Caranci, Senior Designer, helps make the books and materials we publish find their inner awesomeness. What's extra awesome is that Ann is the illustrator of many of our beloved characters, including Princess Pig, Marshmallow the Pony, and Marvin Pig. Her Patronus is the sea turtle. Her desired superpower: "I would love the power to snap my fingers and motivate people (3 boys in particular) to do the most right and helpful thing."
Briana Charbonneau, Designer, stays busy keeping up with all the latest PVB design styles, as well as lending her own artistic influence. A self-admitted hoarder, she collects movie tickets, letters, and, of all things, Victoria's Secret shopping bags (she's worked there for years!). Briana loves the tasty food and inspiring atmosphere here, her favorite PVB character is Quack, and her Patronus is "probs a sloth." We think Bri's a go-getter, but we embrace her—and our—inner sloth-ness, too!
Gina Mercieri is our Senior Print Production Coordinator. She manages the reprint process and provides much needed administrative support to the Production team. When she's not working, Gina enjoys trips to the beach, hiking, and spending time with her friends and family. If she could have any superpower, she'd want to be able to teleport so she could go anywhere at any moment. Gina's favorite Pioneer Valley Books character is Quack the Duck. The best advice she's ever gotten? "Don’t trip over something that’s behind you.”
Senior Designer Joanne Delphia needs a clone. She wishes she could be everywhere doing everything at once; it's natural when you’re creating lots of literacy learning materials each day and also love spending time with your family. She also enjoys European-style board games and hanging out with her mastiff Bella (though maybe not all at once!). At home, she has a secret stash of classic film DVDs.
SALES AND CUSTOMER SERVICE
Sue Schroeder, Customer Service Supervisor, works hard to make sure that all of our customers have a positive experience with PVB. Her favorite part of working here? “Reading the fabulous letters the kids write to Bella and Rosie and all the other characters. I’m so proud to be part of a team that makes such a positive impact on the literacy skills of young children.” When not in the office she can be found on the dock of a pool playing with her big jumping, water-crazy Australian Shepherd G.G. (G.G. stands for Good Girl, not Galaxy Girl, although she does fly through the air!) Sue can also be found training both of her dogs, G.G. and Macy (Macy is Clever, The Contest), in the sport of odor detection.
Sales Representative Colleen Sculleigh Osman loves being surrounded by books all day here at PVB. She simply and directly describes her job helping customers, saying "I help people get what they want." When she's not answering a myriad of questions for teachers, Colleen is happiest galloping through the woods on her mare. She's a dedicated rider, which may also be why her favorite PVB character is Marshmallow the Pony and she'd love to have the power to tame a wild mustang without fettering its spirit.
Melanie Salvaggio, Sales Representative, spends her days here connecting people with products they need and working on the group-participation crosswords in the office bathroom. During out-of-office hours, she likes to spend time with her family, try out new recipes, and watch awful reality TV. Melanie always has a secret stash of chocolate hidden somewhere (good to know!). Her favorite PVB characters are the City Mice, whose street smarts keep her connected to her former life as a city girl.
Kristen Gernux, Sales Administrative Assistant, describes her day as providing support to the Sales and CSR teams and promoting the mission of PVB. She kindly requests teleportation superpowers so that she's able to travel to as many destinations as possible without the hassle of TSA lines and empty bank accounts. She particularly appreciates that furry friends are welcome in the PVB office and that there are usually treats in the lunch room. Kristen spends most of her spare time with friends and family, either adventuring to new places, getting outside, or cooking up something fun in the kitchen.
Grace LaChapelle, Customer Service Representative, brings a bright spark of enthusiasm to her role with the company, inspiring joy in her co-workers and customers with her optimistic perspective and focus on gratitude. When she is away from the Reception area at PVB, she enjoys collaging vision boards, meditating each morning, coloring mandalas, finding inspiration in nature, connecting with friends, reading healthy food blogs and experimenting in the kitchen. Grace’s first job in high school was as a Library Page in the Children’s Room, so her professional circuit came full circle when she joined the team at PVB. She enjoys spending the day with hard-working, fun-loving people, and our occasional Thursday company lunches!
Customer Service Representative Mackenzie Cox lives in the moment, and loves getting to hear the responses from teachers and parents on how much they love our company and products. In her spare time, she likes to bake, coach youth cheerleading, and sing at her local faith establishment. She considers Clarence the Dragon her Patronus, because he is kind, generous, and loves chocolate chip cookies. Her favorite quote comes from Walt Disney: "Around here we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”
Customer Service Representative Jamie Glass would love to have the superpower of teleportation, in order to avoid bad weather, traffic, and the MBTA. In her spare time, she loves being creative and making art, watching British mystery shows, and eating dark chocolate. When it comes to her favorite fictional characters, it's a tie between Miss Rumphius (from the book of the same title by Barbara Cooney) and Swatch, from Julia Denos’s picture book, Swatch the Girl Who Loved Color. Her favorite PVB characters are another pair, Tidbit and Morsel.
Customer Service Representative Catherine Rivard spends her day answering questions, putting in sales orders, and helping customers in whatever way she can. If a movie were made about her, she'd be played by Emma Stone, and the theme song would be "Break My Stride" by Matthew Wilder. Her favorite Pioneer Valley Books character is Rusty the Robot. A lover of the outdoors and hoarder of tea, she also can be found watching her share of bad movies in her off hours.
Bernadette Smith, Customer Service Representative, works to assist in any customer engagements, from sales orders and phone calls, to email inquiries. Bernadette wishes it to be known that her favorite fictional character is Severus Snape, calling him "the deepest (fictional) person I know." Somehow that seems in line with her yen for tea sachets and the ability to stop time. Ever a dog-lover (her current canine companions being a Golden Retriever and German Shepherd), her favorite PVB characters are Bella and Rosie.
Amy Bowlin, our Literacy Support Specialist, supports sales, marketing, and customer service with literacy queries. She loves being on the cutting edge of educational literacy development while simultaneously sharing space with Gilbert, Bella, and Rosie! In her spare time she likes to garden, hike, kayak, and play games with family. Amy secretly hoards dark chocolate, a delight that might help with her desired superpower, the ability to heal broken minds and bodies. The best advice she's received is, "Work toward progress—NOT perfection.”
DIGITAL READER CUSTOMER SUPPORT
Shanique Fair, Digital Customer Support Specialist, helps teachers and school admins with access and questions pertaining to our Digital Reader. In her spare time, she loves to travel and explore new places. If a movie was made about her, Shanique would be played by Nicole Byer, and its theme song would be "Stronger" by Kelly Clarkson. Her favorite PVB character is Clarence the Dragon, which seems of a piece with the best advice she's ever been given: "Never let the fear of failing keep you from trying."
Digital Reader Support Specialist Kelly Kwiecinski would love to be able to communicate via telepathy, which would definitely add some shortcuts to her role here. She thinks the deer is her Patronus, because anytime she is unsure about something, when there’s a big decision to be made, or a big event in her life, one or more deer appear. If a movie was made about her, its theme song would be "Uncharted," by Sara Bareilles, and her love of travel would be a big highlight. The best advice she's received is, "Stand tall in your truth, and lead with empathy and kindness.”
Allison Rebello, Educational Events Manager, helps to plan, organize and present educational events. Allison enjoys the opportunity to present our books and products and talk about them to help teachers and other educational leaders understand what they need to help their students thrive. When Allison is away from her role with PVB, she loves to do anything outdoors. She enjoys paddling as the “engine room” on the local Dragon Boat team, but also enjoys hiking, camping, kayaking and photographing nature. Her favorite PVB character is Clarence the Dragon. The obvious connection to her Dragon Boat team is just one aspect of her affinity for Clarence. She is especially drawn to his kindness and adventuresome spirit.
Alora Heffernan, Events Planning and Sales Assistant, spends the day helping people place orders and talking about her favorite story characters. Due to his sweet and helpful nature Rusty the Robot is her favorite. During her free time, she enjoys reading, shopping for fabric to complete her latest sewing project, and spending time with her animals including her seven chickens. She secretly hoards baking recipes and baking pans.
ART, BRANDING, AND MARKETING
Brand and Marketing Manager and resident font fanatic Heather Rush takes first drafts, brainstorms, stories, and conversations, and (with an amazing team) spins everything together with strong design. She is Bella, Rosie, Jack, and Daisy's personal photographer. She spends as much time riding horses as she can. "I am happiest with hay in my hair and a peppermint horse treat in my pocket."
Our Marketing Designer, Sarah Curran, designs and creates marketing materials and content to distribute to our PVB fans. Unbeknownst to her co-workers, Sarah collects cookie cutters, which give her an opportunity to use fun shapes in multiple ways. When she’s away from the office, she likes to watch movies, bake and decorate cookies, and have adventures with her husband and son. While her favorite literary character is Hercule Poirot, the detective of Agatha Christie fame, she has come to love Marshmallow the Pony, especially for his skill at sniffing out apples.
Our Marketing Projects Specialist, Marie Gauthier, shepherds marketing materials and content from conception through design and editorial, and then out the door to fans, old and new. Marie loves magazines, and spreads them out around her home in the hopes that no one will notice their copious numbers. She has learned that a fun benefit of working at PVB is the bathroom-stall crossword puzzles that allow for leisurely restroom breaks. The best advice she has ever gotten? "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good."
Naomi Shadix, Customer and Marketing Communications Specialist, has a light step, a calm energy, and a bounce in her voice as she answers customer questions and supports the team here at PVB. She loves reading the adorable books, especially her personal favorite, Rusty the Robot. Naomi takes ballet classes in her spare time and hoards leg warmers and fabric to make more leg warmers. The best piece of advice that she feels she has gotten is “Nobody’s perfect!”
Senior Managing Editor Laura Angel keeps the editorial process churning with her eagle eye and consistent ‘can do’ attitude. When she isn’t focused on developing and editing PVB content, she can be found hovering around the industrial Keurig with her tea-buddies. In her time away from her role here, she enjoys yoga, reading, tea drinking, painting, and chasing after her five children. If she could have any superpower, she’d love to be able to fly, just like her favorite PVB character, Clarence the Dragon!
Marlee Gaffey, Editorial Associate, describes her work here as being a small integral part of a much larger whole. Her days include copyediting, managing teacher reviews, formatting manuscripts, processing invoices, drinking tea, and so much more! She enjoys the welcoming atmosphere of the company and the perk of crossword puzzles in the bathroom stall. The best piece of advice she's ever gotten was from her mom: "Kindness matters."
Patty Paine, Copy Editor, spends her days copyediting, proofreading, or fact-checking content for the editorial department. Appropriately enough for an editor, Patty (not-so) secretly hoards Post-its. In a movie about her, she'd be played by Rachel McAdams, and the theme song would be "New York" by Alicia Keys. When it comes to working for PVB, Patty loves the friendly atmosphere, not to mention the surprise desserts that appear almost daily in the kitchen.
Julia Richardson, Senior Editor, loves to read, so she's thrilled to get to be part of instilling a passion for reading in generations to come. She claims to be an open book, with nothing to hide. In a movie about her, she'd be played by Jennifer Lawrence, and the theme song would be "Let's Dance" by David Bowie. Her favorite literary character is Bilbo Babbins, and Daisy is the PVB character who's won her heart. The best piece of advice she's received came from her mother: "This too shall pass."
Robin Tutt, Senior Project Editor, organizes things for fun. Her lists have lists. Her superpower of choice would be teleportation, or flight—anything to help procure her vice of choice (chocolate) that much quicker. She's not sure a movie about her merits a theme song, since it would primarily consist of her cleaning the kitchen or reading on the couch. She'd rather the actor playing her be someone new on the scene, in need of a break-out role. Her favorite PVB character must be Jasper the cat, an illustrated companion to her own cat, Jaspurr.
WAREHOUSE AND FULFILLMENT
Chief Operating Officer Matt Dufresne provides support to the management team on a daily basis. He does everything from watering the plants to running big projects. His favorite Pioneer Valley Books character is Oliver the Cat. Best advice he's ever gotten? "Don't be afraid of being a beginner."
Warehouse Manager Jerome Maczka spends his days solving problems, keeping track of inventory, moving boxes of books, and doing pretty much anything that needs to be done. If you're looking for a blue Sharpie or box cutter around here, chances are that Jerome has a stockpile secretly stocked away. He likes the flexible schedule at PVB because it gives him time for his favorite activities outside of work: hiking, running, and traveling. If he had a superpower, Jerome would want to fly (so he could get anywhere at anytime for free!).
Glen Bertrand, Corporate Safey Officer and Injection Molding Lead, keeps our books traveling to where they belong, whether that be a location in a district warehouse, an elementary school classroom, or a customer's front door. Glen is happy to work for a local business that provides such a meaningful service. He also digs Bach, Coltrane, and Jesus.
Austin Rego, Warehouse Assistant, makes sure that customers get what they want by fulfilling orders and prepping them for shipping. He especially appreciates our office coffee machine for making mornings easy. Asked to pick the theme song of a movie about him, Austin names Dave Matthews Band's "Warehouse" (see what he did there?). He devotes much of his free time to music by playing guitar, listening to bands, and going to shows as much as he can.
Jim Burke, Freight Coordinator, likes having different tasks to do, which is convenient since he picks orders, restocks inventory, builds kits, and more here at PVB. His favorite fictional character is Jonas from The Giver and he wishes he had the power to immediately learn and speak a new language. Away from work, Jim is often found outside fishing, hiking, biking, camping, snorkeling, or rock climbing.
Matt Goggin, Senior Warehouse Associate, is the "Kit Meister" in Fulfillment, and puts together many of the large collections that we specialize in. If it comes to you with lesson plans and an assortment of books, chances are he put it together for you and your students. Matt is known as the origami master around here, and is responsible for original folded works of art scattered around the office.
Sandra Bucan, Fulfillment Supervisor, openly, unabashedly, hoards boxes; one perk of working at the PVB warehouse is the unending supply she can add to her cache. She wishes she had the ability to travel back in time, and has a particular time period in mind, but is more secretive regarding those details. She likes to watch movies and bike, and can be found drumming the theme song to "Mission Impossible" while cooking at home. Her favorite PVB character is Clarence the Dragon.
Julinette Vazquez-Pacheco, Receiving Clerk, counts boxes and books, drives the forklift, wrangles pallets, and more, all to ensure that when the customer makes an order we have it in stock. If her life were a movie, its theme song would be “lovely” by Billie Eilish (with Khalid) and she’d be played by Sandra Bullock. Her favorite fictional character is Harry Potter (“I’m Gryffindor btw.”), and when it comes to PVB characters, Rusty the Robot has her heart.
Sylvia Santos, Warehouse Associate/Fulfillment, spends her days handling our books as she prepares orders. She'd wish for the power to heal the past if she could. If you're looking for a sweet snack, see Sylvia: she admits to keeping a secret stash of candy! A movie about her would have as its theme song "Heart of a Tiger," and star Angelina Jolie. She likes to visit new places in her spare time, and counts Bella and Rosie as her favorite PVB characters.
Donne K. Boumekpor, Warehouse Associate, assembles kits and collections. When he's not at work, Donne likes cooking and cleaning. If a movie was made about him, his theme song would be "Circle of Life" from The Lion King, and he'd be played by Chuck Norris. The best piece of advice he's ever gotten is "Be yourself."
Sean Henry, Warehouse Associate, assists fulfillment, inventory, and assembly. Sean would like to have the superpower of flying, perhaps to access his secret hoards of chocolate that much quicker. If a movie was made about him, his theme song would be "Castle" by Tom MacDonald, and he'd be played by Edward Norton. What he appreciates most about working at PVB is the great people.
David Gagnon, Warehouse Associate, assists fulfillment, assembly, and receiving. When he's not at work, David spends time on his art and photography, and plays bass. If a movie was made about him, his theme song would be "Short People" by Randy Newman, and he'd be played by Robin Williams. The best piece of advice he's ever gotten is "Do what needs to be done."
Rene Venne, Inventory Control Coordinator, is responsible for setting up product locations and monitoring inventory levels as well as supporting our purchasing group. Someone who enjoys hiking and wood crafts, his affinity for the fictional character Huckleberry Finn is well-placed. He hoards "special rocks"—but he hasn't shared what qualities are required for a rock to be deemed "special." Rene loves the work environment at PVB, as well as the awesome books he's eyeing for his new grandchildren!