Abe Hunrichs is co-owner and founder of Hosta Hill, a Berkshires based farm and vegetable ferment company. Abe was raised in Sacramento, CA, then attended Western State College in Colorado and received his Bachelors in Biology and Outdoor Education. The next several years were spent leading wilderness education courses for Outward Bound, working for California Fish and Game, baking bread, and learning how to Farm.
Board of Directors
Brian Hailes is a global technology executive who moved to the Berkshires from Atlanta in 2013. His company, Hailes & Associates, takes on a range of assignments in business development and executive recruitment. He has held senior positions with a number of technology companies, including Vice President, BellSouth International and Regional Director, ITT Africa & Middle East. As an executive recruiter he was Managing Director and Head of the North American Telecom Practice for Russell Reynolds Associates.
Brian has a B.Sc.(Honours) in Electrical Engineering from the University of Leeds (UK) and a DMS (Diploma in Management Studies) from the Polytechnic of Central London. He is a Chartered Engineer (C.Eng) and a Fellow of the Institution of Engineering & Technology, London (FIET).
Brian has had a lifelong involvement in music. Early in his career he sang and played guitar in clubs in the UK. More recently he has served on the board of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and on the Music Panel of the Georgia Council for the Arts. Combining his experience in music and electronics, he has served as Vice President, Digital Instrument Technology for Gibson Guitar Corp. in Nashville.
Catherine Chester is an attorney with the law firm of Hellman Shearn & Arienti LLP in Great Barrington, MA, where she specializes in the areas of real estate, zoning and permitting, and corporate formation and transactions. She grew up in the Berkshires and returned to the area after living and working in New York City, most recently as an associate with Shearman & Sterling LLP. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a B.A. in International Relations and French Studies and earned her law degree from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. Catherine is actively involved in the community, currently serving on the boards of the Stockbridge Land Trust and the Olga Dunn Dance Company and volunteering for many local organizations including the Literacy Network of South Berkshire, the Berkshire United Way and the Stockbridge Library. She is also a 2014 graduate of the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce’s “Berkshire Leadership Program” which further inspired her to make the Berkshires an attractive area for young people and their businesses. Catherine recognizes that the economy and culture of the Berkshires sits at a critical juncture due to dwindling population and job growth and sees BerkShares as a unique and creative effort to assist in reversing that trend and achieving economic sustainability in the region.
Daniel Bellow makes fine porcelain pottery in the barn behind his house in Great Barrington, which he exhibits and sells in fine galleries all over the country, in Anthropologie stores from LA to London, and at the studio, by appointment, where he accepts BerkShares. A former reporter and editor for The Berkshire Eagle, he still writes occasionally for the Berkshire Edge, where his wife, Heather Bellow, is the managing editor. They have two exceptional children who attend local schools and a former stray dog named Ringo. Bellow is very interested in the ideas of E.F. Schumacher and, despite decades of disillusionment in the newspaper business and elsewhere, in the possibility of a better world. He sees his work with BerkShares as a way of putting these ideas into practice.
Gillette Conner is passionate about building bridges between private, public and civil sectors to address both international and domestic development challenges. She is an integrative and holistic thinker with extensive experience in program strategy, design and management with focused expertise in stakeholder engagement processes, building alliances and spearheading and designing development partnerships. She works for the World Bank Group/International Finance Corporation where she is a Senior Knowledge Officer and is Senior Knowledge Officer in the Finance and Markets Global Practice. She has a diverse background with subject matter expertise in HIV/AIDS and women’s health, knowledge management and community and stakeholder engagement. She has worked across multiple sectors including financial services, oil and gas, mining, light manufacturing, technology and the hospitality industries engaging with companies, non-profit organizations and civil society across sub-Saharan Africa, the Russian Federation, the Caribbean, the Pacific Islands and the US.
Gillette is committed to local and regional development, and although relatively new to the Berkshires, she currently serves as a Commissioner for the Berkshire County Commission on the Status of Women, is a member with the Berkshire Business and Professional Women’s Association, and volunteers her time and expertise with Berkshire Starts. She also works with Halcyon Incubator in Washington, DC, where she has served as a mentor and in other capacities since the first class of Fellows in the fall of 2014. She received her MBA with a focus on Finance and International Business from Georgetown University in Washington, DC and a BA with cum laude distinction in Psychology and French from Wake Forest University in North Carolina.
Jennifer Tabakin is now in her second year as Town Manager for the town of Great Barrington. Previously, she served in senior leadership positions in the New York City Government, the MTA, and in the non-profit sector. Before moving to Great Barrington with her husband and two children, Jennifer was Senior Program Manager in the Office of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, responsible for construction oversight and operations of Lower Manhattan; design and construction of waterfront parks; development of new parks in the Bronx and as a senior advisor to the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development on policy, quality of life issues, environmental issues and urban design. Jennifer grew up in Pittsburgh, graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in history and a certificate in environmental studies, and attained a Masters in Urban Planning from NYU.
Jon Greene recently retired after 35 years as a computer engineer. In 2008, Jon helped found Redline Trading Solutions, a technology company that develops high performance software to facilitate electronic trading in global financial markets. Jon received his undergraduate degree in mathematics from Harvard College in 1980. He has lived and worked in the Berkshires for the past 30 years and has served on the Boards of Gould Farm, the Unitarian Universalist Meeting of South Berkshire and the Lenox Contra Dance. Jon, an avid hiker, maintains a section of the Appalachian Trail and occasionally leads hikes in and around Berkshire County. He also regularly calls contra dances in the area. Jon has a growing interest in supporting and promoting local businesses, not least of which because he is seriously considering starting one of his own. Jon lives in Great Barrington with his life partner, Kathleen Larkin, and her two sons, Noah and Luke.
Kate Chebatoris is a prominent sweater designer with more than 20 years of experience in the fashion industry working for Donna Karan, and Ashley and Mary Kate Olsen among others. She has lived in the Berkshires since 2006 with her husband and son. She joined the board of BerkShares, Inc. in 2014 and is interested in the potential of building more local industry based on Berkshire resources such as wool. She sees our local currency as a tool to help create a more self-sufficient and vibrant local economy that can provide fulfilling and sustainable livelihoods to the residents of the region.
She makes custom robes and wraps from her studio in South Egremont and is also a certified consulting hypnotist.
A graduate of Pittsfield High School and the University of Massachusetts, Mike has previously worked with United States Olympic Committee in Colorado Springs on their Games Planning team, for Kora Management, a startup hedge fund in New York City, and Bridgewater Associates, one of the world’s largest financial firms located in Westport, Connecticut. He brings with him a diverse background in strategic planning, investor relations, talent management, and emerging technology.
He is a member of Strong Towns, a planning advocacy group that promotes sustainable neighborhoods, and is an outspoken advocate for people-centered infrastructure and economic systems. He currently serves as an advisor to a group that will be launching a new research university in Massachusetts and is continuing his studies on urban revitalization. When he is not on the road, Mike can be found enjoying a cup of locally roasted coffee or brushing up on local history at the Berkshire Athenaeum.
Michael Tesoro lives in Windsor, MA (a northern Berkshire County town of 900 inhabitants) with his wife Robin, and two children Francesca and Nicholas, their dog Otto, and depending upon the time of year some 34 (+/-) chickens. Michael is passionate about expanding economic activity in the Berkshires and particularly expanding BerkShares’ presence in northern Berkshire County.
Michael is the Founder, Owner, and Chef of Ooma Tesoro’s, a specialty food company started in November 2009. Ooma Tesoro’s makes, markets and sells Ooma Tesoro’s marinara sauce (his grandmother’s recipe) throughout New England and New York in over 250 fine food stores, such as: Guido’s, Bizalions, Berkshire Organics, Berkshire Co-op, Wild Oats, LaBonne’s, Whole Foods Market, Wegmans and PriceChopper/Market32).
Michael has a broad and varied professional career. He started on the political campaign of Attorney General Joseph Lieberman for U.S. Senate in Connecticut and then served on his U.S. Senate staff for three years. Later, Michael lived and worked London, England; Kiel, Germany; Sydney, Australia, and Tanzania, Africa. He returned to the U.S. to serve as Managing Director of a strategic consulting firm Vogl International in Washington, DC. Michael also worked for a number of internet start-ups Outpost.com, Promotions.com, Thoughtbubble.com in New York. After 9/11, Michael joined ESPN, the worldwide leader in sports, as Director of Broadband and Interactive Television Sales. After moving to the Berkshires, he later served as a consultant to other media companies engaged in developing new business in broadband video and digital technologies, such as Turner Broadcasting, The Outdoor Life Network, Versus, and NBC sports.
Michael grew up in Sharon, Connecticut, and is a graduate of Indian Mountain School in Lakeville, CT, and Kent School in Kent, CT. He achieved his B.A. and M.A. from Drew University in Madison, NJ in Political Science and International Affairs. Michael played centerfield for the Drew University varsity baseball team. As an undergrad, Michael spent a semester at The United Nations in New York and The European Union in Brussels, Belgium. He wrote his Master’s thesis on the Maastricht Treaty and single currency for the European Union. He also participated in post-graduate work at The London School of Economics in London, England, and in the Advanced Studies Program at the Institut für Weltwirtschaft (IfW) [Institute for the World Economy] an economics research center and think tank, in Kiel, Germany.