Our Board

Dee L. Emery - Ferrero

Communications Officer / Creator / Consultant

Under the umbrella of DEF Enterprises, Ms. Ferrero owns several businesses including: Western Mass Women Magazine,The Hartford County Women Magazine, Media 9 Marketing Associates,   and Deelor Designs jewelry & accessories. All proudly women owned & operated businesses.

Ms. Ferrero is a Past President of the Agawam Small Business Center, Past President of the Greater Springfield Business and Professional Women’s Club and the Immediate Past President of the Women Business Owners Alliance of Pioneer Valley.(WBOA)

Ms.Ferrero has received several honors including The Women Business Owner’s Alliance “Business Woman of the Year 2011”, The Unsung Heroin in Massachusetts award, A Woman of Distinction award from WEIB -FM Radio and the “Women In Business” National Organization Grand Salon for her work with non- traditional women in educational scholarships, The establishment of “The Top 25 Women to Watch” annual event and her community involvement.

Danielle Souza


Danielle Souza is a mortgage consultant at Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation. Before joining the mortgage industry in 2009, she worked as a finance manager and annuity tax accountant. This experience gives Danielle deeper insight into her clients’ financial situations and helps her guide borrowers to the best loan product for their needs and goals.

Her passion is to support women and youth to become strong leaders within her community. Once the first girl in her high school carpentry shop and now inspiring women to be the best version of their self!

Danielle was born and raised in Ware, Massachusetts, where she now lives with her husband Chris, and their three children, Shyanne, Payton and Christopher Junior. Danielle is active in her local community as the founder/chairwoman of Buy Ware Now, the Ware Community Development Authority, Professional Women’s Chamber of Western Massachusetts and BNI member of the Mill River Chapter

Michelle Caron

Vice President

Michelle Caron is currently the Vice President for Women to Watch and has been with the chapter since is launched in April of 2019. Michelle works for Freedom Credit Union as a Branch Officer in Feeding Hills and has been in the financial industry for twelve years. Michelle also is on the board for NAMI of Western MA, and participates in local chamber and women networking events. Michelle currently resides in East Longmeadow with her husband and two son’s Chase and Parker.

Alison Donnelly

Acting Secretary / Community Connections Chairman

Alison primarily works with women to manage their investments and develop a financial plan to assess their specific needs. Whether it is navigating the financial challenges of a divorce, the loss of a loved one, owning a business, or saving for retirement – Ali is eager to work with women and help provide them with better outcomes.  She has been in the industry for about 5 years now, and her team at Paladin Wealth Partners has over 100 years of experience combined.  Alison holds her Chartered Retirement Planning CounselorSM designation and her Accredited Investment Fiduciary® designation.  She is pursuing her MBA with Springfield College, as well as the
Accredited Asset Management SpecialistSM designation. Alison feels honored to be a part of the growing number of women in the investment services field. Originally from Longmeadow, Massachusetts, Alison recently left Weehawken, New Jersey, to move back to her hometown. She enjoys yoga, hiking, skiing, and being an active member of her community through volunteering.

Tracy Viola

Treasurer / Scholarship Chairman

Tracy is a Realtor, Broker, Owner for Thompson Real Estate Group, Inc. A small boutique brokerage in Massachusetts & Connecticut. “We are more than just residential real estate. We do commercial, off markets, investors, and entry only MLS listings.”

Tracy has deep roots in the local area, a lifelong native She has two grown boys, and 2 rescue cats. She has been an avid volunteer for more than 20 years. She counsels sellers, first time home-buyers, tenants, & investors, and runs area networking meetups. She also teaches and mentors in the community. She has attended and graduated from many local colleges. She enjoys swimming, skiing, travel, crafts, reading and making spiritual jewelry. Her second business is doing 360 degree videos in virtual reality for any property or building.

Ayanna Crawford

Hospitality Chairman

Educational Consultant and Motivational speaker for nonprofits and colleges in the Pioneer Valley. Ms. Ayanna C. Crawford (Springfield) is the proud mother of two children. She also is the owner/ President of AC consulting and Media Services specializing in workshops in communications skills; press releases; social media management & marketing with nonprofits and community-based centers in the New England area. She also has a love for public relations and media work. She currently works as an Educator in the Springfield Public Schools and Leads an Afterschool Program for girls!

She has been a guest lecturer at Smith College on “Best Practices for literacy development in Urban Schools” in the education department at Smith College. She is a graduate of Westfield State University with a BA in psychology and an M.Ed. from Springfield College as well as an Alumni of Ameri Corps program, which is a service program that places students in urban schools to help with closing the achievement gap.

She is currently writing a book on Tips for young girls in public speaking. Ayanna volunteers for several organizations and community-based centers assisting them with media & Public Relations.

Allie Thorpe

Website Director

Allie Thorpe is a digital project manager and website building professional. She has worked in the industry since 2009, following military service in the US Navy where she was a journalist. Allie has worked with non-profits including Dakin Humane Society and UMass Amherst, and currently helps small businesses in western Massachusetts develop their online presence. 

Allie was born and raised in Pepperell, Massachusetts. She has travelled extensively in the US and lived in various states, but finally settled down in western Mass., where she has lived since 2008. Allie received her Bachelor’s degree from Hampshire College and her Master’s degree from Bay Path University. She currently resides in the Northampton area with her dog and cat. She is also a member of BNI Core Connections.



Carla Banas

Community Connections Chair

Carla Banas has recently joined Women to Watch as our  Community Connections Chairman.  She currently resides in Granby MA with her husband James Banas Jr. and their Dog Gizmo.

Carla loves spending time with her Family especially her 2 nephews Thomas and Santino, and her niece Giuliana coming in January! When she is not  with her family she is providing financial solutions to her clients. She has been in Banking for 15 years and currently is the Branch Manager at Key Bank in Ludlow where she specializes in small business.

Carla has many accomplishments in her career but giving back to her community is her favorite, last year she was recognized for her work with the Veterans by ESGR as a Patriotic Employer. She is overjoyed to be working with Women to Watch and continuing to support the community she works and lives in.  For community events you can contact Carla at:  carla_banas@keybank.com

Elizabeth Roberts

Sponsorship Chair

Elizabeth is  a Realtor with Real Living Realty Professionals in Wilbraham.  Prior to that she was a daycare provider, owned a tattoo shop and a children’s retail Consignment shop . She has been an Entrepreneur since her early 20s.

  Elizabeth has four children.  two boys and two girls.  And they also   have a Bernese mountain dog and two cats.  Elizabeth and her family live in Belchertown.

Elizabeth says   “I enjoy helping others, sometimes to a fault and have a strong desire to help young women (especially my daughters) be completely self sufficient while at the same time teaching my boys to have nothing but the utmost respect for women.  I’ll report back how that works out once they are adults oh and I LOVE the smell of the ocean and being near it.  It’s super calming….”  

If you are interested in sponsoring a Women to Watch event you can contact Elizabeth for more information at  www.lizmakeslifeeasier.com

Deb Sheldon

Membership Chair

Deb grew up and attended public schools in West Springfield.  Her entire career has been in the insurance industry and she is employed in the Commercial Lines Division of Finck & Perras – a woman-owned independent insurance agency located in Easthampton and Florence where she counsels small business owners on the insurance they need to cover their business assets and be able to sleep soundly at night.  As a single mother herself, Deb’s passion is in helping women and children to become their best selves.  She currently volunteers with Christina’s House in Springfield, MA as well as Hope for Kids, also in Springfield.  She enjoys spending time with her daughter and grandchildren as well as her church family and friends. 

Join Us!

Talk to us about membership today!

If you have a background in public speaking, leadership, or are looking to expand your network and have a desire to empower the community of women in Western Massachusetts, we would love to speak with you!

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