Edward Sokolowski, CLU®, ChFC®, AIF®
Managing Partnert and Financial Advisor
Managing Partner Edward “Ed” Sokolowski is a lifelong resident of Western Massachusetts. He graduated from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in 1992 with a BS 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 that he chose to steer clear of quick-fix stock trading and pave a career 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 in 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 Massachusetts 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 partners Joseph Leonczyk and Charles Myers, he opened the doors of Pioneer Valley Financial Group, LLC, in March 2002. Today, Ed 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 Financial Network®'s 1,487 financial advisors of 2014.
When he’s not in the office, you’ll often find Ed lacing up to hit the pavement. After being a casual runner for more than 10 years, he decided it was time to move from casual running and start training for his first marathon. It’s an achievement he is proud to have accomplished after turning 40, and Ed has since completed several marathons and continues to stay physically fit with daily runs.
Ed received an esteemed Volunteer of the Year Award for his involvement in the preservation of Folley Field/Lake Wallace. During his service of chairman, Ed tirelessly fought, lobbied, disrupted, and influenced community leaders in order to preserve the 66 acres. The land is now a place where children and their families enjoy sporting events, nature walks, and environmental exploration. Having raised two sons and spent more than 15 years coaching football, basketball, and baseball, Ed intrinsically values the development of future generations through education, community support, and outdoor play.
You’ll see that as PV Financial Group has become more successful, the community receives more of the company’s energy, time, and money too. Ed, who wasn’t born wealthy, believes that it is his social responsibility to give back to the community and support children so that they have the opportunity to one day be successful too. Ed handpicks organizations like the Ludlow Community Center/Randall Boys & Girls Club, Head Start, and the Michael J. Dias Foundation, in order to foster child and community development. You’ll often find him volunteering at local events, coffee in hand, alongside his team.
Edward Sokolowski is proud to have been recognized as a President’s Club advisor for 2016—a distinction based on annual production attained by 16 percent of advisors affiliated with Commonwealth Financial Network.
Each year, Commonwealth, the Registered Investment Advisor–broker/dealer that helps us process investment transactions on your behalf, recognizes President’s Club advisors by inviting them to an exclusive gathering of their peers, leading industry experts, and Commonwealth home office staff. President’s Club advisors benefit from an intensive learning and networking experience designed to help them hone their expertise, share best practices, and provide ever-higher levels of service, education, and leadership to their clients.
Joe Leonczyk is a lifelong resident of Ludlow, Massachusetts. He graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a BS in nursing. His innate desire to help people and his thirst for learning led him to his initial career as an 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, in that very hospital. They have now been married 41 years.
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 an RN. As a small business owner, Joe began to realize the importance of financial planning and developed a passion for the stock market. Ten 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.
Joe and his family continue to live in Ludlow, where he is active in community organizations and other charities. His three children, Adam, Peter, and Emily, are now grown and all reside in Ludlow, starting families for themselves. Joe relives the 10-plus years of memories coaching little league baseball and softball for his children, as he now runs around as “Dziadziu” with his four young grandchildren, Maxine and Sienna (7), Emma (3), and Parker Joseph (1).
Joe likes to travel, camp, and hike, but you will mostly find him tending his koi pond, meticulously mulching around his wife’s ever-growing landscaping and generously entertaining family and friends in his backyard haven. His kids may take advantage of dropping off the little ones too much, but “Dziadziu” never seems to be without the energy to run, rock, and play.
Charles Myers, AIF®
Senior Partner and Financial Advisor
Senior Partner Charles “Chuck” Myers was raised in a Boston suburb, relocating to Western Massachusetts for college. He graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 1981 with a BS in public health. Chuck vividly remembers his first volunteer experience at the age of 11, 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 toward 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 12-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 an extraordinary singer, songwriter, and guitar player. Ask him to play for you his favorite song, “Through a Window,” an easy-listening rock single on which he has effortlessly layered his voice, guitar, bass, and keyboard with other instrumentals.
Chuck proudly serves as the Chair of the Deacons at his church, where he and his wife are actively involved in all aspects of serving their greater community. Chuck works to ensure that 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, this church is where Chuck met his wife, Christine. Chuck and Christine, a recently published author and substitute school nurse, will be celebrating their two-year anniversary in May.
When not busy dabbling in his art or serving his church, Chuck and his wife frequently run local races for various charity organizations. Most recently, they completed Boston’s Run to Remember, his most gratifying race so far, taking place in the streets of Boston. While he may mostly run for charity, it keeps him in shape for playing basketball too, a hobby he often picks up at his local fitness center. Chuck says there is nothing he enjoys more than hustling on the break and beating a 20-something down the court. He is 6 feet 2 inches, so you may want to keep your appointments with Chuck at the office and off the court!
Financial Advisor Peter Leonczyk is a lifelong resident of Ludlow, Massachusetts. He graduated from Westfield State University in 2007 with a bachelor of science degree in business management. While in college, Peter realized his knack for customer service during a five-year stint bartending at a full-service restaurant. Peter’s quick wit and warm smile drew in repeat customers by the dozens who always chose the bar seat to be served and entertained by him. Before graduating, Peter took advantage of a six-month 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 and further developed his already well-established customer service skills.
Upon graduating he moved to Enterprise Rent-A-Car, where he spent another five years making a name for himself with his team, customers, and vendors alike, quickly moving into a management position. Peter understood that maximizing profits was intricately tied to his ability to provide superior customer service and develop his team to do the same. Seeking a career shift that allowed him to affect people’s lives on a deeper level, Peter joined Pioneer Valley Financial Group in early 2013. 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.
During baseball season, you will find Peter on the mound trying to finish each out with a knee-breaking 0 and 2 curveball. Peter plays for two competitive leagues, the Western Mass Full Count League and the Western Mass Wood Bat League, where he stars as pitcher and center fielder. He enjoys the sport for its competitive comradery, appreciating that the “team is only as good as the worst player.”
Peter’s competitive nature comes out in a different light when playing his other favorites, golf and Ping-Pong. Peter will get on the golf course with friends and in local tournaments as often as he can during the season, thrilled by the long drive but still searching for his first hole in one. Don’t even think about challenging him to a game of Ping-Pong—his mean forehand often leaves his competitors in a heap of disappointment.
During the fall, Peter takes a break from many of his personal interests and serves as head coach for the Ludlow Youth Football 7th and 8th grade team. With 10 years of experience playing Ludlow Football, he gives back to his community by leading these young men. Peter distinctively remembers two of his high school coaches, one from football and the other from basketball, who significantly affected him. Peter looked to these coaches as mentors and leaders and now seeks to emulate their approach in order to influence his 7th and 8th graders in the same meaningful way.
When not busy with sports, you can likely find Peter exploring through local woods, wacky rig in hand, in search of an undiscovered body of water to go fishing. Enticed by the countless approaches, techniques, and baits, Peter likes bass fishing for the thrill of the big catch. Whether he is fishing in his bass boat, canoe, kayak, or his newest toy—a stand-up paddle board—he has a true love for the adventurous outdoors.
Chief Compliance Officer and Director of Operations
Chief Compliance Officer and Director of Operations Kelly Haber was born and raised in Ludlow, Massachusetts. Kelly’s parents immigrated to the United States from Portugal 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, Massachusetts, 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. A few years later, equipped with vast experience, Kelly was further promoted into her most recent position as compliance consultant, where she handled various regulatory inquiries and drove changes that positively influenced the client experience.
From regulatory inspections to internal audits, to research and resolution, Kelly has the ability to comb through fine details with precision and accuracy, making 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 securities registrations 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 Compliance 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 Pioneer Valley’s OSJ Delegate and a registered Investment Advisor Representative. It's a role well suited for Kelly’s area of expertise, and she is now responsible for the general supervision and compliance of the firm and all activities of registered employees.
When not in the office, Kelly and her husband Barry, a “tree guy,” enjoy time with their family at home in Wilbraham. Still settling into their recently built house, Kelly puts her creative side to work exploring her interest in interior design throughout each room. While Kelly is busy sprucing up the place, you might find Barry around town in Ludlow, fearlessly climbing and removing trees.
Kelly and Barry recently celebrated their 10-year wedding anniversary. While dreams of Italy and Hawaii first came to mind, it’s more likely they’ll be sporting Mickey Mouse ears in Disney while chasing their two adorable sons, Ryan (7) and Gavin (2).
When not at a hockey or football game cheering on Ryan (while frantically chasing after Gavin, who desperately wants in on the action), 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.
Operations Coordinator and Relationship Manager
Operations Coordinator and Relationship Manager Kelly Outhuse has been working in the financial services industry for more than 12 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 everyday events on the stock market. Learning how financial planning can provide individuals with security amid 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, Massachusetts. 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, Connecticut, and Northwestern Mutual in Springfield, Massachusetts.
In a recent role as compliance specialist at Professional Investors in South Windsor, Connecticut, Kelly realized an inclination toward 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 Pioneer 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 securities 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 two children Mason (1) and Mila (4). 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. 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 help to make everyone she meets feel welcome and engaged.
Director of Client Relations
Director of Client Relations Karen Nogueira knows what it means to deliver impeccable customer service. As a young girl, Karen remembers proudly wearing her red and white apron as a candy striper while she volunteered at Ludlow Hospital. Serving others gave her a sense of joy, from refilling water glasses and serving dinner, to taking the time to speak with lonely patients, Karen had a heart to help others. It was no surprise when Karen later landed a career in customer service.
A natural people person, 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 relationship manager. Today, Karen’s devotion to customer service proves to be an invaluable asset to the team.
When 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, 9, who gracefully participates on several competitive dance teams. 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.
During soccer season, you can’t miss Karen screaming from the sideline “Go, Bubba!” while Joseph, 7, 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. While you’ll see her mostly running around the neighborhood, she recently completed the St. Patrick’s Day Road Race finishing at her personal best. 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.
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. Karen 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.
Fatima’s natural warmth and genuine smile will likely be the first thing you notice when you walk through our office doors. 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, Massachusetts, at age 21, where she took a position at Ludlow Textiles. Fatima worked with dedication for 17 years until the business was 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 manages Primavera Restaurant in Ludlow, where she prepares schedules, manages some finances, and handles most customer and vendor inquiries. You may even 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, 16 and 20. Fatima proudly describes her hard-working children as high honors and dean’s list students. Her oldest attends Westfield State College, studying accounting, and her youngest, still in high school, has dreams of architectural engineering in his future. 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 than the occasional family movie night or shopping trip.
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 that each customer received his or her custom order on time and with 100-percent 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 VP of sales. She became an integral part of the company, ensuring that each customer received his or her order to exact specifications.
When not in the office, Irene stays busy at home with her two teenage children, Faith and James. Faith, 17, delights the family with her musical talents, skillfully singing and playing the guitar. When not dabbling in music, Faith also plays lacrosse for her local high school.
Irene’s son, James, 14, is a basketball star at heart, an activity he and Irene’s husband, Jim, have enjoyed together since James was in kindergarten. As James enters high school, Jim will not be coaching for the first time, although it’s unlikely you won’t find Irene and Jim cheering him on at every game!
Irene and her family enjoy running, an activity they delight in together. From running at the Quabbin Reservoir to competing in local races, you’ll often find them together, helping James train for his cross-country team and actively exploring the great outdoors (often with their beloved dog, Bandit, in tow!).
Irene especially loves the summertime when she can spend time planting in her vegetable garden and tending to her perennial flower beds. This summer will be a special one; her family will be traveling to Cape Cod and New Hampshire for some quality time together.