Sunday, March 25, 2007

Letter from the Editor

The Notable and Newsworthy: VIP Profiles, Issue 10, March 25, 2007

Greetings Readers,

We hope all is well with you and yours as the spring begins and nice weather starts to bring out more smiles in the North East. This week we have a bit of a VIP Profile grab bag, featuring a highly reputable Attorney of Law in the Rochester area, a Methodist Minister, and a town board trustee. The latter is written by one of our new Team VIP Staff Writers, Michael Reiff.

Currently, I have been traveling again. Today I trekked back home to Kirkwood, New York to visit my oldest brother Jack, a Software Engineer for L3 Communications. He lives in Orlando, Florida, but for a few weeks he is in Kirkwood training employees and preparing for a series of presentations to some of the company’s clients. It is always a pleasure to have a Norman brothers’ reunion. Unfortunately, I was not able to make it to Greenwich, Connecticut this weekend with him to visit our other brother Chris, a Unit Clerk for the New York Presbytery Hospital. None the less, we do well with staying in touch with each other.

This past week provided an opportunity for Ben and me to meet SUNY Chancellor, John Ryan. He shared some incredible stories about his career in the United States Navy and his rise to the position of Vice Admiral. It was truly a captivating talk about leadership styles and how he has been blessed to be surrounded by strong leaders. He recommended Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book on Abraham Lincoln’s Presidency, Team of Rivals. Interestingly, our featured attorney in this week’s issue had the same recommendation.

Our featured people of the week are a grab bag of interesting folks. Our first is Bill Pegg, Pastor of the Rush United Methodist Church and a man of great character. Michael Reiff, a new staff writer for Team VIP provided us his first work, Michelle Twitchell, Town Board Trustee for the Town of Fredonia, New York. In addition, we have Sharon Stiller, Partner and Attorney of Law for the highly reputable Rochester Law Firm, Boylan, Brown, Code, Vigdor & Wilson, LLP. All of these interesting individuals bring their own unique skills and definitions of success to this week’s issue.

Michelle Twitchell:

Sharon Stiller:

Bill Pegg:

Enjoy and have a good week!


Joseph Norman

SUNY Geneseo ’08

Notable and Newsworthy

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Michelle Twichell

Michelle Twichell:

Positivism and Change

By: Michael Reiff

The first thing a stranger would notice about Michelle Twichell is her positive attitude. Twichell, who is a town board trustee in the village of Fredonia, NY, says that her success comes from, in part, her ability to “visualize a positive outcome.” She also believes that giving 100 percent at all times is crucial to achieving her goals. Considering that only a few years ago Twichell had little influence in the Fredonia community, it seems that visualizing positive goals has worked well for her in her meteoric rise to political heights in Fredonia.

Twichell says that she began her public work because of a yearning to do work that benefits people, helping people in the community live better lives. Twichell understands that everyone has their own needs, but has long been one to make connections in order to achieve goals. “You can’t run things on your own, you can’t run your own show,” Twichell remarks, noting that as being one of the ways democracy works in our country. The ability to address a problem through understanding of the issues, and understanding that not every problem has a solution, has helped Twichell work in the community, solving problems with public servants and citizens alike.

Twichell got her start in the public realm in Fredonia when she began a campaign to curb negative student activity in the village. Upset by student drunken disregard for personal and public property, Twichell and a friend got together 150 signatures and took them to town hall, made their opinions known, and soon University and village officials alike worked to curb the rash of destructive behavior.

During that initial campaign and those that have followed, Twichell has consistently felt that “You can’t always make decisions with your heart; you have to use your head and do what’s right, what the law says.” Twichell has used that mantra in many instances when the requests of the community, who she usually works the closest with, sometimes simply can’t be met in view of what the local law says. In those situations, Twichell sticks closely with her personal belief that even when it’s difficult, you have to stay with what the law says.

Twichell also feels that enjoying what you do is crucial in succeeding in life, and believes that her Irish heritage plays a role in her cheerful demeanor she has in and out of her work. Her immediate family has a direct link to that heritage: her mother came to America when she was just a year old, having been born in Ireland herself. The family moved from New York to Dunkirk where Twichell grew up, and now resides in the neighboring village of Fredonia.

The Catholic faith, then a staple in the Irish community, has played a role in her life as well. While Twichell says she isn’t an every-Sunday practicing Catholic, she says her faith in a higher power is another part of what drives her to success day in and day out. Twichell feels that there is a pattern to the events in life, something which she believes ties in with her religious faith as well. Twichell remembers that some members of her Irish family were very superstitious in their beliefs in life, and Twichell shares that to some extent, particularly when she talks about meeting her second husband, Dr. Mark Twichell, who she knew she would marry as soon as she saw him ice skating.

Forming a tender but productive relationship with her spouse is another aspect of her life she attributes to her success. Both Dr. Twichell and Michelle Twichell have helped each other in their personal successes. Mrs. Twichell helped her husband make his successful dental practice what it is today, and Mrs. Twichell says that she wouldn’t have undertaken public service without the support of her husband throughout the election process and beyond.

Come summer time, Mrs. Twichell can be found in her rose garden, which she plans to expand this year. Twichell is also a fervent music fan, and especially enjoys the Beatles catalog; she hopes to see the new Beatles Musical in Vegas before it ends its run. For more contemporary musical acts, Twichell has recently bought and highly recommends the new Beck album, The Information.

Recently, Twichell and her husband purchased the adjacent house and are now renting it out to SUNY Fredonia students; her green thumb can be found all around the premises of that house as well. They have worked on renovating the house to return it piece by piece to its original form, lovingly recreating what made the home distinctive over one hundred years ago.

Michelle A. Twichell

Board of Trustees

Village of Fredonia, NY

Phone: 716-679-4282

Village Hall Number: 716-679-2302

Village of Fredonia

Sharon Stiller

Sharon Stiller:
Making a Difference

By: Joseph W. Norman

For more from Bigger Impact co-founder, Joseph Norman, visit
Enjoy the read about...Sharon Stiller...below! Thanks for your readership!

Sharon Stiller is a woman of tenacity and determination. As a partner and attorney of law for Boylan, Brown, Code, Vigdor & Wilson, she has desired to be in law since she was eight years old. Her intense passion for the field has led her to great success, working with a few different firms in the Rochester area. Born and raised in Irondequoit, New York, she loves the seasons and has no desire to leave Western New York. Currently, with the view she has from the twenty-fourth floor office in the Chase Building in downtown Rochester, one need not wonder why she wants to stay.

View of the Chase Building

Sharon is a motivated woman who has truly made her mark in the field of law. As aforementioned, she desired to be in the profession since she was eight years old. “I don’t know how I decided that,” she said, but she has not looked back since. Growing up watching Perry Mason on television, she was intrigued by the occupation. She jokes now about the differences between television law and real law, “On television everything gets done in an hour and clients always listen to their attorneys.” This is not the case in real life. Earlier in her career she was asked to speak about these ideas in a speech on “L.A. Law versus Real Law.”

Her childhood was spent inquiring to a distant relative in law, about the line of work. The two later became partners at a law firm together. Seeking her education in the field she studied at the University of Albany and expressed that one of her wow moments was graduating from the Law School there. She describes the experience as, “completing her dream.” This was only the beginning for this incredibly determined woman.

In the beginning she desired to get into criminal law, so she solicited a promise from each candidate running for the position of District Attorney for Monroe County. When the challenger won, he came through and gave her a position as his assistant. This was the beginning of many firsts for Sharon, as she was the first female assistant to the District Attorney in Monroe County, selected in January of 1976. She worked in the position for eight years until it was time to move on.

Sharon with Hillary Clinton

From there she shifted over to her longest tenure at Goldstein, Goldman, Kessler & Underberg in 1983, gaining experience in litigation. Working there for nearly twenty two years, she left in 2005 to join Jaeckle, Fleischmann & Mugel. It was only in January of this year, 2007, that she joined her probable final place of work, Boylan, Brown, Code, Vigdor & Wilson. It is this final position she describes her feeling as “extremely content.”

Reflecting on her role, she said that she thinks everybody ends up where they are supposed to be. In fact, she had the opportunity to join the firm early in her career, but passed it up. The world brought her back to where she feels she belongs though, at Boylan, Brown. “I think you kind of have your path and you go this way and that way, then you ultimately wind up being where you should be,” she stated.
The view from Boylan Brown

Throughout Sharon’s rise through the world of law, she raised a daughter as a single mother. Now nineteen, her daughter learned to be “flexible and accommodating,” Sharon said. It was difficult on both Sharon and her daughter because her schedule was always changing. “I did not know if I was going to make it to her games,” she reflected. This describes the “emergency nature” of the business and one that is not conducive to raising a child. Sharon pulled it off though, and now her daughter is pursuing her own hopes and dreams in college.

Besides practicing law, Sharon is unbelievably active within the community. She is active in the United Way, Habitat for Humanity, Little Theatre, Mercy Outreach, Red Wings Baseball, and the National Women’s Hall of Fame, to name a few. Countless others span her list, and she takes leadership roles in many of them, including serving on the Boards for the National Women’s Hall of Fame, Red Wings Baseball, and the Little Theatre. She even carried the Olympic torch before when it came through Rochester.

Sharon with the olympic flame aloft

Other activities have included producing a theatrical performance of the Susan B. Anthony trial at the location of the actual historic trial in Canandaigua, New York. Her experience here taught her one of the lessons that has stuck with her the better part of her life. “Nothing is as critical as it seems,” she says.

With this performance it went down to the wire, but everything worked out. She needed a playwright; found Gary Lehmann, a wonderful writer who lived nearly next door. Then she needed a crew, which was covered through another connection, and finally, she had nearly everything produced, but she still did not have approval to use the house in Canandaigua. Ten days before the performance that came through and the show went great. She has tried to incorporate this attitude into her daily pursuits.
Sharon's office

Now, it is important to find out the little things that make Sharon who she is. Currently, she is taking up painting in her spare time. Sharon is the kind of person that has to allow herself to take on extra activities such as this one because her time is so limited. She also took up the sport of running, as a way to combat her lifelong bout with asthma. In fact, she has run and completed four marathons. The first she completed is another one of her wow moments. Sharon enjoys Krackle or Nestle Crunch bars and Peanut M & Ms; however, she does not eat them very much. She also says cheese would be her favorite food, but she does not allow herself to eat that either. Her discipline is unparalleled.

A table in Sharon's office

Besides these little things, Sharon also enjoys soccer and loves to read. Recently, she completed Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book, Team of Rivals. In response to the message, she waxed eloquently about Abraham Lincoln’s leadership style and writing ability. She would enjoy meeting and talking to Lincoln about what he went through. Working to improve her vocabulary is a key part of her reading experiences and she finds great pleasure in it.

View from Sharon office

Sharon does not have many pet peeves, but a few things annoy her. The biggest of these is people who do not listen and pointless negativity. Also, individuals with pompous attitudes distress her. As aforementioned though, she tries not to let these types of little things affect her mood. Her energy and positivism breathe life into everyone she interacts with.
Boylan Brown conference room

Her definition of success is to be contented with her life. She thinks the standards that everybody uses are different, and she would never try to meet someone else’s standards. She states, “If I do what I require of myself, to me that is being successful.” In her own life, she has been fortunate to have a mentor, Marjorie, who has helped guide her through her professional and personal development. She puts much value into building relationships and seeking out mentors, as this has been essential in her successful pursuits.

As a motivated woman with many desires, it is fitting that a person Sharon would like to meet is Susan B. Anthony. It seems that the two share a similar passion for their trades and for making a difference in their respective communities. Sharon has motivated many with her many leadership roles and she has helped many with her skill in the practice of law. It is her ethical obligation to represent her client zealously within the bounds of the law and she does it with the highest form of professionalism and work ethic. She will no doubt continue to make a difference with her pursuits.

From left to right: Team Vip Member Mike Ansaldi, Joe, Sharon, Ben

P.S. Fresh content at Check it out! <<<--- i="i">

Sharon Stiller
Boylan, Brown, Code, Vigdor & Wilson, LLC
2400 Chase Square
Rochester, New York 14604
585 232 5300 Ext. 226
Cell: 585 314 2498
Company website:
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