Arriving Right on Time: The New Women of the Chamber


Celia Richa (top left), Ali Nigro (top right), Caitin Fisher (bottom left), Luz Arregoces (bottom right)

2016 has been an exciting year at the Chamber, filled with new programs, new policy initiatives, and…new people! Yes, the Chamber family has grown considerably this year, including the addition of four bright and talented women who recently joined the Chamber’s Programs and Leadership teams. At the Chamber, our aim is to constantly improve our organization inside and out, and these additions to the team certainly help us with that mission. Each of these women brings unique skills and experience, as well as a passion for the City of Boston to their work at the Chamber. In this blog post, we are excited to introduce you to Ali Nigro, Luz Arregoces, Celia Richa, and Caitlin Fisher.

Ali Nigro and Luz Arregoces joined the Chamber’s Programs team in May of 2016. As a Program Manager for the Chamber, Ali hopes to create and execute educational programing that is beneficial to the business community, especially for young professionals. Just this past year, Ali managed on the 2016 Ten Outstanding Young Leaders Awards and described it as a both “humbling and exciting” opportunity to “work with people who are so passionate about Greater Boston and invested in its future.” She’s also heading up the Chamber’s Young Professionals Network which is part of a great partnership with Chamber member, Citizens Bank. In three words she describes herself as loyal, motivated, and sociable, and we couldn’t’ be more excited to have her as a part of the Chamber team!

Luz Arregoces is a recent graduate of the University of Massachusetts, and joined the Chamber as a Program Coordinator. A fresh set of eyes for the Chamber programs team, Luz also feels that each day she learns something different. She says, “Every day I learn something new about myself, program management, and the Greater Boston business strategy.” Her goal for her time at the Chamber is to learn as much as she can and continue to help members through educational events. Her passion for learning is contagious and she continues to help the entire Chamber staff grow each day.

Celia Richa came aboard in early September as our Director of Programs, just in time for the Chamber’s busiest (and most fun, as Celia specified) season. Her determination to grow the Chamber’s programmatic offerings can easily be seen through her hard work over the past few months. Celia hopes to see more diverse audiences from a variety of sectors as well as professional and personal backgrounds participate in the Chamber’s programs. A highlight for Celia so far has been managing the Women’s Network Advisory Board, a group that immediately welcomed her in a way that, as Celia says, “truly embodied the Women’s Network mission.” Her passion for programs as well as her love for the Boston community has already made Celia a keystone in the growth of the Chamber.

We welcomed Caitlin Fisher in mid-October as the Director of Leadership Initiatives. She describes her experience so far as a “quick-moving, deep-dive into the business sector.” Caitlin came to the Chamber from Swanee Hunt Alternatives a private operating foundation run by Ambassador Swanee Hunt. Caitlin led one of the foundation’s main philanthropic initiatives, the Prime Movers fellowship program, which invests in national social change leaders’ learning and growth. Thanks to this experience, Caitlin has already been hard at work building upon the already stellar leadership initiatives here at the Chamber. A compassionate person, life-long learner, and network-weaver, Caitlin is hoping to deepen the experiences of the participants in our current leadership initiatives which she believes will result in a more leader-full Boston.

Please join us in welcoming these remarkable women to the Chamber, and make sure to look for them at an upcoming Chamber program.

Interested in working at the Chamber? Visit our website to learn more about employment opportunities.


New Form W-2 Deadline and Household Employee Requirements

tax statement W-2

rtraesterToday’s guest post comes from Robert Traester, Senior Accountant at WithumSmith+Brown.

As we head toward the close of another calendar year employers should be aware that as a result of the “Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act of 2015”, the filing deadline for 2016 Form W-2s has been moved up to January 31, 2017. The January 31st deadline is applicable to both providing employees with their Form W-2 copies and also submitting the respective forms to the Social Security Administration (SSA).

In addition to being prepared for the shorter deadline, individuals should be aware of some conditions that may require a W-2 to be issued for certain household employees.

For 2016 if you pay cash wages of $2,000 or more during the year to any employee or $1,000 in any calendar quarter to an employee, a Form W-2 will generally be required to be issued on behalf of that employee. In addition to providing the employee with a Form W-2, the employer may be required to file Schedule H on their own individual income tax return and register and pay federal and state unemployment taxes.

Individuals are commonly unaware of these requirements when paying someone such as a babysitter or home-aid and may neglect their reporting requirements. It is important to be aware of these thresholds as we head into the end of the calendar year so that proper reporting can be done on a timely basis and penalties can be avoided.

There are also certain exceptions from W-2 filing, such as for cash wages paid to family members that meet certain criteria, and it can be complicated determining who should be classified as an “employee”. Additionally, unemployment taxes can require some extensive research depending on your state requirements. It is encouraged that anyone who is unsure of their reporting requirements speak to a payroll or tax professional to ensure they are in proper compliance.

Robert Traester is a Senior Accountant at WithumSmith+Brown. He can be reached at

City to City: From Boston to Austin


With the election in hindsight and Thanksgiving approaching, it is truly beginning to feel like November. Accompanying November in Boston is that lovely brisk walk to work, two pairs of socks and the desire to go to bed at 7:30 p.m. because you haven’t seen the sunshine in hours. Just in time, City to City Boston is saying sayonara to Boston and hello to Austin, TX!

What’s City to City Boston and why is it in Austin, you ask? City to City Boston is a program of the Chamber that creates a network of community and business leaders, identifies best practices that achieve social and economic change in urban areas across the globe, and brings those ideas back to Boston. A highlight of the program is the Annual Discovery Trip. This year’s City to City cohort arrived in Austin on Sunday to learn all about how that super cool and booming city is evolving, attracting new businesses, and spurring innovation.

During the three-day trip, they’ll take in local scene at venues like the Continental Club, Austin City Limits and the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library and Museum; visit thriving businesses like Dell Technologies and Google Fiber; and tour up and coming Austin neighborhoods like Austin’s fast-growing Seaholm District. Through it all, Boston-area leaders of all sectors will meet counterparts in Austin while exploring, learning and sharing best practices.

Couldn’t make the trip this year? Follow @city2cityboston and the hashtag #city2cityboston on Twitter. And make sure to stay in touch so you can hear more about our 2017 trip.


Honoree Guest Post: JP Fuji Group gives back to the community

This post was written by JP Fuji Group, the Top 2016 Small Business of the Year. Hear more from JP Fuji at Nailed It: A Conversation with Successful Business Leaders this Thursday, October 6.

“What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun’ (Eccles. 1.9, NIV).” Never has that been more true than today. Consumers have a nearly endless range of products and services to choose from at any given moment. They are increasingly looking at who companies are, rather than just what they do. When Jimmy Liang founded JP Fuji Group he held in mind the powerful mantra of his grandmother—leave every place better than it was when you found it.

After the first Fuji restaurant in Wollaston, MA opened a young girl walked into the 19-seater sushi joint asking for a donation for her High School’s booster club. Although the restaurant had only recently begun to turn a profit, Jimmy saw the child as a symbol of the community that his business was a part of. He didn’t think twice before pulling out his checkbook. Since that day, the benevolence of JP Fuji Group has only continued to grow.

Each year JP Fuji Group contributes significantly to more than fifty charities and organizations. Recently, the group participated in the SSYMCA’s Taste of the South Shore to send underprivileged children to camp. Jimmy co-chaired the event, helping to successfully broaden its appeal by inviting members of the Chinese press as well as celebrity guest stars Kelly Olynyk and Taniya Nayak.

Additionally, JP Fuji Group’s Director of Operations Tony Liang has also served on the board of Quincy Asian Resources, Inc (QARI) for the past six years. Through this organization JP Fuji Group provides its employees with free English as a Second Language (ESL) classes. This is a tremendously beneficial program for the back of the house employees.

CEO Jimmy Liang says “if even one person in a family learns English it positively impacts that family forever.”

learn-at-work_webIn addition to offering ESL classes, JP Fuji Group is a proud participant in the Pathways to Careers program. This program helps individuals with disabilities pursue meaningful careers. In fact, after finding that one of the group’s participants was a huge fan of their restaurants, JP Fuji Group was moved to hire John Raimondi. John has worked tirelessly to one day master the highly specialized skill of sushi making at Fuji 1546 in Quincy, bringing with him a positive attitude. The company prides itself in not only training people but also opening doors for future careers.

One of JP Fuji Group’s favorite ways to give back is competing in what they know best—food. In 2015, Executive Chef Ming Cao defeated his opponents in the Quincy Community Action Programs’ (QCAP) ‘Best Chef’ competition (pictured below), making Chef Ming the first Chinese chef to win this annual Chopped-esque showdown. In the same year, his smoky concoction utilizing locally sourced ingredients also won the Kendall Square Association’s first ever ‘BYTEs’ competition. Bragging rights aside, these competitive events are the most engaging and organic way to draw large crowds to support the cause at hand.

Some of the causes and community groupsJP Fuji Ming Cao - QCAP Presenting to Judges that JP Fuji Group supports include:

  • East End House for Foster Children
  • Cambridge Fire Fighters
  • Somerville Police Department
  • Quincy Police Department
  • Domestic Violence Ended
  • Boston CASA
  • Asian American Civic Association
  •  Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center

…and many more!

JP Fuji Group continues to make valiant strides to change Quincy for the better. Every effort is made to help local charities and organizations whenever possible, regardless of how large or small. The company creates numerous jobs for both the Quincy and Metro Boston communities while positively impacting the lives of their employees through the aforementioned ESL classes and many other benefits and opportunities.

Jimmy Liang believes that “giving back is more than writing a check. He sees the powerful trickle down effect, when the quality of life of employees improve, communities’ needs are met, and small businesses across those communities have a greater opportunity to flourish.”

This post is a part of a series of posts written by the 2016 Small Business of the Year honorees. 

Honoree Guest Post: Who is Gillian from Gillian’s Foods?

Gillian's Foods PhotoThis post was written by Gillian’s Foods, a 2016 Small Business of the Year honoree. Hear more from Gillian’s Foods at Nailed It: A Conversation with Successful Business Leaders this Thursday, October 6.

When entrepreneurs are creating concepts and brands, the majority of the time, there are underlying questions: What is the driving factor? Why are they are doing it? Does it exist yet? Will it fit in the demographics? Is it a popular trend? The answer to these questions are all valid and proven reasons to start a company, but none of these reasons are why Bob and Susan Otolo started Gillian’s Foods over 20 years ago. Bob and Susan created Gillian’s Foods to keep their daughter, Gillian, alive, and ultimately to do the same for thousands more.

When Gillian Sideri was diagnosed with Celiac Disease at Boston’s Children’s Hospital, it became her father Bob’s obligation to cook food for his daughter that her body would accept and to create food options that would help her feel like a normal child. For the last 20 years, this family-owned and operated business has provide a this life-changing service to our valued customers. Gillian’s Foods will always remember how and where we started. We frequently donate our services, products, and facility to Boston Children’s Hospital. Gillian’s even started the Boston Children’s Celiac Support Group, which has now grown to over 400 families.

Gillian’s Foods has grown into a national brand with a portfolio of over 30 different gluten-free items. Even though we have grown and expanded, we have not changed our philosophy of high-quality, made-from-scratch, gluten-free manufacturing. As awareness spreads about Celiac disease, Gillian’s will be there to provide an easy, safe, trusted solution to a life-changing disease.

This post is a part of a series of posts written by the 2016 Small Business of the Year honorees. Stay tuned for more insights from our honorees leading up to Thursday’s event.