New Members Join Professional Advisory Committee

Monday, March 3, 2014

HARTFORD, CT --  Several new members have been named to the Professional Advisory Committee at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, the community foundation serving Greater Hartford.

Established in 1993, the Professional Advisory Committee provides valuable feedback to Hartford Foundation staff on philanthropic strategies, communications efforts, and community reactions and attitudes. The committee also advises the Foundation on trends and opportunities to engage individuals and families in the region’s charitable community.

New members are:

Monique R. Polidoro of Tolland, who will serve as chair of the committee this year, is a partner at the law firm of Rogin Nassau, LLC. She specializes in the areas of estate planning, estate administration, charitable planning and elder law. Monique works with clients and their families to structure estate plans that implement their personal goals, protect their loved ones and reflect their values while minimizing taxes. Her practice also involves advising clients on achieving philanthropic goals through the use of private foundations and charitable trusts. She is a member of the Connecticut Bar Association and the American Bar Association, where she is a member of the Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section. She received her bachelor’s from the University of Connecticut and her law degree from the University of Connecticut School of Law. Prior to joining Rogin, Nassau, Monique worked as a law clerk for Judge Alfred V. Covello at the Connecticut Federal District Court. She also worked as a law clerk in the Money Laundering/Asset Forfeiture Division of the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., and as a law clerk in the United States Attorneys’ Office in Hartford. Prior to starting her legal career, she toured as a professional ballet dancer with Charlestown Ballet Theater and Ballet Theatre Pennsylvania.

Vanessa Roberts Avery of Hartford is a business and financial services litigation attorney at McCarter and English, with experience in complex commercial litigation, trust and probate litigation, product liability litigation, and appellate advocacy. Her experience with trust and probate litigation includes will contests, disputed accountings, fiduciary claims, and challenges to private and charitable trusts in the probate and superior courts. She received her bachelor’s from Yale University and her law degree from Georgetown University Law Center. Prior to joining McCarter & English's Hartford office, she was a trial attorney with the United States Department of Justice, Civil Division, in Washington, D.C. She began her career in litigation at a large Connecticut-based firm in 1999. She has served on the Board of Directors of Girl Scouts of Connecticut and has been a pro bono advocate with Lawyers for Children America, representing abused and neglected children in civil proceedings in Juvenile Court. Vanessa was the 2008 recipient of the Connecticut Supreme Court's Law Day Award and a 2007 recipient of the Hartford Business Journal's “40 Under Forty” award. She also has been selected as a Connecticut Super Lawyer for 2013. She was previously recognized as a Connecticut Super Lawyer Rising Star (2009-2012).

Bernardo G. Cuadra of Holyoke, Mass. is an associate at the law firm of Shipman and Goodwin in Hartford, where he specializes in the area of estate planning, estate settlement and trust administration. Bernardo assists clients with the full range of planning techniques for tax-effective intergenerational and charitable transfers. Prior to joining Shipman & Goodwin, Bernardo was a law clerk for Judge Flemming L. Norcott, Jr. of the Connecticut Supreme Court. He is a graduate of Boston College and received his juris doctorate from Western New England University School of Law. He is a member of the American Bar Association; the Connecticut Bar Association, where he serves as co-chair of the Estate and Probate Law Committee, Young Lawyers Section; the Hartford County Bar Association; the Massachusetts Bar Association; and the Hampden County Bar Association. Cuadra is also involved with Statewide Legal Services of CT, Inc., Pro Bono Family Law Clinic and is co-chair, Western New England Law Review Advisory Committee.

John W. Eckel of Simsbury founded Pinnacle Investment Management in 1991. He has been selected four times by Worth magazine as one of the “best financial advisors” in the United States. He was also selected by as one of the most experienced financial advisors, named twice by Medical Economics as one of the best advisors for doctors and is listed as one of the “Top Professional Advisors” in J.K. Lasser’s book, Estate Planning for Baby Boomers and Retirees. John is a graduate of Cornell University and received his MBA from the University of Virginia. He is a Chartered Financial Analyst, a Certified Financial Planner and has taught advanced financial management courses in the MBA programs of Babson College and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Hartford Graduate Center. He has also taught investment courses in the adult education programs of several local communities and his comments have appeared in USA Today, Business Week, The Chicago Tribune, Smart Money, Financial Planning and other publications.

Suzanne S. Giuffrida of West Hartford is a senior trust officer at U.S. Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management, where she is responsible for providing fiduciary solutions and administration to high-net-worth clients and their families. Suzanne received her bachelor’s degree in economics, from the College of the Holy Cross in 1984. From 1984-1987, she worked for the Irving Trust Company in New York City as a personal banker. In 1987, she joined the Personal Trust Division at Hartford National Bank. Since 1987, Suzanne has held a variety of positions including estate settlement officer, relationship manager and, most recently, senior trust officer at the banks that succeeded Hartford National. Suzanne is an active member of the community and currently serves on the Planned Giving Committee of The Bridge Family Center, as a lector at St. Peter Claver Church, and as a member of the Hartford Estate and Business Planning Council.

Michael J. Welch of Suffield is a tax partner with Pue, Chick, Lebowitz and Blezard, LLC in Vernon. He specializes in tax and estate planning and compliance for closely held businesses, not-for-profit organizations and high-net-worth individuals. He is a graduate of Boston University School of Law (LLM), The Catholic University of America (JD) and earned his undergraduate degree from Boston University. He is a member of several professional organizations, including the Connecticut Society of Certified Public Accountants and the Estate and Business Planning Council of Greater Hartford. He serves on the board of The Friends of the Farm at Hilltop, Inc.

For the full list of current members, visit

The Professional Advisory Committee meets four times a year with members serving four-year terms. Six members completed terms at the end of 2013.

Contact Deborah Rothstein, senior philanthropic services officer, at 860-548-1888 x1019 or to learn more about how the Hartford Foundation can help you with your charitable giving.



Chris Senecal
Communications Officer
Hartford Foundation for Public Giving
860-548-1888 x1050