The 50 Most Powerful Women in Boston

By Alexandra Hall | Boston Magazine |

Carol Johnson

Superintendent Boston Public Schools

Power demo:  It’s too bad that every time Carol Johnson’s name turns up in the paper these days, somebody seems to be criticizing her. She’s been forced to institute budget-trimming initiatives such as closing or merging more than a dozen schools, and she’s set about firing or reassigning underperforming teachers — hardly a recipe for positive PR. Still, Johnson has been taking care of business since arriving from Memphis in 2007: The city’s test scores are up, the dropout rate is at its lowest point in two decades, and BPS was named one of the 20 most-improved school systems in the world in a 2010 McKinsey & Co. report.  — Tanya Pai



Julie Kahn

Vice President/New England Market Manager, Entercom

Power demo:  Calling the shots at some of New England’s top-rated radio stations, such as WEEI, WRKO, and WAAF.


Rosabeth Moss Kanter

Chair/Director, Harvard’s Advanced Leadership Initiative

Power demo:  Spreading innovative leadership strategies; winning the Association of Leadership Professionals’ International Leadership Award.

Karen Kaplan

President, Hill Holiday

Power demo:  Growing the ad agency’s annual billings to more than
$1 billion, with clients ranging from Dunkin’ Donuts to Bank of America and Verizon Wireless.


Victoria Reggie Kennedy

Former Partner, Keck, Mahin & Cate 

She’s known to most as the late Ted Kennedy’s wife. But Vicki Kennedy has quickly become a major force in local and national political circles. After the senator’s passing, it’s said that her support helped install longtime aide Paul Kirk to keep the seat warm until — much to her chagrin — it was captured by Scott Brown. And over the last year, she’s become a sought-after endorsement, stumping for several Democratic candidates in November and working the social circuit with gusto. She’s popped up at benefits and openings galore, and has delivered multiple high school and college commencement addresses — all in addition to one of her biggest charitable endeavors, fundraising for the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate. Though the former lawyer found herself on many Dems’ shortlists of potential challengers to Brown in 2012, she’s wound up brushing off speculation regarding a future candidacy — for now, anyway.  — Donna Garlough


Myra Kraft

Philanthropist; President New England Patriots Charitable Foundation

Power demo:  Injecting more than $100 million into dozens of causes — from tiny grassroots campaigns to major universities — through organizations like the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation and the Robert K. and Myra H. Kraft Foundation, both of which she coestablished.


Saundra Lane

Art Collector; Honorary Trustee, MFA

Power demo:  Making the careers of starving artists simply by adding their works to her esteemed collection.

Gloria Larson

President, Bentley University; Former Chair, Massachusetts Convention Center Authority

Power demo:  Driving the massive $800 million Boston Convention and Exhibition Center project.



Barbara Lee

Philanthropist; Fouder Barbara Lee Family Foundation

Power demo:  Conceiving and funding  contemporary-art and women-in-politics programs — and helping to elect just about every sitting woman Democratic senator and governor nationwide.


Janice Loux

President, Unite Here! Local 26

Power demo: They call her a bully, but a compassionate one. And on both counts, with good reason: As the protector of 5,000-plus Boston hospitality workers, Loux has picked fights with — and won concessions from — big players like Hyatt (getting new positions offered to the 98 housekeepers replaced by lower-paid subcontractors) and the Liberty Hotel (the city postponed its approval of the hotel because it hadn’t signed with the union). Under Loux, Local 26 has doubled its membership and become one of New England’s largest private-sector unions, and the percentage of Boston’s unionized hotels has shot up from 40 to 60. Loux comes by her trade naturally — her mother was the hotel waitress who took on the all-male bartenders union and got it to admit women.  — Alexandra Hall

  • Lesley

    Doesn’t United States Attorney General trump Massachusetts Attorney General? Where is Carmen Ortiz? You’ve overlooked an amazing woman with an inspirational story of achieving the American dream.

  • Doug

    Not only did you miss Carmen Ortiz but how is first Lady Diane Patrick who is also a partner at Ropes and Gray not on this list?