The 50 Most Powerful People in Boston

In the city of Boston, demonstrations of power are nothing new. We’ve been throwing our weight around since the days of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Today, as ever, some people in town just know how to get things done whether through intelligence, charm, enormous, piles of cash, back room deals, or just sheer force of will. After talking to scores of insiders across the area, we ranked the city’s heavy hitters and examine power in all its forms—from political muscle and business influence to cultural capital and social networking.

No. 31  Eric Fehrnstrom

Republican Political Consultant

If he can plot paths to victory for Mitt Romney and Scott Brown, the GOP could control the White House and the Senate — and Fehrnstrom will be crowned the next Karl Rove.


No. 32  Doug Rubin

Democratic Political Consultant

The former chief of staff for Governor Patrick, Rubin’s running the campaigns of both Elizabeth Warren and Joseph Kennedy III. He has a good shot at going two for two.


No. 33  Catherine Peterson

Executive Director, ArtsBoston

Peterson is the chief marketer of the arts in Boston, representing more than 170 organizations. And in a city chock-full of tourists, she makes sure the arts get their fair share of visitor dollars by constantly coordinating with the city and the Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau.


No. 34  Ken Oringer and Barbara Lynch

Empire-Building Restaurateurs

Remember when Lynch’s Drink made craft cocktails the concept for every new bar? Or how Oringer’s temple to meat, Coppa, inspired charcuterie menus all over town? Well, here’s the deal: Whichever of these two launches the next great hot spot or giant food trend gets slot number 34 to him- or herself.


No. 35  Catherine d’Amato

President and CEO, The Greater Boston Food Bank

D’Amato sits on the board of directors at Boston’s Federal Reserve and the Boston Foundation, which only helps her near-saintly organization’s ability to feed nearly 500,000 people.


No. 36  Drew Gilpin Faust

President, Harvard University

She isn’t flashy, but Faust has kept a steady hand while steering Harvard through tough times, including an $11 billion loss in its endowment and endless delays with the Allston science complex. We’re eager to see whether the university’s latest focus on startups (see: the new Innovation Lab) will help keep aspiring Zuckerbergs in town.


No. 37  Doc Rivers

Head Coach, Boston Celtics

Considering that some athletes are still reluctant to play for teams in Boston because of the city’s perceived racist past, it was no small thing that Rivers, one of the most respected coaches in the NBA, signed a $35 million extension last year to stay in town through 2016. In committing to held rebuild the post–Big 3 Celtics, Rivers will be one of the team’s chief selling points to lure star free agents — of every race — to town.


No. 38  Occupy Boston

They came. They camped. They cost us as much as $60K in cleanup fees. But Occupy was more than a drawn-out demonstration of disgruntled 99 percenters in Dewey Square. It was an example of how a movement can voice a strong (if muddied) complaint against social and economic inequality without resorting to violence.


No. 39  Kairos Shen

Director of Planning, Boston Redevelopment Authority

The city’s chief planner has Menino’s trust, which is good news for Boston — Shen is trained in design (with a master’s in architecture from MIT) and is shaping our city (he helped convince Millennium to take over the Filene’s site at Downtown Crossing). We also love that he’s focused on keeping the streetscape pedestrian-friendly.


No. 40  Paul Guzzi

President and CEO, Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce

Guzzi sits at the powerful crossroads of politics (he’s a former Democratic secretary of the commonwealth) and business (he’s been running the chamber since 1996). He’s also involved with the Boston Club and the Kennedy School of Government. Guzzi is wired.


  • Rick

    Wait until you find out what they charge for those wristwatches you advertise…

  • Reality

    If power is about influence, leverage and day-to-day affect on lives, I’d vote for Cindy Fitzgibbons, the guy who owns Sal’s Pizza, Steven Tyler, and that awesome lady who works in the Dunkin Donuts drive-thru window. While most of the clowns on this list are busy stroking each other,& paying for articles about themselves, others are actually affecting lives and inspiring people. If Cindy needs volunteers for a cause, I’d follow her before any of these people.

  • eggy

    “No. 38 Occupy Boston
    They came. They camped. They cost us as much as $60K in cleanup fees. But Occupy was more than a drawn-out demonstration of disgruntled 99 percenters in Dewey Square. It was an example of how a movement can voice a strong (if muddied) complaint against social and economic inequality without resorting to violence.” and accomplishing nothing.

  • Elizabeth

    The No. 1 most powerful person in Boston is congradulated for projects that he did not even complete. Two and a half of the projects referenced were Berry projects prior to Suffolk buying them out. They were successful due to the hard work and teamwork of the BERRY Team, not Suffolk.

  • You

    You don’t think Numero Uno is a number 1? Connect the dots on this list. Some of the elected officials on the list help procure taxpayer funded $ for the local hospitals. The hospital heads on the list, decide to build buildings for themselves. They call their friend, Fish, and give him the $ to build. He makes token donations to election campaigns, and pet charities (from $ squeezed from subs)and keeps the bulk for himself. Those donations help get officials re-elected. Sounds like everyone is working for him. That makes him a number 1 in my book.

  • Ralph

    Wow. It’s like Fish and Menino are straight out of Boardwalk Empire. How impressive! “if you’re in with him, the possibilities are endless.” Does hiring his son and former staffers = being in with him? I guess so. Pathetic.

  • John

    Of course, “powerful” does not imply honestly, ethics, fairness, respectability, generosity or intelligence. Look at Khadafi, Hussein, drug lords etc. Ironically, Fish used the same PR firm (The Monitor Group) as Libya.

  • Big

    That’s true…Fish taking credit for work done by Berry years before he swallowed (and excreted) them, would be like Ochocinco taking credit for the Patriots’ past Superbowl wins! Welcome to the team…try not to screw it up.

  • Mark

    Not being able to get things done if you’ve annoyed the mayor sounds an awful lot like corruption.

    If so, why are we celebrating it?

  • Look

    This is weird. In the group photo of the power players, cover-up everyone except Martha Coakley. By herself, she seems to have a Mona Lisa smile, and an air of integrity. Now, uncover John Fish. Suddenly, Martha looks sneaky, conniving and guilty of something. It’s like Fish’s aura rubs off on everyone around him.