Connors’s Reign

Jack Connors attained his influence, in part, by sitting on a variety of corporate and nonprofit boards. A lot of them — 29 in all. Yet a few in particular catapulted him to that next level of clout. Here, a chronicle of his rise.

1978–1985 Advertising Club of Boston
1978–1985 New England Broadcasting Association
1990–present American Ireland Fund
1998–2006 Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce
1998–2008 Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston
1999–present Jobs for Massachusetts
2007–present Camp Harbor View Foundation
2009–present Massachusetts Competitive Partnership

1975–1980 Sportsmen’s Tennis Club
1978–1988 Boston Ballet
1980–1995 Wang Center for Performing Arts

1979–present Boston College
1990–2002 Newton Country Day School
1992–2010 Brandeis University
1992–present Belmont Hill School
2000–2007 Nativity Preparatory School
2003–present Harvard Medical School Board of Fellows
2004–present Emmanuel College

1991–1995 Brigham and Women’s Hospital
1995–present Partners HealthCare System
1996–present Dana Farber/Partners Cancer Care
2005–present Partners in Health
2010–present Red Sox Foundation/MGH Home Base

1991–1994 John Hancock Financial Services
1994–2009 M/C Communications
2001–present Hasbro
2006–present Covidien

2000–2009 Carmel Terrace
2007–present Campaign for Catholic Schools

In the late 1970s, Connors approached Boston College president Father J. Donald Monan with a proposition: Connors would host $1,000-a-plate fundraisers for the school. In exchange, Monan would consider Connors for a seat on BC’s board. Connors’s first fundraiser raised $15,000 for BC. His next raised $250,000. He’s been on the board since 1979.

What’s now called the Citi Performing Arts Center was once the Metropolitan Theatre. Back in 1980, it was falling in on itself. Connors convinced one of his clients, Wang Laboratories, to spend $5 million to rename the theater the Wang Center for the Performing Arts. He was thereafter appointed chairman of the prestigious institution. That, says Connors, “was a very big deal.”

In 1991 John MacArthur, the chairman of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, asked Connors if he’d like to sit on the nonprofit’s board. Connors said, “I’ve never been sick in my life, and I don’t know anything about medicine.” MacArthur’s reply: “We know medicine. We need someone who knows the town.”

Brigham and Women’s and Massachusetts General hospitals merged in 1994 to form Partners HealthCare System, the 800-pound gorilla of New England healthcare and one of the city’s most important employers. In 1996 Partners asked Connors to serve a one-year term as chairman of the board. He still serves in the role.

Today Connors can dictate his own terms. That’s the case with Camp Harbor View, a summerlong oasis for 11- to 14-year-old inner-city kids that Connors started with Boston Mayor Tom Menino. After explaining the need for the camp, Mayor Menino let Connors oversee the non-profit’s financing and operations. It’s now so successful that it’s had to extend its term to accommodate all the kids on the waiting list.