Power: The 100 Women Who Run This Town

Micho Spring
53, Chair of U.S. Corporate Practice and Weber Shandwick New England
From her four years as deputy mayor (under Kevin White) to her contributions as a spokesperson for local Cuban-Americans to her role running the New England office of the world’s largest public relations firm, Micho Spring has an impressive résumé. Did we mention she was once CEO of a telecommunications company, and a spokesperson for the Red Sox? Spring has also been named a member of the host committee for next summer’s Democratic National Convention. The most recent development: Weber Shandwick has made her chair of the firm’s U.S. corporate practice, a position that takes her local clout and smears it across the nation.

Nancy L. Leaming
56, CEO, Tufts Health Plan
This month, Leaming becomes head honcho of an HMO with nearly a million members, a network of 83 hospitals, and about 19,000 physicians. With total annual revenues of $2 billion, Tufts is one of the largest health plans in the nation. The former president and COO takes the reins at a critical time, when the healthcare industry is foundering. Along with some other healthcare execs, she was criticized last year for earning nearly $1 million in 2001 even as members were suffering major premium increases. Will the times be changing at Tufts? Stay tuned.

Barbara Fish Lee
56, President, Barbara Lee Family Foundation
Lee may be best known for her seismic donations to arts organizations like the Museum of Fine Arts, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Harvard’s Fogg Art Museum, and the Institute of Contemporary Art, where she is vice president of the board and a driving force behind the push to build a new waterfront exhibit space. But she also wields clout in the public sector. As head of the Barbara Lee Family Foundation, she underwrites projects that promote women in politics – regardless of their party affiliation. She’s also on the host committee for the Democratic National Convention. Meanwhile, Lee has founded some major Boston institutions: the Women’s Supported Housing and Empowerment Project in Somerville, the Simmons College Institute for Leadership and Change, and the Family and Child Policy Center at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis.

Margaret Marshall
58, Chief Justice, Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
“For the first time in the history of Massachusetts we have a woman leading one of the branches of state government,” then-Governor Paul Cellucci said after the Governor’s Council confirmed Marshall as chief justice four years ago. Since then, Marshall, a South African native with leftist leanings who emigrated here in the 1960s, has ruled on some of the toughest issues in the state’s history, from prisoners’ rights to gay marriage (which is even now being debated in her court). Marshall has locked horns with the current governor over his plan to cut funding for the judicial system. She is also backing a new proposal to completely overhaul the courts. How much power does this justice wield? We’re about to find out.


Ellyn McColgan
49, President, Fidelity Brokerage Company
In October, Fidelity CEO Ned Johnson III tapped McColgan to run Fidelity Brokerage Company (a big chunk of the overall conglomerate that functions like a huge financial supermarket for individual investors), making her responsible for 9,000 employees and $700 billion in assets. McColgan has worked at Fidelity since 1990, climbing the ladder of the largest mutual fund company in the country and the second-largest online brokerage. Can she steer this massive ship through treacherous waters? Nearly 16 million Fidelity customers are literally banking on it.

Martha Coakley
49, Middlesex County District Attorney
Coakley, whose prosecution of au pair Louise Woodward got worldwide press, continues to oversee hot-button cases: child molestation by daycare workers, for example, and the murder of one father by another at a youth hockey practice. The first woman in the state to be elected outright to the office of DA (another was appointed to fill a vacancy), she is the first woman prosecutor of the most populous county in the commonwealth, with nearly 25 percent of the state’s residents. Roman Catholic Coakley was one of five DAs who joined Attorney General Tom Reilly in threatening to haul Catholic church leaders before a grand jury if they didn’t hand over documents related to the priest sex scandal, and she’s now prosecuting one of the most notorious of those cases, that of the Reverend Paul Shanley, charged with raping four children. Now Coakley’s being mentioned as a potential candidate for attorney general or Congress.

Ellen Zane
51, Network President, Partners HealthCare System
Zane runs a network of 5,300 physicians, one of the largest healthcare provider groups in America, with more than 1.5 million members in eastern Massachusetts. These days, she’s finding herself at the front lines of a new battle in local healthcare. “Doctors have to work harder here,” she says, “and the compensation is not as high.” Lots of M.D.s come here for the high-end training, then leave. Part of Zane’s job is to keep them here. In her spare time, she serves as a director of Fiduciary Trust Company, a director of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, a trustee of the University of Massachusetts, and a member of the Health Policy and Management Executive Council at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Therese Murray
53, Chair, State Senate Ways and Means Committee
“Never double-cross her.” That’s the advice that Beacon Hill insiders give political neophytes about Therese Murray. A self-proclaimed “bologna-and-cheese Democrat,” the Plymouth senator is one of those rare political specimens: a no-nonsense, not-always-partisan thinker who doesn’t budge on her beliefs even if it pisses off her own constituents. When Senate President Robert Travaglini tapped Murray to run the Senate Ways and Means Committee, she became the highest-ranked woman in top-level state budget negotiations, given power over the one thing in this state that seems to matter these days: the purse strings.