Power: The 100 Women Who Run This Town

Regina Pisa
47, Chair and Managing Partner, Goodwin Procter
The first woman in the country to hold both of those titles in a major law firm, Pisa has successfully “rebranded” Goodwin Procter since she took it over five years ago, significantly expanding an in-house marketing team, opening an office in New Jersey, and quadrupling the size of the New York office. As other big firms fail spectacularly in the most dismal economic climate for lawyers in Boston’s history, Goodwin Procter has become a national powerhouse, raking in three successive years of record annual revenues topping more than a quarter of a billion dollars. Pisa also sits on the boards of Citizens Financial Group, the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

Roni Thaler
47, Executive Director, Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus
Thaler belongs to a rarefied circle of local politicos: those who’ve made House Speaker Tom Finneran change his mind. Two years ago, Finneran released a revised map of the state’s political districts that would have eliminated the seats held by two female representatives. Thaler organized a protest drive. Within a week, Finneran had backed down. One of Thaler’s latest initiatives: the Massachusetts Government Appointments Project, which supplied then-Governor Elect Mitt Romney with the résumés of female candidates he should consider for appointments. For those keeping score, 6 out of the 13 members of Romney’s cabinet are women.

Benaree P. Wiley
56, President and CEO, The Partnership
It wasn’t long ago that lots of people nationwide considered Boston, as one social critic put it recently, a “racist hellhole.” Today, according to a poll taken last year by this magazine, the Hub is considered far more racially tolerant than other American cities. Chalk that up, at least in part, to Benaree Wiley. Since 1991, Wiley and her Partnership have worked to help nonwhites rise to powerful positions in business and politics in Boston. Area movers and shakers consider her “a secret weapon in attracting and retaining high-level professionals of color” (Colette Phillips, founder of Phillips Communications) and “a champion of change . . . simply an all-star” (George “Chip” Greenidge, director of the National Black College Alliance). No wonder Wiley got a standing ovation when she received the Pinnacle Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce this year.

Janice Loux
44, President, Boston Hotel, Restaurant, Institutional Employees and Bartenders Union, Local 26
Since becoming Local 26’s first female president six years ago, Loux has used her fearsome reputation (and close ties to Mayor Tom Menino) to pressure developers of new hotels into agreeing to work with her union before their properties had even accepted their first guests. When these hotels open, their employees could more than double the size of her 5,800-member organization, New England’s largest private-sector union. Now Loux is putting the screws to bigwig hoteliers Robin Brown, Arthur Winn, and Dick Friedman, who all have projects in the works. She also sits on the board of the MBTA and was a member of a state committee that evaluated the economic impact of bringing casinos to Massachusetts.


Sheryl Marshall
53, Founding Partner, Axxon Capital
Women venture capitalists are rare. That’s why Sheryl Marshall started Axxon (the extra “x” is for the female chromosome). A longtime stockbroker, Marshall is a former vice president at Donaldson Lufkin and Jenrette, where she managed more than $100 million in assets. Now she and her all-woman management team back only businesses such as Guardent (started by fellow power listee Maria Cirino) that are launched by women and minorities. A major fundraiser for Shannon O’Brien, she was nonetheless named to the Romney transition team and serves on the boards of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Institute of Contemporary Art.

Marian Walsh
48, Assistant Majority Leader, Massachusetts State Senate
A strong candidate during last year’s elections for Senate president, Walsh was later credited with delivering the key votes that landed Robert Travaglini the job instead. The new president returned the favor by making her assistant majority leader. How tough is this pro-life, anti-death penalty Democrat from West Roxbury? Walsh, who used to meet regularly with Cardinal Law, was the first state lawmaker to call for his resignation.

Linda Whitlock
55, President and CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston
In a three-week period earlier this year, Whitlock got calls from Mitt Romney, who asked her to join his gubernatorial transition team, and Tom Menino, who asked her to introduce him at his annual state-of-the-city address. Chalk up her popularity to her success running the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston — no easy job. The club charges a $5 to $10 fee to each of its 7,000 youth members. It spends about $1,500 on each kid. Do the math. Half of Whitlock’s job is fundraising. She can charm kids and CEOs alike.

Irina Simmons
41, Vice President and Treasurer, EMC Corporation
Simmons oversees the management and investment of Hopkinton-based EMC’s $5.5 billion in assets. The highest-ranking woman at the company with the third-highest market value in the state, she’s responsible for the pension and 401K plans for the company’s 17,000-plus employees worldwide. She’s also on the board of Financial Executives International in Boston.

Julie Burns
34, Mayor Tom Menino’s Deputy Chief of Staff
Come next July 26, when the Democratic National Convention finally kicks off, any number of key Democrats and 15,000 journalists — not to mention an army of liberal issue supporters big enough to take over China — will descend on our city. What will they do when they get here? Whatever Julie Burns tells them to do. Mayor Menino named his deputy chief of staff, who was the point person on the convention bid to begin with, as director of all daily operations outside the FleetCenter. Burns will rule over a staff that’ll do everything from fundraising for the $50 million festivities, to making sure out-of-towners can navigate the Big Dig, to providing office space, to organizing — well, everything.