Power: The 100 Women Who Run This Town

Paula O’Connor
43, Program Director, 96.9 FM Talk
In the male-dominated radio industry (only 13 percent of general managers are women in the nation’s top 100 radio markets), O’Connor runs an increasingly influential all-talk FM station that has seen its ratings soar among coveted 25- to 54-year-olds — passing rival WRKO-AM.

Dusty S. Rhodes
52, President, Founder and CEO, Conventures
Rhodes knows from parties. Her “special events” marketing company is the largest of its kind in New England and stages everything from Congressional Medal of Honor awards dinners to the BostonCooks! Kitchen & Culinary Expo to races like the JP Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge and the Tufts Health Plan 10K for Women. A former director of operations for the NFL, Rhodes handles more than $20 million worth of projects a year. Bostonians will long remember the time she wrestled an armada of megayachts away from New London, Connecticut’s tall ships event, bringing them — with more than 7 million visitors and an estimated $500 million in tow — to Sail Boston 2000.

Katherine Getchell
32, Deputy Director for Curatorial Administration, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Patricia B. Jacoby
60, Deputy Director for External Relations, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
One step behind director Malcolm Rogers on the leadership ladder, these two women are both 10-plus-year veterans at the MFA, one of the world’s largest and most respected privately funded art museums. Jacoby has the job of overseeing the most ambitious fundraising effort in the MFA’s history, a $425 million campaign that’ll pay for operations and a much-anticipated expansion. She also heads up public relations, the trustees office, and volunteer services. Getchell, meanwhile, calls the shots when it comes to the collections. At only 32, she’s responsible for all curatorial issues including exhibitions, conservation, the library and archives, and intellectual property.

Mara Aspinall
40, President, Genzyme Genetics and Genzyme Pharmaceuticals
A former Bain & Company senior consultant and a Harvard MBA, Aspinall is one of the highest-ranking women in the fast-growing local biotech sector. Genzyme General, which includes her two 600-employee divisions, has posted steadily rising revenues that passed the $1 billion mark last year, up 10 percent, which in this economy is quite possibly a miracle.

Elaine Ullian
55, President and CEO, Boston Medical Center
Ullian’s hospital continues to be the primary beneficiary of the state’s $345 million “uncompensated care pool,” which collects money from hospitals around the state to pay the cost of caring for the uninsured. It doesn’t hurt that she counts House Speaker Tom Finneran among her political connections. Tight with the mayor, too, she’s on the boards of the Massachusetts Hospital Association, Boston Public Health Commission, Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, Citizens Bank, and the $530 million Boston Foundation. She also chairs the Conference of Boston Teaching Hospitals, whose 12 other members include the CEOs of some of the world’s best healthcare facilities. Ullian’s own hospital has nearly 5,000 employees, 1,400 physicians, and an $800 million annual budget.


Vivien Li
49, Executive Director, the Boston Harbor Association
Don’t let Li’s charming smile and genuine sweetness fool you. She knows exactly who she needs to call to get things done in this town, and they generally do it. The well-connected and well-liked Li helped do nothing less miraculous than get Boston Harbor’s beaches cleaned up and reopened, for example. Now she’s standing firmly in the path of developers who want to close off waterfront access to the public. They underestimate her at their own peril.

Kathy Taylor
52, Managing Director for Local Corporate Development, WGBH
A former probation officer, Taylor took home the top corporate development award for all affiliated PBS stations in 2000, just three years into her tenure at WGBH. Her talent for squeezing the area’s largest corporations (Gillette, Fidelity) has more than doubled her department’s contributions to WGBH’s bottom line (more than $200 million) in the past six years. The money has helped to keep the Massachusetts PBS affiliate — which includes three radio and three TV stations, most notably WGBH, Channel 2 — producing 21 percent of all PBS programming nationwide, including popular shows like This Old House and NOVA. (New York’s WNET is a distant second with 12 percent, proving once and for all that the Yankees suck.)

Renee Loth
50, Editorial Page Editor, the Boston Globe
Rachelle Cohen
56, Editorial Page Editor, the Boston Herald
This town’s leaders may read the Herald, but their suburban constituents don’t. That gives a big edge to the Globe’s Loth. Then again, Cohen’s editorials at the Herald serve as a counterpoint to the Globe’s left-leaning opinions, winning the Herald friends like Mitt Romney (who people at the Globe fume has responded by playing favorites with their crosstown competition).

Diana Chapman Walsh
58, President, Wellesley College
Head of the nation’s preeminent all-women college, Walsh is also the ranking woman among local college presidents and can call on support from alumnae like Senator Hillary Clinton, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and journalist Diane Sawyer. The former Harvard School of Public Health professor is also on the boards of State Street Corporation, Amherst College, and WGBH. At Wellesley, her clout has translated into $297 million in cold cash toward a goal of $400 million, just three years into a five-year fundraising campaign. But Walsh isn’t above doing a television interview on roller skates to counter the school’s reputation as severely politically correct. (The Princeton Review called Wellesley “stone cold sober.”)

Charlotte Golar Richie
44, Chief of Housing and Director of Neighborhood Development, City of Boston
Three years ago, Mayor Tom Menino vowed to create 7,500 new units of affordable housing in the city by this year. The woman he chose to deliver: Richie, a personable former state representative from Dorchester whom the mayor installed in a new cabinet-level position. Not only is Richie now on track to meet all of the mayor’s major goals by this fall’s deadline, but she’s also spearheaded the “Boston Main Streets” program, which uses city money to stimulate business activity in rundown neighborhoods and has been picked up as a model by cities across the country.