Power 2005: The New Guard

IF THE RED SOX already held a mysterious power over us ― the power to break our hearts one season, but compel us to hope again the next ― it’s eclipsed by the clout they earned the night they won the World Series in October. Church bells chimed. Men wept. Grown children visited their parents’ graves. In a city many of whose corporate, political, and even religious institutions have been diminished, allegiance to the Red Sox soared. And with it rose the men who run the team.

Principal owner John Henry controls the money. Wonder-boy general manager Theo Epstein gets the headlines. But the driving force behind the Sox is the organization’s president and CEO, Larry Lucchino. Affable in public, Lucchino is a tough negotiator. He’s the one who popularized the term “Evil Empire” to describe the rival Yankees. He’s also a driving force behind the hugely successful upgrades to Fenway Park ― the primary mover and shaker in an organization that owns this city like no one and nothing else.

The emergence among this town’s vital industries of sports, along with real estate, entertainment, and especially healthcare, has thrust a New Guard of power listers into the fore. As other CEOs sell out, for instance, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts boss Bill Van Faasen has stepped up. He’s started a foundation to push for wider healthcare access. He pulled his company’s ads from WEEI after two of the radio station’s hosts compared an escaped gorilla from the Franklin Park Zoo to a METCO student. He led the search committee to replace retiring United Way of Massachusetts Bay head Marian Heard. His benefit roast for Roxbury’s Whittier Street Health Center drew more than 800, including many of the other influential people on this list, and raked in $320,000 in one night. “How many CEOs in Boston can do that anymore?” a Van Faasen admirer asks.

One who seems to want to is Edmund “Ted” Kelly, chairman, president, and CEO of Liberty Mutual Group. Kelly, whose $19.6 billion-a-year insurance company has nearly 38,000 employees (it’s one of the 11 remaining Fortune 500 companies in Massachusetts, a total that has sadly dipped from 17 a decade ago), seems determined to make a local impact, most spectacularly by stepping in with $10 million over five years to sponsor the July 4 Pops festivities on the Esplanade. He’s also signed on to the board of trustees of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and he’s a member of the executive committee of the influential Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce.

Nancy Leaming, president and CEO of Tufts Health Plan ― the state’s third-largest HMO ― is also on the Chamber board. One of the few female corporate leaders in this town (a Bentley College study found that women held just 9.2 percent of the executive positions at the 100 largest public companies in Massachusetts), Leaming, too, is stepping up to the plate. She chairs the board of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation. (Another fast-rising woman star: Verizon regional president Donna Cupelo, who has involved herself in educational issues.)

Those missing corporate types and the philanthropy they once controlled are also being replaced by wealthy individuals and private foundations. None has rushed to fill the gap as aggressively as the $675 million Boston Foundation and its president and CEO, Paul Grogan, who as boss of the foundation gives away some $51 million a year. That’s a lot of power, giving Grogan a base he can use if, in fact, as rumored, he has plans to run for mayor.

Money remains a key ingredient of power in this town, of course. That’s how James Pallotta landed on our list. Ranked by Institutional Investor’s Alpha among the nation’s 25 top hedge-fund managers, Pallotta controls the $6 billion Raptor Global Funds, which earned 19 percent last year, almost three times the industry average. He’s a part-owner of the Celtics and the Back Bay restaurant Saint and a big giver to inner-city charities like Big Brothers of Massachusetts Bay, on whose board he serves.

As Mellon Financial Corporation extends its reach in Boston, Babson grad David Lamere does, too. The clients of the fast-growing $75 billion private wealth group he oversees are also among the city’s richest and most powerful.

David Fialkow made his money starting that cut-rate travel business at Filene’s Basement, Last-Minute Travel, part of his National Leisure Group. After selling the company for an estimated $25 million, he founded a private-equity firm with classmates from Buckingham Browne & Nichols. A triathlete who holds a law degree from Boston College, Fialkow is on important boards including the MIT Leadership Center Advisory Council, the Pan-Mass Challenge, and the Boys & Girls Clubs, and a major donor to local causes including the Boston Ballet.

Photo by Charles Gauthier