1. Michelle Wu, Mayor
It’s not just that she’s the new mayor that makes Wu this year’s most influential Bostonian; it’s that she is a fundamentally new type of mayor. The city is changing over from old power structures to fresh ones, affecting everything from housing to contracting to development to policing and more. The first woman and person of color elected to Boston’s top job, Wu will oversee and direct this transition—probably for at least eight years, judging by history—creating new winners and losers, successes and failures, along the way. Several months into her term, we sat down in her office, a high-ceilinged enclave stocked with toys for her four- and seven-year-old boys, to talk about motherhood, the protesters who’ve disrupted her family’s life, and who’s really running things in Boston.
2. Ayanna Pressley
Up for reelection this year, the former Boston city councilor has proven she’s a force to be reckoned with from City Hall to Capitol Hill. Whether it’s taking on Big Tech, fighting for immigrants, supporting funds for homelessness and mental health, or cutting student debt, the social media wiz is regularly making headlines. As a progressive leader representing an increasingly progressive electorate, Pressley has the distinction of being both popular and having an impact on her constituents’ lives.
3. Bob Rivers
Chairman, Eastern Bank
His bank has gone on a buying spree, scooping up, among others, Century Bank and a host of insurance companies. As a result, Rivers now sits atop a financial giant—and continues to get behind numerous forward-looking local and regional initiatives as well. That includes, most recently, support for offshore wind farm development. He may not throw his hat into the governor’s race this time around, but that doesn’t mean he never will.
4. John Fish
Chairman and CEO, Suffolk Construction
You know that 19-story carbon-neutral building going up on the Boston University campus—the one that looks like a pile of unevenly stacked books? That’s the work of Fish’s company. So are the upcoming Gillette Stadium renovations, and the 35-story Raffles Back Bay Hotel & Residences. It’s all part of the expansive reach of the construction mogul, who continues to grow his own profile as the chair of Boston’s Real Estate Roundtable.
5. Jim Canales
President and Trustee, Barr Foundation
There are few people in town who aren’t champing at the bit for a meeting with Canales. At the end of last year, which saw the Barr Foundation give away $122 million of Amos and Barbara Hostetter’s $3.8 billion fortune, Canales wrote that the organization’s trustees felt “called to redouble efforts to do the vital work ahead.” To that end, Canales has been taking notes from his pals at the Ford and Mellon foundations, and working to transition Barr from a local family foundation into a philanthropic player with regional—even national—impact.
6. Linda Pizzuti Henry
CEO, Boston Globe
In a city where sports and politics are the lifeblood, Pizzuti Henry’s influence can only be described as massive. The undisputed media queen of Boston, she’s taken the reins of the 150-year-old broadsheet, stabilized it, and now is charting a course for the future, which includes a new media division developing Globe content for film, TV, podcasts, and streaming. Across the pond, meanwhile, her social media posts about her beloved Liverpool football club regularly make headlines.
7. Maura Healey
State Attorney General
As an activist AG and political dynamo, Healey was already one of the most powerful people in the state even before December 1, 2021. That’s the day Charlie Baker announced he would not seek reelection in 2022—propelling Healey into the race as the frontrunner. She proceeded to raise nearly half a million dollars in campaign contributions in the weeks before she announced her candidacy in January. Which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise: After all, Boston’s power players love to back a winner, and they’re betting on Healey.
8. Elizabeth Warren
To understand the impact our senior senator has had on the Massachusetts Democratic Party—and Boston—look no further than the coronation of protégé Michelle Wu (#1 on our list). Down in Washington, Warren has made the shift from firebrand to key legislator, pushing for ethics reform at the Federal Reserve and leading the progressive push to regulate the burgeoning cryptocurrency industry.
9. Anne Klibanski
President and CEO, Mass General Brigham
Remember a couple of years ago, when Klibanski was supposed to be only the “interim” head of what was then called Partners HealthCare? Since then, she’s changed the name and rebranded the state’s biggest healthcare provider and largest private employer, and solidified her status as the true heir to David Torchiana’s power position. A new partnership with Bank of America at this month’s World Medical Innovation Forum in Boston is just the latest way Klibanski is stretching the previous limits of the organization.
10. Rachael Rollins
You don’t get a U.S. attorney nomination without having a lot of pull among the powerful—especially if you’re a controversial figure who has only been in the public eye for a few years. With U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, among others, going to bat for the former Suffolk County district attorney, Rollins got the job and is now in a prime position to have huge influence. Could her next stop be statewide office? Only time will tell.
11. Jonathan Kraft
President, New England Patriots
Bob Kraft’s scion has his hands full this year: In addition to ensuring the Patriots continue their post-Brady resurgence, he’s been integrally involved in Mass General’s eyebrow- popping bid to raise $3 billion as chair of its board of trustees. The most ambitious goal ever set by an academic medical center, it’s sure to test Kraft’s sway among Boston’s biggest donors.
12. Jim Rooney
President and CEO, Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce
It’s now been close to seven years since Rooney took charge of the chamber, and since then he’s followed through on his promise to make it more relevant and attuned to contemporary issues. To wit: The organization debuted a Higher Education Leadership Council last summer to help create better college-to-work pipelines, and continues to expand its diversity programs. It’s also used COVID as a chance to invite the greater public into the fold, by pushing its high-powered panel discussions—often led by Rooney himself—online.
13. Lee Pelton
President and CEO, the Boston Foundation
If you get the former acting mayor to come work for you, you’ve got some juice. And that’s exactly what Pelton accomplished at the Boston Foundation when he recently brought Kim Janey on as the philanthropy’s executive in residence. With that hire, Pelton has made clear that he intends to put TBF’s considerable resources and influence to work on some of the city’s hottest-button issues—including zoning for more affordable and equitable housing.
14. Roger Crandall
Chairman, President, and CEO, MassMutual
Pandemic? What pandemic? In November, Crandall officially opened MassMutual’s 17-story Seaport office building, then went on to announce record earnings for the year. He continues to lead via the Business Roundtable, and was part of the recent search for Boston’s new Federal Reserve chief. Even more evidence of his stratospheric rise in the city’s business circles? Crandall recently recruited an astronaut—Bernard Harris Jr., the first African American to conduct a spacewalk—to join the MassMutual board of directors.
15. Lisa Wieland
This is how to use your clout to bring about change: When recently putting a piece of Seaport land out for development, Wieland said bidders would be judged in part on their submitted diversity, equity, and inclusion plans. The Boston Planning & Development Agency is now copying what DigBoston dubs the “Massport model,” which is already creating more work for Black-owned businesses—something many have talked about, but Wieland is actually doing.
16. Thomas O’Brien
Managing Director, the HYM Investment Group
Want to see what O’Brien has been up to lately? Just take a look at the new 600-foot tower on Boston’s skyline. But creating new headquarters for State Street and additional space for other offices promises to be less transformational than the monumental redevelopment of Suffolk Downs, which HYM broke ground on in March. Eventually, 15,000 people will live at the old racetrack, fulfilling an important goal for O’Brien—and the city.
17. Abigail Johnson
Chairman and CEO, Fidelity Investments
She’s now reportedly worth $25 billion, making her some three times richer than the next wealthiest Bay Stater not in her immediate family. But she’s not resting on her laurels: Johnson has brought in so many new talented employees (most of them women) to Fidelity that the financial press isn’t sure whether she’s grooming a successor or building a team to take a run at passing Schwab. Regardless, Forbes named her the sixth-most-powerful woman in the world in 2021, so she’s clearly doing something right.
18. Segun Idowu
Chief of Economic Opportunity and Inclusion, City of Boston
Already one of the city’s most outspoken and effective leaders on issues of race and equity, Idowu is now the big wheel in Mayor Michelle Wu’s efforts to redirect the city’s growth to benefit people of color. A rare individual respected by activists and establishment figures alike, Idowu is already tackling the revitalization of downtown, as well as opportunities for BIPOC workers and business owners.
19. Stepháne Bancel
With COVID-19 finally ebbing from the headlines, Kendall Square is buzzing with one question: What’s next for the under-the-radar firm whose miraculous mRNA vaccine saved countless lives over the past year? The short answer: more vaccines. Moderna has more than a dozen in trials, including a game-changing HIV inoculation. As Bancel recently boasted, “We can scale the number of products we have in development at a pace that has never been done before.” Here’s hoping.
20. Bob Popeo
From Encore Boston Harbor to biotech startups, Popeo’s team has its hands in almost everything in town. It’s no wonder the firm “dominates” Boston, according to the Law360 news site—maintaining half of its attorneys in the city while other companies here have downsized. And Popeo—often referred to as “Mr. Boston,” the man whom power players call on the double whenever they’re in trouble—continues to fundraise prolifically for charity and politicians.
21. Ibram X. Kendi
Director and Founder, the Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University
He’s only been in Boston for two years, but the renowned scholar has already made a splash as he works to address the city’s long-standing inequities. His influence will grow even wider as he prepares to help launch the Emancipator, inspired by the 19th- century abolitionist newspaper of the same name, in partnership with the Boston Globe.
22. Katherine Clark
With Nancy Pelosi poised to retire after the midterms, few Democrats are as well positioned to step into the void as Clark, who hosted the House speaker in Cambridge this past March. The congresswoman’s pull in national politics is also paying dividends at home, with Massachusetts receiving more than $15 billion to fix bridges, recover from the pandemic, and bolster school systems last year.
23. Damian Wilmot
Senior Vice President, Vertex
As a former president of the Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association, initiator of the New Commonwealth Racial Equity and Social Justice Fund, and a ubiquitous presence on local nonprofit boards, Wilmot is more than just a mover and shaker: He’s an agent for change. So much so that the Boston Bar Foundation will give Wilmot its Public Service Award this month, reflecting his many years’ worth of contributions to the city.
24. Charlie Baker and Karyn Polito
Governor and Lieutenant Governor
First of all, this power couple is still in charge until January. And when they leave office, they’ll likely do so as two of the most popular politicians in the state—with a monumental Rolodex and favors owed from P-town to Adams. Whatever they choose to do next, it’s theirs for the taking.
25. Ed Markey
While Markey continues fighting to make his Green New Deal a reality, another of his plans has recently received more bipartisan support. Cosponsored by Florida Senator Marco Rubio, the Sunshine Protection Act would make daylight saving time permanent nationwide, and after passing unanimously in the Senate in March, this certainly looks like the year it could become law. It would be a shining achievement for Markey, who has been espousing the merits of an additional hour of p.m. sunlight for decades.
26. Tanisha Sullivan
President, Boston NAACP
From police reform to exam school equity, Sullivan remains a leader on all things social justice for Boston’s activist community and its establishment executives and officeholders. Now she’s raising her profile, and widening her portfolio, with a statewide campaign for secretary of the commonwealth. She might not defeat the seven-term incumbent, William Galvin, but either way she’ll come away as an even greater force to be reckoned with.
27. David Fialkow
Managing Director, General Catalyst
Fialkow’s second career as an award-winning documentary producer has taken off so quickly, we almost forget about the super-investor’s day job. Regarding the former, Fialkow has most recently funded a Transmedia Storytelling Initiative at MIT. As for the latter, he made Modern Healthcare’s top 10 most influential people in healthcare for his funding of cutting-edge technology.
28. Vanessa Calderón-Rosado
CEO, Inquilinos Boricuas en Accion
A driving force in affordable housing policy who sits on the boards of some of the city’s most important nonprofits (including the Boston Foundation), Calderón-Rosado will see her clout grow when she breaks ground on IBA’s new South End facility next year. When completed, the organization will have an even greater presence in Boston, with four stories of arts and cultural offerings alongside its community development programs.
29. Martha Sheridan
President and CEO, Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau
It’s no secret that Boston relies heavily on outsiders coming to the city—which means COVID has been especially damaging to the economy. Sheridan, who took charge of the GBCVB a year before the pandemic hit, is now working to bring that business back stronger than ever. Case in point: She spearheaded state legislation creating regional tourism-marketing districts, helped launch Boston’s inclusion-themed marketing campaign, and chairs the governor’s Advisory Commission on Travel & Tourism.
30. Kimberly Budd
Chief Justice, Supreme Judicial Court
Those celebrating the first Black woman heading to the U.S. Supreme Court already have a hero at the summit of Massachusetts’ justice system. Budd hasn’t steered away from controversy on the bench, where she ordered a review of how a juvenile court handled the Harmony Montgomery case, and wrote a passionate dissent in a case about racial profiling by police. She has also spoken out in local media, and will deliver this year’s commencement address at Boston College.
31. Corey Thomas
Thomas keeps expanding his cyber-security company: Last summer, for instance, Rapid7 bought an Israeli company for $335 million. But his engagement with Boston goes far beyond that. He was recently re-appointed as deputy chair of the board at Boston’s Federal Reserve; counsels other corporate execs on business leadership and multicultural team-building; and even appeared in this year’s “Banned in Boston” fundraising musical.
32. Robert Reynolds
President and CEO, Putnam Investments
He oversees nearly $150 billion in investments, serves as chair of the Massachusetts High Technology Council, and claims to have been a finalist for the job of NFL commissioner. (He’s said he wouldn’t have penalized Tom Brady for Deflategate.) But Reynolds is also one of the few powerhouses left in the once-thriving social-moderate wing of the state Republican Party. And he continues to funnel his personal wealth into politics: He recently gave at least $200,000 to a group working against a state surtax on the wealthy.
33. Niraj Shah
Nothing slows down the Wayfair juggernaut. The online home-goods retailer boomed during the early days of the pandemic, when nobody wanted to shop in physical stores, and with the crisis winding down, Shah is apparently planning to open physical stores soon, including in Massachusetts. Meanwhile, Shah’s personal charitable foundation has focused on helping the state’s children get through the COVID years, partnering with the Mass-achusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, BPS, and even local restaurants to get meals to kids.
34. Marty Meehan
President, University of Massachusetts
The 65-year-old former congressman has led UMass for seven years now, and it still seems like he’s learning new tricks. Meehan recently spearheaded several diversity initiatives, including the appointment of a presidential adviser for equity and inclusion. He also launched “UMass Global,” an online portal for adult learners. And he keeps bringing big money to campus: The university recently had the best fundraising quarter in its history, garnering nearly $250 million in private gifts.
35. Sandy Edgerley
Cofounder, the ‘Quin House
To open a 21st- century social club with a diverse, sexy membership, a world-class art collection, and great food is a feat. To do it in the midst of a pandemic is a miracle. Edgerley and her husband, Paul, have created the most buzzed-about space in Boston since Fenway Park was built, and now there’s a substantial waitlist to get in.
36. Jeremy Sclar
Chairman and CEO, WS Development
Much of the change we’ve seen in the Seaport over the past decade can be attributed to Sclar and his team at WS Development. And they’re not even close to done yet: Sclar’s current projects include two 17-story buildings—to be completed in 2024—that will house retail stores, restaurants, and offices, most notably Amazon’s. Over near Fenway Park, meanwhile, Sclar is planning a massive redevelopment of 5 acres of land owned by the Red Sox’s real estate arm.
37. Deborah Jackson
President, Cambridge College
Jackson took Cambridge College international last year when she opened up its online offerings to students across the globe. Back here in the Hub, she remains a dynamo both in her role at the school and on the board of Eastern Bank: As Eastern CEO Bob Rivers once told the Boston Globe, “When a lot of us are spending time deliberating the trees, she’s often the one that gets us to pick our heads up to consider the forest.”
38. Kevin Phelan
Cochairman, Colliers International Boston Office
Phelan no doubt enjoyed watching his alma mater Providence College tear up the Big East men’s basketball conference this year. But his primary allegiance remains in Boston, where he continues to make huge real estate deals, participate in multiple associations and philanthropies, and run his long-standing breakfast group—a must for any politician or businessperson hoping to curry favor with many of the people on this list.
39. Betty Francisco
CEO, Boston Impact Initiative
When hiring her last spring, BII called Francisco “a force of nature on behalf of entrepreneurs of color.” Considering that the cofounder of the nonprofit Amplify Latinx has been connecting Boston’s Black and Hispanic business owners with funding sources for years, it’s not an exaggeration. Partnering with everyone from Harvard Business School to City Hall, Francisco continues to put her stamp on Boston while working to fulfill BII’s mission to close the city’s racial wealth gap.
40. Jim Davis
Chairman, New Balance
You can thank Davis when you attend a show at Roadrunner, the spiffy new Brighton concert venue that’s part of his massive remaking of the neighborhood around New Balance’s world headquarters. Meanwhile, the longtime Republican donor might have tipped the balance in last fall’s mayoral primary, spending roughly half a million dollars to help Annissa Essaibi George earn one of the top two spots (though his additional spending couldn’t stop Michelle Wu in the November final).
41. Ed Kane
Co-owner, Big Night Entertainment Group
The affable Kane is the guy who took Boston from entertainment backwater to favored playground. With an empire that includes nightclubs, restaurants, concert venues, and more, Kane’s company managed to weather COVID with flying colors, and his plan to open a new venue across from the Encore Boston Harbor looks like a go. Bonus points for doing it all while parenting a toddler he dotes on.
42. Kevin Churchwell
President and CEO, Boston Children’s Hospital
One of the nation’s leading voices on making quality pediatric care accessible to all, Churchwell has created new offices of health equity and inclusion at 11 hospitals across North America—including, most recently, Boston Children’s, where he took the top job in 2020. The graduate of MIT and Vanderbilt Medical School has also become a leading voice on youth mental health during the pandemic, even testifying virtually before the state legislature last September about the importance of funding for the issue.
43. Bill Kane
President of East Coast & U.K. Markets, BioMed Realty
You might have noticed the wild clamor for life sciences space in and around Boston. A lot of those labs and offices are in Kane’s portfolio at BioMed. Like—a lot. Some six million square feet, in fact. Two current projects—the Seaport Science Center and Assembly Innovation Park—total close to a million square feet alone.
44. Alberto Vasallo III
President and CEO, El Mundo Boston
The monarca of all media, Vasallo jumped into streaming this year with his new daily La Hora del Café public affairs broadcast. Local pols—of all ethnicities—have lined up to be guests, including the mayors of Boston, Lynn, and Lawrence. Further proof of Vasallo’s pull? In 2021, he hosted the Boston Fashion Awards, co-moderated a Boston mayoral debate, and was named one of eight Latino Pioneers of Boston.
45. Julia Mejia
After squeaking into the fourth at-large seat by a single vote in 2019, Mejia came within 600 ballots of being the top vote-getter this past November. That speaks volumes about the hard work she’s put in, and about the city’s acceptance of a blunt-speaking Afro-Latina standing up for equity issues. From education to reparations, Mejia has a growing following ready to help her advocate for change.
46. Rochelle Walensky
Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
If there’s anything we’ve learned from COVID, it’s the importance of healthcare and leadership. Appointed by President Joe Biden to lead us through the worst public health crisis in generations, the Peabody native and Harvard alum has managed to weather the storm, deftly handling criticism to emerge as an unflappable leader in the global medical community.
47. Nurys Camargo
Commissioner, Massachusetts Cannabis Commission
When the outspoken Shaleen Title left the Cannabis Commission, some worried about a lack of truth-tellers there. As her replacement, Camargo has assuaged those fears. She has publicly called out the state for failing to ensure equitable awarding of licenses, testified to the state legislature about the need for equity funding, and asked the commission to designate Lawrence as a “disproportionately impacted area.” It’s no surprise, of course: As the founder of the Chica project, which helps Latinas thrive in the workplace; a former high-level adviser to former Governor Deval Patrick; and a well-connected political operative, Camargo has always made herself heard.
48. Nicole Obi
President and CEO, Black Economic Council of Massachusetts
Segun Idowu left big shoes to fill at BECMA when he joined the Wu administration—but then again, it doesn’t hurt to have your predecessor and former colleague in the city’s top economic position. Obi, a Framingham native who joined BECMA two years ago, combines entrepreneurial, finance, and nonprofit experience as she takes on the state’s persistent racial wealth gap.
49. Tiffany Chu
Chief of Staff for Mayor Michelle Wu
With a background at the intersection of transportation planning, tech, and environmental issues, Chu is doing more than just overseeing the daily grind in the mayor’s office; she’s been tasked with helping to execute some of Wu’s most ambitious public transit and climate justice goals. Whether she succeeds or fails will certainly have an impact on Wu’s ability to make good on her campaign promises of a more equitable—and earth-friendly—Boston.
50. Wyc Grousbeck
Owner, Boston Celtics
Grousbeck led his team and its devoted fans through several big changes during the past season, announcing a new head coach, Ime Udoka, and a new president of basketball operations, former coach Brad Stevens. All the while he’s remained active in the community, serving on the board of trustees at Mass Eye and Ear and donating time and money to local organizations such as the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston.
51. Brian McGrory
Editor, Boston Globe
As the Globe marks its 150th anniversary this year, its regional importance has only grown as other local outlets have gone extinct (most recently, 19 area Gannett newspapers). The ensuing information vacuum has made the dominant daily’s editorial decisions all the more important, and McGrory has been trying to find ways to fill in gaps. That includes the addition of dedicated Rhode Island coverage and targeted newsletters.
52. George Regan
Founder, Regan Communications Group
Congratulations to Boston’s public relations maven, who got engaged in August. The accompanying party’s guest list (as reported by the Herald) gives a taste of Regan’s powerful friends: Karyn Polito, Scott Brown, John Fish, Marty Meehan, Roger Berkowitz, David Southworth, William Gross … and the list goes on.
53. Katie Lapp
Executive Vice President, Harvard University
Want to know what Allston is going to look like in the future? Much of that is up to Lapp. As a prominent board member of the Harvard Allston Land Company (the group responsible for developing the university’s 36-acre Enterprise Research Campus in the neighborhood), she oversees every aspect of Harvard’s efforts to expand the campus south of the Charles, from its design to external communications. And she’s got her work cut out for her. While a proposal for the first phase of development remains under review by the city, Lapp has been laboring to address local officials’ concerns regarding access to affordable housing, green space, and transportation under the plan.
54. Colette Phillips
President and CEO, Colette Phillips Communications
Has Phillips met the moment as Boston finally seeks to diversify at the highest levels, or has she created that moment with her efforts? Either way, there is little question that she’s become the city’s go-to when it comes to diversity and inclusion efforts, whether through her PR firm; her Get Konnected! networking business; her GK Fund, which invests in companies owned by people of color; or her growing presence on local opinion pages.
55. Ashish Jha
White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator
The India-born doctor and Harvard Medical School alum has been a stable and rational voice on national TV shows throughout the pandemic, emerging as a global leader on virus strategy in the process. Now he’s poised to have an even greater impact as the recently appointed White House COVID-19 response coordinator.
56. Herb Chambers
Owner and President, The Herb Chambers Companies
There are three things you can count on in New England: death, taxes, and the ever-expanding Herb Chambers brand. Hardly satisfied with merely owning 60 dealerships, this winter the billionaire car salesman snapped up the old Century Bank headquarters in Medford just months before he got the all-clear from the city of Boston to revamp his outpost on Morrissey Boulevard.
57. Peter Palandjian
CEO and Chairman, Intercontinental Real Estate Corporation
Palandjian’s $10 billion real estate empire is expanding both at home—where he’s one of the developers of the new Washington Village mixed-use project in the heart of Southie—and nationally, with massive office tower deals in Nashville and Birmingham. His family with actress Eliza Dushku, meanwhile, also continues to grow: The two welcomed their second child in August.
58. Elizabeth Lowrey
Principal and Director of Interior Architecture, Elkus Manfredi
As Boston resumes its building boom post-pandemic and companies reimagine workspaces, there is perhaps no one more sought after than this interior design innovator. Sophisticated, savvy, and creative, her approach to redesigning and repurposing offices—such as the new 66,000-square-foot MullenLowe Group space on Drydock Avenue in the Seaport—will no doubt shape the look of our city in the future.
59. Micho Spring
Chief Reputation Officer, Weber Shandwick
Just think of her as the CEO whisperer: In her new role at the PR and marketing behemoth, where she’s headed up the global corporate practice for decades, Spring will help companies tackle social, political, and societal issues, from climate change to inequality. The native of Cuba is also now chair of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors, meaning she has an even bigger megaphone when it comes to galvanizing the city’s business community.
60. Jason Kelly
CEO, Ginkgo Bioworks
Ginkgo claims to be the largest designer of synthetic DNA in the world, but what you want to know is that after an initial public offering this past fall, the Seaport-based company was valued at $20 billion. It’s made MIT-educated Kelly a hot commodity in our increasingly biotech-crazy city—and beyond: The Department of Defense recently tapped him for a special commission on emerging biotechnology.
How many titles does one person need? For Jujubee, right now it’s at least six. She’s a singer and songwriter with more than a million followers on Instagram. She’s a comedian and makeup artist. She’s a drag performer. And she’s a reality television star. Check that. In 2022, the Lowell native became a history-making reality TV star, by being the first person to compete in four seasons of the RuPaul’s Drag Race franchise.
62. Matthew Teitelbaum
Director, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
With blockbuster events such as this spring’s J.M.W. Turner and Philip Guston exhibitions hogging the limelight, it’s easy to overlook Teitelbaum’s sterling record of promoting new voices inside the MFA. Boston art watchers are eagerly awaiting the debut of theo tyson and Marina Tyquiengco, two acclaimed curators who have recently signed onto that mission.
63. Quincy Miller
President, Eastern Bank
Miller is thought to be successor-in-waiting to the ever-growing financial institution’s chair, Bob Rivers. He’s not waiting, however, to expand his influence and raise his public profile: Miller served as cochair for Kim Janey’s mayoral transition team; cofounded the New Commonwealth Racial Equity and Social Justice Fund; and maintains a presence on business and charitable boards all over the city.
64. Wilnelia Rivera
Founder and President, Rivera Consulting
The not-so-secret weapon behind some of Massachusetts’ most influential political and policy campaigns: strategist Wilnelia Rivera. The former campaign adviser to Ayanna Pressley is busy aiding state Representative Liz Miranda in her campaign for state Senate, a race Rivera and her team will also be monitoring on election night using their publicly available “reference desk tracker,” which accurately predicted last year’s local election results minutes after polls closed—a feat that had never previously been accomplished in Boston.
65. Sean O’Brien
President, International Brotherhood of Teamsters
Defeating a Hoffa in a Teamsters election might have seemed impossible in the past, but that’s exactly what this Charlestown union exec did last November. Succeeding the son of infamous union boss Jimmy Hoffa, the reform-minded O’Brien now leads the 1.4 million-member Teamsters, one of the most powerful labor unions in America. The former head of Boston’s Local 25 and close ally of U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, O’Brien will be a crucial union advocate, particularly as the Massachusetts film industry expands.
66. Bisola Ojikutu
Executive Director, Boston Public Health Commission
One of Mayor Wu’s first moves in office was to elevate Ojikutu’s position to cabinet-level—showing the importance of the infectious disease specialist in the city’s battle with COVID. Wu also made her part of the team tackling the so-called Mass. and Cass problem, emphasizing the public health aspect of homelessness. Those are the highest-profile parts of the job, but expect Ojikutu to make Boston’s health equity issues a top priority, too.
67. Steve DiFillippo
With Davio’s outposts stretching from Boston to Atlanta, DiFillippo has built a veritable restaurant empire. But the chef and author’s true influence during the pandemic came from his role on Governor Baker’s Reopening Advisory Board, where he advocated for the industry and lent a helping hand to the little guy.
68. Yawu Miller
Senior Editor, Bay State Banner
Miller has been reporting for Boston’s primary Black news outlet since 1988; nobody knows the territory better, and few can match his impact in the community. As Black Bostonians have grown in power, politics, business, and culture, Miller brings the news and the context that both inform and reflect the city’s BIPOC community.
69. Barbara Lee
Founder and President, Barbara Lee Political Office and the Barbara Lee Family Foundation
While Lee’s cheerleading career began and ended in high school, her love for encouraging others to win still remains strong. To date, the mega-philanthropist has used her wealth, passion, and connections to elect 193 women to office in 33 states, including Boston Mayor Michelle Wu last year. Next up, Lee is setting her sights on getting Attorney General Maura Healey elected as Massachusetts’ next governor.
70. Amy Latimer
President, TD Garden
With a $170 million renovation and expansion under way at the Garden, Latimer had to find a way to keep TD’s live events going during the pandemic. So she required proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test before the city mandated them. She brought in contactless ticketing and merchandise purchasing, which will remain in place. And with that foresight, she was tapped in December to join Mayor Wu’s COVID-19 Advisory Committee.
71. Chris Jamison
Managing Partner, COJE Management Group
By transforming the legendary Locke-Ober into the sizzlingly sexy Yvonne’s, Jamison and his restaurant group breathed some much-needed life into Downtown Crossing. And with the addition of Peruvian-Japanese fusion restaurant Ruka, Cuban spot Mariel, and now the French-inspired Coquette in the Seaport, he’s proved that pairing fine food with fun is clearly the recipe for success anywhere in Boston.
72. Amaka Ubaka
Anchor, 7 News
Since joining 7 News as a reporter in 2016, Ubaka has become one the city’s most beloved media personalities. The Emmy-winning journalist uses social media in a creative way, demystifying the world of television news while sharing information about how to break into the industry, in the process inspiring a whole new generation of aspiring on-air talent.
73. Jenny Holaday
President, Encore Boston Harbor
A veteran of the gaming industry, Holaday has not only overseen the robust rebound of the casino following the pandemic, but also the opening of a new sports bar—which could eventually become a sports-betting lounge if it’s legalized—where the pre-COVID buffet used to be. That’s a pretty big win for a lady who plays the penny slots.
74. Lyndia Downie
President and Executive Director, Pine Street Inn
A hero for the unhoused, Downie has spent nearly four decades expanding Pine Street Inn’s network of beds and services to reach as many Bostonians in need as possible. And with the crisis at Mass. and Cass still top of mind, it’s a good thing she remains hard at work, with the Pine Street Inn starting construction on its latest project—140 new supportive apartments in Jamaica Plain—last January.
75. Sheena Collier
Founder and CEO, Boston While Black
Collier is a connector in the truest sense of the word. Through the networking events and conferences offered by her membership program, Boston While Black, she provides invaluable information and resources to transplants of color who are just settling in the city, increasing the likelihood that they’ll stick around and make Boston a better place for everyone.
76. Jill Medvedow
Director, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston
What to do with an open space that can’t open? In the case of the ICA, Medvedow decided the answer was to transform the new Watershed building in Eastie into a distribution center for fresh food and art supplies, serving more than 50,000 residents during the pandemic. Now that restrictions have eased, the museum is back to featuring the usual mix of artists from near and far, working in media from painting to photography to fashion.
77. Tracy Campion
Principal and Owner, Campion and Company
Nearly nothing on the ultra-exclusive high-end real estate market moves without the Midas touch of Campion, whose past clients include everyone from Tom Brady and Herb Chambers to the Burrage family. No wonder she’s the state’s top broker, with more than $7 billion in sales since 2007.
78. José Massó
Host, ¡Con Salsa!
You’d think that being on the air for 46 years and in the Broadcasting Hall of Fame would slow some people down. Not Massó. The word that best applies to him is “active.” In his community. As policy director of Massport. In local politics. (He was a member of Mayor Wu’s transition team.) And still as the host of ¡Con Salsa!, now in its fifth decade of delivering Latin music and talk to anyone who listens to WBUR.
79. Diane Paulus
Artistic Director, American Repertory Theater
When Paulus took over the A.R.T. in 2008, she transformed it from a hyper-cerebral Harvard drama lab into a theatrical juggernaut and national model for what a repertory theater can be. She also won a Tony along the way. And with the recent appointment of Kelvin Dinkins Jr. as her executive director, we can only expect more greatness from this creative visionary. Her latest effort, a reimagined version of the musical 1776, which premieres this month, could very well be the next Hamilton.
80. Nia Grace
As cofounder of the Boston Black Hospitality Coalition, the Roxbury native didn’t just fight for the future of her own restaurant, Darryl’s Corner Bar & Kitchen, during the darkest days of the pandemic: She advocated for all of the city’s Black-owned restaurants and bars. And she’s continuing to support the community at her brand-new spot, the Underground Café + Lounge, which provides exhibition space for the young artists at nonprofit Artists for Humanity.
81. Wendy Shattuck
Founder, Emerald Necklace Conservancy’s Party in the Park
The next time you’re walking through one of the parks that make up Frederick Law Olmsted’s Emerald Necklace, give thanks to this civic-minded mega-philanthropist. The annual event she created, Party in the Park, has not only raised millions for maintaining our green spaces, it’s also become the bellwether for Who’s Who on Boston’s social scene.
82. Dianne Wilkerson
Cofounder, Black Boston COVID-19 Coalition
Dedicated to fighting for racial equality and social justice, Wilkerson has spent the past couple of years organizing voter registration drives and phone banks, which helped turn the U.S. Senate blue last election season. Perhaps most important, though, is the coalition she cofounded during the pandemic, which helped lead the demand for more equity in testing and vaccine distribution. Will she run for state Senate next? We’ll be watching.
83. Gail Samuel
CEO, Boston Symphony Orchestra
Samuel has accomplished a lot of “firsts.” First new BSO CEO in 24 years. First female chief executive in the organization’s 140-year history. She’s also made it her goal to bring in fresh and diverse faces during her inaugural program, and with high-profile appearances from Black conductor Roderick Cox and Black bassist Victor Wooten—plus a female assistant conductor, Anna Rakitina, making her live-audience debut—she’s doing just that.
84. Paul “Notorious VOG” Parra
Speaking truth to power while serving as the conscience of a community that is often overlooked, Parra has become the unapologetic voice of Black Boston. By offering community announcements and a “daily urban agenda” on topics such as racial injustice and financial literacy (not to mention plenty of laughs), his Notorious in the Morning radio show on Boston 87-FM has both informed and empowered his audience throughout the COVID pandemic.
85. Peggy Fogelman
Director, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
With all the panache and joie de vivre of the museum’s namesake, this petite brunette has expanded the Gardner’s offerings exponentially, from concerts to diverse and inclusive happenings such as Speaking Volumes, an evening of LGBTQ+ and BIPOC poetry. And with the renewed chatter about recovering the Gardner’s stolen artworks, Fogelman promises to be an even bigger part of the conversation in the city.
86. Danielle Johnson
Owner, Spark FM
When Johnson couldn’t find a job in radio, she didn’t change careers; she launched her own station instead. About $21,000 in seed money later, Spark FM was born. While its main offering is urban and Caribbean music, the station delivers much more: political discussions, vaccine information, affordable ad space for small businesses, internships for local youth, and entrepreneurial resources on its website for the next generation of self-starters.
87. Bryan Rafanelli
Founder and Chief Creative Officer, Rafanelli Events
The Willy Wonka of Boston’s party scene, Rafanelli has planned state dinners for the Obamas and weddings for celebs such as Chelsea Clinton, and he’s still at the top of his game. Pivoting early during the pandemic to online events, he kept charities from forgoing fundraisers and virtual attendees from going stir-crazy. Now that events are back in full force, we can expect more over-the-top spectacles from him and his team of creatives.
88. Catherine Morris
Founder and Executive Director, Boston Art & Music Soul Fest
Under Morris’s leadership, BAMS Fest’s virtual “Artdacity” series kept Boston connected and entertained with panel discussions during multiple waves of the pandemic. With the in-person festival back this summer, Morris is once again giving local talent the opportunity to make a name for themselves alongside popular national R&B, soul, jazz, funk, and rap acts.
89. Ernie Boch Jr.
President and CEO, Subaru of New England
The business leader whose name is practically synonymous with cars is also recognized for his proven record as a philanthropist at home and abroad. Case in point: Last summer the Berklee grad, through his nonprofit Music Drives Us, replaced instruments destroyed at Lowell High School after a burst pipe flooded the school’s music wing. There’s also his ongoing work providing infrastructure to villages in Uganda, including the construction of a medical center he recently funded there.
90. Lauren O’Neil Goff
Chief Operating Officer, AEW
A powerhouse in business real estate, O’Neil Goff was recently snatched up by Boston private equity giant AEW, which created a special position for the 40-year-old. And no wonder: Over the course of her career, she’s already done more than $10 billion in deals, including nine-digit refinancing for Boston’s Center for Life Sciences, Chestnut Hill’s Atrium Center, and the Cape Cod Mall, and was just elected president of Boston’s Real Estate Finance Association. And again: She’s only 40.
92. Nick Varano
Owner and CEO, The Varano Group
The sharp-dressed restaurateur is one of the most recognizable figures on the Boston nightlife scene, always quick with a handshake, a selfie, and a warm embrace to make everyone feel like a celeb. With the red-hot Fratelli and the casual Frank & Nick’s at the Encore Boston Harbor casino, both of which he co-owns with Frank DePasquale, the North End native is continuing to bring energy to Boston’s vibrant dining scene.
93. Bishop William Dickerson II
Senior Pastor, Greater Love Tabernacle Church
A new generation of influential religious leaders has emerged, but don’t discount the role of Dickerson, who founded Greater Love Tabernacle more than 30 years ago (and mentored many of those young ministers). What’s the latest way that the city has leaned on his expertise and influence? Mayor Wu put him on the five-person search committee for a new police commissioner.
94. Adam Franklin
President, Franklin Sports
It’s the name on the official batting glove for Major League Baseball (and the unofficial one for practically every kid in Little League). It’s the NHL’s street hockey partner. And your pickleball game? Check the ball. Yeah, Franklin Sports makes that, too. In other words, under Adam Franklin’s leadership, this third-generation Stoughton-based company continues to have an outsize influence in sports in Boston and beyond.
95. Eric Papachristos
Papachristos is bringing fast-casual Greek cuisine to Boston in a big way. This year, he and Saloniki Greek cofounders Jonathan Mendez and chef Jody Adams will nearly double their burgeoning Mediterranean empire, with two new spots on Newbury Street and on Beacon Hill. Rumor has it Saloniki will expand outside of the Boston area next year, too.
96. Rob “Problak” Gibbs
Representation matters. That’s why Problak has used his prodigious talent to create murals that not only beautify Boston’s neighborhoods, but also reflect the people who live in them. And his influence is only growing. He’s the first native-born Black Bostonian to have an installation commissioned by the Conservancy’s public art program—look for it this month on the Greenway at Dewey Square.
97. Douglass Williams
Owner, Mida and Apizza
Not only did Williams keep the pasta flowing for hungry South Enders during the pandemic, the Italian-food maestro has actually managed to expand his culinary influence with a new outpost in Newton and a pizza stall at the Hub on Causeway. And that’s not all: As one of only a few people of color on the fine-dining scene, Williams has dedicated himself to helping others during a tough time for the restaurant industry.
98. Father John Unni
Pastor, Saint Cecelia Parish
Ministering to those in need becomes hard when people can’t commune. But Father Unni didn’t let the pandemic stop him from reaching his flock: Already skilled in social media, he quickly went online with his sermons. He’s also extended his reach well beyond his Back Bay address by sitting on the boards of the Pine Street Inn; Saint Cecilia House, which assists low-income seniors; and Health Equity International, which provides services in Haiti.
99. Marcus McNeill
Senior, Fenway High School
A high school senior on a list of Boston’s most influential? McNeill has more than earned his place thanks to his recent role in the city’s public and political spheres, first as a member of Michelle Wu’s mayoral transition committee and later as a cochair of the nine-member panel appointed to search for Boston Public School’s next superintendent. Naturally, McNeill plans to study political science in college next fall.
100. Mac Jones
Quarterback, New England Patriots
The quarterback is a slightly important position in these parts. Rookies aren’t supposed to have the job—and if they do, they’re not expected to win, let alone lead their teams to the playoffs. In fact, only two starters had done so since 2013. Had. Jones made it three last season, racking up 10 wins, 3,801 passing yards, and 22 touchdowns, all tops last year for first-year signal callers.
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