The Power List: The 25 Most Influential People in Boston Philanthropy

They came. They gave. They conquered.


John Fish

Chairman and CEO, Suffolk Construction

Board Memberships Red & Blue Foundation, Boston College, Boston Scholar Athletes, Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston, Catholic Schools Foundation, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Salvation Army

Recent Activity Oversaw $6.4 million in nonprofit grants in 2011

Fish has harnessed the connections he’s built while serving on some of the city’s most influential nonprofit boards to rise to the top of Boston’s power structure. Consider that, even though he’s not a Boston College alum, he’s managed to work his way up to become the vice chairman of the school’s ultra-wired board of trustees. He was also the guy that Mayor Menino called in 2009 to start and cochair the Boston Scholar Athletes program, which provides learning resources for student athletes.


Joseph and Katherine O’Donnell

Businessman; Philanthropist

Board Memberships: Joey O’Donnell Foundation Trust, Harvard Corporation

Recent Activity: Gave $30 million to Harvard in 2012

The O’Donnells have been hugely important to biotech and Harvard—both key local industries. Since the death of their 12-year-old son Joey from cystic fibrosis in 1986, the two have helped raise more than $250 million for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, driving promising drug research at the pharmaceutical giant Vertex. At Harvard, meanwhile, Joe is helping to lead the school’s new $6 billion capital campaign.


Joyce Linde


Board Memberships: Linde Family Foundation, Museum of Fine Arts, DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Boston Symphony Orchestra

Recent Activity: Funded the MFA’s $12.5 million contemporary-art wing, which opened in 2011

The Lindes, who made their fortune in the real estate investment company Boston Properties, have been fixtures in Boston philanthropy. Ed served as board chair at the BSO, and the couple pledged $25 million to MIT for undergraduate scholarships in 2008. Ed passed away in 2010, but Joyce continues to serve on the MFA, BSO, and DeCordova boards, among others, and she was the main donor behind the MFA’s $12.5 million Linde Family Wing for Contemporary Art.


Robert Kraft


The Krafts

Owners, New England Patriots and the Kraft Group

Board Memberships: Robert & Myra Kraft Family Foundation, MRK Foundation, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, New England Patriots Charitable Foundation
Recent Activity: Gave $20 million to Partners HealthCare in 2011

Over their five decades together, Bob and Myra Kraft gave away more than $100 million. Myra’s 2011 death was widely mourned by the city’s philanthropic community, but Bob and his four sons are continuing the family’s tradition of charity, including renaming the Patriots’ Community MVP Awards, which annually offer $100,000 in grants to local volunteers, after Myra. Son Josh, meanwhile, is turning heads as the president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston, where he’s working with one of the city’s most high-profile boards.


Barbara Lee


Board Memberships: Barbara Lee Family Foundation, Institute of Contemporary Art, Emerge Massachusetts, Women’s Leadership Board of Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government

Recent Activity: Gave a seven-figure donation to the ICA to endow the chief curator position in 2012

Lee received plenty of attention in 2000, when she helped kick-start the capital campaign to build the ICA with a $5 million gift. In 2012, she made another million-dollar-plus donation to the institution, to endow the ICA’s chief curator position. But Lee is best known for her political activism: For more than a decade, she has provided training, raised campaign funds, sponsored research, and mobilized voters to help elect women to office, both locally and nationally, including Massachusetts’ very own Senator Elizabeth Warren.


Ted Cutler