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

They came. They gave. They conquered.


Ted Cutler

Arts Patron

Board Memberships: Theodore H. Cutler Family Trust, Outside the Box, Emerson College

Recent Activity: Cochaired the $35 million drive for the new Greater Boston Food Bank building, which opened in 2009

A native of Dorchester, Cutler built his fortune on trade shows and corporate travel and has since used it to help reposition his alma mater, Emerson, as the hub of the Hub’s arts world—including the stunning restoration of the Cutler Majestic Theatre in 2003. Having cochaired the $35 million drive to build the Greater Boston Food Bank’s new facility, which opened in 2009, he’s now turned his attention to creating Outside the Box, a citywide arts extravaganza that launches this July and aims to make Boston a key destination on the summer-festival map. “He’s the greatest kind of patron,” says one municipal bigwig. “For so many people who are wealthy, it’s about the influence. When Ted Cutler gives money to do something, it’s the experts who are the ones who create art, not the funders.”


Carl Shapiro


Board Memberships: Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family Foundation

Recent Activity: Gave $42 million to Dana-Farber and Boston Medical Center in 2008

If you’ve been to a hospital in this city, chances are you’ve been in a building named after the Shapiros. Over the past 10 years, the family has donated more than $100 million to charities, including Boston Medical Center, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Brigham and Women’s. Of course, the Shapiros were among the major victims of the Madoff scandal, paying $625 million in 2010 to settle related claims. That wiped out much of their fortune and led to questions about the future of their philanthropic efforts. But their foundation gave away $13 million in 2011, and still has assets of $79 million.


John Barros

Executive director, Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative

Board Memberships: Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative

Recent Activity: Leveraged government grants into $70 million in private donations

Barros, a former Barr fellow, has become a sought-after voice on education issues thanks to his role on the Boston School Committee and his leadership with the Boston Promise Initiative, an innovative program that uses schools to help revitalize the areas of Roxbury and north Dorchester. Barros has turned $6 million in federal grants into an impressive $70 million in aligned funding from public and private organizations, while hammering out partnerships with 80 different groups.


Catherine D’Amato

President and CEO, the Greater Boston Food Bank

Board Memberships: The Boston Foundation, Massachusetts Food Association

Recent Activity: Oversaw the food bank’s $35 million capital campaign in 2009

When D’Amato joined the GBFB in 1995, it was a respected organization that annually distributed about 9 million pounds of food and had revenues of $14.7 million. In the years since, D’Amato has used her fundraising and networking skills to turn the food bank into one of the country’s most prominent hunger organizations—particularly with the 2009 opening of the Yawkey Distribution Center. Last year, the nonprofit distributed 41 million pounds of food and had $66.6 million in revenue.


Gerald Chertavian

Founder and CEO, Year Up

Board Memberships: Harvard Business School Social Enterprise Initiative, Massachusetts State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Recent Activity: Raised $46.4 million in 2011

Chertavian founded Year Up—a Boston-based organization that gives low-income young people access to training and corporate internships, and prepares them for college—in 2000, and since then the nonprofit has been remarkably successful. A stunning 84 percent of alumni were employed or attending college within four months of graduating from the program. That’s impressive enough that President Obama gave the organization a shout-out during a town-hall meeting, and Year Up has now expanded to 10 cities.