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

They came. They gave. They conquered.


Seth and Beth Klarman

CEO and President, The Baupost Group; Philanthropist

Board Memberships: Klarman Family Foundation, Broad Institute, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, McLean Hospital National Council

Recent Activity: Gave $32.5 million to the Broad Institute in 2012

Since Seth Klarman started at the Baupost Group in 1982, the legendary hedge fund has averaged an annual gain of around 20 percent. Little surprise, then, that he and his wife, Beth—she runs their foundation—have taken the same focus on high-impact returns in their philanthropic ventures. In 2012 they gave $32.5 million to the Eli and Edythe L. Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, funding an extensive research project to understand the wiring of human cells—an effort that the institute’s director has likened to the Human Genome Project.


Joanna Jacobson

Founder and Managing Partner, Strategic Grant Partners

Board Memberships: David Project, Harvard Business School Social Enterprise Initiative, Youth Villages

Recent Activity: Gave $5.1 million in grants in 2011

Jacobson, a Harvard MBA and former president of the Keds Corporation, brings a venture philanthropist’s focus on results to Strategic Grant Partners, which she started in 2002 as a nonprofit incubator. Legendary investors such as Seth Klarman, James Pallotta, and Josh Bekenstein enlist her to help them discover, and then fund, some of the area’s best nonprofits. Groups receiving SGP donations, which have included Year Up and Youth Villages, are expected to quantify their results, in the form of, say, higher test scores or revenue growth.


Peter Slavin


Peter Slavin

President, Massachusetts General Hospital

Board Memberships: Massachusetts General Hospital, Massachusetts Hospital Association, MIT

Recent Activity: Raised $1.4 billion for MGH between 2005 and 2012

In 2005, Slavin and MGH started a massive fundraising drive, “The Campaign for the Third Century of MGH Medicine,” to raise money for research, patient care, and a new building. Five years later, he publicly announced the $1.5 billion campaign—the largest in New England hospital history—as well as the fact that nearly two-thirds of the target amount had already been raised. As of last fall, MGH had hit 94 percent of the goal, and is likely to reach 100 percent by the end of 2013.


Phillip and Susan Ragon

Founder, Intersystems Corporation; Vice President, Intersystems Corporation

Board Memberships: Phillip T. and Susan M. Ragon Institute Foundation

Recent Activity: Pledged $100 million for AIDS research in 2009

Here’s one way to make an instant—and long-lasting—impact on philanthropy in a city: Bring together top scientists from the finest institutions (MGH, MIT, and Harvard) in a new collaborative environment (the Ragon Institute) for cutting-edge AIDS research (developing a vaccine) and fund it with $100 million over 10 years.


Ted Kelly

Chairman, Liberty Mutual

Board Memberships: Kelly Family Foundation, Boston Symphony Orchestra

Recent Activity: Leads fundraising to cover BSO’s $20 million annual budget gap

As the board chairman for the BSO, Kelly is responsible for convincing wealthy donors to help cover the $20 million gap between revenues and operating costs. He’s also chairman of Liberty Mutual, and last year the company announced that it was increasing annual local giving by 20 percent, to $17 million, and had finalized an $8 million, three-year deal to continue funding the BSO’s Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular.