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

They came. They gave. They conquered.


Malcolm Rogers

Director, Museum of Fine Arts

Recent Activity: Led a $504 million campaign that funded a new wing, which opened in 2010

As the director of the MFA for almost 20 years, Rogers has developed a stellar reputation for programming, and for being able to raise the kinds of funds it takes to run a world-class institution. That includes a $504 million capital campaign that led to the 2010 opening of the Art of the Americas Wing—the museum’s first addition since 1981.


Joan Wallace-Benjamin

President and CEO, The Home for Little Wanderers

Board Memberships: Home for Little Wanderers, Children’s League of Massachusetts

Recent Activity: Raised $8.2 million in 2011

With her organization needing to escape its decaying Jamaica Plain headquarters, Wallace-Benjamin made the bold decision in 2011 to sell the J.P. land to a developer and invest in a new space in Walpole. Last November, she and Little Wanderers celebrated the opening of the $18 million project, which has doubled the number of children with behavioral and developmental problems that can be served, all amid a bucolic 166 acres.


Vanessa Kirsch


Vanessa Kirsch

Founder and Managing Director, New Profit

Board Memberships: Tisch College at Tufts, College Summit

Recent Activity: Oversaw $10.7 million in donations to charities in 2011

When you’re donating a sum with a bunch of zeroes, it helps to know how well the money will be spent. Enter Kirsch. Her New Profit organization acts as an investment manager for philanthropic portfolios, using data-driven analysis to weigh a nonprofit’s effectiveness, and providing the guidance and oversight to ensure that donated funds are used efficiently. It’s quickly become a national model for venture philanthropy firms.


Susan Paresky

Senior Vice President for Development and the Jimmy Fund, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Recent Activity: Led Dana-Farber’s capital campaign, which reached $1.18 billion in 2010

Since joining the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Paresky has helped increase the organization’s annual gifts from about $30 million to as much as $200 million, overseen the Jimmy Fund (perhaps the state’s best-known charity), and—in the middle of a recession—spearheaded a capital campaign that raised $1.18 billion.


Bill and Joyce Cummings

Founder, Cummings Properties; Director, Cummings Properties

Board Memberships: Cummings Foundation, New Horizons

Recent Activity: Pledging $10 million to area nonprofits this year

In 2011 the Cummingses became the first Massachusetts residents to sign the Giving Pledge, a public promise—the brainchild of Warren Buffett and Bill Gates—by billionaires to donate the majority of their wealth to charity. (The Cummingses, according to their Giving Pledge announcement, had already planned to give away 90 percent of their fortune.) And the couple isn’t waiting to pass on its money through an estate: This year, the Cummingses are handing out 100 grants of $100,000 each to local nonprofits.