Boston’s 50 Most Powerful People: The List

In Boston’s shifting power economy, some are up, some are down, and some are exactly where they’ve been for decades.


⬆︎ BUY Get on the bandwagon.
➡︎ HOLD Established player.
⬇︎SELL Storm clouds ahead.

⬇︎ 1. John Fish

Chairman and CEO, Suffolk Construction; chairman, Boston 2024

john fish

Though Fish has frequently topped this list, we never quite knew what he wanted. Now his ambition is clear: an Olympic city. Only Fish could have strong-armed the bid into being. Saving it may well become the fight of his professional life.

Read more about John Fish.

⬆︎ 2. Charlie Baker

Governor of Massachusetts

charlie baker

Just what the taxpayers ordered: Facing a terrifying $1.5 billion budget deficit, Baker is a data-driven, ultra-moderate Republican who’s willing to take on special interests, hire smart talent across party lines, and slam the brakes on runaway spending.

Read more about Charlie Baker.

⬆︎ 3. John Henry

Principal owner, Boston Red Sox, Boston Globe

john henry

He who controls the Sox and Globe controls Boston’s psyche, and under Henry, both are surging. He’s not afraid to use the press to shove Boston into the national spotlight—as when he published four editorials pleading for Elizabeth Warren to run.

⬆︎ 4. Elizabeth Warren

U.S. Senator

elizabeth warren

Warren is Wall Street’s worst nightmare—not to mention Hillary Clinton’s—and progressives adore her for it. She’s replaced Ted Kennedy as our liberal lion. No, she’s not running for president. But the threat of a Warren White House will keep Fox News busy.

➡︎ 5. Robert Kraft

Founder and chairman, the Kraft Group; owner, New England Patriots, New England Revolution

robert kraft

He signs Tom Brady’s paychecks. He’s also, quietly, a giant in Boston philanthropy and a shrewd operator who may yet outmaneuver Boston 2024 to build a soccer stadium at Widett Circle.

➡︎ 6. Marty Walsh

Mayor, city of Boston

marty walsh

He’s filling big shoes, but Walsh hasn’t yet found his footing. He’s kept some promises (reining in the BRA, embracing innovation) but struggled with others (diversity, transparency). Clobbered by Mother Nature, he now faces an Olympic-sized test of his vision, strength, and political savvy.

⬆︎ 7. Jim Davis

Chairman, New Balance

jim davis

He’s worth nearly $4 billion, and NB’s 900,000-square-foot complex is transforming Allston. As the MBTA floundered, Davis conjured up a commuter-rail station, a cruise-ship-like office and hotel, and a new Bruins practice rink. All those Hubway bikes? That’s Davis, too.

⬆︎ 8. Karen Kaplan

Chairman and CEO, Hill Holliday

karen kaplan

When the former receptionist took over the firm last year, she buried the Mad Men era forever. She sits on 17 boards, co-chaired the search committee for a new Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce president, and served on Governor Baker’s transition team.

⬆︎ 9. Jeffrey Leiden

Chairman, president, and CEO, Vertex Pharmaceuticals

jeffrey leiden

Leiden exemplifies the next generation of Boston’s leaders: A Ph.D. and MD versed in venture capital, he steers a $30 billion biotech firm and serves on the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership, the public policy group of the state’s top CEOs.

⬆︎ 10. Barbara Lee

Founder and president, Barbara Lee Family Foundation

barbara lee

A superpower in the worlds of art and politics, Lee just handed the ICA a $10 million donation of 43 works by female artists. But it’s in her foundation’s knack for electing women to political office that she shows her real clout.

Read more about Barbara Lee.