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.

⬆︎ 11. Niraj Shah

CEO, co-chairman, and cofounder, Wayfair

niraj shah

Shah steered his e-commerce company to billion-dollar success and an IPO, changing ideas about what’s possible in Boston tech. He and cofounder Steve Conine still own 57 percent of Wayfair, giving each a say about where to grow the 2,300-employee company.

⬆︎ 12. Betsy Nabel

President, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

betsy nabel

At Brigham, Nabel has broken boundaries among doctors, scientists, and educators to invigorate an institution where breakthroughs are the norm. Next, she’ll tackle the NFL’s concussion crisis as the league’s first chief medical adviser.

➡︎ 13. Robert DeLeo

Speaker, Massachusetts House of Representatives

robert deleo

Political power move of the year? Rather than step down, DeLeo contrived to remove his term limits. Insiders confirm he’s a heavy hitter, deftly maneuvering in dealings with Governor Baker and Senate President Stan Rosenberg.

➡︎ 14. Mo Cowan

Chief operating officer and senior vice president, ML Strategies

mo cowan

The consummate behind-the-scenes player, Cowan quietly advises top-ranking leaders, drawing on his connections as a former partner at Mintz Levin, a key confidant in the Deval Patrick administration, and an interim U.S. senator.

➡︎ 15. Amos and Barbara Hostetter

Cofounder and cofounder/chairman, Barr Foundation


The couple’s Barr Foundation—with $1.6 billion in assets—powers grants for the arts, climate research, and schools. On boards from the BSO to WGBH, they’re stewards of the city’s cultural prizes, too.

⬆︎ 16. Jim Rooney

CEO, Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce

jim rooney

How persuasive is he? Check out the billion-dollar convention center expansion he extracted from the legislature. Now Rooney’s taking over the chamber, where he’ll have to marshal a divided business community into a voice that matters.

⬆︎ 17. Brian Golden

Director, Boston Redevelopment Authority

brian golden

Many expected Mayor Walsh to dismantle the BRA. Instead, Golden has rebuilt it—throwing out the bums, introducing modern technology, and boldly exposing the agency to public scrutiny while approving an astonishing 10.6 million square feet of new construction.

➡︎ 18. Abigail Johnson

CEO, Fidelity Investments

abigail johnson

Taking over the top post last year, Johnson now has the nearly $2 trillion mutual fund’s future squarely on her shoulders. Though healthy, Fidelity has lost ground to Vanguard’s passive-management, low-fees approach, so all eyes are on Johnson as she steers the company.

⬆︎ 19. Jim Stergios

Executive director, Pioneer Institute

jim stergios

Insiders are watching Stergios closely for clues to what Charlie Baker is thinking on issues from education to transportation reform. Both the governor and newly appointed Secretary of Education James Peyser are alums of the libertarian-leaning think tank.

⬆︎ 20. Jonathan Bush

CEO, president, and chairman, AthenaHealth

jonathan bush

The irreverent Bush, a cousin of George W., describes healthcare as “the biggest hole in our humanity.” And his fast-growing company is taking on its crazy economics, headquartered in a campus that’s also transforming Watertown.