Boston magazine’s annual feature celebrating the most influential businesswomen in Boston is out now, and it may be the most inspiring group yet. These women may work in diverse fields, but their shared determination and passion for what they do has made them leaders across real estate, law, tech, finance, health care, and other industries. Check out their remarkable stories of entrepreneurship and shaking up the status quo.
Boston | 781-848-1665 | pbd-events.com
PBD was founded in Boston in 1985 as a woman-owned-and-operated business specializing in event design. Today, the company has grown to be one of the largest one-stop-shop event design companies in New England. They specialize in custom fabrication, print, and full-service production, and employ many working artists who are graduates from Mass Art, Pratt, and other top universities. Their CEO Franny Andahazy, a former graduate of Mass Art, is an artist and the curator of Solace Gallery in New Jersey and Contour 19, an online Boston gallery. Bridget Fillippelli, a graduate of Northeastern University, has been a designer with the company for more than 15 years and leads the event design team with cutting-edge looks. PBD loves Boston. They have done numerous events for the Boston Red Sox, Boston Calling, Reebok, many universities, and high-end retailers. They believe there is no job too small, and no challenge too difficult.
Plastic Surgery and Skin Rejuvenation
Wellesley Hills | 781-235-3223 | drjeanniechung.com
Dr. Jeannie Chung started her career as a neck and face plastic surgeon at two dermatology practices in the Boston area in 2005. In 2007, after gaining the trust of many patients throughout the Boston and North Shore communities, Dr. Chung was inspired to open her own practice in Wellesley. Since then, Dr. Chung has shared her skills and talents with countless satisfied patients across Massachusetts and the New England area. As a surgeon, Dr. Chung recognizes the importance of skin health and vitality in achieving a youthful, rejuvenated appearance. She has worked closely with dermatologists for the last eight years and is able to combine surgical mastery with skin enhancement procedures. Dr. Chung can help women and men achieve a fresh, rejuvenated appearance, without appearing artificial or “done.” Dr. Chung is from New York and finds the Boston area the best fit for her philosophy of providing a natural, rejuvenated look.
Boston | 617-333-6800 | fbnconstruction.com
Since its founding in 1978, FBN Construction has built and remodeled residential properties with a revolutionary approach of transparency and communication. Larissa Cook came to FBN 15 years ago with a leap of faith. She had no experience, and the company had no specific role or job description for her. FBN explained their culture of building a successful company by surrounding themselves with quality individuals and offering them the opportunity to create their own future opportunities with determination, hard work, and a willingness to learn, and Cook accepted that challenge and took it quite literally. It didn’t matter what was asked of her, she responded with positive energy and followed through with what was asked of her and more. It’s that “more” that has gotten Cook to where she is now. As FBN’s general manager and executive VP, she is leading FBN into the future.
E-motion Sports Massage and Cryohub
Boston | 857-261-3626 | cryohubbos.com
Having come to Boston in 2005 to attend Berklee College of Music, Mercedes Diaz completely fell in love with the city. As a former foster child from central Massachusetts, Mercedes found her home in Boston where she felt that the diversity of the city gave her the freedom to be her true self and succeed against the odds. After leaving the military in 2012, she began her journey into entrepreneurship through her love of helping others feel healthier and stress-free. While she had several business ideas, none of them took off more effortlessly than E-motion Sports Massage, now located in Everett. Her newest venture, Cryohub was born from the frustration of her massage clients who were working hard to lose weight and yet still falling short of achieving their desired results. Disheartened by this obsession with the number on a scale, she decided to open Cryohub in Boston taking a cue from the proven European technique that has already been around for years.
Arbella Insurance Group
Quincy | 617-328-2800 | arbella.com
Based in Quincy, the Arbella Insurance Group is a regional property and casualty insurance company with more than 1,000 employees that has been in business for more than 30 years. Women represent more than 40 percent of the senior leadership at the company, changing the face of this traditionally male-dominated industry. At the top of the organization, these women executives are the chief operating officer, chief marketing officer, chief actuary, and general counsel. “We don’t see ourselves as women leaders, we see ourselves as leaders,” says Gayle O’Connell, executive vice president, and chief marketing officer. “We are decision-makers and influence strategy at the highest level.” Collectively, they have nearly 80 years of experience and all report to the CEO, John Donohue, who has championed them from the beginning. “Having a mentor to support and encourage you is critical,” says O’Connell.
Gibbs & Heinle LLP
Wellesley Hills | 781-371-4940 | gibbsheinle.com
Laura Elizabeth Gibbs credits her sister for encouraging her to go to law school and setting her on a career path she never would have picked for herself. “Now, I can’t imagine another profession more fulfilling,” says Gibbs. After 16 years of practicing law at large firms in Boston, Gibbs gained the experience and confidence to create Gibbs & Heinle in 2016, a firm focused exclusively on family law. Gibbs calls opening Gibbs & Heinle her proudest professional accomplishment.
“My entrepreneurial and independent spirit inspired me to open my own law firm, allowing me to practice what I love, mentor and learn from younger attorneys, and be a strong role model for my daughter,” Gibbs says. “I have never been happier professionally.”
Gibbs & Heinle has an established reputation of unwavering commitment to excellence. Through their combined decades of experience, the firm’s dedicated attorneys achieve outstanding results.
Housman Institute and Beginnings Child Development Center
Weston | 781-472-2808 | housmaninstitute.org
Dr. Donna Housman’s lifelong passion is to help every child realize their full potential by promoting the building blocks of emotional intelligence from birth. She is the founder of the Housman Institute, an early childhood training, research, and advocacy organization and its lab school, Beginnings Child Development Center. For over 35 years, she has been educating thousands of children and training hundreds of teachers through the evidence-based and globally recognized begin to ECSEL™ program with the goal of developing emotional, cognitive, and social early learning. Dr. Housman’s research has shown that children who have experienced the begin to ECSEL™ program significantly outperform their peers nationally in foundational competencies involving emotional intelligence, self-regulation, and empathy—all critical for childrens’ success, mental health, and well-being.
“Emotion is the universal first language,” says Dr. Housman. “It’s how we learn to express our emotions, handle our feelings, and deal with the emotions of others. These are key factors in our learning, growth and success as individuals, interpersonal relationships, mental health, and well-being. As educators and as a society, we are seeing an alarming rise in behavioral problems, bullying, stress and anxiety, low self-esteem, and lack of empathy. Our program seeks to educate the whole child by helping them to develop a strong and positive sense of self, the ability to manage stress and emotions, and have empathy for, and understanding of, each other’s differences. These skills are vital to building a strong future for us all.”
Boston | 781-279-5100 | caperscatering.com
Emma Roberts may have been raised by the world’s original foodie. When she was a child, each Saturday, her father tore out New York Times recipes before joyfully parading her family through a series of specialized grocers in search of the best ingredients to perfect each meal. Since 1992, Roberts, the owner and founder of Capers Catering, has carried on that quest for perfection while serving New England and beyond—ensuring her team crafts each dish from scratch with the freshest-available, locally sourced or organic ingredients. Roberts holds a BA from Denison University and graduated with honors from the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts. Today, she and her husband spend their non-working hours exploring food-centric, exotic locales—forever on the hunt for the makings of the next spectacular meal.
Ryan Faenza Carey
Walpole | 508-668-9112 | rfclegal.com
In 1986, Marilynne “Mal” Ryan established her law practice in Walpole, Massachusetts. Thirty-two years later, that firm—now Ryan Faenza Carey (RFC)—is a prominent business in the Massachusetts community with seven experienced attorneys. Regardless of the circumstances, RFC has a trusted reputation of leaving no stone unturned for its clients.
“RFC has a proud heritage of helping clients navigate the emotionally tumultuous process of divorce, family law and criminal cases in the most sensitive and professional way,” says Ryan. “We listen closely, take no shortcuts in preparation, and work to mediate and settle cases wherever possible, although our attorneys can deliver results in a courtroom if a resolution isn’t possible.” RFC is made up of practical, compassionate and experienced advocates whose primary focus is on providing the best possible outcome during the most difficult of times.
Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts
Boston | 617-482-1078 | gsema.org
Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts serves 30,000 girls and 15,000 adults, offering a leadership development experience rooted in STEM, outdoors, life skills, and entrepreneurship. At the top is Caitríona Taylor, the CEO of Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts. “We understand that many societal pressures originate from a lack of a strong sense of identity and opportunities for self-expression,” Taylor says. “Additionally, today’s youth have a strong desire to enact change. Girl Scouts is dedicated to being the solution.” Girl Scouts was preparing girls to empower themselves before women even had the right to vote in the U.S. Today, Taylor has also expanded efforts to provide girls in underserved Boston communities access to the opportunities Girl Scouts offers, free of charge. “Our goal is to meet girls where they’re at and provide supportive spaces for them to explore their interests, take healthy risks, and develop into confident leaders,” Taylor says.
Brookline | 617-608-3774 | sanelasalon.com
Sanela Catovic, a Bosnian refugee and now a master hair stylist and owner of Sanela Salon, was initially drawn to Boston for its European vibes as well as its opportunities. From there, it was only a short matter of time before Catovic opened the doors to Sanela Salon in 2011. Catovic steadfastly holds to her mission of creating the ultimate experience in hair care while helping clients discover their personal style. Moreover, Catovic embraces the artistic side of the beauty industry and, along with her staff, is constantly pushing herself to learn new trends in color and cuts. Catovic credits her clients and her salon family for being such an amazing influence in her life.“Their continued support touches me and motivates me daily to learn and grow and brings me to where I am today: a refugee, an immigrant and a woman living the American dream,” she says.
Somerville | 617-623-0100 | grayscale-design.com
Misty Gray is a third-generation entrepreneur and the founder of Grayscale Design, a Boston-based design firm specializing in residential interiors. With more than a decade of experience working with clients, design professionals, and builders, Gray has witnessed the fluidity necessary for a successful project. Grayscale understands that embarking on a design project of any scale can be an incredibly overwhelming undertaking, and their clients appreciate the tailored experience they receive working with Grayscale Design. The firm is deeply rooted in the philosophy that every project is a synthesis of form, function, and purpose—with the ultimate goal of capturing clients’ vision and unique lifestyles.
Boston | 617-266-8001 | galerie-dorsay.com
With a combined 75 years of experience between them, Sallie Hirshberg (CEO and managing partner), Kristine Feeks Hammond (co-director), and Martha S. Folsom (co-director) bring an unparalleled level of expertise to the fine art market, leading the team at Galerie d’Orsay. Focusing on the Masters—think blue-chip names like Picasso, Matisse, and Rembrandt, to name just a few—Galerie d’Orsay and the women at its helm provide their clients with specialized knowledge of masterworks and connoisseurship. “It has brought me great pride to build museum-quality collections over the last two decades,” says Hirshberg on 20 years of ownership, “sharing my love of art with charitable organizations, museums and—above all—our collectors.”
The Donahue Maley and Burns Team
Wellesley | 781-591-0671 | donahuemaleyburns.com
The Donahue Maley and Burns team came together as a real estate force in 2018. Each of the principals, Lynn Donahue, Donna Maley, and Stephanie Burns, have had successful careers in real estate, but when the opportunity to open the Wellesley office for Compass presented itself, they knew that it was a game-changer for them professionally. They haven’t looked back. Ranked as the leading team for Compass in Wellesley, they credit their success with the fact that they care deeply about each and every client and prepare their listings so that they stand out among other homes in the market.
radius financial group inc. and radius insurance group inc.
Norwell | 781-742-6500 | radiusgrp.com
Sarah Valentini, the co-founder of woman-owned radius financial group inc., launched the mortgage company in 1999 and has overseen its growth from a small local lender to a multi-state mortgage bank spanning the Eastern Seaboard, Texas, and Michigan.
“We are constantly seeking different ways to revolutionize the industry,” Valentini says. Most recently, she has spearheaded radius’ foray into the insurance business, adding another valuable service to their streamlined customer experience.
The firm’s dedication to innovation, diversity, and culture of service are reflected in both radius staff as well as their loyal client base. Valentini has created a person-centric culture that embodies her vision of what mortgage lending and insurance should be.
Boston | 857-350-4856 | visellisalon.com
Cristina Viselli is the owner of Viselli Salon located on Newbury Street in Boston. Since she began her career 20 years ago, she knew her ultimate goal was always to open her own salon, and she was thrilled to achieve that dream nearly a decade ago.
“I loved the hair industry for its creativity and passion, and always wanted to create a space full of both those things for like-minded stylists and clients,” Viselli said. “Fast forward to 2010, I was finally able to make my vision come to life, and every day am grateful to head to my dream.”
Viselli Salon is committed to our earth and health. As the salon moves into the future, they are paving the way for eco-friendly beauty in Boston and beyond.
Find the print version of Faces of Women in Design in the October issue of Boston magazine.
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