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Karyn Polito’s life after the State House will include work in the banking sector

Citizens Bank puts its name on the House of Blues; Boston Properties bullish on its new top of the Pru; BFIT pivots to a new moniker; Representative Neal aims to keep pushing East-West Rail

Former lieutenant governor Karyn Polito.Chris Morris

The pace has slowed down a bit for Karyn Polito since she left the State House last month after eight years as lieutenant governor.

But that doesn’t mean she isn’t keeping busy. While former governor Charlie Baker prepares to take over as president of the NCAA, Polito’s next professional chapter is taking shape as well. She’s now working out of the Shrewsbury office of her family’s real estate firm, Polito Development Corp. She also joined the board of advisers for Watertown-based telehealth company Firefly Health.

And last week, she joined the board of directors at Boston-based Berkshire Bank. Polito will serve on the board’s risk management, capital and compliance, and corporate responsibility and culture committees. Her pay package has not yet been disclosed, though most of Berkshire’s board members earn between $80,000 and $120,000 a year, through a mix of cash and restricted stock. (The bank had another high-profile personnel announcement, with former People’s United chief financial officer David Rosato joining Berkshire on Monday as its new CFO.)

Berkshire chief executive Nitin Mhatre said Polito’s expertise in small-business, legal, and community issues will be quite helpful for the bank. (Her huge network of contacts should be helpful, too, in opening up doors for potential business deals.) Mhatre expects the bank will hold seven meetings of the full board this year, in addition to various committee meetings.


Polito has followed Berkshire’s growth over the years, particularly after it acquired Worcester-based Commerce Bank & Trust in 2017. Her family’s development firm had a longtime relationship with Commerce. Berkshire’s board is chaired by David Brunelle, a former Commerce Bank board member and managing director of North Pointe Wealth Management in Worcester.

“They have a mission around sustainability and social responsibility and a very deep commitment to communities,” Polito said of Berkshire. “I’m really interested in how they’re embracing technology to improve their operations and performance.”


Polito took a few mementos from her old office to hang in her new one. They include a large photo of Bash Bish Falls in Mount Washington, given to her in part because she helped bring broadband service to the rural town. Her visit to the tiny Berkshires town on the New York state line was also part of her successful quest to get to all 351 of the state’s municipalities while in office. The photo, she said, serves as a reminder that “every community matters.” Her new office also features photos of her and Baker as well as Worcester Red Sox memorabilia, and a poster from the Massachusetts Municipal Association that shows town-line signs from across the state.

“The first week, I was still running on adrenaline; the second week, I felt like a truck hit me,” Polito said when describing life after leaving office. “Day-to-day life is at a much different pace than it was. To me, that feels very refreshing. ... I feel very grateful to have these experiences [and now] to wrap my head and heart around initiatives and causes that I care about.”

A Citizens Bank branch in Boston on Nov. 17, 2022.Charles Krupa/Associated Press

Citizens bets on the blues

Citizens Bank is banking on the power of music to attract a younger demographic.

The Providence-based bank just expanded its “Citizens Live” partnership with Live Nation and Crossroads Presents, a joint venture overseen by Live Nation executive Don Law, in a deal that adds the Citizens name to the House of Blues Boston. The concert venue will now be called the Citizens House of Blues Boston, similar to the Citizens Bank Opera House. The partnership also involves three other venues — the Brighton Music Hall, Paradise, and Orpheum Theatre — though they haven’t added Citizens to their names. Unlike those venues, House of Blues is managed by Fenway Music Company, a joint venture between Live Nation, Crossroads, and Fenway Sports Management.


The naming rights for the House of Blues extend through 2028; financial terms were not disclosed. The deal gives bank customers access to ticket presales and early entry privileges.

Lisa Murray, the bank’s Massachusetts president, said she hopes new signs can be up before baseball season starts across the street at Fenway Park.

“It’s not really about slapping our logo on a building,” Murray said. “It’s about the ability to interact and connect with ... a different audience every night.”

The view from the top remains good

The executives at office-and-lab landlord Boston Properties often sound optimistic on their quarterly earnings calls. The latest one, however, was uncharacteristically downbeat as chief executive Owen Thomas conceded that the commercial real estate industry has already entered a recession, driven in part by downsizing among tech firms.

But there were some bright spots such as the long-anticipated opening of the new Prudential Center observatory (in space formerly occupied by the Top of the Hub restaurant).

Morgan Stanley analyst Ronald Kamdem asked what kind of interest Boston Properties is seeing in “View Boston” — the three-floor, 59,000-square-foot attraction/event space that opens this spring at the top of the skyscraper, after two years of construction.


Apparently, recessionary fears aren’t dampening interest.

“We’re doing marketing tours with people that would like to look at [booking] events in the future,” Boston Properties executive Bryan Koop said. “I’d say we’re oversubscribed on that. ... We feel awesome about how it’s turned out. It’s just spectacular.”

Ben Franklin by any other name

Goodbye, BFIT. Hello, Franklin Cummings Tech.

When the Cummings Foundation pledged a $12.5 million donation to the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology about a year ago, that biggest-ever gift for the Boston college came with a stipulation. The school’s name would mention the foundation, overseen by real estate investor Bill Cummings and his wife Joyce Cummings. Thus, the Benjamin Franklin Cummings Institute of Technology was born.

But most people around town simply referred to the college by its old acronym: BFIT. “BFCIT” doesn’t have the same ring. So the college worked with local branding agency Proverb, led by Daren Bascome, to come up with a rebrand. College president Aisha Francis unveiled the new moniker, Franklin Cummings Tech, last week.

“It’s exciting we have a modernized logo [and] new name,” Francis said. “It hearkens back to who we were but also moves us forward.”

So are people having a tough time not saying “BFIT” instead?

“As with anything, it will take time,” Francis said of the change. “People are happy to know what to call us. I’ll leave it there.”

Rep. Richard Neal speaks during a news conference with House Democratic leadership at the US Capitol on Jan. 10, 2023 in Washington, DC. Drew Angerer/Getty

New role, same honorific for ‘Chairman’ Neal

Representative Richie Neal won’t miss a chance to plug his favorite infrastructure project, East-West Rail.


Speaking to the business leaders at a New England Council meeting in Boston on Friday, Neal said newly elected governor Maura Healey is “all in” on the project to improve rail service between Western Massachusetts and Boston. (Her predecessor, Charlie Baker, took a little convincing on that front.) Nonetheless, Neal still implied that he’ll pitch its benefits to Healey when she attends President Biden’s State of the Union address on Tuesday night as his guest.

“I intend to use my time wisely when I’m with her to get my requests in,” Neal said.

Neal spent much of his speech rattling off accomplishments during his four years as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, one of the most powerful positions in Congress. Neal, the dean of the state’s congressional delegation, just lost that chairmanship when the Republicans took control. But they apparently still refer to him as “chairman” — for now, anyway.

“There is a bit of humility that comes after you’ve been chairman of the Ways and Means Committee,” the Springfield Democrat said. “[But] I want to tell you with great satisfaction how pleasing it is that the Republicans still call me ‘Mr. Chairman.’”

Jon Chesto can be reached at jon.chesto@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jonchesto.