On the campaign trail, Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu talked about how the only Asian-American female role model she had growing up was Olympic figure-skater Michelle Kwan (above).
This week Wu, who is likely to be the next City Council president, finally met her childhood hero. Kwan, who now works for the Hillary Clinton campaign, was the main draw Monday night at a fund-raiser for the presidential candidate at the China Pearl restaurant in Boston’s Chinatown.
“I am very, very aware I am not the Michelle you are here to see,” quipped Wu.
The event drew over 100 people and raised over $10,000, according to Leverett Wing, one of the sponsors and executive director of the Commonwealth Seminar, a group that educates underserved communities about state government.
Wu and Kwan weren’t the only Asian-American luminaries in attendance. Celebrity chef Ming Tsai, the owner of Blue Ginger and Blue Dragon restaurants, served as guest emcee. The Asian-American political elite were also out in force including Quincy State Representative Tackey Chan, Cambridge city councilor Leland Cheung, recently-elected Quincy City Councilor Nina Liang, and Sarah Kim, general counsel of the State Treasury.
Kwan retired from skating a decade ago and got a master’s degree from Tufts’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. She worked in the B ureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the US State Department when Clinton served as secretary of state. Not to mention she married Clay Pell, the grandson of the late Rhode Island Senator Claiborne Pell. The younger Pell ran unsuccessfully for governor of that state in 2014.
Kwan said her experience as a skating champion inspired her to pursue a career in government.
“I wanted to build on something that was always a high honor for me, and that was representing the United States,” said Kwan, a two-time Olympic medalist who also holds US and World figure skating titles. — SHIRLEY LEUNG
One man’s trash . . .
Christian Kasper wants your garbage.
To be more specific, the new CEO of Waltham-based Harvest Power wants your discarded foods, politely known in the business as organic waste.
Extra lettuce? Put it in one of Harvest’s 22 composting and organic recycling sites. An unwanted burger patty? That could be useful fuel for one of Harvest’s anaerobic digester plants that generates electricity from the methane given off by rotting food.
Studies have estimated that anywhere from 33 percent to 40 percent of the food produced in the United States and around the world ends up wasted.
Kasper, the former Harvest CFO, was just promoted to the chief executive’s job after Kathleen Ligocki left to run Agility Fuel Systems in California.
The nearly 450-person company essentially has three lines of businesses: organics recycling and composting, bagged soil and mulch manufacturing, and running power plants fed primarily by food waste.
Harvest also just landed $20 million in funding from its primary investors: Chicago-based True North Venture Partners, Industry Ventures of San Francisco, and London’s Generation Investment Management. Kasper plans to use that money to grow the business, in part by building new facilities.
Kasper hopes Harvest can capitalize on a new food recycling requirement in Massachusetts for major restaurants, hospitals, and supermarkets. Right now, those businesses don’t have a wide array of options available to them.
“Food waste is the last major frontier right now,” Kasper says. “Policy makers want to drive businesses to recycle but at the same time, if the infrastructure isn’t there, they can’t force that to happen overnight.” — JON CHESTO
Swim! Bike! Run! Boston!
If Boston gets a nationally recognized triathlon, local endurance athletes may have businessman Mark Cuban to thank.
Cuban is backing an investment, through Boston-based Rugged Events, in the Boston Triathlon. The goal: To help turn what’s primarily a local race held at Carson Beach every summer into a national draw.
An owner of the Dallas Mavericks and Landmark Theatres chain, among other ventures, Cuban also is known for “Shark Tank,” the ABC reality show that features entrepreneurs making pitches for investments. Last year he invested $1.75 million, through that show, in Rugged Events, which organizes obstacle races.
Now Rugged Events, led by Rob Dickens and Brad Scudder, is getting into the triathlon business by partnering with Michael O’Neil, who bought the Boston Triathlon nearly three years ago. O’Neil has wanted to expand the triathlon from a sprint-level race — most racers finish it within one to two hours — to an Olympic-length race, one that’s roughly twice as long. Triathletes probably won’t spend big money on hotel rooms or plane tickets for a sprint race, O’Neil says, but a three-hour race is a different story.
O’Neil sees big-time triathlons in San Francisco, Chicago, and New York. He says there’s no reason Boston can’t have one, too.
O’Neil says he just completed a deal with Rugged Events to sell the firm a minority stake in the race. With that money and the additional manpower Rugged Events can offer, O’Neil says he’s able to stage an Olympic distance triathlon in Boston in July.
“We knew we would need more capital and human resources to bring this to the next level,” O’Neil says.
Fortunately for O’Neil, he already has a sympathetic audience in City Hall. Mayor Marty Walsh attended this year’s race, and chief of staff Dan Koh competed.
“It’s hard to do a triathlon in an urban center,” O’Neil says. “In this case, really, Boston is open for business.” — JON CHESTO
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