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WGBH’s new CFO back in state of wedded bliss

Andre Alexander. Chris Morris for the Boston Globe

Andre Alexander bought a house in Truro in 2012, and he’s been trying to move to this state ever since. His path to Boston finally materialized when he was contacted recently by a recruiter, working on behalf of WGBH and looking to fill the chief financial officer post at the nonprofit public broadcaster. Alexander started as CFO last week, taking over for Vinay Mehra, who left to work for Politico.

Alexander has been visiting Truro since the 1990s, drawn in part by the natural beauty of the seashore. But it wasn’t just proximity to the beaches that prompted Alexander and his husband to buy the Truro home. They were married there three years ago because Massachusetts, at the time, was one of the few states that allowed gay marriage.


Most recently, Alexander has been working as a consultant and living in the Washington, D.C., area. But he’s had some formidable CFO positions in the past, including gigs with Special Olympics International and the Jane Goodall Institute. His career has been built in the nonprofit sector, though this is his first job in the media business.

“A lot of people think nonprofit accounting is very easy, but it’s actually very complicated because you have to account for every dollar that every person gives you,” Alexander says. He concedes that he didn’t expect the sweeping change to legalize gay marriage across the country — most notably from the Supreme Court decision in June that gay marriage is a constitutional right. But he is still eager to make Massachusetts his full-time home.

Believe it or not, the New England climate is part of the appeal. “I know you guys had horrific snow last year,” Alexander says. “[But] I love winter. . . . I’m actually looking forward to getting some snow and being able to go to the mountains nearby.”



Saving rare seeds for later

When a nonprofit launches an ambitious fund-raiser, the money is often earmarked for a new building or renovation project.

The Framingham-based New England Wild Flower Society has a more unusual goal with its recently announced campaign to raise $5 million: It wants to collect and permanently store seeds of all the rare and endangered plants in the region.

And it’s off to a strong start: In what the wild flower society calls “an extraordinary move,” the Hope Goddard Iselin Foundation in Providence has pledged $500,000, most of the foundation’s annual grant funding over the next five years.

The seeds will be used to restore disappearing plant populations and shore up threatened ones. In New England, 387 plant species are considered globally or regionally rare, and 17 percent of plants native to the region are “on the brink of being lost,” according to the society.

Seed banking, as it’s known, is “an insurance policy to keep these plants from disappearing from the landscape in the face of worldwide threats,” including habitat destruction and climate change, said Debbi Edelstein, executive director of the group, which runs Garden in the Woods in Framingham. SACHA PFEIFFER

Dodd-Frank and lawyers

Talk to a community banker about the Dodd-Frank law and resulting rules out of Washington, and you’re bound to hear about the headaches.

But the new regulations have been a boon for these banks’ lawyers, the ones who are behind the scenes, assembling community bank mergers.


Nutter McClennen & Fish says it has either closed or advised on eight New England bank mergers in 2015, a record for the Boston law firm. Kenneth Ehrlich says new Dodd-Frank requirements for local banks are a driving force behind the uptick in mergers, as an increasing number of community banks — particularly those where the CEOs are retiring — look for the safety of a bigger partner.

“There’s a certain amount of governance fatigue,” says Ehrlich, who runs Nutter’s banking practice with Michael Krebs. “The visceral reaction [against mergers] has lessened.”

Ehrlich says his firm advised on 21 mergers in the 10 years that ended in 2013. The merger work started picking up notably last year.

Goodwin Procter, another big legal player in the banking business, says it’s also had a busy year: A spokesman says its 18-lawyer banking group, led by Bill Mayer, has advised on six New England deals this year. (One of those wasn’t really a bank merger: John Hancock’s purchase of a retirement plan business from New York Life.)

Low-interest rates have also made it harder for small banks — many only have one or two branches — to squeeze out operating profits. “There are pressures on them that are forcing the smaller ones to really think about making an exit,” Ehrlich says.


Bank thinking in the box

Safe deposit boxes may be a relic of a bygone era, but Eastern Bank is mining them for an emotion-driven campaign that launched on Monday.


The bank sponsored a video contest featuring the humble metal box and asked filmmakers to produce an ad campaign around it. More than a dozen filmmakers, from Canada to India, submitted films about what could be in the box, from a grandmother’s knitted quilt to a father’s wishes for his children.

The bank worked with Mofilm, Ltd., a London-based branding company, to reach filmmakers, said Joe Bartolotta, an executive vice president for Eastern Bank.

The winning video, made by Toronto-based filmmaker Theodore Bezaire, features a grandfather leaving his stethoscope to his granddaughter, who also becomes a doctor.

The winner received $10,000 in prizes from Mofilm.

Eastern is running the five winning ads this week at a specially created website, http://forsafekeeping.-easternbank.com/.


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