In search of ‘a more inclusive business climate’
Colette Phillips knows a thing or two about trying to knock down the doors of Boston’s entrenched power structure.
When she launched her namesake firm in Boston 30 years ago, Phillips was unusual: a black woman opening a PR agency in a business community dominated by older, white men.
The city’s corporate leadership ranks have become more diverse. But Phillips still sees mostly white faces when she looks around. That’s why she has made it her mission to create what she calls “a more inclusive business climate.”
The latest chapter: a “speed mentoring” event scheduled for Tuesday at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, with a goal of cultivating a new generation of diverse professionals.
Phillips has recruited a number of black and Asian executives to participate, such as WGBH general manager Liz Cheng, Holland & Knight partner Steven Wright, Eastern Bank chief banking officer Quincy Miller and Care.com co-founder Donna Levin. Plenty of white men will be pitching in as well, including Tufts Health Plan CEO Tom Croswell and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care CEO Eric Schultz.
Each of these executives will spend 20 minutes dispensing career advice and talking shop at a table with up to 10 attendees before it’s time for them to move on to a new group. More than 250 people are expected to come.
This is the first time for the event, but Phillips hopes to make it an annual one.
“I want to be a convener and facilitator for the ‘New Boston,’” Phillips said. “It’s all about changing the paradigm. The only way you’re going to do that is to get people out of the ivory tower.” — JON CHESTO
Country club wars
What’s bad for New Seabury Country Club in Mashpee is good for its competitors on the Cape.
The tony Willowbend golf community, also in Mashpee, is experiencing a surge of inquiries from New Seabury members unhappy with membership terms proposed by billionaire owner Carl Icahn. Members have gone to court; a hearing on Friday may determine their fate.
David Southworth, the owner of Willowbend, reports fielding a stream of requests from New Seabury members, but he draws the line at active recruiting.
Still, Southworth can’t believe how heated things have gotten between members and management.
“This is pretty unusual,” he added. “You would think something like this would be presented to the membership in a different way.”
Now if you think for a moment all Cape country clubs are alike, Southworth says think again. New Seabury is a semi-private golf community with about 2,000 homes and about 780 club members.
Willowbend, once owned by former Reebok honcho Paul Fireman, is a gated community with about 250 homes and 400 members. In other words, it’s more exclusive.
We hear that Fireman is still a member; so is PR guru George Regan, who has a home on the 14th fairway. New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft and his son Jonathan have been spotted here, as well as Frank McCourt, the developer and former Los Angeles Dodgers owner. George Berkowitz, who started Legal Sea Foods and is the father of CEO Roger Berkowitz, is also a member, as is philanthropist David Mugar.
“I really do think between us and New Seabury, it’s like the difference between apples and oranges,” said Southworth. “We’re both country clubs, but they are just so different.” — SHIRLEY LEUNG
Hurry up and wait, again, on Winthrop Square Garage
The who’s-who of big-name builders itching to get their hands on the Winthrop Square Garage will have cool their heels for at least another month.
Officials at the Boston Redevelopment Authority are now acknowledging that their June 9 target date to name a developer for the site may have been too ambitious. BRA spokesman Nick Martin says the agency is aiming for a decision in July or possibly August.
The delay is due in part to a complaint by BRA watchdog Shirley Kressel, who contends the City Council violated open meeting laws when it transferred the closed city garage to the development agency. That complaint is under review by Attorney General Maura Healey.
It’s also due to the sheer complexity of weighing six ambitious proposals in a compressed window of time. The BRA is juggling bids from influential developers including entrepreneur Steve Belkin of Trans National Partners, Millennium Partners’ Anthony Pangaro and HYM Investments chief Tom O’Brien, himself a former BRA director. And they’ve all hired small armies of architects, and PR gurus to help press their case.
Still, the BRA wants to move fast. Real estate director Ed O’Donnell says they want to launch before the real estate boom peters out. That means signing a developer soon. — TIM LOGAN
Barr Foundation’s glasnost continues
Normally, a local charity hiring a vice president is generic personnel news. But when the hiring is done by Boston’s historically secretive Barr Foundation, it’s water cooler talk in the nonprofit world.
Roger Nozaki, currently a senior policy adviser at the US Department of Education, will be Barr’s first ever VP. His July arrival will mark another step in the Barr’s transition to more openness.
The $1.6 billion foundation — funded by Continental Cablevision cofounder Amos Hostetter and his wife, Barbara, of Beacon Hill — was so insular for much of its history that the Hostetters were its only trustees. That changed when Barr hired Jim Canales as its first president in 2014 and he became the third trustee.
Nozaki, 52, has also been a dean at Brown University and executive director of the GE Foundation, although he downplays whatever clout he might still have there. “Did I convince them to move to Boston? No!” he joked, referring to General Electric’s recent decision to relocate its headquarters from Connecticut to Boston.
Of GE’s philanthropy strategy, he said it funds nonprofits characterized by “innovation and impact.” — SACHA PFEIFFER