Summer is such a pleasant time for outdoor fund-raisers. When better to run, walk, swim, or bike for a charitable cause than when temperatures are warm, making outside exercise a joy?
Paul English scoffs at that.
The serial entrepreneur — he co-founded the travel websites Kayak and Lola, among others, as well as Summits Education, a nonprofit network of schools in Haiti — has a different kind of fund-raiser in mind, one that some might consider torturous.
To English, that’s exactly the point.
He’s devising a two-mile charity walk in Boston that will take place, as he envisions it, during “the nastiest part of winter.” His target date is mid-January next year. Participants will raise money to fight homelessness, and afterward they’ll have a group meal, which local homeless residents will be invited to attend.
Why schedule a fund-raising walk when winds could be howling, temps in the single digits, and Boston buried in snow? Answer: it’s an extremely effective way to convey just how grinding homelessness is.
“I want people to feel the pain of knowing how bad it is outside,” explained English. “It’s kind of like walking in someone else’s shoes, literally.”
Homelessness is a social issue that English, who says he’s decided to give away much of his considerable wealth, has come to care greatly about. He’s a donor to Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, Bridge Over Troubled Waters, and the Pine Street Inn. He’s also on the board of Partners in Health, an international organization that works to improve the health of the poor.
And his life story is being told by Pulitzer Prize-winning author and fellow Partners in Health board member Tracy Kidder, whose book “Mountains Beyond Mountains” profiled the aid organization’s cofounder Paul Farmer. Kidder’s new book, “A Truck Full of Money,” chronicles English’s professional fortune — and English’s effort, as he puts it, to “recover” from that success. — SACHA PFEIFFER
Hesse sprints to Akamai
While Dan Hesse hasn’t returned to a full-time executive job since stepping down as Sprint Corp. chief executive in 2014, he is taking on new corporate board positions. His newest appointment, unveiled Monday, is to the board of Akamai Technologies.
Akamai chairman George Conrades says Hesse brings invaluable telecom experience, including nearly two decades at AT&T and seven years as Sprint CEO. Akamai’s technology, delivering media via the Internet, relies heavily on wireless networks; Conrades says board members wanted someone with strong experience in that field on their team.
Hesse joined the board of PNC Financial Services Group in January, and became a director of Adknowledge, a digital marketing firm in Kansas City, Mo., near Sprint’s base in Overland Park, Kan.
Arthur Murphy at the Quincy law firm of Murphy, Hesse, Toomey & Lehane says he expects Hesse to stay in the Kansas City area until his youngest son graduates from high school next year. Murphy’s firm has done work for Hesse, and Hesse’s sister Katherine Hesse is a partner there. Murphy says it’s likely the Akamai position came about because of Hesse’s ties to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where Akamai also has deep roots. Hesse obtained a master’s degree from MIT’s Sloan School of Management.
— JON CHESTO
If you want to track the movement of Travis McCready, president of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, as well as his musings on the sector, check out his newly launched “Blog of Life Sciences Discourses.”
The name of the blog, posted weekly at lifesciencesdiscourses.wordpress.com, is a nod to “A Book of Medical Discourses,” published in 1883 by Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler, the first African-American woman to earn a medical degree. (It was awarded in 1864 from New England Female Medical College, eventually folded into Boston University).
McCready, whose agency bestows loans, grants, and tax breaks on biotech and medtech companies creating jobs in Massachusetts, travels the state pow-wowing with industry leaders and promoting the business. In one post, he recounts bumping into Waters Corp. business development manager Ray Chen at a dim sum restaurant in Malden and visiting Martha “Marty” Farmer, head of North Shore Innoventures, a biotech and clean-tech incubator in Beverly.
The visit with Farmer and her deputy Trish Fleming prompted this observation from McCready, who is eager to extend the state’s life sciences cluster beyond Boston and Cambridge: “The virtue of starting a life sciences company in Massachusetts is not locating in Kendall Square, but rather that you do not have to locate in Kendall Square to be successful.” — ROBERT WEISMAN
Banking on Lawrence
Lawrence has long been ignored by banks, with new branch openings almost a once-in-a- generation affair.
But Derek Mitchell, executive director of the Lawrence Partnership, sees as an optimistic sign of change: six banks without branches in the city have agreed to expand a small business loan program for local entrepreneurs.
The partnership, launched two years ago, is expanding a small business venture loan fund from $1 million to $2.5 million.
Align Credit Union, Digital Federal Credit Union, Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union, Pentucket Bank, Reading Cooperative Bank, and The Savings Bank, have joined banks with branches in the city — Eastern Bank, Enterprise Bank, Merrimack Valley FederalCredit Union, and TD Bank, Mitchell said. Those banks were the original contributors to the fund.
Since early this year, seven businesses, including a bakery, mechanic, and textile manufacturer have received loans of up to $100,000, he said. The loans must be repaid within five years, with interest rates between 6 to 8 percent.
Banks have traditionally shied away from such small businesses because they’re considered risky or don’t have enough profits yet. When those businesses do qualify for a traditional bank loan, Mitchell said they’ll likely remember one of the banks that helped them get started.
The banks have another motive: lending in struggling areas helps them meet their community investment requirements under federal law.
— DEIRDRE FERNANDES