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GE Foundation’s head zeroes in on the opioid crisis

Ann KleeChris Morris for The Boston Globe

For Ann Klee, adding the role of running the GE Foundation to her corporate responsibilities has meant taking on the scourge of substance abuse.

General Electric has essentially committed $15 million to fight the opioid epidemic in Massachusetts. The latest front in that war was made public Wednesday: GE has teamed up with Attorney General Maura Healey to get substance abuse prevention materials into every middle school in the state.

The initiative, dubbed Project Here, will be funded by $1.5 million from the GE Foundation and $500,000 from Healey’s office.

Project Here has three prongs: educational materials distributed to classrooms; a mobile app designed by Epicenter Experience; and access to a support network of social workers through the Herren Project. Epicenter Experience founder Paul Krasinski and Herren Project founder Chris Herren joined Klee and Healey at GE’s offices in Fort Point on Wednesday to discuss the new initiative.


This effort is an outgrowth of a promise GE made a year ago, as it was about to move its headquarters to Boston from Connecticut. It said it would contribute $15 million to public health efforts here over five years.

Klee says the company decided to focus that money on the opioid crisis after asking community leaders where it could have the biggest impact.

“Almost everybody came back and said, ‘Where you can have a big impact is in helping us address substance abuse,’ ” the GE vice president says.

Fighting opioid addiction also has been a top priority for Healey since she was sworn in as attorney general in 2015. Healey said she constantly heard stories on the campaign trail from families who were affected.

Both Healey’s office and GE have already participated in a number of efforts to combat addiction. Project Here is a natural extension.

“We’ve done a lot of partnerships with the business community,” Healey says. “This may be our most innovative partnership with the greatest impact, addressing the greatest need.” — JON CHESTO


Mental health donation is largest ever for hospital

Arthur J. Epstein has spent many days over many years in many psychiatric hospital units. His wife, Eunice, was sick, and he was at her side.

Now the longtime North Shore resident is giving $5 million to North Shore Medical Center in Salem — the largest donation in the hospital’s history — and it’s all for mental health care. That’s an aspect of health care that doesn’t get the attention or the support that it should, Epstein says.

“Behavioral health, or mental health, whatever you want to call it, is very, very important. I don’t think there is enough out there,” says Epstein, who also serves on the medical center’s board.

“People don’t like to talk about it, but it’s something that should be out in the open today.”

Epstein was successful in the auto-repair business, owning 30 Midas locations, before moving on to angel investing. He lived in Marblehead for many years before moving to Brookline.

Epstein’s wife received treatment for bipolar disorder from the 1970s until she died about 10 years ago. They were high school sweethearts, married for almost 50 years.

North Shore Medical Center, a Partners HealthCare hospital, will name a new mental health center after Epstein. The unit is scheduled to open in fall 2019.

“Arthur’s generosity will enable NSMC to build a state-of-the-art facility to provide much needed care to the children, adults and seniors of this region,” the hospital’s president, Dr. David Roberts, said in a prepared statement. — PRIYANKA DAYAL MCCLUSKEY


Happy to be in the suburbsAndy Ory isn’t fazed that his newest tech venture is out in the suburbs instead of in Boston or Kendall Square with the other cool kids. Nor does the cofounder and chief executive of Burlington-based 128 Technology apologize that he’s building software to fix the unglamorous back end of the Internet instead of some trendy social media or flashy consumer-tech company.

“Networks touch everybody. Networks are complicated and broken, and they’re all hardware,” Ory says. “Now, software is what’s going to rule.”

Ory sold his previous company, Acme Packet, for a cool $2.1 billion and seems onto something with 128 Technology, which announced Wednesday that it had raised $21.5 million in its latest funding round. That brings its total capital raised to $57 million.

The business opportunity for 128 Technology, is huge, as Ory describes an Internet infrastructure “so broken and . . . so complicated that it barely works.”

And he and his colleagues are just fine with being out in Burlington. Office space is affordable for a company planning to grow, and it’s an easy commute for employees living outside the immediate metro area. The suburbs-versus-city debate for tech companies, he says, is like an argument between members of a family. “We all sit at the same table at night and partake of the same resources.” — ANDY ROSEN


Back to the nonprofit world It’s not deja vu.

Ted McEnroe, former spokesman at the Boston Foundation, returned to the post this week.

Turns out he missed those nagging reporters. Ok, maybe not.

For three years, McEnroe had worked at the Community Roundtable, a startup his wife, Rachel Happe, cofounded in 2009. McEnroe managed research and training at the company, which builds social-media platforms for businesses and nonprofits.

When the foundation’s vice president of communications, Keith Mahoney, called seeking advice about who should fill the job, one thing led to another.

“My career has been in journalism and nonprofits. On a grand level, it’s been touching on problems and solutions and storytelling,” McEnroe says. “I missed a lot of that.”

Prior to his foundation work, McEnroe, 49, also worked at New England Cable News as an executive producer and director of digital media.

Another Boston Foundation veteran, Mary Jo Meisner, is now a fellow at Harvard’s Advanced Leadership Initiative, a program to prepare leaders who are nearing or in retirement to take on new social-sector challenges. Meisner left the foundation last year after 15 years as vice president of communications, community relations, and public affairs. —MEGAN WOOLHOUSE

Can’t keep a secret? Tell us. E-mail Bold Types at boldtypes@globe.com.