Bold Types

Longtime friends bike the USA to raise money for charities

<b>Mark Williams</b> (left) and Mike Hill
<b>Mark Williams</b> (left) and Mike Hill(Chris Morris for The Boston Globe)

For most of us, summer is a time to laze on the beach, squeeze in a little swimming, do a little hiking, and just chill.

But for a Boston University finance professor and a Newton investment manager, this summer has been the season for biking, from one end of the country to the other.

Mark Williams, who teaches at BU’s Questrom School of Business, and Mike Hill, who works for Minot’s Light, are longtime friends who are biking across country to raise money for their charities.

The men started out in San Francisco on June 4 and expect to end in Yorktown, Va., on July 20, clocking in about 4,000 miles. So far, they’ve cycled up Colorado mountains, through the deserts of Utah, and over vast prairies. They’ve encountered armadillos in Kansas, a covered wagon in Colorado, and sweltering heat in Utah.


“It’s been quite the journey through America,” Hill said Wednesday, during a stop in Missouri.

Williams has raised about $20,000 so far for a Jamaica Plain nonprofit, Bikes Not Bombs, that collects used bikes and ships them to developing countries and helps to train youth in cycling safety and mechanics.

Hill has raised about $14,000 for the Alzheimer’s Association.

Their cross-country trek was inspired by Hill’s late father, Louis Hill, who made a similar trip in 1948 on a three-speed bike. The 47-day ride was one of his father’s proudest accomplishments, his son said. Louis Hill later developed Alzheimer’s disease.

Mike Hill and Williams are making the trip with modern technology, including a smartphone and a Garmin that’s tracking their mileage. But the two have discovered that the technology that eases life in the Boston area isn’t as reliable in certain parts of the country.

And in the heartland, where farms are plentiful, finding a full-service grocery store is a challenge.


“We’ve come to towns where 90 percent of it is all boarded up,” Hill said. “It’s an eye-opener, for sure.”

Still, the men said they’ve encountered people who have flagged them down and provided water and helped them navigate around a landslide. — DEIRDRE FERNANDES

Bigger job, but greener?

Alicia Barton is about to find out if life really is greener on the other side. One of the most prominent leaders in Boston’s clean-energy sector is taking her expertise to Albany, N.Y., after nearly two decades in Massachusetts. She was just hired to be chief executive of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.

It’s like the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center — the agency Barton used to run. Only it’s much bigger, with more than 300 employees and an annual budget of $1.3 billion.

The timing was unexpected. Barton had just returned to the Boston law firm Foley Hoag last year to help lead its energy practice. But she was familiar with the folks at the New York authority. They worked with MassCEC on a number of initiatives. And they reached out to her a few months ago about the CEO’s job.

“The timing wasn’t ideal from the standpoint of what I was trying to build in my law practice,” Barton says. “But these opportunities do not come around very often, so I decided to jump in.”

Barton’s family will soon move to the Albany area, though she expects to stay on the boards of the Environmental League of Massachusetts and the Somerville clean-tech incubator Greentown Labs.


Among her big priorities in the new job: helping Governor Andrew Cuomo accelerate the growth of solar power in New York, which has lagged behind Massachusetts in solar development.

WindSail Capital Group’s managing director, Ian Bowles, says Barton’s up to the task. She worked for Bowles in Governor Deval Patrick’s administration when Bowles was Patrick’s energy and environmental affairs secretary. Barton joined Bowles’ team as deputy general counsel in 2007. She worked her way up to CEO of the MassCEC, which she ran for three years before leaving in 2015 for a top job at SunEdison, a solar and wind developer that ended up in bankruptcy.

“New York has been long talking about revolutionizing clean energy,” Bowles says. “I’m very glad they are bringing in someone who can get the results done.” — JON CHESTO

Ex-chief justice weighs in

As foes of the so-called millionaires tax prepare for a fight before the state Supreme Judicial Court, they may have an ally who knows the court well.

Margaret Marshall, the SJC’s former chief justice, was given top billing at a recent strategy session arranged for the Massachusetts High Technology Council at the Boston law office of Goodwin Procter.

Mass. High Tech has retained Goodwin to handle the case against the “Fair Share Amendment,” which would impose an extra 4 percentage points on an individual’s income tax for earnings over $1 million. The tax proposal appears headed for the ballot in 2018.

The best hope among opponents — which include the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership and Associated Industries of Massachusetts — is a challenge at the SJC.


That could be where Marshall comes in, although her exact role isn’t clear. A spokesman for the law firm where she works, Choate, Hall & Stewart, declined to comment or to make Marshall available for an interview. Mass. High Tech president Chris Anderson declined to discuss his group’s strategy sessions.

A spokesman for Goodwin also declined to comment, although he identified the firm’s lawyers on the case: partner Kevin Martin and associates David Zimmer and Joshua Bone.

The union-backed coalition leading the charge for the Fair Share Amendment includes legal powerhouses, too. Northeastern University professor Peter Enrich, a constitutional law expert, wrote the proposed constitutional amendment. And Kate Cook, who was chief legal counsel to former governor Deval Patrick, is leading a team at Sugarman Rogers to work with Enrich on a pro bono basis to defend against the business groups’ legal attack. — JON CHESTO

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