Business competitors set aside their rivalries for a good cause
Longtime friends Kevin Murtagh (right) and Ward Mooney (left) were sharing a laugh over wine two years ago at a financial industry-backed charitable dinner in New York when a thought occurred to them. Why not get something similar done for financial types in Boston, their home city?
So they embarked on a journey, one that would consume far more time than either imagined. And they know a thing or two about time-consuming pursuits: Murtagh is a corporate finance lawyer at Riemer & Braunstein, while Mooney is a veteran banker who helped launch the Boston business loan firm Crystal Financial, where he remains chairman.
Their two-year effort will come to fruition Thursday, when they bring together about 350 people for the first of what they hope will be many fund-raising galas. They’ve dubbed it Boston Corporate Finance Community Gathers to Give Back.
They hope to raise $450,000, with $350,000-plus (after expenses) going to More Than Words, the Boston charity led by Jodi Rosenbaum . The organization aims to empower teens by helping them to run a used-book store. They’ll also honor Bob Duffy, managing director of Berkeley Research Group, recognizing his leadership in the world of corporate consulting and restructuring.
By day, many of these folks are business competitors. But they’ll set aside those rivalries for at least one night and come together at City Winery for a good cause.
“This is a group of hundreds of us who have worked together our entire careers,” says Murtagh, who considers Mooney to be his mentor. “We thought we could harness these resources, to give something back to the city of Boston.”
Mooney says, perhaps only half-jokingly, that he’s not sure he would have tried to put on the event if he knew how much work it would require. But now that the finish line is in sight, he’s relieved.
“We believe we’ve created something that has legs, something that’s important, something that will be around 25 years from now,” Mooney says. — JON CHESTO
Conn.’s outgoing governor to teach at BC
General Electric. Alexion Pharmaceuticals. Governor Dannel Malloy.
That’s right, the Connecticut governor whose fiscal policies have been blamed in part for GE’s headquarters move to Boston is actually heading to the City Upon a Hill himself. He follows a path north that’s been worn down by GE, and then Alexion, which this year relocated from New Haven to the Seaport a few blocks away from GE.
Boston College’s law school, which is in Newton, just announced that Malloy will teach there next spring as the school’s fifth Rappaport Distinguished Visiting Professor. He’ll lead a seminar and participate in lectures and panel discussions, drawing upon his 22 years in government, first as Stamford’s mayor and then as governor. (Malloy is not running this fall, so he should have a little more free time starting in January.)
Malloy, a “double eagle” himself, arrives with some familiarity with Boston College. He received both his bachelor’s and law degrees from BC; he was also the law school commencement speaker in 2014. But unlike GE, the Democratic governor plans to keep his home in Connecticut.
Hearst Media reported that Malloy, 63, and his wife recently bought a home in Essex (Connecticut, not Massachusetts) and that he hasn’t decided what he’ll do for full-time work after his two terms as governor. — JON CHESTO
A $5m investment in future scientists
Jeff Leiden’s fifth-grade teacher got him hooked on science. She let him stay after school to work on experiments. He thrilled in dissecting frogs and growing slime mold, and then writing about what he had found.
That gift of inspiration has led to a career in science and medicine, culminating in Leiden’s current job as CEO of Vertex Pharmaceuticals, one of the Boston-area’s biggest drug companies.
Now, Leiden and his company are trying to help middle-schoolers in the Boston area have similar experiences. Vertex plans to expand its funding for science and math programs by $5 million, over several years, with a focus on middle-school kids. Vertex is donating the money to i2 Learning, a New York-based nonprofit that develops one-week, one-month, and summer camp programs to engage kids in science and math.
This gift ramps up Vertex’s existing relationship with i2 and expands i2 even further beyond Boston’s schools. Leiden hopes to get i2’s programs to 75,000 students and 3,000 teachers next year, compared with 10,000 students and 500 teachers this year.
“Our goal is to get every school in Massachusetts eventually on this program,” Leiden says. “The thing that’s very unique about it, it’s completely focused on hands-on, problem-based learning. . . . Science is about experimenting, not memorizing.”
This latest donation is part of a $500 million charitable commitment Vertex made a year ago, a pledge that includes a hefty amount of spending on science and math education. Leiden joined Governor Charlie Baker, Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, and US Representative Joe Kennedy III at the Dearborn STEM Academy in Roxbury on Monday to unveil Vertex’s latest donation and kick off STEM Week in schools across the state.
For CEOs of biotech and tech firms, pumping money into STEM classes is about more than just charity. It’s about developing the workforce of the future, particularly among girls and minorities.
Tom Leighton, a former MIT professor who now runs Akamai Technologies, is another prominent proponent. His Cambridge company is among those participating in STEM Week.
Akamai gave an extra $50 million earlier this year to the company’s foundation, a nonprofit that focuses on cultivating a love of science and math among kids.
“That’s our future, not only of the country, but the world,” Leighton says. “Technology is so important. You want the brightest minds engaged in it [to be] the next generation of leaders in the field, the innovators that will make our lives better.”
— JON CHESTO