The St. Patrick’s Day parade is marching into a new era with a spring in its steps thanks to a financial boost from Amazon, the e-commerce king.
Parade operations director Bryan Bishop (below) recently negotiated the marquee sponsorship with Amazon on behalf of the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council, the group that organizes the parade. Bishop declined to say how much the company is paying but conceded that Amazon will be a “Castle Island” supporter — one whose donation exceeds $20,000 – and the largest sponsor this year.
An Amazon spokeswoman said the sponsorship is part of a larger effort to create jobs and give back to the communities where its employees live and work.
Wait a minute. Didn’t the company skip over Boston in its search for a second headquarters? The split honors initially went to Arlington, Va., and New York City, which was dropped last week after a rocky reception from many New Yorkers.
But Amazon is growing quickly in Boston nonetheless, particularly in the Seaport District, a baton’s throw from the parade route. Amazon has room for up to 900 employees at its Melcher Street complex in Fort Point. And the company plans to hire up to 2,000 for a major office under construction at WS Development’s Seaport Square project, with a lease option that could eventually double that amount.
“I think they were looking for major events in Boston to do, and we were one of them, which was fantastic,” Bishop says.
This will be the first St. Patrick’s Day parade under Bishop’s direction. The council tapped Bishop, who is commissioner of veterans’ services for the city of Somerville, to lead the parade last summer, largely because of his event planning experience with the Air Force and his current job in Somerville. The council was also seeking to finally put an end to the longstanding battle over whether members of Bishop’s group, Outvets, or other veterans from the LGBTQ community could march. Council commander Dave Falvey has been championing a more inclusive approach since taking charge in mid-2017.
“It’s always been a controversy about who we don’t let in, who we kick out,” Bishop says. “Those days are over.”
Falvey wants to host events leading up to the parade that focus on the city’s Irish heritage or its military history. (The parade, of course, also commemorates Evacuation Day, when British troops fled Boston during the Revolutionary War.) The first big event took place last Wednesday when Mike Cronin, director of the Boston College Ireland program in Dublin, spoke at District Hall in the Seaport about the history and the impact of the St. Patrick’s Day holiday. Nearly 100 people attended.
The list of other big parade sponsors this year includes Analog Devices and the City of Boston Credit Union. Falvey says the council’s inclusive attitude is starting to pay off financially. “It’s definitely a lot easier for us to get corporate sponsorships . . . now in terms of the approach we have.” — JON CHESTO
New EdVestors leader looks ahead
There’s more to education than standardized tests, and now it will be Marinell Rousmaniere’s job to ensure that the nonprofit EdVestors does its part to take Boston’s schools beyond the MCAS.
A group of businesspeople and philanthropists formed EdVestors in 2002 to help the city’s schools. Laura Perille ran the organization since its inception, but left last year to become the school system’s interim superintendent.
As a result, the EdVestors board promoted Rousmaniere to lead the organization, which has a roughly $3.5 million annual budget and 15-plus employees. She had previously been the nonprofit’s senior vice president for strategic initiatives.
EdVestors is known for helping launch promising ideas in the schools, and it gives out a $100,000 prize every year to a Boston school that has shown significant progress. The nonprofit has also shepherded initiatives focused on arts, math, and technical education.
Rousmaniere wants to see a more well-rounded curriculum, one that doesn’t just prepare kids for the MCAS tests. She stressed the importance of adding “social and emotional learning,” and opportunities for artistic expression.
“Just focusing on literacy and math and the outcomes there are not going to get us to where we want to go,” Rousmaniere says.
She will work with her former boss, Perille, until a new superintendent is hired. The school system has gone through several superintendents since Rousmaniere first joined EdVestors in 2009. She says her team has developed strong relationships with a number of school leaders throughout the system.
The nonprofit remains solely focused on helping Boston’s schools, including charters. But Rousmaniere says the organization hasn’t ruled out expanding to another city.
— JON CHESTO
At Boston PR firm, a waggin’ good time
If you visited Regan Communications Group’s offices on Union Wharf last Friday, you might think the PR business had gone to the dogs.
Founder George Regan threw a sweet-sixteen birthday party for an important family member: Pekingese pooch Brother Bailey.
Roughly 100 people and several canine companions packed the agency’s ground floor to snack on some of Bailey’s favorite foods, including meatballs and pizza. Surveying the scene, one attendee asked, “All this for a dog?”
Regan told the crowd about how Brother Bailey— who seemed a bit bewildered by the attention — received his name. The “Bailey” part was inspired by former Boston Globe business columnist Steve Bailey. He had apparently written a column that did not portray Chad Gifford, then the chief executive of FleetBoston Financial and a Regan client, in a flattering light. Regan rang Bailey up to give him a piece of his mind, angrily vowing to name his new Pekingese pup after him, saying the two looked alike.
Well, the name stuck. Steve Bailey chimed in from South Carolina via Skype, to refute the rumor that he and Brother Bailey “were twins separated at birth.” He did say the two have one thing in common: “Our bark is worse than our bite.” The story behind the “Brother” part of the name is a bit convoluted. Suffice it to say Regan was persuaded to take two puppies back from Florida, because he was told they were brothers. It later turned out that they were actually different breeds.
Suffolk Register of Deeds Steve Murphy emceed the event, which featured remarks from former mayor Ray Flynn, Mix 104.1 morning show host Karson Tager, and MSPCA-Angell president Carter Luke. — JON CHESTO