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Vaughan building from ground up, fusing HR and marketing

Chris Morris for The Boston Globe

During her 17-year tenure at Suffolk Construction, Kim Vaughan became one of the top female executives in a local industry dominated by men.

But last year Vaughan walked away from Suffolk, and later started her own consulting business. Some of her construction contacts are among her first clients, but she is branching far beyond the field where she made a name for herself.

Earlier this year, Vaughan launched her firm, simply called Summit, to advise small and mid-sized businesses about the best ways to fuse workplace culture and marketing.

“There are a lot of HR consultants out there, and there are a lot of marketing consultants,” Vaughan says. “The unique space is the integration of these two [fields].”


It’s something Vaughan accomplished while at Suffolk, first as chief marketing officer and then in the dual role of chief people officer. Employees, she says, can be important brand ambassadors. That’s why a strong internal corporate culture can help with external relations.

“Typically, those functions are siloed [separately] in marketing and HR,” Vaughan says. “With one person overseeing them both, my natural gravitation was to pull them together.”

Vaughan says her former boss at Suffolk, owner John Fish, eventually asked her to take on a new role, overseeing marketing and innovation, at the Roxbury-based construction company. Vaughan enjoyed it, but she missed her human resources and culture responsibilities.

She attended an intensive seven-week executive MBA program at Harvard Business School last fall, and decided she wanted to open her own business, one that would combine her twin passions of workplace culture and marketing.

Vaughan briefly considered a development business instead; her husband Michael Vaughan is a consultant for various property owners in the city. But the appeal of launching Summit was too great. Plus, it gave her an opportunity to move outside of the real estate world, to get to know a variety of industries.


She works out of an office in the Innovation and Design Building, but has no plans to start hiring anytime soon, aside from maybe one or two support staffers. Instead, she wants to rely on her network of freelancers, including writers and graphic designers.

“Culture, people are recognizing, is becoming more and more important [for recruiting workers],” Vaughan says. “A lot of CEOs understand the importance but they’re not quite sure how to make it happen.”


12 leaders are honored by Barr Foundation

It may be Boston’s equivalent of the “genius grant,” and 12 very lucky people have recently been informed they’re part of the 2019 Class of Barr Fellows.

The Barr Foundation runs the program, and this year’s class consists of: Eve Bridburg , founder and executive director, GrubStreet; Thabiti Brown , head of school, Codman Academy Charter Public School; Yolanda Coentro , CEO, Institute for Nonprofit Practice; Mark Culliton, founder and CEO, College Bound Dorchester; Jen Faigel , executive director, CommonWealth Kitchen; Nigel Jacob , co-founder and co-chair, city of Boston’s Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics; Emily Reichert , CEO, Greentown Labs; Jerry Rubin, CEO, Jewish Vocational Service; Anita Sharma , executive director, Political Asylum/Immigration Representation Project; Natalícia Tracy , executive director, Brazilian Worker Center; Father John Unni , pastor, Saint Cecilia Parish; and Shannah Varón , executive director, Boston Collegiate Charter School.

Like the MacArthur Foundation’s “genius grant” program, you can’t apply to become a Barr Fellow. You’re nominated and invited to be part of the two-year program. Fellows are selected primarily based on leadership skills and organizational impact.


The program includes a three-month personal sabbatical and an international trip. Each fellow’s organization also receives an award of up to $125,000 in so-called flexible support to help with mission and leadership development.

Launched in 2005, the Barr fellowship now has 68 alumni. (The Barr Foundation also provides a grant to The Boston Globe to help underwrite public education coverage.)


Push is on to make city a hub for arbitration

Boston is renowned for biotech, mutual funds, higher education — to name just a few.

What about arbitration? Jared Hubbard is hoping to vault the city’s arbitration business into the upper echelon, and maybe help some of our other top-shelf industries while he’s at it.

Hubbard, counsel at Fitch Law Partners, leads the newly formed Boston International Arbitration Council as its president. The group was incorporated last August, and is trying to get the word out. It just started working with Charles River Associates to study the local economic impact when lawyers and other corporate types fly into Boston and stay here for arbitration cases.

The council has been assembling an advisory council, with representatives from local companies that have an international scope, such as General Electric, Raytheon, and Boston Consulting Group. And the council is also eyeing possible state legislation that would make Massachusetts more attractive for international arbitration disputes.

The council’s goal is to make Boston a key hub for international arbitration, a globally recognized way of resolving business disputes outside of court. Boston won’t become Paris or Geneva anytime soon. But maybe we can compete with the likes of New York, Atlanta, and Miami.


In particular, arbitrators in the region have expertise in life sciences and private equity.

“Our goal is to put Boston on the map in terms of international arbitration,” Hubbard says. “There’s a base of business that’s already here in Boston. We want to focus on expanding that.”


An outsider’s marketing career has had good run

Boston’s business community can be an insular circle to enter but that reputation didn’t deter Marlo Fogelman, a Detroit transplant.

Fogelman has run her eponymous marketing agency, with 30-plus employees, for 15 years. But before her marketing career, she was a budding attorney. She moved here in 1994 to attend Boston University’s law school.

Instead of ending up at a big law firm, Fogelman landed at George Regan’s PR agency. Among her first major clients was Starbucks. The Seattle-based coffee shop chain would be one of her first clients once she went out on her own, as well.

Fogelman celebrated her firm’s recent 15th birthday in two ways.

There was the obligatory party for clients, at the Alcove restaurant at Lovejoy Wharf last month. The guest list included Zoo New England CEO John Linehan, Commodore Builders chief Joe Albanese, and restaurateurs Garrett Harker and Patrick Lee. Guests toasted the occasion with Narragansett beer (also a client).

But Fogelman also opted for a more public way to celebrate in April. On the day after the Boston Marathon, her team handed out free Starbucks coffee near her Chauncy Street office in Downtown Crossing. (She had launched her firm in April 15 years ago, and it was located near the Marathon finish line for most of that time.)


“Everyone says it’s a really hard town to break into,” Fogelman says. “But I never really felt that what I had done was so difficult. . . . It requires getting involved in your community and being a part of it.”


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