October 30, 2017
Outstanding Women in Business

Bovill remade Central Mass. social services

Edd Cote
Angela Bovill, president and CEO, Ascentria Care Alliance

Angela Bovill wouldn't recommend the beginning of her adult life – starting with marriage and children by age 19 – to anyone.

College was postponed due to pregnancy. She went to work instead at a biotech company in native Maine. She worked in accounts payable, but she couldn't be contained there. She quickly became a fixer of complex problems.

"I cut my teeth in every subject from finance, operations, mergers, acquisitions, turnaround," she said. "You name it, I probably did it."

That allowed her to travel across the globe, but she wanted to do something that mattered. In 2008, she took a job as the chief financial operator of Lutheran Social Services of New England, a 135-year-old faith-based nonprofit.

It wasn't just the organization's mission that drew her interest; it was the complexity of the organization having gone through years of change rendering it somewhat clunky, she said.

"When I first came in, there were a whole bunch of companies, legal entities, eight separate boards and a governing board," she said. "It was a loose grouping of companies and organizations across New England all started by different people with different intentions."

Bovill was hired to help fix the fragmented company, revamp how it operated, and unite it under one entity. Eventually, the organization's name was changed to Ascentria Care Alliance.

The organization provides services to refugees, immigrants, people with disabilities, elderly, children and families.

The name change "was a representation of creating a unified organization with a collective mission," said Bovill, now Ascentria's president and CEO. "Our main goal was to create a unified organization and create cohesiveness between everything that we did."

The name change was the smallest of her fixes. Within the organization, entities and divisions were doing the same work, Bovill said. A family's experience with the company is now more streamlined thanks to her restructuring, which touched nearly every aspect of the agency, including the board, mission, vision and computer system.

So far this year, Bovill has spent much of her time advocating for funding in Washington, D.C. Healthcare proposals and Medicaid cuts would crush a good chunk of Ascentria's clients, and executive orders on immigration and refugees as been an incredible challenge, Bovill said.

"Almost everything we do has been challenged by this new administration," she said. "It's very challenging to try to figure out how to pivot the organization to respond to threats from everywhere and continue to innovate."

If there's one person who can take on that challenge, it's Bovill, said Dana Ramish, Ascentria's executive vice president for residential services.

"She's absolutely driven," he said.

He likened her energy and cunning to a hockey player who skates to where the puck is going. Twice a year, Bovill conducts town hall meetings at program sites, which typically function as an organizational recharge, Ramish said.

"Everybody comes away wanting more of her time," he said. "She creates energy wherever she goes."

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Read about this year's judges


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