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July 9, 2018

The most influential people in the Central Mass. economy

My favorite entry this year is in the Food & Culture category, and her title is chief lettuce officer.

In compiling our annual list of the most powerful people in the Central Massachusetts business community, there are countless CEOs, executive directors, presidents and founders to choose, from organizations with billions in revenue and offices across the globe. Yet, as much power as Ernie Herrman from TJX Cos. or Ann K. Tripp from The Hanover Insurance Group, Inc. wield, Lynn Cheney from Lettuce Be Local plays just as an important role in the Central Massachusetts economy. Through her largely one-woman shop – and really, it’s more of a refrigerated truck going from place to place – she connects the 7,000 farms in Worcester County with the region’s budding farm-to-table restaurant and grocery scene, which is creating a lot of hype around the Central Massachusetts economy. Operating almost by herself and (presumably) at slightly lower pay than the $17 million Herrman made last year, Cheney is transforming two industries.

When we seek to create this list every year, we focus on the people who use their positions to have an outsized influence on the business community. We want to tell the story of a changing region and economy through the people creating that change. Our last effort called WBJ Power Players appeared in December 2016, and was a more loosely defined feature with about 25-30 entries in a larger year-end issue. For this iteration, we decided to move the publication date from December to July, expand the list to The Power 50 and make it the overriding focus of the issue, along with our annual list of the area’s largest employers.

As you peruse The Power 50, you’ll find the expected (Timothy P. Murray from the Worcester chamber continues his streak of making the list every year) and fresh faces (like Robert Walker, the man behind the $160-million mixed-use development in Marlborough), but the concept behind creating such an issue is to personalize our current regional economic makeup and show how influence comes in all shapes and sizes. You can sit in a corner office and with the stroke of a pen change the lives of thousands of people, or you can sit behind the wheel of your truck, driving hops from a farm to a growing brewery in Hudson. Both actions are quite powerful.

- Brad Kane, editor

Read about the WBJ’s 2018 Power Players:


Harry Kokkinis, Table Talk Pies

Steve Rotman, Rotman’s Furniture & Vystar

Ernie Herrman, TJX Cos.

Michael Dundas, Sira Naturals

Ralph Crowley Jr., Polar Corp.

Christopher Baldwin, BJ’s Wholesale Club

Amy Lynn Chase, Crompton Collective & Haberdash

Food & Culture

Robb & Madeline Ahlquist, Worcester Restaurant Group

Troy Siebels, The Hanover Theatre

Karim El-Gamal, Rail Trail Flatbread Co., New City Microcreamery, Less Than Greater Than

Eric, Sam & Jack Hendler, Jack’s Abby Brewing

Lynn Cheney, Lettuce Be Local

Sandy Dunn, DCU Center

Higher Education & Nonprofits

Ann T. Lisi, Greater Worcester Community Foundation

Rev. Philip L. Boroughs, College of the Holy Cross

Javier Cevallos, Framingham State University

Michael F. Collins, University of Massachusetts Medical School

Jill Dagilis, Worcester Community Action Council

Dr. David A. Jordan, Seven Hills Foundation

Laurie Leshin, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Corner Office

Kate Sharry, Group Benefits Strategies

Tina M. Sbrega, GFA Federal Credit Union

John C. Roche, The Hanover Insurance Group

Elaine Osgood, Atlas Travel

Michael P. Angelini, Bowdtich & Dewey

Susan Mailman, Coghlin Electrical Contractors

Edward F. Manzi Jr., Fidelity Bank


Dinesh Wadhwani, ThinkLite

Ravi Vig, Allegro Microsystems

Nobuhiko Tamura, Sunovion Pharmaceuticals

Daniel McGahn, AMSC

Michael Mahoney, Boston Scientific

Jeannie Hebert, Blackstone Valley Chamber of Commerce

Valentin Gapontsev, IPG Photonics

Chris Coghlin, Coghlin Cos.

Health care

Kevin O’Sullivan, Massachusetts Biomedical Initiatives

Kurt Isaacson, Spectrum Health Systems

Tarek Elsawy, Reliant Medical Group

Jeffrey M. Welch, Saint Vincent Hospital

Eric Dickson, UMass Memorial Health Care

Holly Chaffee, VNA Care

Richard P. Burke, Fallon Health

Economic Development

Ann K. Tripp, Opus Investment Management

Robert Walker, RA Ventures

Yvonne Spicer, City of Framingham

Cliff Rucker, Worcester Railers Hockey Club

Sherri Greene Pitcher, Fidelity Bank

Timothy P. Murray, Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce

Anthony Consigli, Consigli Construction Co.

Jennie Lee Colosi, E. T. & L. Corp.

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