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June 14, 2023

Thomson taking reins of business group AIM

Photo | Courtesy of AIM Brooke Thomson, president and CEO of AIM

A leadership transition is underway at Associated Industries of Massachusetts, one that will see president and CEO John Regan hand the reins of one of the state's leading business groups to Executive Vice President for Government Affairs Brooke Thomson at the end of this year.

AIM's Board of Directors unanimously approved the transition Tuesday morning, elevating Thomson immediately to the position of president and putting her in position to assume the CEO role from Regan after a roughly six-month transition period. Regan, 62, has been AIM's president and CEO since May 2019 and has worked at AIM for more than two decades.

"As we have moved through the last several years, we've assembled an awesome team, we have done extremely well financially and with respect to membership, and we're putting on great programs, and I feel like the team is just outstanding. And one of the roles of a CEO is to help select your successor and to leave the company better than when you got there," Regan said Tuesday. "I feel like I've achieved those things and so began having conversations first with [Patricia Begrowicz, the chair of AIM's board] and then with other members of the board. And they agreed and they said now seems like a good, logical time to do that."

Begrowicz said she had conversations with each member of AIM's senior leadership team about their interest in taking on the organization's top job, but that Thomson's name was the one that kept coming up.

"The other team members all said, 'no, it's not something I'm interested [in] or ready [for] now, but boy Brooke is the right person for us right now.'," she said. "So I think it's a tribute to John for having constructed such a strong, diverse leadership team since he's been the CEO that it really put us in a great position to have the talent that really understands how the organization works, and can connect right out of the gate with the members."

Thomson, 44, joined AIM's staff in 2019 but had previously been a member of the AIM board and chaired its Government Affairs Committee. She joined AIM after working nearly seven years as vice president of government affairs for AT&T, covering Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

In addition to managing Martha Coakley's successful 2010 campaign for attorney general, Thomson previously worked for six years in the state attorney general's office, where she was chief of the Business, Technology and Economic Development Division. Prior to that, she worked as legal counsel to the Legislature's Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy.

"I've been familiar and working with AIM for quite some time. So certainly had the opportunity to work when I was over in the Legislature and in the AG's office, then I was able to serve on both the board and the executive committee when I was over at AT&T and then served for the last three years running the government affairs organization. So I think it's given me real insight into, from all perspectives, the work that AIM can do," Thomson said. "I'm really excited to continue the work that John has started and that Pat has started in their roles to keep breaking down barriers and providing opportunities that allow our staff, our board, and our member businesses to excel."

AIM represents the interests of roughly 3,400 companies of all sizes, from all sectors of the economy, and from all corners of Massachusetts. The organization's views carry significant weight on Beacon Hill and AIM is one of the groups that lawmakers occasionally invite to have a voice in the policymaking process. Thomson said she is honored to represent the business community, particularly during a time when the state's business climate and competitiveness are top of mind.

"We're in a really fortunate time where we have an administration, we have both House and Senate leadership that understand the importance of fostering and incentivizing a strong business climate in this state. And at AIM and for me, we really look at it as, we want Massachusetts to be a place where certainly our businesses come, where they locate, where they grow, but that that transcends everything we do. That's then we're families live, that's where folks raise their kids," she said. "And so it's really all about, every part of that climate, that we work collectively together to make better."

Regan, who has been a fixture on Beacon Hill for decades, said he intends to pursue other opportunities as a consultant, advisor and a board member.

Photo | Courtesy of AIM
AIM president & CEO John Regan

Rick Lord, who led AIM as its CEO for nearly 20 years, retired in May 2019. Regan, who held the position of executive vice president at the time, was the AIM board's chosen successor in part because he was deeply familiar with the organization, its members and the inner workings of Beacon Hill.

Regan graduated from Boston Latin School and earned his bachelor's degree from St. John's Seminary College in Boston and a certificate in organizational management from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He worked in the House of Representatives as a staffer for eventual House Speaker Thomas Finneran, as executive vice president for operations at MassDevelopment, and at the Massachusetts Office for Business Development. He joined AIM's government affairs team in 2000 and was promoted to executive vice president in 2007.

On AIM's website, the organization credits Regan with leading a coalition of business groups calling for significant change around racial equity in the workplace and for spearheading an effort to recommend businesses change their policies to address equity for female employees who suffered disproportionately during the pandemic.

The changing of the guard at AIM is the latest shakeup among leadership of some of Beacon Hill's most influential trade groups.

At the end of last year, Eileen McAnneny stepped down after nearly eight years as president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation and handed the reins to Doug Howgate. And at the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, Kendalle Burlin O'Connell took over as CEO when former state Sen. Joseph Boncore resigned after about a year on the job.

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