New England Council holds annual dinner to recognize New Englanders of the Year

By Carol Beggy

SEAPORT – Nearly 1,600 guests attended The New England Council’s annual prestigious New Englander of the Year awards 2019 dinner, which was held on Monday, October 21, at the Seaport Hotel/World Trade Center in Boston.

The New England Council is the nation’s oldest regional business organization and the highlight of the evening is the presentation of the New Englanders of the Year awards, which this year went to:
Margaret Brennan, senior foreign affairs correspondent, CBS News and moderator of “Face the Nation”;
Roger W. Crandall, chairman, president and chief executive officer, Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company;
The Honorable Maggie Hassan, U.S. Senator, New Hampshire; and,
Jerry Remy, Red Sox broadcast color analyst for NESN and former second baseman, for the Boston Red Sox.

The “New Englander of the Year” awards are presented each year by The New England Council and honor residents or natives of the New England states for their commitment and contributions in their fields of work, as well as their leadership and impact on the New England region’s quality of life and economy.

Both New England Council President and CEO James T. Brett and Council Board Chair John T. Hailer, president asset management, 1251 Capital Group, used their welcoming remarks to reflect on the many successes of the member business, organizations, nonprofits and charitable groups that belong to the Council and participate in its numerous events held in New England and Washington, D.C.

“This is one of the most successful dinners in the 89 years of the New England Council,” said Brett.

First presented in 1964, the award “is meant to honor residents of the New England states for their commitment and contributions in their fields of work, as well as their leadership and impact on the New England region’s quality of life and economy. Over the years, has honored leaders from both the public and private sectors, including U.S. Senators and Representatives, Governors, cabinet secretaries, college presidents, non-profit executives, and CEOs of some of the region’s most respected and successful businesses,” according to the Council’s website.

Previous recipients include historians Doris Kearns Goodwin and David McCullough; Peter Frates, ALS Research Advocate and inspiration for the “Ice Bucket Challenge” fundraising campaign; Medal of Honor recipient Ryan M. Pitts; U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz; U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg; former Chair of the Joint Chiefs, Marine Four-Star General Joseph Dunford; Senators Ted Kennedy, Jack Reed, Jeanne Shaheen, Kelly Ayotte, Susan Collins and John Kerry; Congressmen Richard Neal, Ed Markey, John Larson, and Barney Frank; and business leaders such as Abigail Johnson of Fidelity Investments, Robert Reynolds of Putnam Investments, Anne Finucane of Bank of America, Dr. Gary L. Gottlieb, President and CEO, Partners HealthCare; and many other respected government, business, and non-profit leaders.

This year’s dinner was co-chaired by Amy Latimer, president of TD Garden, and Pamela D. Everhart, vice president, regional public affairs and community relations for Fidelity Investments. Sponsors included Bank of America, Fidelity Investments, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Massachusetts Mutual Insurance, Blue Cross Blue Shield/Massachusetts, Citizens Bank, Conventures, Deloitte, Empower Retirement, Liberty Mutual Insurance, Millipore Sigma, Partners HealthCare, Putnam Investments, PwC, TD Garden, Vertex, and others.

More than 150 companies bought tables and individuals from more than 600 businesses, large and small across a wide range of industries throughout New England, were represented. In what now is a tradition, the Boston Police Gaelic Column of Pipes and Drums led the procession into the Seaport World Trade Center for the dinner.

With remarks and award introductions from Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker and former Governor Jane Swift, both Republicans, who spoke to the work being done by businesses and nonprofit organizations that makes the region thrive. (Those doing the introductions for the award recipients were Gov. Baker, Gov. Swift, Brett, Red Sox announcer Tom Caron.)

It was Senator Hassan, a Democrat, who went further by saying: “At a trying time politically, the efforts of the businesses and organizations represented in this room are moving us forward. You all put partisanship aside to get results.”

Jim Brett also had a moment of silence in the memory of two longtime supporters of the Council’s annual dinner philanthropist Don Rodman, a previous New Englander of the Year, and Connie Sullivan, who volunteered to work on table decor and other efforts.

Those on the guest list included: Curry College President Kenneth K. Quigley, Jr., Gilbane’s Michael McGlynn; state Housing and Economic Development Deputy Secretary Timothy McGourthy; Mary Beth McMahon of Special Olympics Massachusetts; Dr. Simone Wildes; Secretary Rosalin Acosta of the state’s Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development; David Alward, consul general of Canada to New England; Jay Ash of the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership; state Representative David Biele; Rivier University’s Sister Paula Marie; New England Blacks in Philanthropy’s Bithiah Carter; John F. Kennedy Library Foundation’s Terrence Burke; Work Inc.’s Jim Cassetta; Father Tom Conway of St. Anthony’s Shrine; Endicott College President Steven DiSalvo; The Drew Company’s John E. Drew and John P. Drew; St. Anselm College President Joseph Favazza; WCVB General Manager Bill Fine; Flatley Foundation’s Dan Flatley; and Regis College President Antoinette Hays.

Those spotted at the dinner included: Jan Saragoni, chair of the board of trustees, Massachusetts College of Art and Design; Bruce Percelay of The Mount Vernon Group; Emerson College President Lee Pelton; General Jack Hammond of the Home Base Program; Boston Police Commissioner Willie Gross; Enoch Woodhouse II, a member of the Tuskegee Airmen Inc., New England Chapter; Bank of Canton’s CEO Stephen P. Costello; Feeney Brothers’ Greg Feeney; Strategy Group’s Susan Tracy and Kathie Maizner; Boston Healthcare for the Homeless Program’s Colleen Eagan, Tevin Montgomery, Linda O’Connor, and Alyssa Brassil; New Boston Strategies Jack Harrington and Jack Fitzgerald; Eastern Bank CEO Bob Rivers; Braintree Mayor Joe Sullivan; State Street’s Dot Joyce; Jim Hunt of the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers; Morgan Stanley’s Jim Geraghty; Michael Curry of the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers and the immediate past president of the Boston Branch of the NAACP; Eric DiNoto and Thomas Hennessey, both of NOREL; Babson College’s Susan Kendall, Katherine Craven, Cheri Paulson, and Michele Daly; Jo Ann Simons, CEO of Northeast ARC; Carol McKean of Carol McKean Events; Heather Campion of Koya Leadership Partners; Ken Robinson of Citizens Bank; Jane Borkowski of Ocean Spray; Revere Hotel GM Tim Brett; John Collings of the Boston Harbor Hotel; Dora Lewin of Wells Fargo and Boston School Committee member Michael D. O’Neill; Rana Murphy of Eastern Bank; former state senator Jack Hart; Grace Cotter Regan, president of Boston College High School; former Braintree state representative Joe Driscoll, now senior vice president, general counsel and government affairs at South Shore Health; AJ Gerritson of Zozimus; National Grid’s Marcy Reed and Joe Carroll; Julie Pagano of the Bay State Cruise Company; former US Congressman Bill Delahunt of Eckert Seamans; Gary Harum of Point 2 Point Global; Kevin McClusky of UMass-Boston; Dr. Jacki Hart; Dan Conley of ML Strategies and former Suffolk County District Attorney; Miriam Wishner Segel, executive producer, New England Cable News; Stephen J. Leahy, vice president, policy and analysis, Northeast Gas Association; Connie Brennan of TD Bank and a member of the New England Council board; Denterlein’s Geri Denterlein; and Alison Mills, Shriners Hospitals for Children-Boston.

The Boston Globe’s Joan Vennochi was in attendance as was a few former Globe reporters and editors including Tom Palmer, Peter J. Howe, senior advisor, Denterlein; and Glen Johnson, author of the recently released “Window Seat on the World.”

Irish Tenor Ronan Tynan kicked off the evening with his inimitable rendition of “God Bless America” and later performed his signature rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” asking Collette Divitto, a previous New Englander of the Year honoree, to join him on stage. Singer Pauline Wells, who is a deputy superintendent of the Cambridge Police Department, performed at the end of the dinner. (Known for adhering to ending as close to 8 p.m., this year’s dinner had most people home or near a TV in time for the Patriots football game.)

N.B.: Close readers will note that Commissioner Gross was wearing a “Willie Brett” nametag telling those who asked about it that he is related to Bill, Harry, Jim, and their sister Peggy McCobb.

To view the New England Council’s video of the evening, click here.

The New England Council, the country’s oldest regional business organization, is an alliance of businesses, academic and health institutions, and public and private organizations throughout New England formed to promote economic growth and a high quality of life in the region. The Council is dedicated to identifying and supporting federal public policies and articulating the voice of its membership regionally and nationally on important issues facing New England. The NEC is also committed to working with public and private sector leaders across the region and in Washington through educational programs and forums for information exchange. For more information, please visit:

All photos by Bill Brett

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