Boston, Mass. – On May 15, the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce will host its Annual Meeting at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center with the theme Boston Now and Next. The theme is designed to recognize the Greater Boston business community’s global leadership and its commitment to Boston’s future. It is a celebration of the collaboration across sectors and industries that are keeping Boston at the forefront of today’s knowledge-based international economy, and ensuring that our region remains the best place for all to thrive.
This year’s inductees into the prestigious Academy of Distinguished Bostonians were chosen because they exemplify what makes Boston great today, as well as the commitment to keeping Boston great for many years to come. Our 2018 honorees include Joan Wallace-Benjamin, longtime President and CEO of The Home for Little Wanderers; Karen Kaplan, Chairman and CEO of Hill Holliday; Jeff Leiden, M.D., Ph.D., Chairman, President and CEO of Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Niraj Shah, Co-chairman, CEO and Co-founder of Wayfair and Jill Shah, President of the Shah Family Foundation and Founder of Jill’s List. The inductees will join an accomplished group of Academy members, including business leaders, philanthropists, local and national elected officials, cultural dignitaries, and sports greats.
“All eyes are on the Greater Boston business community as we lead the world in advancing medicine and life sciences, technology and innovation, real estate and development, research and academia,” said James E. Rooney, President & CEO of the Greater Boston Chamber. “We are home to some of the most established global companies and the most promising start-ups, international thought leaders and emerging brilliant minds. Together, this community has established our region as one of the leading global centers for business. We can’t wait to celebrate this work and our incredible honorees on May 15.”
Joan Wallace-Benjamin was the President and CEO of the Home for Little Wanderers, the nation’s oldest child and family services agency, serving over 7,000 people annually, for 15 years before her recent retirement in 2017. Wallace-Benjamin transformed The Home into the leader of modern child and family services in Massachusetts, making it a trailblazer in innovative programming for underserved populations and expanding its advocacy role for all children. She also served as President and CEO of the Urban League of Massachusetts for 11 years and as Chief of Staff to former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick.
Karen Kaplan is the Chairman and CEO of Hill Holiday, where she began as a receptionist and grew her career while also growing the agency’s reputation as a national powerhouse in advertising and marketing. Karen is one of the few female agency chairmen in the country, and has been honored by both Business Insider and Ad Age as one of the most influential women in advertising. She is a former Chairman of the Board of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, and serves on the boards of numerous civic and professional organizations.
Jeff Leiden, M.D., Ph.D., is the Chairman, President, and CEO of Vertex Pharmaceuticals. He is a physician and scientist who, for the last 30 years, has dedicated his career to improving the lives of people with serious diseases. His experience spans all aspects of the biotech and pharmaceutical industries. Under his leadership, Vertex has delivered the first and only precision medicines to treat the underlying cause of cystic fibrosis. During his first year as CEO, Dr. Leiden also established a signature program to enhance STEM education among Boston high school students, including an on-site Learning Lab and a 10-year, $50 million commitment to STEM education.
Niraj and Jill Shah are Co-founders of the Shah Family Foundation which is focused on supporting programs in education and healthcare in the Boston community, and is currently deeply involved in the transformation of the public school food program. Jill Shah is President of the Shah Family Foundation and Founder of Jill’s List, a national directory of practitioners of Integrative Medicine which was created in Boston’s Back Bay and sold to Mindbody, Inc in 2013. She has been a founding or executive member of several technology ventures. Niraj Shah is the Co-chairman, CEO and Co-founder of Wayfair, the largest online retailer of home furnishings, housewares and home improvement goods in the U.S., generating $4.3 billion in net revenue in 2017.
The 2018 Annual Meeting will be jointly chaired by members of one of the event’s Presenting Sponsors, Suffolk, including Chairman & CEO John Fish; Chief Marketing Officer, Kim Vaughan; and President & General Manager of the Northeast, Angus Leary. The event is a signature convening for the region, and one of the largest gatherings of the Greater Boston business community, attracting more than 1,700 business, government and civic leaders. More information on the Annual Meeting and a list of past inductees are available online.