By New Haven Living Staff


Our 50 most influential people—or MIPs, as we like to call them—are drawn from all kinds of backgrounds and walks of life. 

Selecting our 50 was an extensive process. We solicited nominations from our readers and asked people in the know for their suggestions, then gathered our editorial committee to bandy about names until we had our list. The common denominator is that we felt each MIP had an important role in shaping, or reshaping, how life is lived in Greater New Haven or what face it shows to the outside world. We left out—this time, at least—politicians and media members, not because they aren’t influential but because their influence is just too obvious. We wanted readers to think about who is laboring, not just in front of the cameras but behind the scenes, to make our world a little bit better of a place to live. 


Executive Director, International Festival of Arts & Ideas

The International Festival of Arts & Ideas has not only survived but thrived since Aleskie took the helm in 2005. She came to New Haven from San Diego, where she was president and CEO of the La Jolla Music Society, and before that Houston, where she was executive director of Da Camera. During her stewardship, the Festival has become a major economic booster for New Haven, drawing people from towns near and far. Some go so far as to credit Aleskie for saving businesses that might otherwise have failed. Every year, Aleskie surprises by securing highend entertainment that might have seemed out of our reach. In 2013, Tony-award-winning South African Handspring Puppet Company will be performing their experimental version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream , one of only two U.S. venues. Over 80 percent of the Festival’s acts are free. The New York Times has called the Festival “a happening hard to top for sheer scale and variety.


Vice President for New Haven and State Affairs and Campus Development, Yale University

After directing major urban projects like Harborplace in Baltimore, Miami’s Bayside and Portland, Oregon’s Pioneer Place, Dr. Alexander retired from the Rouse Corporation and could have called it a career. Alexander was also a civic leader in Baltimore, serving on numerous boards like the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the Columbia Foundation, and Goucher College. But instead, Alexander started anew in 1998 at Yale, where he had received his bachelor’s degree, leading initiatives to redevelop commercial properties near campus and revitalize New Haven, strengthening town-gown relations. He also negotiated Yale’s purchase of the 136-acre Bayer Healthcare complex in West Haven. In New Haven, Alexander has served on numerous prestigious boards. He and his late wife, Christine, jointly received the De Tocqueville Award from the United Way for their philanthropic work in 2008, and in 2009 Alexander received the Community Leadership Award from the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce.


Head Coach, UConn Women’s Basketball

Auriemma has seven national titles plus Olympic gold for his role in coaching the U.S. Women’s National team—which included six of his former college players now in the WNBA—to victory in the 2012 London Summer Olympics.He has also been named Naismith College Coach of the Year six times and was inducted into the the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006. But even with his undeniable impact on the women’s collegiate and national game and his all-time record NCAA winning streak, Auriemma is not all about the ball. He is cool enough to brag about his players’ top grades and graduation rate too. And then there’s that fast-break wit Connecticut fans can’t get enough of.An Italian immigrant, he became a naturalized citizen in 1994.


Cofounder and CEO, Alexion Pharmaceuticals

Alexion Pharmaceuticals has managed the transition from Science Park startup to multinational enterprise ranked second on Forbes ’ list of most innovative companies. Behind Alexion is the unassuming Dr. Bell, who left his Yale medical professorship two decades ago. According to Forbes , Alexion is worth more than $20 billion, and Bell’s stake in it $179 million. Soliris, a drug the company developed to treat a rare form of anemia, does $1 billion in annual sales. Soliris costs more than $400,000 per patient per year, but is so effective insurance companies will pay for it. Alexion focuses on developing drugs for life-threatening disorders so rare pharmaceutical companies normally won’t give them a second look. The market for such ultra-niche medications was created by 1983 legislation giving special protection from competition for drugs for rare diseases, while the Affordable Care Act has also helped by increasing the number of people covered by insurance.


President and CEO, Yale-New Haven Hospital and Yale New Haven Health System

Borgstrom’s 30-year career with Yale-New Haven Hospital began with a graduate fellowship and included various staff and management roles before her 1994 promotion to executive vice president and chief operating officer, culminating in her 2005 appointment as president and CEO of both that entity and Yale New Haven Health System (which has $2 billion in annual revenues, employs 13,000 Connecticut residents, and includes Bridgeport and Greenwich Hospitals). She serves on several national boards as well as some closer to home. She has presided over unprecedented expansion of the medical complex and handled labor issues with firmness. A role model for women in business, she has received numerous major awards, the latest being the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce’s 2012 Community Leadership Award.


Director, Eli Whitney Museum

Not only does Brown look the part—scruffy, suspendered and eye-patched—it’s hard to imagine anyone playing the part of muse and mentor to thousands of budding inventors better than him. Actually tens of thousands— around 50,000 kids pass through the doors of the Hamden jewel every year and experience Brown’s modern-day vision of the museum namesake’s philosophy: Hands-on learning through experimentation. He’s been at it for more than 20 years and has made the museum a sanctuary not only for kids who aren’t mainstream learners, but for any kid who has a vision. Brown certainly does.


Artistic Director, Yale Repertory Theatre; Dean, Yale School of Drama

Bundy is in his 10th year at the helm of the Yale School of Drama and the Yale Repertory Theatre. In his first nine seasons, Yale Rep has produced 20 world, American and regional premieres, six of which have been awarded Best Production by the Connecticut Critics Circle and two of which have won Pulitzer prizes. During this time, Yale Rep has commissioned more than two dozen artists to write new works and provided thousands of low-cost tickets to local middle and high school students. In 2007, Bundy received the Tom Killen Award for extraordinary contributions to Connecticut professional theater.Anyone who doubts what the Yale Rep has done for New Haven under Bundy’s stewardship should just try finding an empty parking space anywhere near the theater on nights there are shows.


Retired Head Coach, UConn Men’s Basketball

The avuncular “Man of a Thousand Faces” finished his 26 seasons in Storrs with three national championships and seven Big East Tournament titles. He retired in September, but not before elevating his pick for his successor— former UConn player Kevin Ollie—into the head coach slot for at least the year. His team sidelined from the post-season for NCAA missteps, Calhoun was hanging tough at the top until back pain and surgery cut into numerous games last season. A recent septuagenarian, he holds the record as the oldest coach to win a Division I NCAA title in men’s basketball. He’s had his physical struggles in recent years—cancer, broken ribs from a charity bike ride, back surgery—perhaps feeding his need to help others and raise millions for his beloved charities, including the Pat and Jim Calhoun Cardiology Center at UConn. Calhoun is credited with lifting the UConn men’s basketball program to the upper echelon; 23 of his former players graduated to the NBA.


Owner and Operator, Lyric Hall Antiques & Conservation and Lyric Hall Theater

The New Haven area is being reshaped by enterprises large, small and in between. When new ventures play to our love of the arts, it just gilds the lily.After a security stint with the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s department of European paintings in the late 1980s, Cavaliere studied with a master gilder, gaining proficiency in various gilding techniques, mold making and casting. At the Institute Library in New Haven, Cavaliere oversaw restoration of its landmark 1877 reading room and performed treatments on numerous furnishings. In 1992, Cavaliere opened Lyric Hall Antiques & Conservation in the heart of Westville, a private restoration studio, taking on projects small and large (like gilding three faces of the Ansonia clock tower). In 2006, Cavaliere purchased the former West Rock Theater, a silent film and vaudeville house, refurbishing it and opening it as Lyric Hall Theater. Now on the National Register of Historic Places, Lyric Hall is a venue for plays, cabarets, fundraisers and special events. Earlier this year, Cavaliere was presented with an Arts Council of Greater New Haven Achievement Award.


President and CEO, United Technologies Corp.

Chenêvert is bold and decisive enough to have brokered a record-breaking $16.4 billion deal to take over Goodrich, a “super supplier” of aircraft parts and systems. And he put Pratt & Whitney ahead by positioning the geared turbofan, with its increased fuel economy and reduced emissions and noise levels, to prevail in the narrow body jet engine arena. And that isn’t all. He also piloted Pratt to enter a joint venture with Rolls Royce to make next-generation engines for midsize aircraft, and to be the engine supplier for the Air Force’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Another UTC victory came when a Sikorsky team won the Collier Trophy for its speedy X2 helicopter. The Canadian-born businessman gained valuable chops during 14 years in production at General Motors before going to P&W Canada in 1993. Aviation Week magazine selected him as 2011 Person of the Year. We wonder what he’ll do next.


Director of Food Services, Guilford Public Schools

We turn our spotlight on Cipriano not so much for his work in Guilford, where he had just started a new job as we went to press, but for the great work he did in New Haven. As executive director of food services for the New Haven Public Schools from 2008 to 2012, Cipriano gained the moniker “Local Food Dude” for introducing local food into the school lunch program and integrating education about fresh, healthy, great-tasting food choices into the curriculum. Cipriano worked with Rep. Rosa DeLauro on the passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2012 and was one of 10 chefs handpicked by the White House to help coordinate First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Chefs Move to Schools” program.For his work trying to ensure that no child goes hungry in America, Cipriano was named Advocate of the Year by Share Our Strength. Also named Food Service Director of the Month by Food Service Magazine, we expect him to carry on his good work in Guilford.


Owner, R.J. Julia Booksellers

As the owner of one of the nation’s most successful independent bookstores, Coady has provided the town of Madison and surrounding area not only with a warm, welcoming, informative and bustling book nook, but she has also built a cherished community gathering place. That it’s a not-to-be-missed stop on all major book tours is a huge asset to all of the store’s loyal customers. But that may not be her most significant contribution. As founder of the nonprofit Read to Grow, the state’s only early childhood literacy program, Coady has helped to distribute more than 130,000 free books every year. Moreover, more than 50 percent of parents of newborns in the state leave the hospital with a new book and literacy guide in their diaper bags.


Assistant Dean, Yale College; Director, Afro-American Culture Center

Atlanta born and bred, Cohen graduated from Clark College in Atlanta with a degree in biology. A master’s in education and student affairs administration and a doctorate in higher education administration from Vanderbilt set him on a course on which he served at several universities in a variety of administrative positions before landing his current appointments at Yale in 2010. In his dual role, Cohen is committed to the diverse needs of all Yale undergraduates but also to preserving, researching and advancing the rich history of African-Americans in higher education.


Chef/Owner, Claire’s Corner Copia; Owner, Basta Trattoria

New Haven is a city with a heart. Helping make it so are beloved individuals with huge hearts like Criscuolo and her husband Frank, who passed away last December and whose funeral drew throngs. The Criscuolos were known for giving back to the community, donating 10 percent of their profits to charities too numerous to name. In addition to running restaurants, Criscuolo has authored three nationally distributed cookbooks and penned a food column in the New Haven Register. Few remember that Claire’s didn’t start as a vegetarian restaurant, but Criscuolo, a registered nurse, decided to commit to organic and vegetarian fare early in the game and brought a lot of New Haven with her.Since then, her restaurant has gradually become even healthier and more eco-conscious. Criscuolo has always believed a healthy lifestyle has room for a little indulgence, and her cakes are the stuff of legend.


Founder/President, Subway

One of Connecticut’s greatest success stories, DeLuca of Bridgeport borrowed a thousand bucks of seed money from family friend Dr. Peter Buck in 1965 and nurtured it into a sprawling fast food empire with more than 37,881 franchise locations in 98 countries that employ in excess of 300,000 people and produce annual U.S. sales of $9.05 billion.

Originally hoping to earn enough money for a medical education, DeLuca sought a healthier, less-fattening approach to fast food. Subway’s international headquarters are located in Milford, but DeLuca and his family now reside in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Forbes lists DeLuca as the 242nd richest American.DeLuca’s personal wealth is estimated at $1.5 to $2.2 billion. The Subway brand supports the United Way, March of Dimes, Habitat for Humanity and Junior Achievement and contributes at the local level to countless schools, religious and community organizations.


Artistic Director, Long Wharf Theatre

One of the most respected theater directors in the United States, Edelstein came to Long Wharf via Seattle, where he headed up the ACT Theatre for five years. In his 11th season as artistic director, he has garnered three Connecticut Critics Circle awards. The theater has received another 14 Connecticut Critics Circle awards and has produced a number of world premieres. In 2008, Edelstein received the Tom Killen Award for his indelible impact on the Connecticut theatrical landscape. Longtime theater critic Christopher Arnott observes, “In the 1970s and 1980s, Long Wharf plays went to New York, and New Yorkers came to Long Wharf to check out the productions. That diminished greatly for a long time, but now it’s back under Edelstein’s leadership.


Chief, New Haven Police Department

Esserman, New Haven’s fourth police chief in five years, is a man with his work cut out for him. To what degree he succeeds is crucial to New Haven maintaining its preeminence as an arts and dining destination. The Elm City can’t afford a repeat of the downtown gunplay of 2010 or the spike in murders of 2011. Part of the “old guard” that brought community policing (more popular with the public than with police officers) to New Haven under former chief Nick Pastore, Esserman left New Haven for a number of years to serve as police chief in nearby Providence. Rightly or wrongly, Pastore developed something of an anti-cop label; Esserman, a tremendously sympathetic individual, is not usually painted with the same brush. Under Esserman’s return, violent crime statistics appear to have improved significantly. Community policing is back with full vigor, police are a reassuring presence around the clubs downtown, and unsolved cases like the Gabrielle Lee hit-and-run are being revisited.


President, Fusco Management Company

The construction business is not one that’s overly friendly to women. To wit: Of all the construction companies in the Northeast with annual volumes of over $400 million, Fusco is the only woman president. When she’s not overseeing multimillion-dollar projects, she’s serving on many nonprofit boards including Connecticut Public Television, Paul Newman’s Hole in the Wall Gang Camp and the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center in Waterford. She’s also led the charge in bringing the company, which her grandfather started in 1924, into the “green building” generation. In 2012 her company received the “Green Builder of the Year Award,” from The Connecticut Energy Efficiency Fund.


President and CEO, Community Foundation for Greater New Haven

Ginsberg is committed to community. Always has been. Most likely always will be. During his career he has worked at both the local and national levels in community economic development, community banking and now community philanthropy. In his current position, which he’s held for 12 years, the organization has grown to be one of the largest community foundations in the United States, overseeing more than 900 local charitable funds. Among the programs birthed under his stewardship is New Haven Promise, which together with Yale and Wells Fargo provides a significant amount of tuition support at a Connecticut college for any New Haven public school student who gets good grades, goes to school and helps out in the community.



Gouge is many things: marketer, publicist, entrepreneur. But as New Haven’s social media maven, she’s making perhaps her biggest impact as one of the leaders in this new and modern approach to marketing. As founder of, a social media marketing concern, her goal is to give small businesses a big voice. And she’s done that for bigger businesses too, as last spring her blogs and tweets about the International Festival of Arts & Ideas were so interesting she topped the 1 million mark. She’s also an organizer of the second annual “Start Up Weekend: New Haven,” a global grassroots movement where people come together for weekend-long workshops to pitch ideas, form teams and start companies.


Assistant Superintendent for Portfolio and Performance Management, New Haven Public Schools

Harries was hired to implement major reforms in the New Haven public school system. And in the three years he’s been on the job, the numbers indicate slow but steady might just win the race. In the past two years, test score growth has outpaced the state as a whole by 200 percent, the city’s graduation rate has grown by two percentage points and the number of students on track to graduate has risen by nine percent. Part of the early success can be attributed to his revamping of teacher evaluation guidelines, which included his controversial plan to add student and parent evaluations to the overall score.


President, UConn

UConn’s first woman president is a mover. Armed with a well-articulated goal to advance UConn along the path to the top tier of research institutions, Herbst is can-do, smart about getting the word out and encourages everyone on campus to take part in improving the looks and manners of the state’s flagship university. Herbst, who has written four books and whose background is in political science, public opinion and communication theory, came to UConn in 2011 from the University System of Georgia after making an impact as president at Northwestern and provost at the State University of New York at Albany. She knows what it takes to move forward and has been quick to make big personnel changes, introducing an initiative to add almost 300 faculty members to improve the student experience as well as boost research dollars, and plans to roll out significant tuition increases in the next few years. Herbst has promoted big Husky sports, fighting the good fight to try to keep men’s basketball in the show despite NCAA troubles and signing a high-profile, albeit controversial, TV contract for the women’s team. But her real aim is to put UConn’s academics in the Final Four.


Hurricanes of 2011 and 2012

Rumors of these stormy sisters’ visits preceded their arrivals by several days. As they muscled their way up the East Coast, forecasters initially speculated they might pass Connecticut by, headed to other ports of call. Some predicted much of their wrath would be spent elsewhere, and eventually they were reclassified as posttropical cyclones. But Hell hath no fury like a woman underestimated.Sowing destruction in her wake, Irene wound up the fifth costliest hurricane in U.S. history, causing at least 56 deaths and losses of $15.6 billion. In Connecticut, the shoreline was especially hard hit. A record 754,000 customers lost power statewide, many for a week or more. We don’t have full figures for Sandy yet, because she had just departed as we went to press, but we know that, in the U.S., 8 million homes lost power, at least 63 people died, and early damage estimates are at $20 billion. In Connecticut, 670,000 customers lost power and at least three people died. Spanning 1,100 miles at one point, Sandy was the widest Atlantic hurricane ever recorded. We sincerely hope never to see the likes of these ladies again.


Cofounder, Artspace

Chances are when you see a piece of public art in and around New Haven, Kauder had something to do with it. As cofounder of the innovative nonprofit community arts organization, she deserves snaps for New Haven becoming the art-friendly city it is—both for artists and audiences. Her mission was to bring people from different walks of life together to create art in new ways and unusual places. City-Wide Open Studios is a perfect example. The annual threeweekend event has become part of the fabric of New Haven’s fall not only for the access to artists, but also for its signature “Alternative Space” weekend, which transforms iconic but empty buildings into a lively marketplace for art.


Attorney, Lynch, Traub, Keefe & Errante, P.C.

Keefe, who joined his firm in 1967, is one of Connecticut’s best known trial attorneys. A Quinnipiac College and University of Connecticut School of Law graduate, Keefe litigates both criminal and civil matters in both state and federal courts. He has taught trial advocacy at Yale Law School since 1979.According to Martindale-Hubbell, Keefe holds the highest “A/V” rating from his peers. His awards are far too many to enumerate, but include being the top Connecticut vote-getter in a poll by Super Lawyers Magazine. Keefe takes on many unpopular cases in the glare of the media spotlight. As an attorney for the Town of East Haven, he has defended the town against the civil suit that followed the police shooting of Malik Jones and against federal racial profiling charges brought against members of the same department. He also represents fired Milford police officer Jason Anderson, whose speeding cruiser killed a pair of young teens in their car in 2009. Few, if any, attorneys defend more vigorously than Keefe.


President, Gateway Community College

Kendrick has been a pioneer wherever she has gone, from being one of three black students who integrated Union University in Tennessee to becoming the highest-ranking black woman in Wisconsin’s higher education system. Since taking her current post in 1999, Gateway’s enrollment has more than doubled, she has instituted a nursing program, and is credited with beefing up Gateway’s offerings in the areas of allied health, green technologies, education, business and continuing education. But her greatest accomplishment—even if, as she is quick to point out, it couldn’t have been accomplished alone—might have been getting Gateway a new $198 million downtown campus in such unfavorable economic times. Can’t wait to see it!


President, Quinnipiac University

Lahey became president of Quinnipiac College in 1987. Bronx born and raised, Lahey had earned degrees in philosophy and in higher education administration and held the position of executive vice president of Marist College. Lahey initiated a strategic planning process for Quinnipiac, leading to unprecedented growth in its enrollment, academic programs, reputation and facilities. In 2000, the school’s name changed to Quinnipiac University to reflect many of these changes. The physical plant has expanded from 100 to 604 acres with the addition of the York Hill and North Haven Campuses.

Quinnipiac’s sports programs moved to Division I and the TD Bank Sports Center was constructed. A law school was added and a medical school is in the works. The school acquired a 1,000-watt radio station (WQUN) and the Quinnipiac University Poll became nationally recognized. Of Irish descent, Lahey has made it his mission to educate the public about Ireland’s Great Hunger, served as Grand Marshall of the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City in 1997, and was named Irish American of the Year by Irish America magazine in 2011. He is also a director of the United Illuminating Company, the Aristotle Corporation, Yale-New Haven Hospital and the Alliance for Gene Cancer Therapy.


Chef/Owner, Miya’s Sushi

Born in 1971 to a Chinese surgeon father and Japanese nutritionist/restaurateur mother, former college wrestler and model Lai immersed himself in his mother’s traditional Japanese restaurant, Miya’s Sushi (named for his sister), in 1993 and turned it into a culinary laboratory for his evolving environmental beliefs while producing some of the most creative sushi the world has ever seen.Miya’s is the world’s first sustainable sushi restaurant and has the largest vegetarian sushi menu in the world. In demand as a speaker all around the globe and the recipient of numerous awards, Lai practices what he preaches—foraging, fishing and diving to help supply his restaurant while battling invasive species.He owns two fishing boats and leases a 100-acre fishing grounds from the state.Host of the prestigious Miya’s Idea Dinners connecting an interdisciplinary group of diners with each other to foster positive change, Lai wants to change the ways people think, eat and live, and the way restaurants do business.


President, Yale University

The longest-serving university president in the Ivy League, Levin recently announced that he will be stepping down from Yale’s top post on June 30, 2013.Levin obtained his bachelor’s from Stanford, a Bachelor of Letters from Oxford, and then in 1974 got his Ph.D. in economics from Yale. Joining the Yale faculty as an assistant professor, he became a widely respected economist, eventually chairing the economics department and then serving as dean of Yale’s Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. Levin is credited with overseeing a huge expansion in Yale’s endowment, a tremendous renovation and expansion of its physical facilities, and even an improvement in its academic standing. He has both internationalized Yale’s outlook and improved cooperation between Yale and the City of New Haven. Since taking the helm in 1993, he has overseen $1.5 billion invested in companies spun off from Yale and $100 million of improvements to the city. Doubtless a reflection on his leadership, every one of his provosts has gone on to lead a major university.


Director, Yale Cancer Center; Physician-in-Chief, Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven Hospital

Boston-born Dr. Lynch received both his undergraduate and medical degrees from Yale University in the 1980s. Then it was back to Boston for his internship and residency at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), where he eventually rose to director of the MGH Thoracic Oncology Center. Lynch is especially known for his development of novel therapies for lung cancer. He helped pioneer what’s called personalized medicine or customized care in cancer treatment (using molecular profiling to match therapy to the genetic signature of the patient’s tumor). Then it was back to New Haven to take on his current dual roles. Yale has southern New England’s only comprehensive cancer center designated by the National Cancer Institute and one of only 40 in the nation.Under Lynch’s leadership, it’s expected to become the most comprehensive cancer care facility in all New England.


Pastor, St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Fair Haven

Father Manship’s service has been marked by activism in support of his largely Hispanic congregation. His church, where he first served as a deacon in 1997 before going on to be ordained as a minister, has a century-old history of welcoming immigrants. Manship was a strong voice calling for a municipal ID card plan and an equally strong voice condemning retaliatory federal raids that swept up illegal immigrants after its passage. Subsequently, he worked to document instances of police harassment of parishioners and their businesses.His efforts came to national attention in February of 2009 when he was arrested in East Haven after videotaping police officers removing license plates from the wall of a bodega. (East Haven’s police force had never fully recovered its reputation after the pursuit and killing of black teenager Malik Jones in 1997 and subsequent litigation.) Later in 2009, the U.S. Department of Justice began investigating the East Haven Police Department for racial profiling of Latinos. In December 2011, the Department of Justice ruled there had been a systematic pattern of discrimination, and in January 2012, a sergeant and three officers were arrested and charged. The police department, police union and East Haven Mayor Joseph Maturo stood behind the police officers. In a statement with weird echoes of Marie Antoinette’s probably misattributed “Let them eat cake” remark that left no doubt that suspect attitudes reached the highest level of town government, Maturo, when asked by a reporter what he planned to do for the Latino community, said, “I might have tacos when I go home.


Superintendent, New Haven Public Schools

Dr. Mayo’s service to the City of New Haven began in 1967 as a science teacher at Troup Middle School. His climb was steady—department chairman, assistant principal of Troup, principal of Jackie Robinson Middle School, K-8 Director of Schools, and then executive director of school operations. From that position, Mayo ascended to the superintendency in 1992. In his two decades at the helm, Mayo squelched social promotion and helped build the largest interdistrict magnet program in Connecticut. New Haven’s retention policy, mandatory summer school, and Saturday Academies have all drawn praise from far and near. During his tenure, New Haven has embarked on unprecedented school renovation and construction. Child care, school readiness and grandparent caregiver initiatives have also helped set New Haven apart.


Chairman, UConn Board of Trustees

Four governors in a row appointed McHugh to the Board of Trustees of the Connecticut State University System, where he has served for 27 years, currently as chairman. He helped guide the system—where he obtained his own college education—on its ascent to its current level. Then in 2009, Gov. Jodi Rell called him a legendary leader and nominated him to complete the unexpired term of the previous chairman. McHugh has also led the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce since 1983, increasing its membership tenfold and its budget twentyfold. McHugh has been a pro football player, a science and history teacher and a winning highschool coach. He graduated from Southern Connecticut State College.


Assistant Dean for Diversity and Director of the Office for Diversity and Equal Opportunity, Yale

Nearon is responsible for building a supportive community for under-represented students throughout Yale’s graduate schools. But she feels her role should extend beyond the hallowed halls into the greater New Haven community as well. So through Yale’s Pathways to Science Program, she reaches out to middle schoolers and their parents to help educate and prepare them for the college and graduate school processes. By starting in middle school, the hope is for them to have competitive applications not just for undergraduate school—a necessity, she believes—but graduate school as well.


Senior Advisor to Governor Dannel Malloy

In the public arena, Occhiogrosso is proudest of what happened in 2010, when he helped elect the first Democratic governor in the state in almost a quarter century. He sees his job as shaping the governor’s narrative on an agenda to close a major budget deficit, raise revenues, cut spending and attract jobs to the state. Occhiogrosso, who grew up in Queens, is quick with a quote and always a step or two ahead, even his political foes concede. Before his job overseeing communications and operations for the governor, he ran the Hartford office of the Global Strategy Group, a public relations firm. On the private side, Occhiogrosso is proudest of his life as a single father to 4 1/2-year-old twin boys. Despite the frenzied pace of gubernatorial policymaking and politics, Occhiogrosso finds a way to split the job of raising his kids, without benefit of nannies and babysitters. “It’s the most important thing I’ve ever done,” he says.


Founder and Head, The Pattis Law Firm

Pattis is a creative and charismatic defense attorney known for taking on unpopular clients facing long odds. His love of tilting at windmills seems easier to understand when one hears about his movie-ready childhood with a father on the lam after an armed robbery and shooting and his subsequent impoverished upbringing by his father’s former girlfriend. Instead of gaining superpowers, Pattis became something even scarier to unscrupulous powerbrokers everywhere—a brash, hard-hitting, ponytailed superlawyer. Fresh out of law school, Pattis worked for several years for distinguished civil rights attorney John R. Williams. In 2005, Pattis opened his own firm. Part of Pattis’ gift is reducing complex legal issues to argumentz readily understandable by lay people, useful whether in trial or writing persuasive appeals to the public.Particularly interesting are recent columns in defense of his client Jason Zullo, an East Haven policeman indicted by the feds for violating Latinos’ civil rights, and in defense of standout defense lawyer F. Lee Bailey, who experienced a sad fall from grace a number of years ago. Pattis is a prolific speaker, blogger, op-ed writer, Connecticut Law Tribune columnist, and author of two books: Taking Back the Courts and Juries and Justice.


CEO, Start Community Bank

When New Haven Savings Bank morphed into controversial NewAlliance Bank, state regulators demanded that $25 million be set aside to form a not-for-profit subsidiary. First City Funding Corporation (FCFC) was then formed, and it financed Elm City Resident Cards and formed Start Community Bank, which finally received its charter in 2010. Placke, formerly executive vice president of Bank of New York Mellon Corporation in New Jersey, was tabbed as the bank’s CEO in 2008. Under his implacable leadership, Start Community Bank now funds projects in low-income neighborhoods that might otherwise not find funding (and accepts the Elm City IDs). Placke’s, and the bank’s, mission is to invest capital in the community, serving as a catalyst for economic and social improvement. The bank has been a beacon of light in economic darkness, reaching out to, counseling, and supporting hundreds of families during threat of mortgage foreclosure.


Architect and Founder, Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects

Despite a New Haven office that employs about 100 architects, designers and support staff, much of Argentinean-born architect César Pelli’s work is on display in locations far from New Haven. But not all. Morse and Stiles residential colleges at Yale are early works, while Malone Engineering Center, which makes the most of a small triangular plot on the southeast corner of Trumbull and Prospect Streets, is one of his most recent. In Hartford, a recent contribution is the Connecticut Science Center with its iconic skateboard-like roof. But Pelli, who was a protégé of legendary architect Eero Saarinen (The Yale Whale, the St. Louis Arch) has done some of his most impressive work abroad, including the International Finance Center in Hong Kong and the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, the world’s tallest buildings from 1997 until 2003.Pelli was dean of the Yale School of Architecture from 1977-1984. He avoids formalistic preconceptions in his designs, believing buildings should be “responsible citizens” and that the aesthetic qualities of a building should grow from its location, construction technology and purpose. In 1991, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) called him one of the 10 most influential living American architects and in 1995, the AIA awarded him the Gold Medal in recognition of a lifetime of distinguished achievement.


Founder, Petit Family Foundation

Just as the infamous Cheshire home invasion of 2007 shattered the lives of the Petit family, it also shattered any lingering illusions that seemingly idyllic small towns were safe from wrongdoers. Lone survivor of the attack, Dr. William A. Petit Jr. became a heroic figure, a symbol of courage, strength, grace and resolve of purpose under the worst circumstances imaginable. Even if it’s the last thing he could ever have wanted, Petit became the conscience of our justice system.After protracted trials, his family’s two attackers received death sentences. In 2009, citing the Cheshire murders, then-Gov. Jodi Rell vetoed legislation expected to abolish the death penalty. Death penalty opponents mounted a new push, and earlier this year Gov. Dannel Malloy signed death penalty legislation into law. However, in deference to the Petit family and other victims, prior death sentences (however unlikely to be carried out) were left in place. Dealt a terrible hand, Petit has not let bitterness consume him. Petit’s memorial service plea in 2007 to “help a neighbor, fight for a cause, and love your family” produced an outpouring of generosity that he used to form the Petit Family Foundation. The foundation preserves the memory of wife Jennifer Lynn Hawke-Petit and daughters Hayley Elizabeth Petit and Michaela Rose Petit while supporting numerous causes that were important to them. In August, Petit remarried Christine Paluf, a freelance photographer and volunteer with the Petit Family Foundation.



With an estimated net worth of $3.2 billion, Pritzker is tied with hedge fund manager Edward Lampert and filmmaker Steven Spielberg for the 125th spot on the Forbes 400 List of “The 400 Richest Americans 2012” and is said to be the 367th richest person on the planet. Pritzker is a daughter of A.N. Pritzker, who built up the Marmon industrial conglomerate and whose sons Jay, Donald and Robert (Karen’s father, who passed away last year) built up the Hyatt Hotel Chain. According to Forbes, Karen and her husband, investor Michael Vlock, have not only held onto their Hyatt shares but invested in a number of other successful enterprises. Of course, being unimaginably wealthy and owning a beautiful home on the shore in Stony Creek wouldn’t be enough to qualify someone for our most influential list. But making great philanthropic use of your money would, and among its many acts of largesse, the couple has pledged $20 million to Yale Medical School, $5 million to Teach for America, and $1.5 million to the Michael J. Fox Foundation.


Goaltender, LA Kings

Quick, born in Milford, raised on Tanglewood Drive in Hamden and a graduate of Avon Old Farms prep school, is the aptly named netminder for the LA Kings.Quick’s spectacular goaltending helped the Kings win their first Stanley Cup, and won him the Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP of the 2012 playoffs. Only three Americans have won the Conn Smythe, but two have been from Greater New Haven (the first Americanborn player to win the award was Cheshire’s Brian Leetch), underscoring what a hockey hotbed this area is. Quick was named to the 2002 New Haven Register All-Area Hockey Team, anchored Avon Old Farms to two straight New England Prep Championships, and took UMass-Amherst to its first NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Championship appearance. A bright future ahead of him, Quick was signed by the Kings to a 10-year contract extension, starting in the 2013-14 season, worth a reported $58 million.


President, Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce

The Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce was founded in 1794 (and no, we didn’t reverse the two middle digits) to represent the interests of area businessmen, and its mission hasn’t really changed all that much. Rescigno heads a 15-town organization focused on five areas of public policy, including staying on top of changes in a rapidly shifting economy; securing the transportation infrastructure to make it easier to get people and goods in and out of the region; nurturing key industry sectors such as manufacturing, health care, and arts and tourism; ensuring that downtown New Haven is thriving and safe; and finally, helping keep the region competitive with other parts of the country.


President, Wesleyan University

Historian, curator, author and president of Wesleyan University in Middletown, Roth remembers the flexibility the school showed him when he wanted to explore “how people make sense of the past.” He designed his own cross-discipline major at Wesleyan, earning a degree summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa in 1978. He received a Ph.D. in history from Princeton in 1984. Roth curated a celebrated exhibit on Freud at the Library of Congress. He was president of the California College of the Arts, associate director of the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles and director of European studies at Claremont Graduate University. He also founded and directed the Scripps College Humanities Institute in Claremont, Calif. Aside from teaching every semester at Wesleyan, Roth has expanded financial aid to students, fostered civic engagement by tying it to curriculum and establishing a center for social entrepreneurship, and launched the Shapiro Creative Writing Center and a College of the Environment. His own writing has appeared in a campus blog, various journals and in The New York Times , LA Times , Washington Post, and Huffington Post. A native of Brooklyn, Roth was in the first generation in his family to attend college.


Scientist and Entrepreneur

Rothberg was born into a scientist family which had already founded Laticrete International, a global manufacturer of products for the installation of tile and stone. His parents encouraged his interest in the sciences and entrepreneurial tendencies. Rothberg earned a degree in chemical engineering from Carnegie Mellon and then multiple degrees from the Yale Biology Department. While still a graduate student, he founded CuraGen, one of the first companies to develop drugs based on genomics, which he sold in 2005. He subsequently founded 454 Life Sciences Corporation, which pioneered a new way to sequence genomes.454 Life Sciences, which he sold to Roche Diagnostics in 2007, got involved with problems as diverse as investigating the cause of the disappearance of honey bees, uncovering a new virus killing transplant patients, uncovering the complexity of life in the world’s oceans and sequencing the extinct wooly mammoth. Rothberg also founded Ion Torrent, which developed ion semiconductor sequencing, and RainDance Technologies, the first company to use droplet based microfluidics, both of which he apparently still owns. All of which probably makes your head spin as much as it does ours, but explains his 2011 Chinese Biopharmaceutical Association (CBA) Brilliant Achievement Award.


Arthur M. Okun Professor of Economics, Yale

Thomson Reuters named Shiller a contender for the 2012 Nobel Prize in Economics. No one would have been surprised if Shiller had won. He has authored numerous books, including best seller Irrational Exuberance , and pens a syndicated column. We could tell you about Shiller’s challenge to the efficient market hypothesis, the once-dominant view in economics, and Shiller’s demonstrations that market decisions are often driven by emotion rather than rational calculation. He and Carl Case developed the Case-Schiller Index used by Standard & Poor to measure home pricing trends. But the best way to sum Shiller up would be to say that he has demonstrated a knack for predicting economic bubbles and when they will burst, including the 2007 collapse of the U.S. housing market and subsequent financial panic. Shiller is ranked among the top 100 influential economists in the world, and in 2011 made Bloomberg Market ‘s People in Global Finance.


Managing Director, Office of Cooperative Research at Yale University

Soderstrom runs the office responsible for commercializing inventions resulting from Yale’s scientific research, including patent license agreements and the formation of new business ventures. Since joining the office in 1996, he has participated in the formation of more than 25 new ventures, including poly- Genomics, Molecular Staging (acquired by Qiagen), Agilix, Asilas Genomic Systems, Achillion Pharmaceuticals, PhytoCeutica, Protometrix (acquired by Invitrogen), Iconic Therapeutics, Applied Spine Technologies, HistoRx, VaxInnate, Affomix and Kolltan Pharmaceuticals. Collectively, these companies have raised more than $450 million in professional venture capital.


Founder and Executive Director, Center for Children’s Advocacy

In late October, Stone was ecstatic about new test data showing that Hartford students who go to regional magnet and suburban schools outperform Hartford students in the regular school system by wide margins. It shows, she says, that magnet schools are achieving integration and that Hartford students are “soaring academically.” The Center for Children’s Advocacy, with Stone at the helm, spurred the first-time release of the test results. Stone was also one of the plaintiff’s lawyers in the Sheff vs. O’Neill desegregation case. Her advocacy center is a nonprofit law office working to protect children who fall through gaps in services for special education, mental health, juvenile justice and abuse.Stone oversees legal representation for hundreds of Connecticut children out of various offices, some in schools and hospitals. She has been a civil rights attorney for more than three decades, a foster care litigation specialist for Children’s Rights in New York and legal director of the Connecticut Civil Liberties Union.

She recently led the effort to reform the juvenile status offender system. She received her bachelor’s from Wheaton College and her J.D. and L.L.M. from Georgetown University.


Chief Investment Officer, Yale University

Recently reported to be taking a leave of absence for cancer treatment, Swensen has been Yale’s chief investment officer since 1985. Before joining Yale, he spent six years on Wall Street as senior vice president at Lehman Brothers and as an associate in corporate finance at Salomon Brothers. He is known for having invented The Yale Model of portfolio management, which he successfully used to grow the university’s endowment to $19.4 billion. His approach was outlined in his best-selling book Pioneering Portfolio Management , but his model came under fire after hundreds of educational institutions copied his approach with dubious results. According to Forbes , other institutions couldn’t duplicate Yale’s impressive results not because the model was flawed but because their investment committees were considerably less skilled than Yale’s.


Cofounder, Amistad Academy, Achievement First

Toll is a woman on a mission: To change the educational paradigm for underachieving kids and schools. And she is well on her way not only to achieving that goal in New Haven, but in New York, Rhode Island and perhaps the rest of the country as well. As cofounder of first, Amistad Academy, a groundbreaking public charter school on Edgewood Avenue, and, more recently, Achievement First, a network of 22 nonprofit college-preparatory K-12 public charter schools, Toll and her team are setting new standards for achievement and making the promise of equal educational opportunity for all come true.


Tournament Director, New Haven Open at Yale; Chief Marketing Officer, Market New Haven

One of New Haven’s most recognizable faces, Worcester has directed the New Haven Open for the last 15 years. The event generates an estimated $26 million in economic impact in Greater New Haven, attracts an average of 60,000 spectators, and shines the national and international media spotlight on New Haven. For the last eight years, she’s done double duty, also serving as chief marketing officer for Market New Haven, where she has worked with New Haven partners to raise the city’s profile. She introduced New Haven Restaurant Week and the New Haven Food & Wine Festival—hugely successful annual events that promote New Haven’s dining scene. Worcester serves on several boards and committees and is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Elm-Ivy Award given to individuals who help foster better town-gown relations.

By Frank Cohen, Stephanie Summers and Amy Starensier Lee