Most Influential Business People of Color

Newton-Needham MetroWest 50 Most Influential Business People of Color.

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This list aims to celebrate, document and showcase the plethora of professionals and executives of color making a positive contribution to the economic and social fabric of the region. Our honorees, selected by a seven-member committee from over 200 nominations, work and/or sit on a board for a business or nonprofit that is physically located in Newton, Needham, Wellesley, Natick and Framingham.

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Estuardo Aguilar-Cordova

CEO, Candel Therapeutics

A native of Guatemala, Aguilar-Cordova has been a leader in immune-oncology and cancer research for over 20 years in academia and in the biotech field. He has

Gerald Algere

Executive VP, Century Bank

Algere is an executive vice president and group manager of the Healthcare/Education/Not-for-Profit Group at Century Bank, which has branches in Wellesley and Newton. For nearly two decades, Algere’s leadership

Mohamad Ali

CEO, International Data Group

An immigrant from Guyana, Ali is among the most well-known names in the predominantly white local tech industry. As CEO at IDG, Inc, Ali oversees a world-leading technology media, events

Alexis Avila

Founder/CEO, Prepped and Polished

Avila founded Prepped and Polished tutoring and test preparation in 1999. Headquartered in South Natick, the company helps elementary, secondary, college-level

Gilda A. Barabino, Ph.D.

President, Olin College of Engineering

In July 2020, Dr. Barabino became the second president of Olin College of Engineering in Needham. While s

Miguel Beltran

Owner, New Season Cleaners

A trained oncologist and surgeon, Beltran moved to the U.S. from Ecuador with his wife Marina and young family

Walter Bishop-Jones

Owner, Barber Walter's

Bishop-Jones got his first pair of clippers at 11 years old and promptly started cutting the hair of everyone in his California neighborhood. Fast

Michael J. Bobbitt

Artistic Director, New Repertory Theatre

Bobbitt came to Watertown’s New Repertory Theatre in 2019 after serving as the artistic director for Adventure Theatre in Maryland since 2007.

Lennox Chase

Director, Needham Bank

As a member of Needham Bank’s board of directors, Chase manages and supervises the bank’s policies and assets and has been instrumental in

Gretchen Cook-Anderson

Asst. VP of Diversity Recruiting & Advising, IES Abroad

A former public affairs officer at NASA, Cook-Anderson currently leads diversity and inclusion-related marketing outreach for a large global nonprofit,

Lino Covarrubias

CEO, Jewish Family Service of Metrowest

Covarrubias is the chief executive officer of Jewish Family Service of Metrowest, an organization that provides vital social, health and human services to over 5,000

Guimel DeCarvalho

VP Department of People & Culture & Chief Diversity Officer, Wayside Youth & Family Support Network

A steadfast and transformative leader, DeCarvalho has been an agent of change at Framingham’s Wayside Youth & Family Support Network, a 500+ employee

Ronald Dixon, MD

Chief Medical Officer, Remedy

A healthcare leader for 20+ years, Dr. Dixon is an innovator for chronic disease care and management. In 2011, he founded Healthcare 360 Inc., a logistics-driven

Beverly Edgehill, Ph.D.

Senior VP, Global Head Organizational Development, TJX Companies, Inc

For 30 years, Dr. Edgehill has been a transformational leader, integrator of large-scale change strategies and a stabilizer for the next stage of organizational change

Latoyia Edwards

News Anchor, NBC10 Boston

Edwards speaks to hundreds of thousands of people every morning from the Needham studios of NBC10 Boston and NECN. The Emmy Award-winning anchor

Ghania Y. El Akiki, MD

Chief of Hospitalist Service , BID-Needham

El Akiki is the chief of hospitalist service at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Needham. She received her medical degree from Lebanese University, School of

Natasha Espada

Founder & Principal, STUDIO ENÉE architects

An accomplished architect with over 25 years of design and construction expertise, Espada is the founder and principal of STUDIO ENÉE architects in Needham.

Rick Fredkin

Founder & CEO, Eduporium

Fredkin is a life-long entrepreneur, leader in STEM, and successful tech executive with over 20 years of experience. In 2012, he launched Eduporium, an

Anna Giraldo-Kerr

President & CEO, Shades of Success

In addition to serving as a force for inclusionary social change, equity and stronger team productivity through her coaching and leadership advising business, Shades

Donna Gittens

Founder & CEO, MORE Advertising

Gittens left a successful broadcasting career at WCVB-TV to pursue her long-time passion for launching a boutique media and marketing firm to promote critical

Kent Gonzales

VP Development, Northland Investment Corporation

Gonzales’ leadership and consensus building has brought transformative housing and economic development to our region. For over four decades, he has managed,

Cristina Gonzalez

Chief Legal Officer, Staples

In her role as Staples’ chief legal officer, Gonzalez oversees all facets of the Framingham-headquartered office supply company’s legal department including

Keon Holmes

Chair, Board of Trustees, Lasell University

A Needham resident and managing director of the global investing firm Cambridge Associates, Holmes has been an effective long-time community leader. As chair

Karen Holmes Ward

Director of Public Affairs & Community Services, WCVB

Holmes Ward is an award-winning broadcaster and executive producer whose career has spanned four decades. At WCVB, she is the host and executive producer of

Jason H. Hurd

Managing Partner, Bunker Hill Capital

Hurd is a co-founder and managing partner of Wellesley-based Bunker Hill Capital with over 23 years of experience working as a principal with middle market

Sachiko Isihara

Executive Director, Suzuki School of Newton

A leader in the arts who has had a substantial impact on music education, Isihara has served for over 20 years as the director of the Suzuki School, a community arts

Charmain F. Jackman, Ph.D

Founder & CEO, InnoPsych

A Harvard-trained psychologist with 20+ years of experience, Dr. Jackman is dedicated to breaking down stigma and increasing access to mental health services for

Jay Kim

COO, Foundation for MetroWest

Kim serves as the COO at the Foundation for MetroWest, leading the day-to-day operations for the nonprofit organization that connects philanthropic opportunity

Elena M. Lau

Realtor & CEO, UNION Real Estate

A Venezuelan immigrant of Chinese descent, Lau is the owner of a boutique real estate firm headquartered in Newton that focuses on residential and investment

Eric Liriano

Owner, Liriano Wealth Advisory

Liriano is a certified financial planner and Newton business owner with more than 25 years of experience using a unique macro-economic approach for helping

Rev. Dr. J. Anthony Lloyd

Pastor, Greater Framingham Community Church

For three decades Rev. Dr. Lloyd has been pastor of the Greater Framingham Community Church, an interdominational Christian church that is the largest

Juan Lopera

VP of Marketing and Corporate Business Diversity Officer, Tufts Health Plan

A native of Medellin, Colombia, Waltham resident Lopera leads business development, marketing and community relations for Tufts Health Plan’s public plans

Fred Lowery

Senior VP, President, Life Sciences Solutions and Laboratory Products, Thermo Fisher

A dynamic corporate leader, Lowery has spent over 20 years launching innovative products, developing operating teams, overseeing acquisitions

Ritah Nakandi

Founder and CEO, Afri-root Collective

Before moving from Uganda to Newton for graduate school in 2006, Nakandi was a member of the Uganda Women Entrepreneurship Association

Charudutt N. Paranjape, MD

Associate Chair, Department of Surgery, Newton-Wellesley Hospital

Pacesetter. Change agent. Thought leader. All are well deserved descriptors for Paranjape, who also serves as Chief, General and Acute Care Surgery

Melissa Patrick

Founder & Principal Consultant, Equity & Expectations, LLC

Patrick is the owner of Equity & Expectations, a consulting firm that does anti-racism training and awareness building; the founder of Natick Families of Color

Angela Pitter

Founder & CEO, LiveWire Collaborative

A Newton resident and entrepreneur, Pitter is a digital marketing guru, mentor, speaker, master networker/connector and tireless champion for small businesses.

Kristen L. Pope

CEO, Pope Productions, Inc.

An award-winning TV journalist and entrepreneur, Pope founded her Natick-based digital content media firm to tell stories that often go under the radar, especially those featuring people of color.

Michael Price

Owner, SpeedPro

Price, owner of the SpeedPro franchise at the border of Needham and Newton for over 10 years and a Wellesley resident, is an engaged and active member of the local business community.

Brandale D. Randolph

CEO & Founder, 1854 Cycling Company

Randolph is the co-founder and former executive director of Project: Poverty, a nonprofit that aims to design, create and implement innovative strategies to reduce poverty.

Eneida M. Román

Co-Founder, Amplify Latinx

​Román is a Latina breakthrough champion and connector at a local and national level. For over a decade, she has been a risk-taking entrepreneur, providing a breadth of legal services for her clients through the boutique legal practice she founded.

Rev. Devlin Scott

Lead Pastor, NewCity Church

Founder of a new church in Newton that seeks to draw in people who are unhappy in their faith journeys, Rev. Scott is known for his energy, leadership, community building, and commitment to social and racial justice.

Darryl Settles

President & Managing Partner, Catalyst Ventures Development

A serial entrepreneur, Newton resident Settles established Darryl’s Corner Bar & Kitchen in Boston and moved on to real estate development.

Jay Spencer

Owner, French Press Bakery

Spencer has been a leading champion of the economic vitality of downtown Needham for more than a dozen years. After eight years owning and operating the Petit Robert Bistro in downtown Needham

Yvonne M. Spicer, Ph.D.

Mayor, City of Framingham

​Spicer was sworn into office on January 1, 2018, becoming not only the first mayor of Framingham but also the first African American female to be elected mayor in Massachusetts.

Monica G. Tibbits-Nutt

Executive Director, 128 Business Council

Tibbits-Nutt is the executive director of the Waltham-based 128 Business Council and has provided strong and responsible leadership

Eric M. Turner

Provost, Lasell University

Turner brings his unique background as head of the Mass State Lottery, senior executive of State Street Bank, and managing director of the New England CEO Network

Mariela Vargas-Irwin, PsyD

Director & Owner, Applied Behavioral Learning Services (ABLS)

A Venezuelan immigrant, graduate of Harvard Medical School, Vargas-Irwin is the founder and director of ABLS, a company serving children diagnosed with ASD (autism spectrum disorder)

Lawrence P. Ward, Ed.D.

VP for Learner Success Babson College

Becoming the chief student development officer at Babson College just this past summer, Ward establishes and implements institutional priorities

Regina Wu, MD

Board President, Newton Food Pantry

Wu has been with the Newton Food Pantry as a volunteer and board member for the past eight years, assuming the role of president of the board in 2020.


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This initiative is sponsored by

Prime Automotive Group


Direct Federal Credit Union

SharkNinja      The Village Bank      Needham Bank    

Insource Services          Fidelity Bank        Catalyst Ventures   IDG, Inc.   

Northland        Eastern Bank    JPMorgan Chase   


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