BOSTON, Sept. 26--The New England Council, the nation's oldest regional business group, tonight will honor Gillette Company CEO Alfred M. Zeien, US Air Force Secretary Sheila Widnall and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as "New Englanders of the Year."
The awards will be presented at a dinner at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel. Each year, the Council's Board selects one person from the private sector and one from the public sector to receive these awards, thereby underscoring the emphasis the Council places on public-private partnerships to spur economic growth.
For the first time since it was founded in 1925 by the region's governors and business executives, the New England Council also will honor the contribution that an institution has made to the economy and community of New England. The Board selected MIT to receive this recognition. Alex d'Arbeloff, founder and chairman/CEO of Teradyne who is an alumnus of MIT and a member of the MIT board of trustees, will accept the award on behalf of MIT and MIT Chairman Paul E. Gray, who also will attend the ceremony.
Don Reed, NYNEX President and Group Executive and chairman of the Council's annual dinner, noted the critical role MIT has played in creating jobs and companies in New England. "While MIT is well known as one of the world's leading academic institutions, graduating students who go on to become international leaders in their fields, it is also much more. It is one of the world's top research institutions. The inventions of American research universities like MIT add more than $20 billion and 150,000 jobs to the U.S. economy every year. And MIT is a major contributor to the area economy, responsible for the founding of over 600 companies in the region, employing nearly 200,000 people, and with worldwide sales of nearly $40 billion. As a result, MIT's impact on this region has been and likely will continue to be monumental."
In making the announcement of this year's selections, Council Chairman Ira Jackson, senior vice president of BankBoston, said, "The Council's Board has selected two people as our 'New Englanders of the Year' whose contributions to New England have earned them the respect, admiration and gratitude of the entire New England community.>
"Al Zeien has been a hero and an inspiration to an entire generation of business leaders who have marveled at his ability to lead the company to unprecedented growth, capped off most recently by Gillette's proposed merger with Duracell. Importantly for those of us in New England, Al Zeien has demonstrated the value and importance of operating aggressively in international markets as an effective means of guiding an d building a world-class company. That's a less all New England firms would do well to emulate.
"Secretary Widnall made her mark on the New England economy in a profound and lasting manner by recommending to the President Hanscom Air Force Base-and its 30,000 jobs and $3.2 billion impact on the region's economy--be kept open. It is a testament to her judgment, and the universal respect accorded the Secretary, that her recommendation was accepted. And it was spectacular news for New England."
Before becoming Secretary of the Air Force, Dr. Widnall was a professor of aeronautics and astronautics for 28 years at MIT. At the time of her appointment, she was associate provost of MIT.
A group of young New England entrepreneurs are joining MIT Chairman Paul Gray at his table. They included Krisztina Holly, MIT '89, of Arlington and Michael Cassidy, MIT ;'85, of Cambridge, co-founders of Stylus Innovation, which was sold this year to Artisoft Inc. for $12.8 million. Cassidy is now general manager of Artisoft, located in Cambridge. Other MIT alumni at the table included Cassidy's wife, Caroline Wang, MIT '86, a manager at Johnson & Johnson in Raynham; Beth Marcus, MIT '79, owner of Marcus Enterprises Ltd in Nashua N.H.; Matt Haggerty, MIT '83, founder of Project Genesis of Cambridge, and his wife, Carol; Mark Miles, '85, founder of Etalon Inc. of Boston; and Joe Hadzima, MIT '73, executive vice president of Quantum Energy Technology in Cambridge.