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Cover Story


Photographs By Jonathan Olson On Location At Yale's Woolsey Hall

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.

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