Colleen Richards Powell

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Age: 36, Director, External Relations and Government Affairs
Massachusetts Convention Center Authority, Boston, Mass.

Once labeled a “quiet child,” Colleen Richards Powell speaks a lot these days. She’s the new director of external relations and government affairs for the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority, the authority’s key contact for local, state and federal officials and their staffs, and its representative at external meetings, events and conferences. Powell also oversees the authority’s diversity efforts internally, in the community and with its business partners; and she is looking forward to welcoming the Blacks in Government and Urban League conventions to Boston in 2011. “We want them to see the new Boston that we and other leaders around the city and state have been working to create,” she says.

The Wellesley College and Harvard University graduate began her public-sector career on the Capitol Hill staff of the late Massachusetts Senator Edward “Ted” M. Kennedy. She was inspired by the way the state’s governor, Deval Patrick, “brought people together across cultural differences and saw the potential we have in Massachusetts to leverage this emerging and diverse leadership,” she says.  

She is a former board chair of Strong Women, Strong Girls, a nonprofit that uses college women as mentors and role models for at-risk girls in Boston, Miami and Pittsburgh. “I have long held an interest in issues concerning women and girls…and SWSG provides an important leadership development and mentoring experience,” she says.

Her Palm Pilot and her iPhone run her life, but she makes time for family and friends. “No matter how late we come home, my husband and I always try to have dinner together and have activities we enjoy doing together.” Being active in church keeps Powell “balanced spiritually.” “It’s amazing how small your problems can look when you see them from God’s perspective,” she says.

Fun Facts
Dish you cook best: Lamb chops
Favorite book: Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
Favorite singer: Lenny Kravitz
Favorite comedian: Jerry Seinfeld
Other languages spoken: Spanish
Favorite charity: American Diabetes Association