Boston’s Honored Alum

There are notable similarities between the two Joseph Wharton awards bestowed this year: two major U.S. cities; two prominent Wharton alumni communities; awards named for the School’s founder; traditions that faded for a time but that are now resurgent; prominent winners.

There are also differences.

In the case of the Wharton Club of Boston’s Joseph Wharton Award, there is only one annual winner (versus their compatriots farther south in New York City who recognize four Joseph Wharton winners). In 2013, Boston’s one choice was Maria Lewis Kussmaul, WG’82, one of Beantown’s most notable boutique investment bankers and venture capitalists as co-founder of both bank AGC Partners and Castile Ventures, a seed and early-stage venture capital firm.

Maria Lewis Kussmaul, WG’82

Maria Lewis Kussmaul, WG’82

Explains Boston club president Alexander Brown, WG’05, Kussmaul has also taken the lead in supporting a startup through its full lifecycle in her hometown. Traditionally, Brown says, Boston is a well-known ecosystem for young startups, but they tend to reach a certain size and level of success and then get bought up by venture capitalists, private equity funds or larger companies elsewhere. Or they simply move on their own accord.

“Facebook was built in Boston, but now lives in Silicon Valley,” he says.

Kussmaul aims to create a growth path for startups in Boston so they don’t have to leave.

She is the third annual winner of the Boston Joseph Wharton Award, though the award in Boston existed in another form more than a decade ago. Part of the reason the Boston Club resumed bestowing the award was the conscious decision to raise awareness about the Wharton community’s contributions to the local business world, and to help bring that community itself closer together. After all, Wharton represents the second largest group of B-school alumni in the area.

That community, along with its club board and the School in Philadelphia, nominates Boston-area alums for the Joseph Wharton Award every year, and these nominees then go through three rigorous rounds of screening. The Boston Joseph Wharton Award winner ultimately meets three criteria: a successful professional career that made a difference to regional business, contribution to the local community and enrichment of the Wharton community.

Brown calls it “the triple crown of alumni greatness.”

The Wharton Club of Boston honored Michael Jesanis, WG’83, former president and CEO of National Grid, in 2012, and Gary Gottlieb, WG’85, president and CEO of Partners Healthcare System, in 2011.

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