NEC to Honor New Englanders of the Year at 2017 Annual Dinner

Honorees include Gov. Charlie Baker, State Street CEO Jay Hooley, Edesia Founder Navyn Salem, and Cookie Entrepreneur Collette Divitto

2017 NEOTY Collage

BOSTON (October 23, 2017) – The New England Council, the nation’s oldest regional business organization, will present its prestigious “New Englander of the Year” awards at its 2017 Annual Dinner at the Seaport Hotel/World Trade Center in Boston on Monday, October 30, 2017.  This year’s recipients are Massachusetts Governor Charles D. Baker; Collette Divitto, Founder of Collettey’s Cookies; Joseph L. Hooley, Chairman and CEO of State Street Corporation, and Navyn Salem, Founder and CEO of Edesia.

The 2017 Annual Dinner co-chairs are Darren Donovan, Managing Principal of KPMG’s Boston office, and Robert F. Rivers, Chairman and CEO of Easter Bank. Over 1,700 New England Council members representing businesses large and small across a wide range of industries throughout New England will be in attendance.

The “New Englander of the Year” awards are presented each year by The New England Council and honor residents or natives of the New England states for their commitment and contributions in their fields of work, as well as their leadership and impact on the New England region’s quality of life and economy.  First presented in 1964, over the years the award has been presented to U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz; U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg; Senators Ted Kennedy, Jack Reed, Jean Shaheen, Kelly Ayotte, Susan Collins and John Kerry; Congressmen Richard Neal, Ed Markey, John Larson, and Barney Frank; and business leaders such as Abigail Johnson of Fidelity Investments, Robert Reynolds of Putnam Investments, Anne Finucane of Bank of America and many other respected government, business, and non-profit leaders.  View list of all past honorees.

“Our four honorees have each made their own unique and inspiring contributions to our economy and our communities, both here in New England and beyond,” said James T. Brett, President and CEO of the New England Council.  “They have displayed thoughtful leadership, innovative thinking, an entrepreneurial spirit, and dedication to their community and their nation.  I believe that our 2017 New Englanders of the year truly embody all that is great about New England and look forward celebrating their accomplishments with hundreds of our members at this year’s Annual Dinner.”

The New England Council’s Board of Directors selected this year’s honorees based on their commitment to the community, distinguished careers and countless contributions to the region and the nation:

The Honorable Charles D. Baker, Governor, The Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Governor Charlie Baker was inaugurated as Massachusetts’ 72nd Governor in January 2015 after a long and successful career in both public service and the private sector. As Governor, he has worked in a bipartisan manner to advance a pro-growth agenda for the Commonwealth, and has collaborated with fellow New England Governors on issues of importance to the region, including energy, transportation, and responding to the opioid epidemic. As a result of his strong leadership, Massachusetts was named the #1 best state in the nation by U.S. News and World Report earlier this year, and the Governor has consistently ranked as one of the most popular Governors in the country. Earlier in his career, he served as the Chief Executive Officer of Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare, and was the Chairman of The New England Council.

Collette Divitto, Founder, Collettey’s Cookies – Connecticut native Collette Divitto was born with Down Syndrome, as well as an entrepreneurial spirit and a passion for baking. After graduating from Clemson University’s LIFE program, Collette struggled to find employment because of her disability. Undeterred, she put her love of baking to use and launched Collettey’s Cookies in 2011, with her mother and sister later joining the business. The business has attracted local and national media attention and a strong social media following, and has sold over 140,000 cookies since its launch. Today, as her business continues to grow and thrive, Collette employs two other people with intellectual disabilities and has become an advocate for employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

Joseph L. Hooley, Chairman and CEO, State Street Corporation
– Jay Hooley is Chairman and CEO of State Street Corporation, one of the world’s leading providers of financial services for institutional investors. Since joining State Street in 1986, Hooley has held diverse leadership positions with increasing responsibility across the firm. He was appointed president and chief operating officer in 2008 and assumed his current role overseeing all aspects of State Street’s global business in 2010. Since then, Hooley has led State Street’s continued global expansion and growth while investing in technology to position the company as a digital leader in financial services. He is a passionate supporter of community service organizations and devotes a great deal of time and energy to charitable and civic activities. He’s also a vocal champion for increasing diversity at State Street and across the financial services industry and beyond.

Navyn Salem, Founder and CEO, Edesia
- Navyn Salem is the founder and CEO of Edesia, a nonprofit social enterprise and manufacturer of specialized foods that help treat and prevent malnutrition for children enduring the extreme hardships of poverty, conflict, natural disaster, disease outbreak, or famine worldwide. Salem first saw the urgent need to extend the global reach of Plumpy’Nut® — a peanut-based ready-to-use therapeutic food that cures severe acute malnutrition in children with a 90 percent success rate — after watching a 60 Minutes segment with Anderson Cooper featuring its near-miraculous impact in drought-stricken Niger. Salem soon after established a factory in Tanzania, her father’s home country, and then two years later in 2009 founded Edesia in Rhode Island, her home state. Since production began in March 2010, Edesia’s ready-to-use foods have reached over 5.5 million malnourished children in 50 countries through the work of UNICEF, the World Food Programme, USAID/USDA, and other humanitarian aid agencies. Today, Edesia employs 70 people who hail from over 20 countries.

The New England Council’s 2017 Annual Dinner will be held on Monday, October 30, 2017, at the Seaport Hotel/World Trade Center in Boston.  The reception will begin at 4:30 p.m., followed by a dinner program and award presentation beginning at 6:00 p.m.

The New England Council, the country’s oldest regional business organization, is an alliance of businesses, academic and health institutions, and public and private organizations throughout New England formed to promote economic growth and a high quality of life in the region.  The Council is dedicated to identifying and supporting federal public policies and articulating the voice of its membership regionally and nationally on important issues facing New England.  The NEC is also committed to working with public and private sector leaders across the region and in Washington through educational programs and forums for information exchange.  For more information, please visit:


Emily Heisig
(617) 365-2647

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