By Matt Murphy
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
BOSTON -- After almost 20 years leading what is now one of Beacon Hill's most influential business lobbying groups, Rick Lord plans to retire next year as president of Associated Industries of Massachusetts.
Lord, who has spent 28 years at the powerful employer trade group, broke the news to his full staff Friday morning, and his planned departure was confirmed to the News Service. He plans to depart the organization mid-year 2019 year after AIM finds a successor.
"It's now time for me to set out on a new adventure while AIM finds a leader who will build on this strong foundation for the future," Lord said in a statement. He will be 64 next year.
Lord joined AIM in 1991 after working as chief of staff for House Committee on Ways and Means Chairman Thomas Finneran, who would go on to become House speaker. Within eight years, Lord would climb the ladder from executive vice president for legislative policy when he started to president and CEO by 1999.
Lord's departure from AIM is just the latest example of a changing of the guard on Beacon Hill where new faces have been moving into key positions both within and adjacent to the government in recent years.
House Speaker Robert DeLeo, the one leader who seems to be immune to the forces of change, has been close to Lord and AIM over the years, as has Gov. Charlie Baker.
Baker plucked his chief of staff Kristen Lepore from the trade group in 2014 to be his first administration and finance secretary, and when the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundations needed to replace its longtime leader Michael Widmer in 2014 it turned to Eileen McAnneny, who had spent years working with Lord at AIM.
"We are grateful that Rick has left AIM in a position of strength as we begin the search for a new CEO," said Patricia Begrowicz, the president of Onyx Specialty Paper in South Lee and an AIM board member who will lead the search committee to find Lord's successor.
Bergowicz said the committee plans to engage a professional search firm to "cast a wide net" for the next CEO. The position will likely generate tremendous interest, both for its stature and pay. According to the most recent available AIM tax filings from 2016, Lord earned $379,886 from the organization, as well as an additional $131,714 in other forms of compensation.
Before working in the Legislature, Lord held finance positions with General Electric and McCormack and Dodge. The North Adams native graduated from Williams College with a degree in economics and psychology.
Lord's has been the voice of business through many of the major policy debates of the past couple decades, including the state's landmark universal health care law signed by Mitt Romney in 2006. The group also credits him with expanding its membership to more than 4,500 companies, including firms in the developing services, technology, bioscience and robotics industries.
In recent years, Lord and AIM have also watched as unions and advocates have used the ballot process and popular appeal to circumvent the typical corridors of power on Beacon Hill that AIM navigates so well. Advocates have forced deals with AIM and other business interests to win guaranteed earned sick time for workers, minimum wage hikes and paid family leave.
In addition to his role at AIM, Lord currently serves as a member of the Health Policy Commission board and chairs the board of the Massachusetts Workforce Training Fund Program. He also serves as a board member at The Children's Trust Fund, the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education, the Massachusetts Association for Mental Health and A.I.M Mutual Insurance Company.