2021 Power 50: 38. Rhona Free & Gregory Woodward
Rhona Free is president of the University of St. Joseph, formerly a women’s college until Free shifted it to co-ed in 2018.
She’s also recruited some high-profile staffers, bringing aboard former legendary UConn basketball coach Jim Calhoun to develop a new men’s basketball program in 2018, and longtime TV news anchor Dennis House as a digital media professor last year.
After closing the USJ campus in the 2020 spring semester amid the pandemic, Free led a reopening for the following fall and spring semesters, while requiring residential students to complete a seven-day quarantine before returning to in-person classes.
Since Greg Woodward became president of the University of Hartford in 2017, he’s initiated plans to build a new $58-million, 62,000-square-foot academic building that will provide a state-of-the-art facility for two of the private college’s most in-demand and growing majors: engineering and nursing.
Amid COVID-19, Woodward was forced to close his campus in March, cancel in-person classes and implement virtual learning for the rest of the 2020 spring semester. UHart welcomed residential students back on-campus last fall and for the spring, 2021 semester.
2021 Power 50: 44. Paddi LeShane & Pat Sullivan
Lobbying has become a lot different in the age of COVID-19. In fact, the state Capitol has been closed to lobbyists during the 2021 legislative session, forcing influence peddlers to find alternative ways to sway policymakers.
Paddi LeShane and Patrick Sullivan have been navigating those waters as one of the region’s foremost power couples and top lobbyists.
The husband and wife duo own and run Sullivan & LeShane Inc., one of the most powerful lobbying firms in Connecticut, and sister company Sullivan & LeShane Public Relations Inc.
Sullivan has been known as one of the most influential lobbyists at the state Capitol and his firm’s major clients include Coca-Cola Beverages Northeast, NRG Energy, MGM entertainment and Lyft, among others.
LeShane runs the agency’s day-to-day operations and personally lobbies on behalf of many of the firm’s prominent clients. She was the former chair of the Hartford Parking Authority and is on the board of trustees of the University of St. Joseph.
2021 Power 50: 48. Rohan Freeman
Rohan Freeman, founder, and president of engineering firm Freeman Cos. LLC reached a milestone in 2020 when he broke ground on a $26 million project that will redevelop longtime blighted Hartford properties at the corner of Park and Main streets.
When construction is completed this year the mixed-use development will give rise to 126 apartments and retail space and provide a much-needed boost to Hartford’s vibrancy and grand list.
Freeman, a Jamaica native, in just over a decade has built one of Greater Hartford’s largest minority-owned firms specializing in land development, engineering design and construction services.
He founded Freeman Cos. in 2009 shortly after summiting Mount Everest.
Freeman is a popular motivational speaker and is or has been a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, U.S. Green Building Council, Construction Institute, and Greater New England Minority Supplier Diversity Council.