2011 ACCESS First One Award Winner Profile: Neal Finnegan
Neal Finnegan is a graduate of Northeastern University and former CEO of Shawmut Bank.
Growing up in the working class neighborhood of Dorchester, Massachusetts, as with other post-Depression immigrants, Neal’s parents felt that job security was paramount. While they never attended college, they all encouraged their children to do so. Neal embraced the hardworking mentality that defined his community, and in high school he joined an organization called Junior Achievement. Through this entrepreneurial program, Neal founded a number of small businesses, ranging from plastic earing sales to a woodworking company that made ornamental knickknack shelves.
At age 18, when Neal enrolled at Northeastern, he was already married with a young child. He worked a number of night jobs to support his family, which included two more children by the time he graduated. Despite the difficulties of attending school, holding a job, and raising a family, Neal eventually attained a position at Shawmut Bank, a company that has strong ties with Northeastern and where he was able to serve his co-op term, and began building his career.
Neal has been in banking in Boston for many years, first as CEO of US Trust, then as CEO and chairman of Citizens Bank. He served as chair of the Northeastern University board of trustees for ten years during a period of extraordinary changes at the university, maintaining its mission to serve academically promising students in Boston while greatly improving its stature and competitiveness nationally. Neal spent many years as an executive member and trustee of WGBH Public Television; he was vice chair and is currently a trustee of the Massachusetts Multiple Sclerosis Society; is the past chair of Catholic Charities; a board and executive committee member on the Caritas Christi Board of Governors; a board member at Catholic Television; director of TERI (The Education Resources Institute); and a founding charter member and director of the Ireland Chamber of Commerce in the United States. Neal serves on the Board of Directors of Hanover Insurance Group; The Bostonian Group and Solution Inc. Limited. He is generous philanthropically and prefers to benefit those in the greatest need.