Suffolk University today announced the appointment of four new trustees with strong ties to the University and a wealth of leadership experience in areas critical to Suffolk’s ongoing and future success and the re-election of a current trustee. The addition of these trustees – all Suffolk alumni –continues the University’s ongoing efforts to expand the diversity and experience of its board.

Joining the board as charter trustees are:

  • Susan M. Connelly, MBA ’01, senior vice president, communications and corporate affairs for Darden Restaurants. Darden – headquartered in Orlando, Fla. – owns and operates more than 1,600 restaurants in North America with over $6.5 billion in annual sales.
  • John F. “Jack” Harrington, MBA ’84, lead strategist and founder of New Boston Strategies, a strategic consulting firm with decades of experience helping local and regional companies grow.

Joining the board as alumni trustees are:

  • Susan Rugnetta, BSBA ’81, who will serve as the Sawyer Business School Alumni Trustee. Rugnetta is an independent financial planner who works with individuals and families on retirement and investment planning and who has previously served as a senior vice president with Fidelity Investments and Bank of America
  • Ernst Guerrier, BS ’91, JD ’94, who will serve as the Suffolk Law School alumni trustee, is an attorney and owner of Guerrier & Associates, a Boston-based firm specializing in real estate planning, residential conveyance and complex domestic relations matters.

The board also reelected Carol Sawyer Parks as a charter trustee. Parks is president and CEO of the real estate development company Sawyer Enterprises, which has been instrumental in reshaping Boston’s architectural, cultural and educational landscape. She received an honorary degree from Suffolk in 1982. The Sawyer Business School was named for Parks’ father, Frank Sawyer, a University benefactor who was committed to the goal of providing access to quality education in a supportive environment.

“With these appointments, the Suffolk board furthers its evolution toward a more diverse membership and gains valuable leadership experience,” said Board Chair Robert Lamb. “Susan Connelly and Jack Harrington bring notable experience in business, government and community relations, while Ernst Guerrier and Susan Rugnetta are among our alumni most actively involved in mentoring and supporting students. Carol Sawyer Parks has long been dedicated to Suffolk’s success and its students, and we are pleased she will continue to work on behalf of the University as a charter trustee.

The Suffolk board has focused on adding to its membership diversity, welcoming trustees of varied backgrounds, experience and skill sets. Since May 2016, as terms have expired, the University has added a total of 12 new trustees to the board. Today, nearly half of the board is made up of new members from a broad range of industries and communities. Each is dedicated to Suffolk’s mission of helping students develop their potential, and each is committed to the success of the University.

“It’s a pleasure to welcome this accomplished group of leaders to the board, and I look forward to working with them to further advance the University.” said Suffolk Acting President Marisa Kelly. “They are ready to engage as board members to support an institution that helped them achieve the success they enjoy today, and their guidance is essential as we continue our commitment to access, opportunity and academic excellence.”

Brief biographies follow.

Susan M. Connelly

Susan ConnellySusan Connelly is the senior vice president, communications and corporate affairs for Darden Restaurants. She is responsible for corporate and brand communications, government relations and public policy, philanthropy and the company’s community engagement and sustainability initiatives.

Based in Orlando, Fla., Darden owns and operates more than 1,600 Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen, Yard House, The Capital Grille, Seasons 52, Bahama Breeze and Eddie V’s restaurants in North America, employing 165,000 people and serving 380 million guests annually.

Connelly joined Darden in 2007 as director, state and local government relations. Prior to that, she held government relations positions at McDonald’s USA and the Grocery Manufacturers Association.

Connelly serves on the boards of the National Restaurant Association, the Florida Chamber of Commerce and Enterprise Florida. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English from St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H., and earned an MBA from the Sawyer Business School at Suffolk University. She once told the Orlando Business Journal that her smartest business move was “getting my MBA in finance,” and she has facilitated connections between Darden and the Sawyer Business School’s executive MBA program.

John F. “Jack” Harrington

Jack HarringtonJohn Harrington has deep Boston roots as lead strategist and founder of New Boston Strategies. He draws on more than three decades of interaction with local and state government as an advocate for local and regional companies, and he helps businesses develop strategies that will allow them to successfully respond to the demands of government agencies.

Harrington cofounded Atlantic Associates, an IT staffing company serving health care, financial services and biotechnology firms as well as government entities.

He is involved in a wide range of Boston-area non-profit agencies, many of them centered on children. Harrington is a member and past co-chair of the Home for Little Wanderers Board of Ambassadors and was actively involved with construction of a new home for these children, named in memory of his parents, John and Patricia Harrington. He also is co-president of the board of directors for the Children’s Advocacy Center of Suffolk County.

Harrington holds an MBA from the Sawyer Business School at Suffolk University, is an alumnus of the Harvard University Business School Owner/President Management Program and earned a BS from UMass Boston.

Ernst Guerrier

Ernst GuerrierErnst Guerrier is an attorney and founder of Guerrier & Associates, a Boston-based firm specializing in real estate planning, residential conveyance and complex domestic relations matters.

Guerrier came to Boston at age 7 from Haiti and grew up in the Mattapan neighborhood. He began his studies at Suffolk aiming to make a career in civil rights, but following a Suffolk Law alumnus’ advice, he went on to study law and build a prosperous practice so he could be of assistance to others.

Guerrier is readily available to take calls from Law School students and others needing advice, and his Dorchester office plays host to neighborhood kids as he offers them an introduction to the workplace. His approach to his clients takes a similar tack, and he is known for giving them his home and cell phone numbers so his nervous first-time home buyers and others can get in touch with him at any time.

Guerrier holds a BS from Suffolk University and JD from Suffolk University Law School.

Susan Rugnetta

Susan RugnettaSusan Rugnetta is an independent financial planner who works with individuals and families on retirement and investment planning.

Before launching her own practice, Rugnetta was a senior vice president with Fidelity Investments, where she oversaw customer service, operations and implementation services for registered investment advisers and broker dealer clients of Fidelity Institutional. Previously she was a senior vice president for global cash management for Bank of America.

She is a member of the Sawyer Business School Alumni Board and participates in the Ram Alumni Mentoring Program, or RAMP. Rugnetta also has volunteered for the National Endowment for Financial Education.

Rugnetta earned a BSBA from the Sawyer Business School and holds an MBA from Babson College.

Carol Sawyer Parks

Carol Sawyer-ParksCarol Sawyer Parks, president and CEO of the real estate development company Sawyer Enterprises, has been instrumental in reshaping Boston’s architectural, cultural, and educational landscape. She developed the W Boston Hotel and Residences, the Niketown building on Newbury Street, and other significant structures.

Parks embarked on a career in real estate development in Los Angeles before returning to Boston to assist with the family businesses of her father, taxi and transportation magnate Frank Sawyer. She successfully shifted their focus from transportation to real estate development.

Parks also has engaged in many community activities as chair of the board for the Carroll Center for the Blind, director of Newton Country Day School of the Sacred Heart, trustee of the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, and director of the 100 Club of Boston, which raises funds for the families of fallen firefighters and police officers. Parks was featured in the 2011 book Boston, Inspirational Women by Bill Brett and Kerry Brett and has been named one of the 25 Stylish Bostonians by the Boston Globe.

She received an honorary Doctor of Commercial Science degree from Suffolk University in 1982.