Joseph R. Nolan Jr.
Cushing-Gavin Award Recipient
Management Award, 2021
Joe Nolan’s background incorporates a love of family and faith, deep Boston roots, and a respect for unions – all of which help make him a deserving recipient of The Labor Guild’s Management Award for 2021.
Joe grew up in Oak Square in Brighton as the youngest of seven children. He has five sisters and one brother, and the whole family used to walk to Mass together. When his father, Joseph Nolan Sr., became a judge in 1971, the family moved to what Joe calls “the mean streets of Belmont,” where Joe graduated from Belmont High in 1981. Joe’s mother, Peggy Kelly Nolan, worked in real estate. When her children were too young for school, she would take them along for the ride as she showed houses. “My childhood was a lot of fun,” Joe recalled. “It was a very happy house.”
In those days, judges didn’t make that much money, so Joe’s father had to work three jobs to support his family. When not in court, he wrote law books for West Publishing and taught at Suffolk University Law School. He established a subsection of the class called “The Nolan Law Review,” where students who took his class would try to pass the bar exam. Joe chose a different area of study at Boston College, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in communications in 1985 and an MBA in 1991.
After college, Joe joined the Customer Service department at Boston Edison, eventually achieving his goal of working in Government Affairs. He moved up in the company and stayed there through multiple mergers that created today’s Eversource Energy. He has always appreciated the company’s impact on communities,and worked to increase financial and volunteer support for community agencies.
Joe was lucky to work closely with two Eversource CEOs, Tom May and Jim Judge, who became his good friends and mentors. Joe succeeded Jim Judge as president and CEO in May 2021. Reflecting on that, he says: “I was lucky to be in the kitchen with the two previous cooks, so I know all the recipes and all the menus, and I’m not about to change to any new concoctions.”
One of Joe’s formative experiences at Boston Edison was a walkout and a labor strike at the company in 1985, not long after he arrived. As a new employee, he wasn’t in a position to influence the event, but it made a deep impression. “I told myself, ‘That is never going to happen on my watch,’” Joe recalled.
Years later, the company had another labor strike, and this time Joe was able to help: “I was sent in by Tom May to straighten it out and we managed to get 3,500 workers back on the job. Since then, we have been blessed with labor peace and worked hard to keep it. That is what we want.” Joe has worked to be a great friend of the labor community, and expresses great respect for unions: “I have a tremendous love for the unions. They are really important, and they are what built America.”
Joe’s proudest moments include the births of his four daughters, getting his first job in Boston Edison, and being named Eversource CEO. We are honored and happy to award Joe The Labor Guild’s Management Award for 2021.