The Influence List 2015: 1-5

The first annual ranking of Hamilton’s most influential people

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, influence is defined as the power to change or affect someone or something : the power to cause changes without directly forcing them to happen. Selected and ranked by a panel of local leaders, our first annual Influence List pro- files thirty of the people who affect Hamilton profoundly on a daily basis.

This is The Influence List.

Selection Panel: Larry Di Ianni (Consultant, former Mayor), Shendal Yalchin (GM, The Hamilton Club), James Lefebvre (AVP, FirstOntario Credit Union), Stephanie Vegh (Executive Director, Hamilton Arts Council)


By Martinus Geleynse, Publisher, urbanicity
The current Mayor of Hamilton, Fred Eisenberger is positioned influentially. That aside, however, the two-time Mayor of Hamilton has become an influential individual even outside of his current office. As a three-term City Councillor in Ward 5, and then as the Chair of the Hamilton Port Authority, Eisenberger has long been a fixture in the administration of this city. Eisenberger squeaked out a narrow victory in 2006 by only 452 votes, and went on to govern a tremendously difficult term as Mayor, confronting many political landmines including restoration of The Lister Block and the great stadium debate. He was unceremoniously dumped from office in 2010, but swept back into power in 2014, after a campaign carried by his widespread public support and personal popularity. Now, not even a year into his new term as Mayor, a reinvigorated Eisenberger has achieved a series of successes, including securing full funding for LRT and dropping the City’s lawsuit against the federal government stemming from the construction of the Red Hill Valley Parkway. With another three years remaining in his term, Eisenberger’s influence is rising, buoyed by high public approval and his strong results at City Hall.

By Larry Di Ianni, former Mayor
Any city manager has influence by virtue of position. A talented manager, like Chris Murray, transcends even that public role.

Required skills include, tenacity, diplomacy and most importantly, a yearning for success. Chris possesses these in spades.

He hails from the East Coast and lives in Hamilton’s sleepiest suburb, Dundas. He has risen meteorically in the city by virtue of hard-work and successfully negotiating the biggest, most complex, politically perilous, but publicly beneficial city project, the Red Hill Valley Parkway.

On the surface he is a quintessential bureaucrat: quiet, efficient, diplomatic, resourceful and pragmatic. In a room of ‘suits’ or political ‘egos’, Chris Murray would not be the first one your eyes might gravitate to.

Yet, once he speaks; and once he applies his problem-solving skills to any project, he will be the one you remember and admire.

And that is what gives Chris Murray his influence even beyond his position as Hamilton’s chief staffer. His interventions are always made to solve problems and remove obstacles.
Chris has also not shied away from tough decisions, especially those that challenge organizational intransigence, workplace malaise, and fiscal challenges. Hamilton will need his skills to implement future complex projects like the LRT.


By Shelley Falconer, CEO, Art Gallery of Hamilton
I met David Braley 15 years ago, he was the Chair of the Board of Trustees for the McMichael Canadian Art Collection and I was Director of Collections and Programs. He was all about the bottom line and foot- ball and I was all about art and education — an unlikely relationship but within a few months his keen mind, boundless curiosity and pragmatic sensibility engendered confidence and trust with staff and Board. “I will help you (the McMichael Gallery) but I want you to know that my priority is Hamilton and the community, that’s where my money goes” he once told me unequivocally.

Well it all made sense when I arrived last November as a new resident trying to navigate Hamilton’s urban core— David Braley and Nancy Gordon Sculpture Atrium at the AGH, David Braley Cardiac, Vascular and Stroke Research Institute, David Braley Sport Medicine and Rehabilitation Centre, David Braley Athletic and Recreation Centre and most recently the David Braley Health Sciences Centre – wow, I realized, you weren’t kidding!

Although I have been fortunate to know many wonderful donors, collectors and philanthropists over the years, David’s achievements and generosity transcend boundaries and are unique for many reasons—from his unwavering loyalty to Hamilton and the people that live here, to his discerning judgement, unparalleled business acumen and generous spirit he has truly redefined the role that philanthropy can play for this city as an engine of creative change.


By Keanin Loomis, President & CEO, Hamilton Chamber of Commerce
After dropping out of high school, Foxy became a professional basketball referee. He worked in multiple NCAA conferences, traveling from Hamilton to four US cities each week. He now consults for the NBA. He is beloved by everyone in the global basketball industry.

As a young family man, he bought a trucking company on little more than like- ability, grit and determination. He was the daily 5am dispatcher and built the company into a dominant regional player in the logistics industry.

After experiencing multiple whistle malfunctions as a referee, he patented the world’s first pea-less whistle, creating another empire. Made in Hamilton, he has cornered the global whistle market and designed a product that can never be improved upon.

On top of the five decades of 120-hour workweeks, he’s served on and chaired all the big boards in Hamilton and Burlington, and spearheaded countless fundraising efforts that have easily raised nine figures.

Wearing Hamilton on his sleeve on all his journeys, he knows everyone that matters and everything that is going on, locally, provincially and beyond.

He’s arguably the world’s dean of basket-ball refereeing and has built an empire, out- sized persona and global influence.

And yet he schedules his own meetings, responds immediately to an email and always has time to hear a problem and offer advice.


By John Mokrycke, architect
When Tom Weisz was only two years old, and astride his father Arthur’s shoulders, in darkness, with his mother Margaret, the family ran through a Czechoslovakian forest to escape communist Hungary. It’s impossible to imagine Hamilton without the Weisz family, who came to this city by bus, in 1950, into the central bus terminal, which is today, the location of Effort Square.

Tom is a graduate of Hess Street School, Westdale, McMaster, Osgoode Hall, and Harvard Law. He came back to Hamilton in 1978, to help his father start Effort Trust. Since then, countless numbers of local builders and investors have received the essential funding to help propel their businesses into major contributors to the economic health of our community.

Tom is President and CEO of Effort Trust and President of the Weisz Family Foundation, as well as Chair of the Hamilton Future Fund. Tom’s other community involvement includes the McMaster Board of Governors, Governor of the Art Gallery of Hamilton, as well as the Jewish National Fund Board.

Tom Weisz is today a man, with a load of ideas that will drive Hamilton’s future prosperity. In the years ahead he is going to be here assisting the new wave of progressive investors in Hamilton, while dab- bling in his own creative endeavors.

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