John Gould, a passionate advocate for business and education who built Associated Industries of Massachusetts into the predominant employer association in Massachusetts, died Saturday at the age of 86.
A former senior vice president of Shawmut National Corporation, Gould became chief executive of AIM in 1988 and guided its transformation from a manufacturing association to one representing the interests of employers from all sectors of the economy. He also made AIM a pivotal voice on a series of issues ranging from workers compensation reform to taxation to the development of education standards for the commonwealth.
“The stature, respect and effectiveness that AIM enjoys today rests in large measure on the shoulders of John Gould and the work he did during an exceedingly difficult economic period in the history of Massachusetts,” said Richard C. Lord, President and Chief Executive Officer of AIM.
“There are companies, jobs and opportunities that exist in Massachusetts in 2016 that might not be here were it not for the work that John Gould did. He was one of those who laid the foundations for the stable economy and world-class education system we all enjoy.”
One of Gould’s most enduring accomplishments was his decision in the midst of the workers compensation crisis of the late 1980s and early 1990s to have AIM create its own workers compensation insurance company, called the Massachusetts Employers Insurance Exchange. That company, now a mutual insurer called A.I.M. Mutual, has grown into one of the largest writers of workers compensation coverage in Massachusetts.
Former colleagues recall Gould as a no-nonsense former newspaper reporter whose softer side was evident from his extensive involvement with causes such as the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, the Children’s Trust Fund and early childhood education. Former Governor Michael Dukakis appointed Gould to the state Board of Education and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino appointed him to the Boston School Committee.
Gould’s dedication to learning prompted AIM to rename its annual education and work force training award as the John Gould Education and Workforce Development Award in 1999. The award recognizes companies and individuals for efforts to improve public edition and advancement, employability, and productivity of residents of the commonwealth.
Gould’s extensive community activities also included the executive committee of The Challenge to Leadership; the Communications and Public Relations Advisory Committee for The Archdiocese of Boston; the Advisory Board of the College of Management at UMass-Boston, the Associates Program at Northeastern University; and the Worker’s Compensation Advisory Council of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Gould actually served two tenures with AIM. He served as director of public affairs from 1960 through June 1965 before leaving to pursue a public relations career, first with the firm of Newsome and Company, and then with Shawmut. His responsibilities at Shawmut included coordinating all external communications for the regional bank holding company headquartered in Boston and Hartford, Connecticut.
He began his as a reporter, political reporter and feature writer for the Boston Herald-Traveler Corporation. Gould attended Boston University and served in the United States Air Force Security Service from 1950-1954.
Gould retired as president and chief executive office of AIM in 1999, remaining as vice chairman of the Board of Directors. He also continued to serve as a director of A.I.M. Mutual.
“John will be greatly missed and the 4,000 member employers of AIM send their thoughts and prayers to his family,” Lord said.