Boston Spirit’s Top 25 LGBT Power Players of New England for 2015

Power Player 2015 RafanelliBryan Rafanelli
Event planner
Bryan Rafanelli makes us want to party. He and his firm, Rafanelli Events, have a simple philosophy: every event is a unique creative challenge deserving of a one-of-a-kind approach. “My team listens to what you’re imagining and then comes back with an idea you never expected,” he says. “We hone in on every last detail so we can always deliver clients the highest level of service.” Whether a fundraiser, wedding reception or a high profile party, nothing is more important than appearances. And food. And music. And ambiance. Lucky for anyone who has been out and about, Rafanelli has made a name for himself by making—or maintaining—the names of others in the form of a flawless event.
Named “The event planner of the year” by Town & Country magazine, Rafanelli is known for his exquisite sense of style, attention to detail and ability to transform clients’ visions into unforgettable celebrations. He has produced it all, from elaborate fairy tale-themed fundraising galas for Massachusetts General Hospital for Children to White House State Dinners to Chelsea Clinton’s “wedding of the decade”.
Not bad for an Italian kid from a modest Rhode Island family. “The sense of community and of bringing people together to have good time just for ‘good time’s sake’ has always been inside me,” he says.
He launched Rafanelli Events in 1996 as a three-person operation executing only a handful of events a year. It quickly evolved into a full-service event design, strategy, planning and production company with more than 100 events annually in venues around the world.
Rafanelli was named one of OUT magazine’s “100 Most Compelling People in 2010, a “Trendsetter of the Year” by Modern Bride, a “40 Under 40” by the Boston Business Journal and “Best in Boston” eight years running by Boston magazine. He has also appeared as an industry expert on regional and national television programs including: The Martha Stewart Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, NBC’s The Today Show, and as a regular contributor on New England Cable News’ Morning Show.
Power Player 2015 SegarraPedro Segarra
Mayor, Hartford, CT
Gay mayors are the new gay city councilor or gay school board member.
In most cases they represent a decades-long shift in voter sentiment that continues to give us hope for the future of electoral politics.
Take Pedro E. Segarra, the 66th mayor of Hartford, Connecticut. He was sworn in for the second time in November of 2011 in a sweeping victory with 81% of the vote—as an out politician.
“As a gay mayor, when you look at issues, whether they are economic development issues, housing issues, whatever issue it is, you look at issues through that lens of being gay,” says Segarra. “You feel true compassion for those who may have been deprived of their civil or political rights. While we have gay marriage in most states now and we have a lot of protections, we also need to make sure that both our policies and our practices are working in concert.”
Segarra knows policy. Elected with a clear mandate to bring stability to Hartford, Mayor Segarra demonstrated a sense of urgency when he created “Opportunities Hartford,” which focuses on improvement in three pillars; income, education and employment. During his tenure, he has stabilized the city’s economy, added a record number of market, moderate, and affordable housing units in the City, and worked to reduce violent crime. Having lost his father at a young age to gun violence, Segarra has earned a reputation for being unwavering in his determination on this issue. Under his leadership, record breaking decreases in shootings have been achieved, and the City of Hartford was recognized as being safer now than in the past 25 years.
“Cities are on the front lines of all issues. We get the calls in the middle of the night when there is violence, we get calls about potholes, we are impacted by immigration,” he says. “Every year we pass a budget and figure out how to advance our city, and how to meet the demands of our existing and growing populations amidst limited resources. In Hartford, we have done just that and have achieved enormous success.” [x]