How Suffolk University is responding
to the coronavirus outbreak
Story by Ben Hall
Photographs by Ashleigh Bargoot and Ana Botello
Greg Balestrieri, BSBA ’09 (above, left), and Joe Melville, BSBA ’09 (above, right), not only launched their first company as students, but did so during final exams.
“It was absolutely nuts,” says Balestrieri. “And one of the things I’ll never forget is how supportive our professors were.”
The cousins are founders of Candy.com, the online mega-candy store they started at Suffolk, and Green Rabbit, which provides fulfillment and delivery of temperature-sensitive and perishable goods for e-commerce businesses. Balestrieri and Melville credit the enthusiasm and advice of Sawyer Business School professors George Moker and David Hartstein as key elements to both companies’ success.
“They always encouraged us to try hard, take risks, and go after our ambitions,” says Balestrieri. In 2018, the pair were both named Suffolk 10 Under 10 alumni honorees.
Although not yet 40, the cousins qualify as elder statesmen of entrepreneurship, and they want to set a positive example for today’s budding businesspeople. “Showing student entrepreneurs that you can have success coming out of Suffolk is important,” says Balestrieri. “It’s really rewarding to see others taking that path.”
Most recently, the pair served as judges for and helped underwrite the Suffolk Ventures $10K Idea Pitch Competition. Sponsored by Suffolk’s Center for Entrepreneurship, the event featured 10 finalists from the College of Arts & Sciences, the Sawyer Business School, and Suffolk Law presenting their pitches to a panel of judges, all Suffolk alumni. They are also among the newest members of the Sawyer Business School Dean’s Cabinet, which recognizes loyal benefactors to the school.
Balestrieri and Melville hope that their example will encourage other alumni to support the next generation of Suffolk entrepreneurs, whether through financial support, visiting a class, or hiring students for internships and jobs.
“Suffolk was a huge part of the success that we both had,” says Melville, “and we hope that what we do inspires others.”
Story by Mark Potts
Photo courtesy of Hind Habbach
Hind Habbach, BA ’09, knows how much scholarships meant to her academic career. So now she’s giving back.
“I said, as soon as I save a little bit of money, I’m going to start a scholarship, no matter how small,” she says. “And I did.”
After creating a scholarship program at her alma mater, Revere High School, she now has launched the Hind Habbach Term Scholarship at Suffolk University, aimed at helping students majoring in political science with a concentration in international relations.
She’s also a member of the Suffolk University Black Alumni Network (SUBAN), which plans the annual Black Excellence Award Celebration and is a key partner in the University’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion goals. In 2019, Habbach was named a Suffolk 10 Under 10 alumni honoree.
“I’m a product of a scholarship and a product of financial aid,” Habbach says. Her family emigrated to the U.S. from Morocco in the mid-1980s, settling in East Boston before moving to Revere, Massachusetts. “We were probably one of the first Moroccan families in East Boston,” she says, recalling the community’s small, tight-knit Moroccan diaspora.
Today, Habbach is a global commercial contracts attorney for Axiom, working with Fortune 500 companies. She also specializes in investor relations, scaling businesses in the Middle East and North Africa, having done so for companies such as TransparentBusiness and SheWorks! (TBI), which provide software systems to help organizations manage geographically dispersed workforces. She spent nearly 10 years in senior investor relations positions at Sentinel Real Estate in New York, a global real estate investment management firm, and more recently at TBI, overseeing the Middle East, North Africa, and Turkey region before joining Axiom in 2021.
Habbach says attending Suffolk was an obvious choice: “I wanted to go to a school that was in my backyard, and Suffolk being right on Beacon Hill and being one of the best schools in Boston, with a strong legal community—it was a no-brainer.”
An internship in Dubai and a study-abroad program at Suffolk Madrid fueled Habbach’s interest in international law. She currently sits on the governance committee of the Arab American Bar Association and hopes to set up a chapter of the group at Suffolk Law.
At Suffolk, Habbach was an active member and e-board member of the Black Student Union, the Muslim Student Association, the Cape Verdean Student Association, and the Caribbean Student Network, giving her exposure to a variety of viewpoints and cultures in the University’s affinity groups. That’s why she’s particularly excited to serve as co-chair of SUBAN alongside co-chair Tamela Bailey, JD ’04, and to work with the network’s founder, Suffolk Trustee Ernst Guerrier, BS ’91, JD ’94. With support from SUBAN’s committee, Guerrier established the SUBAN Scholarship Fund, providing scholarships to students in each of Suffolk’s three schools.
“I’m thrilled to see the SUBAN scholarship come to fruition,” she says, noting that it launched in the wake of recent heightened conversation about racial and social justice. Of the SUBAN committee she says, “They’re active leaders, they know what they’re doing, they’re there for the students, and also there for the community.”