Debi Kleiman, who a year ago was named Executive Director of the Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurship at Babson College, suddenly finds herself conflicted. The Center that she oversees at the Wellesley college is named for the owner of the Atlanta Falcons — the New England Patriots’ pending Super Bowl LI victim.
Kleiman, who grew up in Wellesley and Dover, is a lifelong Pats fan. “I am, in general, a crazy Boston sports fan. I can be kind of be embarrassing to sit with at games, I definitely like to cheer (let’s call it that),” she wrote to me (and sent along the accompanying photo of her, along with her husband one of her sons, at the Patriots-Houston playoff game from a couple of weeks back).
But Kleiman isn’t giving the Falcons any bulletin board material, which I’m sure Coach Belichick appreciates.
“As an entrepreneur and as someone whose mission it is to help entrepreneurs succeed, I can’t help but admire Arthur Blank, the namesake for our Center here and Babson Alum. He is an incredible entrepreneur (as is Bob Kraft BTW) – and our students can learn so much from his example,” she says.
Blank isn’t all that involved with the Center these days (“I think he relies on his gift to the College to do the talking…”). But his foundation did make another gift — I imagine what’s known as a Blank Check — to Babson last year to help support student-led social innovation exploration.
Kleiman figures most of Blank’s focus is with the Falcons these days. “He has spent enormous time and resources recently to build an extraordinary new stadium in Atlanta and use that to lift up the entire city of Atlanta economically. I think that’s indicative of how he thinks – trying to create economic and social value with his ventures.”
Kleiman concludes: “So I guess my personal side is all Pats, but my professional side leans Falcons.”
The Babson executive has yet to meet Blank, but would like to do so. She’d just prefer that his hand isn’t bearing a gawdy Super Bowl ring when she shakes it.