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Academy of Distinguished Entrepreneurs®

In 1978, Babson College, established the world’s first entrepreneurship hall of fame, the Academy of Distinguished Entrepreneurs.

Since its inception, the academy has recognized and honored entrepreneurs who have contributed significantly to the development of free enterprise throughout the world.

Nominations of world-class entrepreneurs who have created great economic and social value are solicited from the Babson community as well as from outside the institution. Through the years, Babson has celebrated entrepreneurs of all kinds as illustrated by the impressive list of inductees. Collectively, the 98 members of the academy have created millions of jobs and improved societies around the world.

Many of the most successful and visible entrepreneurs in the world are members of the academy. They represent companies that are some of the most highly regarded in their industry and household icons in their culture. These members have capitalized on the need for change, accepted the associated risk and responsibility, and made an impact on the world. The energy and innovation embodied by these individuals will be appreciated and applauded for many generations to come.

2014 Academy of Distinguished Entrepreneur Inductees

Diane Hessan

Diane Hessan

Founder and Chairman of Communispace

Diane Hessan is a successful marketer, entrepreneur, and author. She is the founder and chairman of Communispace, a leading consumer collaboration agency “with a Blue Chip client list that would make a Madison Avenue giant jealous,” according to Advertising Age. A pioneer in creating online communities to help marketers get inspiration from their consumers, Hessan helped found Communispace in 1999—when no one knew what social media was—and hasn’t looked back.

Today, she leads Communispace’s 500+ employees in building and managing the nearly 700 private communities the company has created for a premier list of more than 200 global corporations. Communispace’s revenues have tripled in the last four years, and the company enjoys a 90+ percent client retention rate. Read more »

Alan Trefler

Alan Trefler

Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Pegasystems

His recent book, Build for Change, describes a new generation of customers who have unprecedented power to make or break brands and the changes businesses must embrace to succeed in today’s digital world. A best-seller on 800-CEO-Read, the book has been reviewed and featured in national media outlets including Forbes,, Computer Weekly, and 1to1Media.

Trefler was named Public Company CEO of the Year in 2011 by the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council, and received the American Business Award’s Software CEO of the Year for 2009. He frequently presents to international business and technology audiences and at industry conferences. Read more »

Graham Weston

Graham Weston

Founder, Chairman of the Board, and CEO of Rackspace

From an early age, Weston saw entrepreneurial opportunities in everything around him. He launched his first business venture as a seventh-grader, marketing organic pork in newspaper ads that read “Go Hog Wild!” In high school, he built another business that took photos at livestock shows, and sold them to contestants.

He attended Texas A&M, where he launched another business. This one was inspired by his successful appeal of the multiple, conflicting property tax bills levied by various government entities upon his father’s small ranch, and led him to help other property owners appeal their bills. Read more »​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​