Jim Ansara

Jim Ansara is a retired general contractor who founded Shawmut Design and Construction in Boston in the early 1980’s – now one of the top 25 construction companies in the US.  During that time Shawmut was proclaimed one of the best places to work in Massachusetts and named by Inc. Magazine as one of the fastest growing companies in the US for five years in a row.  After retiring from active management, Jim served as Chairman of the Board for over ten years before redirecting his energy to the developing world.

Since retirement from Shawmut, Jim has been dedicated to actively participating in programs that make a tangible difference in the lives of poor and underprivileged people. While at Shawmut he led several teams of Shawmut volunteers to build low-tech, clean water systems in Nicaragua with the organization, El Porvenir. After reading the classic book Mountains Beyond Mountains Jim became eager to visit Haiti in 2009. That trip with Dr. Paul Farmer led to an invitation to build a 100-bed community hospital with Partners in Health (PIH) in Haiti’s Central Plateau – a process that took a major turn when a massive earthquake struck the country on January 10, 2010.

For three-and-a-half years after the earthquake, through the outbreak of cholera and political unrest, through hurricanes and unbearable heat, Jim, his partner Dr. David Walton of PIH, and hundreds of Haitian and Dominican workers persevered to build Haiti’s new 340-bed National Teaching Hospital in Mirebalais, Haiti.  Since its completion, Jim has applied lessons learned to building and equipping more health care infrastructure in Haiti and other developing countries via a new non-profit, Build Health International, based in Beverly, MA with Dr. David Walton as his Founding Partner. Jim and the BHI team have constructed a National Reference Laboratory and Rehabilitation Center in Mirebalais and a Neo-Natal and Maternity Health Center, Surgical Center, and Infectious Disease Center for St. Boniface Hospital in Haiti’s South Department, making it the second busiest hospital in Haiti.  Other projects undertaken with PIH, the Kellogg Foundation and with Cure International have included a community library in Haiti and designing and equipping projects and in Peru, Malawi, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.

For Jim’s philanthropy he received Honorary Doctorates in Humane Letters from Amherst College and from Salem State University, as well as distinction from Partners in Health, the Political Asylum and Immigration Representation Project, Summer Search Boston, and more. In recent years he has served on the boards of St. Boniface Haiti Foundation and Salem State University, and in past years, the Boston Children’s Museum, Youth Build, and City Year.