Paul S. Speranza Jr. is vice chairman, general counsel, and secretary of Wegmans Food Markets, Inc., and a senior councilor on the board of directors of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He served as U.S. Chamber chairman, vice chairman, regional vice chairman (eastern region), chairman of the Taxation Committee for nine years, and chairman of the Employee Benefits Committee for seven years. He is a member of the Executive Committee.
Speranza, a social advocate, believes passionately in freedom, democracy, free enterprise, opportunity, and hope for all. As an attorney, he believes that the rule of law is the cornerstone of society. He recognizes that quality education can vastly improve people’s lives, as was the case for both him and his family, and believes that all children, especially the economically disadvantaged, should have access to quality education and quality health care.
As U.S. Chamber chairman, Speranza addressed, worked with, and called to action state and local chambers, associations, other business groups, as well as civic and charitable organizations to advance pro-growth policies and programs. He had three goals: first, improve education and workforce development; second, improve health care affordability, quality, and access; and third, strengthen and focus the U.S. Chamber’s initiatives to better align them with those of state and local chambers.
Wegmans Food Markets, Inc., an 84 store supermarket chain with stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Massachusetts, and Maryland, is a family-owned company that employs 44,000 workers and generates $7 billion in annual sales. Founded in 1916, Wegmans is recognized as an industry leader and innovator. In a front-page feature article, The Wall Street Journal quoted an industry expert who called “Wegmans the best food retailer in the country, maybe in the world.” The Food Network, in its first-ever awards show, gave Wegmans the award for the “grocery chain that has changed the way we shop,” and BusinessWeek magazine named Wegmans number five on its customer service champions list.
For the last 17 years, Wegmans has been on FORTUNE magazine’s list of the “100 Best Companies to Work For” currently ranked at #12. In the prior nine years, Wegmans has been in the top five on the list (being number one once) and is the only company in America to achieve this. Speranza takes particular pride in the fact that Ethisphere Magazine named Wegmans one of the most ethical companies in the world several times, including in 2012, based on the implementation of its code of ethics, how it handles litigation, its compliance with laws and regulations, its corporate social responsibility initiatives, and its leadership, among other criteria.
Speranza joined Wegmans in 1976, where he chairs a number of committees and is responsible for legal, tax, government relations, and labor relations, along with other management duties. He is a member of the board of the Business Council of New York State (the state Chamber of Commerce), where he also serves as vice chairman of finance and treasurer and is a member of the Executive and Policy Committee. He serves on the board of directors and the Executive Committee of the Rochester Business Alliance, chairing its Health Care Planning Team, a consortium of large employers; and chairing its community-wide High Blood Pressure Collaborative.
Speranza is the 2009 winner of the Corning Award for Excellence, which is given each year by Corning Inc. and the Business Council of New York State to a New Yorker who has demonstrated an outstanding level of accomplishment and a deep and sustaining commitment to the people of New York State. This award has been won in the past by members of Congress, governors, New York State elected legislative leaders, and civic leaders.
Speranza is past chairman of several boards, including Lifetime Health, Inc., a $6 billion per year Blue Cross Blue Shield Company based in upstate New York, where he worked on governance, education, and health care issues for economically disadvantaged youth. He is also past chairman of Our Lady of Mercy High School, where he instituted a scholarship program for economically disadvantaged students. He won the Veritas Award, which is the highest honor that the school gives to a layman. He is currently the co-chair of the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council committee on health care and the committee on education and workforce development.
Speranza is active in a number of business, civic, and professional organizations and is a frequent speaker and author on business, legal, and civic matters. He is a member of the California, New York, Pennsylvania, Tax Court, Second Circuit Court of Appeals, and Supreme Court of the United States bars. He is a graduate of Eastridge High School (1965), Syracuse University (B.S., 1969), the University of San Francisco (J.D., 1971), and New York University (LL.M. in Taxation, 1972), which is consistently ranked as the number one graduate tax program in the United States.