40 Under 40 The Class of 2010

James Leahy

James Leahy: 36

Pharmaceutical Sales Representative, Alcon Laboratories; Holyoke City Councilor

James Michael Leahy’s father emigrated from Ireland to South Boston and married the daughter of two Irish immigrants.

“Nothing was handed to them. I saw how hard they worked, and that’s been ingrained in me,” said Leahy, adding that his father admired former Boston Mayor James Michael Curley — so much that he named his son after him. “He told me stories about how this mayor helped immigrant people who were struggling. And I’ve been given so much in life that I feel I should give back.”

Over the years, Leahy has served the community with financial philanthropy and volunteer work for organizations including the YMCA, the Holyoke Children’s Museum, the Holyoke Merry-Go-Round, and the Holyoke Boys Club, as well as overseeing the very well-attended 2010 St. Patrick’s parade and road race. Then there’s the Holyoke City Council; he was first elected at age 24 and is now serving his sixth term.

“I work on quality-of-life issues, safe streets, keeping Holyoke affordable, bringing new business into the city,” he said. He helped the Police Department procure financing for bulletproof vests and is working to get them tasers as well, and he received a proclamation from former Mayor Michael Sullivan for testimony in a notable rape case.

Leahy balances all this with about 50 hours of work each week at Alcon Laboratories, a worldwide leader in vision products. There, he trains new employees and sits on a human-resources diversity board among his everyday responsibilities, which focus on products for glaucoma, allergies, and dry eye.

Considering all those roles, it’s no wonder that he makes family time count. A member of Springfield Country Club, he takes turns bringing his kids (ages 9, 8, and 4) to play a few holes of golf in the evening and then shares some one-on-one time over ice cream.

“That’s my quality time with my children,” he said. But it sounds like Leahy strives for quality with all his time.

—Joseph Bednar