Catch ’Em If You Can

There may be plenty of fish in the sea, but unfortunately, a lot of them are bottom feeders.

They lead full and fascinating lives, which may explain why they haven’t settled down yet, but also proves that being footloose and fancy-free is just fine.That’s where we come in. As a valentine to you, every year we assemble a list of the city’s most accomplished, interesting and alluring bachelors and bachelorettes. Each of our 20 singles is exceptional in one way or another. And all of them are what your friends would call “a great catch.”

So without further preamble, we’re proud to present Boston’s Most Eligible Singles, Class of 2014.

Julie King, 24

Defender for the Boston Breakers

A natural athlete with a superior intellect, this Missouri native has little time to kick back, but she makes it all look easy. After earning a bachelor’s degree from Auburn University, where she played soccer, she came to Boston to play professionally in the National Women’s Soccer League for the Boston Breakers. Last season, she returned to Auburn to play basketball—no small feat after five years away from the sport—and pursue a master’s degree in adult education, but now she’s back in Boston, once again playing for the Breakers and continuing her graduate studies from a distance. Independent and adventurous, she’s found that the constant traveling for sports has left her with a lingering wanderlust: After the season ends, she loves to take a trip someplace where she can put her feet up for a while. (And when her feet are up, it’s impossible not to notice her flawless legs.) A die-hard Cardinals fan, she’s developed a love for the Red Sox (last year’s World Series was rough on her). She’s also been developing her culinary skills, frequently experimenting with new recipes. An added bonus: Her sweet tooth means you’ll always have someone to share dessert with.

Matthew Grace, 31

Co-founder and CTO of Objective Logistics

A computer savant from an early age, he grew up in Dartmouth as part of a large Cape Verdean clan and taught himself to program at the age of 13, borrowing books from the Southworth Library. Soon he went from punting fellow teens off AOL to developing software that helped him pay his way through computer-science studies at UMass Dartmouth. After a stint at State Street, he joined the elite team at ClickSoftware, building A.I. applications for huge corporations (you can thank him for the algorithm behind that dreaded customer service “appointment window” of 12 to 4 pm). From there, he became director of product management at Oracle, traveling to 37 states and countries all over the world. He then returned to Massachusetts and teamed up with his best friend to found Objective Logistics, whose software allows restaurants and retailers to gamify staff performance. The startup now has 20 employees and counting. He’s also a co-founder of Rekindle, a still-in-stealth-mode app that aims to help users reconnect with old flames. Actively involved with the tech charity TUGG, he’s an avid snowboarder and recently started training in Muay Thai. For fun, he works on mathematical proofs, cooks, reads and plays guitar. Imagine a young Bill Gates in the making…only good-looking and cool.

Jenni Vingi, 28

VIP and guest relations manager at  Revere Hotel

The product of a tight-knit Sicilian family—with a dozen great-aunts and great-uncles within hollering distance—this Rhode Island-born beauty honed her people skills early. They come in handy in her role at the hotel, where she’s looked after such high-profile guests as John Travolta and Andy Garcia but aims to ensure every guest feels like a VIP. Passionate about dance, she studied tap, jazz and ballet for 16 years and just broke in a new pair of pointe shoes. If pressed, she’ll admit to winning the title of Miss Rhode Island International, though her fiercely independent spirit bristles at the thought of conforming to others’ ideas of beauty or accomplishment. Skilled at sewing and a champion bedazzler, she loves crafts and once built a doghouse in three days. (Her three canines are the apples of her eye.) Currently focused on her career, she has little free time—a hotel never takes a day off—but she is chipping away at her “30 things to do before I’m 30” list, which includes entries such as “ride something bigger than a horse,” “watch the sunrise from California” and our personal favorite: “punch fear in the face.”

Michelle Caldeira, 38

Director of development at College Bound Dorchester

This South American import lived in Guyana until she was 12, then moved to Brooklyn—quite an adjustment. (“Imagine arriving at JFK in February when all you’ve known is 80-plus-degree weather.”) After studying sociology at Binghamton University, she moved back to the city for a stint in corporate marketing but soon decided she preferred the nonprofit world. She worked at a hunger-oriented charity in the Bronx before moving to Boston in 2002. Since then, she’s raised more than $12 million for the Pine Street Inn, the Dimock Center, the Renaissance Charter School and her current employer, College Bound Dorchester. Passionate, giving and (on most days) idealistic, she’s a political junkie, a fashion plate and a bookworm. Though she says she’s no athlete, she recently surprised herself by crossing “running a marathon” off her bucket list, and her ideal date involves “something active and playful,” like pool, bowling or kart racing. She’s also a serious sports fan, one who can even be forgiven for her Yankees allegiance, because going to a game at Fenway is one of her favorite things in the world.

Rich Downing, 30

Fitness entrepreneur

A product of the western exurbs, this handsome go-getter graduated from Colby College and, after a stint in a cubicle farm “right out of the movie Office Space,” earned his master’s from the University of Virginia Darden School of Business, where his entrepreneurial streak was awakened. He and a friend founded a mobile payment startup called PhoneTab that ultimately failed, but during this grueling time he found stress relief as an indoor-cycling instructor. An avid athlete, he ran track and cross-country in college and was a triathlete before being waylaid by rheumatoid arthritis, a setback that led him to indoor cycling. He hasn’t looked back since. Currently a group-cycle instructor at Flywheel Sports in Back Bay, he’s launching his own fitness studio, Turnstyle, in Kendall Square later this year. Collaborative, imaginative, outgoing and driven, he’s also advised several startups and co-founded the nonprofit Neutral Development Project, which raised money for over four years. Plus, he won the “Mr. Colby” pageant in college, and with looks like that, it’s easy to see why.

Jordan Caron, 23

Right wing for the Boston Bruins

Blissfully free of the gargantuan ego that plagues many pro athletes, the Bruins’ baby-faced No. 38 is as modest and down-to-earth as they come. A native of Sayabec, Quebec, a small town 30 minutes outside the not-much-larger town of Rimouski, he’s quiet and serious on the ice but has an excellent sense of humor, plus piercing blue eyes that don’t seem to miss a trick. Used to cold northern climes, he spends his free time holed up with a book or watching movies, instead of tossing Benjamins around at a club. After hockey, tennis is his favorite sport, and he avidly follows the big tournaments. He enjoys doing charity work through the team, visiting hospitals and schools, and he considers it an honor to be able to help people who are having a hard time. He also considers it an honor to play in the NHL—a refreshing attitude in someone so talented. He earns bonus points for speaking fluent French and being handy in the kitchen, and while he usually only cooks for himself, we suspect he’d have any girl eating out of his hand.

 Christina Frangos, 28

Corporate attorney at Mintz Levin

A Renaissance woman if ever there was one, this violin-playing, scuba-diving, civically active corporate lawyer never ceases to surprise. An area native, she has a bachelor’s degree from Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music and a law degree from Boston University. As a corporate attorney, she handles matters like venture capital, public securities offerings, mergers and acquisitions, SEC compliance, corporate governance and contract negotiation, working with clients that range from cutting-edge startups to large bio-tech companies to nonprofits. To keep her hand in the musical world, she serves as an overseer of the Handel and Haydn Society and a board member of the Longwood Symphony, where she also plays. Somehow, she finds time for travel to exotic destinations, often to indulge her passion for scuba-diving through the “Dr. Seuss world under the waves.” She’s also a regular museumgoer, an opera buff who always welcomes “a chance to don a full-length gown and five-inch heels” and an enthusiastic dancer (despite having sprained her ankle on the dance floor—twice). It seems there’s little that doesn’t capture her imagination, and any guy who does will be lucky to.

Bob Pan, 29

Private-equity investor

A self-made man before the age of 30, this brainiac travels the world, interacting with captains of industry and tomorrow’s tech moguls. Being an only child means he knows how to make his own fun, while having lived all over the globe—Fujian, New York, Chicago, Hong Kong—lends him a worldliness beyond his years. After graduating from Duke and pulling 100-hour weeks as an investment banker in New York, he moved to Boston six years ago without knowing a single soul in the city. Already, he’s built an enviable social and professional network, having served on the board of the Boston Young Professionals, helping coordinate charity events like a date auction that raised money for Perkins School for the Blind. He also frequently plans big themed parties for his eclectic group of friends (most recently a Hunger Games soiree with some grueling party games). Part of a hip-hop dance troupe and a competitive bhangra team in college, he knows his way around a dance floor, and he’s recently become a CrossFit devotee and Tough Mudder competitor. Comfortable in front of crowds and confident without being cocky, he’s at home in his own skin and at least as much fun as a barrel of monkeys, though he prefers to put his business acumen to work in Monopoly and Settlers of Catan.

Rebecca Arnold, 28

Sous-chef at Alden & Harlow

The rare chef who’s just as concerned about health as she is about flavor, this Easton native studied nutrition at UMass Amherst, ate her way through Europe and then moved to New York to attend the Natural Gourmet Institute for Health & Culinary Arts. After a stint at the gourmet vegetarian restaurant Millennium in San Francisco, she returned to Massachusetts and worked her way up the kitchen ladder to her current position at Harvard Square’s newest claim to culinary fame. In 2012, she won the Bubbles and Burger competition at the Nantucket Wine Festival, perhaps because ACK is her happy place. She’s a staunch supporter of Cape Abilities (a farm-based organization that serves the disabled on Cape Cod), formerly practiced and taught taekwondo, and paints, sails, skis and travels whenever she can. As her active Instagram account (@beccasarnold) attests, she’s also the rare chef who likes to cook even when she’s not working. In fact, she’s a rare bird all around.

Tim Sabo, 30

Marketing manager for New Balance Baseball

As fiercely loyal as he is competitive, this native of New York was drafted by the Cleveland Indians right out of high school, but opted to pursue his education and attended Seton Hall University on a baseball scholarship. He left after his junior year, when he was eligible for the MLB draft again, and signed with the Chicago White Sox. He played in the minor league for the next three years, finishing his degree in the offseasons. He then tapped into his love of art to land a job in advertising, working at two agencies before landing his current (dream) job, which combines all his passions. The intense running culture at New Balance has instilled a newfound love for the sport: Since moving to Boston, he’s participated in a few 5k and 5-mile races and become involved with November Project, a group-exercise community. He’s also active with a nonprofit called Full Court Peace, which helps create youth basketball leagues in underserved communities. Because he still feels like a neophyte to the city, his 2014 resolution is to explore Boston as fully as possible—and whether he does it solo or with some lucky girl at his side, he plans to have a good time doing it.

Kia Kenney, 35

Owner of the Arthur Murray Dance Center of Cambridge

This graceful dancer isn’t afraid of risky moves. A high school valedictorian in her native Sunshine State, she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Math/Systems from Taylor University in Indiana and spent four years as a management consultant, which only fed the love of international travel she’d developed during annual community-service trips as a teenager. (She has lived in England and the Philippines and to this day gets antsy unless she has an adventure on the horizon.) But she diverged from that career path to pursue her passion for dance, taking a year’s leave of absence to tour the U.S. and Canada with a troupe. Ultimately, she decided to relocate to Boston and teach ballroom dancing full time. She made the Boston Arthur Murray Dance Center one of the chain’s top 10 studios, and after six years of managing, she took another leap, opening her own Arthur Murray studio across the river last fall. When she’s not teaching, she waltzes, tangoes and fox-trots at competitions at least one weekend each month. She’s also involved with Dance for a Cure, a charity dedicated to ending prostate cancer. Admittedly addicted to sunshine, she enjoys pretty much any outdoor activity, and while she cops to being a perfectionist, she looks damn near perfect in our eyes.

Ben Anderson, 36

Associate director of capital giving at Boston College

This six-foot-five bachelor has a big heart to match. After graduating from Bates College, he worked in sales for a Boston tech startup, but left to teach at an independent school. “Friends told me I was crazy for making the jump,” he says, “but it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.” Though he eventually left teaching, the experience cemented his passion for education and led him to a job in development at Skidmore College. He moved back to Boston three and a half years ago to fundraise for Habitat for Humanity, with which he’s still actively involved. His current position has him raising money for B.C., working to match donors’ philanthropic priorities with the university’s needs. An avid skier, he spends a lot of time in his native Vermont, where his parents own an inn. He’s a world traveler, too, having visited more than 30 countries and picked up passable German and Spanish (which helped him bribe his way out of a ticket during a Nicaragua trip). He also loves showing off his culinary chops and checking out new bars—and crushing the competition therein (his dart-league trophy is one of his prized possessions).

 Malia Lazu, 36

Co-founder and executive director of Future Boston Alliance 

“Part Hawaiian, part Bostonian and all bad-ass” is how one of her friends describes her. Born and raised in Honolulu, she studied political communication at Emerson College, and is now the co-founder and executive director of Future Boston Alliance, a nonprofit organization dedicated to forging partnerships that will help the city realize its full potential. “I believe magic happens when communities collide,” she says. Her skill as a political and social leader has garnered attention from Showtime, Fox News, WGBH and The Boston Globe (which also dubbed her one the city’s most stylish people in 2013). She has managed campaigns for civil-rights activist Harry Belafonte and novelist Walter Mosley, and earned such accolades as Emerson’s Walter Littlefield Distinguished Speaker Award and the MIT Mel King Community Fellowship. As for her idea of romance? “I am an island girl, so nothing beats a beautiful sunset, a nice drink and fish on the grill.” Her favorite hobbies include brunch and reading the Sunday paper, but lest she seem too serious or sedentary, she also loves yoga, hiking, salsa dancing and travel, when she’s not busy making the world a better place.

Dan Hermann, 42

Co-founder of Paint Nite

Always a groomsman and never the groom (yet), he’s been in 14 wedding parties and served as best man three times, which should give some indication of his upstanding character. The man behind the wildly popular Paint Nite—which offers social painting lessons led by artists at bars and restaurants in more than 60 cities and four countries—this serial entrepreneur also operates Lazybones Laundry, a college clothes-cleaning business that does 50,000 pounds of laundry per week in six states. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison with an MBA from Babson, he’s originally from Newton. His New England roots show in his love of fishing, and in his spare time, you can find him on his 24-foot center-console boat. He also enjoys gardening and tending to his tropical aquariums. His extensive involvement in charity work includes organizing a yearly catch-and-release shark-fishing tournament to benefit the National Brain Tumor Society, as well as Paint Nite fundraisers for the Boys & Girls Clubs and Last Hope K9 Rescue. Supremely confident and a sharp dresser, he takes an out-of-the-box approach to romance that’s as creative as the company he founded.

Jasmine Hagans, 27

Curator of lectures, courses and concerts at the Museum of Fine Arts

By day, she brings acts like Califone, Lost in the Trees and Peter Yarrow to the Museum of Fine Arts. By night, she rocks out as drummer for Somerville “surf-doom” band Sleep Crimes. (Musical chops run in the family: Her father, Tim Hagans, is a Grammy-nominated jazz musician.) A native of Bucks County, Penn., this lesbian bachelorette graduated summa cum laude from Northeastern with a degree in music and interned at the MFA in college. She then worked as a tour manager, lighting designer and booking agent in the music industry in both Boston and New York. Having received a TEFL certificate in 2008, she also spent a year teaching English in Seoul, South Korea. In her current position, she oversees a broad range of programming, educating and engaging MFA patrons through more than 150 courses, performances and other events each year. A lifelong voracious reader (she’d finished the entire works of Laura Ingalls Wilder by third grade), she has been a volunteer teacher in the Cambridge Public Libraries’ literacy program. She also enjoys cycling, running, tennis and dancing like no one’s watching—and, in short, is the kind of girl any girl would be proud to bring home to her parents.

CJ Husk, 33

Gentleman farmer and “oyster dude” at  Row 34 and Island Creek Oysters

This bred-in-the-bone New Englander farms 130 acres of land that have been in his family since the 1700s, tending chickens, pigs, sheep and a cantankerous llama. That’s in addition to his work with Island Creek Oysters in Duxbury, where his family has a vacation home and he’s spent every summer of his life. Part of the Island Creek crew for the past six years, he pops up at new Fort Point hotspot Row 34 and sundry food and wine fests, shucking everywhere from SXSW to the Nantucket Wine Festival. A six-foot-four jack-of-all-trades, he worked as a bike messenger while rowing crew at Northeastern, plays the guitar and drums, can fix pretty much any American-made car or truck, could hang out a shingle as a carpenter, plumber or electrician, and has studied Thai yoga massage as well as sound acupuncture, a practice that involves planetary tuning forks, Tibetan singing bowls and astrology. And he still finds time to serve on the board of the Hollis Agricultural Commission and the Beaver Brook Association—2,000 acres of conservation land established by his grandfather. In short, he’s outdoorsy, with a heart as big as the great outdoors.

Janice Heil, 40+

Manager at Flor

Wildly witty and infinitely adaptable, this Massachusetts native graduated from Boston College and has worked in retail since the age of 16. She served as general manager of Barneys in Chestnut Hill until its 2011 closure; now she applies her genius for color, composition, design and making things pretty to the Back Bay carpeting boutique Flor. An admitted fashion and beauty junkie, she has a wardrobe any dictator’s wife would envy and knows how to mix high and low, classic and trendy. But she’s not just a girly girl: An avid sports fan, she discovered Twitter during a period of unemployment, and her snarky wit gained her more than 1,000 followers who hang on her every tweet about the Red Sox. Her ability to laugh at herself is part of her charm, and her strength and resilience are an indication that she doesn’t need a man to complete her, though she’s open to the possibility. Although she calls herself a procrastinator, one of her resolutions for 2014 was to venture outside her comfort zone. And by appearing in this issue, she’s already done it, not two months into the year.

 Samantha Mercer, 27

Preschool teacher

It’s no surprise this beauty’s idea of an ideal date involves live music. A graduate of Suffolk University, where she studied performing and visual arts, this Fall River native has appeared as a singer in 12 musicals. She went on to earn a master’s degree in education from Simmons College and loves her job working with tots in Charlestown, where she now lives. An avid golfer thanks to her dad, she’s a rabid Patriots fan and not only watches them religiously, but goes to the NFL draft every year with her father. Also in the tomboy category: She’s a car nut and probably knows more about them than you do. Currently, the main love of her life is her 2-year-old Shih Tzu, Lotus, whom she dotes on. Outgoing, bubbly and a great listener—with a way of eliciting entire life stories by the end of conversations—she’s also low-maintenance, witty and considerate, as well as easy on the eyes.

Matthew Pidge, 29

Private chef to former Ambassador Swanee Hunt

Born and raised in Waltham and Lexington, this devastatingly handsome gay bachelor studied holistic health practice, nutrition and homeopathy at the American College of Healthcare Sciences. Without any formal culinary schooling, he beat out five highly trained toques for the position of private chef to the formidable Cambridge grand dame and Kennedy School lecturer Swanee Hunt, who entertains almost continuously. That means he frequently whips up formal dinners for 200, feeding such eminences as Gloria Steinem, U.S. senators and Afghan parliamentarians, as well as the extensive household staff. Off-hours, you can look for this former gymnast and avid snowboarder on the slopes almost every winter weekend, while summer finds him tending to his impressive garden and going on adventures—swimming along the calanques of Cassis in France, kayaking in Vietnam’s Halong Bay or taking a three-week culinary and cultural tour of Italy. Deeply spiritual and unfailingly kind, he enjoys the symphony, opera and pretty much any cultural activity. In short, he’s a much more pleasant version of Mrs. Patmore from Downton Abbey, trapped inside the body of a GQ model.

Sachin Jain, 33

Doctor and health care advocate

“Overachiever” doesn’t begin to describe him. A magna cum laude Harvard graduate, he went on to earn his M.D. and MBA, along the way founding a clinic to provide health care to the homeless. He served as a health care adviser in the Obama administration and now works as Merck’s first-ever chief medical information and innovation officer, developing new ways of using data and technology to improve patient health. As if that’s not enough, he continues to practice as a volunteer physician at the VA, teaches health care policy at Harvard Medical School and serves as co-founder and co-editor-in-chief of a health care journal. Somehow, he finds time to work out with a trainer, play tennis and take in live music (R&B is his favorite). A lifelong vegetarian, he also has a proven track record as a matchmaker, with five marriages to his credit. Extremely close to his family, he helps them operate a health and education trust in Rajasthan, India. We’re exhausted just contemplating all his accomplishments.

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