Local business leader named to Westfield State University Board

Jan 5, 2021

Ali Salehi, chief executive officer and president of Westfield-based Columbia Manufacturing Inc., has been appointed to the Westfield State University Board of Trustees by Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker. Salehi will serve a five-year term as a trustee, until 2025.

A Westfield resident, Salehi has served Columbia—an industry leader in the production of school furniture with an award-winning manufacturing record in sustainability, environmental, and health and safety issues—for the past 25 years, including five years as president and a year as CEO. He began his career there as a quality engineer in 1984 and worked for six years in engineering and quality assurance. Following five years as director of quality for Sturbridge-based G&F Industries, Salehi was named vice president of Columbia’s manufacturing and engineering in 1995.

“It is our pleasure to welcome a highly accomplished and thoughtful business leader to the board,” said Kevin Queenin ’70, chair of the Westfield State Board of Trustees. “We are eager to draw upon Mr. Salehi’s experience and perspective to better serve our students.”

Salehi eagerly joins the University’s Board. “I am indeed honored by the trust the governor has extended by appointing me to the board,” he said. “WSU has a special place in my heart and I will do all I can to help and support this hidden jewel of an institution, its students, and distinguished faculty and staff.”

At Columbia, Salehi oversees a 144-year-old organization; the company produces American-designed-and-made school furniture. Salehi holds two patents, as Columbia operates a zero-discharge nickel/chrome plating facility, which has won numerous environmental awards for its recycling abilities and extreme reduction of water usage.

In addition to Columbia Manufacturing’s status as a pillar of the Westfield community, Salehi has served as a board member and past president of the Greater Westfield Chamber of Commerce, a board member and chair of the Westfield State University Foundation, and a member of the Westfield Redevelopment Authority Board. A trustee of Suffield Academy and the Baystate Health Foundation, Salehi holds a B.S. in mechanical engineering and an M.S. in engineering management from Western New England University.