Innovative Nonprofit Leader Tapped as Chief of Economic Development in Boston

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February 10, 2014; Boston Globe

In the linked article from the Boston Globe, John Barros is featured as a youth organizer in “Holding Ground,” a video about the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative.

The Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative is one of the most remarkable resident empowerment neighborhood development projects in the United States, making use of eminent domain to remake the neighborhood. Barros eventually went to Dartmouth and worked in corporate America, returning to the neighborhood to take the leadership role in DSNI himself. Now 40, Barros, who is Cape Verdean and who was raised in the neighborhood, has been appointed by Mayor Martin J. Walsh as the city’s first chief of economic development.

Barros was one of a number of community activists who ran against Walsh for the mayoralty. His platform was similar to that of Bill de Blasio in New York City, in that he campaigned on the need to make sure that no area of Boston was left behind economically, even using the “tale of two cities” metaphor. Barros has a powerful intellect and knows the neighborhoods of Boston intimately. He has been a part of one of the most innovative neighborhood turnarounds in the nation. This could be an appointment well worth watching.

“He’s a guy that deeply cares about the city of Boston,” Walsh said at a press conference. “That’s what we want to make sure we get—people in the [mayor’s] Cabinet that love this city and care about this city and want to make sure we move forward.”—Ruth McCambridge