Urban Edge (UE), a 501c(3) nonprofit corporation, is a national leader in the community development field, known for innovation and excellence. With its heart in Egleston and Jackson Squares, a vibrant, inclusive and culturally and economically diverse area of Boston, UE works with others across the City of Boston and region to promote high quality, sustainable and affordable communities. Public, private and non-profit entities turn to UE for its advice and expertise, and as a partner in undertaking complex and transformative urban projects.
Overview of the Organization and Programs
UE is a community-led and -represented, non-profit community development corporation (CDC) founded in 1974 by Boston community leaders to fight redlining, combat the effects of real estate speculation and the displacement of low- and moderate-income families, celebrate and maintain the racial and ethnic diversity of the neighborhoods and ensure community control of development.
For over forty years, UE has proactively contributed to neighborhood revitalization by developing and preserving high quality affordable housing and commercial space in Roxbury, Jamaica Plain and other neighborhoods of Boston. In addition to three projects currently in development and a robust pipeline, UE’s existing portfolio of affordable housing consists of over 1,300 units in the following Boston neighborhoods:
• Roxbury – 811 units at 12 sites
• Jamaica Plain – 108 units in 5 housing sites
• Dorchester – 319 units in 5 housing sites
• Mattapan – 89 units in 2 sites
Beyond the bricks and mortar, the organization has built a stellar reputation as a community-builder and has shown dedication to resident engagement and leadership at all levels of its organization. To support the needs of residents and others living in the community, Urban Edge offers a wide range of innovative programs that build financial skills and resiliency, promote and support sustainable homeownership and increase access to needed community resources and services. Program highlights include the following:
Housing and Homeownership
• Credit Counseling Boot Camp
• Financial Coaching
• First-Time Homebuyer Education Counseling
• Foreclosure Prevention Counseling
• Family Supports
• Strong Start Program
• Student Loan Borrower Repayment Counseling
• Summer Youth Jobs
• Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Center
UE is overseen by a Board of Directors, currently comprised of 22 civic, community, neighborhood and resident leaders. UE’s annual revenue is approximately $30 million, $5 million of which is related to general operations, with the remainder related to housing owned by UE. The organization employs approximately 30 staff members, the majority of whom work from its headquarters on Columbus Avenue in Roxbury.
From its inception through 2014, UE was very successfully led by its founding CEO and then by a successor CEO, who was a long-serving senior leader before she assumed leadership of the organization. After the departure in June 2018 of UE’s first “external” CEO (who led the organization for three years), UE has been led by an interim CEO, Marty Jones, who will remain in place until a permanent CEO is named.
Strategic Opportunities and Challenges
The CEO will have the opportunity to lead this national leader in the community development field, known for its innovation, excellence, creativity, gumption and, most importantly, its commitment to and engagement with its residents and community. High priorities for the CEO include:
• Managing effectively and efficiently the daily operations, directing and empowering a team of dedicated and highly skilled professionals committed to strengthening communities and families of a mission-driven, nonprofit with a $5 million operating budget and a real estate portfolio valued in excess of $200 million.
• Maintaining established and creating new relationships with political, business, community and residential leaders, ensuring UE remains at the forefront of affordable housing and real estate development in Boston so it can leverage its reputation, size and legacy to increase future opportunities for its community.
• Building on its existing 2015-2020 strategic plan, collaboratively defining with its board of directors and stakeholders a refreshed long-term vision for UE, along with a targeted action plan for the next three to five years.
• Finalizing the development plan for the long-considered Jackson Square Recreation Center and completing the fundraising campaign to secure the assets needed for construction and ongoing operations.
• Creating deep connections with residents, the local community and staff, ones built on mutual respect and a deep understanding of diversity, equity and inclusion, so all voices are well-represented, and power and influence are appropriately shared.
• Establishing and maintaining high and equitable levels of accountability throughout and between all levels of the organization while ensuring a culture that is in service to residents.
• Collaborate with a relatively large, community-oriented board of directors to create clarity about its role and responsibilities, particularly regarding resource development, and building and sustaining a strong relationship between the CEO and the board built on open and direct communications.
Desired Credentials/Profile of the Ideal Candidate
• Track record of success in real estate development, finance or management strongly preferred
• A minimum of five years of senior leadership, or equivalent experience
• Knowledge of Boston neighborhoods as well as City and State government would be advantageous
• Experience working with diverse communities and people reflecting those served by UE
Skills and Experience
Visionary and Strategic Leader
The CEO must be aligned with and enthusiastic about UE’s mission, able to engage in “big picture” thinking, ultimately and collaboratively leading UE to develop and implement a comprehensive and clear long-term strategic vision and a targeted action plan for the next five years. Also, as the agency’s chief executive officer, the CEO must be a collaborative multitasker, able to oversee the organization’s operations, finances, facilities and staff, decisively and efficiently aligning and maximizing resources to achieve UE’s strategic goals, while also serving as the primary liaison to the board of directors to engage it in effective and representative governance.
Community Connector and Skilled Networker
The CEO must be a tireless networker, able to interact and communicate equally well with public officials, community leaders, residents, business leaders, developers, etc. to proactively build and sustain collaborative and mutually beneficial relationships to improve opportunities for UE’s residents and its communities. The leader must be politically astute and skilled at partnering with City and State leaders focused on affordable housing development, possessing the ability to listen well and to be reflective and responsive to others to influence outcomes for UE’s benefit.
Real Estate Savvy
As the leader of a mission-driven nonprofit committed to maintaining and expanding housing access for its community, she/he/they must be inspired by development and be able to grasp and communicate the intricacies of residential and commercial real estate projects, most particularly the financial complexities, risk management and tolerance, competitive and political landscape and legal obligations associated with real estate deals in the City of Boston and the Commonwealth, all to ensure that UE maintains and expands the neighborhoods’ affordable housing stock.
Experienced and Committed Fundraiser
The CEO will ideally have experience in and a desire to engage self and others in private fundraising, with the ability to create a vision and strategy for a fundraising program aligned with UE’s mission and financial needs, most particularly regarding the fundraising requirements associated with the Recreation Center. The leader must be eager, poised and proactive in assuming the CEO’s role in fundraising, utilizing available and creating new relationships to grow UE’s fundraising program.
Empowering Teambuilder Committed to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
An experienced manager of staff, the CEO must inspire, develop and empower others, while generating trust and respect across the entire organization. The leader will need to champion and influence diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace and the broader community, ensuring that the contributions of a highly committed, long-serving and diverse staff are valued and respected. An active listener, the CEO must create a collaborative and mutually supportive culture and climate, demonstrate being a team player and hold self and the entire organization equally accountable to high expectations.
This search is being conducted by TSNE MissionWorks with transition consultant John Tarvin. All submissions will be acknowledged and are confidential.
Please include a resume and a cover letter with salary requirements, information regarding how you learned of the position, and a description of how your qualifications and experience match UE’s needs and mission. All submissions of candidacy will be accepted until the position is filled. Salary is commensurate with experience, within the framework of the organization’s annual operating budget.
UE strongly desires to attract a broad and diverse pool of candidates to apply, particularly candidates of color, female candidates and/or candidates who know and/or represent the communities UE serves.