Special to the Times
Mayor Michelle Wu announced two new appointments to the Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) Board of Directors. Raheem Shepard of Hyde Park, Regional Manager of the North Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters for the City of Boston and a current member of the Zoning Board of Appeal (ZBA), is being appointed to fill a seat traditionally held by a representative of the construction trades. Shepard will fill the seat being vacated by current member Michael Monahan, whose term expires this month. Kate Bennett of Roslindale, the outgoing Administrator of the Boston Housing Authority, is being appointed to fill a vacant seat. Current Board Chair Priscilla Rojas, whose seat is in holdover status, will also be reappointed. The new appointments will need to be approved by the City Council. Once they are confirmed, all BPDA Board member seats will be filled and current.
“I join the board members in thanking Mike Monahan for his years of service to the City of Boston and working people,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “Raheem Shepherd and Kate Bennett are tremendous additions to the Board who will bring experience and focus to make Boston the best city for families— affordable and green, with opportunities connecting every generation. I thank them and Chair Rojas for rolling up their sleeves with Chief Arthur Jemison and our entire City team to build a growing and green city for everyone.”
“I want to thank Mike Monahan for 22 years of service – to the ZBA for 12 years and to the BPDA for the last 10. He has been an important voice for the growth of the City,” said Chief of Planning and Director of the BPDA Arthur Jemison. “I look forward to working with Kate and Raheem, who are experts in their own right on building Boston in a thoughtful way. I am confident they will help guide growth that will make our City more resilient, affordable, and equitable.”
Kate Bennett has worked in affordable housing development, policy, and planning for more than 25 years, with a particular focus on public housing revitalization as the former head of the Boston Housing Authority (BHA). Bennett has spearheaded over $2 billion in redevelopment activity currently underway at several BHA sites across the city. She has also been instrumental in the development of the BHA’s green, healthy housing and sustainability programs, and in the expansion of resident empowerment and self-sufficiency initiatives. Bennett holds a Masters in City Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She has also managed affordable housing programs for the City of Chelsea and the City of Newton.
“As someone who has dedicated my career to housing for Boston residents and families, I share the Wu Administration’s belief that our growth depends on government, community, and developers coming together to build a stronger City,” said BPDA Board of Directors nominee Kate Bennett. “I am very grateful to Mayor Wu for this opportunity to continue to serve our community.”
Raheem Shepard is the Regional Manager of the North Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters for the City of Boston. His appointment upholds Boston’s longstanding tradition of including union representation on the BPDA Board. As a member of the ZBA, Shepard reviews development proposals which require zoning relief, and works with his fellow ZBA members and Chief of Planning Arthur Jemison to help advance the Mayor’s goal of rebuilding trust with communities through planning-led development, while advancing equity, affordability, and resilience across all functions of the City’s development review process.
“Serving on the BPDA Board of Directors is not only a great professional and personal honor, but it’s an opportunity to work closely with Mayor Wu’s Administration to chart a course for Boston’s future,” said BPDA Board of Directors nominee Raheem Shepard.
“I am grateful to Mayor Wu for reappointing me to a new term on the BPDA Board, and I am eager to welcome Raheem and Kate,” said BPDA Board Chair Priscilla Rojas. “I appreciate the opportunity to continue supporting smart planning and development that serves the City and its residents.”
These appointments are part of Mayor Wu’s ambitious growth agenda for Boston, which is focused on advancing the City’s resilience, affordability, and equity goals. Under the Mayor’s leadership, the agency approved Inclusionary Zoning for the first time in the City’s history, completed the Western Avenue Corridor Rezoning Study and PLAN: Mattapan, which includes zoning recommendations, and completed a land audit of all City-owned parcels to unlock opportunities for new housing and growth. The agency is undertaking the first major reform to Article 80 of the zoning code, which governs Boston’s development review process, to modernize development review and increase efficiency and predictability for development.
The Mayor’s agenda also includes the creation of a City Planning and Design Department and Planning Advisory Council operating under the direction of Chief of Planning Arthur Jemison. The staff of that new City agency will support the work of the BPDA Board. The Mayor has also committed to completing the neighborhood planning initiatives in Downtown, Charlestown, East Boston, and Newmarket in the coming months, and to launching a rezoning effort of Boston’s squares and corridors to create thousands of additional housing units across the City.