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James Arthur Jemison

Chief of Planning and Director of Boston Planning and Development Agency

Jemison is a creative public-private development leader with 28 years of planning and affordable housing expertise, working with community members to create equitable places in Detroit, MI, Washington D.C. and Boston, MA. Most recently before joining the City of Boston, Jemison served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), where he led the Office of Community Planning and Development (CPD) and served as the policy lead and HUD partner for American Cities, Counties, States, and other local units of government. Under Jemison’s leadership, the CPD administered the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and CDBG - Disaster Recovery Funds, as well as the HOME Partnership program, Homelessness Assistance Grants (HAG) and the Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG), among other funds. 

Jemison joined HUD from the City of Detroit, where he was Group Executive for Planning, Housing & Development, leading the City’s efforts toward equitable growth, working in partnership with Directors of the Housing & Revitalization Department, the Planning & Development Department, the Detroit Land Bank Authority, Detroit Housing Commission, and the Bridging Neighborhoods program. In early 2014, Jemison was recruited by Mayor Michael Duggan to be the Director of the Housing & Revitalization Department for the City of Detroit, to assist as the City recovered from bankruptcy. In that capacity, Jemison led strategy, deployment and management of municipal housing policy and U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) entitlement funding. 

Before going to Detroit, Jemison served as Deputy Undersecretary and Deputy Director for the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts under Governor Deval Patrick. Prior to that, he held a variety of public and private-sector positions, all related to city planning and urban development, primarily in Massachusetts and the District of Columbia. This includes service at Massachusetts Port Authority, Boston Housing Authority, the then-Boston Redevelopment Authority, and in private development work at GLC Development Resources. It also includes service in the District of Columbia, as the City emerged from Control Board management during the first term of Mayor Anthony Williams.

Jemison has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He also holds a Master of City Planning degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he was a Public Policy and International Affairs (PPIA) Fellow. Jemison is also a 2021 Spirit of Detroit Award winner, a 2016 Michigan Chronicle Men / Women of Excellence awardee, and a member of the team recognized with the 2013 Robert Larson Public Policy Award for Workforce Housing from the Urban Land Institute, on behalf of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

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