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Community Engagement Cabinet Year in Review

The Community Engagement Cabinet Reflects on Constituent Service Delivery in 2023

Mayor Michelle Wu, Chief Brianna Millor, and Haitian Cultural Liaison of the Mayor's Office of Neighborhood Services drop off 200 frozen turkeys donated by the City and Commonwealth Kitchen to be distributed at IFSI in Mattapan.

The Community Engagement Cabinet’s foundation begins and ends with you, Boston. Together we worked to ensure our city is the best place to not only live, but thrive. As our Cabinet reflects on this year, we wanted to share our 2023 successes under the leadership of Chief Brianna Millor in hopes to deepen the community's understanding of our constituent service delivery. 

Expanded our Team 

We’ll start from the beginning of 2023. Our Cabinet built capacity and hired talented individuals to ensure that we provided quality programming and services for the community. We expanded our communications team and hired our cabinet's first Director of Communications Nakia Hill who oversees our internal and external communications. We also hired Communications Assistant Ciara Lanman who leads our social media channels, video production, and graphic design. Our communication team has worked diligently to  develop a stronger brand, redesigned our neighborhood newsletters, and ensured our cabinet is raising residents awareness regarding community meetings, events, and beneficial resources to community members.  

The Community Engagement Cabinet also welcomed our new SPARK Boston Director Anthony Nguyen who is a former SPARK council member. The Office of Neighborhood Services hired a new Executive Director Beata Coloyan. We also hired two new Deputy Directors Chris Breen and Lindsey Santana. This team works to deepen our program delivery to strengthen our relationship with neighborhoods. 

Meeting Community Needs 

ONS Executive Director Beata Coloyan at turkey distribution packing site

Our Executive Director led the behind the scenes management of our cabinet’s turkey drive in November which allowed our team to distribute 2000 turkeys to local churches, organizations and Boston Housing Authority residents to support the mayor’s efforts in combating food insecurity. 

Mayor Wu and Team at Toys for Tots Warehouse at the Boston Convention Center

We also partnered with Toys for Tots to lead in the City’s operation of toy collection and distribution during the holiday season. A special thanks to our Chief of Staff John Romano for directing this operation located at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center which served as a toy warehouse. We would like to give a special thanks to Marine Toys for Tots Campaign Coordinator, Sergeant Ricardo Balderama for his partnership and Community Leader Darrin Howell for his longtime leadership and support over the years to make the annual toy drive possible. Thank you to community members for donating toys, providing transportation to deliver toys, and also for volunteering your time organizing toys at the warehouse. We could not have done this cheerful effort to ensure Boston children and families had access to toys without you. 

Young people from the community and Santa

During the Mayor’s annual Enchanted Trolley Tour and Tree Lighting event, the Community Engagement Cabinet partnered with the Office of Tourism, Sports, and Entertainment and the Equity and Inclusion Cabinet to help distribute bags of food donated by Goya to residents in need.

On December 21, the Community Engagement Cabinet partnered with Mayor Wu, Boston Center for Youth and Families and Boston Housing Authority to distribute toys to BHA residents at the Gallivan Community Center in Mattapan. A special thanks to Amazon for donating gifts and toys to children and teens in the neighborhood. 

Office of Neighborhood Services 

Chief Millor and Mayor at White Stadium

This year, the Office of Neighborhood Services connected with community members in big and small ways through community meetings, weekly neighborhood liaison coffee hours, and more. Our Community Engagement Cabinet Chief Brianna Millor facilitated community meetings to reimagine the future of White Stadium. Thank you Deputy Chief of Operations Morgan McDaniel and your amazing team for helping us lead this community effort. The next virtual White Stadium meeting will be held on Thursday, January 11 from 6 - 8 p.m. Register to attend here.

Mayor Michelle Wu attends the North End Coffee Hour at Langone Park

Coffee Hours with the Mayor: Our team partnered with the Mayor’s Office and the Department of Parks and Recreation to host the mayor’s annual Coffee Hours. This year, the Office of Neighborhood Services produced a community input survey to ensure that we hear directly from residents. The mayor and City leaders answered constituent questions in real time during Coffee Hours. Thank you to everyone who attended Coffee Hours and engaged with our team. 

Open Streets Residents Walking

Open Streets: During the summer our team connected with community members through Open Streets. This year, Open Streets expanded in East Boston and Allston-Brighton to spread joyous experiences with individuals and families in neighborhoods. We look forward to Open Streets in 2024! 

Captain Tom Kelley and the unveiling of his mural at the Boston Ale House

Uplifted our Neighborhood Heroes: In the fall, our West Roxbury Liaison Dan Hudson led the planning for an event to proclaim September 24 Tom Kelley Day. This was a partnership between the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture and Veterans Services. Roslindale resident and artist Laura DeDonato Wiatt, painted a beautiful mural on the side of Boston Ale House to commemorate Kelley’s legacy. Thank you to all of our local veterans, community members and leaders for attending this momentous event. 

Senior Faith-Baased Advisor Will Dickerson, Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Liaison, and Faith-based Community Members

Faith-based Initiatives: Our Senior Advisor of Faith-based Initiatives Will Dickerson alongside his team member Kenneth Moales led monthly meetings with faith leaders in Boston at the Roxbury Branch of the Boston Public Library. The meeting ensured the faith-based community remained connected to City Hall and had a space to discuss hopes, concerns and the needs of the diverse faith communities in our city. This year, Dickerson organized faith walks to promote safety, peace and unity in our neighborhoods. Dickerson also launched Teen Café, a partnership with local churches which provided an empowering space for youth to connect with their peers. Thank you to all faith members and leaders for your continued partnership. 

Comfort Kitchen Ribbon Cutting

Celebrated New Businesses and Park Renovations: The City of Boston celebrated the grand opening of  local businesses including Comfort Kitchen in Dorchester, Vivi Bubble Tea in Chinatown, and many more neighborhood establishments. Our neighborhood liaisons also delivered several citations to community members and businesses including El Oriental De Cuba and Captain Nemo in Jamaica Plain, just to name a couple. 

Malcolm  X Playground

The Office of Neighborhood Services celebrated the ribbon cuttings of newly renovated Malcolm X Park and Walnut Park  in Roxbury. The City of Boston invested $9 million to improve the parks green spaces, basketball courts, tennis court, and playground. Malcolm X Park is now ADA compliant, enabling all members of the community to access the park from all sides.

Children Running in the Field at Malcolm X Park

311

Our 311 team’s work expanded beyond the walls of City Hall. Constituents had an opportunity to connect with 311’s Director Irgi Budo, Deputy Director Meghan Towle, and 311 staff and call takers at Open Streets and Coffee Hours with the Mayor. The 311 team also joined forces on various occasions during weekly Coffee Hours led by neighborhood liaisons to respond to constituent cases on the spot. 

311 Director & Staff Member at Community Event

311 hosted six trainings in the community to help constituents understand how to best utilize our office as a resource. This year, 311 also expanded their team through hiring additional call takers to respond to constituent calls in a friendly and resourceful manner. 

311 received more than 277,195 calls from constituents and resolved 272,938 constituent cases. We relaunched the Bos311 app which is now available in 11 languages. In January, 311 also made its debut on Instagram producing visually appealing graphics and engaging videos to better inform the community about renters rights, MBTA updates, and information regarding 311 special request pickups. We also gained more than 1200 followers in less than six months. Our social media engagement effort was led by Digital Engagement Strategist Alicia Payne and Communications and Content Manager Judnise Guillet. 

311 was also home to Northeastern University’s co-ops. This program was spearheaded by 311 Director Irgi Bugo who is also an alum of NEU’s co-op program. NEU students had the opportunity to work with each office in our Cabinet to learn how we operate. Co-ops gained professional development skills and mentorship opportunities. We would like to thank Northeastern University for their partnership and also to our wonderful co-ops Paige Gardelis, Isangely Almonte, Kyra DeSalvo, Emily Niedermeyer, Louisa Funk, Ethan Saul, Tara Meyyappan, and Leyan Alarifi for your amazing work and being a part of our team this year. 

SPARK Boston 

2023-2024 SPARK Council Members

SPARK kicked off the year and launched our Fill the Fridge Fresh Food Drive in honor of  Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy of service. Our SPARK council members in partnership with community members filled fridges in Charlestown, South End, Roslindale, Allston-Brighton, Roxbury and Mattapan. 

SPARK council members connected with community members through our neighborhood social hours. We hosted SPARK Action: Volunteer Leadership Open House connecting civic associations and  non-profit organizations to volunteers. SPARK tabled at the Reggie Lewis Center during the City’s Worker Empowerment Cabinet’s Youth Jobs and Resource Fair to encourage young people to register to vote. 

Our SPARK Boston council programming for members included but was not limited to our annual meeting with Mayor Wu, Chief Chats featuring City of Boston leadership, and our Pint with A Planner in partnership with Boston Planning and Development Agency to discuss development in our city. We also  hosted our Back to School series - dedicated to young professionals interested in learning more about Boston Public Schools. Topics we covered included: A Fireside chat with Superintendent Mary Skipper, a session on the BPS budget breakdown with the Budget Office, and we also  hosted a book club and read “Common Ground" together. 

In June, we held our inaugural SPARK reunion - connecting alumni from Mayor Menino’s administration and Mayor Wu’s first cohort. We launched SPARK Bingo, a partnership between SPARK and the Office of Civic Organizing to encourage residents to register to vote. 

Lastly, we welcomed Mayor Wu’s second SPARK Boston cohort with 43 new council members representing 22 neighborhoods in Boston. 

Office of Civic Organizing

The Office of Civic Organizing has a brand new team this year. The OCO office is now led by former East Boston Neighborhood Liaison Nathalia Benitez-Perez, Director of the Office of Civic Organizing. This year, OCO hosted 37 neighborhood cleanups in Roxbury, Fenway-Kenmore, South End-Bay Village, Downtown, North End, Chinatown-Leather District and more. We also hosted Love Your Block events in the spring and the fall. We partnered with the Boston Globe’s B-Side and Boston Alumnae Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc to clean up Almont Park in Mattapan. 

The City Hall on the Go truck hit the road and made 36 stops including Mission Hill, Kevin Fitzgerald Park, West End, South Boston, Seaport Common, Hyde Park, Thomas M. Menino YMCA, East Boston, Maverick MBTA Stop, East Boston Branch of the Boston Public Library, and many more neighborhoods.

Community Members stand in front of the City Hall on the Go Truck

The Office of Civic Organizing provided block party grants to community members to bring joy through neighborhood centered activations to residents in our city. Our team is leading the charge and hosting the Civic Summit, organized for the first time by the Mayor’s Office of Civic Organizing. This summit filled every seat with Boston constituents in less than 12 hours of the summit announcement. This event will be held on Saturday, January 13, at the Howard Thurman Center for Common Ground at Boston University.

Thank you for your collaboration

The Community Engagement Cabinet would like to express our gratitude to our colleagues in the City of Boston for your partnership. This year we worked effectively to provide the best constituent services.

Boston, we hope you have a safe and joyous New Year. We can’t wait to see you in your neighborhood. Stay connected to the Community Engagement Cabinet by subscribing to your neighborhood newsletter, connecting to your neighborhood liaison, and downloading the Bos311 app

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