Lori Nelson hired as new City of Boston chief resilience officer

Nelson will lead city-wide resilience building efforts to help Boston implement long-term strategies for protecting the City from the effects of persistent racial and economic inequality.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced Lori D. Nelson as the City of Boston's newest Chief Resilience Officer (CRO), a position created in partnership with 100 Resilient Cities - Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation (100RC) in 2015 to lead city-wide resilience building efforts to help Boston implement long-term strategies for protecting the city from the effects of persistent racial and economic inequality. As Chief Resilience Officer, Nelson will report to Mayor Walsh and will oversee the implementation of the City's comprehensive Resilience Strategy and run the Office of Resilience and Racial Equity.

"I am honored to welcome Lori as our new Chief Resilience Officer," said Mayor Walsh. "Her experience as a life-long public servant makes her a perfect fit for this position. From her first job out of college working as the Executive Director of the Black Caucus at the State House on the CORI Reform Bill, to directing constituent services at the Boston Housing Authority, Lori's mission has always been to give back to her community by increasing access and opportunity to every Bostonian. This role and mission is critical to the success of our city, and I look forward to working with Lori to achieve our resiliency and equity goals."

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"I am excited to take on a new role in the City of Boston as Chief Resilience Officer and my deep experience, creative ideas, and passion for the community into policy that will impact the daily lives of our neighbors," said Nelson. "Mayor Walsh's strategic vision and progressive plan gives me the freedom to focus on social resilience and dig deeper into finding the root causes of inequality and I am excited to get started." 

Nelson will play a vital role in leading efforts to foster citywide dialogue and executing the City's resilience strategy, Resilient Boston: An Equitable and Connected City, to acknowledge and combat the root causes of these divisions, helping the city to unite and build the collective capacity for change.

Nelson will continue to work with all City departments and agencies to ensure the application of an equity lens to initiatives, programs, and policies proposed and implemented by the City Of Boston. For example, the City recently announced efforts to practice a more equitable approach in allocating resources for neighborhood sidewalk reconstruction through Boston's Public Works Department as suggested in Resilient Boston.

Boston's resilience strategy is focused on ensuring every resident can reach their full potential regardless of their background, and removing the barriers of systemic racism that hinder Bostonians from having access to opportunities. The strategy was developed as part of the Boston's partnership with 100RC. Boston was named part of the 100RC Network in December 2014, joining cities like Paris, France; Cape Town, South Africa; Mexico City, Mexico; and Bangkok, Thailand. As a member of the 100RC Network, Boston has received tools, technical expertise, funding and other resources to build resilience to the challenges of the 21st century.

"100 Resilient Cities has been a proud partner with the City of Boston as it developed - and now is implementing - the Resilient Boston strategy," said Otis Rolley, Regional Director for North America at 100RC. "We look forward to continuing our partnership with the City of Boston, Mayor Walsh, and new Chief Resilience Officer, Lori Nelson, to continue building a more resilient city for all of Boston's residents."

100RC supports the adoption and incorporation of a view of resilience that includes not just the shocks-earthquakes, fires, weather events, etc.-but also the stresses that weaken the fabric of a city on a day to day or cyclical basis, such as economic inequity and structural racism. Through the partnership with 100RC, Boston has worked to infuse the principles of resilience into all aspects of local planning and the overarching issues facing the city, including racial and socio-economic inequity, the lack of affordable housing, unemployment and underemployment, violence, trauma, climate change, flooding and terrorism. Utilizing this lens, Nelson will support all of Boston's major planning efforts, including Imagine Boston 2030 and Go Boston 2030, working across City departments and with external stakeholders.

In partnership with the Hyams Foundation, the City also continues a series of race dialogues in Boston neighborhoods, as a continuation of efforts for all Bostonians to acknowledge systemic racism and work toward racial equity. In addition to these and other race dialogues, the City has hosted two public forums attended by over 1,200 residents, which served as an open citywide conversation with the Mayor about racism.

Nelson was most recently the Director of Communications and Constituency Services for the City of Boston's Housing Authority. Alongside that role, she commits time to community work, serving on the Advisory Council for the Barbara Lee Foundation; chairing the Political Action Committee for the Black Ministerial Alliance since 2013 where she was appointed to the executive leadership team in 2017. She also served in leadership as the first Vice President of the NAACP Boston branch from January 2017 through April 2018 and now continues her advocacy as a  member within the branch. Before joining the City of Boston's Housing Authority, Nelson was the Deputy Chief of Staff for the MBTA. Prior to joining the MBTA, she worked for Governor Deval Patrick as the Deputy Director of Community Affairs and Special Projects, where she served as a liaison on community related affairs, particularly concerning youth, ethnic groups and coalitions across the Commonwealth, faith-based initiatives, and worked with Public Safety and Health and Human Services on youth violence reduction Nelson specializes in coalition and partnership building, as well as political strategy in urban areas. Nelson studied English Literature and African American Studies at Northeastern University.

The CRO is an innovative feature of 100RC's resilience building program, specifically designed to break down existing barriers at the local level, account for pre-existing resilience plans, and create partnerships, alliances and financing mechanisms that will address the resilience vulnerabilities of all city residents, with a particular focus on low-income and vulnerable populations.


About 100 Resilient Cities-Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation

100 Resilient Cities - Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation (100RC) helps cities around the world become more resilient to social, economic, and physical challenges that are a growing part of the 21st century. 100RC provides this assistance through: funding for a Chief Resilience Officer in each of our cities who will lead the resilience efforts; resources for drafting a resilience strategy; access to private sector, public sector, academic, and NGO resilience tools; and membership in a global network of peer cities to share best practices and challenges. For more information, visit www.100ResilientCities.org.

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