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Mayor Walsh appoints John Barros as economic development chief

Today, during a visit to Future Chefs in the South End, Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced the appointment of John Barros as Chief of his Economic Development Cabinet. The appointment is a significant step towards revitalizing the way Boston approaches economic development.

"John shares my belief that we have to do more than better organize our efforts – we have to ensure those efforts lead to more opportunities for all of Boston’s residents and business owners," said Mayor Walsh. "Boston’s economy is in a good position, but we can do better. With John, our job creators, and our communities all working together, we will create more economic opportunities throughout our city and take Boston to the next level."

In his role, Barros will focus on fostering economic development in all of Boston's neighborhoods through marketing Boston on a national and international scale; ensuring access to employment, pathways to careers, and strong job growth; streamlining licensing and permitting processes; and supporting small businesses, particularly women- and minority-owned businesses.

At just 17 years old, Barros was the first youth elected to the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI) Board of Directors, dedicated to community collaboration in neighborhood development. Barros served as Vice President of the DSNI Board and of Dudley Neighbors, Inc., a community land trust created to assure permanent affordable housing. He went on to serve as the Executive Director of DSNI.

Barros is a graduate of Dartmouth College, where he studied Economics and African/African-American Studies. During his time there, Barros was accepted into an executive training internship and placed at Chubb Group of Insurance Companies, where he worked full-time following his graduation. At Chubb, Barros helped underwrite initial public offerings for dot-com startups, supporting new business growth. 

Barros is a member of the 2005 Fellows class in the South African-United States Center for Leadership and Public Values and is a 2007 Barr Foundation Fellow. He has served on the Community Advisory Board for Northeastern University’s Race and Justice Institute and the Board of the New Democracy Coalition, and was elected Co-Chairperson of the Center for Community Builders, a national practitioner network. He was a member of the Aspen Institute’s Roundtable on Community Change. He is also a member of the Skillman Foundation Board of Trustees Program Committee, based out of Detroit, with a special focus in neighborhood revitalization.

Barros has received numerous awards for his work, including: the inaugural Community Service Award from the Boston Day & Evening Academy in 2008; the Robert Leo Ruffin Award for his work with youth from the Archdiocese of Boston in 2004; and the Action for Boston Community Development Roxbury Community Award in 2000.

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