Oliver Sellers-Garcia Appointed Boston Green New Deal Director
Mayor Michelle Wu today appointed Oliver Sellers-Garcia as the City of Boston’s first ever Green New Deal Director. Sellers-Garcia brings years of experience working in urban planning, climate change mitigation, resiliency, and sustainability. In this role, Sellers-Garcia will be charged with Mayor Wu’s goals to make Boston a Green New Deal city through planning for an equitable, sustainable future. As a Cabinet-Level Senior Advisor, Sellers-Garcia will work in partnership with the Mayor, the Chief of Environment, Energy, and Open Space (EEOS), the Chief of Operations, Chief of Streets, Chief of Planning, School Superintendent, and other senior City officials.
“In this moment of tremendous urgency and opportunity, Boston must lead on a city Green New Deal. From the health and safety of our residents, to jobs and economic opportunity, to the vibrancy and livability of our neighborhoods, climate action is the foundation for our brightest future. It took us a while to find a leader with the bold vision, detailed knowledge, and focus on community to take up this charge, but Oliver brings even more than we’d hoped for, and I’m so inspired at the possibilities ahead,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “I’m excited for Oliver’s leadership building on our climate work and coordinating on housing, health, transit, city planning, infrastructure, and economic justice ”
In this role, Sellers-Garcia will have the opportunity to shape an all-of-government approach to climate and equity-led governance and help make Boston a groundbreaking model of city leadership. He will be responsible for shaping and driving implementation of the Green New Deal agenda, working closely with City Cabinet leaders and departments on issues including planning, housing, transit, jobs, energy use, and electrification.
The Boston Green New Deal is a vision for tackling the climate crisis with strategies that address economic, social, and racial inequities. Eliminating climate change pollution and building resilience to a changing climate will require a transformation of public infrastructure and systems. Implementation of the Boston Green New Deal is an investment in initiatives that spark this transformation and deliver tangible improvements to the people of Boston.
“I am honored to serve the City of Boston in the role of Green New Deal Director and support Mayor Wu’s vision to make Boston the Green New Deal city. Partnering with Boston communities, advocates, and my colleagues in the City, we will demonstrate that acting on climate also means making daily life more comfortable, safe, and enjoyable,” said Oliver Sellers-Garcia. “I am thrilled to be joining an administration that centers justice and equity in our response to the climate crisis.”
“Right now, we have the opportunity and obligation to address the unfolding climate crisis while guaranteeing equitable access to jobs, transportation, clean energy, and open space through a city-level Green New Deal,” said Chief of Environment, Energy and Open Space Reverend Mariama White-Hammond. "I am thrilled to work with Oliver who has a strong local track-record in this work to create a healthy and sustainable planet for us all."
“Transportation is the second largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Boston. To be a Green New Deal city, we must curb our reliance on fossil fuels and create a transportation system that is safe, reliable, and low-carbon,” said Chief of Streets Jascha Franklin-Hodge. “I’m excited to work with Oliver on this transformation work, and to build alignment across the City’s work on transportation, green infrastructure, housing, and open space.”
"We want our children to run toward their schools and into their classrooms with excitement and passion," said incoming Superintendent Mary Skipper. "To make this possible, we need our students' learning spaces to be safe, healthy, energy-efficient, and uplifting. Mayor Michelle Wu's investment in a Green New Deal for Boston Public Schools will make this a reality. With Oliver at the helm leading this work, we will address our infrastructure challenges and build a green future for the district that meets the needs of all our students."
“I am eager to work with Oliver on the many opportunities to embed our climate and economic justice goals into the work of the Operations Cabinet. With Oliver’s expertise, we have a tremendous opportunity to embed climate resilience into our permitting process, as well as the City’s own property management and capital construction projects,” said Chief of Operations Dion Irish. “The Green New Deal for Boston Public Schools is an exciting start, and we look forward to building on that work with the new senior advisor.”
"In Boston, we know that buildings account for nearly 70 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, and represent the greatest opportunity for emissions reductions, in addition to the emission contributions from construction," said Chief of Planning Arthur Jemison. "As an agency, we are beginning to work towards zero net carbon emissions in our own real estate portfolio, and I look forward to working with Oliver to limit the negative impacts of building throughout Boston.”
Oliver Sellers-Garcia most recently served as the Director of Resiliency and Equity at the MBTA, where he leads a new program that integrates resilient design, sustainability, and social equity into infrastructure development. Since assuming this position in 2021, Sellers-Garcia has worked across the agency to develop measurement systems and new practices for design and community engagement.
From 2014 to 2021, Oliver served as the Director of the Mayor's Office of Sustainability and Environment in Somerville, Massachusetts. In this role, Sellers-Garcia acted as the City’s chief sustainability officer for municipal operations and the head of the citywide environment department. Under his leadership, in 2018, Somerville released its first climate action plan, among the first municipal climate action plans to integrate resilience, greenhouse gas reductions, and equity. His accomplishments include municipal and residential efficiency, energy and composting programs with Somerville Public Schools, net-zero carbon new development standards, heat and flooding resilience programs, and close collaboration with neighboring municipalities on climate equity policy.
Prior to joining the City of Somerville, he worked for eight years at the environmental consulting firm CDM Smith, helping municipalities and public agencies around the country and the world integrate sustainability and climate change into physical and organizational planning.
The son of Guatemalan and American parents, Oliver grew up in a bicultural environment in the Boston area and is a native bilingual Spanish speaker. He lives with his partner in Roxbury. Oliver holds a Bachelor's degree in Urban Studies from Columbia University and a Master's in City Planning from MIT.
Sellers-Garcia’s appointment builds on the Wu administration’s commitment to supporting a healthy, local ecosystem, and a thriving green economy. Mayor Wu’s first budget included groundbreaking investments in climate action to create a Green New Deal city. These investments include $2.5 million for a new Climate Ready Streets program within Climate Ready Boston to deliver on heat resilience, stormwater management, and air quality on key transportation corridors, $20 million for a nation-leading pilot for energy retrofits in triple deckers and other multi-family homes while maintaining affordability, $2.5 million of ARPA funds to grow and preserve our urban tree canopy, including an innovative pilot program on private land, $2.5 million in electrifying school bus infrastructure, a $6 million ARPA investment to scale Youth Green Jobs, and $137 million in capital funding, plus operating investments, to create and protect parks, the tree canopy, and open spaces in the City.