Board of Directors
Secretary, Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development
Jay Ash serves as the Secretary of Housing and Economic Development for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Secretary Ash is responsible for directing and executing Governor Charlie Baker’s agenda on housing and community development, job creation, business development, consumer affairs, and business regulation. He previously served as the city manager in his native Chelsea, a position he held from 2000 to 2014. In Chelsea, Secretary Ash’s leadership produced both economic expansion and fiscal stability. He grew the city’s housing stock by over ten percent, expanded its commercial base with two dozen major projects, led all Gateway Cities with a 15% increase in new employment, developed 10 new parks, secured five credit rating increases, and won two All-America City designations for Chelsea. Secretary Ash has led statewide initiatives on health insurance, youth violence, transportation infrastructure and expanded gaming in Massachusetts.
He previously served as co-founder and vice-chair of the Metropolitan Mayors Coalition, as past president of the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, as a board member of the public policy think tank MassINC, the staff director to the Massachusetts House Majority Leader, and as an elected trustee of his alma mater, Clark University.
Founder and Principal, SF Properties, Inc.
Gerald D. (Jerry) Cohen is a founding partner of SSG Development, LLC, and founder and manager of SF Properties, LLC, SF Properties, Inc., and CGI Companies with expertise in financing, leasing, developing and managing real estate.
Mr. Cohen is in charge of financing and strategic planning for SSG Development. SSG has developed seven self-storage facilities, totaling approximately 900,000 square feet, along the East Coast. SSG is building two additional stores totaling 250,000 square feet. Mr. Cohen’s companies also operate more than 25 properties consisting of shopping centers, downtown store blocks and office buildings. SF Properties, Inc. has extensive experience in the renovation and restoration of properties throughout Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.
Mr. Cohen currently serves as a member of Kellogg Alumni Council; member of Brown University’s Corporation Committee on Facilities and Design and its Strategic Long Range Committee and Chairman of the Real Estate Sub-Committee; Overseer of the Museum of Science; and member of the Finance Committee at Hebrew Senior Life. Mr. Cohen was appointed in November 2007 by the Governor of Massachusetts to serve as a Director of MassDevelopment and elected the Board’s Vice Chairman in February 2010.
Mr. Cohen was a founder and organizer of Commonwealth National Bank, a nationally chartered bank in Worcester. The bank was acquired by United Bank in late 2009. He had served as a member of the Board of Directors, the Executive Committee, and Chairman of the Nominating and Governance Committee.
A graduate of Brown University, Mr. Cohen received his MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management. Mr. Cohen was the recipient of the 2011 Kellogg Alumni Service Award.
Vice President of Business Development, Waypoint
James E. Chisholm is Vice President of Business Development for Waypoint, a national sales and marketing agency for the food service industry and related supplies. In that role, Mr. Chisholm leads the organization’s non-food effort with client expansion, customer relationships and acquisitions. Jim is known nationally for his pioneering work in the consolidation and redefining of the foodservice industry. Prior to Waypoint, he founded Benchmark Sales, one of the largest food service brokerage companies in the country, and served as the company’s president. Mr. Chisholm has also held executive positions at Inter-Mark Sales, Morris Alper, and Scott Worldwide Foodservice/Hoffmaster.
In addition to his work at Waypoint, Mr. Chisholm has served as Chairman of the Foodservice Sales and Marketing Association, past president of the Lynnfield Athletic Association, and currently co-chairs Providence College’s Black and White premiere fundraising event. A graduate of Boston College, he also is a member of the Boston College hockey mentoring program. Mr. Chisholm joined the MassDevelopment Board of Directors in November 2015.
Founder and Executive Director, Foundation for Fair Contracting of Massachusetts
Karen Grasso Courtney is the Founder and Executive Director of the Foundation for Fair Contracting of Massachusetts, a labor-management trust fund. She is also the President of K. Courtney & Associates, a consulting firm offering government relations services. Previously, she was appointed Assistant Commissioner for the Massachusetts Department of Labor and Industries.
For five years, Ms. Courtney served on the faculty of the McCormack School of Public Policy at the University of Massachusetts-Boston, as part of the Women in Politics and Public Policy Graduate Certificate Program, Ms. Courtney helped aspiring female political leaders to make essential connections with area nonprofit and policy organizations.
Ms. Courtney has a long history of community involvement. In 2011 she received the Salt of the Earth Award from the nonprofit group Massachusetts Community Labor United. In 1996, The Greater Lawrence YWCA named Ms. Courtney "The Outstanding Woman of the Year."
She received a Bachelor's degree from Fitchburg State, a graduate certificate from Boston College and a Master's degree from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Ms. Courtney joined the MassDevelopment Board of Directors in March 2016.
Managing Director, Cambridge Associates
Keon T. Holmes is the Managing Director of Cambridge Associates, a Boston-based consulting and investment firm, where he has worked since 2005. Prior to joining Cambridge Associates, Mr. Holmes worked as an Investment Manager at JPMorgan Chase.
Mr. Holmes is a graduate of Howard University and Harvard Business School. He was appointed to the MassDevelopment Board of Directors in September 2012.
Co-Founder and Principal, New Boston Ventures LLC
Dennis Kanin is co-founder and principal of New Boston Ventures LLC, a Boston-based residential real estate development firm that has been active since 1985 in both new construction of market-rate and affordable housing and in the preservation and adaptive reuse of historic structures.
From 1985 to 2009, Mr. Kanin was a partner and later of counsel in the Boston law firm Foley Hoag LLP. There, Mr. Kanin was a member of the government and legislative practice area and was coordinator of the firm’s Public/Private Strategies Group.
Mr. Kanin has been actively involved in both government and politics over the last few decades. He was campaign manager for the 1992 Presidential campaign of former U.S. Senator Paul Tsongas. From 1975 to 1985, he served as Mr. Tsongas’s chief of staff in the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives.
Mr. Kanin has also been active in community and civic organizations. He is currently president of the Board of Trustees of The Roxbury Latin School, where he has served as a trustee since 2000. He has also served as New England chair and National Washington Affairs chair of the Anti-Defamation League, vice president of the Board of the Epiphany School, co-chair of the Children’s Hospital’s Advocacy Campaign Advisory Group and member of its Board Committee on Community Service, director of the New England Council, Advisory Board member of the Environmental League of Massachusetts, and member of the Investor Advisory Board of Energy Clean Solutions.
Mr. Kanin is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He was appointed to the MassDevelopment Board of Directors in March 2010.
Founder and President, Charles River Realty Investors
Brian Kavoogian is the founder and president of Charles River Realty Investors, a private equity real estate investment firm. Charles River is affiliated with National Development, one of metropolitan Boston’s largest real estate operating companies. Charles River and its principals have successfully acquired and/or developed more than 20 million square feet of real estate worth more than $4 billion. Mr. Kavoogian is a past chairman of both of the region’s real estate trade organizations, the Greater Boston Real Estate Board and NAIOP Massachusetts, where he remains on the Board of Directors. He is a trustee of Tufts University and a member of the Board of Advocates of the Tisch College at Tufts University. Mr. Kavoogian also serves as the Vice Chairman of the Greater Boston YMCA, is an overseer of Newton-Wellesley Hospital, a member of the Partners Healthcare System, Inc. Corporation and a director of Heading Home. Mr. Kavoogian received a BA from Tufts University in 1984 and joined the MassDevelopment Board of Directors in November 2015.
Partner, Rubin and Rudman, LLP
Lauren A. Liss is a partner at Rubin and Rudman, LLP, with expertise in energy and environmental matters. She advises clients on land use restrictions, transportation and administrative law, and is particularly skillful in helping clients who require guidance from authorities within Massachusetts state government. Ms. Liss is knowledgeable in all aspects of permitting, including regulations surrounding the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act, multi-phase, rare species, wetlands, and transfer of development zoning bylaws. Her clients include large public corporations, colleges and universities, and real estate developers.
Before joining Rubin and Rudman as a partner in 2003, Ms. Liss spent her career working in state government. In 1999, she was appointed Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. As Commissioner, she acted as Chair of the Cross Media Committee for the Environmental Council of the States and as state representative to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Innovative Action Council. Prior to becoming Commissioner, she served as General Counsel and Deputy Secretary for Environmental Policy at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Transportation and Construction, as senior environmental counsel on the Boston Central Artery/Tunnel project, and as Associate and Junior Partner at Nutter, McClennen & Fish.
Ms. Liss is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and the Boston University School of Law. She joined the MassDevelopment Board of Directors in September 2016.
Undersecretary, Executive Office for Administration and Finance, Designee for Secretary Kristen Lepore
Patricia McGovern formerly served as General Counsel and Senior Vice President at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center; Executive Vice President for External Affairs at CareGroup Healthcare System; a lawyer at Goulston & Storrs, P.C.; and, from 1984 to 1992, chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.
Ms. McGovern holds a bachelor’s degree and a law degree from Suffolk University. She holds numerous honorary degrees and, after graduation from law school, studied at the Academy of International Law. Ms. McGovern is a founder of the Women’s Bar Association. She was a fellow at the Radcliffe College Public Policy Institute during the 1994-1995 academic year, and in 1992 was a fellow at the Institute of Politics at the Kennedy School at Harvard University. She is a guest lecturer at a number of colleges, universities, law schools and institutes throughout the Northeast. Ms. McGovern joined the MassDevelopment Board of Directors in August 2011.
Chairman and CEO, TRC Companies, Inc.
Christopher P. Vincze has served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of TRC Companies, Inc. since 2006. Prior to that, Mr. Vincze was the company’s Chief Operating Officer. He is responsible for oversight of the strategic direction of the Company and leads the firm’s Executive Management Team to execute the Company’s vision to deliver value to its customers, shareholders, and employees. Over the past 11 years, Mr. Vincze and the firm’s Executive Management Team have restructured and repositioned TRC as a leading provider of engineering, consulting, and construction management services to the Energy, Environmental, and Infrastructure markets.
Prior to joining TRC, Mr. Vincze served as Managing Director at Marsh, Inc., the $5.5 billion risk and insurance services units of Marsh & McLennan Companies. While at Marsh, he led the firm’s Corporate Environmental Practice and worked closely with other Marsh business units including Construction, Transportation, and Real Estate practices as well as MMC Capital, Kroll Inc., and Mercer. Before joining Marsh, Mr. Vincze was President and COO at ATC Group Services, Inc., a $155 million, 1,700 employee engineering and environmental consulting company based in Woburn.
Outside of TRC, Mr. Vincze serves on the Board of Trustees of Hallmark Health Systems and the New England Council. He is also a member and serves on the National Committee for the American Enterprise Institute.
A graduate of Connecticut College, Mr. Vincze received his Master’s in Public Health from the Boston University School of Medicine.