Gateway Cities Welcome Transformation Fellows

Fellows from MassDevelopment’s Transformative Development Initiative to Lead Partnerships Designed to Spur Economic Growth in 13 Gateway City Districts

September 9, 2022

Matthew Mogavero, 857-248-0868

BOSTON – MassDevelopment today announced a cohort of 13 Transformative Development Initiative (TDI) Fellows who will work for three years in newly selected TDI districts in Attleboro, Barnstable (Hyannis), Fall River, Holyoke, Lawrence, Lowell, Lynn, New Bedford, Pittsfield, Revere, Springfield, Taunton, and Worcester.

TDI Fellows are MassDevelopment employees who provide on-the-ground economic development expertise and collaborative leadership in cities and help TDI partnerships utilize an arrangement of tools to catalyze development, such as technical assistance, grants to support local market development, arts and cultural infrastructure, collaborative workshops, placemaking, and more.

"MassDevelopment's Transformative Development Initiative (TDI) takes a street-level approach to accelerating economic growth in Gateway Cities," said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy, who serves as chair of MassDevelopment's Board of Directors. "The Baker-Polito Administration is glad to see the agency expand this program to 13 cities and bring on an impressive cohort of economic development professionals who will help advance former industrial neighborhoods across the Commonwealth."

In February 2022, the Baker-Polito Administration announced a historic expansion of TDI, a MassDevelopment program for Gateway Cities designed to accelerate economic growth within focused districts. The expansion more than doubled the size of the program and represents a $23.7 million investment in Gateway Cities over three years.

“This cohort of TDI Fellows is our largest yet; they’re a skilled and talented team of economic, community and planning development professionals who will be hard at work in their respective districts,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Dan Rivera. “The Baker-Polito Administration’s ongoing investment in Gateway Cities led by Secretary Kennealy reflects the success of the TDI program and graduated districts across the state, which could not have been possible without the collaborative work of residents, business owners, municipal leaders, and nonprofit partners.”

TDI concentrates economic development activities, resources, and investments within designated neighborhood areas, known as “TDI districts,” for a term of three or more years. TDI districts are downtowns and commercial districts within Gateway Cities, where a targeted focus of place-based economic development leads to positive change over time. MassDevelopment has previously designated 16 TDI districts across the Commonwealth, including in cities not in the current cohort, such as Brockton, Chelsea, Chicopee, Fitchburg, Haverhill, and Peabody.

The TDI Fellows and their respective districts are:

Jim McKeag, TDI South Cluster Lead Strategist, Fall River

Jim McKeag – TDI South Cluster Lead Strategist, Fall River
Jim joined MassDevelopment in 2016 as the TDI Fellow for New Bedford and in 2018 became the TDI Senior Fellow for Fall River. In his new role as TDI South Cluster Lead Strategist, he now also coordinates the Fellows in the South Region and oversees initiatives connecting TDI programs in the southeast to larger economic development initiatives. Jim will also oversee the TDI Equity program statewide and continue to facilitate projects in the Fall River TDI District. 

Born and raised in Worcester, Jim's background is in the building trades, with an emphasis on historic preservation and residential carpentry. Prior to joining MassDevelopment, Jim was the Property Manager for the Printers Building Trust in Worcester where he led efforts to redevelop the property and transition it to a multi-function office complex with a focus on creative economic uses and collaborative workspaces. Jim is a trained mediator and has worked in Massachusetts District and Housing Courts. 

He holds a master's degree in urban and environmental policy and planning from Tufts University, a bachelor's in biology and society from Cornell University, and an associate's degree from Quinsigamond Community College.

Ivette Olmeda, TDI Senior Fellow, Worcester

Ivette Olmeda – TDI Senior Fellow, Worcester
Ivette joined MassDevelopment in 2018, serving as TDI Fellow in Worcester’s second TDI District (Main South) before her current promotion to Senior Fellow in Worcester’s Pleasant Street District. Before joining MassDevelopment, she spent 12 years as a program manager for the Center for Women & Enterprise of Central Massachusetts, and co-founded ESCALA! Achieving Together, a consulting team dedicated to empowering women. In the Main South TDI District, she engaged and supported local businesses and property owners, organized Worcester's Main South Business Association, and developed strategic reuse plans for vacant sites to help Main South become a walkable and vibrant neighborhood. 

Ivette has served on the Executive Board at Adelante Worcester, the Latin American Business Organization, and she was recently appointed to the WooSox Latino Advisory Board (The Wepa's Team) at Polar Park. She is the recipient of a 2019 MassINC Gateway Cities Innovation Award. Ivette has a joint master's degree in business administration and community development & planning from Clark University.

Laura Christopher, TDI Fellow, Revere

Laura Christopher – TDI Fellow, Revere 
Laura joined MassDevelopment in 2016, most recently serving as the Strategy and Innovation Officer, and was an integral part of the TDI Operations team for five years. Her work across several programs at the agency has included an emphasis on design thinking, data, community engagement, and place. Laura has also worked to align statewide economic development priorities with practical and usable implementation strategies, programs, and financial products that advance equitable development. Before joining MassDevelopment, she worked as a landscape architectural designer at SWT Design. 

Laura holds a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Wellesley College and a master’s degree in landscape architecture from Washington University in St. Louis. 

Tracy Barbosa, TDI Fellow, Attleboro

Tracy Barbosa – TDI Fellow, Attleboro 
Tracy is a multi-media artist and community organizer with experience organizing the Love the Ave initiative in New Bedford’s North End. 

With a bachelor’s degree from Massachusetts College of Art and Design, she has worked in private and public collections all over the world. Tracy began working with glass in 1997 at MassArt in Boston. Soon after, she worked at John Lewis Glass assisting with such glass marvels as the OK City Memorial and One World Trade in New York. 

Today, Tracy is the owner of Duende Studio in New Bedford. Duende Studio’s mission in equity-based collaborative public art and community building projects across New England has been running strong for more than 20 years.  

Josilane Santos, TDI Fellow, Hyannis

Josilane Santos – TDI Fellow, Hyannis
“Josie” is a socially engaged consultant with more than 15 years of experience across both business and nonprofit sectors. She has experience in local and international projects, consulting operations management, strategic social management, human resources management, triple bottom line, urbanization projects, and development. Josie has worked with the Massachusetts Area Planning Commission as an independent consultant focused on the development of the Lynn Local Rapid Recovery Program, and also designed special projects with Lynn Main Streets to expand relationships with local agencies and small businesses.

She is a strong advocate for cross-cultural communications and social-economic development projects. Josie studied international business management at Sao Marcos University in Brazil and holds a master’s degree in sustainable international development from Brandeis University.

Kevin Moforte, TDI Fellow, Holyoke

Kevin Moforte – TDI Fellow, Holyoke 
Kevin has a background in entrepreneurship and business assistance. He’s worked with early-stage entrepreneurs as Executive Director of EforAll in Lynn, focused on helping Latinos, other minorities, and women start businesses. He was also briefly the Western MA Director of FORGE, connecting startups with local manufacturers, in hopes of strengthening the Massachusetts manufacturing economy. 

Prior to MassDevelopment, Kevin started a social business called Esperanza Soaps, which provided jobs to women living in Las Malvinas in the Dominican Republic. Kevin holds a master’s degree in public policy and administration from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Josefa Arriagada Saieh, TDI Fellow, Lawrence

Josefa Arriagada Saieh – TDI Fellow, Lawrence
Josefa has 10 years of experience in small businesses, leadership, design, architecture, GIS, and spatial analysis. She has long been part of her family’s businesses, which include a local clothing and fabric store in a small city in Chile and a food packaging factory in Santiago. 

Josefa’s professional experience also includes working for companies that host international events such as Ironman, Spartan Race, and Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon. Additionally, her past clients include Santander Bank and Codelco Health Insurance, as well as the Metropolitan University of Technology and Douc UC in Chile. 

She holds a master’s in city planning from Boston University.

Nate Robertson, TDI Fellow, Lowell

Nate Robertson – TDI Fellow, Lowell 
Nate has diverse urban planning experience in Gateway Cities including Lawrence, Methuen, Hyannis, and Haverhill.

Nate worked as the Community and Economic Development Program Manager at the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission, where he focused on building support programs for local businesses, cultivating municipal support for housing production, and growing wealth-building industry clusters. Prior to the Planning Commission, Nate worked in Haverhill for a partnership focused on economic development and urban revitalization. While in Hyannis, Nate owned a small flower shop, co-produced a documentary about addiction and recovery, and worked on harm reduction and food security issues for the AIDS Support Group of Cape Cod. Nate’s experiences working at the intersections of health, wealth, and housing anchor his approach to community building.

Nate has a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Vermont.

Tristan Foley, TDI Fellow, Lynn

Tristan Foley – TDI Fellow, Lynn
Tristan has a background in development law and has worked on land use, zoning, planning and construction cases, including affordable housing and mixed-use developments. In this role, he helped move development projects forward at all stages by resolving disputes among owners, government officials, and community residents.

Tristan worked in El Salvador during and after college, where he advanced community development projects and studied at the University of Central America. He also provided technical assistance to Spanish-speaking small business owners in eastern Massachusetts through the micro-finance nonprofit ACCION; in this role, he taught workshops and conducted outreach in Spanish and English in Boston and in Gateway Cities.  Tristan then took this experience to the Meheba Refugee Settlement in Zambia, living there for more than a year, where he started and ran a microfinance program and provided other technical assistance to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and its partners. Tristan has a bachelor’s degree in political science and Latin American studies from Fordham University and a Juris Doctorate from Columbia University School of Law.

Adelsa Mendes, TDI Fellow, New Bedford

Adelsa Mendes – TDI Fellow, New Bedford
Prior to joining MassDevelopment, Adelsa served as the Business Assistance Manager for the Brockton Redevelopment Authority (BRA), where her understanding of diverse populations, community-building skills, and outgoing character were fundamental to enhancing minority-owned business access to critical resources, such as COVID-19 relief funds. She was responsible for building relevant partnerships to help address Brockton small businesses needs and nurture a sustainable and stronger small business enterprise.

Adelsa spent nearly 10 years working as the Coordinator of Immigration Affairs at the Consulate of Cape Verde in the United States, where she provided case management to more than 400 individuals. She also spent time working in a law office in Lisbon in Portugal, specifically supporting the implementation of an International Financial Institution in Cape Verde. 

She has a Juris Doctorate from the University of Lisbon.

Julie Copoulos, TDI Fellow, Pittsfield

Julie Copoulos – TDI Fellow, Pittsfield
Julie brings experience as an entrepreneur, advocate, and community leader in Pittsfield, Boston, and communities in between. 

A former small business owner, Julie is an award-winning artisan bread baker, novice beekeeper, and raw-milk cheese maker. A handyperson and old home enthusiast, Julie has trained as a real-estate inspector and worked professionally on both modern and timber frame construction projects. In Chicopee, Julie served as the head of the Chamber of Commerce and worked with TDI in that city to found projects like “Center Space,” a tax-title property turned privately-managed food truck venue. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Joshua Croke, TDI Fellow, Springfield

Joshua Croke – TDI Fellow, Springfield
Joshua is the founder of Action! by Design, a community development and design agency helping organizations amplify community power through community engagement and facilitation, coalition building, branding, and storytelling. Joshua cofounded and sits as Board President for Love Your Labels, a nonprofit organization supporting LGBTQIA2S+ youth through art, fashion, and design. Their work specifically addresses issues connected to achieving racial equity, addressing systemic and structural oppression, and amplifying the representation of LGBTQIA2S+ people in decision-making spaces. 

Joshua holds a bachelor’s degree in creative design, technology, and business from Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Sharell Jacobs, TDI Fellow, Taunton

Sharell Jacobs – TDI Fellow, Taunton
Sharell has experience in residential property management and small business assistance. She previously worked as Executive Director of Mattapan Square Main Streets. She also served as the Executive Director for Mandela New Life Homeownership Division, and worked with the City of Boston on projects such as the overlay planning of the South Boston District and reviewed and applied Article 80 benefits to Dorchester Developments. 

Sharell has an associate’s degree in business administration from Massasoit Community College, a bachelor’s in community development/economics and a master’s degree in city planning from the University of Massachusetts Boston.

MassDevelopment, the state’s development finance agency and land bank, works with businesses, nonprofits, banks, and communities to stimulate economic growth across the Commonwealth. During FY2022, MassDevelopment financed or managed 356 projects generating investment of more than $1.69 billion in the Massachusetts economy. These projects are estimated to create or support 11,080 jobs and build or preserve 1,778 housing units.