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Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera to Serve as President and CEO of MassDevelopment

With strong executive-level skills Rivera joins key agency charged with spurring economic growth
December 10, 2020


Kelsey Schiller, MassDevelopment, 617-694-9695 (cell)

BOSTON— Today, the MassDevelopment Board of Directors voted unanimously to empower Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy, the board chair, to extend a contract offer to Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera for the position of President and Chief Executive Officer. In October, MassDevelopment, the Commonwealth’s finance and economic development agency, announced that after three years as President and CEO, Lauren A. Liss would be stepping down from the position at the end of the calendar year.

“Dan Rivera will bring dedicated leadership experience, compassion and a steadfast commitment to economic recovery and growth for Massachusetts’ cities and towns in his new role at MassDevelopment,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “In his role as Mayor for the City of Lawrence, Dan met every challenge and seized every opportunity to support his residents and create a stronger economy— including more jobs and housing. I’m confident he will work tirelessly in his new role to support economic growth statewide for all the residents in Massachusetts.”

“During his time as mayor of Lawrence, a key Gateway City, Dan Rivera distinguished himself as someone with both strong managerial skills and with an unmatched ability to understand the unique needs of his constituents,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “Dan Rivera will put his leadership experience and commitment to excellence in government to work for the diverse cities and towns of the Commonwealth, during a time when our businesses and residents need support the most.”

“I am both honored and humbled to be chosen as the President and CEO of MassDevelopment and I’m excited for the opportunity to hone my focus on economic development, especially during these trying times,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO-designee President Daniel Rivera. “In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, MassDevelopment stands to play a role in reconstruction of our economy that is inclusive, equitable, and focuses on neighborhoods and business districts in every corner of the Commonwealth.”

Rivera joins MassDevelopment after serving as mayor of the City of Lawrence for seven years where he managed a $341 million operating budget, a $92 million Capital Improvement Plan, and oversaw approximately 3,500 employees. As Lawrence’s chief executive, Rivera led efforts to invest in infrastructure, attract hundreds of millions of dollars in private development, while also overseeing the creation of over 2,400 units of both affordable and market-rate housing.

With an acute focus on quality-of-life improvements as mayor, Rivera’s record of accomplishment includes numerous investments that resulted in the redevelopment of contaminated sites and targeted downtown areas; construction of equitable transit-oriented developments; and the creation of parks and placemaking initiatives. Rivera also led the city through the Merrimack Valley Columbia Gas Disaster of 2018 and the beginning of the current COVID-19 global pandemic.

“Dan Rivera is no stranger to MassDevelopment’s programs, having masterfully utilized many to the benefit of the residents of Lawrence, one of our Commonwealth’s diverse and rising Gateway Cities,” said Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Mike Kennealy, who serves as chair of MassDevelopment’s Board of Directors. “By answering the call to serve in this new role, Dan will put his skillsets, experience, and proven track record to work statewide and I look forward to working with him on our shared priorities. I am also grateful to Lauren Liss for her years of dedication to MassDevelopment’s goals.”

In addition to serving as mayor of Lawrence, Rivera was also an invaluable member of the Baker-Polito Administration’s Reopening Advisory Board, bringing the municipal viewpoint to the group tasked with developing the Commonwealth’s strategy to reopen the economy during COVID-19, and the COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Group. In 2017, Governor Baker tapped Rivera to serve on the newly established Latino Advisory Commission charged with addressing the concerns of the Massachusetts Latino community and promoting economic prosperity and well-being.

Rivera, a veteran of the United States Army and resident of Lawrence, holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a Master’s in Business Administration from Suffolk University.

Rivera will succeed current President and CEO Lauren A. Liss who during her tenure expanded MassDevelopment’s work in Gateway Cities through an array of finance programs and real estate services – such as the Transformative Development Initiative (TDI) and Commonwealth Places program – and oversaw tremendous growth at Devens, MassDevelpment’s iconic mixed-use redevelopment of the former Fort Devens.

This year, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, MassDevelopment pivoted programs and tools to support small businesses in some of the state’s hardest-hit communities and aid in economic recovery. These efforts helped to stabilize businesses in TDI districts, and created crowdfunding opportunities for community partners to prepare public spaces and commercial districts to safely serve residents and visitors.

MassDevelopment, the state’s finance and development agency, works with businesses, nonprofits, banks, and communities to stimulate economic growth across the Commonwealth. During FY2020, MassDevelopment financed or managed 341 projects generating investment of more than $2.69 billion in the Massachusetts economy. These projects are estimated to create or support 10,871 jobs and build or preserve 1,787 housing units.