Executive Director Steven Farrell Charts Path Forward for Fenway CDC at 51st Annual Meeting

Exactly one month after arriving on the job, Steven Farrell, the newly named executive director of Fenway CDC (Community Development Corporation), delivered his first keynote address and outlined his ambitious vision for using community input to help shape the future of the organization during its 51st annual meeting on Thursday, April 25, at Simmons College.

​The Fenway CDC’s Strategic Plan wrapped up last year, so the nonprofit now needs a new process to help guide its next Strategic Plan, which expected to cover a period of three to five years. With the Fenway CDC embarking on this next chapter, Farrell  shared his plan at the annual meeting for ‘Community Vision Conversations,’ which he described as a “10-month-long conversation” regarding the future of the organization.

​This outreach will include  a series of Town Hall meetings intended to create a ‘common vision’ for the Fenway CDC, said Farrell, with a strong emphasis on community and resident input via surveys, focus groups, interviews, and ‘community-needs assessment.’

​The first Town Hall meeting, focusing on the ‘community vision’ for the Fenway CDC, will take place this fall, most likely in October or early November. Community input will be gathered between the fall of 2024 and the spring of 2025.

A second Town Hall meeting to test the concepts is scheduled for spring of 2025, and the Strategic Plan will be adjusted during the spring and summer of 2025.

A third Town Hall meeting to finalize the Strategic Plan, as well as to discuss next steps, is then scheduled for the summer of 2025.

Moreover, the Fenway CDC is committed to future conversations with the community past next summer, pledged Farrell.

“More listening has meant more community engagement, with not just us listening to the community but also the community listening to each other,” Farrell said in a May 29 phone interview. “The key is authentic community input. We’ve had lots of success recently with real estate development, and now, we’re looking to deepen our organization and its engagement work, including different ways to build community.”

Farrell took over as  executive director of the Fenway CDC on March 25, assuming the reins from his long-serving predecessor in the role, Leah Camhi. Prior to assuming his current position, Farrell, a Watertown native who earned his undergraduate degree from Northeastern University, worked with Metro Housing Boston for 11 years, most recently serving as its Chief Operating Officer.

Farrell’s arrival at Fenway CDC comes amidst a time of great transition for the group as six long-serving board members are stepping down from their leadership roles with the group.

At the annual meeting, one of the group’s Community Service Awards was given to departing Fenway CDC board members, including exiting board president and chair Nikki Flionis, along with other long-serving board members, including Ryan Boxill; Brian Clague; Sheneal Parker, PhD; Gregory Paulson Haig; and Matthew Wildman (who wasn’t in attendance).

In presenting this Community Service Award, Tim Coakley, treasurer of the Fenway CDC board, noted that the six departing board members represent 72 years of combined service to the organization, all of whom, like Flionis, are leaving because they’ve reached the end of their terms.

Coakley added that Boxill and Clague will stay on in the interim to help new, incoming board members get acclimated within the group.

“We wanted to honor the service of the departing board members but also to acknowledge the incoming board members and the experience, skills, and talent they bring to the board and the organization,” Farrell told this reporter.

Juan Pérez, a community artist, was awarded another Community Service Award by Sage Carbone, Fenway CDC’s director of community programs. The Northeastern Co-Ops in Service to Our Neighbors Program was presented a third Community Service Award by Cassie White, the Fenway CEC’s lead community organizer.

Fenway CDC improves the lives of over 2,500 adults, children, and youth each year through 5,000 services and a wide range of community activities, as well as through its significant housing development and preservation projects.

Last year, the Fenway CDC, in partnership with the city’s Planning Office for Urban Affairs, purchased Our Lady’s Guild House (OLGH), a 140-unit single-room occupancy building near Kenmore.

Fenway CDC also acquired a six-unit, market-rate rental building at 43 Hemenway St. for conversion into six affordable home-ownership units, while Burbank Terrace, comprising 27 affordable units, is now under construction. With its opening targeted for some time this year, Burbank  Terrace will be Fenway CDC’s “first ground-up development in decades,” according to the group’s 2023 annual report.

Additionally, Fenway CDC connects residents to social services, career-furthering education opportunities, employment, fresh foods, and community organizing, such as efforts to advocate for the expansion of hours for the MBTA’s 55 bus line. The organization also helps Boston residents build job skills, gain financial literacy, and learn self-described ‘healthy habits,’ among other services.

For more information on Fenway CDC, visit fenwaycdc.org.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.