Recruiting exceptional leaders for mission-driven organizations.

Chair of the Board of Directors Boston, MA

Boston’s eight-mile-long Charles River Basin is among the premier public spaces in our metro area and undoubtedly the most prominent urban river in New England. Once a tidal river, surrounded by hundreds of acres of salt marshes and mudflats, the Charles was intentionally reinvented at the end of the nineteenth century and is now an iconic, connective feature of Boston, running through the heart of its urban core. Today's Charles River winds its way in front of some of the best education and health sciences institutions in the world. The basin is very busy, lined with boat houses, jogging paths, sports fields and concert performance facilities that are used heavily by locals and visitors each year. It is imperative that we appreciate this open space for all that it does for the city today and also understand the added value in expanding the vision. Abutting the cities of Boston, Cambridge, Newton and Watertown, The Charles River Basin encompasses urban parklands with natural areas, recreation fields and facilities, playgrounds, critical wildlife habitat, and pedestrian pathways. The pieces are all there, but it needs significant investment to protect and enhance it. What we now know as a beautiful park with potential, could be not only become one of the world’s renowned urban river-side parks, it can become an important model for dealing with issues of climate change and resiliency.

Eager to explore the possibilities for this under-appreciated open space, a group of dedicated local volunteers formed the Charles River Alliance (CRA) in 2015 to create momentum and support for a larger vision for the Charles River Basin. They understood, in their inception, that the best way to achieve a project of this scale would be to create a strong public/private entity that engages key stakeholders—the Commonwealth, the four cities and key institutions, the inspirational advocacy groups and representatives from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. CRA envisions this stretch of the Charles, from the Watertown Dam to Boston Harbor, as modernized, protected river-side parklands that unify other relevant public and private projects planned with it and along its edges. Parks breathe life into cities and the Charles River Basin has the potential to be a major source of pride for all of the greater Boston metropolitan area. As with any great vision, this planned effort for an urban Charles requires the active involvement and ownership from every constituency, full cooperation of all stakeholders and substantial investment in the entire watershed.

To bring this plan to fruition, the CRA seeks a Chair who can lead and inspire all stakeholders in this shared vision for the future. The new Chair will assume leadership at a time of great opportunity and challenge for CRA and the broader riverbank organizations. The significant challenges that historically exist around water contamination and the public’s miseducation of urban open spaces require skilled, passionate leadership. S/He must be able to balance efforts to enhance park use with the need to protect this fragile environment and promote climate resiliency. The Chair must understand the Boston region, possess business sense and strong external relations skills. S/He will serve as a civic leader in the city of Boston and will have an important platform from which to influence the field and enhance public understanding and support.

John Isasacson is leading this search with Emilyn Sosa. 

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