In their first public event after being sworn into office on Thursday, Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito visited the Salvation Army Kroc Center in Upham’s Corner as part of their inaugural week “Spotlight on Excellence” tour.
UMass Boston Chancellor J. Keith Motley served as one of the event’s hosts, along with a small group of community leaders including Chris Jones, the Executive Director of the Dudley Square Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI), which organized the tour stop.
Each of the tour stops were chosen to highlight programs which work and the incoming governor would like to see replicated where possible across the commonwealth. Baker chose to highlight the accomplishments of the DSNI in its 30 years of work to provide affordable housing and improved education opportunities for disadvantaged youth.
The event highlighted the work that the Baker Administration has said it wants to undertake in the Commonwealth’s urban neighborhoods and included testimony from neighborhood residents and students.
Governor Baker wrote a promise on a piece of paper hanging on the wall to work with groups like the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative "to build . . . support affordable housing . . . expand on what works . . . create more great schools . . . bring economic opportunity to every section of the community."
UMass Boston has a strong history of community service and has played a role in neighborhood development on a consistent basis, activities symbolized by the chancellor’s presence at this important event.
When asked by a reporter about how the university would express itself in its relationship with the new governor, Chancellor Motley reiterated the UMass Boston commitment to serve and a willingness to support initiatives in tandem with the state administration for the benefit of residents in all neighborhoods.
Faculty, staff, and students have been involved in activities related to the work of the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative and also in the program development of the Kroc Center. There are also several UMass Boston alumni involved in the operation of each of these institutions, further strengthening the university’s connections to the community.
The event focused on the representation of best practices in community development. Baker stressed four themes: resident leadership, partnership, development without displacement, and success for every child. Newly sworn-in Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Jay Ash, a friend to the UMass Boston community in his previous role as city manager of Chelsea, was also on hand at the event.
Baker told the crowd he hoped to bring a spotlight to programs that are working well, and seek to build on that success.
"We are going to root out these success stories," Baker said.