The City of Boston aims to provide its citizens with expanded public open space while mitigating the effects of climate change that are affecting the ecosystems, health, infrastructure, livelihoods, and security of its residents. The FUSE Executive Fellow will develop open space acquisition protocol and standard procedures that are rooted in an equity roadmap for fair land acquisition.
Fellowship Dates: October 24, 2023 – October 21, 2024
Salary: Executive Fellows are FUSE employees and receive an annual base salary of $80,000. Fellows can also access various health, dental, and vision insurance benefits. Compensation for this year of public service is not intended to represent market-rate compensation for the experienced professionals in our program.
ABOUT THE FUSE EXECUTIVE FELLOWSHIP
FUSE Corps is a national nonprofit working to expand social and economic opportunities, particularly for communities that have been limited by a history of systemic and institutionalized racism. FUSE partners with local governments and communities to more effectively address pressing challenges by placing experienced professionals within city and county agencies. These FUSE Executive Fellows lead strategic projects designed to advance racial equity and accelerate systems change. Since 2012, FUSE has led over 250 projects in 40 governments across 20 states, impacting the lives of 25 million people.
When designing each fellowship project, FUSE works closely with government partners and local stakeholders to define a scope of work that will achieve substantive progress toward regional priorities. FUSE then conducts an individualized search for each project to ensure that the selected candidate has at least 15 years of professional experience, the required competencies for the role, and deep connections to the communities being served. They are data-driven and results-oriented and able to effectively manage complex projects by developing actionable roadmaps and monitoring progress to completion.
Executive Fellows are hired as FUSE employees and embedded in government agencies for at least one year of full-time work. Throughout their fellowships, they receive training, coaching, and professional support from FUSE to help achieve their project goals. FUSE Executive Fellows bring diverse perspectives and new approaches to their projects. They build strong relationships with diverse arrays of stakeholders, foster alignment within and across various layers of government, and build partnerships between governments and communities.
The City of Boston is anticipating population growth up to 800,000 residents by the year 2050, which would be a 16% increase from the current population of 690,000. A commensurate amount of open space is needed to provide its citizens with a healthy and family friendly lifestyle. The Olmsted Era of the late 19th Century was the last time that the City of Boston made major investments in expanding citywide parkland, and the leadership in the City of Boston believes that now is time for an innovative and updated vision for the expansion of city parklands. The aforementioned Olmsted Era was a time of grand urban planning, visioning and reimagining what public park lands could be. The Emerald Necklace and other wonders of the Boston area are real life, tactile examples of how urban planning can inspire recreation, exude artistry, spark community connections, integrate green infrastructure and flood protection, and demonstrate how public parks can increase the economic value of a place.
The City of Boston’s most recent update to its citywide Open Space and Recreation Plan found that there are disparities in access to open space across different neighborhoods in the city. Other findings clarified that acquiring new land is extremely challenging in this densely populated city, but that parkland expansion remains necessary in the face of a growing population.
The city-wide Parcel Priority Plan evaluates open space needs and opportunities across the city. The Plan integrates public input about where people would like to see additional open space protected or acquired, and for what purposes. This document helped the city to see opportunities where park inequities can be strategically addressed through new acquisitions. One of the strongest contributions from this document and process was its inclusion of voices and perspectives from across the city, ensuring that communities often left out of the urban planning process are included and prioritized.
The City of Boston wants to improve the quality of the existing park system while increasing the number of public parks across the city. Boston was the first city on the East Coast to provide a park within a 10-minute walk of every resident, yet that achievement does not measure an equitable distribution of open space resources across the city. In implementing the City of Boston’s Open Space Acquisition Program, immigrant populations will be represented in ways that they have not historically been. Inequity in access to quality parks will be addressed through the inclusion of historically marginalized communities in ongoing planning, outreach, and collaboration. Cost of living increases pricing out long-term residents is a development trend plaguing every urban area across the US; this threat of displacement will be considered through the process of land acquisition and prioritization of urban, open, public spaces in Boston.
The City of Boston will partner with FUSE to research successful models from other agencies and similar localities; evaluation of legal structures for land protection (conservation restrictions easements); and identify opportunities to streamline the City’s land acquisition processes, including due diligence, procurement of third-party expertise and development of an open space acquisition and protection toolkit. This work will help Boston to identify and reach its land protection and acquisition goals so that its residents enjoy an increase in public space as well as an upgrade of the gorgeous open and public spaces it already boasts.
PROJECT SUMMARY & POTENTIAL DELIVERABLES
The following provides a general overview of the proposed fellowship project. This project summary and the potential deliverables will be collaboratively revisited by the host agency, the fellow, and FUSE staff during the first few months of the fellowship.
The FUSE Executive Fellow, on behalf of the Parks Department and working with other relevant departments and agencies, will create a thoroughly streamlined and documented process for land acquisition and protection for the City of Boston. This effort will include evaluation and listing of current acquisition standard operating procedures, standard templates, processes for land use planning, and documentation of eminent domain best practices and conservation restriction questions. This will set a tone of efficiency and streamlined process mapping for the City’s emerging open space acquisition vision. In coordination with legal counsel, the Executive Fellow will help develop streamlined processes for acquisition as they support the City through the creation of these essential best practices and protocols.
The Executive Fellow will develop partnerships with stakeholders in the Parks and Recreation Department, the Boston Planning and Development Agency, and the Boston Conservation Commission. Cultivating positive and healthy working relationships with a wide range of partners and players will be a key function of this role. The Executive Fellow will leverage their expertise in various areas to drive impactful changes. Additionally, they will collaborate with the city to develop a comprehensive closeout process, facilitating smooth project completion. Moreover, they will optimize the order of operations, creating a well-defined and rationalized process flow. Lastly, the Executive Fellow will identify and implement best practices for purchase and sale agreements, maximizing efficiency and effectiveness in these critical transactions.
Developing a protocol for how to approach open space acquisition with the goal of minimizing harm and the opportunity for hostility to develop through the process itself will be an essential element of this role. This approach will further the City of Boston’s goal of centering justice in the process of land acquisition. This will require a high level of diplomacy, social navigation, and cultural competency in the Executive Fellow. Additionally, a climate resilience lens will be applied to the creation of protocols, practices, and in identifying stakeholders, to further root this work in equity and inclusion.
By October 2024, the FUSE Executive Fellow will have:
- Developed an open space acquisition standard operating best practices guide –; closeout process with the City created; legal processes mapped and templates designed and tested; developed a process flow for order of operations; purchase and sale agreements developed; and defined best practices with applicable examples.
- Operationalize an equity roadmap for open land acquisition– A climate resilience and environmental justice lens will be applied to the creation of protocols, practices, and in identifying stakeholders; Identified alternative methods for the acquisition of property beyond purchases and sales and when one is the appropriate one to apply; and canopy protection and preservation research will be included.
- Develop a toolkit for land protection – Standard templates and processes that provide structures for land protection in perpetuity and ensure fully public access to properties that are held privately for public open space purposes.
- Executive Sponsor – Chief Mariama White-Hammond, Chief of Environment, Energy and Open Space; City of Boston, Office of Environment, Energy and Open Space, City of Boston
- Project Supervisor – Liza Meyer, Chief Landscape Architect; Parks Department, City of Boston
In addition to the qualifications listed below, a background in public land use/trust and acquisition experience, real estate and conservation law, negotiation skills, cultural competency, environmental justice and conservation is strongly preferred for this project.
- Synthesizes complex information into clear and concise recommendations and action-oriented implementation plans.
- Develops and effectively implements both strategic and operational project management plans.
- Generates innovative, data-driven, and result-oriented solutions to difficult challenges.
- Responds quickly to changing ideas, responsibilities, expectations, trends, strategies and other processes.
- Communicates effectively both verbally and in writing, and excels in both active listening and conversing.
- Fosters collaboration across multiple constituencies in order to support more effective decision making.
- Establishes and maintains strong relationships with a diverse array of stakeholders, both inside and outside of government, and particularly including community-based relationships.
- Embraces differing viewpoints and implements strategies to find common ground.
- Demonstrates confidence and professional diplomacy, while effectively interacting with individuals at all levels of various organizations.
FUSE is an equal-opportunity employer with core values of diversity, equity, and inclusion. We encourage candidates from all backgrounds to apply for this position.