About the Project

What is nextBRA?

 

This collaboration between the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) and Continuum, a global innovation design consultancy, is about much more than a PR facelift. The BRA, a planning and economic development agency, has partnered with Continuum to refocus on why it exists, who it serves, and what it is trying to accomplish.

A meaningful new direction for the BRA will be based on deep learning, coming from conversations with BRA employees and the larger Boston community (residents, the media, developers, architects, designers, and other government agencies). The needs and aspirations of these stakeholders will form the substance behind a new identity for the BRA, and our team will use these insights to help the BRA deliver on the promise that this new identity represents.

This site is a venue to share our progress and get your feedback. It’s not a new website for the BRA, but a manifestation of this project and part of a larger effort to bring meaning to the concept of transparency.

Click into the articles to leave feedback and comments or feel free to reach out directly if you have questions.

Why?

Under the leadership of Mayor Martin J. Walsh and BRA Director Brian Golden, the effort to reform the BRA – not just its image, but also its policies, practices, and community engagement strategies – has been a constant focus over the past two years. 

As new construction projects and development proposals continue to take shape at an almost unprecedented pace in Boston, the BRA has reached an important crossroads. Effectively managing these planning and development pressures and building consensus among neighborhoods about the future, preservation, enhancement, and growth of the city provides an opportunity for the BRA to define a new legacy, one that speaks to the world-class city that it has helped Boston become. 

In order to continue to effectively partner with the community to shape a more prosperous, resilient and vibrant city for all, the agency must establish an identity that is reflective of the organizational reforms underway and that inspires greater trust and confidence from the people it serves—the residents and community members of Boston.

To do this, the BRA’s board of directors approved the hiring of Continuum, a Boston-based global innovation design consultancy, to engage with the BRA and community of Boston to chart a path for the agency’s continued transformation.


How?

Over the course of a 14-week contract, Continuum will immerse themselves in the BRA’s work to hear from employees, residents and other stakeholders about improving the way the BRA interfaces with and communicates its values to the public. The following are envisioned as the primary phases and goals of nextBRA. 

There will be opportunities for the public to inform this work, both in-person and online, throughout the process. So please visit the site often and lend your thoughts next time you interact with the BRA.


Who?

Core Team, BRA:

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Heather Campisano
Chief of Staff, BRA

Teresa Polhemus
Executive Director/Secretary, BRA/EDIC

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Gina Physic
Digital Media Specialist, BRA

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Sara Myerson
Director of Planning, BRA

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Jon Greeley
Director of Development Review, BRA

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Sonal Gandhi
Senior Policy Advisor, BRA

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Mike O’Shea
Chief Information Officer, BRA

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Kristin Kara
Deputy Director for Special Projects, BRA

Core Team, Continuum:

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Jon Campbell
SVP, Experience & Service Design

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Heather Reavey
SVP, Practice Innovation

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Lee Moreau
Principal, Experience & Service Design

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Emily Elwell
Senior Designer

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Tim Radville
Senior Designer, Brand

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Stuart Meltzer
Business Strategist

Extended Team:

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Aaron Hallquist
Special Assistant & Sr. Contract Compliance Officer

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Carolyn Bennett
GIS Manager, Office of Digital Cartography and GIS

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Christopher Tracy
Senior Project Manager

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Corey Zehngebot
Senior Architect/Urban Designer

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Dana Whiteside
Deputy Director for Community Economic Development

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Dennis Davis
Deputy Director for Industrial Dev. & Commercial Leasing

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Edward McGuire
Project Assistant

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Jill Zick
Landscape Architect

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Jonathan Lee
Deputy Director for Research

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Kathleen Joyce
Senior Counsel

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Kenya Thompson
Jr. Landscape Architect/Urban Designer

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Lauren Shurtleff
Senior Planner 1

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LeeAnn Coleman
Deputy Director of Financial Services

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Meghan Aldridge
Deputy Chief of Staff for Mayor Martin J. Walsh

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Michael Cannizzo
Senior Architect/Urban Designer

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Paul Osborn
Director for Capital Construction

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Peter Sasso
Compliance Director

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Shelly O’Donnell
Employee Benefits Manager

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Jeannette Carlevale
HR Generalist

Dolores Fazio
Capital Construction

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Trent Woodward
Human Resources

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Tammy Donovan
Special Assistant to Executive Director, BRA

Steering Committee:

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Brian Golden
Director
Boston Redevelopment Authority
Economic Development Industrial Corporations

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Daniel Koh
Mayor Walsh Chief of Staff

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Laura Oggeri
Chief Communications Officer of City of Boston

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Jerome Smith
Chief of Civic Engagement at City of Boston

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Sheila Dillon
Cabinet Chief of Housing and Director of the Department of Neighborhood Development

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John Barros
Chief of Economic Development, City of Boston


Project Updates

Thinking Past the Logo

Want to understand our nextBRA work? Then you’ll need to know a bit about the subtleties of branding. A brand is far more than a logo, typeface, or some funky new colors. In fact, brand and organizational identity are closely related concepts. Your brand reflects your... read more

The Direction of the Future

If you tuned in last week, you’re up to speed on the three directions we were considering for the BRA’s new organizational identity and brand. We’ve nixed one, and carefully considered the pros and cons of the remaining two. Ultimately, we saw real promise in a new... read more

Concept Directions

Today, we’re sharing three possible directions for the next BRA. For some context, we encourage you to look back through the insights and implications we shared a few weeks back. We based these directions on what we heard about the BRA—the good, the bad, and the ugly.... read more

Other Cities

Boston is a unique blend of people, neighborhoods, and businesses. At the same time, Boston also faces problems that other cities have tackled. As we consider options for the direction of the BRA’s new organizational identity, we want to support what we’ve heard from... read more

Insights into Action

As we move into the “Create” phase, we’re excited to think big about new directions for the BRA that align the organization around a shared purpose and guide its energy. At the same time, we’ve identified some implications that we feel are foundational to the BRA’s... read more

Demystifying Zoning: Q&A with the BRA

Zoning has come up repeatedly over the course of our learning. We heard that many parts of the zoning code in Boston have not been updated for some time, which means that nearly every proposed development project requires an exception (known as a “zoning variance”).... read more

Are we all NIMBYs?

NIMBY. It’s a term that’s thrown around a lot these days—especially in a city like Boston that’s experiencing so much growth—so it’s fascinating to pause and consider its real significance. Deferring to the Oxford English Dictionary for the best definition of NIMBY,... read more

Staff Workshops

We held workshops with a range of people within the BRA to dig deeper into how the organization functions and into how it works with its many stakeholders.   We heard some really meaningful and inspiring reasons why people work at the BRA (below):   But we... read more

What are we up to?

We are currently in the midst of learning and analysis where we conduct in-context learning to understand values, perceptions and experiences of internal and external stakeholders of the BRA.  In this stage of the project, we want to better understand inside-out and... read more

Extended Team Kickoff

The week before last we officially kicked off the project with the entire core and extended teams. Everyone came to our new offices at 21 Drydock, relinquished their cellphones and participated in an engaging afternoon. After going around the room to introduce... read more
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