Celebrating Women Leaders: Board Member Kristen Halbert

Kristen Halbert is a Senior Associate at the social impact consulting firms deWit Impact Group and Black Lion Strategies, holding issue-area expertise in outreach strategies for communities of color, social justice causes, and young professional circles. Prior to this role, she served as the immediate past President of the Young Professionals Network of the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts, and as Civic Engagement Director for Boston Mayor Michelle Wu during her tenure as City Councilor At-Large.

Residing in the historically Black neighborhood of Roxbury, she currently serves on the Massachusetts Democratic State Committee, as a board member for Dorchester Bay EDC and New Leaders Council Boston (where she is also an alum), and on the Boston Comics in Color Festival Committee. Kristen is a proud graduate of the University of Massachusetts Boston, holding an MS in Urban Planning and Community Development.

1. When did you first get involved with Dorchester Bay, and why?

As the Civic Engagement Director to then City Councilor At Large Michelle Wu, I started attending Dorchester Bay meetings to stay aware of the organization’s programming, development, and concerns as they supported the community. The work and dedication of the staff and board members was impressive! When the board went through recruitment and expansion, I was honored to have my name come up. I jumped at the chance to bring my community relations and development background to serve the organization.

2. What does Dorchester Bay mean to you – why is it important to you, what is your favorite part about your involvement with the organization?

Dorchester Bay is important to me because of the unique types of economic development it can do – it is why I sit on the Loan Committee as a Board Member. Many of the businesses that receive loans, support, and technical assistance would have a difficult time having their needs met through a traditional banking structure. But as a community development finance institution (CDFI), Dorchester Bay can work with smaller, newer, businesses that might be viewed as “risky” from other funders. The biggest risk I see is missing the chance to support BIPOC entrepreneurs in particular as they build vibrant businesses that enhance our neighborhoods.

3. How have you seen Dorchester Bay grow and change throughout the years?

After the pandemic, there seemed to be a shift in Dorchester Bay to increase community accountability and engagement. I have only formally served for 4 years but the way that the organization has moved to better understand the needs of the neighborhood and update or create new ways to tackle complex economic and housing challenges in a rapidly changing market has been remarkable. It reflects an authentic desire to meet residents, businesses, and clients where they are and help them reach where they are trying to go.

4. What are you excited about for Dorchester Bay’s future?

I’m incredibly excited about the staff! I have been able to meet and speak with so many of the amazing people who make the work of Dorchester Bay happen, from communications professionals to small business specialists to administrators. Their passion and dedication to building a strong, thriving, and diverse community – which many live in themselves – is what will keep us moving forward.

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