Boston Harbor advocacy groups merge, name leaders

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BOSTON – The merger of the Boston Harbor Association and the Boston Harbor Island Alliance has produced a new nonprofit advocacy organization with a high-powered board and led by Kathy Abbott, a former Department of Conservation and Recreation commissioner under then-Gov. Mitt Romney, a Republican.

Boston Harbor Now is forming after more than a year of deliberations with plans advance a “bigger mission” for the harbor and “to knit the mainland and the islands together to better shape the future of the harbor for generations to come,” the organization said in a statement.

The new group will begin operations in May and its to-do list includes advocating for a strategic vision and plan for Boston Harbor and “developing the Harbor and the Islands as an economic, environmental and social asset, opportunities for public access such as expanding the Harborwalk and the system of water front parks, climate change mitigation plans as part of enhanced waterfront development, and creating a comprehensive and integrated water transportation system,” the group said.

Abbott is currently the chief executive of the Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Worcester, one of the 65 largest public botanic gardens in the U.S. She previously worked as interim president of the Trustees of Reservations, president of the Island Alliance, director of the Conservation and Recreation Campaign for the Trust for Public Land, and assistant secretary for land conservation in the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs.

The trustees for Boston Harbor Now include Barbara Capuano, Raphael & Raphael LLP; Carol Churchill, Suez Energy North America; Brian Dacey, Cambridge Innovation Center; Richard Dimino, A Better City; former Gov. Michael S. Dukakis, Northeastern University; Jamie Fay, Ft. Point Associates Inc.; Robert Golledge, Golledge Strategies; Elizabeth Grob, VHB; Meaghan Hooper-Berdik, Turner Construction; Douglas McGarrah, Foley Hoag; Thomas McShane, Dewey Square Group; Liz Morningstar; J. Keith Motley, University of Massachusetts Boston; Shelly O’Neill, O’Neill & Associates; Bud Ris; Cathy Douglas Stone, Stone Family Foundation; Richard Walker, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston; and former Gov. William Weld, ML Strategies.

The Barr Foundation gave Boston Harbor Now $350,000 and the Catalyst Fund provided an $80,000 grant to help finalize the merger and begin planning.

Written by Michael Norton