Gateway Cities Welcome TDI Fellows

Attleboro, MA – MassDevelopment announced a cohort of 13 Transformative Development Initiative (TDI) fellows who will work for three years in newly selected TDI districts in Attleboro, Barnstable (Hyannis), Fall River, Holyoke, Lawrence, Lowell, Lynn, New Bedford, Pittsfield, Revere, Springfield, Taunton, and Worcester.

TDI fellows are MassDevelopment employees who provide on-the-ground economic development expertise and collaborative leadership in cities and help TDI partnerships utilize an arrangement of tools to catalyze development, such as technical assistance, grants to support local market development, arts and cultural infrastructure, collaborative workshops, placemaking, and more.

Jim McKeag, TDI south cluster lead strategist, Fall River, joined MassDevelopment in 2016 as the TDI fellow for New Bedford and in 2018 became the TDI senior fellow for Fall River. In his new role, he now also coordinates the fellows in the south region and oversees initiatives connecting TDI programs in the southeast to larger economic development initiatives. He will also oversee the TDI Equity program statewide and continue to facilitate projects in the Fall River TDI district.

Ivette Olmeda, TDI senior fellow, Worcester, joined MassDevelopment in 2018, serving as TDI fellow in Worcester’s second TDI district (Main South) before her current promotion to senior fellow in Worcester’s Pleasant Street district. In the Main South TDI District, she engaged and supported local businesses and property owners, organized Worcester’s Main South Business Association, and developed strategic reuse plans for vacant sites to help Main South become a walkable and vibrant neighborhood.

Laura Christopher, TDI fellow, Revere, joined MassDevelopment in 2016, most recently serving as the strategy and innovation officer, and served on the TDI Operations team for five years. Her work across several programs at the agency has included an emphasis on design thinking, data, community engagement, and place. Christopher has also worked to align statewide economic development priorities with practical and usable implementation strategies, programs, and financial products that advance equitable development.

Tracy Barbosa, TDI fellow, Attleboro, is a multi-media artist and community organizer with experience organizing the Love the Ave initiative in New Bedford’s North End. She has worked in private and public collections all over the world. Barbosa is the owner of Duende Studio in New Bedford. Duende Studio’s mission is in equity-based collaborative public art and community building projects across New England.

Josilane Santos, TDI fellow, Hyannis, is a socially engaged consultant with more than 15 years of experience across both business and nonprofit sectors. She has experience in local and international projects, consulting operations management, strategic social management, human resources management, triple bottom line, urbanization projects, and development. She has worked with the Massachusetts Area Planning Commission as an independent consultant focused on the development of the Lynn Local Rapid Recovery Program.

Kevin Moforte, TDI fellow, Holyoke, has a background in entrepreneurship and business assistance. He’s worked with early-stage entrepreneurs as executive director of EforAll in Lynn, focused on helping Latinos, other minorities, and women start businesses. He was also briefly the Western MA director of FORGE, connecting startups with local manufacturers, in hopes of strengthening the Massachusetts manufacturing economy.

Josefa Arriagada Saieh, TDI fellow, Lawrence, has 10 years of experience in small businesses, leadership, design, architecture, GIS, and spatial analysis. She has long been part of her family’s businesses, which include a local clothing and fabric store in a small city in Chile and a food packaging factory in Santiago. Her professional experience also includes working for companies that host international events such as Ironman, Spartan Race, and Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon.

Nate Robertson, TDI fellow, Lowell, has diverse urban planning experience in gateway cities including Lawrence, Methuen, Hyannis, and Haverhill. He worked as the community and economic development program manager at the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission. While in Hyannis, Robertson owned a small flower shop, co-produced a documentary about addiction and recovery, and worked on harm reduction and food security issues for the AIDS Support Group of Cape Cod.

Tristan Foley, TDI fellow, Lynn, has a background in development law and has worked on land use, zoning, planning and construction cases, including affordable housing and mixed-use developments. In this role, he helped move development projects forward at all stages by resolving disputes among owners, government officials, and community residents. He also provided technical assistance to Spanish-speaking small business owners in eastern Massachusetts through the micro-finance nonprofit ACCION.

Prior to joining MassDevelopment, Adelsa Mendes, TDI fellow, New Bedford, served as the business assistance manager for the Brockton Redevelopment Authority (BRA). She was responsible for building relevant partnerships to help address Brockton small businesses needs and nurture a sustainable and stronger small business enterprise. Mendes spent nearly 10 years working as the coordinator of immigration affairs at the Consulate of Cape Verde in the United States.

Julie Copoulos, TDI fellow, Pittsfield, brings experience as an entrepreneur, advocate, and community leader in Pittsfield, Boston, and communities in between. She is a former small business owner and has trained as a real-estate inspector. In Chicopee, she served as the head of the Chamber of Commerce and worked with TDI in that city to found projects like “Center Space,” a tax-title property turned privately-managed food truck venue.

Jim McKeag

Joshua Croke, TDI fellow, Springfield, is the founder of Action! by Design, a community development and design agency helping organizations amplify community power through community engagement and facilitation, coalition building, branding, and storytelling. He also cofounded and sits as board president for Love Your Labels, a nonprofit organization supporting LGBTQIA2S+ youth through art, fashion, and design.

Sharell Jacobs, TDI fellow, Taunton, has experience in residential property management and small business assistance. She previously worked as executive director of Mattapan Square Main Streets. She also served as the executive director for Mandela New Life Homeownership Division, and worked with the City of Boston on projects such as the overlay planning of the South Boston District and reviewed and applied Article 80 benefits to Dorchester Developments.