A community investment group that has driven more than $286 million into Boston neighborhoods has named a new executive director to lead its expanding economic development agenda and drive new capital into housing, businesses and jobs across the Commonwealth.
The Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) has named Karen Kelleher, most recently deputy director of the Massachusetts Housing Finance Agency (MassHousing), as the new executive director of its LISC Boston program, which for nearly 40 years has led efforts to build up the strength of neighborhood nonprofits and revitalize communities.
At MassHousing, Kelleher was notable both for the scale and innovation of her efforts to address the state’s affordable housing crisis. Under her leadership, MassHousing invested approximately $1.5 billion to fuel multi-family affordable housing during the last two years, driving the preservation of more than 10,000 units of low income housing.
She led the deployment of a statewide workforce housing program to drive new housing construction and support families that earn too much to qualify for traditional low-income housing programs but not enough to afford rapidly escalating market rents. She also oversaw approximately $1 billion of single family lending to low- and moderate-income borrowers, and drove the creation of MassHousing’s down-payment assistance program for first-time homebuyers.
“Karen has a clear understanding of what it takes to help residents and communities improve their quality of life,” noted Maurice A. Jones, LISC president and CEO. “Throughout her career, she has knit together public-private partnerships that expand economic opportunity and fuel growth, giving people of all backgrounds the chance to drive local prosperity and share in its benefits.”
Before joining MassHousing, Kelleher spent more than a decade at The Community Builders, Inc., rising to senior vice president and general counsel of the Boston-based nonprofit developer. Earlier, she was a syndication and real estate associate at Nixon Peabody, and she began her career at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, where she was program counsel for Community Planning & Development programs like CDBG and the Economic Development Initiative. Kelleher also spent a year as a teacher at Nativity Preparatory School, a Boston middle school serving boys from low-income families.
She now brings her experience to LISC Boston, which has been deeply engaged in work to help residents build job skills, improve health and safety, boost educational outcomes, spur business opportunities and create jobs, and develop high-quality, affordable housing that anchors stronger neighborhoods.
“I’m honored to lead the next chapter of LISC Boston’s work investing in the Commonwealth’s people and communities,” said Kelleher. “I look forward to working creatively with longstanding and new LISC partners to broaden access to the many opportunities our thriving economy offers.”
Kelleher earned her bachelor’s degree from Boston College and her J.D. from Georgetown University. Over the years, she has contributed her time and expertise to a range of organizations including the Urban Land Institute; the American Bar Association Forum on Affordable Housing and Community Development; the Boston Bar Association, the Healthy Neighborhoods Equity Fund Investment Committee and the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless.