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Joe Kriesberg to take over as CEO of think tank MassINC

The veteran head of a neighborhood development trade group will jump to another influential gig on Beacon Hill.

Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations CEO Joe Kriesberg spoke during a 2020 press conference at the State House with Governor Charlie Baker regarding the state's response to the pandemic.Sam Doran/Pool

After championing affordable housing and small-business efforts on Beacon Hill for two decades, Joe Kriesberg is getting ready for a new challenge: running the public-policy think tank MassINC.

The Boston-based organization on Thursday announced that Kriesberg, currently CEO of the Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations, will take over as its chief executive in January. Kriesberg has spent 29 years at the CDC association, including 20 as its top executive, and has been a prominent advocate for housing issues both on Beacon Hill and in Boston City Hall.

Both organizations play prominent roles in the policy-making world of Beacon Hill, with the shared goal of economic inclusiveness. But they’re different in key ways.

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MassCDC is a coalition of organizations that work on affordable housing and economic development at the community level, particularly in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, while MassINC conducts public policy research and political polling, and publishes the online news magazine CommonWealth. Among other issues, MassINC has pushed criminal justice reform and improving the business conditions and quality of life in the state’s older industrial cities, known as Gateway Cities.

“The MassINC mission of promoting economic inclusion and civic vitality is in some ways similar to the mission at [MassCDC],” said Kriesberg, who is 59. “I thought this was a unique opportunity. ... After 29 years, I thought doing something different would be good for me personally, good for my family, and good for MassCDC in the long run because there’s a lot of talent in the field and it’s time for someone else to take their crack.”

At MassINC, Kriesberg will oversee an annual budget of about $3 million and a staff of about 15 people, split roughly evenly among its research and policy center, its polling group, and CommonWealth magazine. MassCDC, meanwhile, has a budget of about $2 million and a full-time staff of 11.

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Kriesberg succeeds Lauren Louison Grogan, who retired as MassINC CEO in June. (Maeve Duggan, the current chief operating officer, has been acting CEO since her departure.)

Juana Matias, who served as MassINC’s chief operating officer, had been expected to replace her, but was appointed in March to be the New England regional administrator for the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. When Matias told Kriesberg she would be going to HUD, Kriesberg said he started thinking about applying for the MassINC CEO job. The think tank, also known as the Massachusetts Institute for a New Commonwealth, was launched in 1996.

Greg Torres, a former MassINC chief executive and current board chair, said that he “can’t think of a better person than Joe to build upon MassINC’s success over the last 27 years and carry this incredible organization into the future.”


Jon Chesto can be reached at jon.chesto@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jonchesto.