Boston Mayor Michelle Wu on Monday named two new appointees to the board of the Boston Planning and Development Agency, the powerful real estate development authority that Wu plans to abolish and re-create as a city department.
Outgoing Boston Housing Authority Administrator Kate Bennett is Wu’s choice for a mayoral appointee to the BPDA board, filling the seat left vacant by former BPDA board member Carol Downs, for a term that expires in Sept. 17, 2027.
And Wu tapped Raheem Shepard, a business representative with the North Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters, “to the seat designated for a representative of organized labor,” Wu wrote in a letter to the City Council. That seat is currently held by Michael P. Monahan, a high-ranking official with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Monahan served for a decade on the BPDA board and for a dozen before that on the Zoning Board of Appeal, and his BPDA tenure expires this month.
Both Wu and Arthur Jemison, the director of the BPDA, thanked Monahan for his years of service.
“He has been an important voice for the growth of the City,” Jemison said in a statement. “I look forward to working with Kate and Raheem, who are experts in their own right on building Boston in a thoughtful way.”
While the BPDA isn’t required by statute to have a labor representative on the board, it’s been standard practice at the agency going back decades.
“It is tradition to have a representative of labor fill one seat, and we are happy to uphold that tradition,” said BPDA spokesperson Lacey Rose.
Like Monahan before him, Shepard also has ZBA experience: Wu named him in September 2022 to the board as representative of a building trades employers’ association. His tenure at the ZBA was scheduled to end May 1, and his term on the BPDA board would expire Aug. 15, 2028.
Wu also re-appointed Priscilla Rojas, the current BPDA board chair whose term is in holdover status, to a term that would expire Sept. 17, 2026. Rojas joined the BPDA board in 2015 and was elected chair in May 2020.
The two remaining members include Theodore C. Landsmark, the director of the Kitty and Michael Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy at Northeastern University, and Brian Miller, a South Boston financial analyst. Landsmark was appointed by former mayor Martin J. Walsh in 2014, while Miller was appointed in 2020 by former governor Charlie Baker.
Landsmark on Monday said he would welcome the new members. The BPDA board has not had a full five-member slate since Downs left last June, and having a full roster will help even out the demands of overseeing the city’s real estate development world, he said.
“It’s difficult to process as much work as we have with only the four board members,” Landsmark said. “Having the full complement will, I think, make our work easier, and reduce the risk of our having someone who has other obligations miss a meeting — which would then put our having a quorum at risk.”
The City Council is scheduled to discuss the appointees at their Wednesday meeting. The board appointments become effective following City Council approval and a swearing in ceremony, which are not yet scheduled.