For six years, Julie Wormser’s professional work focused on the Boston waterfront. Then last year the former Boston Harbor Now executive (below) joined the Mystic River Watershed Association as a deputy director, shifting her focus from the sea to the Mystic River and its tributaries.
Working for executive director Patrick Herron, Wormser’s salary was funded by the Barr Foundation, which was looking to expand its focus beyond Boston.
Last month, the foundation renewed her salary as well as boosting its funding to increase the association’s staff.
Over two years, the foundation pledged $700,000 to the watershed group, up from $115,000 a year ago. Besides Wormser’s salary, the new funding will pay for an employee committed to “social resilience” — preparing people for climate-related risks — in the region. The Barr funds will also help pay for the services of mediator Carri Hulet and the association’s greenways director Amber Christoffersen.
Wormser’s mission is to help cities and towns in the watershed area work together to address stormwater flooding, water quality, and infrastructure resilience.
So far, 14 Mystic River municipalities are participating in Wormser’s effort, called the Resilient Mystic Collaborative.
“It’s super difficult for communities to do projects together,” Wormser says. “They are more than willing and enthusiastic to have a nonprofit watershed association to facilitate their activities.”
Among the tasks she faces: figuring out the best places upstream to store water during severe storms.
Wormser left Boston Harbor Now in 2017 and started her own environmental consultancy. She had previously been executive director with the Boston Harbor Association, which changed significantly when it merged with the Boston Harbor Island Alliance in 2016 to form Boston Harbor Now.
She says her new job resembles her old one, with one big difference: She’s now bringing together multiple communities across an entire watershed instead of directing her energies toward Boston.
“We learned a ton” at Boston Harbor Now, Wormser says. “We learned so much in Boston, it’s time for a bunch of people who are Boston veterans to make their way to other communities.” — JON CHESTO
iRobot taps former Amazon executive
If you’re selling products to consumers, it helps to figure out how to use Amazon.com to your best advantage.
Good thing for iRobot that it just landed a f ormer top Amazon exec for its board. Given Eva Manolis’ experience at the Seattle-based online retailer, it’s easy to see what made her attractive for iRobot. She was vice president of consumer shopping at Amazon from 2010 through 2016, and had worked there in various capacities since 2005. Among the categories that she once oversaw was consumer electronics — the category that includes iRobot’s Roomba robot vacuums.
Manolis is also on the boards of Shutterfly, which she cofounded, and FICO.
The Seattle-area resident joins a number of heavy hitters on Bedford-based iRobot’s board, leaders such as Carbonite CEO Mohamad Ali, former PTC chief financial officer Andrew Miller, former Keurig president Michelle Stacy, and self-described “serial CEO” Deborah Ellinger.
“We are excited to welcome Eva to iRobot’s board,” said Colin Angle, the chief executive and board chairman. “Her experience in identifying and developing technologies that address consumer needs . . . will be a tremendous asset as iRobot continues to grow its product and digital offerings.” — JON CHESTO
Environment and politics meet here
If you’re a local politician and you want the environmental vote, you might want to get to know Clare Kelly.
Kelly just joined the ELM Action Fund, the political arm of the Environmental League of Massachusetts, as its new executive director. Kelly is well known in progressive circles. She was a key player in Governor Deval Patrick’s 2010 reelection campaign and a former executive director of the state Democratic Party. More recently, she was president of the Reason to Believe PAC, a national group that advocated for progressive policies and candidates.
Kelly takes over for former Worcester mayor Joe O’Brien, who was in the ELM Action Fund job for more than three years, the first to hold the position.
Elizabeth Turnbull Henry, president of ELM, says there was intense interest in the position. Kelly stood out because of her deep expertise in Massachusetts politics and numerous single-issue environmental campaigns, such as campaigns around bottle recycling and solar power.
The ELM Action Fund expects to endorse 10 to 15 municipal candidates this year. The first endorsements went to Boston City Councilor Lydia Edwards, Worcester City Councilor Etel Haxhiaj, Easthampton Mayor Nicole LaChapelle, and current Worcester Mayor Joe Petty. — JON CHESTO
Jitters were fleeting at Encore’s opening
Transportation officials and Wynn Resorts executives had been bracing for the worst. But the traffic nightmares that everyone predicted on the June 23 opening day of Wynn’s Encore Boston Harbor casino in Everett did not come to pass.
Jacqui Krum, the casino’s general counsel, updated the state Gaming Policy Advisory Committee last week on the $2.6 billion casino’s opening. The casino spent more than $1 million advertising various ways to get to the casino, other than driving — Wynn-funded ferries, shuttle buses, the Orange Line. That spending apparently paid off.
Krum told the committee that Wynn had an “army of people working on transportation planning.” That group is led by Jim Folk, who used to run the transportation operations at the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority before joining Wynn last year.
“We haven’t experienced the traffic Armageddon that everybody anticipated,” Krum said. “Everyone expected complete chaos.”
Krum conceded that there are always some hiccups on an opening day, particularly with an operation of this magnitude. But they appeared to be minor. “The only person who got stuck in the elevator,” Krum said, “was the elevator repair guy.” — JON CHESTO
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