Public transport is ultimately about ensuring that people can access their lives in a reliable, convenient, safe, and dignified manner. For that to happen, we need to build our systems alongside local communities. Transportation planning has built-in biases and blind spots, reflecting and reinforcing many societal inequities and injustices. To overcome this legacy of disinvestment and discrimination, we need to work with the community to understand their needs and develop solutions that will help build local power, while also increasing resilience to future disruptions and changes.

In this session, we will talk about engaging the community to build better public transport systems for the future in and around the Boston, USA region. Specifically, we will discuss how bringing different community members and grassroots groups to the table can help bolster outcomes around equitable transport services and planning.

About the Series: A Decade of BRT Work in the Boston Region

ITDP has worked in the Boston region for over 10 years, during which time the area’s BRT system has been consistently expanded and improved. This three-part series will reflect on and celebrate the work of the dedicated and visionary group of leaders who took part in this over the past decade, revealing the key lessons learned over the past decade of creative experimentation and bold demonstrations. Each session will focus on a particular phase of the work and showcase the perspectives of partners who made this happen. We hope you will join in learning from the Boston region about the role of having a creative strategy and public art in elevating public transport, how to foster a tactical urbanist approach to improving public transport, and how to build with the community to not just understand bus service but bus experience.



Lisa Jacobson Senior Program Officer, Mobility at Barr Foundation

Lisa started at Barr in 2016 as a Program Officer, where she focused on supporting the day-to-day grantmaking for the Mobility team. She now leads the Mobility strategy on the Climate team and collaborates on projects and grantmaking that support people accessing what they need in low-carbon ways. In her work, she is inspired to center racial equity, reduce greenhouse emissions, and work in partnership with grantees.

Prior to coming to Barr, Lisa was a senior associate at Nelson\Nygaard, a transportation planning firm dedicated to promoting vibrant, sustainable, and accessible communities. She worked closely with policymakers, municipal staff, and community members to provide resources to support more transportation options for people, both in Greater Boston and around the country. She has also spent time at Smart Growth America’s National Complete Streets Coalition and the Land Trust Alliance. Lisa currently serves on the boards of StreetsblogMASS and The Funders Network (TFN). She is a proud TFN PLACES Fellow alum.

Lisa holds a master’s degree in city planning from the University of Pennsylvania and a bachelor’s degree in international affairs from The George Washington University. She is a proud East Boston resident, where she spends her time chasing her twins, refueling with good coffee, and scheming and dreaming with her husband.



Reverend Myrlande-DesRosiers Pastor and Director of the Everett Haitian Community Center

The Rev. Myrlande-DesRosiers is an ordained Pastor and Director of the Everett Haitian Community Center. Prior to ministry and community organizations work, she was Deputy Director of the State of Massachusetts’ Coordinated Care Systems, a program that had national implications as a prototype for Obama Care. 

She is a former appointed Governor’s Affirmative Market Program Liaison, and she has also contributed her time and expertise to support several boards and initiatives both local and national namely, the Somerville Human Rights Commission, the White House President’s Interagency Council on Women; Cambridge Hospital Community Policy Board, the Mass UN Delegation in China; the Mass Law Reform, Institute; Housing task Force in Everett; Diversity Task Force. And more recently joined the Liveable Streets Board. DesRosiers is a regular speaker / lecturer at various institutions such as Harvard, University, Tufts School of Medicine Health Literacy Institute, Wellesley College, and many churches and conferences. She enjoys cooking and community work in social justice and ministry are her passion.

Rev. Myrlande DesRosiers holds a Bachelor of Arts, a Dual Master’s and J.D. and a Master’s in Ministry.

Shavel’le Olivier Executive Director at Mattapan Food and Fitness Coalition

Shavel’le is deeply committed to serving the communities she lives, works, and travels in. Her passions include community, youth development, and transportation. She founded and still organizes a major biking event called Mattapan on Wheels created to address issues of safer infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians, provide an opportunity for young people to develop their leadership skills, and bring attention to cycling in the Mattapan community. She co-founded a talk in 2020 called Transportation Talks to bring residents that live in Mattapan, Dorchester, Roxbury, and those that identify as BIPOC together to explore how transportation affects their quality of life. Shavel’le co-founded a consultant agency, Consult LeLa where she engages young people between the ages of 10-40 in the planning processes happening in their neighborhoods. 

Shavel’le Olivier is a 2014 graduate from Boston College where she earned her Bachelor’s of Science, double majoring in Marketing and Management and Leadership. In 2019 she received her masters in Nonprofit Management with a concentration in Organizational Communications at Northeastern University and is now the Executive Director of Mattapan Food and Fitness Coalition (MFFC). She recently completed a graduate certificate at the Boston University School of Public Health.

Jarred Johnson Executive Director, TransitMatters

Jarred is currently the Executive Director at TransitMatters, an organization based in Greater Boston working on people-focused and data-driven solutions to advocate for better public transportation and mobility. He is interested in the intersection of housing and transport service and has experience working with grassroot organizations. Prior to his current role, he served at the Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation, Massachusetts, where he managed a variety of complex affordable housing real estate projects and supported organizing efforts for better service on the Fairmount Line.


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