By Beth Treffeisen
Special to the Gazette
At a Feb. 10 press conference, Mayor Martin Walsh and Boston Public Schools (BPS) Superintendent Tommy Chang announced the promotion of Dr. Makeeba McCreary of Jamaica Plain to the role of managing director and senior advisor of external affairs for BPS.
In her new position, McCreary will focus on expanding BPS’ public and private partnerships and philanthropic community relations. She will also oversee special projects and corporate relations to expand opportunities throughout the schools.
This will be the first time in BPS’ history that there will be a senior liaison to the philanthropic community. In McCreary’s new role she will help bridge the gap between investors and BPS schools to make it even easier to support public education.
“Makeeba knows the priorities of BPS, and knows how to follow through and improve the lives of our students,” said Walsh in a statement. “Makeeba has already shown her leadership and strategic thinking in advancing BPS through multiple public/private partnerships, and I congratulate her on this well-deserved step forward.”
Previously, McCreary served as chief of staff for BPS Superintendent Tommy Chang. Rob Consalvo will take on the role of BPS chief of staff to Chang. He was previously the deputy director of Boston Home Center, which is part of the City’s Department of Neighborhood Development.
In 2015, BPS and the City of Boston launched Invest BPS, an “Adopt a School” program linking business investment to individual schools. In addition, BPS created an Invest BPS portal to highlight school-business partnerships and to recruit additional business partners.
McCreary said that she hopes to continue on working on Invest BPS. With the “Adopt A School” program, she said, often times investors thought it was too daunting and thought that they would have to take on a whole school.
“But really we want to make sure that they can help out in a number of special ways from a particular area of work or to providing specific tools for teaching,” said McCreary.
McCreary said by building a bridge between both the educators and investors in BPS can be really successful if done right. She said it’s all about figuring out how to match the opportunities to the right fit and to create the relationship between the school and the investor.
“We are experiencing tremendous growth in industry in our city and they are all going to have families and their kids are going to have to go school,” said McCreary. “They will want to support their future employees and their children’s education to support corporate entrepreneurship.”
McCreary believes that a public/ private partnership is critical for success. She pointed to universities, independent schools, and non-profits that often relay on this partnership to thrive.
“Nobody survives on government funding alone to execute an ecosystem of accountability,” said McCreary. “You need to invest in order to make something that will benefit and make a stronger, holistic city.”
Last year, General Electric partnered with BPS to bring $25 million to Boston Public school students to advance STEM education throughout the district.
“I truly believe it is everybody’s responsibility to help out and support BPS schools and services and to invest in the schools,” said McCreary. “It’s everybody’s responsibility whether they have children in the schools or not.”
Prior to joining BPS in 2015, McCreary served as founder and executive director of Abekam Consulting, a nonprofit program designed to execute grant management for clients targeting large-scale change for urban youth and families.
“Makeeba’s work at Boston Public Schools has been exemplary, and I’m looking forward to the increased opportunities she will bring to BPS,” said Chang in a statement. “I am thrilled that she will be able to focus on this critical work for BPS and I will continue to work closely with Makeeba in her new role.”
She currently lives with her son Gary in Jamaica Plain. Her son, who currently attends the Brookline METCO Program after attending the BPS Horace Mann School for the Deaf and Hearing, plays a big role in supporting her passion for her job.
McCreary said that believes that her son should truly be able to believe that every opportunity is available for him and that students should be able to get that special support to feel that way and get what they need.
“I lived in several neighborhoods in Boston and I was born and raised in the South End and I lived in Roxbury for the first 10 years of my son’s life before moving to Jamaica Plain,” said McCreary. “Boston is made up of such vibrant neighborhoods that create this city and I am so honored to have the opportunity to be in the position to help 57,000 students in BPS.”
“It is a huge responsibility but it’s so impactful and when I’m reminded of that it makes it easier to wake up and get to work every day,” said McCreary. “But, there is still so much work to be done.”