New Spark Boston Council announced with local residents named to board

Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced this week the incoming Mayor’s 2021 SPARK Boston Council, with four new members representing Jamaica Plain.

The diverse 41-member group, composed of 33 new and eight returning members, will spend the next 12 months working to continue the program’s work virtually, opening up new lines of communication between young adults and leaders in City government. Originally started as ONEin3 in 2004, SPARK Boston is celebrating 16 years of civic engagement with over 400 20- to 35-year-old Boston residents having served on the council over the years. Thirty-nine percent of Boston residents were between the ages of 18 and 34 in 2018, according to the Boston Planning & Development Agency’s Boston by the Numbers 2020 report.

“The SPARK Council has worked with my administration to highlight and advocate for their shared values – voter participation and activation, a more equitable and affordable child care system, comprehensive climate change policies, resiliency in our immigrant communities, and much more,” said Mayor Walsh. “I look forward to working with the incoming SPARK Boston Council to ensure our young Bostonians voices are heard.”

The new 2021 Council members from JP include:

•Albert Jimenez, Jamaica Plain

•Thomas Pelkey, Jamaica Plain

•Dianna Bronchuk, Mission Hill/Jamaica Plain

•Karol Mendieta, Roxbury/Jamaica Plain

The 2021 SPARK Boston Council members live in 21 of the 24 different Boston neighborhoods, and include people born and raised as far away as Pakistan and China. Over 65 percent of council members are people of color. Approximately 40 percent of the Council are native Bostonians, while others are from Texas, Ohio, Florida, New York, and California. 

“I am so excited to engage this council virtually,” said SPARK Director Audrey Seraphin of her new colleagues. “They have completed the entire application and interview process through the technologies that have allowed us to connect throughout the pandemic, and I look forward to seeing this cohort’s creativity and passion in action. We have an incredibly talented group that highlights how bright Boston’s future can be.”

SPARK Boston, housed in the Mayor’s Civic Engagement Cabinet, is responsible for advising Mayor Walsh on issues affecting millennial and Gen Z populations, and working with City departments and community stakeholders to improve the lives of young people in Boston. The Council holds monthly meetings and puts on programs focused on connecting millennials with the City and one another. Historically, programs included many events, including neighborhood meetups, voter registration pop-ups, salary negotiation workshops, and Chief Chats, an event series which allows citizens to hear directly from Mayor Walsh’s cabinet members on a variety of issues. This programming has moved online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and expanded to include virtual town halls; #CiviCoffees, a 30-minute monthly Facebook Live interview show with local civic leaders; and social media campaigns to promote proper mask usage, flu vaccines, voting, census participation, and more. 

This year, the SPARK Boston program received 95 applications for the Council, showing a continued interest in community engagement, despite the new virtual format. New council members, which include academic counselors, students, non-profit workers, entrepreneurs, community leaders, medical professionals, and consultants, will begin their work on January 4, 2021.

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