Special to the Gazette
Mayor Michelle Wu appointed Mary Skelton Roberts of Jamaica Plain to the Board of Directors of the MBTA. After years of advocacy and in a moment of crisis for the MBTA, the State Legislature and Governor for the first time created a City of Boston seat on the Board of Directors of the MBTA in August, giving the City a direct role in the governance of the region’s public transit system. An MBTA commuter who most often takes the bus and Orange Line, Skelton Roberts brings extensive experience with transportation policy to advance climate solutions and foster thriving communities. She is currently the President of the Climate Beacon Conference and Senior Advisor to the Climate Beacon Project, a newly established non-profit committed to ensuring Massachusetts achieves an equitable energy transition, and also on the Governor’s Latino Empowerment Council. Skelton Roberts’ experience and vision aligns with Mayor Wu’s vision for a reliable and equitable transportation system that addresses years of disinvestment by accelerating action for the world-class public transit system that our residents, workforce, and larger community deserve as the foundation for a thriving economy and future. She will begin representing the City at this week’s MBTA Board meeting, Thursday morning.
“For residents and workers in Boston to thrive, we need a world-class public transit system connecting community and opportunity,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “I’ve known Mary for years, from running into her on the Orange Line during our morning commute, to collaborating on transportation policy advocacy at the MBTA and City of Boston. I’m excited to appoint Mary as the very first representative of the City of Boston on the MBTA Board of Directors. With her passion and expertise in transportation policy, deep involvement in community, and daily experience as a regular T rider, Mary will work closely with our team to ensure that Boston residents are fully represented in building the transit system our communities deserve.”
“I’m grateful to Mayor Wu for the opportunity to represent Massachusetts’s transit hub and highlight the priorities of the countless Boston residents who use MBTA services every day,” said Mary Skelton Roberts. “The urgency for efficient transportation and transit systems that value the safety of both workers and riders has never been more apparent, and I’m excited to start contributing to critical conversations and decisions that help create a healthier City.”
In August, Mayor Wu released an open call for ideas and recommendations from residents to inform the City of Boston’s representation on the MBTA Board. In determining the appointment, the Mayor prioritized residents as a partner in building this new relationship with the MBTA to best reflect the needs of commuters and riders. More than 150 community members submitted ideas and suggestions for Boston’s public transit agenda, and nearly 100 expressed interest in directly serving and staying involved in advocacy Through the appointment, Skelton Roberts will help keep this community engaged and advance the Mayor’s transit goals, including: improving bus rider experience and making trips faster, expanding fare free transit, streamlining pricing on the Commuter Rail to ensure all trips within the City of Boston are Zone 1A, and providing more transparent communication to riders regarding improvements on the MBTA system.
Skelton Roberts previously served as Senior Vice President at the Energy Foundation where she oversaw the strategic implementation of a $140 million grant making budgets aimed at reducing carbon emissions throughout the United States. Prior to that, she spent over a decade as Co-director of Climate at the Barr Foundation, based in Boston, where she developed strategies focused on transportation, climate resilience, and land-use, all critical levers for reducing emissions and protecting those most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
In Massachusetts, Skelton Roberts serves on the Point32Health Foundation (formerly Tufts Health Plan Foundation), on Governor Maura Healey’s Council on Latino Empowerment, is on the Board of Directors of the Boston Girls and Boys Clubs of Boston and of Amplify Latinx. She previously served on the board of directors for Hispanics in Philanthropy and was on the Massachusetts Governor’s Latino Advisory Commission.
Mary earned her B.A. from the University of Southern California, and her Master’s degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She holds mediation and facilitation accreditations from Harvard Law School’s Program on Negotiation and from the Center for Dispute Resolution in London, England. She is a native Spanish speaker with roots in Cuba. Mary lives in Jamaica Plain and is a regular Orange Line and 39 Bus rider.
The MBTA Board of Directors is made up of the MassDOT Secretary and eight members: one person to be appointed by the Mayor of Boston; one person to be appointed by the MBTA advisory board; six people to be appointed by the Governor with experience in safety, transportation operations, public or private finance, a rider, one person who is a resident of environmental justice population, one person representing a city or town located in the MBTA service area, and one person selected from a list of three people recommended by the president of the Massachusetts State Labor Council, AFL-CIO.