Programs & Events

2018 Our Convention

Monday, November 5, 2018 from 1:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Coming on the heels of Fierce Urgency of Now, a festival dedicated to uplifting the voice and experience of millennials of color in Boston, Our Convention calls upon our community to remain engaged, mobilized, and connected. Our Convention is City Awake’s annual conference, the largest convening of next generation leaders in the region.

This year, Our Convention addresses City Awake’s three priority issues: Making Boston more welcoming and inclusive to people of color, increasing accessibility to housing and transportation for millennials, and enhancing and promoting Boston’s cultural vibrancy

Our Convention will feature four different session formats addressing these three issues:

  • Get Informed: A primer looking at a particular aspect of an issue
  • Take Action: Action-oriented workshops that leave attendees empowered and equipped to stay engaged around a particular issue
  • Roundtable: Town hall-style session featuring private sector leaders listening to concerns, questions, and ideas from next-generation leaders
  • Keynote: Provocative and inspiring presentation from leaders who have successfully moved the needle around a particular issue

We are excited to partner this year with Boston Black Owned Business Market -- a project of Boston Young Black Professionals -- for a special Our Convention pop-up market! Vendors will be announced soon!

1:00pm - 1:30pm
1:50 pm -2:20 PM
Headline Plenary featuring Ayanna Pressley
2:30 pm - 3:30 pm
Breakout Session One
The Cost of the Commute: The Link Between Housing and Transportation in Boston

A look at how two critical issues in our region are connected.

Presented by Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce Policy Team, Massachusetts Housing Partnership, Boston Planning & Development Agency


  • James Sutherland & Ben Stuart, Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce
  • Callie Clark & Tom Hopper, Center for Housing Data at Massachusetts Housing Partnership
  • Lauren Shurtleff, Boston Planning & Development Agency
Powering Greater Boston's Economy: Latinx Community

Following up and expanding on the recently published Boston Foundation/Boston Indicators report published about Latinos' economic impact in Greater Boston.

Presented by The Boston Foundation

Growing Boston's Cultural Vibrancy

This town hall-style session, featuring private sector leaders, will provide an open and intimate dialogue for next-generation leaders to share their ideas, concerns, and opportunities to amplify Boston's cultural vibrancy.


Kara Eliot-Ortega, City of Boston

David Howse, ArtsEmerson

Michael Maso, Huntington Theatre

Jonathan Jackson - Growing Up Black in All the Wrong Places

Jonathan Jackson is a co-founder and the former head of Corporate Brand at Blavity, Inc, the largest media platform and lifestyle brand for Black millennials. He is currently the 2019 Nieman-Berkman Klein Fellow at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism and the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. His work is centered around the emergence of black media in the digital age, examining new ways to measure black cultural influence, and its effect on the media and advertising landscape both domestically and abroad.

Taking Action to Support the Arts & Creativity: What Can We Do to be Better Advocates?

By bringing more resources to the arts sector, Boston can build a more vibrant, connected, and fun city. Come discuss and workshop what we can do collectively to encourage our political leaders to increase their support for the arts and creative community.

Presented by MASSCreative


  • Matt Wilson - Executive Director, MASSCreative (BIO)
  • Emily Ruddock - Director of Policy & Government Affairs, MASSCreatvie (BIO)
Beyond YIMBY: Building a Statewide Pro-Housing Movement

Attendees will learn about the history of housing in Boston and why the metro became one of the most segregated regions in America. Attendees will also hear about an exciting new platform that hopes to address segregation and housing affordability. We’ll hear from pro-housing and affordable housing advocates on how to move the region and state forward.


  • Jarred Johnson, Dorchester Growing Together (BIO)
  • Jeff Byrnes, Somerville YIMBY (BIO)
  • Molly Rose Goodman, Mass Neighbors (BIO)
3:45 pm - 4:45 pm
Breakout Session Two
Boston's Racial Wealth Divide 101

In this panel, we will highlight how a simple mathematical formula for wealth -- what you own minus what you owe -- yields such profoundly different outcomes by race, as well as lessons learned around what it takes to create conditions for policy and programs that can close the racial wealth divide. In the first part of the panel, the participants will hear 1) the latest research on the magnitude of the racial wealth divide (including the insight generated from our seminal Color of Wealth report) and 2) reflections on the learning to action working group process in Boston that was sparked by the Color or Wealth Report. In the second part of the session, the panel will engage in a discussion with the audience about what they see in communities as most pressing issues to solve and promising practices worth scaling and replicating in order for the racial wealth divide to begin to close.

Presented by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston


  • Marija Bingulac - Senior Community Development Analyst, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston (BIO)
  • Sol Carbonell - Assistant Vice President, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston (BIO)
Building Inclusive Offices for Millennials of Color

This town hall-style session, featuring private sector leaders, will provide an open and intimate dialogue for next-generation leaders to share their ideas, concerns, and opportunities to build more inclusive offices for millennials of color.


Corey Thomas, Rapid7

Is Boston a Foodie City?

Following restaurateur Will Gibson's (Puritan & Co.) op ed, "Will Anyone Stand Up For Boston?", a panel conversation with local culinary leaders examining food culture in Boston.

Presented by Eater Boston


  • Tzurit Or - Founder & CEO, Tatte Bakery & Cafe (BIO)
  • Matthew Boyes-Watson - Partner, Bow Market (BIO)
  • Josh Elliott - Executive Chef, Toro (BIO)
Dr. Karilyn Crockett - Living, Working, Thriving: Creating Equity in Boston Today

Dr. Karilyn Crockett’s research focuses on large-scale land use changes in twentieth century American cities and examines the social and geographic implications of structural poverty. Karilyn’s dissertation research investigated a 1960s era grassroots movement to halt urban extension of the U.S. interstate highway system and the geographic and political changes in Boston that resulted. This research is the basis for Karilyn's new book "People before Highways: Boston Activists, Urban Planners, and a New Movement for City Making".

Better Buses: Getting Millennials On Board

Boston’s Bus system is the fifth largest in the country and carries more people than the commuter rail — yet it suffers from chronic under performance. Fixing the bus system won’t require the same multi-billion dollar investments the commuter rail and T will need and can be implemented quickly (1-5 years) — so why is our bus system still stuck?

Participants will learn about the importance of transit, especially buses in an city, explore the challenges and tradeoffs that come with improving bus service and then they’ll workshop their own campaign.

Presented by Livable Streets Alliance


  • Kristiana Lachiusa - Community Engagement Coordinator, Livable Streets Alliance (BIO)
Start Something Epic: The Power of Creative Placemaking

Come learn how to bring people and partners together to get a placemaking project off the ground led by the staff of Beyond Walls, a non-profit start up based in Lynn, Massachusetts. Hear about their projects which include an Annual Street Art Festival that has installed 46 pieces of large scale public art on the Lynn Cityscape, installed 600’ of Dynamic LED Underpass Lighting and hung 12 pieces of vintage neon as artwork throughout the City's downtown. Walk away from this session with tips and tricks on how to get your own projects off the ground or how you can get involved with an organizations using art and culture to strengthen community.

Presented by Beyond Walls


  • Al Wilson - Founder & Executive Director, Beyond Walls (BIO)
  • Pedro Soto - Associate Director, Beyond Walls (BIO)
  • Julia Midland - Program Manager, Beyond Walls (BIO)
  • Doneeca Thurston - Creative Engagement Producer, Peabody Essex Museum (BIO)
5:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Breakout Session Three
Mission 20 by 20: Getting Latinx on the Ballot

Action-oriented workshop focused on cultivating at least 20 new political leaders who will advance an equity agenda to advancing economic and political power for the Latinx community in Massachusetts. Speakers will lead a conversation on how to identify Latinxs and other POC who have an interest in elected and appointed positions. Participants will walk away with action steps, connections and resources on how to be more politically engaged and driven towards a mission of getting 20 Latinx and POC elected into various offices across MA by 2020.

Presented by Amplify Latinx


  • Jordan Berg Powers, Mass Alliance (BIO)
  • Wilnelia Rivera, Rivera Consulting (BIO)
  • Marty Martinez, City of Boston (BIO)
Raise Your Hand: Can You Help Us Build Vibrant Cities Beyond Boston?

Transit-oriented development (TOD) integrates a mix of uses to give life to walkable urban neighborhoods. Done well, TOD leads to inclusive and sustainable growth. In this interactive session, we’ll explore the opportunity TOD presents to stimulate investment in Gateway Cities connected to Boston by commuter rail. Attendees will learn the ins and outs of TOD, share their thoughts on a host of policy options, and take away actionable ideas to bring back to their communities.

Presented by MassINC


Rich Parr - Research Director, MassINC Polling Group (BIO)

Ben Forman - Research Director, MassINC (BIO)

Boston's Housing Market

This town hall-style session, featuring private sector leaders, will provide an open and intimate dialogue for next-generation leaders to share their ideas, concerns, and opportunities to make Boston's housing market more accessible to millennials.


Mike Cantalupa, Boston Properties

Peek Behind the Curtain: What Makes Boston a Unique, Exciting, and at Times Challenging Cultural Hub

Panel discussion about the state of arts in Greater Boston with: 

Presented by ArtsBoston

Creative Resilience: Growing a Community Arts & Music Festival from 2,000 to 20,000 Attendees

In a city like Boston, where every other industry seems to flourish, arts and culture has often been viewed as an afterthought or a pass time rather than actual way of life. If you add in racism, under-representation of all arts and musical genres, coupled with old policies and a “boys’ club attitude” that isolates local artists and communities of color from truly building with each other, then both our history and future are in great danger. Hear the story of how one woman’s vision of a music festival is aggressively building momentum for a movement of social change, creative justice, and racial equity!

Presented by BAMS Fest


  • Catherine Morris - Founder & Executive Director, BAMS Fest (BIO)
  • Timothy Hall - Co-owner, Hipstory (BIO)
Keynote: Nicole Fichera

Nicole Fichera is an artist and designer with ten years of experience creating spaces to support entrepreneurs and creatives. She worked in high-end architecture and interior design before shifting her career into supporting the growth of Boston’s innovation economy through her work on programs like District Hall, the Autodesk BUILD Space and the City of Boston’s Innovation District initiative. Recently, she founded Hourglass Boston, a pop-up concept store and art space, with her friend and frequent collaborator Erin Robertson, another local designer and the winner of Project Runway Season 15.

6:00pm - 8:00pm
Edward M. Kennedy Institute 210 Morrissey Boulevard
Boston, MA 02125
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All cancellations must be received at least three (3) business days prior to the event to avoid being charged or to receive a refund.