• Three Questions for John Barros ’96

    Monday, April 7, 2014
    News Type

John Barros ’96 is Boston’s chief economic development officer. (photo courtesy of Boston Business Journal)

In February, the new mayor of Boston Martin Walsh named John Barros ’96 the city’s economic development director. Barros was once a political rival of Walsh when both men ran for mayor in 2013. Barros joined Walsh’s campaign in the final election.  “He’s a guy that deeply cares about the city of Boston,” Walsh said. “That’s what we want to make sure we get [in the mayor’s cabinet].”

At Dartmouth, Barros studied economics and African-American Studies and served as president of the African American Society.

1) Congratulations on being named Boston's chief economic development officer. What do you anticipate the job will entail?  
Mayor Walsh has asked me to better coordinate economic development activities in city government. He has organized the departments under this new cabinet post to help facilitate licensing and consumer affairs and to strengthen the city’s ability to partner with entrepreneurs and businesses. As we grow the city's economy, we will give particular attention to supporting small businesses and women- and minority-owned businesses. We want to make sure more people can participate in local commerce and jobs through strong training and educational programs connected to careers. We will put an emphasis on affordable housing and public transit to help make Boston a more livable city. Mayor Walsh has also made it a priority to market Boston and all it has to offer.

2) Did any specific classes, or experiences at Dartmouth, help you to prepare for your career?
My Dartmouth academic and student life experiences were instrumental in preparing me for my new responsibilities. At Dartmouth I played a number of leadership roles including president of the African American Society, member of the Palaeopitus senior society for student leaders and Casque and Gauntlet senior society, director of the Black Underground Theatre Association and editor of the Black Praxis.  

3) At age 17, you became the youngest person elected to the board of directors of the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative, a nonprofit organization in your hometown of Boston. What can young people, including Dartmouth students and graduates, do to help improve the quality of life in impoverished urban areas?
Get involved. The voice, ideas, and energy of young people are an important part of improving the quality of life of any place. Whether we are talking about Dartmouth's campus life or impoverished urban areas, young people have a lot to offer. Their outreach and ability to get others engaged is critical. I would recommend students get involved because they matter and also because they will learn a lot as well. My early involvement in my neighborhood provided a very important leadership development opportunity for me.

Sutton Lowry ’16 is the Alumni Relations Whitney Campbell Class of 1925 intern. Lowry is a psychology and brain sciences major from Seattle, WA.

Three Questions profiles alumni in pursuit of their passions.