Meet John



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John is the proud son of immigrants from the Islands of Cabo Verde in West Africa. He is a lifelong resident of Roxbury and Dorchester, where he still lives today with his wife Tchintcia and his four young children.

John became a community organizer at the age of fourteen. He eventually became Executive Director of the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative, where he led transformative, community-based efforts to build affordable homes and protect families from displacement; create schools and youth programs, and invest in public health and public safety in a way that had never been done before.

John has been an active member of the Boston community his entire life. He is a small business owner, an active member of his church, and a former member of the Boston School Committee. In 2014, he established the new Economic Development cabinet for the City of Boston, and served as a member of Mayor Marty Walsh’s administration for seven years.


John changed the way City Hall plans for growth and development, putting equity at the center of the economic agenda. He led efforts to create real opportunities for women, people of color, immigrants, and veterans. During his time as Chief of Economic Development, Boston added 140,000 new jobs, while also investing millions of dollars in job training for local residents. John led the City’s efforts to save small businesses and support their employees during COVID-19, directing more than $20 million to local businesses in the form of direct grants and fees waived. 

John is proud of the progress Boston has made, but he knows that we can go further, and reach higher. He has a plan to lead Boston through the COVID-19 crisis, and to become a stronger and more equitable city than we were before. The next four years will be critical. Now is the time for Boston to move forward with urgency and bravery. John is ready to meet this moment.



City of Boston - Feb 2014
Professional Experience - Chief of Economic Development
Appointed by Mayor of the City of Boston, Martin J. Walsh, to create and oversee Boston’s new cabinet for Economic Development. Develop and coordinate policies and programs that ensure a more equitable and just economy with a primary focus on four areas: access to capital, local wealth creation, connecting to good jobs, and building thriving and healthy neighborhoods. Before leaving this position to start his campaign, John led the creation of the All Inclusive Boston tourism campaign.

Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative - Feb 2013
Professional Experience - Executive Director
Established the largest urban community land trust in the country by acquiring over half of the 1,300 vacant lots in the neighborhood and converted 36 acres into 225 homes, gardens, parks, playgrounds and a Greenhouse. Over 13 years of success in engaging local families, businesses and partnering with a particular focus on education reform, sustainable economic development and youth development.

City of Boston - March 2013 to Present
Philanthropic Leadership - Trustees of Charitable Donations, Chair
Reformed the structure and operations for charitable grants to be more streamlined and efficiently used as a final source for addressing emergency situations including one-time large expenses, health bills, housing burdens, and utility costs for poor families in Boston. Helped to avoid thousands of evictions and utility shut-offs.

The Skillman Foundation Board of Trustees - January 2010 to May 2013
Philanthropic Leadership - Program Policy Committee Member
Provided expertise and experience to help shape the Foundation’s approach to its Good Neighborhoods Initiative (GNI). With a commitment to improving the lives and outcomes of the children in Detroit, Skillman launched the GNI place-based initiative with a 10-year, $100 million commitment to six neighborhoods where nearly one-third of the city’s young people lived at the time.

The Aspen Institute - May 2000 to June 2006
Philanthropic Leadership - The Roundtable on Community Change
Reviewed, presented and commented on the evaluations, lessons and case study regarding themes and challenges found in comprehensive community change work (CCI) including: Neighborhood-Level Change vs Systems-Level Change; Comprehensiveness vs Strategic Leverage; Community Building vs Organizing; Tensions in Inside-Outside Relationship of Initiative and Funder; and Searching for Balance on the Process-Product Continuum.

Tufts University - 2018
Education - Masters in Public Policy 
The Master of Public Policy degree in the Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning Department at Tufts is designed for individuals with at least seven years of significant, relevant professional experience who are interested in expanding their knowledge of public policy within urban, social, and environmental domains. The Program allows a specific focus on the policies that shape Public Education in contemporary urban America.

Action for Boston Community Development, Community Services Award
ABCD Community Awards honor those who give so unselfishly of themselves for the betterment of their neighborhoods. ABCD honors those community leaders whose inspirational deeds help to build a better Boston. People who volunteer with children and older people, who attend community meetings and provide critical input on important neighborhood issues. Honorees are the heart and soul of life in Boston’s neighborhoods


This campaign is a community effort. There are many ways to get involved with Team Barros, from donating to volunteering to simply talking with your friends about why John should be Boston’s next Mayor. John is ready to meet this moment and wants you to be a part of this moment, too.

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