Jesse Brackenbury, Executive Director of the Greenway Conservancy, was honored on Thursday, October 29, 2015, by the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce as one of the Chamber’s ‘Ten Outstanding Young Leaders‘ for 2015. Brackenbury shared the honor with Congressman Seth Moulton, Boston Globe Managing Editor Linda Pizutti Henry, and Mayor Walsh’s Chief of Staff Dan Koh, among others. Brackenbury joins a distinguished list of past honorees, including seven members of the Kennedy family and a who’s who of influential Bostonians from the last 60+ years.

In their selection of Jesse, the Chamber offered: “Under [Jesse’s] leadership, the Conservancy has expanded free programming, constructed the landmark Greenway Carousel at the Tiffany & Co. Foundation Grove, built a free Wi-Fi network, and installed major pieces of public art. Brackenbury was the creator and manager of the nationally recognized Greenway Mobile Eats Program, which has significantly grown the Conservancy’s earned income. The Conservancy’s programming, sustainable practices, and public art have all won awards under his stewardship.”

Greenway Conservancy Executive Director accepts the Boston Chamber's Ten Outstanding Young Leaders Award

Greenway Conservancy Executive Director accepts the Boston Chamber’s Ten Outstanding Young Leaders Award

In the lead-up to the awards ceremony, honorees were asked to dedicate their acceptance speech to raising an issue of economic opportunity  impacting the Boston region that they are committed to addressing. Read below for Jesse’s remarks, which elicited immediate support from all who’ve made it through a tough New England winter:

Thank you, Jim [Rooney], and thank you to the Chamber. I’m delighted to accept this award on behalf of The Greenway’s wonderful staff, Board, and donors.

The Greenway was once tagged as the ‘Empty Way’ by the Boston Globe. But today, the park is flourishing with 300 free events, The Greenway Carousel at The Tiffany & Co. Foundation Grove, and contemporary public art exhibits like the recent Janet Echelman aerial sculpture.

The Greenway annually draws 1.1 million trackable visitors plus millions more who passively enjoy the park. And the Globe now calls The Greenway “the people’s park” and “the most unconditionally happy place in Boston.”

Not only does The Greenway improve our quality of life, it’s also an economic driver. Our food trucks and free Wi-Fi draw financial district workers, who hold business meetings in Adirondack chairs and over beers in the park.

That said, we see a major economic and quality-of-life opportunity for Greater Boston: Winter.

Since Boston can’t get rid of winter, we need to embrace it. Unlike other world-class, cold-weather cities, Boston isn’t making the most of our snow-filled months. Our infrastructure is ill-prepared and our recreational options limited.

A new fourth-season identity would help both economically and competitively.

Ottawa has Winterlude, Quebec has Carnivale and Montreal has Igloofest. Chicago, Denver and Philly boast enviable holiday markets. And New York has Bryant Park’s Winter Village, the Union Square Holiday Market, and Rockefeller Center’s tree lighting and ice skating. Boston’s winter activity? Moving parking space savers.

The Winter Cities Institute – yes, there is such a thing – sums it up well: “The best winter cities plan for and pay attention to the details of winter livability. They find opportunities for innovation… and embrace the season.”

Just as The Greenway’s warm-weather activation has boosted quality of life and surrounding property values, winter improvements can similarly be a catalyst for economic growth in Greater Boston.

Winter is challenging, and the solutions will require time and investment. I look forward to working with the impressive leaders in this room and around Boston to make our city an appealing place to live, work, and visit ALL 12 months of the year.

Thank you again.

On behalf of the staff at The Greenway, we congratulate Jesse on this honor and thank the Boston Chamber for recognizing his hard work. Now we hope you’ll work with us to activate Boston in winter!