MassINC: Strategies to Support Small Business Diversity and Equity

Session 3: Eighth Annual Gateway Cities Institute Innovation Awards & Summit

The third and final forum in MassINC's series on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for a Strong Recovery, this session will focus on fostering the growth of small businesses in Gateway Cities.

Data from the MassINC Polling Group show that since the beginning of the pandemic, nearly half of small businesses say they have laid off or furloughed employees. Businesses owned by women and people of color have been hit particularly hard and report greater financial losses.

From coalition building to providing capital and technical assistance, this session will feature case studies on inclusive small business development from Dougan Sherwood, President/CEO of the Greater Haverhill Chamber, and Ivette Olmeda, TDI Fellow, MassDevelopment.

Register here

Awardees & Presenters:

Gateway Cities Champion

The Gateway Cities Champion Award recognizes leaders who display exceptional commitment to the advancement of public policies that support the growth and renewal of the Commonwealth’s Gateway Cities. This year’s recipients exemplify what committed policy leadership can achieve for our urban communities.


Karen Kelleher, Executive Director, LISC Boston

As Executive Director of LISC Boston, Karen Kelleher has deepened the organization’s commitment to supporting community and economic development in Massachusetts Gateway Cities. She has worked tirelessly to position LISC Boston to extend financial support and technical assistance to small minority-owned Gateway City businesses that have traditionally been both underrepresented and undercapitalized. Throughout the pandemic, these efforts have played a key role stabilizing companies that are vital to the health of our communities. From transit-oriented development and neighborhood stabilization strategies, Karen has also contributed time to collaborative efforts to advance key Gateway City policy priorities.

Gateway Cities Innovation Awards

The Gateway Cities Innovation Award recognizes individuals and programs that provide an exceptional contribution to the Commonwealth’s Gateway Cities. The 2020 honorees for this session will deliver a case study presentation on their remarkable efforts to increase diversity and equity in electoral and nonprofit leadership in Gateway Cities.


Ivette OlmedaIvette Olmeda, TDI Fellow, MassDevelopment  

Serving as a MassDevelopment’s TDI Fellow, Ivette Olmeda organized the Main South Business Association. The group meets monthly to promote the district and identify and address shared needs. From activating a small park to creating a “Feliz Navidad” sign at Christmas, a series of small victories built momentum. Then COVID-19 hit. Immediately Ivette and the newly formed association went to work to ensure that these small minority-owned businesses had access to resources and opportunities to survive the pandemic.


Dougan Sherwood, President/CEO of the Greater Haverhill Chamber

As President of the Greater Haverhill Chamber, Dougan has demonstrated exemplary leadership in advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion within the small business community in the City of Haverhill. Through his efforts, he has raised awareness and made inclusive economic growth a core component of the Chamber’s strategic plan, working to bring the different people and parts of Haverhill more closely together.

  • October 22, 2020 at 10:30am – 12pm