BLDUP Spotlight: Leslie Reid 06/13/21
The BLDUP Spotlight is a weekly feature where readers gain insight into high-profile developments around the city and get to know local industry leaders. Today we chat with Leslie Reid, Chief Executive Officer at Madison Park Development Corporation. Since 1966, MPDC has been at the forefront of the physical redevelopment of Roxbury. MPDC is a leading developer of affordable housing among the nonprofit sector and one of the largest community development corporations in Massachusetts.
BLDUP: What is the last book you read that you would recommend as a "must-read" to the construction and design community? Why did you find this book so important?
Leslie Reid: The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein. This book examines how legal practices and government policies and regulations have systematically excluded African Americans from residential development and home financing, resulting in the extraordinarily segregated City that we live in today. For those involved in the design and construction, especially of residential development, an awareness of how policies shape what gets built and who gets access is critical to understanding how we move toward more equitable building practices.
BLDUP: Do you have a daily or weekly routine that you follow? If so, how do you feel it has contributed to your success? How has this routine changed/been adjusted given the current situation?
Leslie Reid: I have found that walking or running outside every day is a self-care practice that keeps me mentally and physically grounded in addition to ensuring that I am interacting with the environment outside of my office or home. Since the pandemic, I have begun to also try to spend time near the sea regularly after I read an article that said human beings are hardwired to be positively affected by proximity to water which is calming and healing and promotes innovation and connection.
BLDUP: During the course of your career, what was the biggest challenge you faced and how did you overcome it? What other accomplishments hold a special place in your heart and why?
Leslie Reid: The decision to transition from a transactional role to management was a serious challenge. As a self-avowed deal junkie, I had convinced myself that I had nothing to add in the way of organizational leadership and there aren't many clear paths for women of color in development anyway. I realized at some point that because of my lived experience I bring a unique and valuable perspective that is appreciated in community-based development and I had a spectacular network of mentors and allies that supported my growth. I am especially proud of engaging in work and policies that seek to address racial disparities in wealth through increasing wealth-building homeownership opportunities in our neighborhoods.
BLDUP: What do you foresee for the future of Boston's development given mass vaccinations? The COVID-19 pandemic brought on a unique set of challenges, how has this affected your business in the short term. Do you expect to see long-term effects on your projects?
Leslie Reid: If anything COVID has revealed more starkly than ever that equitable access to a healthy built environment, for example, homes and schools, is essential to every person's ability to face challenges. I think the future of development in Boston will need to continue to push further into what equitable development looks like so that there is opportunity for everyone in our City. That a repeat of the stark segregation that happened in the development of the Seaport does not happen. Fair housing and development policies that seek to remedy past discrimination will be essential to ensuring that what continues to be built in our City is inclusive. I hope that the long term effect on our projects will be that all sectors of the development industry will see that serving low-income and BIPOC communities serves us all.
BLDUP: What upcoming projects are you most excited about?
Leslie Reid: I am excited about two developments that we are working on that include both rental and for-sale homes in the same building that are accessible to just about any type of household we can think of. Maximizing inclusiveness in our developments is essential to achieving our mission of a healthy Roxbury that supports well being and advancement.
BLDUP: What other types of projects are you looking for right now (if any)? Certain areas, project type/size?
Leslie Reid: We are looking for commercial acquisition and new development opportunities that can be designed and developed in a way that supports local and BIPOC owned companies, especially in our central business district of Nubian Square.
BLDUP: Have you had a mentor or someone who has helped you during your career? What are the most valuable lessons you learned from that person?
Leslie Reid: I have had so many mentors that I can even count them anymore. I think I learned to turn just about anyone I meet into a mentor by trying to understand what each individual can teach me. One of the most valuable lessons I learned from one of my mentors is that I am imminently employable. If where I am working is not a good fit, that is ok! I have developed a transferable set of skills that will help open doors to other opportunities where I might have some value added.
BLDUP: What do you hope for the future of your company in the next 30 years? What legacy do you want to leave?
Leslie Reid: Madison Park Development Corporation is celebrating its 55th year and is one of the first ever resident controlled non-profit developers. I hope in the future MPDC will continue to demonstrate the unique and important work that only organizations that include residents of the community in what they do can accomplish. I hope that my legacy echoes that of our founders in that we continued to find ways to celebrate the legacy, honor the community and embrace the promise of the Roxbury community.
BLDUP: What is a favorite quote that inspires you or you strive to live by?
Leslie Reid: "I am equal parts righteous rage and radical joy. I am unapologetically Black." - Ayanna Pressley
Our mission is to foster a vibrant, healthy Roxbury neighborhood that supports the well-being and advancement of the community.
At Madison Park Development Corporation, we are building healthy communities. MPDC is a leading developer of affordable housing among the nonprofit sector and one of the largest community development corporations in Massachusetts.BLDUP >>