Michael Frieze and Deborah Frieze are co-founders of this initiative. As a father-daughter team, we share a commitment to creating a better future for urban communities. In 2012, we began to inquire how we might combine our complementary skills and experiences—grassroots social change with philanthropy and investing—to have an impact at home. The result of that inquiry is the Boston Impact Initiative.
Deborah Frieze is an author, entrepreneur and social activist. As former co-president of The Berkana Institute, Deborah joined Berkana to support pioneering leaders who were walking out of organizations and systems that were failing to contribute to the common good—and walking on to build resilient communities. These leaders are the subject of her book, Walk Out Walk On: A Learning Journey into Communities Daring to Live the Future Now, co-authored with Margaret Wheatley. Walk Out Walk On has received the 2011 Terry McAdam Book Award and a 2012 Nautilus Silver Book Award for Social Change.
Deborah is also the founder of the Old Oak Dojo, an urban learning center in Jamaica Plain, MA, where neighbors gather to rediscover how to create healthy and resilient communities. This small studio, which shares a half-acre residential lot with a community home, is an experiment in dissolving the boundary between public and private. Its purpose is to provide a space for community to meet, learn, eat, celebrate and play—and thereby restore our wholeness as citizens.
Deborah is Co-Founder and Managing Partner of the Boston Impact Initiative.
Michael Frieze is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Gordon Brothers Group, setting the strategic vision for the firm. Michael has served in executive positions at Gordon Brothers Group’s companies for over 40 years. During his tenure, the firm expanded from a retail liquidator to a full-service provider of strategic business and capital solutions to healthy and distressed companies alike.
Prior to joining Gordon Brothers Group in 1966, Michael was a management consultant for Harbridge House and owned and operated his own consumer marketing business. Michael exemplifies Gordon Brothers Group’s commitment to community service by having served in top leadership positions on many community and corporate boards, including Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston and as Chair of the New England Region of the American Technion Society. Currently, he is a Trustee of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, a Trustee of Children’s Hospital, Chairman of Friends of Yemin Orde, and a board member of Brandeis University.
Michael is Co-Founder of the Boston Impact Initiative.
Roger Cenac, a self-employed accountant since 1989, specializes in servicing not-for-profit organizations and has worked with well over 100 organizations since that time. Those services include systems design, staff and board training, full GAAP-basis reports, annual returns, as well as added capacity in the accounting area, as needed. He has a background in public accounting and a B.S. in Business Administration with an accounting concentration.
Roger provides quality control and general oversight of the accounting function for the Boston Impact Initiative.
Afsana Jahan completed her MBA (cum laude) in social entrepreneurship and impact management from Heller School of Brandeis University. Over the last two years, during her MBA she worked as an intern with two impact investing firms, as well as a consultant for an apparel manufacturing social enterprise and as a fundraiser for non-profit organizations. She was also a sustainable, responsible, impact investing conference scholar 2016 and is a regional finalist in the Hult Prize 2017. Previously, she completed her bachelor in finance and accounting from North South University and worked in middle market financing and commercial banking research in the financial industry and program management in an international development organization.
Afsana is interested in entrepreneurship and economic development and has consulted and designed many social enterprises in various industries. She loves sun, beaches and music. She is a singer and regularly performs in Bangladeshi cultural programs in the northeast.
Afsana is the Senior Analyst of the Boston Impact Initiative.
Matthew Kahn currently works as a consultant. Previously, he spent 17 years at Gordon Brothers Group, where he was a founding member of the private equity and second lien lending business. Prior to joining Gordon Brothers in 1995, Matt was the chief financial officer of Joseph A. Bank Clothiers and was the senior vice president of finance at Nature Food Centres, Inc. He was also a CPA. He has served on the board of directors of a number of private and public companies.
Matt is active in alumni affairs at Georgetown University and has served on the board of Jewish Big Brother and Big Sisters. He lives with his wife, Robin, and their two children in Newton, MA.
Matt is the Chief Investment Officer of the Boston Impact Initiative.
Xau Ying Ly is interested in intersections of economic development and environmental justice and has experience with social enterprise, local government, and not-for-profit groups. Prior to joining Boston Impact Initiative, she was one of the developers of the City of Richmond’s progressive program for environmental sustainability, health equity, and anchor-based economic development in California. Xau Ying holds a Master in Urban Planning degree from MIT. She is active in Asian American, women’s, and LGBT advocacy. She speaks Brazilian Portuguese and Cantonese.
Xau Ying is the Portfolio Manager of the Boston Impact Initiative.
Aaron Tanaka is a community organizer and economic development professional based in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood. As the co-founder and executive director of the Boston Workers Alliance, Aaron helped build a nationally recognized non-profit that combined grassroots policy advocacy with cooperative business development in Boston’s low-income communities of color.
In 2013, Aaron joined BII as the Startup Manager and first Managing Director. In these roles, Aaron developed BII’s operating systems and managed the investment strategy and pipeline. Aaron is co-chair of the Asian American Resource Workshop and the New Economy Coalition and is a Fellow with the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE). As co-founder, he now directs the Center for Economic Democracy.
Aaron is a Senior Advisor and Investment Committee member of the Boston Impact Initiative.
Alexie Torres-Fleming is an activist, community organizer, advocate and urban planner from the South Bronx, New York with over 25 years of executive leadership in the faith, non-profit and philanthropic sectors. She has extensive experience in environmental justice, participatory community planning and grassroots organizing. Alexie is a nationally and internationally recognized public speaker, rooted in urban communities, with a strong history of building city, state, and national coalitions and alliances. Her life’s work has been dedicated to many issues including economic and democratic change, young people, women and communities of color, community voice, leadership and action. Alexie is highly skilled at building organizations, strategic planning, conducting national field scans, executing field building strategies and designing comprehensive grant making initiatives.
An award winning activist and Harvard Loeb fellow, Alexie is executive director of Access Strategies Fund, Board Trustee at the Center for Action and Contemplation, Trustee of The Sister Fund, and Board Member of Sojourners.
Alexie is an Investment Committee member of the Boston Impact Initiative.
Macken Toussaint is an attorney with Riemer & Braunstein, the Boston Impact Initiative’s pro bono legal partner. Macken concentrates her practice on commercial law, representing debtors, secured and unsecured creditors, lenders, institutional investors, and buyers in bankruptcy proceedings and corporate restructuring. She represents lending institutions and borrowers in the structuring, negotiation and documentation of debtor-in-possession financing, asset-based transactions, and other financing facilities. Macken also has experience in structured financing and asset securitization transactions.
Macken is providing legal services to support the Boston Impact Initiative’s direct investments.
Mark Watson is CEO and Founder of Keel Asset Management LLC, a financial advisory firm with offices in Chicago and Cape Cod that provides socially responsible financial planning and investment advisory services to nonprofits, public and corporation pension plans. Keel is currently constructing a social impact bond to provide telemedicine for two diverse communities in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Previously, Mark served as President and Senior Portfolio Manager of The Kenwood Group, Inc. a Chicago based institutional investment advisor, Managing Director of Equinox Capital Management, LLC in New York City, and Vice President, US Portfolio Manager/Analyst at Chicago based PPM America, the North American subsidiary of London based Prudential, PLC. Mark began his career at the First National Bank of Chicago (now a part of J.P. Morgan Chase and Co.)
Mark is currently an Advisory Board member of the Cape Development Partnership, a Cape Cod based economic development community lending and affordable housing nonprofits; a former board member of the Social Venture Network; an affiliate of the Boston Area Sustainable Investment Consortium; a member of US/SIF; Chair of the Asset Management Committee for the Triskeles Foundation, an Advisory Board Member of the Fair Food Network; an Overseer of the Museum of Fine Arts-Boston and Chair of The Highlands Center. Mark was Board Chair of the DuSable Museum of African American History for two terms.
Mark is the Managing Director of the Boston Impact Initiative.