Karen Kelley Gill

Ask her colleagues why Karen Gill is a Woman of FIRE, and they’ll probably tell you she’s a behind-the-scenes financial mastermind, keeping millions of dollars running smoothly and efficiently to nonprofit developers in the Greater Boston area.

As the top fiscal officer at the Community Development Economic Assistance Corp. (CEDAC), Gill oversees the stewardship of $50 million in pre-development capital for the commonwealth’s nonprofit community development sector.

Prior to her arrival in the Greater Boston area, Gill worked in arts administration as chief financial officer for the National Arts Stabilization Fun in New York. She moved to Boston for business school, specifically an education in the public and nonprofit management program at Boston University, and there she found the parallels between arts administration and community development to be quite striking.

While she finds the work intellectually stimulating, there’s also a certain intangible reward Gill gets from her work at CEDAC.

“Hands down, the staff at CEDAC is really a wonderful group of people. They’re smart, and they’re completely dedicated to the mission. We have a very strong staff network of people who really just care about the work, and that makes it quite easy to come to work,” she said. “But collectively, it’s about being able to see the tangible benefits in communities when we make the investments that we do.”

She points to the investments CEDAC has made in Jamaica Plain’s Jackson Square neighborhood and its newest crowning achievement: the Nurtury Learning Lab, a new early education center.


Strengthening The Organization In Tough Times

Roger Herzog, executive director of CEDAC, nominated Gill for a Women of FIRE Award for her financial acumen and her can-do attitude. Not only did Gill help the organization weather the recession, he said, but she steered it to an even stronger financial position.

That’s certainly no small task, he said. After all, CEDAC is in the business of delivering financing to nonprofit developers, and if a snag arises, a project can easily be derailed.

“Karen finds ways to deliver funds very quickly and help the nonprofit avoid big problems,” Herzog said. “She has always kept her eyes on the prize. One of our primary goals is to be efficient in getting the money to developers when they need it, in as un-bureaucratic a way as possible.”

Gill has not forgotten her arts background, either. In her personal time, she supports the Boston Center for the Arts, and she sees the arts as vital to the human experience.

“Art helps people understand their aesthetic environment and explore ideas in a different way,” she said. “Being able to be part of an organization that supports our working artists and arts groups at all stages of their development, from emerging to established to young and new performing arts companies, you’re able to see the arts up close and personal and also to see how groups and artists develop over time. It’s rewarding to do that.”

Karen Kelley Gill

by Laura Alix time to read: 2 min