Whether serving as the president of the board of directors or as a key staff member, Leslie Bos has been a mainstay of the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corp. (JPNDC) for the last 20 years. Currently, she is real estate director of the nonprofit community development organization.
Bos grew up in Jamaica Plain and attended UMass Amherst, majoring in African-American studies. With a deep, lifelong commitment and passion for social justice, Bos returned to JP after college and began working in affordable housing development. Since 1995, she has worked either at the Jamaica Plain NDC or in various roles in the affordable and public housing arenas. When she was not on staff at the JPNDC, she served on the board, including two years as the organization’s first woman of color president. In 2013, she resigned her board seat to assume her current staff position as real estate director.
In that role, Bos has overseen the expansion of the nonprofit’s multifaceted real estate development activities, particularly as it advances the ambitious initiative to transform Jackson Square, the gateway to Jamaica Plain and Roxbury. In addition to developing new projects and building the organization’s pipeline, Bos has substantially upgraded JPNDC’s oversight of its existing portfolio, which includes 400 units of affordable housing and two large commercial properties. She has initiated several challenging refinancings and worked with resident groups to help them understand the options they have as they strive to protect and strengthen their housing communities. She oversees a staff of six.
“JPNDC is a really unique organization,” Bos said. “It is very community-driven. Beyond bricks and mortar and real estate development, we run many other programs around community organizing, leadership development and job readiness training. We provide small business technical assistance and financial education programs for low-income and minority households. There’s a lot of cross-fertilization going on throughout the organization. It’s a very holistic approach to real estate development.”
Indeed, one of Bos’ own favorite activities is to teach a “Development 101” class to community residents who want to learn more about and have a greater say in all the changes they see going on around them.
As a woman of color who has worked in many different roles in the affordable housing industry, Bos said nonprofit organizations like JPNDC provide a great career pathway for women.
“It is rare that I am the only woman at the table,” she said. “It’s part of the reason I work here at the JPNDC. I believe organizations such as ours are very committed to embracing women in leadership roles and providing opportunities for women in leadership.”
She advises women to look for mentors and, just as importantly, share their expertise with all those coming up behind them.
“I have learned and taken a lot from some very wonderful mentors, and translated what I have learned to mentees,” she said.