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Janey takes helm at antipoverty agency

A former client herself, Janey is now head of Economic Mobility Pathways

Anna Lamb
Janey takes helm at antipoverty agency

Following her tenure as the first woman and first person of color to lead Boston as its mayor, Kim Janey will now be stepping in to head the nonprofit Economic Mobility Pathways (EMPath) as its president and CEO.

EMPath uses a “mobility mentoring” approach to help those struggling with poverty, providing them with resources, skills and programs to help modify behavior and create economic independence. The organization also has a research arm that conducts studies on poverty and economic mobility.

Janey succeeds Beth Babcock, who announced her retirement last year after 16 years at the helm.

The announcement of Janey’s new job is a full-circle moment for the former mayor, who was once an EMPath client herself as a young mother. She said the organization helped her finish high school as a pregnant teenager.

“I am truly excited to lead this organization, as someone who has the lived experience of those who this organization helps every single day,” Janey said. “I have worked to disrupt poverty and support children and families my entire career. So I see this as a continuation of that work. And for me, you know, this hits home.”

Prior to becoming mayor, Janey was elected to the Boston City Council in 2017 as the first woman to represent District 7. During her time on the council, she served as council president before taking over as acting mayor following the departure of Mayor Martin Walsh, who vacated the office for a position in President Biden’s administration.

Janey’s mayoral tenure was marked by economic hardship in the wake of COVID-19, the beginning of the ongoing effort to clear tents at Mass and Cass, and the beginning of progressive legislation aimed at uplifting Bostonians excluded from economic prosperity.

After an unsuccessful run at the office for a full term, Janey took up academic residencies at Harvard and Salem State University before moving on to EMPath.

As for what she is looking forward to, Janey said in a statement that she hopes “to expand on the impact the organization has already had in the Boston area and across the country.”

One way, she said, will be through expanding the mobility mentoring program.

“[EMPath] does very unique work in terms of providing direct services to women and children in terms of those who are in shelters, but also through the economic mobility program, which has proven to be very successful at helping to disrupt poverty, and helping families increase their incomes.”

EMPath looks to serve one million people in the coming years through strategic community partnerships, including a cohort of early childhood organization partners. It also is looking to launch a new program and evaluation that will serve more than 250 Boston Housing Authority residents. To support these goals, EMPath has raised over $10 million during the past two years.

“This is a pivotal moment for the organization,” said EMPath Board Chair Rob Reilly, “as we work towards our vision of a world where every person experiencing poverty gets the tools, skills and support they need get out of it — for good. With Mayor Janey’s deep understanding of the issue and longstanding commitment to serving her community, we know she’s the right person to get us there.”

Janey will officially join the organization on June 1, 2022.