Tag: From the Executive Director

WalkMassachusetts Announces New Executive Directors Althea Wong-Achorn, Brendan Kearney

WalkMassachusetts Announces New Executive Directors Althea Wong-Achorn, Brendan Kearney

The new leadership, an expanded Board, and a rebrand to WalkMassachusetts, previously WalkBoston, reflect an organizational vision to make walking safer and easier statewide.

BOSTON (August 2, 2023)WalkMassachusetts, a statewide pedestrian advocacy organization, today announced Althea Wong-Achorn and Brendan Kearney as the organization’s Executive Directors. The announcement comes on the heels of WalkBoston rebranding as WalkMassachusetts to represent an expansion of the organization’s vision and work, also demonstrated by the appointment of new board members and staff representing cities and towns from Springfield to East Boston to Brockton.

“This is an exciting next chapter for the organization. We are implementing our newly developed strategic plan, expanding our reach statewide, and continuing our advocacy work in support of safe pedestrian infrastructure and public policy,” said Board President Betsy Johnson. “It’s a huge task, and Brendan and Althea have proven over the past year that they are equal to the challenge. They are committed to making WalkMassachusetts’ vision – a Massachusetts where people walking – no matter their race, identity, age, ability, or lived experience – feel safe, connected, and valued on our streets and sidewalks a reality.”

While they are new to the Co-Executive Director roles, Althea and Brendan have collectively spent over a decade at WalkBoston, now WalkMassachusetts, in different roles. Brendan began as the organization’s Communications and Development Coordinator in 2013 and became the Deputy Director in 2019. In 2020, Althea joined as WalkMassachusetts’ Development Director and became Deputy Director of Operations in 2022. 

“The need for equitable streets that promote safer and easier walking for all is ever critical in Massachusetts and the nation,” said Executive Director Brendan Kearney. “I am thrilled to work with Althea to lead WalkMassachusetts’ efforts to promote and advocate for that while encouraging better health, a cleaner environment, and more vibrant communities.”

“People across Massachusetts are stepping up to advocate and work towards solutions for better street designs that promote equitable walking and save lives,” said Executive Director Althea Wong-Achorn. “This is an exciting time for the work towards safer streets, and I am honored to lead and work with Brendan, WalkMassachusetts, other advocacy groups, and communities across the state to provide access and tools to make Massachusetts safer.” 

Brendan is WalkMassachusetts’ advocacy and communications lead. He is a founding member of the City of Boston’s Vision Zero Task Force, and is an appointed member of the Massachusetts Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board (MABPAB) which serves in an advisory role on advancing bicycle and pedestrian transportation for MassDOT and other State Agencies. Brendan is a graduate of the College of the Holy Cross. He lives in Framingham with his wife Hannah and their dog Mavis. 

Althea is WalkMassachusetts’ head fundraiser and administrator. Prior to joining the organization, Althea oversaw fundraising and events for both the USS Constitution Museum, where she led a record setting gala, and Boston Children’s Museum, where she created new and innovative events while earning a Best of Boston® award from Boston Magazine. Althea lives in Winthrop with her husband Joe and their dog Daphne, and is a graduate of Colby College.

In recent years, WalkMassachusetts has strengthened its footprint in the region and positioned itself as the state’s primary pedestrian advocacy group, working with over 130 cities and towns across the state to promote equitable and safer streets for people walking. In 2022, the organization launched its annual Fatal Pedestrian Crashes in Massachusetts report, shedding new light on when and why pedestrian crashes are happening across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and how we can reduce or even eliminate pedestrian deaths.

This year’s report showed fatal pedestrian crashes in Massachusetts were up 35%, and more than 70% (72 of 101) occurred in Environmental Justice Neighborhoods. The report is now a tool for auditing regions impacted by traffic crashes and, ultimately, calls upon MassDOT, the legislature, and local municipalities to take immediate actions to create safer streets. WalkMassachusetts also created and leads the WalkMassachusetts Network, a statewide network of advocacy and municipal walking organizations that meets monthly and works to achieve mobility equity across Massachusetts. 

To learn more about WalkMassachusetts’ mission and vision, leadership, and ways to get involved, visit www.walkboston.org 

About WalkMassachusetts
WalkMassachusetts (founded in 1990 as WalkBoston, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) advocacy organization), makes walking safer and easier in Massachusetts to encourage better health, a cleaner environment and more vibrant communities. We have a vision of a Massachusetts where people walking – no matter their race, identity, age, ability, or lived experience – feel safe, connected, and valued on our streets and sidewalks. Our small, committed staff work as a team to make change: whether it’s getting a crosswalk painted in a neighborhood or influencing Massachusetts state policy to make streets safer for all. Key to our effort is the value we place in Community, Equity, and Partnership. www.walkboston.org 


From the Executive Director

From the Executive Director

By Wendy Landman/Executive Director, WalkBoston

Over the last six months WalkBoston worked to craft our 3-year action plan. The journey was as important as arriving. We took stock of what WalkBoston has achieved and thought about the critical next steps toward “Making Massachusetts More Walkable.” This newsletter and the next focus on our new goals and how you can be a part of the change-making process.

We have accomplished the formidable task of making walking a part of transportation and planning conversations statewide and have helped spread the word that walkability is critical to the health of people and communities.

Next we must ensure communities are safer for people walking, and that investments are made to improve the built environment across the state. By using an equity lens as we work to meet these goals, we will be intentionally inclusive of all ages, abilities, and communities.

How you can help:
• Ask for and support changes. Speak up for walking in your own neighborhood, city or town —make sure that local officials hear your voice.
• Support laws that improve safety. Ask your State senator and representative to support laws such as banning hand-held device use, and allowing automated traffic enforcement.
• We can coach you on how to ask for changes. Reach out to us when you see problems that need to be addressed—we can’t be everywhere all the time but we can support you.
• Donate your voice, time, and money to WalkBoston.

This article was featured in WalkBoston’s October 2017 newsletter.
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