Grow your network, up your game, change the world in Kendall Square

Kendall Square
Jan 14 · 6 min read

As a Kendall Square Association (KSA) member, you can get things done that simply cannot be done alone. Our Learning Communities (formerly known as Committees) provide a forum to collaborate on meaningful projects that enhance your knowledge and skills while making a real impact in Kendall Square and the region.

Our five Learning Communities include:

  • Transportation
  • Ecodistrict (Sustainability)
  • Marketing & Events
  • Restaurant & Retail
  • Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI)

These groups are eager to welcome new contributors from KSA’s membership. If you are interested in joining any of the Learning Communities, please contact Maya at maya@kendallsq.org. Read on to learn about the priorities and format of each Learning Community.


Transportation: Advocating for better, more equitable, and more sustainable commutes

Chaired by Tom Evans (Executive Director, Cambridge Redevelopment Authority) and Kelley Brown (Head Planner, MIT)

The KSA believes that you can’t find the cure for cancer while sitting in traffic — yet the reality is that commutes in and out of Kendall and Greater Boston have considerable room for improvement. Converting these transit challenges to opportunities is precisely what our Transportation Learning Community does.

This group of planners, developers, and employers meets regularly with local power players to influence current transportation issues. Its work includes:

  • Partnering with MassDOT and the MBTA on the Better Bus Project, the first major bus redesign in over 15 years;
  • Working to turn Allston’s future West Station into a transit hub that would connect Kendall Square to Newton, Worcester and beyond — using the existing rail line that passes through Cambridge;
  • Contributing feedback that helped lead to the new Longfellow Bridge’s improved driving, biking and walking infrastructure, by meeting with the authorities involved in the project; and,
  • Advocating for mobility solutions, especially: increased Red Line capacity; the Grand Junction walking and biking pathway to connect Kendall to Somerville & Boston; and increased bus connectivity into the Square.

In addition, the Transportation Community has embarked on a larger project to advocate forcefully for the transit system that Kendall and the region desperately need. The Transportation ADVANCE is a months-long initiative of pilots and experimentation that will culminate in a Transportation Summit to reveal our findings.


Ecodistrict: An idea-sharing platform for sustainable building practices

Chaired by Chris Leary (Principal, Jacobs), Maureen McCaffrey (Director, MIT Investment Management Company) and Michelle Lower (Assistant Vice President — Real Estate Development & Community Relations, Alexandria Real Estate Equities)

The Ecodistrict Learning Community’s goal is to make Kendall’s considerable real estate activity as sustainable as possible. The Community provides a rich educational experience through programming and best practice sharing. Recent presentations include: Passive House design, recycling programs for lab waste, and funding solar energy through power purchase agreements. The group has collaborated with the City of Cambridge to provide sustainability programming such as DPW waste and composting.

In addition, Community members seek out first-hand learning opportunities. Most recently, they could be found at Alexandria Real Estate’s 60 Binney Street to learn the pros and cons of constructing and managing a cogeneration plant.

Currently, this Learning Community consists of members from the engineering, development, building and property management, and planning industries. The group is working to recruit a broader membership, particularly those with expertise in design and building operations.


Marketing & Events (M&E): Honing technical skills and engaging the Kendall community

Chairs: Sarah McDonald (Executive Director, Life Science Cares) & Katie Germany (Assistant Head of Events, Cambridge Innovation Center)

The M&E Learning Community focuses on taking full advantage of the Square’s skill-building expertise, while providing a fun venue for cross-sector marketing and promotions. Our members, who hold communications and marketing positions across all industries, have the opportunity to publicize their initiatives, conferences and fundraisers at each monthly meeting.

In its educational component, M&E tackles expertise-sharing topics such as the art of the newsletter and constructing an A+ elevator pitch. It also brings in the Square’s major marketing players. For example, KSA member Facebook recently hosted a workshop for M&E members on how to market events and purchase ads effectively. The next M&E event, “Viral Campaigns & Storytelling,” is a collaboration with LaunchSquad, a Kendall-based PR/content marketing agency.

The M&E Learning Community is a great opportunity for networking and staying up to date on what’s going on in Kendall Square. It is open to professionals at all levels.


Restaurant & Retail: Enabling economic vitality for small businesses

Chairs: Eric Quadrino (Owner, MexiCali & Sulmona) & Steve Kurland (Owner, EVOO & Za)

Restaurant & Retail has two broad areas of focus. First, it keeps members in the loop about policies affecting small businesses. Most recently, the group discussed how to prepare for the minimum wage increases that were a result of the Massachusetts 2018 “Grand Bargain.” This year, it also worked to create a pipeline of “Cambridge jobs for Cambridge people,” through a partnership with Mayor Marc McGovern, and job & internship programs supporting the Cambridge Rindge & Latin School.

Second, the group is a major proponent of programming that brings excitement and interest to Kendall Square’s retail offerings. The most recent example is last year’s Kendall EatUp, a lively celebration of the Square’s best culinary establishments, attended by over 400 Kendall community members.

All retail owners who are KSA members are invited to join this Learning Community.


Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI): Kendall Square can help fix tech’s diversity & inclusion crisis

Facilitators: Ceasar McDowell, Vatsady Sivongxay, Holly Harriel

The Kendall Square Association believes that, for Kendall to remain a global epicenter of innovation, we must prioritize becoming one of the most diverse, equitable and inclusive communities in the world. An early step in this journey is the construction of our DEI Learning Community, a group of 15 Kendall leaders who gather monthly to build their skills as DEI champions inside their organizations and within the Kendall ecosystem.

The KSA recently hired a nationally renowned expert, MIT Professor Ceasar McDowell to partner with us and support our first-ever cohort. McDowell and his team will create an action space for the DEI Learning Community to catalyze change across Kendall Square by the end of the its year-long journey.

Applications to join the first cohort of the DEI Learning Community are currently closed, but you can follow along with the cohort’s progress by subscribing to our DEI-focused monthly e-newsletter. To indicate your interest for the second cohort, please sign up here.


The KSA’s Learning Communities are an excellent way to build your skills and expand your network in Kendall Square. If you are interested in joining one of the above Learning Communities, please contact Maya at maya@kendallsq.org. Or if you have an idea for a Learning Community the KSA should consider hosting, post it below!

Kendall Square

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The official channel for Kendall Square, Cambridge. Published by the Kendall Square Association.

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