ISHI Planning Process

In September of 2017, a Planning Committee of funders and community partners was formed to begin framing the research and discovery period, ISHI’s purpose and desired outcomes, and to convene an Advisory Committee.



The Research and Discovery period included a literature review, key informant interviews, focus groups with residents and organizations, and feedback sessions. Key outcomes were categorized by demographics, neighborhood, and themes:

  • Demographics: specific populations were identified as marginalized or excluded from existing systems. This includes families facing eviction; immigrants (undocumented and refugee); People of Color; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth; Black men (single men and single fathers); seniors; and persons with a criminal offender record.

  • Neighborhoods: though displacement affects many neighborhoods, East Boston, Mattapan, North Dorchester, and Roxbury were prioritized as most at risk.

Four overarching themes, and potential strategies, emerged from the process to directly shape and provide opportunities for grantmaking: 

  1. Greater Alignment for Collective Impact: Opportunities for housing experts, service providers, developers, and government to get on the same page about what it means to be housing stable and to streamline processes across systems.

  2. Preserving and Creating Affordable Housing Supply: Opportunities to identify more strategic uses of land and development that sustain affordable housing across the city.

  3. Pathways to Social and Economic Mobility: Opportunities for individual and families to become more economically stable and close the wealth gap.

  4. Community Engagement and Activism: Opportunities to invest in grassroots efforts in community organizing and urban planning that support anti-displacement.

In April 2018, an Advisory Committee — of housing advocates, healthcare providers, and community residents — was formed to move the ISHI process forward. Based on the outcomes of the research and discovery period, the Advisory Committee developed the goals, vision, values, and theory of change, to support a resident-centered process. Three key principles that inform the ISHI framework include:


Equity: In acknowledging the existence and historical relevance of systems of oppression, ISHI utilizes an equity framework that focuses on institutional racism and classism as root causes for housing instability, as well as education and job security as key social determinants most impacted by housing stabilization.

Participatory Grantmaking: To achieve lasting impact, the grantmaking process seeks to address the housing crisis through multiple investment approaches, including participatory grantmaking with residents most often left out of decisions and most at risk for displacement. 


Collaborative Learning: This process provides an opportunity to better understand how to build meaningful and trustworthy relationships and collaborations. For the first time, Boston hospitals are working together to invest in social determinants of health and upstream solutions, and to authentically engage community in funding decisions. Best practices and shared learnings have the potential to transform grantmaking across the city and state. 

ISHI Committee Members  

Advisory Committee Members  

  • Aaron Tanaka, Center for Economic Democracy 

  • Alala Rei, Resident (from Jan. ‘18)

  • Allentza Michel, Fairmont Indigo Network 

  • Christine Araujo, The American City Coalition 

  • Darnell Johnson, Right to the City 

  • Domonique Williams, Office of Housing Stability (from Aug. ‘18)

  • Farah Assiraj, Resident (to Jan. ‘18)

  • Gerry Thomas, Boston Public Health Commission (to Dec. ‘18)

  • John Riordan, Boston Children’s Hospital 

  • Kara Pillsbury, Mass Housing 

  • Kate Brady, Office of Housing Stability (to July ‘18)

  • Lisa Owens, City Life Vida Urbana 

  • Mary Coleman, EMPATH 

  • Megan Sandel, M.D., Boston Medical Center 

  • Nineequa Blanding, The Boston Foundation 

  • Ominique Gardner, Resident (from Jan. ‘18)

  • Paula Correia, Family Nurturing Center 

  • Rafael Medina, IBA 

  • Sally Cheek, Boston Children’s Hospital 

  • Soni Gupta, The Boston Foundation 

  • Thea James, M.D., Boston Medical Center 

  • Therese Fitzgerald, The American City Coalition (from Jan. ‘18)

  • Trevor Samios, Winn Management 

Planning Committee Members  

  • Barry Keppard, Public Health Director, Metropolitan Area Planning Council

  • Elmer Freeman, Executive Director, Center for Community Health Education Research and Service

  • Jeanette Pantoja, Public Health Planner, Metropolitan Area Planning Council

  • John RiordanDirector of Community Relations and Partnerships, Boston Children’s Hospital

  • Kirsten Archer, Grants Officer & Manager of Community Benefits, Boston Medical Center

  • Megan Sandel, M.D.Associate Director, GROW Clinic, Principal Investigator, Children's HealthWatch, Boston Medical Center

  • Michelle KeenanDirector, Community Programs, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

  • Shari Nethersole, M.D.Executive Director for Community Health, Boston Children’s Hospital

  • Tara Agrawal, PhD, M.S.Senior Project Manager, Boston Children’s Hospital

  • Thea James, M.D.VP of Mission, Boston Medical Center

  • Occasionally, experts are asked to attend meetings to inform the process.