February 22, 2020
Giles Li to Leave the Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center

Giles Li
December 1, 2019 — The Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center, a Boston nonprofit that provides education and family services to Asian immigrants and the Asian American community of Greater Boston, last week announced that Giles Li will leave the organization next month after serving as chief executive officer since 2013.

Li, who will step down Jan. 24, will become a senior program officer for arts and creativity at the Barr Foundation, the largest private foundation in Massachusetts.

The Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center (BCNC) said the move will enable Li "to continue his impact on the not-for-profit sector from a different platform."

A search committee has been formed to hire a replacement CEO, although no time line was provided.

Eugene Mahr, BCNC's board president, noted, "The remarkable contributions that Giles has made to BCNC over the years have elevated the organization to new heights and set in place an unstoppable trajectory for continued growth. He conceptualized and shepherded the opening of the Pao Arts Center in 2017, establishing Boston Chinatown’s first ever community-based arts, culture, and education center."

Under Li's leadership, BCNC completed a campaign last year 2018 that raised $3.5 million to support the organization's ongoing work.

He also led the efforts to expand adult education workforce initiatives, and established BCNC’s presence in Quincy in 2014 that recently expanded into new quarters. And of course, this year Giles oversaw a series of unforgettable celebratory events to commemorate BCNC’s 50th anniversary.

The Barr Foundation, which is based in Boston, said Li will focus on implementing two strategies: advancing the field’s capacity to adapt, take risks, and engage changing communities in new ways; and fostering opportunities to connect the arts to other disciplines and sectors.

A published poet and spoken-word performance artist, Li began at BCNC in 2006 as the first coordinator of its arts program. He serves on the boards of directors of Philanthropy Massachusetts and the Quincy Chamber of Commerce, and as an advisor to numerous education, immigration, and community efforts.

This past May, BCNC celebrated its 50th anniversary, raising $1 million at a gala event. Last month, it hosted former and current board members, founders, and staff at the Pao Arts Center to celebrate the 50th anniversary.

BCNC serves 8,000 people annually, 84% of whom are Asian and an equal number who do not speak English as their primary language. Seventy-three percent are low income, and 60% are immigrants who have been in the United States for less than five years.

According to BCNC, Asians are the fastest growing racial group in Massachusetts.

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