Leading the Leaders: profile of Deborah Goddard

Leading the Leaders: profile of Deborah Goddard

On a recent spring-like Friday afternoon, Deborah Goddard (LF ‘03) took a few moments from her busy day to reflect on leadership. A Loeb alum and current Alumni Council president, Deborah had plenty of topics to choose from: her shift to a new professional role at MassHousing, her vision for the Loeb Fellowship Alumni Council, or the leadership transition of the Loeb curator.

Before her recent move to MassHousing, the leading provider of affordable housing resources in the state, Goddard served since 2007 as general counsel for the Mass. Department of Housing and Community Development. She worked tirelessly on a series of projects that will long outlive her tenure with the Commonwealth. Among many accomplishments, Goddard was deeply committed to furthering fair housing practices, creating infrastructure for the 40B Comprehensive Permit legislation, and implementing affordable housing preservation legislation.

Throughout, she was responsible for the hard work of implementation, a task she will now step back from in her new role at MassHousing. She explained her new position as a “tremendous opportunity,” elaborating, “I have always blended policy into what I do but I have never had a pure policy position.” In her view, this is “absolutely an element of continuity” in her move from DHCD to MassHousing and she welcomes the challenge and the “learning curve.”

Goddard’s new position at MassHousing, director of policy and program development, though still largely undefined, will entail coordination and collaboration with policymakers at the state and national level and among various partners and actors in the affordable housing community. She will be able to take a broad view on policy affecting affordable housing development: “To do my job right, I will help empower people to do the work that needs to be done.” The evolving nature of the position is a powerful recognition of Goddard’s invaluable experience, demonstrated leadership, and integral role in the housing field. 

Her effective and thoughtful direction extends beyond her professional commitment into her work as president of the Loeb Fellowship Alumni Council. Goddard has sincere love and respect for the fellowship and says that serving as president is both a pleasure and an honor. She is eager to build on the Council’s recent focus on bringing alumni together to maximize opportunities to engage with each other, current students and with the GSD.

One great example of this engagement is the Doebele Fellowship, through which the Council has been able to support GSD students with grants for summertime community work. Goddard also pointed to the work of the grant committee, where she’s served for several years, in creating the Alumni Council Grant Program to “leverage the expertise of a vibrant network of phenomenal people.” Loeb alumni–of whom there are currently 450 plus–can access travel grants to convene former fellows to collaborate on short-term place-based projects. Through concerted effort and fundraising the Grant Committee “has really moved the grant program to a new level,” enhancing connectivity and cohesion.

With these successful initiatives underway, Goddard is committed to continuing engagement with alumni. She sees both the grant program and strengthened communication strategies among alumni and fellows as the foundational concern and motivating purpose for the Alumni Council moving forward. 

Deborah’s appreciation for the Fellowship is matched by her deep respect for outgoing curator Jim Stockard. In looking toward the future of the curatorship, Deborah reflected on Stockard’s many strengths and successes. She spoke to his invaluable role as both mentor and coach, highlighting his “focus, attention, and intelligence.” She also highlighted the program’s growing inclusiveness under Stockard’s leadership, with more opportunity for fellows with families, a diversity of perspectives, and a rich engagement with the GSD.

An element of this engagement rests in Stockard’s role as faculty in the Urban Planning and Design Department, bringing expertise and mentoring to the classroom setting, all the while strengthening an important connection between the Fellowship and the student body. “Jim does not dictate,” she explained, “he is extremely wise in prodding his mentees to think and move forward with ideas.”

In anticipating the next curator, Goddard emphasized several core principles. “First and foremost, it is important that the individual genuinely values the Loeb Fellowship, understands and appreciates what the experience offers to each of the Fellows, and is committed to investing the time and energy necessary to sustain and nurture the Fellowship. The new curator should have a vision for the future of the Fellowship that holds to the mission established by the Loebs in creating the Fellowship and is built on successes of the Loeb Fellowship to date.” Goddard’s vision for the future is a hopeful one, promising a “rich conversation” with the GSD in the search for a new leader.

Sally Young, Fellowship coordinator, says, "Deborah brings the clear thinking of a lawyer and the passion of an advocate for social justice to her role as the president of the Alumni Council. Her voice of wisdom will be instrumental in this time of leadership transition. I expect that her leadership will build on the strengths of the Alumni Council enhancing communication among Fellows and strengthening the powerful alumni network." At least one thing is clear: the Council is in good hands with Deborah Goddard’s steadfast guidance, professional ethic and expertise, and personal commitment to the Loeb Fellowship and its broad, vibrant network of alumni.

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