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Esplanade Association Inc

 376 Boylston Street, Suite 503
 Boston, MA 02116
[P] (617) 227-0365
[F] --
Michael Nichols
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 Printable Profile (Summary / Full)
EIN 04-3550635

LAST UPDATED: 05/31/2019
Organization DBA --
Former Names --
Organization received a competitive grant from the Boston Foundation in the past five years Yes


Mission StatementMORE »

The Esplanade Association is a privately funded nonprofit organization that works to revitalize and enhance the Charles River Esplanade, preserve natural green space, and build community by providing educational, cultural and recreational programs for everyone.

Mission Statement

The Esplanade Association is a privately funded nonprofit organization that works to revitalize and enhance the Charles River Esplanade, preserve natural green space, and build community by providing educational, cultural and recreational programs for everyone.

FinancialsMORE »

Fiscal Year Jan 01, 2018 to Dec 31, 2018
Projected Income $1,727,500.00
Projected Expense $1,789,000.00

ProgramsMORE »

  • Capital Projects
  • Community Engagement Programs
  • Horticultural Care
  • Volunteer program

Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2017 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2016 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2015 (%)

For more details regarding the organization's financial information, select the financial tab and review available comments.


Mission Statement

The Esplanade Association is a privately funded nonprofit organization that works to revitalize and enhance the Charles River Esplanade, preserve natural green space, and build community by providing educational, cultural and recreational programs for everyone.

Background Statement

Eighteen years ago, the Esplanade stood neglected, unsafe and lacking in important park visitor amenities. With its high use and lack of adequate resources, this park was in need of help. A group of local citizens responded to this need and formed the park’s friends group: the Esplanade Association. The organization's first project reopened a playground. Ten years later, EA has helped to rebuild athletic fields, improve the health of trees, restore the Hatch Shell Lawn and a historic fountain, install water fountains, trash compactors and exercise equipment, refresh and reopen bathrooms, reconstruct the boating docks and produce a user survey and cultural landscape report.
Since 2001, the Esplanade Association has grown from a volunteer-led organization to add a staff of seven full-time professionals and a board with expertise in management, public policy and park restoration.  The organization takes a long-term view to park restoration and has operating and financial plans in place to meet and longer-term goals for park restoration and for organizational growth and improvement.
The Esplanade Association is a staunch advocate for investment in and protection of the park and promotes a public process for proposed changes to the park. The organization has worked with public agencies and community organizations to advocate for improvements such as better pedestrian and bicyclist access and ADA compliance from the Longfellow Bridge to parkland on the Boston and Cambridge sides of the river. Each year, the organization brings around 2,000 volunteers to the park to help with its maintenance and beautification, saving the State more than $100,000 each year. The Esplanade Association has worked with dozens of organizations and local businesses to provide free programs at the park to promote good health, enjoyment of the outdoors and to provide an opportunity to try fitness activities in the company of a very diverse population of participants. In order to increase access to the Teddy Ebersol's Red Sox Fields, the Esplanade Association has been working with Associated Grant Makers' Summer Fund to bring campers to the park and to enjoy structured outdoor games and sports. 

Impact Statement

1. Our Volunteer Program invites conscientious citizens to take part in keeping the Park beautiful and healthy while educating them about the Park’s history and critical role in this urban landscape. In 2018, our volunteer program brought nearly 1700 volunteers to the Esplanade who supplied almost 5000 hours to help maintain the park by raking, weeding, picking up trash, planting bulbs, painting, and removing invasive plants. The work of these volunteers amounts to almost $100,000 worth of labor in the Park a year.

2. By tracking the condition of the Esplanade’s 1700 trees using cutting-edge technology, we are able to prioritize tree care, contributing to the preservation of a mature tree canopy. In 2016, we pruned 550 trees in need of critical attention. Some dead and severely damaged trees were removed and we planted a total of nine new trees, including three Red Maples, three White Swamp Oak, and three Purple Leaf Plum. Tree care also included watering and mulching new plantings, amending soil to address compaction issues and spraying our home-brewed compost tea, increasing the health of the soil. Our Tree Care and Succession Plan, completed in 2018 and approved by the Boston Landmarks Commission, will allow us to undertake tree care at a more accelerated rate and in a more effective and efficient manner. 

3. In 2018, the Esplanade Association instituted a new, series the featured 5 performances from different genres.  The performances took place in innovative venues throughout the park and attracted over 10,000 people.
4. In 2018, we also hosted almost 5,000 people for Healthy, Fit & Fun free outdoor fitness programming, including yoga and running at the park to promote healthy lifestyles for people of all ages and from all neighborhoods. 
5. 2018 marked the ninth year of Children the Park, hosting almost 1,000 children with limited access to green space. Campers enjoyed a variety of free activities in the Park, including free play, sports and games. Some of the summer’s highlights included special visits with our campers from our partners at the Museum of Science, the New England Aquarium and the Audubon Society. We also offered a free Street Hockey Clinic hosted by the Boston Bruins Foundation and a performance by ZUMIX, a local non-profit organization that provides access to top-quality arts experiences.

Needs Statement

1. Tree Care Management & Succession Plan Implementation. A multi-year plan with specific steps for prioritization and regular maintenance using our tree inventory data and the recommendations of the Tree Care Management and Succession Plan. Total Project Cost over multiple years $750,000-$900,0000.

2. Esplanade River Pavilion. The Lee Pool, a prime 2 1/2 acre location, has been closed to the public since the 90s. EA is working with DCR and other stakeholders to develop a reactivation plan: a new multiuse riverside pavilion. Project Cost$12 MM.

3. Stoneman Playground Improvements. Stoneman Playground was the first capital project undertaken by EA in 2001.  The popular play area has been maintained and enjoyed minor updates over the years, but is due for a major upgrade. We plan to provide more play options welcoming to children of all abilities, with a focus on musical activities. We will also update numerous pieces of play equipment and the landscape. 2019 Project Cost: $200,000

4. Programming. EA offers a variety of inclusive--and free-- programming to the greater Boston Community, including Children in the Park (brings 800+  children from urban day camps to a field day in the park; Esplanade Fitness which hosts almost 5,000 people of all abilities in a variety of year-round outdoor classes; Guided Walking Tours covering park history, park photography, park horticulture and park wildlife; and our Riverfront Music Series featuring carefully curated, diverse music offerings from local artists. Annual Costs: $50,000

CEO Statement

Statement from ED:
The Esplanade Association is the only park friends group that is focused exclusively on improving the health and beauty of the historic Charles River Esplanade and restoring its historic features. The park is visited by an estimated 3 million individuals each year and is used by many institutions for fundraising and other community events, including the Fourth of July concert and fireworks. These events take a toll on the park, yet State systems are not in place to recoup the cost of repairing the damage caused by large scale events at the park and the high volumes of daily usage.
The Esplanade Association raises funds to help with the park's maintenance and to launch major restoration projects. Most recently, EA cut the ribbon on the historic Lotta Fountain, a funded and sculpted by women who played a significant role in the history of Boston. Our two full-time horticulture staff ten ornamental gardens and 1,700 trees, using organic practices.
In 2012, the Esplanade Association presented a vision for how the park could look given adequate resources, proper planning and public advocacy that continues to guide the organization today. Recommendations include better access to and navigation through the park; improved signage; separation of paths for bicyclists/roller and for pedestrians; revitalization of the park's landscape; green restoration of dilapidated or under-used buildings for year-round, multi-purpose community uses; safer, ADA-compliant pedestrian bridges and reclamation of park land being used for non-park purposes.
The Esplanade Association is working to build its capacity in landscape operations, fundraising, board development, and government relations. EA is a small organization with big dreams and big plans for making the Esplanade a beautiful and fully accessible park for a very diverse group of park visitors.
We are thankful the thousands of volunteers who work with us each year to help maintain the park. They pick up trash, paint benches, remove invasive plants along the shore and help beautify the planting beds. Volunteers create an important and add their voice in support of needed restoration, maintenance and protection of the park. 

Board Chair Statement

A message from Alexi Conine:

2018 was an incredibly successful year on the Esplanade! With the hard work of the staff and the support of donors and partners, we installed welcome kiosks to greet and orient visitors as they entered the park, developed
 a plan to ensure the long-term health of the park’s 1,700 trees, designed and installed a garden where invasive plants once stood, tripled the number of participants in the Esplanade
5K Presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, and much more.

A highlight of our work in 2018 was partnership. We work each day in partnership with DCR
 to care for the Esplanade. In addition, our various partnerships helped us revitalize, enhance, program, and maintain the park, including supporting Night Shift Brewing as they opened the popular Owl’s Nest Esplanade Beer Garden and helping the Celebrity Series of Boston produce the spectacular Jazz Along the Charles. We were also thrilled to celebrate as our partners at MassDOT opened the beautiful and accessible Fanny Appleton Footbridge to connect Charles Street Circle and the park.

No matter the season, there’s a special beauty to the Esplanade. In winter, snow blankets the banks of the lagoons. Spring enchants visitors as cherry trees bloom and tens-of-thousands of flower bulbs burst into color. During long summer nights, the docks become popular gathering spaces. And, of course, there’s no better place in Boston to watch the leaves change in 
fall than along the Esplanade. See the park’s beauty throughout the year by following us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

We’re thankful every day that we get to work together to sustain and enhance this park that is treasured by so many.

Geographic Area Served

City of Boston- Citywide (please select all areas as well)
City of Boston- Allston/ Brighton
City of Boston- Back Bay
City of Boston- Beacon Hill/ West End
City of Boston- Charlestown
City of Boston- Chinatown/ Leather District
City of Boston- North Dorchester
City of Boston- South Dorchester
City of Boston- Downtown
City of Boston- East Boston
City of Boston- Fenway/ Kenmore
City of Boston- Hyde Park
City of Boston- Jamaica Plain
City of Boston- Mattapan
City of Boston- Mission Hill
City of Boston- North End
City of Boston- Roslindale
City of Boston- Roxbury
City of Boston- South Boston
City of Boston- South End/Bay Village
City of Boston- Harbor Islands
City of Boston- West Roxbury

The Park hosts 3,000,000 visitors a year; it is a regional asset, valuable to residents, workers and tourists. For example, it is the most heavily used running and the largest public outdoor music venue in the region. Our 2008 User Survey found that despite the perception that the Park is used mostly by Back Bay and Beacon Hill residents, that was not the case. 63% of park visitors were not from the zip codes adjacent to the Park. 40% reported household incomes of less than $50,000.

Organization Categories

  1. Environment - Environmental Beautification
  2. Recreation & Sports - Parks and Playgrounds
  3. Arts,Culture & Humanities - Arts,Culture & Humanities NEC

Independent research has been conducted on this organization's theory of change or on the effectiveness of this organization's program(s)



Capital Projects

Since 2001, the Esplanade Association has worked with the DCR and many community members to restore and enhance the Charles River Esplanade. We continue to restore and revitalize specific structures and areas of the Park that are in need. Projects have included the replacement of the River Dock and the Community Boating Dock, restoration of the Eliot Memorial and garden area, the renovation of the Hatch Shell Oval Lawn (site of Boston's July 4 celebration). , our work has included and the restoration of the Lotta Fountain, an art -style hadn’t functioned for decades, the design and installation of a new Wayfinding system for the park, and the installation of a bright, colorful art mural, Patterned Behavior by a local artist. Upcoming capital projects include pathway safety innovations based on our Pathway Study, revitalization and accessibility improvements to Stoneman Playground, and additional park murals.
Budget  $250,000.00
Category  Arts, Culture & Humanities, General/Other Historic Preservation & Conservation
Population Served General/Unspecified
Program Short-Term Success 
  • The Lotta Fountain is now in operation and will be used and enjoyed by the public, and their dogs, for the first time in decades.  It is also more environmentally acceptable (due to changes in the water usage) and accessible all due to changes to make it ADA compliant. 
  • Our Wayfinding project provides a safer, more seamless enjoyment of the Park and the surrounding area.  It also reduces sign clutter by unifying and consolidating the information needed by Park visitors.  And, the new signage deepens the Park user experience by providing historical information about the Park. 
Program Long-Term Success 

A thriving, safe, accessible park where people come together to share, explore and enjoy nature and community. The Esplanade Association, working in collaboration with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, is dedicated to enhancing the experiences of the millions of visitors who enjoy Boston’s iconic riverside green space. Our restoration and improvement of the structures and landscaped areas of the 110 year old Park will assure that this area is healthy, attractive and available for generations to come.

Program Success Monitored By  Success will be determined by park visitor reaction to the signs (comments  EA), increase in  of the Lotta Fountain area (observation EA staff) and by completing the projects on time and within budget.
Examples of Program Success 

The Hatch Shell is an iconic Boston landmark that unites and enriches the Boston community with vital arts, culture, and much needed green space. Over the years, constant exposure and overuse had placed a toll on the Hatch Shell structure and surrounding lawn area. In response to the pressing need to restore and repair this vital area, EA launched a campaign to raise funds, and in partnership with the DCR, overhauled the Hatch Shell Oval Lawn.

On June 19, 2015, EA celebrated the opening of the newly-restored Hatch Shell Oval Lawn on the Charles River Esplanade. The historic renovation, which cost an estimated $700,000, was 100-percent privately funded. Thanks to our generous donors and the successful public-private partnership between the Esplanade Association and the DCR the extensive project was completed in just 18 months. The restored Oval lawn is now healthier, more beautiful and better able to withstand the heavy use it receives each year.

The Lotta Fountain restoration was celebrated with a ribbon cutting ceremony in the spring of 2017.  The area is now, once again, an active gathering spot for people and their dogs. 

Community Engagement Programs

EA offers a variety of free and inclusive programming to the greater Boston community. Each major programming area is described below:

  • Children in the Park (ChiP). Each year, the ChiP program brings almost one thousand children from groups like YMCAs, local day camps, and Boys & Girls Clubs to enjoy hands-on learning and active recreation at the Teddy Ebersol’s Red Sox Fields
  • Esplanade Fitness Programs. We one of the most popular outdoor fitness series in Boston, encouraging nearly 5,000 people a year to practice healthy lifestyles in an outdoor setting. In recent years, we have added special pop-up classes to add more diverse and inclusive fitness partners. In 2019, as we move toward year-round fitness, we added an extremely popular Frost Fit Winter Series.
  • Guided Park Tours. 2018 marked the first year of our Guided Tour Program featuring a guided walk of park, covering park history, photographing the Esplanade, horticulture in the park and wildlife on the Esplanade. In 2019, we will add tours on tree care.
  • Riverfront Music Series. The Esplanade has a rich history of free musical performances, including the beloved Boston Pops July 4th Fireworks Spectacular and the Landmarks Orchestra summer concerts. The Esplanade Association was pleased to continue this tradition in 2018 with the introduction of The Esplanade’s FREE Riverfront Music Series of diverse, carefully-curated, intimate musical performances, including jazz, West-African-inspired music, and a new composition inspired by the park. The series will return this year with 5 dates of curated, diverse music offerings.  



Budget  $50,000.00
Category  Arts, Culture & Humanities, General/Other
Population Served General/Unspecified K-12 (5-19 years) Adults
Program Short-Term Success 
1. Program participants increase their enjoyment of the Park and sense of community and feel they are taking action to improve their health.
2. Participants gain a better understanding of the Park's needs and the Esplanade Association's role in caring for it.
3. People visit the Esplanade for the first time, enjoying this incredible resource. 
Program Long-Term Success 
1. More people from under-served neighborhoods use the park for recreation and activities to promote good health.
2. A stewardship, community is created that helps care for the park and contributes to efforts to restore the park.
3. Greater awareness is created about the Esplanade Association's role in caring for the park.
4. Membership increases to 2,000 and by 10% annually thereafter.
Program Success Monitored By 
1. Number attending events
2. Participant comments and feedback. 
3. Partner comments and feedback each year.
4. Increase in number of EA members each year.
5. Broader community attendance  in the park.
Examples of Program Success 
The increasing number of participants in our summer programs is a testament to their popularity and of the public's desire for fun, free outdoor exercise activities. We had over 6,000 participants in our Esplanade Fitness Series and Children in the Park programs last summer and over 10,000 the music series, with a notable number of people of color attending. This speaks to the desire and need for free, outdoor activities for people of all backgrounds and all ages.

Horticultural Care

EA employs two full-time, year-round horticulturists and 2 seasonal horticulturists who work daily to maintain and improve 64-acre park and its 15 ornamental garden beds, three playgrounds, over 1700 trees, and 3 ½ miles of shoreline. In addition, our Volunteer Program provides thousands of hours of volunteer assistance each year.

Tree Care. Building on an existing 2015 tree inventory, the Esplanade Association released a first-of-its-kind Tree Care Management & Succession Plan in 2018.There are several alarming threats to the current health of park trees, including a lack of diversity and an aging canopy. The plan helps secure the future health of park trees by increasing species diversity, laying guidelines for succession plantings to replace dead and declining trees, and making recommendations for preventative care, such as pruning and air spading. It has been approved by , the Massachusetts Historical Commission, and the Conservation Commission. Our first major project, revitalizing the tree canopy in a major area of the park near the Hatch Shell will be completed in 2019.
Organic Land Care. The Esplanade is one of only two public parks in Boston that is managed without the use of pesticides, herbicides, synthetic fertilizers, or other unsustainable practices. We employ compost tea, a special brew of compost, water, and other ingredients to increase the biodiversity and improve plant health. Deep Root Injections of compost tea are applied deep into the soil so that the roots of trees can access nutrients. We invest in irrigation systems to ensure park plants and trees receive a regular supply of water, regardless of finicky New England weather. We use soil tests to make adjustments to meet site-specific soil needs. We plant native species suited dry conditions to restore habitat and reduce the watering needs and we over-seed and aerate lawns to help them recover from the major events held in the park, keeping the micro- healthy and the grass green.
Invasive Plant Management and Native Plant Propagation. In 2017 and 2018, the Esplanade Association initiated a study of the impacts of several treatment strategies to manage the invasive plant Phragmites (also known as common reed) on the Esplanade. Over the last few years, Phragmites have spread throughout the Charles River Basin and will continue to spread unless steps are taken to manage itThe Esplanade Association Phragmites Study compared the efficacy of four Phragmites treatment types over several months of surveying. The findings from this research will help us fight the spread of Phragmites on the Esplanade, while continuing to promote the return of native plants! Esplanade Association staff harvested seeds from four species of native plants (Cephalanthus occidentalis; Hibiscus moscheutos; Asclepias tuberosa; Sambucus Canadensis) that were establishing themselves on the Esplanade and were able to successfully grow three of them for planting elsewhere in the park. Plants that are native to this region are naturally predisposed to survive on the Esplanade and are best suited for supporting populations of native pollinator species.
General Garden Care. Our comprehensive Organic Horticulture program keeps the park verdant and beautiful for visitors and the environment. EA’s horticulture staff designed and maintain 15 ornamental gardens in the park, focusing on introducing native plants and pollinator-friendly species. The gardens complement each other in color and texture while extending seasonal interest through a greater range of bloom time. In addition, with significant volunteer help, we have planted tens of thousands of bulbs across open areas of the park.

Budget  $750,000.00
Category  Environment, General/Other Horticulture
Population Served General/Unspecified Adults
Program Short-Term Success 
We judge success by the observable increase in health and robust adaptability of the trees, shrubs, flowering plants and turf areas of the Park.
Program Long-Term Success  Our vision is an Esplanade that is a thriving, safe, accessible park where people come together to share, explore and enjoy nature and community.

Program Success Monitored By 

We improve the biological diversity and of the natural environment on the Charles River Esplanade. Our horticulture and stewardship staff the best management practices in land care to improve soil health, manage invasive plants, expand native plantings, and care for our urban tree canopy.

Our staff is the primary mode of monitoring our success of the program. Since 2012, we have employed a full-time horticulturist; beginning in 2017, we added a second full-time . Their skills are supplemented by an additional horticulturist during the season (March-November). Having these highly-trained individuals in the Park year-round allows us to see problems and issues early and adjust our approach accordingly.  
Examples of Program Success 
In 2016, during a severe drought period, the Park performed well. This is the product of proper maintenance, increased sustainable care practices and the focus over the last several years of proper plant choice: drought tolerant and native wherever possible.

Volunteer program

EA’s Volunteer program began in 2004. The EA Volunteer Program has been a great success and has won the Boston Cares Outstanding Community Partners Award in 2005, was one of 100 national winners of the REI Park Stewardship awards in 2010, and won a Fredi Shokof Community Service Award in 2015.
Volunteers make a significant and visible impact on the Esplanade helping keep the park beautiful, clean and safe for the estimated 3 million people who visit the park each year. In 2018, 1671 volunteers donated 4757 hours of their time and effort, equivalent to more than 2 full-time, year-round employees. The volunteers raked, painted benches, weeded garden beds and planted bulbs. They also helped 4876 yards of invasive plant species (almost 3 miles!), assisted in the restoration of the Patterned Behavior Mural, and removed 641 bags of litter.
Budget  --
Category  Environment, General/Other Environmental & Urban Beautification
Population Served General/Unspecified
Program Short-Term Success 
  • Consistent requests to volunteer in the park (we currently book all our available days for our March-November season).
  • Positive feedback from participants
  • High levels of returning volunteer organizations and individuals
Program Long-Term Success 
  • Consistent requests to volunteer in the park (we currently book all our available days for our March-November season).
  • Positive feedback from participants
  • High levels of returning volunteer organizations and individuals 
Program Success Monitored By  Success is monitored by the annual metrics our horticultural staff tracks for the Volunteer program: amount of invasive plants removed, number benches painted, bags of trash removed, and number of bulbs planted. We also judge success by the rate of returning volunteers.
Examples of Program Success  In 2018, 1671 volunteers donated 4757 hours of their time and effort, equivalent to more than 2 full-time, year-round employees. The volunteers raked, painted benches, weeded garden beds and planted bulbs. They also helped 4876 yards of invasive plant species (almost 3 miles!), assisted in the restoration of the Patterned Behavior Mural, and removed 641 bags of litter.

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

The City of Boston's Mayor and many other public leaders, are expressing support for healthier lifestyles and urging citizens to exercise more. Since its inception, EA has been offering free activities to the public to promote exercise and healthy lifestyles and a greater appreciation of the Esplanade as a great outdoor space.
We are faced with opportunities and challenges. First, we find that the local fitness clubs are eager to work with us to promote good health, so we have an abundance of support to provide professionally led classes. Our greatest challenge is to find the financial support to cover the cost of equipment and staff required to plan and coordinate the activities and partners. We continue to apply for grants from foundations and to seek corporate support for our programs.
An ongoing challenge we face is the upkeep of the grounds where programs are held. In order to address this problem, EA recruits around 2,000 volunteers each year to help with routine maintenance. We also raise funds for tree care and turf care and have added a second full-time horticulturist to our staff to monitor of the park's landscape and to make improvements to planting beds and grassy areas. We have established landscape standards and guidelines and  prioritized landscape projects.
We believe that if more people know about the park and its needs, about EA and our mission and about the opportunities that exist to use the wonderful resources of the Esplanade, greater opportunities will be created to increase support for the park and for our work. However, many people still don't know where the Esplanade is, or that there is a friends group working so actively in the Park. For this reason, we have continued to explore creative marketing campaigns, such as banners along the Esplanade, or posters in the kiosks along the paths. 


CEO/Executive Director Mr. Michael Nichols
CEO Term Start Nov 2017
CEO Email
CEO Experience

Michael J. Nichols, of Boston, joined the Esplanade Association in November of 2017 after three years at the Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy. In his first year with the Esplanade Association, he has led the creation of a new free music series on the Esplanade, , overseen the creation of a Tree Management and Succession Plan to assure the health and continuation of the park’s tree canopy, and shepherded the opening of the first-ever (and highly successful) beer garden in the park.

In his three years at the Rose Kennedy Greenway, the last 2.5 years serving as Chief of Staff, Michael was responsible for the Conservancy’s community and government affairs, external communications, and advancing strategic priorities. Under his leadership, the Conservancy negotiated a landmark public-private funding agreement, opened Boston’s first fully open-air beer garden, launched the organization’s signature young professional fundraising event, significantly grew earned revenue with innovative activities, and initiated numerous partnerships with other leading Boston institutions for in-park events.

Before The Greenway, Michael served as Research & Policy Director at the Boston City Council, coordinating legal and policy research efforts for the full 13-member Council while drafting several ordinances that became enacted into local and state law. Michael earlier served as Chief of Staff and Legal Counsel to two state representatives the Massachusetts House of Representatives, where he also drafted several bills that became law, led external relations efforts, and managed various , district and committee activities.

Michael has a long record of community engagement, having served on the University of Connecticut Board of Trustees, Mayor Menino’s ONEin3 Council (now SPARK Boston) for young professionals, and five years as President of the Audubon Circle Neighborhood Association in Boston. Michael currently serves as an appointee of Mayor Walsh to the Boston Zoning Commission and as a mentor in the Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay program. He is an admitted attorney in Massachusetts with a BA and JD from the University of Connecticut.

Co-CEO --
Co-CEO Term Start --
Co-CEO Email --
Co-CEO Experience --

Former CEOs and Terms

Name Start End
-- -- --

Senior Staff

Name Title Experience/Biography
-- -- --


Award Awarding Organization Year
Fredi Shonkof Community Service Award Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts 2015
Helmsman Award Community Boating , Inc. 2014
Theiss International River Prize (awarded to EA as a partner of Charles River Watershed Association) International River Foundation 2011
Park Stewardship Award REI 2010
Outstanding Community Partner Award Boston Cares 2005


Affiliation Year
-- --
Member of state association of nonprofits? No
Name of state association --

External Assessments and Accreditations

External Assessment or Accreditation Year
-- --


The Esplanade Association collaborates with numerous organizations to advocate for protection of and investment in urban green spaces. Partners include: Charles River Watershed Association, Charles River Conservancy, Emerald Necklace Conservancy, Livable Streets, Walk Boston, and many others. The Esplanade Association also partners with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation to make improvements to the park and to plan major restoration of important park features and amenities. We also work with numerous local businesses and fitness clubs to offer a series of health-promoting activities for free at the park each summer.

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

The Esplanade Association has completed on a long-term plan, Esplanade 2020, outlining significant improvements to the Esplanade. This required research and analysis of park programming, economic impact studies, prioritization of projects, fundraising for capital improvements, project planning and design, public meetings, agency approvals and advocacy. The organization's staff is operating at more than full capacity; however, EA was able to recruit many professional volunteers to serve on project planning committees and to provide expertise in project areas such as urban design, transportation engineering, landscape architecture and design, horticulture, environmental sciences related to water, and much more. 

Foundation Comments


Staff Information

Number of Full Time Staff 7
Number of Part Time Staff 3
Number of Volunteers 2,000
Number of Contract Staff 0
Staff Retention Rate % 86%

Staff Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 0
Caucasian: 7
Hispanic/Latino: 0
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 0
Other (if specified): --
Gender Female: 4
Male: 3
Not Specified 0

Plans & Policies

Organization has Fundraising Plan? Yes
Organization has Strategic Plan? Yes
Years Strategic Plan Considers 10
Management Succession Plan No
Business Continuity of Operations Plan No
Organization Policies And Procedures Yes
Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistle Blower Policy Yes
Document Destruction Policy No
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy Yes
State Charitable Solicitations Permit --
State Registration --

Risk Management Provisions


Reporting and Evaluations

Management Reports to Board? Yes
CEO Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually
Senior Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually
Non Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually


Board Chair Ms. Alexi Conine
Board Chair Company Affiliation Retired
Board Chair Term Jan 2017 - Dec 2020
Board Co-Chair --
Board Co-Chair Company Affiliation --
Board Co-Chair Term -

Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
Mr. Terence K Ankner The Law Offices of Partridge, Ankner & Horstmann, LLP --
Mr. Harvey Beker Retired Voting
Mr. Fritz Casselman Public Health Consultant --
Ms. Alexi Conine Retired Voting
Ms. Jessica Crimmins Santander Voting
Ms. Audrey Foster Retired Voting
Mr. James Foster Community Volunteer Voting
Ms. Jody Gill Retired Voting
Mr Robert Hedges - None - Voting
Mr. Tom Lewis - None - Voting
Ms. Jeryl Oristaglio Retired Voting
Mr. Frank Panayotou UBS Voting
Mr. Anthony Pangaro Millennium Partners --
Ms. Joan Patton J.P. Marvel Investments Voting
Ms. Margaret Pokorny Retired --
Ms. Carolina Save Mintz Levin Voting
Ms. Alicia Towns Franken Community Volunteer Voting
Ms. Emi Winterer Retired Voting

Constituent Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Youth Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Advisory Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Board Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 1
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 1
Caucasian: 16
Hispanic/Latino: 0
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 0
Other (if specified): --
Gender Female: 10
Male: 8
Not Specified 0

Board Information

Board Term Lengths 3
Board Term Limits 3
Board Meeting Attendance % 80%
Written Board Selection Criteria Under Development
Written Conflict Of Interest Policy Yes
Percentage of Monetary Contributions 100%
Percentage of In-Kind Contributions 100%
Constituency Includes Client Representation No

Standing Committees

  • Board Governance
  • Development / Fund Development / Fund Raising / Grant Writing / Major Gifts
  • Executive
  • Finance
  • Project Oversight

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments


Foundation Comments



Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2017 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2016 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2015 (%)

Prior Three Years Total Revenue and Expense Totals

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
Total Revenue $1,482,117 $1,468,908 $1,203,780
Total Expenses $1,432,381 $1,185,321 $874,090

Prior Three Years Revenue Sources

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
-- -- --
Government Contributions $0 $0 $0
    Federal -- -- --
    State -- -- --
    Local -- -- --
    Unspecified -- -- --
Individual Contributions $640,433 $650,260 $597,799
Indirect Public Support -- -- --
Earned Revenue -- -- --
Investment Income, Net of Losses $2,187 $1,983 $519
Membership Dues -- -- --
Special Events $839,497 $816,665 $605,462
Revenue In-Kind -- -- --
Other -- -- --

Prior Three Years Expense Allocations

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
Program Expense $942,741 $790,980 $516,283
Administration Expense $243,680 $161,657 $185,254
Fundraising Expense $245,960 $232,684 $172,553
Payments to Affiliates -- -- --
Total Revenue/Total Expenses 1.03 1.24 1.38
Program Expense/Total Expenses 66% 67% 59%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue 17% 16% 14%

Prior Three Years Assets and Liabilities

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
Total Assets $1,557,488 $1,492,402 $1,206,812
Current Assets $1,522,665 $1,450,380 $1,182,614
Long-Term Liabilities $0 $0 $0
Current Liabilities $126,547 $111,197 $109,194
Total Net Assets $1,430,941 $1,381,205 $1,097,618

Prior Three Years Top Three Funding Sources

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
1st (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
2nd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
3rd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --

Financial Planning

Endowment Value --
Spending Policy --
Percentage(If selected) --
Credit Line No
Reserve Fund Yes
How many months does reserve cover? 9.00

Capital Campaign

Are you currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Capital Campaign Purpose --
Campaign Goal --
Capital Campaign Dates -
Capital Campaign Raised-to-Date Amount --
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? --

Short Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities 12.03 13.04 10.83

Long Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
Long-term Liabilities/Total Assets 0% 0% 0%

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

The organization's budget includes capital expenses, such as funds for tree pruning, athletic fields maintenance, planning and design, project materials and equipment as well as the day to day operating expenses, such as salaries and rent.

Foundation Comments

Financial summary data in the charts and graphs above are per the organization's audited financials. Contributions from foundations and corporations are listed under individuals as the breakout was not available.
Please note, this organization changed its fiscal year from July 1 - June 30 to a Jan. 1 - Dec. 31 fiscal year in 2014. As such, the 2014 990 posted above covers a 6 month period (July 1, 2014 - Dec. 31, 2014). 


Other Documents

No Other Documents currently available.


The Impact tab is a section on the Giving Common added in October 2013; as such the majority of nonprofits have not yet had the chance to complete this voluntary section. The purpose of the Impact section is to ask five deceptively simple questions that require reflection and promote communication about what really matters – results. The goal is to encourage strategic thinking about how a nonprofit will achieve its goals. The following Impact questions are being completed by nonprofits slowly, thoughtfully and at the right time for their respective organizations to ensure the most accurate information possible.

1. What is your organization aiming to accomplish?

A thriving, safe, accessible park where people come together to share, explore and enjoy nature, community and healthy lifestyles. This means:

  • Healthy trees, turf and shrubs.
  • Safe pathways.
  • Inviting gathering places.
  • Sustainable horticulture practices.
  • Habitat restoration.
  • A public engaged in stewardship and advocacy.
  • Restored and maintained structures.
  • Amenities and activities accessible to all.
  • Respect for the original design and purpose of the park while acknowledging changing patterns of use and need.

2. What are your strategies for making this happen?

The Esplanade Association is a nonprofit organization that works to revitalize and enhance the Charles River Esplanade, sustain its natural green space, and build community in the park by providing educational, cultural, and recreational programs for everyone. Working in collaboration with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, the Esplanade Association is dedicated to improving the experiences of the millions of visitors who enjoy Boston’s iconic riverside park. We achieve this through:

  • Ecological Restoration & Stewardship. We improve the biological diversity and the beauty of the natural environment on the Charles River Esplanade. Our horticulture and stewardship staff utilizes the best management practices in land care to improve soil health, manage invasive plants, expand native plantings, and care for our urban tree canopy. Since 2012, we have developed and implemented a compost program, planted hundreds of native perennials, shrubs, and trees, and created new initiatives to raise awareness about conservation and restoration. We also manage environmental threats to increase the health and resiliency of the Charles River Esplanade. In 2015, the Esplanade became a certified wildlife habitat through the National Wildlife Federation.
  • Community Engagement & Education. The Esplanade Association offers a variety of free and inclusive programming, events, and volunteer opportunities to the greater-Boston community to engage people’s minds and bodies on the Esplanade. Every year, the Esplanade Association brings thousands of children, students, and families to the Park for free exercise classes, day camps, and educational events. Our Volunteer Program invites conscientious citizens to take part in keeping the Park beautiful and healthy while educating them about the Park’s history and critical role in this urban landscape.
  • Advocacy. We advocate on behalf of the Park to ensure that the land and the natural environment are protected for generations to come partnering and working with donors, legislators, and other organizations.
  • Investment. Through capital projects and funding campaigns, we restore and revitalize structures and landscapes, reactivating underutilized and fragile parts of the Park.

3. What are your organization’s capabilities for doing this?

Both our long experience over almost two decades provides the organization with a strong basis for our accomplishments. A dedicated staff and Board are also key.

Our 18-person Board provides a wide variety of expertise (financial, marketing, horticulture, arts and culture) and relevant grassroots and professional experience (lawyers, landscape design, fundraising, capital project management, neighborhood advocacy). Most Board members have been involved in EA for many years (we have a 3 term maximum, with a return possible after 1 year), including the organization's founder who is, once again, on the Board. Board Committees manage Board recruitment and provide oversight of fiscal policies and planning/project selection. The Board shares the enthusiasm of the staff and has helped crate the strategy that has resulted in a financially stable and programmatically effective organization.

The staff has evolved to include expertise in a variety of areas. Our Executive Director has a broad background in advocacy, public outreach, parks and politics. We also currently employ 2 full-time horticulturists (and 2 seasonal horticulturists) to oversee our commitment to the health of the trees, shrubs and lawns in the park and a project manager to oversee the various projects in the park, both capital and horticultural. In addition, we have dedicated, full-time staff people who oversee our award-winning Volunteer Program, our events/social media presence/outreach, and our fundraising.

4. How will your organization know if you are making progress?

Each year we track a number of metrics (trees pruned, trees planted, hazardous/failing trees removed, trees treated with soil amendments, gallons of compost tea brewed and applied to plants throughout the park, amount of invasive plants removed, number of perennials planted, number of shrubs planted, number of bulbs planted, number of volunteers we host, volunteer hours provided, number of children hosted at our free field day for urban camps, number of camps coming to the field days, number of people attending our free fitness classes, number of people attending our free outdoor music events, and number of runners entering our 5K).

In addition, we meet regularly with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, the state organization that manages the park, to share priorities and progress updates in the park. The regularity of these meetings and the degree of coordination reflect the state's positive view of the proven results and progress EA has made in helping to improve the park.

Our vocal membership also provides constant feedback on our progress--and what our next priorities should be.

5. What have and haven’t you accomplished so far?

Since 2001, EA has worked to improve the park and the park user’s experience by providing safe, attractive opportunities to enjoy healthy activities in the City:

  • Capital Projects: We have undertaken numerous capital projects to improve key locations in the park important for outdoor enjoyment: the Hatch Shell Oval lawn; the Teddy Ebersol’s Red Sox Fields; the Lotta fountain; the Eliot Memorial; and an outdoor exercise equipment area. We also built two children’s play areas and added a mural on a graffiti-prone park wall.
  • Programming: Each summer, we bring 700-800 children from urban day camps to the park for a day of active fun (free play, fishing, soccer, etc.) and host 5000 adults of all fitness levels for exercise classes (Zumba, yoga, boot camp and running). We also provide a series of free tours of the park (park history, horticulture, photography, and wildlife. All our programs are free.
  • Horticulture: We employ our own professional horticulturists to maintain gardens, turf and trees. The Esplanade is 1 of only 2 public parks in Boston that is managed without the use of pesticides, herbicides, synthetic fertilizers, or other unsustainable practices. With the help of volunteers, we carry out an aggressive invasive plant management program removing Phragmites, Japanese knotweed and other invasive plants. Our staff also harvests seeds from native plants established in the park, propagate seedlings and then plants the mature plants in the park. Our staff oversees the tree care (pruning, soil improvements, removal and planting) for the 1700 trees. We also run an award-winning Volunteer Program bringing 1600-2000 volunteers to the park to help with maintenance activities.
  • Advocacy: We recently designed and installed new welcome kiosks at six entrances to the park (3 more to be added this year), partnered to bring a wildly-popular beer garden the park for the first time and advocated for the Fanny Appleton Pedestrian Bridge (which connects the Longfellow Bridge and the Esplanade), the only fully Americans with Disability Act-compliant bridge in the entire Charles River Basin. 
Please see for a more complete list of our accomplishments.

Our priorities in the near term (1-2 years) include:

  • Renovation and alterations accessibility at the 20-year old Stoneman Playground.
  • Expansion of our program offerings to include more winter activities.
  • Continued outreach to traditionally underserved populations.
  • Improvements to pathways (surface, markings and signage) to increase bicycle-pedestrian safety.

Our longer-term (2-5 years) priorities include:

  • Full implementation of our Tree Management and Succession Plan to assure a robust tree canopy.
  • Revitalization of the former Lee Pool area (recently demolished after being closed for over 20 years).