Imari Paris Jeffries

Executive Director of EMBRACE Boston

Imari K. Paris Jeffries is CEO and President of Embrace Boston where he is leading a citywide racial equity movement through The Embrace memorial, the National Embrace Center, and arts and culture centered community organizing efforts. 

In 2020 Imari joined Embrace Boston, a privately funded non-profit working closely with the City of Boston and The Boston Foundation, to dismantle structural racism through their work at the intersection of arts and culture, community, and research and policy.   By “reimagining what’s possible” Embrace Boston will cultivate the conditions necessary to effect positive, meaningful change to forge a city that leads in empathy, equity, and opportunity.

One of Embrace Boston’s initiatives includes the creation of a living memorial honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King and their life in Boston.  Imari successfully raised $20 million to build the Embrace monument which was unveiled in January 2023 ahead of the national holiday honoring the civil rights icon and his wife. The Embrace is the first major monument built on Boston Common in more than 30 years.

In addition to the memorial, Embrace Boston has expanded its initiatives to include an annual Ideas Festival and the development of The National Embrace Center, a public cultural hub and anchor for the Black community to include exhibitions and workspace and commercial spaces for lease by Black-owned eateries and entrepreneurs.

When Imari joined Embrace Boston, he immediately began to deliver on his goals by gifting $1 million to Twelfth Baptist Church, the largest gift they ever received.  That donation helped to further the church’s mission in affordable housing, speaker programs, and feeding the hungry.  

Imari has a wealth of experience in the nonprofit management, racial equity, community activism, education reform, and social justice sectors and currently serves as a trustee of the University of Massachusetts System in addition to their Global Board of Regents.  Previously, he was the executive director of Parenting Journey, CEO of the Italian Home for Children, COO of Jumpstart, interim CEO of Boston Rising, and Executive Director of Friends of the Children-Boston.  Mr. Paris Jeffries has supplemented his work with volunteer service on several boards including the Huntington Theatre, Boston Ballet, Mass Budget and Policy and Mass Humanities.  

He was recently named one of Boston’s Most Influential Bostonians by Boston Magazine and the Boston Business Journal’s Power 50.  A three-time graduate of UMass Boston, Paris Jeffries recently received his Ph.D. through UMass Boston’s Higher Education Program. He is also an Army veteran, serving from 1991 to 1996.