Elyse Cherry ’75
Entrepreneur, Financing & Social Equity Activist
Elyse Cherry is chief executive officer of Boston Community Capital (BCC), a nonprofit community-development institution that focuses on building healthy communities where low-income people live and work. As a member of BCC’s original board of directors, Cherry helped found the organization in 1984, and she has been integrally involved in its development and growth from a start-up to a national model that has invested more than $1 billion in underserved communities.
Cherry has authored opinion pieces for major publications and served on the boards of directors of more than a dozen privately held companies. She is a past chair of the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and she chaired the board of Mass Equality during that organization’s historic fight for marriage equality.
Recognized for her work promoting LGBTQ concerns in business and the workplace, the Financial Times named Cherry one of the Top 100 OUTstanding LGBTQ Executives in the world. She has received numerous awards, including being named a Solar Champion of Change by the White House in 2014 for her pioneering efforts to bring the benefits of solar energy to low-income communities.
Cherry is a frequent panelist and speaker at national conferences. In September 2016, she gave a TEDx talk entitled “Come Out, Come Out Wherever You Are!” in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Cherry is also an attorney and former partner at the law firm Hale and Dorr, where her practice focused on commercial real estate finance and development. She began her career as a VISTA volunteer in East Tennessee.
At Wellesley, Cherry studied political science, and she earned her J.D. at Northeastern University School of Law. She is an avid traveler, particularly in the developing world.