Convention Center Authority Chief Gibbons Stepping Down

Photo: Getty Images

BOSTON (State House News Service— Massachusetts Convention Center Authority Executive Director David Gibbons is stepping down from his position running the agency, shortly after a series of apparent missteps with its board.

"The Massachusetts Convention Center Authority Board and Executive Director David Gibbons have mutually agreed that a change in leadership would be best at this time for the future of the Authority," MCCA Board Chair Emme Handy said in a statement sent to the News Service.

Gibbons is resigning effective Dec. 1. General Manager Diana DiAntonio will take the top spot while the board searches for an interim executive director, and eventually a replacement.

Gibbons will be leaving his post over a year before his three-year contract is set to end. He began in the job in 2015 under then-nascent Gov. Charlie Baker, and his latest term would have expired in December 2024. Gibbons made $316,000 in 2022.

The convention center authority came under fire earlier this year after employees claimed they were racially discriminated against, and a report found the agency fell short on diversity and inclusion efforts.

An investigation into the claims of racial discrimination by Boston law firm Prince Lobel Tye found that Black and Hispanic employees disproportionately worked in the lower rungs of the agency.

"The Authority’s record of excellence in events and in its recent financial performance has not been matched by a sustained focus or commitment to diversity and inclusion for employees and vendors," the report, dated Oct. 13, says. "Since 2019, there has not been a Black or Hispanic employee in a senior leadership role. Further, management has not made it a priority to address these concerning demographic trends, either through the development of employees from underrepresented groups or diversifying/expanding its recruiting efforts."

Gov. Maura Healey has made equity and diversity a priority, and in August (after allegations of discrimination had come out) replaced more than half of the MCCA board members with her own appointees. Handy is among Healey's new appointments to the board.

"During this transition to new leadership, the Board will continue its critical work to foster diversity, equity and inclusion at the MCCA," the chair said in her statement.

The most recent controversy came last week, when the board pulled back from choosing a developer Gibbons' team recommended for a piece of state-owned land in South Boston, and Handy alleged that the process of choosing the developer had been opaque.

The drama that unfolded last week -- which included one developer publicly claiming it had won a bid to develop the property, only for the board to delay a vote on the contract -- had been an extension of a situation that unfolded last spring.

In April, the MCCA canceled and rejected controversial redevelopment proposals for the six-plus acres across the street from the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, and South Boston politicians claimed agency officials used "false pretenses" to craft the plans.

The incident led to the authority re-bidding the project this summer, only for more controversy to follow.

At their board meeting last Thursday, Handy pushed back against the selection committee, who were appointed by Gibbons, because of concerns over "the depth of information provided to the board."

"The Board has an expansive and positive vision for the Authority and is committed to launching a transparent and inclusive search to identify the next permanent Executive Director who will share that vision and bring it to life," Handy said in her Tuesday statement on Gibbons' departure.

She added, "The Board Chair extends her appreciation to David for his dedicated service to the MCCA."

An MCCA spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment from Gibbons.

Written by Sam Drysdale/SHNS

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