Longtime civic leader Rosanne Foley takes charge in Fields Corner

Rosanne FoleyRosanne FoleyFields Corner is about to get a shot in the arm from one of its most active and avid supporters: Rosanne Foley.

A Dorchester resident since 1986, but making up for lost time ever since, Foley has been involved in some aspect of the Dorchester community for years. She is eager to use her new position as the Fields Corner Main Streets executive director to continue her advocacy work.

“I try to make it about what the community wants and just facilitate what they want to happen,” Foley said. For starters, that will be sprucing up the neighborhood, helping to fill vacant storefronts, improving walk-ability and bike-ability, and a whole lot more. Even, Foley hopes, a Hubway station or two.

Twelve years ago, Foley co-founded the Dorchester Arts Collaborative 12 years ago alongside Joyce Linehan, who now serves as Mayor Marty Walsh’s chief of policy.

“I’m really interested in different ways to inject art into your day,” said Foley. Ideally, that can be done using a mix of temporary art exhibits, pop-up stores, painted electrical boxes, and more permanent art fixtures to boost local artists as well as the community’s appetite for art. She has been involved with the public art project currently in the works for Town Field, now in the process of selecting finalists to present projects to the community for selection.

A self-described social media maven, Foley also hopes to incorporate social media and the Internet into her outreach with local businesses, as she has done in the past for the Codman Square Health Center, MyDorchester.org, and Uphams Corner Main Street. That outreach would include helping businesses set up websites and create Facebook and Twitter accounts to interact with potential customers.

“It got me firmly set in the belief that small business can benefit with the use of the Internet,” said Foley. “We need to set up websites so people know how great these businesses are. There’s so much interesting and positive stuff going on that no one knows about. I want to figure out a way to especially get small businesses in the corner to share that.”

Beyond just assisting small businesses, Foley said she aims to help the spectrum of businesses in the area, from small, to local, to chains.

“I want everyone to be successful,” she said. That will also involve sprucing up the look of the district, including working with businesses to remove bars from their windows and improving the looks of storefronts and signage. Foley also plans to collaborate with the newly re-established Fields Corner Civic Association whenever possible.

The Fields Corner Main Streets organization is one of the city’s 20 Main Streets groups created by the city to promote businesses within Boston’s distinct neighborhoods. Like her neighbor to the northwest, the Bowdoin-Geneva Main Street, which also recently installed a new executive director, Foley is looking to tap into the brain trust of the six other Main Streets in the neighborhood.

“It’s all about collaboration and reaching out to all the other Dorchester and Mattapan Main Streets,” Foley said. “There’s six of us here, we’re all doing something.”

Since moving to Dorchester in 1986, Foley has been involved with an array of organizations both in the neighborhood and the city, including the Boston Police Department, Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation, the Dorchester Avenue Zoning Advisory Group, and the Metropolitan Beaches Commission. Now as executive director, Foley admitted that she will have to cut back from some of her volunteer obligations, but ultimately, it’s all worth it.

“You can make a difference here in Dorchester. The people here are in it for the long haul.”