Alia Hamada Forrest is the Director of Business Strategy for the Mayor's Office of Economic Opportunity and Inclusion, which means she leads a team of industry managers who support the work of attracting new businesses, retaining and growing existing businesses, and engaging the Boston business community to help build a resilient and vibrant City that centers people and creates opportunities to build generational wealth for all communities. Alia was also the former Cannabis Business Manager in the department, where she facilitated the strengthening of existing and launch of new cannabis businesses in Boston. She identified business needs and provided one-on-one assistance for a wide diversity of cannabis entrepreneurs, through all stages of business development. She also created and managed the Cannabis Equity Applicant Technical Assistance Program in its first year of existence.
Before working at the City, Alia spent over five years leading Roslindale Village Main Street as the Executive Director. She was instrumental in the development of the Birch Street tactical plaza, the activation of the Roslindale Substation, and the implementation of numerous community events including the RVMS Farmers Market and Holiday Market to help create a vibrant commercial district.
Originally from Phoenix, Arizona, Alia came to Boston in 2003 and is a graduate at both Emerson College and Lesley University. She has now spent nearly two decades of her life in the City. She found her way to New England because both her parents are adventurers — her mom is from Brookline, MA, and her dad was from Cairo, Egypt. Alia is also an AmeriCorps Massachusetts Promise Fellow alum who served at 826 Boston in Roxbury. Additionally, she served on the Board of Directors of the Boston Main Streets Foundation, where she helped fund projects and programs that supported small businesses across all of Boston’s neighborhoods. Alia has a Master’s of Fine Arts in Creative Writing along with 10 years working in the nonprofit sector in various roles of program management, community engagement, and economic development. She has a passion for arts and culture, creative placemaking, and supporting entrepreneurs. Alia lives in Hyde Park with her husband and their two young children.