Our main drive in Boston is to support a healthy, thriving, innovative community by providing resources, connecting communities to technology, and convening people to have conversations around civic innovation. District Hall, a first-of-its-kind dedicated civic space and public hub in Boston’s Seaport, provides gatherings that trigger creativity, inspire innovations, catalyze action, and create the partnerships that drive Greater Boston’s innovators. District Hall is a program of the Venture Café Foundation, a nonprofit that shares our believe that innovation is for everyone.
This summer, we’re proud to support and welcome a new director to District Hall, Daniel Vidaña. Vidaña brings to District Hall more than 25 years of experience merging leadership, creativity, and business insight with solid nonprofit, startup, and corporate experience. He has held senior executive operations and supply chain roles for market leaders such as Apple Inc., Universal Electronics, VeriFone and e-commerce marketplaces Shari’s Berries, ProFlowers, and more during periods of high growth. In 2010 he founded and scaled the November Nights Elite College Soccer Showcase, a youth soccer initiative focused on connecting scholar-athletes with college scouts. He has a true passion for engaging diverse entrepreneurial communities with mutual interests in technology, youth sports, and social innovation.
Most recently, he spent his time working in an operational role as vice president at the local children’s nonprofit Cradles to Crayons and jumped at the opportunity to get back into the startup community. At District Hall, he oversees vision and strategy, with focus on making the space more accessible to those across Greater Boston.
“The main focus right now is working to uncover who’s in our community and really understanding that, first and foremost,” he says. “From there, find a strategy that allows us to do more community building and have our team really focus on programming efforts that cater to the innovators, so they look to District Hall as a place to not only inspire them to create a vision for their idea but then execute on that idea.”
To start, it’s all about the client experience. Vidaña and his team plan to meet with Boston’s innovation stakeholders to narrow in on what District Hall does well. He’s also working to reveal and drive what it is the community needs most from a public civic innovation space and programming — for all who want to use District Hall, ensuring proper accessibility and then measuring that impact.
“Who wants to use this space that we haven’t built a situation for? We’re figuring out how we can branch out with great programming that can attract more startups and more people,” he says, “adding to the ecosystem that’s already here but also making sure our place is accessible to more than just the community that lives within the Seaport.”
District Hall was founded through a unique public-private partnership in response to the City of Boston’s call for a “living room” for the Seaport community. By strategically clustering companies, developing new housing models, and building public infrastructure, this effort fosters a lively, 24/7 community full of new ideas and creativity. As a doer who loves to build things, Vidaña’s unique work experience in assessing gaps, scaling companies at rapid growth, and building long lasting partnerships will feed directly into the vision — and bolster the growth — of District Hall.
Of his favorite local innovators, Vidaña gives a shout out to WS Development, a company he says has focused on finding small immigrant-owned businesses and bringing them to the Seaport area to thrive. With WS Development and South Boston officials, he plans to figure out how District Hall can build more community within Seaport — and we’re glad to join him in this effort as we continue to utilize District Hall as both a meeting and event space.
”We have a responsibility to ensure that the City of Boston is with us and that the rest of the community has a say in what we’re doing,” he adds. “We can’t forget about where we’re at. We need to understand what our community is looking for out of a space like this, especially because it’s a public space — one of the only that may exist in this area for a while.”