‘Christine is Always Ready for a Fight’ — Franklin Park Boosters Fete Longtime Park Advocate Christine Poff

Christine Poff, former longtime executive director of the Franklin Park Coalition, stops for a photo with board members during a celebration of her tenure on Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016 at Hibernian Hall in Dudley Square.

Chris Helms

Christine Poff, former longtime executive director of the Franklin Park Coalition, stops for a photo with board members during a celebration of her tenure on Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016 at Hibernian Hall in Dudley Square.

More than 100 people turned out Wednesday to honor the 10-year tenure of JP’s Christine Poff as executive director of the Franklin Park Coalition.

Poff stepped down from her longtime post in the fall, but Wednesday’s party marked a homecoming as a roomful of folks who love the city’s largest park celebrated her energy and accomplishments.

“She’s done incredible work as head of the Franklin Park Coalition,” said Mayor Marty Walsh, who brought with him as a gift a reproduction historical map of the mammoth park that connects JP, Roxbury and Dorchester.

Walsh and others cataloged Poff’s series of accomplishments, ranging from reinvigorating youth programs to pushing City Hall to invest in Franklin Park. She saw to the re-invigoration of the Elma Lewis Playhouse in the Park concerts and performances and revived the Kite & Bike Festival, among many other efforts.

“She gives a real face to advocacy for the park,” said Matt O’Malley, JP’s district city councilor, in remarks to the people assembled at Hibernian Hall in Dudley Square.

Poff’s replacement, Anita Morson-Matra, termed Poff a “master multi-tasker.”

“It’s an honor to have such a gift in Christine,” said Moron-Matra. “She really is a rare gem.”

That was an opinion shared by John Linehan, president and CEO of Zoo New England. He and Poff worked closely as the Franklin Park Zoo sits on the eastern side of the sprawling park.

“She is the most tireless worker,” said Linehan. “She forever has great ideas and follows through on them. She’s been a great partner [with the Zoo.] I’ll miss her.”

File photo: Christine Poff, right, enjoys Franklin Park with a Franklin Park Coalition board member.

Chris Helms

File photo: Christine Poff, right, enjoys Franklin Park with a Franklin Park Coalition board member.

Leslie Moore, a Franklin Park Coalition board member, recalled Poff’s pugnacity when it came to defending the park’s interests.

“Christine is always ready for a fight,” Moore told the crowd, which roared with applause. “She may not be excited about the fight but she is willing to take them on…Christine has been our fearless leader, dragging us into new places.”

Poff remains active in helping around the park.

“It has been a really meaningful job,” Poff told the room. “It’s just so lovely to see all of you, because you’re my people and I miss my people.”

Anita Morson-Matra, executive director of the Franklin Park Coalition, pauses for a photo with Mayor Marty Walsh during a celebration of her predecessor's tenure. Taken Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016 at Hibernian Hall in Dudley Square.

Chris Helms

Anita Morson-Matra, executive director of the Franklin Park Coalition, pauses for a photo with Mayor Marty Walsh during a celebration of her predecessor’s tenure. Taken Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016 at Hibernian Hall in Dudley Square.

  • Richard Heath

    A REALLY nice story. It’s ALWAYS good to get your props when you’re still above ground. A decade is along time for a community-based director like Christine to work; especially in Franklin Park which has had competing power sharing, user groups and definitions erupt in the past 30 years. Her genius – aside from being able to ride a bike thru Egleston Square- was to balance all those balls and still step down on her own terms, Franklin Park has been living and breathing since it largely opened in 1889 and it will be there long after it will no longer need a Franklin Park Coalition. But in her decade of service, Christine knew the magic of Franklin Park more than most. Her successor now needs to walk the park and find that magic… just like she did . Thanks, Christine

  • Malena

    I have known Christine for many years as a neighbor and a friend. Her accomplishments for the Franklin Park Coalition are especially noteworthy because her position was only funded as part-time for many years. She truly created a Coalition of people from each side of the park, not a small feat in a place like Boston. Christine’s sincerity, effervescence and overall skills as an organizer and fundraiser are extraordinary. Thank you Christine for all that you have done. Hail to the new director, Ms. Morson-Matra. The Franklin Park Coalition will continue to need our support to keep one of the jewels of the necklace as shiny as the rest.