Reflecting on her first year in office, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu thanked the leaders who signed up to take on Boston’s biggest challenges during her State of the City address.
“I knew my first and most important job as mayor was to build the team that Boston deserves.”
She highlighted several cabinet members who are Boston natives who know the communities impacted by their work.
“The young man who started as a lifeguard in our community centers, now oversees them as our Chief of Human Services: José Massó.
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The school lunch lady’s daughter, who found her calling as a teacher, then launched a nationally recognized high school in Dorchester, is now our Boston Public Schools Superintendent: Mary Skipper.
The boy from Roxbury who wanted to serve and protect, who—against all odds, and over nearly three decades—rose through every level of leadership at the Boston Police Department, is now our Boston Police Commissioner: Michael Cox.
The girl who watched her refugee parents wash dishes at restaurants so their kids could lead a better life—now leads our efforts to ensure that all workers, no matter where they were born or what language they speak, have health, safety, and dignity on the job, as our new Chief of Worker Empowerment: Trinh Nguyen.
The toddler who took his very first steps in City Hall daycare, grew up to hold city leaders accountable for vast racial disparities in city contracting as President and CEO of the Black Economic Council of MA, and is now our Chief of Economic Opportunity & Inclusion: Segun Idowu.”
Mariangely Solis Cervera, was named chief of equity and Inclusion one year ago this month. She is charged with ensuring that work across city departments is equitable and connected to the energy and voices of Boston residents across every neighborhood.
On the wall near her desk, she proudly displays her university graduation sashes—one says "First Generation;" the other has Pride colors next to artwork of Chichen Itza.
“These are identities I bring to work every day,” said Solis Cervera, who is a queer woman, proud daughter of a Mexican mother and Puerto Rican father and was the first in her family to graduate with a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree.
“I come from a family that from a very young age told me ‘Si caben cinco, caben seis.’ It's this belief that if you can fit five people, you could always fit six.
"It's not only about including more people, it's also about thinking internally and what do we have to do differently?” she added.
Out of 35 cabinet positions, 13 are Black, 13 are white, 6 are Hispanic and 3 are Asian.
Solis Cervera says not only are the city’s department heads and senior advisors racially and culturally diverse, but they also bring a broad range of life experiences to the table.
“Not only does that help us make better decisions, stronger decisions. It also creates an opportunity for people who have never felt like they belonged or like they were a part of the larger structure of a city to at least question, oh, I can do this too.”
Looking forward to the goals set by city leaders, she says the work is just beginning.
“We're laying the foundation to ensure that we are building systems-level changes. So that 25 years from now, the city of Boston, everyone feels that this is a city for everyone.”