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City Manager: Reflections on my tenure, and announcing an updated strategic plan

For Immediate Release: 8/23/2023 2:12 pm

It’s hard to believe that more than a year has passed since I was first appointed Acting City Manager in June of 2022. It feels like just yesterday that I marched down Main Street in the Tercentennial Parade with my wife and young son as we celebrated Worcester’s first 300 years and where the pride and diversity of our city were on full display.

Seeing that collective spirit is something that has remained with me as I was sworn in as permanent City Manager in January, and we began to chart the city’s future together. I am proud of what we have since accomplished through collaboration and innovation.

Over the last year, we have implemented new initiatives that reflect my administration’s commitment to constituent services and community development across the city, including the launch of Worcester 311, financial relief and assistance to families experiencing housing and food insecurity, an expanded Quality of Life team and reactivation of the City Manager’s Clean Team, major roadway and infrastructure improvements, and thousands of new housing units under construction guided by our new Housing Strategy.

Each of these endeavors is in response to the needs and priorities of the community. Input from members of the public with lived experience is invaluable, and since my series of listening sessions across each City Council district where residents shared their vision for Worcester, members of my administration and I have continued to attend neighborhood and business association meetings to engage directly with our most important stakeholders: you.

While we’ve achieved a lot, we still have work to do. Residents face challenges related to mobility and transportation, behavioral health, affordable housing, homelessness, and equitable access. These local issues are exacerbated at the state, national, and global levels by inflation, supply chain issues, climate change, conflict, and eroding human rights. But together, I know that we are up to the task.

There are times that we will feel overwhelmed and that every challenge we need to address is an immediate, simultaneous priority. We may not always agree on the best approach, but it is my administration’s mission to serve you and balance the needs and interests of the entire community. We are not here to hinder or stall progress, but to empower it.

As the adage goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” While we don’t need another slogan comparing Worcester to a European city, the message behind that saying holds true. Worcester is in a unique and exciting position to pave a new path forward and boldly meet challenges head on. But lasting and transformative change doesn’t happen overnight.

Sustainable progress requires a plan, guided by a mission, vision, and goals. I am pleased to announce that my administration is updating the city’s Strategic Plan to guide Worcester’s path over the next several years. I was proud to co-author the existing Strategic Plan that seeks to ensure a better quality of life for all, and now it is time to adapt to the needs and circumstances of the current moment.

We will begin with a revised framework guided by resident feedback, organizational health, and immediate priorities such as efficiency and equity all rooted in our core value system.

We have already made great progress on Worcester Now | Next, the Urban Forestry Master Plan, the Green Worcester Sustainability and Resilience Strategic Plan, and the Worcester Mobility Action Plan. Furthermore, in addition to our Housing Strategy, my administration developed and announced a plan for creating a more effective Department of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. Each plan is built upon the same values, and I am eager to apply those fundamental principles to our overarching strategic framework so that we can continue to lead with integrity and inclusion.

The experiences and encounters I’ve had in the first 14 months as City Manager will inform and shape our updated strategic plan as we continue our work to become the nation’s most vibrant mid-sized city. It will also entail a business-like approach, with objectives and key performance indicators to keep us on track. The plan’s aim is to make Worcester a better place for those who live, work, and own property here today, and for future generations to come.

Over the past several weeks, I have had the pleasure of meeting with several groups of Worcester youth, including the Worcester Youth Leadership Institute, Worcester Youth Behavioral Health Pathway Program, WooServes, and the Youth Council. The future of our city is in great hands, but in the meantime, we are tasked with bridging the present to that future in a sustainable and strategic way.

I am profoundly amazed by the engagement I see among residents and across all sectors and industries as we react to the issues around us and strive to be conduits of change for a better Worcester. I look forward to sustaining that engagement and matching that energy so that we can turn the challenges we face as a city into hope and opportunity through innovative, people-centered solutions.

Together, we are all Worcester. Todos somos Worcester.

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