Author: Samuel M. Gebru, Cambridge Community Center Board Member
The Cambridge Community Center (CCC) hosted its first Cambridge Talks event on June 29 featuring Richard C. Rossi, the City Manager of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Mr. Rossi has served the people of Cambridge in various roles for over four decades and is retiring this year. He spent these past three years as the city’s chief executive officer.
I approached CCC Executive Director Darrin Korte two months ago suggesting that CCC organize a quarterly speaker series. He immediately supported the idea and we created Cambridge Talks. Our aim is to develop a premiere forum featuring notable individuals in our city and beyond discussing the most pressing topics of the day. As a public affairs platform, Cambridge Talks will contribute to the “public knowledge” of Cambridge through conversations that are relevant, thoughtful, informative and candid.
What better way to start our series than feature a man who lives, breathes and thinks Cambridge nonstop? And what better partner for a venue than the home of public knowledge in our city, the Cambridge Public Library?
Whether or not you agree with his decisions, there’s no denying that Richard Rossi, or Richie, as he’s fondly known, has Cambridge’s best interests at heart. This unbound love for the city was on full display at Cambridge Talks last month. I was honored to moderate the first event, appropriately titled “Final Remarks: A Conversation with Retiring Cambridge City Manager Richard C. Rossi,” as he nears the end of his employment.
We began the conversation summarizing some of Rossi’s many achievements. He shared his professional journey, which began as an intern for the Cambridge Water Department—although he wanted to be a teacher. Having first learned that Cambridge’s daily operations were led by a city manager in an eighth grade civics class, he always had a dream of running the city someday.
Rossi shared many personal stories, including of his Italian immigrant parents who struggled to learn English and provide for him and his siblings. We talked about affordable housing, one of the biggest issues in Cambridge, and his work to ensure the availability of low and middle-income apartments. I mentioned the importance of wealth creation and forming pathways for home ownership. Rossi drew on his personal experience, saying that had it not been for rent control he wouldn’t have been able to live in Cambridge.
Having graduated from the Cambridge High and Latin School, a predecessor to the Rindge and Latin School, Rossi underscored the importance of job opportunities for Cantabrigians. We discussed the importance of connecting Kendall Square to the rest of Cambridge and how providing paid internships could further that goal.
I appreciated Rossi’s candid reflections on his decades of service in Cambridge. His love for our city is clear and the expectations he has set for his predecessor are high. Thank you again to Richie, his wife Jane and the highly talented leadership team in Cambridge he has assembled. This city is in good hands.
I look forward to the next Cambridge Talks events!