I met Tom Menino in 1993, the year before I won a seat in the state legislature. I’ve always admired his straight talk and wry humor, his unpretentious personality and his commitment to public service. I liked that he enjoyed the company of regular folk as I did— we would joke that we preferred a community meeting to a black tie affair, any day.
In 1999, the mayor invited me to join his administration, and I worked with him for eight years as chief of housing and director of the department of neighborhood development. Together we tackled revitalization projects and spearheaded an initiative to create a comprehensive housing blueprint for Boston called Leading the Way.
He is a man of action— full of energy, with a great capacity for hard work. He pushed the envelope on social issues. He ventured into sections of the city, which had historically been overlooked— and he invested in those communities. He has made Boston a more open and accessible place, welcoming diversity and helping the city move beyond its history of racial strife. He welcomed gays, immigrants, women, and people of color into his administration. He cared about the plight of low-income families and the homeless, and showed a special compassion for children and teens.
Years after I left my job with the city, I joined a national organization that helps reconnect young people who have gotten off track with education and jobs. In 2011, the mayor co-sponsored a resolution urging Congress to restore funding to the federal YouthBuild program. This issue was right up his alley and he took immediate action, always the public servant, ready to lend a helping hand.
Thank you, Mayor Menino, for building a better Boston. Because of your stewardship, we have a stronger city and a better place to live.
Charlotte Golar Richie, a former member of the Menino administration, is the senior vice president for public policy, advocacy and government relations for YouthBuild USA.