Denise Simmons

E. Denise Simmons

Denise Simmons, a lifelong resident of Cambridge, is currently serving her seventh term on the Cambridge City Council during the 2014-2015 term. Denise has spent the past three decades working to better her community – first as the Executive Director of the Cambridge Civic Unity Committee in the 1980s, then as a member of the Cambridge School Committee in the 1990s, and since 2002, as a member of the Cambridge City Council. During the 2008 – 2009 Council term, Denise was proud to serve as Mayor of Cambridge.

Denise drew national attention when she became the nation’s first Black, openly lesbian mayor in 2008 (and the first Black female mayor in Massachusetts). As mayor, Denise sought to make City Hall more responsive to the community by holding weekly walk-in hours for constituents, by opening up the Mayor’s Parlor for public celebrations and ceremonies, and by continuing to hold Town Hall style meetings. These meetings, such as the GLBT Town Hall and the Senior Town Hall, have allowed different constituency groups to come in to City Hall and speak directly to civic leaders, and to foster a greater understanding of how the City could be of greater service to its citizens. She continues to hold walk-in hours every first and third Friday in City Hall, but it is always best to call ahead if you can, to ensure that she is available.

As Co-Chair of the Economic Development & University Relations Committee, Denise is currently exploring the best way to launch a Cambridge Small Business Town Hall meeting. As Chair of the Civic Unity Committee, Denise is continuing to lead regular discussions about how Cambridge, as an employer and as a community, can ensure that all of its people are treated fairly, equitably, and respectfully. As Chair of the Housing Committee, Denise has been holding regular discussions focusing on how to preserve and increase the number of affordable housing units available, how to ensure that housing applicants understand the search process, and how to ensure that all affordable housing search processes are fair and accessible.

During this current Council term, Denise is working to re-launch the Cambridge Girls Leadership Group, which she first established when she was mayor. This leadership group for 8th Grade girls from across Cambridge will offer monthly lessons on etiquette, proper study habits, and how to prepare for success in high school and beyond. She is also working on establishing a Cambridge Museum, and on spreading the word to community members about how to most effectively search for affordable housing.

To reach Denise, please call her at 617.349.4280 or her assistant at 617.349.4277, or email her at

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