E. Denise Simmons, a lifelong resident of Cambridge, is currently serving her eighth term on the Cambridge City Council, and her second term as Mayor of Cambridge. 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.
In 2008, Denise drew national attention when she became the nation’s first Black, openly lesbian mayor (and the first Black female mayor in Massachusetts). Once again serving as mayor, Denise continues striving 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 holding periodic Town Hall style meetings. These meetings, such as the LGBT Town Hall and the Senior Citizens 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.
During the 2014-2015 term, then-Councilor Simmons Co-Chaired the Economic Development & University Relations Committee, focused on exploring and then enacting ordinance changes to provide greater job protections and wage fairness for City janitors and custodians, to provide a stronger example for how all Cambridge employers should be treating their workers. As Chair of the Civic Unity Committee, Denise continued leading regular discussions about how Cambridge, as an employer and as a community, could strive to ensure that all of its people are treated fairly, equitably, and respectfully. As Chair of the Housing Committee, Denise held 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 in 2008. 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 in the Mayor’s Office at 617.349.4321, email her at email@example.com, or stop by the Mayor’s Office any Friday between 9:30 am – 12 pm for drop-in hours.