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Mayor Denise Simmons

E. Denise Simmons

E. Denise Simmons, a lifelong resident of Cambridge, is currently serving her 12th term on the City Council and her third term as Mayor of Cambridge. Mayor Simmons has spent the past few 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). Throughout both of her prior mayoral terms, Denise worked to make City Hall more responsive to the community by holding weekly walk-in hours for constituents, opening up the Mayor's Parlor for public celebrations and ceremonies, and holding periodic Town Hall style meetings. These meetings, such as the LGBTQ+ Town Hall, the Renters’ Town Hall, and the Senior Citizens Town Hall, have allowed different constituency groups to speak directly to civic leaders – with an emphasis on speaking rather than being spoken to – and to foster a greater understanding of how the City could be of greater service to its citizens. She continued to hold such meetings even after leaving the Mayor’s office.

In recent years, Denise has worked to enact 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 has continued leading regular discussions about how Cambridge, as an employer and as a community, can and must strive to ensure that all of its people are treated fairly, equitably, and respectfully. She has worked to pass legislation that will allow Cambridge to establish an American Freedmen Commission, and to establish rules that would allow women and minority entrepreneurs a fair shot at starting and profiting from their own recreational cannabis dispensaries. As Chair of the Housing Committee, Denise has successfully led the fight to triple the fees that developers must pay towards the creation and preservation of affordable units, to double the amount of mandatory affordable units that must be build in all new developments, and she helped pass the Citywide Affordable Housing Overlay zoning ordinance. Working to increase the amount of affordable housing, and access for Cambridge residents to this housing, remains one of Mayor Simmons' top priorities.

Denise has also established the Cambridge Girls Leadership Group, known as G.O.L.D., to provide 8th and 9th Grade girls the foundations they’ll need in order to find success in high school and beyond. She also continues working to establish a permanent Cambridge History 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 City Council Office at 617.349.4280 or email her at dsimmons@cambridgema.gov.



E. Denise Simmons
195 Brookline Street
Cambridge, MA 02139

617 349-4280 (work)


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Photo Credit: Kyle Klein Photography


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