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Aerial photo of City Hall and the surrounding streets

Charter Review Committee

The Cambridge Charter Review Committee has been convened by the City Council to comprehensively review the City’s current charter and to recommend changes to ensure that Cambridge’s government meets the needs of our residents and is responsive to the challenges of today and beyond. The Ad Hoc Selection Committee reviewed 122 highly qualified applicants and selected 15 Charter Review Committee members who reflect the diversity of Cambridge. The Chair of the Committee is Kathleen Born.

All Committee members are registered Cambridge voters as required by the Charter. Per the passage of the ballot initiatives in November 2021, the Committee will review the current Plan E Charter, hold community forums, and gather input from stakeholders and residents. The Committee will recommend changes they believe will improve and modernize Cambridge’s structure and governance to the City Council. Any recommendations the City Council accepts will be put before voters in a municipal election prior to adoption. The Committee began meeting in August 2022 and is expected to take up to one year to complete its work.

The Committee will meet approximately twice a month. All the meetings will be available for public viewing. There will be numerous avenues and opportunities for public comment during the course of the Committees work. These avenues will include, but are not limited to: online submissions, public comment after Committee meetings, and community forum events. Opportunities for public input will be published on this page. Details will show up in the “Meetings” section of this page. If you have any questions about the Committee, their work, or their process, please feel free to contact the Committee directly at CharterReviewCommittee@cambridgema.gov.

Updates and Public Comment

Join us at our upcoming public forums: meet committee members, participate in discussion, and have the opportunity to share with us what you think is working well and what some of the challenges are of Cambridge government. Check out our flier here

  • Saturday February 4th on Zoom from 6pm - 8pm - Join here!

We invite you to share your public comment at our committee meetings - you can sign up in advance here.

You can also submit public comment via email to CharterReviewCommittee@cambridgema.gov. Please note that all emails sent to this inbox will be part of the public record and shared with all committee members.

Subscribe to our bi-weekly newsletter - sign up here - stay up to date on all charter review committee meetings, events, and deliberation topics.

Upcoming Meetings and Materials

Past Meetings and Materials

Charter Review Resources

Committee Adopted Documents

Committee Meeting Documents

General Charter Resources

Massachusetts Charter Information

Cambridge Charter Review News Articles

Example Charter Review Reports

Committee Members

Kaleb Abebe

Dad to Kamen and Felicia, husband to Charlene, working in academic technology at MIT, and passionate about playing trumpet and photography.

My two favorite things about Cambridge are the walkability of the city and sledding down the hill at Danehy Park.

I'm excited to be a part of the charter review committee because I believe in the importance of ensuring that the charter represents the voices and needs of all members of our community, especially those who may not have a platform to speak for themselves.

Jessica Dejesus Acevedo

Jessica De Jesus Acevedo, M.Ed., is the owner of Little Star of Ours family childcare in Cambridge, Massachusetts, established in 2016. She is a third-year doctoral student in the Early Childhood Education and Care Ph.D. program at the University of Massachusetts - Boston. Presently serving on the board of Massachusetts Association for the Education of Young Children (MAAEYC), committee member in Cambridge-Somerville Black Business Network (CSBBN), FuelEd Fellow, and City of Cambridge First Charter Review committee member.

As a Cambridge business owner, I am proud to operate a childcare program and help families thrive. During the COVID-19 pandemic, our business was supported to remain operating and provided with training opportunities to grow. I am proud to be part of the City of Cambridge as an entrepreneur and resident because of our diverse education institution, family roots, and city leadership.

As a Latina resident, I am excited and honored to participate in the charter review committee to ensure that more diversity and inclusivity are embedded in looking at our local issues. As a scholar and practitioner, I look forward to connecting with an array of Cambridge families, residents, and entrepreneurs.

Mosammat Faria Afreen

Mosammat Faria Afreen emigrated from Bangladesh when she was four to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she attended elementary and middle school. After attending high school in Boston, Afreen went to Brandeis University where she graduated with a dual BS/MS in Biology and a BS in Neuroscience in 2020. Outside of her work in science, Afreen is particularly interested in housing policy due to the exorbitant rental/housing costs making Cambridge an unsustainable place for its long-term residents to continue living in the city, her experience growing up in public housing, and volunteering with Project Right to Housing, a community organization focused on the needs of the unhoused community and creating social housing in Cambridge.

I enjoy the walkability in Cambridge and the presence of parks in every neighborhood. My favorite place in Cambridge has to be the main Cambridge Public Library.

I'm excited to be a part of the charter review committee because it is the first time in over 80 years that Cambridge's form of government is being reviewed despite the changes in our demographic and needs. I am particularly interested in addressing the power imbalance among the city manager, city council, and community members. Currently, the city manager, who is unelected by community members, controls the budget for all the city departments. This makes it harder for city council members to fulfill their campaign promises and other responsibilities. I want to live in a city where there is more public input and a democratic process involved in creating its $800 million operating budget.

Kathleen Born (chair)

I am a retired architect with a parallel career in public service. I came to Cambridge in 1970 and I thought I had arrived in heaven. Friendly people from all over the world, history everywhere, a palpable civic commitment to equity and justice. My four children reaped the benefits of Cambridge Public Schools and athletic programs. I had the honor of being elected to four terms (1993-2001) on the City Council. Since 2012, I have served as Chair of the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority.

What I particularly love about Cambridge is how easy it is to get around...walking, on the bus or riding the subway. This means that you can always be meeting new people, feeling up close the changes in the seasons, and carefully observing our great urban wildlife.

I am excited to be on the Charter Review Committee. I think it is a rare opportunity to re-imagine a local government for the 21st century which can improve the quality of life for all the people who call Cambridge home.

Nikolas Bowie

My name is Niko Bowie, and I’m a professor at Harvard Law School. I’m a historian who teaches and writes about local government law, constitutional law, and democracy. I graduated from CRLS in 2005 and served on the Planning Board from 2018–21.

I love running along the river and riding my bike around the new bike lanes.

I’ve loved growing up and living in Cambridge. I am eager to help ensure that many more generations can afford to do so despite rising home prices and sea levels. I also strongly believe in democracy. I hope that through the charter review process we can imagine a city in which all people feel equally capable of affecting decisions; in which structures of participation are designed to eliminate hierarchies of wealth, homeownership, race, and citizenship; and in which the government is powerful and responsive enough to redress the major problems of inequality and injustice facing our community.

Kevin Chen

Kevin Chen grew up in Central Massachusetts and has lived in Cambridge since 2017. Kevin now works as an energy and environmental attorney at Foley Hoag LLP. He enjoys listening to and playing music, exploring cities by foot, and learning by eating.

My favorite place in Cambridge is Joan Lorentz Park.

Cambridge is where my grandfather settled upon immigrating to the US, and multiple generations of my family now live in the city, making it an anchoring point in my life. I’m honored to have a role in ensuring that the charter review process is done in a thoughtful and equitable manner so that the charter can serve all members of the Cambridge community for years to come.

Max Clermont

My name is Max Clermont and I live in the Cambridgeport neighborhood. I am a Senior Project Lead with Partners In Health - United States. I am an engagement strategist who uses community organizing skills and policy expertise to provide management to health programs, political campaigns and agencies in the public and private sectors. I have deep expertise in the social determinants of health, health inequities, public/private partnerships and the use of measurement and evidence based practices to drive KPIs in numerous sectors.

I’m excited about the opportunity to engage the community in this process and make sure that our charter not only honors our past and present but represents a vision for the future.

Jennifer Gilbert

Jennifer Gilbert is the Founder and Executive Director of Housing Navigator Massachusetts, Inc. Creating housing opportunities and easing housing access are the connecting threads in Jennifer’s career--from her first job at a Philadelphia homeless shelter to 20 years developing affordable housing and community spaces. She lives in North Cambridge with her husband and senior dog Emmylou.

I am a huge fan of Danehy Park and walk there often. I love that this beautiful space was created from a landfill. I also love the diversity of people you will find on any day sitting at the picnic tables, playing soccer, walking a dog, or sledding (or just rolling) down the hill.

Cambridge is a one-of-a-kind yet many of the things and many of the people making our city special feel vulnerable right now. I am excited about the group that has formed to review the charter and proud to be part of it. Questions of "Who Decides?" and "Who is Included?" are central to our city continuing to be a welcoming place and home

Kai Long

Originally from Baltimore, MD by way of Santa Barbara CA it's hard to believe that I have lived in Cambridge for 25 years. I have raised my daughter and have a Speech-language pathology private practice in Cambridge.

Favorite things about Cambridge: Being able to live car free with biking, walking and public transportation option.

I'm excited to be on the Cambridge Charter Review Committee to see how we can make the Charter more inclusive and community centered. 

Patrick Magee

I am a Massachusetts native who commuted to Northeastern University to study Political Science and I have called Cambridge home since 2006. I am a co-owner of Atwood's Tavern and am a founding member and President of the East Cambridge Business Association.

The community of people and businesses along Cambridge Street between Lechmere Square and Inman Square.

As a civically engaged resident, I look forward to investigating how we structure our local government and hopefully work collaboratively to improve it for all people. 

Mina Makarious

I live outside of Porter Square with my wife and two kids. I am a local government and environmental lawyer by day.

My kids and I love spending time in Cambridge's many parks and playgrounds.

I'm excited to use the experience I have been honing in my career to create a more inclusive and efficient City government.

Lisa Peterson

I have lived in Cambridge since the 1980's, currently in north Cambridge. I have two adult sons who were born and raised in Cambridge. I have recently retired, having worked for over 30 years for the City of Cambridge, most recently as Deputy CIty Manager and prior to that as Public Works Commissioner.  Currently I am volunteering for a few Cambridge non profits:  Food for Free, CEOC Food Pantry, and The Loop Lab.

I love the people in Cambridge. My husband and I moved here years ago specifically because of its vibrancy, inclusiveness and diversity.

I volunteered to serve on the Charter Review Committee because I care deeply about good government, being an equitable, inclusive and anti racist community, and delivering the best services possible.

Ellen Shachter

My name is Ellen Shachter.  I have lived in Cambridge since 1985 and my husband is a public school teacher in Somerville and my two children attended Cambridge public schools.  I am the founding Director of the Somerville Office of Housing Stability which was opened in 2018.  Prior to taking this position I was an attorney at Cambridge and Somerville Legal Services for twenty-eight years representing low income families in housing and public benefits matters.

Some of the things I love most about Cambridge is its commitment to principles of equity and justice and its support of diverse cultures and a vibrant arts scene.  All this is extremely challenging in a City like Cambridge which has so quickly gentrified but despite this and because of these tremendous  development pressures a strong sense of values is critical to keeping Cambridge a place we all want to be.

 I am very pleased to be working with so many intelligent, thoughtful, committed diverse Cambridge residents on a project as important as charter review. This process allows us to really carefully think about how to ensure both a high level of democratic decision making and a well run and well functioning City government. While a charter alone cannot achieve all this, it does create the conditions which can make such an outcome more likely. 

Susan Shell

I am a thirty year plus resident of Cambridge who has lived many other places in the US and Canada as well.  I am currently a professor of political science at Boston College. My husband and I have two grown children and one granddaughter.

My favorite place in Cambridge is the Charles River.

I look forward to working with other members of the committee in contributing to increased opportunities for fruitful political deliberation.

Jim Stockard

Jim Stockard has lived near Porter Square in a cooperative, known as Common Place, which he and his wife Susan helped to found in 1973.  He served for a number of years on the Board of the Cambridge Housing Authority and continues to serve as a Trustee of the Cambridge Affordable Housing Trust Fund. He coached Little League Baseball in North Cambridge for 17 years. Trained as an urban planner, Jim is retired from directing the Loeb Fellowship at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, where he continues to teach courses about housing.

I love the diversity of our community, and the general willingness of its citizens and political leaders to take progressive positions on the issues of the day. My favorite place in Cambridge is Harvard Square (after all, I’m a city planner), but also Fresh Pond.

I'm excited to be a part of the charter review committee because I believe I will learn something about how this city is working from others who have had a different experience from mine, and that together we can craft an even better way of governing ourselves going forward, especially as we listen carefully to each other. 

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