2019 Outstanding City Employees Honored

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City Manager Louis A. DePasquale and other city officials honored the recipients of the 2019 Outstanding City Employee Award during a special ceremony on Friday, May 10. The annual award recognizes a select number of employees for superior performance, positive attitude, hard work and dedication to public service.

"The men and women that we are recognizing this year, are examples of the high quality and dedicated employees that work for this city," said City Manager DePasquale. 

Congratulations to our 2019 Outstanding City Employees:

Hector Acevedo, Manager, Find It Cambridge, Human Services Department
Elizabeth Belmonte, Training Supervisor, Emergency Communications
Christina Correia, Animal Control Officer, Animal Control Department
John Galli, Asst. Dir., Community Learning Center, Human Services Department
Kessen Green, Director of Outreach & Community Programs, Police Department
Claude-Alix Jacob, Chief Public Health Officer, Public Health Department
Mary Legere, Personnel Analyst, Public Works Department
Elizabeth Liss, Education Liaison, Mayor’s Office
Steven Lopez, Sr., Fire Apparatus Repairman, Fire Department
Matthew Nelson, Principal Budget Analyst, Budget Department
Michael Rodgers, Senior Laborer, Public Works Department
Pardis Saffari, Senior Economic Development Manager, Community Development Department
Nancy Vargas, Administrative Assistant, Electrical Department

The City Manager also presented an award in honor of the late Brian Murphy. Brian served as a Cambridge City Councilor from 2002-2009 and as Assistant City Manager for the city’s Community Development from 2011 until his death on February 2, 2015. The award is presented to a person who is committed to making government improve the lives of others. Congratulations to our 2019 Brian Murphy Award recipient, Deputy City Manager Lisa Peterson. 

Learn a little more about this year’s recipients from the write-ups that were read prior to the presentation of each recipient's award:

Hector Acevedo, Manager, Find It Cambridge
Human Services

When Hector interviewed for the Find It Cambridge Manager position, he talked about how much he benefited from all that Cambridge has to offer and he wanted to give back to his community. Over the last 2 and a half years, Hector has certainly demonstrated a high level of dedication to our City and Find It Cambridge, and has given back more than he would have ever imagined to the place he has called home most of his life. Since April 2017, there have been almost 250,000 pageviews on Find It, and there are over 700 programs and events on Find It. In order to make Find It a success, Hector has had to do a great deal of outreach and build relationships with a wide variety of people. He connects with everyone, whether he is working one on one with a mom who just moved to Cambridge and needs to find child care for her kids, training a group outreach workers on how to find resources using Find It, or going to the 7 a.m. roll call at the Police Department so that our officers know about Find It. Because of Hector, so many who live and work in Cambridge are now able to connect with the amazing resources we have, and he does it with such finesse, passion, and a lovable sense of humor. Whenever Hector’s name comes up, it is usually followed by, “I love Hector.”

When Hector walks into a room, people’s faces just light up. It is obvious that Hector’s continued praise from both residents and his colleagues, makes him a truly outstanding Employee.

Elizabeth Belmonte, Training Supervisor
Emergency Communications Department

Liz joined the Emergency Communications department in 2004 and was promoted to the management team in May 2017 as the Training Supervisor. She made immediate contributions to the training program by offering remedial training programs, enhancement of the quality assurance program as well as co-coordinating the 911 Emergency Telecommunications Dispatcher Academy.  Liz has been instrumental in offering one-on-one instruction on fire training, emergency medical dispatch and other 911 topics. She enhanced training manuals and curriculum to ensure new hire training is geared toward the current and future operations of the ECC. In addition, she has developed curriculum specific to Cambridge Public Safety agencies and has presented at various conferences in the profession including the Massachusetts Communications Supervisors Association (MCSA).

In addition, she has taken on a leadership role as the Secretary of the MCSA and as the Coordinator of the departments Peer Support Program. The staff of Emergency Communications has embraced her training efforts and leadership in various areas. She is committed to improving the delivery of service to the community, our organization and first responders, and is actively involved in community outreach efforts for recruitment and education purposes.

Christina Correia, Animal Control Officer
Animal Control Office

Christina Correia has been working as a Cambridge Animal Control Officer for over 22 years.  Officer Correia grew up in the City of Cambridge and understands the diversity of the city.  She approaches all residents in a professional and courteous way to help resolve a problem, complaint or a report of an injured/sick animal. Christina has the experience to handle all domestic and wildlife animals in a manner that would ensure the safety of the residents and the proper humane handling of the animal, wild or domestic.  Christina Correia has taken on full responsibility of the department’s social media. She has advanced her knowledge of different platforms by attending trainings the city offers on building web sites and other computer innovations with a goal towards improving the Animal Commission website with more useful information for residents. 

In the field, on the phone, or at front desk in the office, Christina consistently maintains a pleasant and attentive outlook.  Her vibrant enthusiasm for the work she does is evident each and every day to her co-workers.   Christina is a real team player and steps up to assist the office with operations whenever needed in an exemplary and professional manner.   She has also been key in the training of our newly hired animal control officer.

John Galli, Assistant Director Community Learning Center
Human Services

John has worked in support of the adult learners at the Community Learning Center (CLC) for 25 years.    He has served many roles in his tenure at the CLC:  he has been a dedicated and skilled teacher of English to Speakers of Other languages, helping students improve their language skills to better access jobs, support their families, and engage fully in civic life; he has been an advisor to students, ensuring that they have the supports they need to continue their education; he has managed the Jefferson Park site and collaborated with the Cambridge Housing Authority to ensure that residents in public housing can attend English classes close to where they live and gain computer skills.  For the last 7 years, John has served as Assistant Director at CLC and this is where his impact on the staff and the organization has been the deepest.  He strives to help staff be the best teachers and advisors they can be for the hundreds of students served by the CLC.  As CLC has re-defined its strategic goals, with a focus on Racial Equity and Diversity, John has opened himself up to learn, grow, and lead the work to create new understanding and awareness among all staff.

John has made a meaningful impact on the lives of residents, particularly those who need additional education and skills to realize their potential.  He has done this with the many students he has served and works tirelessly to ensure that the CLC is able to continue to meet the needs of adult learners in Cambridge.

Kessen Green, Director Of Outreach & Community Programs
Police Department

Kessen Green was hired two years ago as the Director of Outreach and Community Programs in the Police Department’s Family and Social Justice Section. Kessen's role is vital to the department’s outreach initiatives, and community policing efforts. As a long-standing Cambridge resident, Kessen is passionately dedicated to social justice, education, and youth leadership.

Kessen has direct oversight of all community programs and outreach efforts such as Homeless Outreach, Senior Outreach and Youth Outreach. In addition, he plays a critical role in managing the Safety Net Collaborative.   Kessen also has a direct collaborative working relationship with other departments to coordinate outreach efforts such as our Door-to-Door campaigns with DHSP, Cambridge Health Alliance and the School Department—to name a few. Kessen continually confers with officers in the unit on an individual basis regarding case management, resource allocation and follow-up on diversion cases. Kessen also represents the department at various community meetings, coordinates resources to address issues of concern between other City departments, is assigned special projects, and is involved with the Neighborhood Sergeants Program and other department initiatives that promote outreach to the community.  He has been instrumental in developing the Department’s youth volunteer and employment programs to increase its capacity to expose more youth to policing and careers in law enforcement.   Kessen has been key to the relaunch of the Police Cadet Program by actively attending job and college fairs and forging connections with young adults to help spark enthusiasm and energy for law enforcement careers. 

Kessen is often sought out by other members of the Command Staff for advice, insight, and particularly for his strong connections to the community. His willingness to get involved in all department projects and on various initiatives is a tremendous asset to the department. 

Claude-Alix Jacob, Public Health Officer
Cambridge Public Health Department

Claude Jacob eats, sleeps and breathes public health.  If you talk to him about any issue, he can explain how some piece of it falls within the 10 principles of public health. In his long tenure within the City’s Public Health Department, Claude has brought enhanced professionalism to an already top notch team.

As Chief Public Health Officer, Claude launched a number of critical efforts which have resulted in Cambridge becoming one of the first Accredited Health Departments in the State. The Public Health Department is currently engaged in its second needs assessment in 5 years. The first assessment deepened the City’s understanding of health needs and led to the creation of a Health Improvement Plan which has guided the Department’s work over the last several years.

Claude is a wonderful collaborator and is always willing to lend the expertise of the department to any City effort. He and his team provided invaluable support to the City Manager’s Opioid Working Group.  Claude was key in the establishment the of the City’s first beekeeping regulation. Working closely with the School, Police, Community Development, Fire and Human Services Departments as well as others, Claude and his team provide expertise and working leadership to many City efforts.  Claude also supervises public health nursing, school health, environmental health and emergency preparedness to name a few.  Under his leadership, Cambridge continues to be a city that embodies healthy living and community. 

Mary Legere, Personnel Analyst
Public Works Department

Mary joined the Department of Public Works as the Payroll Analyst in September 2006.  She was promoted to the position of Personnel Analyst in January 2016.  Prior to joining the City, Mary already had over 20 years of experience working in payroll, as well as experience in human resources, accounts payable, billing, and purchasing.  Because of this, she was able to hit the ground running.  Mary manages a payroll for over 200 employees.  It is a complex payroll that requires a great deal of attention to detail and organization to complete each week.  There are 2 different collective bargaining units in DPW and each has specific requirements related to different compensation.  Mary tracks annual and quarterly deadlines, ensures licenses and certifications are active, and keeps track of all different over-time codes.  When it comes to the snow ops team at DPW, Mary is a key player.  She always ensures that the payroll is complete in a timely fashion, regardless of the weather or if City offices are closed.

In addition to payroll, Mary assists with benefits questions, new hire paperwork, and managing department workers comp cases.   Mary is incredibly thoughtful and cares about employee well-being.  She has gone above and beyond to help employees navigate complicated benefits situations, particularly related to medical leaves of absence, workers compensation, and retirement.  She always comes in early and leaves late, and she is available outside of work hours whenever an urgent payroll question comes up.  Mary was awarded the DPW Commissioner’s Award in 2010. Mary is a highly valued member of the Public Works Department staff and she truly exemplifies all the qualities that constitute an “Outstanding City Employee”.

Elizabeth Liss, Education Liaison
Mayor’s Office

Liz is steadfast in her commitment to youth and families and to ensuring these goals of the Office. This is most apparent with her planning role in the Cambridge Digs DEEP series. While maintaining the complex behind-the-scene organizing that goes into each event, Liz also took the initiative to partner with Cambridge Public Schools and the Cambridge Public Library to make available outside reading material available that underscored lessons from the DEEP presentation. These included children’s books that emphasized social justice.

She organized and facilitates civic engagement curriculum for Cambridge students in first through third grades, bringing our developing citizens into City Hall to participate in mock City Council meetings as Councillors, City Staff, and members of the public who debate real issues of interest to our youngest residents. Liz also made it a priority that the Mayor visits classrooms across our schools and reads to youth through the public library. As a thought-partner for staff members and the Mayor, Liz demonstrates excellent judgement and commitment to Cambridge’s core values and is frequently consulted on projects that come out of the Mayor’s Office, especially those that empower women (including young women in our schools) and people of color.  Liz is also the first to volunteer to staff events in the Mayor’s Office or community, providing excellent service to constituents. She also serves as the Mayor’s representative to the Family Policy Council, driving policies the impact of which are felt beyond our Office, and attends subcommittee meetings of the School Committee. Liz is an incredible asset to the Mayor, her City colleagues and the youth and families in our community.  

Steven Lopez, Sr., Fire Apparatus Repairman
Fire Department

Steven was hired by the Fire Department in 1996.  His tireless dedication to his craft has resulted in a tremendous savings to the City as he has the ability and tenacity to take on often complex fire apparatus repair projects in-house.  By completing the work at the department repair facility, it results often in quicker turnaround times to get the apparatus back into service. Because of the incredible pride Steve takes in the equipment and in his work, our apparatus is very well maintained.  The Fire Department fleet of apparatus is envied by many surrounding area fire departments. 

While the personnel who respond to and operate at emergency scenes often get the attention and praise of the public, it is people like Steve who are key to the behind the scenes operation of the department, which is as important as the work done on the front lines by the men and women of the department. Steve’s objective is to have a fleet of apparatus that is working safely and reliably for  Cambridge Firefighters.  It is an objective he meets each and every day.

Matthew Nelson, Principal Budget Analyst
Budget Department

Matt Nelson has been with the Budget Office for only about a year and a half, but in that time he has repeatedly and consistently proven himself to be an invaluable member of the staff and a true team player.   Matt started with the city 7 years ago and has worked in the Mayor’s office and the Police Department.  He is also actively involved in organizations such as MENding Cambridge and the Cambridge youth council. Matt is one of the chaperones of the annual youth council trip to Washington, DC for the national league of cities conference.  he is an amazing support to the youth and other chaperones; he finds fun and interesting things to do with the youth council, but more importantly, he is always available to the council to listen and help understand how the city works.

If you ever happen to see Matt interact with colleagues, or have been fortunate to have worked with him, it’s easy to see and understand how well liked and respected he is, not just among current and former co-workers, but just as importantly, throughout the community, where he has made lasting professional and personal connections.  Through the budget office Matt has taken on the role of Participatory Budgeting (or PB) Coordinator.   PB is a process that allows residents to choose how to spend a portion of City capital funds.  Under Matt’s leadership Despite being new to the role, under Matt’s leadership the last PB cycle featured a record number of voters, over 6,800. 

Matt has a friendly personality and calm demeanor.  He is willing to help no matter how big or small the task.  Matt always makes himself available to try and answer a question, find a solution for someone else, or stop what he’s doing to help someone else with a task. He always gets the job done while still managing to share a laugh or chat with colleagues. Matt, you truly represent what it means to be an outstanding city employee!  

Michael Rodgers, Senior Laborer
Public Works Department

Michael was hired as a Laborer at the Public Works Department in August 2007.  Prior to that he did several assignments as a seasonal laborer.  He was promoted to the position of Senior Laborer in December 2009. During his entire time with the Department as a permanent employee, Michael has worked as a custodian in public buildings throughout the City. In 2011 he was recognized with the Ruth and Carl Barron Family Achievement Award for his efforts. Michael does an excellent job cleaning buildings, making sure that all tasks get completed and are done well.  He also provides excellent customer service to building occupants.

Everyone is always happy to learn that Michael will be assigned as their custodian, because they know he will do a great job and be extremely pleasant to interact with. During snow season, Michael is always there to do the hard work taken on by the Buildings crews including clearing sidewalks outside of City Buildings.  He is also available to support special event set ups.  Michael is a great representative of the Department and is very deserving of this recognition.

Pardis Saffari, 
Senior Economic Development Manager
Community Development

Pardis has been working for the City for nearly 12 years and was recently promoted to her current position of Senior Economic Development Manager in the Community Development Department.  The Economic Development Division would not be able to provide the wide array of programs, workshops, and other services at the level they do today to so many residents and businesses without her dedicated service. Her work is thoughtful and impactful. Her dedication to her job, her teammates, and the city’s residents and businesses is evident on a daily basis. Recent efforts include a Customer Loyalty Program rolled out in both Inman and Harvard Squares during construction to help mitigate the impact of construction on the city's small businesses. To combat storefront vacancies, she spearheaded a Vacant Storefront Program, including a design contest that engages not only local property owners, but local artists in the activation of vacant retail locations. She is instrumental in ensuring the many programs offered reach the most vulnerable and underserved populations in the city, such as oversight of the City's Community Development Block Grant funding for small businesses and entrepreneurs, Small Business Enhancement, Biomedical Careers Training, Cambridge Community Business Planning, Small Business Coaching, among others.

Pardis is dedicated and hard working.  She is committed to providing the best she can give to the residents, and businesses of Cambridge.  She is a pleasure to work with and truly deserving of this recognition.

Nancy Vargas, Administrative Assistant
Electrical Department

Nancy started with the City in 1990 as a Senior Clerk Typist in the License Commission and in 2003, transferred to the Electrical Department as an Administrative Assistant. Nancy prides herself on providing outstanding customer service.  She is diligent in following up on calls from residents on a variety of issues from street light outages and power outages even though it might be the responsibility of other agencies.  Nancy will go above and beyond to contact DCR, Mass DOT, and Mass Highway on repairs that get reported to the City’s electrical department.  She has received letters of thanks for her work and follow up from citizens who appreciate her taking the time to help however she can.  Nancy cares very much about her daily responsibilities no matter what the assignment is and is an employee who goes above and beyond her “job description.”  She never feels any task is too menial. 

Nancy processes all incoming utility permits, seeing the process through the various City agencies for sign off before permits are issued.  She also manages the department's $1 million revenue source and ensures these funds are posted and reconciled. Nancy is an asset both to the Electrical Department and to the residents of the City.  She is dependable, accurate, reliable and a pleasure to work with.  We are fortunate to have her as an employee. 

Lisa Peterson, Deputy City Manager
City Manager’s Office
2019 Brian Murphy Award recipient

Lisa Peterson has served the residents of Cambridge for the past 29 years.  Before becoming the Deputy City Manager, Lisa was the Commissioner of Public Works and is the first women to hold either of these positions in the City. 

Lisa has served as Deputy City Manager since 2013 and during that time has focused on initiatives to cultivate a workplace environment that reflects the values of equity and inclusion. She serves as the chair of the Community Benefits Advisory Committee, which is currently awarding grants to non-profit collaborations seeking to address the city’s most pressing needs, namely housing instability, financial instability, and mental and behavior health. She is the chair of the Community Preservation Act Committee, which has allocated millions of dollars for affordable housing, historical preservation, and open space projects in the City. As the Chair of these committees, Lisa has worked hard to bring new voices to the table, to identify ways to support the most vulnerable populations in our community, and to create an open and inclusive process around decision making. Both as Commissioner of Public Works and as Deputy City Manager, Lisa has shown an unwavering commitment to ensuring the City is delivering high-quality services and is responsive to the needs and concerns of our residents.

As Deputy City Manager, Lisa also oversees all the City’s major public construction projects.  This work involves a lot of meaningful and spirited community dialog, and Lisa has done a fantastic job listening to the community and managing our projects.  In fact, while construction is still underway for $160 million King Open and Cambridge Street Upper Schools and Community Complex that will open this fall, Lisa has already started the process for the $250 million Tobin Montessori and Vassal Lane school project. While many people work on these projects, Lisa’s leadership is key to their success.

These examples represent only a small part of the contributions that Lisa has made to the City.  Lisa, I want you to know that your leadership, your friendship, your passion for equity and inclusion, and your advice has been and continues to be so important and meaningful to me. Your love for public service, your deep commitment to City employees and residents, and dedication to your family remind me of Brian.   Thank you for your work, thank you for your dedication to the City, and thank you for all you do to support me and our workforce.

Page was posted on 5/13/2019 8:23 PM
Page was last modified on 2/4/2020 11:09 AM
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