1. Experience with Cambridge nonprofits. Do you have work or volunteer experience with Cambridge nonprofits?
Yes. I started working for Cambridge Community Services in 2012, before it became Enroot. I was the Director of Community Outreach and supported volunteer recruitment and training for the City Links program, spearheaded the pilot College Success Program (on behalf of 8 agencies), and led development and communication work for the agency. In this role I had close working relationships with staff at many other Cambridge non-profits and City agencies. For the past three years I have served as the the Director of Constituent Services for Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui, and again I have strong working relationships with staff at many Cambridge non-profits. I will add that I had the opportunity to take the Trauma Informed De-Escalation training offered at the YWCA with many non-profit staff, which was incredible.
2. Valuing nonprofit expertise. Cambridge nonprofits deliver programs and services across a wide range of missions, from early education and youth development, to affordable housing production and management, arts and culture exposure and education, food security, environmental preservation, civic engagement (or community involvement), and much more. As a result, nonprofit leaders and staff are often well positioned to advise the City on program policies related to their clients and consumers. Will you use your position on the City Council to ensure that the City incorporates the voice and expertise of nonprofit leaders into planning around current City priorities?
Yes. I've worked on non-profit program delivery nationally and internationally, often times the program staff have heard feedback from participants, and ideas for program modification. I think the people closest to the issue often have the best solutions. Therefore I would certainly want to incorporate the voices and expertise of the program staff as well as program participants in planning around City priorities that are designed to serve those communities.
3. Limiting application of Anti-Aid Amendment. With the exception of contracts for services, the Anti-Aid Amendment of the MA Constitution prohibits municipalities from directly distributing funds raised through taxation to nonprofits. While the City provides financial support to nonprofits through contracting, this approach increased administrative burdens, can cause cash-flow issues due to payment delays, and limits creativity in developing new funding opportunities. It also can create an incentive for the City to start new initiatives rather than invest in programs already well established in the community. Will you use your position on the City Council to limit the application of the Anti-Aid Amendment to tax generated revenue only, in order to maximize the resources available to Cambridge nonprofits?
I don't know. I would need to understand more about the City's other revenue sources and the current justification for why the Anti-Aid Amendment is being applied. In general I would support increasing flexibility in how funds are distributed and disbursed to non-profits. Payment delays definitely need to be addressed, and I would absolutely work to lead improvement in this area via procedure and practice, as payment delays are an issue I heard about regularly in constituent services and very much a solvable problem.
4. Attending to nonprofit workforce challenges. According to CNC's December 2022 survey of Cambridge nonprofits, (70%) reported open positions and over a third (36%) said they lacked the funding to fill them, comprising their ability to meet service demands. Do you believe the City Council can play a role in helping nonprofits recruit and retain high quality staff?
Yes. I think City Councilors have extensive networks, and can capitalize on their positions and networks to share postings, encourage qualified candidates to apply, and support non-profit staff. Additionally, the City Council can be looking for ways to increase flexible funding mechanisms for non-profits as discussed above.
5. ARPA investments in nonprofits. While Cambridge nonprofits are grateful for the City committing millions of ARPA dollars to local organizations, concerns have been raised both about the slow pace of releasing funds into the community and a lack of information being shared broadly regarding their progress. Will you use your position on the City Council to expedite this process and ensure there is greater transparency going forward?
Yes. Coming from a constituent services background, I greatly value information sharing and transparency which are key parts of my platform. My focus in office will be on implementation, and the distribution of funds, but also the mechanism of communicating out about processes are key pieces of implementation. The City tends to have excellent policy but room for improvement in procedure and practice.