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Cambridge’s Initial Screening Committee announced four finalists who will move forward in the search for a new city manager earlier this month.
The committee — composed of four City Councilors and 15 Cambridge residents — selected the four finalists after three days of candidate review. The four finalists are Iram Farooq, Cheryl Watson Fisher, Yi-An Huang ’05, and Norman Khumalo.
The nearly 30 “recommended candidates” initially selected by Randi Frank Consulting, LLC — the third-party consulting group selected by the Council to aid in the city manager search — were narrowed down to ten by the Screening Committee. The Committee then conducted two days of interviews to select the four finalists.
The Council released copies of the candidates’ resumes, cover letters, and semi-finalist questionnaires, with candidate contact information redacted.
The four finalists, including two who have previously worked within Cambridge’s municipal government, offer a range of professional experiences.
Farooq, the city’s current assistant city manager for community development, described her “bold long-term vision” for the city in her candidate questionnaire, noting she would aim to create “a livable, sustainable, equitable, resilient and just city.”
In her cover letter, Farooq argued that her work through the Community Development Department in affordable housing and environmental sustainability has led to Cambridge’s recognition as a leading city in these fields. She is also interested in responding to calls for a “progressive approach to policing” and early childhood education, she wrote.
Fisher, who currently serves as city solicitor in Chelsea, said n an interview that she is focused on efforts that will improve the “quality of life” of Cambridge residents. Fisher listed affordable housing, universal pre-K, climate change mitigation, and alternative policing — among others — as issues she hopes to address if selected as city manager.
“I have been in the management of a city — a little smaller than Cambridge, but right here in the metro Boston area — for 18 years,” Fisher said in the interview.
Huang, another finalist, is currently the director of clinical operations at Boston Medical Center — a position he described as having parallels with “running a city.” He added that as a candidate without experience in city government, his approach to the role would be driven by “humility” and “listening and learning.”
During an interview, Huang praised the city’s Covid-19 response and guaranteed income initiatives but said he believes more could be done to address universal pre-K and climate change.
Khumalo, town manager of Hopkinton, Mass., argues in his candidate questionnaire that his “professional passion” aligns with the priorities of Cambridge especially in “affordable housing, climate change/sustainability, and public transportation.” He summarizes his leadership style with the philosophy of “Ubuntu,” something he writes “affirms that, as human beings, we are attached in every respect.”
Earlier this year, Khumalo was also named as one of three finalists for city manager of Watertown, but was ultimately not selected for the role.
This marks the fourth stage of Cambridge’s search process, following a period of resident input, the creation of a “leadership profile,” and solicitation of applications.
Cambridge will host a “Meet the Candidates” forum on Tuesday, which the public can attend in-person or virtually. Questions for the forum will be prepared by Randi Frank, LLC based on suggestions sent via email to the consulting group.
The City Council will publicly interview each of the candidates on June 1 and will vote on the next city manager during its meeting on June 6.
—Staff writer Katerina V. Corr can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @KaterinaCorr.
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