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Biography

obrienElected Mayor in November of 2009, Joe O’Brien is currently serving his first term as Mayor of the City of Worcester.  Joe grew up in Worcester. He attended public schools and graduated from Doherty High School where he was captain of the football team and led efforts to get students involved in city government. Joe went on to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Urban Studies from Fordham University and later a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Harvard University. Joe came back to Worcester during college summers to work as a youth counsellor at Friendly House and to help build affordable housing with Worcester Habitat for Humanity. In addition, he spent six months volunteering at an orphanage in Mexico.

After college, Joe worked as a community organizer in the Bronx for several years, pushing for better police protection and improving public services in some of the toughest neighbourhoods in New York City. Returning to Worcester in 1993, Joe served as a Director of Community Programming for the YMCA, organizing educational and recreational programs for Worcester’s at-risk youth. Later, he directed community cleanup programs for the Regional Environmental Council and organized the Walk for Life for AIDS Project Worcester. Beginning in 1994, Joe helped found and then lead a free summer program for youth in the Columbus Park area that served hundreds of youngsters from the neighbourhood and the Lakeside housing project. During this time, Joe was also an active leader in Worcester Interfaith, and he helped advocate for increased funding for youth programs and improvements to public safety and municipal services.

In 2001 Joe was elected to the Worcester School Committee and served three terms, during which he fought for smaller class sizes, lower drop-out rates, and improved student achievement. He played a leading role in the negotiation of a landmark four-year teachers’ contract that paid fair wages to the city’s educators while making important changes that saved Worcester taxpayers 13 million dollars, all while maintaining educational opportunities for city students. As a member of the Committee, Joe also pushed to expand after-school and community-school programs to provide working families with safe places to send their children in the afternoons. He helped to create a job-sharing program that allowed teachers to work after the birth or adoption of a child. He led the effort to establish a model school-based health center at Elm Park Community School, which serves children during day and the broader community after school. This health center is the first of its kind in Massachusetts, and has had a profound impact on the health of people in the Elm Park neighbourhood.

Joe saw that a lack of dental health care was a particular problem for disadvantaged children across Worcester; He worked with area dentists and health centers to help bring a new model of dental health care into the city schools. Thanks to Joe’s leadership, thousands of Worcester children now get fluoride treatments, dental exams and referrals for advanced dental treatment if needed, all at no cost to the city taxpayers.

Joe is also deeply committed to reforming the political process here in our state. In 2002 and 2003 he worked as the director of Massachusetts Voters for Clean Elections, a state-wide organization advocating for campaign finance reform to curtail the power of special interests in Massachusetts politics. He continues to promote election reform and broader civic participation through his web site, www.grassrootsdemocracy.info. In 2004, Joe directed the Commonwealth Electoral Coalition, a state-wide group that worked on a range of issues that affected working families. In 2006, Joe worked as campaign manager for Worcester mayor Tim Murray, now Lt. Governor, bringing a strong new voice for Worcester on Beacon Hill.

From 2007 to 2009, Joe worked as the District Director for Congressman Jim McGovern, by overseeing the Congressman’s four Massachusetts offices. In that  position, Joe directed constituent services. He is working on important initiatives to bring jobs to the city and to the region, including a focus on life sciences and green jobs. Working closely with the Congressman, Joe helped to secure new funding for youth programs, and he helped to launch the Worcester Tree Initiative, a grassroots campaign to plant 30,000 trees in the region to make up for the damage done by the Asian Long horned Beetle.

Throughout his adult life, Joe has also been active as a volunteer with many communicyt and progressive organizations. He served on the Committee of Management for the Central Branch YMCA for six years and is Vice President of the Board of the Worcester Youth Center. He has received awards for his community work from the YMCA, Family Health Center, The Greater Worcester Jaycees, and the Democratic City Committee, among other organizations.

 

Joe is married to Lisa Laurel Weinberg, a human rights attorney. The couple lives in a home they renovated themselves in the Main South section of Worcester, where Joe and Lisa are active in the community crime watch, help run community gardens, and promote local business development.

Joe has experience in all areas of Worcester community life and has developed a broad range of valued relationships with people from all walks of life. He loves Worcester and as Mayor he believes in its tremendous potential to provide wonderful jobs, first rate schools, safe neighbourhoods and a vibrant and diverse cultural experience for all. Worcester.

 

To learn more about Joes priorities as Mayor, please click on the issues link above.