Boston and Cambridge City Councils Unite Around Retention Issues

Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson next to Cambridge City Councilor Leland Cheung

The same day that Mayor Menino shared the end of his 20 year reign, ┬áBoston and Cambridge city councils led by Tito Jackson (Boston) and Leland Cheung (Cambridge) met on neutral ground – the Museum of Science – to talk retention of talent in both cities.

Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson seated next to Cambridge City Councilor Leland Cheung


As much as people want to push back on the mere feet that divide Cambridge and Boston, we do have a lot in common. Okay so yes…MIT and Harvard are on the other side of the bridge, but as far as jobs and resources, it would serve both cities better to work together, especially when about 50% of all of those who graduate from out prestigious universities don’t stay.

In the meeting there was a lot of talk about jobs, why talented people can’t find them, and there was A LOT of talk about STEM, which was a little disappointing to me, because there are a lot of other industries that Boston and Cambridge money could be spent on…but I digress.

The 3-hour meeting consisted of distinguished panelists from a variety of industries and backgrounds, from artisans to students, innovators, generators who had about a minute and a half each to share ideas and comments.

Notable talented panelists in the room were, Sean Johnson – Start Up Institute, Derrick Cheung – Green Street Vault, Matt Lauzon from Gemvara, Tim Rowe of the Innovation Center, and Beth Nicklas of the Life Sciences Center.

Things I liked most about the hearing were the set up and the way that they made sure people felt welcome. I don’t know about you, but when anyone says hearing, episodes of Law and Order’s featuring Jack McCoy famous speeches come to mind. On the contrary, these meetings are always open to the public, and both councils made it easy to find with signs. They even had someone stationed to usher you into the right direction. I also liked that the set up allowed you to go in and out of the room without being disruptive.

Things I thought were lacking, were the amount of people of color on the panels and in the audience. I don’t know if the information wasn’t targeted towards those communities, or they just simply were unable to come for a variety of reasons.

Logistics aside, resounding theme of the meeting was that this was just the start of the conversation. There isn’t one solution to retention, but as long as people are continuing to talk and work towards solutions in a spirit of collaboration, there will be change.

If you want to continue the conversation about retaining talent in Boston and Cambridge via Twitter, join in at #MassTalent.