Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Hires and organization changes were announced Tuesday by Cambridge’s City Manager’s Office. (Photo: Marc Levy)

Reorganization of the City Manager’s Office under Yi-An Huang, who was seated in September, took a big step forward Tuesday, starting with the appointment of Owen O’Riordan as deputy city manager and chief operating officer. 

O’Riordan had been acting deputy city manager since Sept. 6, on leave from heading the Department of Public Works – continuing the leave he was on as interim city manager in the gap between former city manager Louis A. DePasquale and the arrival of Huang.

“I am delighted that Owen has agreed to fill this role permanently,” Huang said, describing his positions as “responsible for managing the major operating departments and overseeing core infrastructure maintenance and capital programs in the city. Owen has a strong track record of leadership, execution, judgment, empathy and a commitment to transparency which will help us navigate the complex agenda ahead of us.”

O’Riordan, who has worked for the city since 1997, led Public Works for eight years.

Now that role will be filled by Kathy Watkins, city engineer for the past eight years who stepped in as acting commissioner of Public Works when O’Riordan was called to the manager’s office. She too has worked for the city since 1997.

Kathy Watkins and Owen O’Riordan in 2016. (Photo: Ceilidh Yurenka)

In addition, Rebecca Fuentes was named as the city’s first deputy chief operating officer after serving as transition manager in the City Manager’s Office for the past five months and as assistant commissioner for administration and planning in Public Works since 2009. She has worked for the city since 2001.

She will reporting directly to O’Riordan and work with departments to ensure residents get “high-quality public services.”

In another new position, B. Kimmerman has been appointed chief of staff to Huang. She was previously director of government and community relations at the Kendall Square Association. 

Huang told city councillors in October that he wanted to restructure his office and some other departments, adding some City Hall leadership positions by the end of the year. “My timeline is absolutely as soon as possible,” Huang said at the time. “I would love if we had this team in place this calendar year. And we will work toward that.”

In addition to the chief of staff role, a job listing was posted then for a chief of strategy and implementation, with plans to also find a director of emergency management, “chief people officer” and director of community engagement.

The appointments announced Tuesday “create immediate vacancies” at the Department of Public Works, and the city will begin the hiring process for a new assistant commissioner for engineering and assistant commissioner for planning and administration immediately, according to a City Hall press release.

The announcement also allows for “several organizational moves under the deputy city manager,” according to the release, meaning that several departments now report directly to O’Riordan in a manner “consistent with historical responsibilities” and providing “greater clarity on organizational roles and responsibilities.” Those are the Department of Public Works, Electrical Department, Facilities and Facilities Construction, Inspectional Services Department and Water Department, as well as the Animal Commission, License Commission and Traffic, Parking and Transportation Department.

The City Clerk’s Office has also hired, filling a clerk of committees role focused on the City Council’s intensive work in hearings apart from the regular council meetings – with Nicole Erwin. The hiring was first reported by in a tweet Nov. 22 by independent journalist John Hawkinson.