Michelle Farnum (right) with her mom.
Across every neighborhood in the city, there are youth and young adults whose lives have been strongly influenced by Michelle Farnum. When she oversaw youth employment programs for the Office of Workforce Development, she was instrumental in making sure that our young people did not just have summer jobs but would learn through their experience about the world of work. She organized community service learning projects and she created internships with the high school creating strong business partnerships with banks and financial institutions. She also helped create another internship at Harvard University. When Michelle took over leadership of the Cambridge Youth Programs, she was committed to creating new programming that would provide pre-teens and teens with relationships and skills that would help them expand their horizons. She forged relationships with MIT, Lesley, and the Berkley School of Music among others to bring new experiences and exciting new people into the Youth Centers. Michelle worked with MIT to bring Terrascope Radio, an environmental program produced by our youth and heard on public radio around the country. She collaborated with Microsoft to bring 5 new programs in areas such as web design, video production and graphic design for teens. And Michelle has been instrumental in the collaboration between the Human Services Department and the Police Department in developing ways to support young people and redirect their behavior towards more productive outlets.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that there are a large number of young people who now work in the human services field who were drawn to that field because of what they learned from Michelle and because of the example she sets of how an effective, committed leader can help change the lives.
I am pleased to honor Michelle’s dedication to the City of Cambridge by recognizing her as an Outstanding City Employee.