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August 30, 2010

2010 40 Under Forty: Isabel Gonzalez-Webster

Chief of Staff, Mayor's Office

Company location: Worcester

Residence: Worcester

Age: 31

Career highlights: Prior to becoming chief of staff for Worcester Mayor Joseph O’Brien, I managed his aggressive, grassroots campaign. Previously, I worked with an education advocacy group called Stand for Children as the Central Massachusetts organizer. I helped build the local chapter from a handful of members to a chapter with close to 200 dues-paying members with a contact list of over 1,600 voting parents in the City of Worcester.

Community involvement: My community involvement varies. My work at the mayor’s office helps ensure that the public is engaged in local government and that government is accountable to its constituents. I’m on the board of the African Community Education program, which helps African refugees and immigrants tap into local education resources. I also serve on the boards of the United Way and Worcester State University.

Biggest success: I do not believe that success lies in one particular win but in the process that one undertakes to get to your final goal. Whenever I have encountered success it has been through building strong relationships and working with the community. I am especially proud of successfully lobbying for the Worcester Public Schools to get $1.2 million in funding after years of cuts and working on Joe O’Brien’s mayoral campaign during which we won in all 50 voting precincts.

Biggest challenge: My most recent challenge was in moving from doing community organizing for 14 years to shifting into electoral politics. I have realized that you can affect change from working within government as well from outside.

Mentors: I have had several mentors in my life. If I had to choose one person to highlight, I would name my good friend Paula Rojas. I met Paula when I was 18 when I had my first community organizing job in Brooklyn, N.Y., working on issues of environmental justice.

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