Mayor Michelle Wu last week announced her appointment of Brenda Hernandez as Executive Director of People and Culture for the People Operations Cabinet. As the City’s Human Resources (HR) leader, she will work to strengthen the City’s organizational culture and the ways the City’s workforce is supported. She will develop all centralized employee-related policy and will oversee essential HR functions including recruitment, job and organizational design, performance management, talent management, health benefits, and employee experience. Additionally, Mayor Wu today announced Paul Chong’s appointment to serve as the City of Boston’s next Registrar. Chong will ensure Boston’s constituents’ needs are at the forefront. As a key leadership role in the City’s People Operations Cabinet, the City Registrar will set the policies, vision and strategy for access to vital records for the City of Boston. This includes managing a team of employees who provide essential documents to constituents during critical times in their lives.
“A well-functioning government has a responsibility to serve both its workforce and constituents through easy-to-access, supportive services,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “I am confident that Brenda’s vast Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging and cultural transformation experience will make Boston a desirable employer for both future employees and current staff. Her work internally will complement Paul’s work to enhance residents’ experience when they visit City Hall for the most essential and foundational constituent services.”
Hernandez comes to the job as a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) expert and culture transformation professional with over a decade of experience in the higher education and nonprofit sectors. Most recently, Hernandez served as the inaugural Chief of Equity and Engagement at Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts. Hernandez began her role on January 4.
“I’m honored to join the Wu administration and Chief Lawrence in the People Operations Cabinet,” said Brenda Hernandez, Executive Director of People and Culture for the People Operations Cabinet. “My goal is to center equity through the entire employee life cycle and lead the cultural transformation necessary to execute on Mayor Wu’s commitment to making the City of Boston an employer of choice and one that reflects the diversity of its constituents.”
Chong comes to the role following a number of roles for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, including managing strategy and analytics for the School Building Authority and serving as the Finance Director for the Executive Office for Administration and Finance. During the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, Chong worked with leaders across the Commonwealth to manage $300 million in federal relief funds and led efforts to stand up compliance and risk management around federal funds. Chong began this role Monday, January 30.
“It’s a privilege to be a part of the Wu administration and to serve the City of Boston. The Registry provides services to residents at crucial moments in their lives,” said City Registrar Paul Chong. “I am excited to work with Chief Lawrence and the Registry staff to make residents’ experience with vital records simple, accessible, and secure.”
“I am thrilled to welcome both of these talented leaders to such important functions of local government,” said Chief People Officer Alex Lawrence. “Both Brenda and Paul appreciate the amount of transition and challenges our workforce has undergone in the last few years, and have the deep experience in culture building and organizational change that the City needs to help the Mayor achieve her ambitious vision for Boston.”
The Director of People and Culture for the People Operations Cabinet oversees, develops, and coordinates the policies, activities, and staff for the centralized Office of Human Resources (OHR). The Office of Human Resources partners with all City departments to attract and develop diverse, qualified, and productive employees to serve Boston’s residents. OHR is also responsible for benefits administration and compliance with the policies, laws, and ordinances governing municipal government.
Hernandez received her BA in women’s studies from Mount Holyoke College and her JD, cum laude, from Pace University School of Law. She is a feminist activist and has presented on issues of reproductive justice, abortion support, and street harassment at several universities and conferences. Hernandez is a trained yoga teacher and practitioner and brings mindfulness into her equity practice. She enjoys performing and attending live music. A native of Northampton, she currently resides in Roslindale with her husband, daughter, and their cat Amethyst.
The Registrar will advance the City’s goals of record modernization and digitization and ease of access to public records. The Registrar will continue to develop consistent processes and practices for the department and ensure organizational compliance, while maintaining a customer focus. The Registrar is responsible for birth, marriage and death certificates. In 2022, 4,489 marriages were registered in Boston.
Chong started his career as a student volunteer and later as a parking analyst in his hometown of San Rafael, California. Born to immigrants, he has seen first hand how government services can improve the lives of people. Chong is a collaborative leader who believes that government is a powerful tool for good. He brings to the Registry a passion for building cohesive teams and strong institutions that work for employees and the public alike. Chong is a graduate of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and Northeastern University. He lives in West Roxbury with his wife and two children.
In addition to new departmental leadership, Mayor Michelle Wu announced several new employee transit benefits, including the City of Boston’s MBTA Passport Program, free Bluebikes memberships, and an expanded fitness reimbursement to include active mobility expenses. Mayor Wu is focused on supporting the City workforce and making the City of Boston an employer of choice while building on her commitment to active and sustainable transportation. Inspired by specific asks organized by City of Boston employees, Mayor Wu launched the following employee programs:
The City Of Boston’s MBTA Passport Program: Through the City of Boston’s MBTA Passport program, the City of Boston will pay for 65% of the monthly MBTA pass of an employee’s choice (up to $232). The program received over 900 new sign ups since its launch.
Free Bluebikes Memberships: The City of Boston is now offering free annual Bluebikes passes to full-time, benefits-eligible City employees, and discounted memberships to part-time and non-benefits-eligible employees. Since the launch of the program in September, over 1,100 employees have signed up.
Expanded Fitness Reimbursement To Include Active Mobility Expenses: The Mayor also announced that in partnership with City of Boston health partners, the City has expanded employees’ annual fitness reimbursement to include active mobility expenses including:
• Vehicles: Purchase of active mobility vehicles including bikes, cargo bikes, and scooters
• Equipment: Purchase of equipment for active mobility vehicle such as helmets, parts, and gear
• Maintenance: Payment to have active mobility vehicle equipment repaired or inspected