By Dan Murphy
After more than two years in the position, Mohona Siddique is stepping down as City Councilor Josh Zakim’s neighborhood liaison at the end of the week to pursue a master’s degree in city planning from the University of Pennsylvania.
“My role in shaping the landscape of city comes from advocating for the community,” Siddique said. “Compared to other cities, Boston has a very community-driven development process, so getting my master’s in city planning will allow me to shift from community advocacy to the development or policy side.”
Siddique first came to the Boston area from her hometown of Chevy Chase, Md., to attend Wellesley College. After graduating with a double major in psychology and Italian studies in 2010, she relocated to Austin, Texas, where she did a year of service as an AmeriCorps volunteer teaching lower-income teens how to navigate the college-application process. Siddique worked on Capitol Hill as an intern for Congressmen Barney Frank and Lloyd Doggett next, before joining President Obama’s 2012 campaign in Virginia.
In 2013, Siddique returned to Boston to work as the field director on the mayoral campaign for Dorchester community activist Bill Walczack.
“I wanted to move back to Boston and knew it would be a really interesting race,” she said. “And through that campaign I met some folks who connected me with Josh.”
Siddique began working at Zakim’s office in May of 2014 – four months after he began his term as an elected official.
“It’s been awesome working for Josh,” Siddique said. “He’s a champion of housing issues, and just a progressive, dynamic guy. It’s been great being involved in a small way in him finding issues that he thinks are important and moving them forward.”
Siddique said she feels privileged to have worked not only with Zakim, but also with his constituents. “It’s been tremendous opportunity to be involved in all of these neighborhoods that are so well organized and have individuals so passionate about sustaining their communities,” she said.
Siddique added, “I’ll miss everything about Boston. I love that people here are more straightforward than any place I’ve been. It’s home to me in a lot of ways.”
Zakim anticipates Siddique’s departure from his office will be a “period of adjustment,” adding that his other staff members are already stepping up to help compensate for her absence.
“We’re very sorry to lose Mohona,” Zakim said. “She’s obviously done a great job of getting to know the downtown neighborhoods and developing great relationships with residents, community leaders and people in the different city department she works with to address constituent concerns.”
Zakim added, “I don’t think we could have asked for anyone better over the last two couple of years, but we’re happy she’s advancing in her education and career.”
Siddique’s replacement will be Kate Bell – a Mt. Holyoke College graduate who previously worked for Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz.
“I think she’s going to be really great fit,” Siddique said of Bell. “She’s very smart and already asking the right questions. She’s really excited to be on board.”