Meehan steps down and Champion returns

On November 20, 2011, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times

On November 1, Thomas P. Champion, returned to the city as Executive Director of Communications and Cable.

By Cathleen Twardzik

Michael Meehan has tendered his resignation as Executive Director of Communications and Cable of the City of Somerville. That became effective on Friday, October 28.

Meehan has served as the city’s communications director since April 2010.

Additionally, Thomas P. Champion, former director, has accepted an offer to return to the City as Executive Director of Communications and Cable on Saturday, November 1.

Champion previously headed the city’s office of Communications and Cable from December 2004 to January 2010, when he resigned to take a job in the private sector.

“Mayor Curtatone called me when Michael had decided to leave, and asked me to consider coming back. Everything came together in the last week of October, and the mayor wanted me to start as soon as possible,” said Champion.

Prior to his very recent appointment, Champion spoke with various potential employers.  However, none of them could “match Joe’s combination of an immediate job offer and a firm start date,” he said.

Further, “When I left the job in early 2010, Joe said he understood that I needed new challenges, but he also told me, ‘You’ll never have as much fun as you’ve had in this job.’  Alderman Roche reminded me last week that he’d predicted in 2010, on my last day with the city, that I’d be back.  It turns out they were both right.”

“Michael has been a valuable colleague and dedicated employee, and we are sad to see him go.  He’s an exceptional writer, and he’s done a fine job spreading the word about the city’s policy, economic development and transportation successes of the past eighteen months,” said Curtatone.

“Although [Meehan] made the decision to move on from a full-time role,” the mayor has asked him to remain working for the city on several specific projects, which will occur soon.

“Somerville is an incredibly exciting, high-energy community, and it’s easy for the job of communications director to become an all-consuming, 24/7 marathon.  As the father of two young children, I plan to move into a career that keeps me closer to home. First, however, I intend to slow down the pace for a while, although, I will continue to be on-call to the mayor and the city for occasional assignments,” said Meehan.

“We needed to move quickly to find someone with the experience and knowledge to hit the ground running, I am very pleased to announce that Tom Champion has agreed to return to his previous position,” said Curtatone.

That transition arose rapidly, as well as unexpectedly.  However, it provides an opportunity in the upcoming months to think about how to enhance and restructure the city’s communication channels.

“In his prior service as communications director, Tom had a central role in helping to develop new cable programming, the Connect CTY mass notification system, our revised web site and our 311 constituent service system,” said Curtatone.

Which projects are upcoming in the very near future for Champion?  Michael Meehan already began to “pursue some important upgrades to the city’s Web site,” said Champion, who would like to continue to support Meehan’s initiative and to augment it with his own ideas.

“For example, I think we can enhance the visibility and usefulness of our online streaming video. My biggest immediate challenge, however, is to work with the rest of the mayor’s team to continue shaping a strategic communications program that helps Somerville fully promote the positive impacts of the new orange line stop, Assembly Row, the Green Line Extension and the MaxPak project,” he said.

“Working for the people of Somerville, and for Mayor Curtatone, has been one of the high points of my career and an enormous privilege.  I’m honored and excited to have an opportunity to renew that service,” said Champion.

What does Champion specifically believe will be the most exciting part of returning as Executive Director of Communications and Cable of the City of Somerville?  “The change I’ve seen over the past year and a half is that, after some difficult years of national recession and delays in promised investment, many of the positive changes we were talking [about] and writing about in 2009 and 2010 are actually taking physical shape in 2011 and 2012.”

“Somerville is enjoying a surge of transit-related, sustainable development that will permanently enhance our economy and quality of life. That’s what makes this an especially exciting time to work for the city, and to live here, too,” said Champion.


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