City Manager Finalist Yi-An Huang ’05 — if appointed in June — said he hopes to spur Cambridge to “be more ambitious and act with greater urgency.”
Cambridge’s Initial Screening Committee announced four finalists who will move forward in the search for a new city manager earlier this month: Iram Farooq, Cheryl Watson Fisher, Yi-An Huang ’05, and Norman Khumalo.
Huang, who currently serves as the Boston Medical Center Hospital’s executive director of clinical operations, has spent the majority of his career focused on promoting health care both nationally and globally.
In an interview, Huang said he sees several parallels between his work in health care administration and the work of the city manager.
“I saw some of these parallels around ‘How do you take an organization that’s done a lot of great things and really build on that?’” Huang said. “And, ‘How do you get to the next level?’”
While Huang said his health care management experience has “parallels operationally” to the role of city manager, he said he “recognize[s] that there are a lot of nuances to city, municipal government, urban planning and design.”
“Of the candidates, I am the one who is coming without direct city management background,” Huang said. “I would definitely approach this role with a lot of humility.”
Huang cited the city’s Covid-19 response and the guaranteed income initiative as some of Cambridge’s recent strengths.
Huang highlighted climate change, housing affordability, universal pre-K, and digital equity as issues that could use additional attention. However, Huang said he would not “articulate a really specific personal agenda” going into the role.
In a city candidate questionnaire, Huang responded to prompts asking about experience with various city priorities — including anti-racism, environmental issues, and promotion of the arts — with a combination of professional and personal experiences.
He described his experience leading diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives at Boston Medical Center — including anti-racism and implicit bias training — and argued that the Center’s “path to carbon neutrality” could be a model for achieving Cambridge’s environmental goals.
Huang also recounted when he welcomed a group of Afghan refugees to live in his Cambridge home. Huang wrote that the refugees’ struggle with navigating Cambridge’s market for affordable housing “underlined the challenges we face as a city.”
In his candidate questionnaire, Huang said his motivation for applying to be City Manager stemmed from his career focus in public service and belief in the city’s goals.
“I have a personal stake in the future of this community,” Huang wrote. “It would be a privilege to serve and shape the future of the city.”