Alanna Mallon is currently serving her second term on the Cambridge City Council, and her first as Vice Mayor. While she was born and raised in Brockton, she has been proud to call Cambridge her home since moving to the City in the summer of 2004. Alanna and her husband have two children, a rising eleventh grader at CRLS and eight grader at Vassal Lane Upper School, and Alanna’s experiences as an active participant in her children’s Cambridge Public Schools community were the catalyst to her civic engagement in Cambridge.
Alanna with her husband Bob, her 13 year old daughter and 16 year old son.
In 2013, Alanna became aware that hunger was a barrier for academic success for many of our public school students. By founding the Cambridge Weekend Backpack Program, Alanna created a unique way to not only address the nutritional needs of these vulnerable students, but also establish strong relationships with their families and connect them to other vital community resources. During her time serving as the Education Liaison to Mayor David Maher in 2015-2016, Alanna learned first-hand how dedicated public service combined with strategic public policy can be an effective tool for positive change. Since January of 2016, Alanna has worked at Food For Free, working closely on issues surrounding food insecurity for low-income communities across the Greater Boston area.
These public service experiences allowed Alanna to ‘hit the ground running’ when she first took office as a City Councillor in January 2018. Building broad coalitions of support for meaningful solutions to the complex, deeply intertwined challenges facing our residents has been a natural extension of her previous work, and has enabled her to become an effective leader in municipal government as she tackles the issues most impacting our community, including:
- Addressing COVID-19: Alanna has worked closely with City leadership since the pandemic first hit in March of 2020 to find creative solutions to protect public health and fill in resource gaps across Cambridge. She advocated for expanded, flexible COVID-19 testing for all residents, called for case data to be segmented by race to understand the disparate health impacts the pandemic is having on communities of color, and continues to push for a comprehensive communication strategy to keep residents informed. Alanna and Mayor Siddiqui led efforts to create financial assistance and relief programs for local small businesses, non-profits, and Arts organizations, helping them stay afloat during unprecedented levels of economic depression. When schools closed, she coordinated public meal sites to ensure no child went hungry during the shift to remote learning, serving 70,000 meals in just the first three, short months, while facilitating giveaways for over 5,000 books and 1,000 child-sized face masks, and advocating for City-funded at-home Internet plans to help students stay engaged, while transitioning to more reliable internet access and bridging the digital divide for the whole family. She helped organize a group of devoted, trained volunteers to secure vaccination appointments for the most vulnerable members of our community, from those who are immuno-compromised to in-person educators, to address the short-term public health needs of our community, while envisioning long-term efforts to bring vaccines directly to hard-hit neighborhoods.
- Food Security & Anti-Poverty Efforts: Poverty alleviation is an issue close to Alanna’s heart, and is a central part of every policy decision she makes. Using the insight she gained at Food For Free, she has championed several initiatives to promote food security, including expanded access to free summer food sites, and hot breakfast every day for all CPS students regardless of family income. Alanna advocated for a Children’s Savings Account program, helping families build savings for post-secondary education alongside Mayor Siddiqui, and is currently leading efforts to close the “SNAP Gap” in Cambridge and created a SNAP Match Program at Daily Table, Cambridge’s new affordable grocery store. Alanna is also pushing for the implementation of universal Pre-K, and expanding services at senior centers and afterschool programs. Alongside Mayor Siddiqui, Councillor McGovern, the Cambridge Community Foundation, the Cambridge Economic Opportunity Committee, Just-A-Start, and the Cambridge Housing Authority, Alanna used her firsthand experience having of being raised by a single mom to assist the Mayor in developing Cambridge RISE. This is the first guaranteed income pilot in New England to directly serve and support low-income single caregivers with monthly, no-strings-attached $500 payments, enabling them to address short-term financial needs while investing in long-term success.
- Public Safety: A long-time advocate of public safety reform, Alanna secured millions of dollars to upgrade our firehouses, which were in desperate need of repair. To enhance diversity and Cambridge-residency within our police and fire departments, she also played a key role in re-establishing the Police Cadet Program and creating the Fire Cadet Program, which offers young Cambridge residents a meaningful public service opportunity. Recognizing the need to shift funding to community partners doing critical work early on, Alanna led the charge for a Cambridge ROCA outreach worker to uplift formerly-incarcerated and gang involved residents and help them move away from the criminal justice system with mental health supports, workforce development programs, and more. In the summer of 2020, as there was a groundswell of protests and energy directed toward moving health and human services functions, funding and responsibilities away from the police department, she amped up her efforts to start the discussion on developing an alternative co-response model, where social workers and clinicians would respond to emergency calls on homelessness, mental health crises, and other areas, and remains committed to ensuring public safety feels safe to everyone.
- Economic Development: One of Alanna’s very first efforts after joining the City Council was establishing a Business Improvement District (BID) in Central Square to make it a cleaner, safer, and more welcoming retail environment for our residents, and users of the square. She has also led several initiatives to support our Main Street economy, including efforts to expand Small Business Saturday. As the current Chair of the Economic Development and University Relations Committee, Alanna championed an update to the zoning table of land use that will reduce the time, cost, and stress associated with opening or expanding a small business, advocated for a Spending Disparity Study to uncover potential inequities in City purchasing, and supported efforts to expand outdoor dining with the Patio Heater Reimbursement Program. Now, she is working to address vacant storefronts, advance workforce development opportunities, and is collaborating with our local Business Associations to reduce license and permit fees, eliminate administrative hurdles, and ensure our local small businesses have the tools they need to succeed.
- The Arts: As the Chair of the Mayor’s Arts Task Force, Alanna worked with local artists and leaders from the Central Square Cultural District to develop recommendations that have led to millions of dollars in investment in our local creative economy. Recognizing how the Arts are a central economic driving force, she also brought together the City’s Economic Development Division, the Office of Tourism, and the Arts Council to coordinate efforts. By advocating for City funding for Starlight Square, an outdoor placemaking and performance venue in the heart of Central Square that is now entering its second season, Alanna helped give Arts organizations a platform to continue their work, while ensuring residents had free opportunities to lift their spirits. Partnering with the Cambridge Community Foundation and Mayor Siddiqui, Alanna worked on creating two emergency relief grant funds to help support struggling artists and Arts organizations in Cambridge during the COVID19 pandemic. The first was an Artists relief grant in the early days of the shut down, which ultimately raised and distributed over $260,000 to artists. The second was a Cultural Capital Fund, which infused over $600,000 in COVID-related grants for Arts organizations which ensured our cultural economy survived immediate economic devastation, while having a long-term goal of raising $5,000,000 to secure the future of our artists, and that our Arts organization thrive and grow in number. Moving forward, she is championing additional recommendations from the Task Force, while centering diversity and equity in Cambridge’s resources for artists.
- Affordable Housing: As housing prices continue to skyrocket, Alanna has been on the frontline of affordable housing efforts to prevent families from being priced-out. A staunch supporter of the Affordable Housing Overlay, Alanna worked closely with affordable housing developers to fine tune the petition to maximize its impact, while incorporating suggestions from community stakeholders. More broadly, she has advocated for enhanced, equitable affordable home ownership opportunities, using City-owned vacant lots to add to Cambridge’s affordable housing stock, and supporting the reforming the Neighborhood Conservation District Study process to center diverse voices, and mitigating its impact on housing prices. Looking ahead, she is focused on reforming overly restrictive zoning, like the ban on multi-family homes, and addressing the continued impact of redlining.
As Vice Mayor, Alanna is committed to empowering our community, and ensuring Cambridge is a welcoming, responsive place to all. She is honored to serve the residents of Cambridge, and looks forward to continuing to develop innovative ways to make our City the best it can be.