Executive Director, EforAll Holyoke/EparaTodos; Holyoke City Councilor; Age 32
Tessa Murphy-Romboletti says she was just 8 years old when she had her first experience with effecting change in Holyoke.
Telling the story, she said she had a real affection for Friendly’s ice-cream treats. To get to the Friendly’s, she had to cross busy Route 5, which wasn’t a problem until a certain traffic light stopped working as it should.
Missing her ice cream compelled her to ask her grandfather what could be done to get the light fixed, and upon being told that she should call the mayor’s office … she did just that. And her phone call promoted some action.
And it did more than that. Much more. It empowered her, and, in many ways, it put her on a path to occupying an at-large seat on her hometown’s City Council; she won election last fall.
“From that traffic-light experience, I was like, ‘what else can I fix?’” she recalled, adding that she quickly moved on to the vacant field across from her house. When a candidate for City Council knocked on the door, she informed him that she would like to see it turned into a park. It took a while, but that’s just what that space became.
“I always had a deep love for local government, and I’ve always cared about improving my neighborhood,” said Murphy-Romboletti, adding that this passion eventually led to taking an internship with then-mayor Mike Sullivan while she was in college, which led to a job in the mayor’s office and, later, another job with the Planning and Economic Development department.
Her love of Holyoke and desire to build its business community took a different path when, in 2016, she became director of SPARK, a nonprofit that was part of the region’s entrepreneurship ecosystem, and merged it into EforAll, now a national organization.