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New assistant vice chancellor for city and community relations is a ‘human bridge’

Ché Anderson joins UMass Medical School from the City of Worcester

By Colleen Locke

UMass Medical School Communications

January 22, 2021

UMass Medical School’s new assistant vice chancellor for city and community relations comes into the role with a reputation for bringing people together. Ché Anderson joins the Office of Government and Community Relations after nearly seven years with the City of Worcester.

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Ché Anderson

“I’m really looking forward to finding new ways to connect and liaise the campus to the city through the public schools or through the work with the city administration itself or through nonprofit projects that may come up through the students on campus,” Anderson said. “I’m excited for growth opportunies for the campus and for myself, finding new ways to bring people together. That’s one of the things that I think I do best. I’m a human bridge, is what I’ve been told. I can’t wait to meet faculty, staff and student leaders and find ways to plug them into the Worcester community.”

Anderson, who became the city’s deputy cultural officer in July 2019, is perhaps best known as the founding director of the Worcester edition of the international mural festival known as POW! WOW!. The festival brings artists from around the world and has curated more than 100 pieces of public art in the city since its inception in 2016. Anderson received the first of two keys to the city because of this work, but he’s most proud of the relationships he built during his time with the city.

“In 2017, the city manager said we want to do 100 events on the common. That became an opportunity to meet with so many nonprofit and for-profit leaders in the community and say, ‘How do we get you on the common?” Anderson said. “I think that quite often people see structures like the city as a daunting group that’s going to say no to things, and I felt like it was my job to turn nos to yeses.”

Anderson’s most recent endeavors include serving on the Rose Kennedy Greenway Public Art Advisory Group and Food and Convo, an online platform that explores the intersectionality of public art, the creative culinary industry, music and shared human-centered experience. Anderson was part of Worcester Business Journal’s Power 50 list in 2019 and was Worcester Magazine’s Person of the Year in 2016.

“Though I no longer work for the government, I still work for the city. I still work to make sure that the City of Worcester is the best example of a city that it can be and that the people of Worcester feel as though they are heard and part of conversations that need to be held; that people are informed of the latest and greatest, particularly at a time like right now, where there’s so many questions around COVID-19 vaccinations as well as around government in general,” Anderson said.

“I’m thrilled that Ché has joined our team,” said Vice Chancellor for Government Relations John Erwin. “He brings not only significant city government and community experience to the position, but also a real passion and love for Worcester that helps us build upon and enhance our partnership.”

Anderson has a Bachelor of Arts in political science from College of the Holy Cross and will be completing a Master of Public Administration in senior leadership from Clark University this spring.

Anderson is filling the role previously held by Kola Akindele, who left UMMS in November 2020 to serve as assistant vice president of external relations and strategic partnerships at WPI.