City manager runner-up Norman Khumalo said he was led to Cambridge as a ‘community in transition’ in his candidate questionnaire. Cambridge, he wrote, “is pursuing contemporary ideals and in some cases losing ground on gains made in the past.”
Cambridge’s initial selection 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.
Khumalo is currently the City Manager of Hopkinton, a position he has held since 2009. Previously, he held management and planning positions in the governments of Westford, Walpole, Wellesley and Lawrence in Massachusetts. He also worked as a senior town planner in the city of Bulawayo in Zimbabwe.
In his resume, Khumalo, who declined an interview request, describes himself as a “very talented city manager” who “seeks to apply his broad skills to a city organization”.
Earlier this year, Khumalo was named one of three finalists for City Manager of Watertown, but was not selected for the role.
The cover letter he submitted for the Watertown job, which has been made public by Watertown City Council, is nearly identical – save for several minor wording changes – to the one he submitted. for Cambridge.
Khumalo says in his Cambridge Candidate Questionnaire that he is “inspired by Cambridge’s commitment to fighting income inequality, social change, social justice, equity and anti-racism.” It also highlights affordable housing, public transportation and sustainability as other top priorities.
Some of Khumalo’s past initiatives outlined in his application included establishing “the first public transportation routes in Westford and Hopkinton” and introducing the Dial-A-Ride program for elderly residents. He also detailed projects designed to mitigate climate change – what he describes as Hopkintown’s “strategic priority” – such as a stormwater management plan and the addition of green space in Hopkinton developments.
When asked to describe his leadership style in the questionnaire, Khumalo centered his description on “Ubuntu”. Khumalo describes philosophy as an understanding that “as human beings we are attached in every way”.
He frequently uses the term “balance” to describe his leadership principles – balancing “confidence with humility”, “desire to accomplish with patience”, and “hard work with joyful experience”.
“The pandemic has reinforced my belief in ‘Ubuntu’,” writes Khumalo. “Especially around the need to be human-centered in a holistic way, to better understand my colleagues and residents, including placing their needs, aspirations, resilience, well-being at the center of my daily routines with a renewed enthusiasm.”