City of Somerville
Health Department Director
City Hall Annex
50 Evergreen Avenue
Somerville MA 02145
Phone: 617-625-6600 x 4300 Fax: 617-629-3040 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mayor Joseph A.Curtatone appointed Ms.Burke Public Health Director for the City of
Somerville in November 2004. Since then she has overseen the reorganization and strengthening
of public health in Somerville. Her vision is to create and sustain a 21st century public health
department for the city of Somerville.
Ms. Burke had served as the Somerville Health Agenda Director since 1999, when she was hired
by the Cambridge Health Alliance to build on the hugely successful Assessment Protocol for
Excellence in Public Health (APEX) community health planning process. She has facilitated the
growth of coalitions on substance abuse prevention, nutrition, and children’s oral health care.
She spearheaded Somerville’s participation in the statewide Healthy Communities Training
Institute, which led to a community-visioning forum in May 2002, and subsequent publication of
the “Wellbeing of Somerville 2002” indicator report. A departure from previous reports, it
contains, for the first time, social, environmental, and economic indicators of the overall health
of the community along with more traditional measures of public health. Ms. Burke works
closely with the City’s Health Agenda Director Jessica Collins in recruiting new community
leaders to participate in community health processes and supporting the missions and goals of
smaller community agencies.
Ms. Burke was raised in a small farming community in County Galway Ireland and went on to
graduate from Carysfort Teacher Training College, Dublin, Ireland with honors. Following five
years as a primary school teacher she immigrated to Boston in 1989 to change careers to human
rights. She worked at a variety of jobs including elder companionship and housecleaning while
attending the College of Public and Community Service at University of Massachusetts-Boston
specializing in legal advocacy and conflict resolution.
After receiving a green card in an immigration lottery, she worked for three years as an
investigator and mediator at the Massachusetts Commission against Discrimination. She came to
Somerville in 1996 to lead the municipal Human Rights Commission. She organized a ‘Human
Rights Begins at Home’ conference, conducted anti-racism forums, and strengthened the
Commission by recruiting new members and conducting a strategic planning process.
Ms. Burke is passionate about the vision and community indicators work of Tyler Norris at the
Healthy Community Initiatives and John McKnight from the Asset-Based Community
Development Institute. Ms. Burke received a Masters in Public Policy from the Urban and
Environmental Policy and Planning school at Tufts University in May 2005. She lives in a
neighboring community and is an active supporter of local human services, and immigrant-led