Posted by Kate Weldon LeBlanc

Mayor Menino and SophieMy hometown of Boston was one of the first loves of my life. As long as I can remember, I have been passionate about the city – its sports teams, its rich diversity, its skyline, its neighborhoods, and yes, its politics. So last week's passing of Thomas Menino feels personal to me, like it does for countless other "Bostonians" – past, present, or honorary.

Tom Menino was the Mayor of Boston for 20 years, half of my life. One of the most impressive statistics is that he met over 60% of Boston residents during his tenure. A friend mused recently that this is probably an underestimate. Mayor Menino loved being at neighborhood events, from dawn to dark. The people of Boston grounded him and gave him energy. Indeed I was one of many who had the opportunity to meet the Mayor on many occasions, and I am so glad that my daughter met him also.

I was fortunate to partner with him and his committed, talented staff on early childhood initiatives. He was an extraordinary leader on behalf of the youngest Bostonians. Like the Center for Early Relationship Support of JF&CS, Mayor Menino believed that you need to support babies as early as possible in their lives to make the biggest impact on their healthy development. Among many other achievements, he founded the Thrive in Five initiative. The launch of "Thrive" was held at the Boston Children's Museum. When Mayor Menino got up to speak, his voice was drowned out by the sounds of kids laughing, yelling, chatting, and running in the museum. I was nervously thinking that maybe this was not a good choice of a venue for the event, because politicians really like to be heard. But then the Mayor paused and stopped talking. During this time, all we could hear were the children. After a few moments, he spoke again. "Listen to that, the most beautiful sounds in the world. They're what it's all about." It was unscripted and heartfelt. Thank you, Mayor Menino, for always remembering what public service really is all about.

kate weldon leblancKate Weldon LeBlanc has been the associate director of CERS since August of 2009. Kate is passionate about child and family issues, particularly on building communities of support for parents. Prior to her arrival at JF&CS, she spent nearly ten years working in the departments of Child Advocacy and Government Relations at Children's Hospital Boston. She holds a BSW from Skidmore College and a MPA from UMass Boston.