New West Roxbury Main Streets Board President Matthew Gruber, previously the organization's treasurer, spoke with West Roxbury Patch about his new role, Main Streets, and a search of a new executive director. Board positions are volunteer.
Patch: What is your job?
Gruber: I am the deputy CFO for the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard University.
Patch: Age? Married?
Gruber: I am 32. Married with one daughter.
Patch: How long have you lived in West Roxbury?
Gruber: Since 2008. My wife was born and raised in West Roxbury.
Patch: What do you like best about West Roxbury?
Gruber: What I really like is the unique combination of the suburban neighborhood-type feel, but with access to the city. We have a community environment with the amenites that the city offers.
Patch: How long have you been involved in WRMS?
Gruber: Since 2009. I’ve always been interested in whatever community I live in, in general. (Former board president) Mike Loconto reached out tO me when I first came to Harvard, and we made the connection there, and he talked about what (West Roxbury Main Streets) did. I thought supporting a vibrant downtown business district was hugely important. We have the best of both worlds that you can go into town, but have a lot of offerings near us. So supporting that is hugely important to me.
Patch: There’s now a search going on for a new West Roxbury Main Streets executive director?
Gruber: We’re having a board meeting (tonight). We’re putting a search committee together. In general we're looking for someone who is dedicated to the mission and community, and that doesn’t mean they have to live here. (he or she should be) customer focused, is able to handle a wide arrange of duties and responsibilties. That’s one of the nice things about the job, it changes day to day. One day you could do major event planning, or serving as a liaison the next day for City Hall. You have to be a go getter.
Patch: How can someone get involved with WRMS?
Gruber: The best way to do is to reach out to any our existing board members. Or me. They can email Kara (O'Connor) who is on the board until April 2. But email wrms@org – we’ll have access to that.
There are lots of opportunities – the biggest thing is the Taste Committee – last year we had 450 people attend the Taste of West Roxbury. We're hoping to make it bigger this year. We need a whole host of committee members running the gamut from helping out with social media promotion, to business and restarurant outreach, to permitting, logistics, and the more traditional PR side and helping out with graphic design. Anything that goes into major event planning – we could use the help. It’s time limited and we’re happy to have people involved in those things. The other opportunities in the long term is we have a membership committee reaching out to businesses to increase membership. We use our committees as ways to build the bench and get involved without full board membership.
Patch: What are you looking forward to in West Roxbury?
Gruber: What I’m looking forward to is building on the Taste and building our profile and increasing our membership base. We offer a lot of great services to businesses and to restarurants. I want to be the hub of the business community, where they can come for any host of issues, whether it’s city permitting or marketing help. Just to be the first point of contact for help. Our board has connections all over the place, either from a formal help like helping get a grant, to larger networking capabilities that come from our board memebrs.
Patch: What else would you like to say?
Gruber: We are thankful for the time (leaving executive director) Kara O'Connor put in. it’s a great opportunity for her to move on to the city.