When Andy Cambi ’20 started working for the City of Pittsfield Health Department, he knew he wanted to advance in his career. With hard work, mentorship, encouragement, and an MCLA degree, he did—and is now the city’s director of public health.
The Pittsfield Board of Health unanimously approved Cambi’s promotion to director at the end of 2021. He had already been in the role on an interim basis after the previous director, Gina Armstrong, recommended him when she departed in fall 2021.
Armstrong encouraged him to seek out training, attend meetings to learn the ins and outs of public health and community outreach, and advance his career. “A big reason for my success is that the City of Pittsfield provided an environment to foster that,” he said. “I was able to see the full lens of public health. Through those opportunities, I realized I had a passion for public service.”
He knew he needed a bachelor’s degree to advance, and found out about MCLA’s Degree Completion Program while researching online. He liked that it gave him the opportunity to attend classes after work (right across from the street from City Hall, in fact, at MCLA-Pittsfield), so he reached out for more information. Barb Emanuel, director of programs for MCLA’s Division of Graduate and Continuing Education, helped him through the application process. “I got a response right away,” he said. “Even now, Barb will check in with me. She was very helpful in getting me through each year.”
While earning his bachelor’s in leadership and business, he took classes like Managing Workplace Diversity and The Power of Persuasion, which he says have helped him communicate more effectively when he’s presenting at meetings in Pittsfield and across the county. “Learning those skills in a class setting prepared me for that. Now that it’s real life, it kind of flows out easily,” he said.
Cambi said he loves working with city residents and business owners on things like rental housing inspections and restaurant safety regulations, two important Health Department responsibilities that keep the population safe. “It gives me so much pride to be able to help a new member of the community who wants to open a restaurant, but has no restaurant experience,” he said. “I can walk them through the process. The reward is that person saved up for many years to accomplish their dream, and just needed some guidance to accomplish that!”
Local newspapers have noted Cambi’s commitment to making sure everyone in the community can understand and interact with public health messaging. As a Spanish speaker who moved to the Berkshires as a child, he knows that Pittsfield has a diverse population that should have equitable access to this information. “I understand the challenges of someone coming here from another country and not being able to speak English,” he said. “I want to be aware of that—not just with Spanish but any other languages spoken within the city.”
Now that COVID restrictions are lifting, Cambi said his goals for the year are to fully staff his department, address employee stress and exhaustion brought on by the pandemic, and seek out new professional development opportunities for his team. Public health is now at the front of people’s minds, and he wants to take advantage of that to advance the work of the department. “I want to share a positive outlook on whatever we are going through,” he said.