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Menicocci prepares to take over as Williamstown town manager

Robert Menicocci.
County of Santa Clara Social Services Agency
Robert Menicocci.

The new permanent town manager of Williamstown, Massachusetts is set to begin work this July.

Robert Menicocci was born in raised in Gloucester, Massachusetts. The 56-year-old is currently the director of the Santa Clara County Social Services Agency in California. This summer, he’ll take over the reins as Williamstown town manager from Charlie Blanchard, who has held the role on an interim basis since last spring. Jason Hoch was to serve in the role on a permanent basis before his May 2021 resignation that was precipitated by a series of scandals involving the town’s police department.

“Our agency is your kind of typical government agency,” said Menicocci. “It's an umbrella agency that serves various areas of social welfare programs. So, kind of your traditional child welfare programs, programs of transitional assistance and employment services for individuals and families. We do veteran's services. And we also handle the programs for disabled adults and the aging, senior population.”

He says his work in public policy has given him a well-rounded view of not just how to manage governmental affairs but also how they impact communities.

“I started my work for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as a budget analyst and continued for a state agency there, and continued to work in that agency up through being an assistant budget director, and then a budget director, and then moved on to another government role in the social welfare space, and took on more finance responsibilities there, learned the ropes through that work," said Menicocci. "Continued working in some other counties in California, as well as in the commonwealth, continuing to progress in my experience of handling kind of your operations, your administrative and finance roles, kind of basically serving as the chief operating officer for these large, large, state and county agencies.”

Menicocci steps into the role of town manager after a tumultuous run for Williamstown, where the national racial reckoning of the summer 2020 Black Lives Matter protests dovetailed with local concerns about documented racial harassment and hostility within the Williamstown Police Department.

A Bennington, Vermont homeowner with a residence not far from Williamstown, the new town manager says he’s done his homework before stepping into the role.

“Folks, to the extent that it was possible without violating any confidentiality, were very candid about what the challenges of the past were, and really what they're looking for in the future to address some of that so that the town can move forward and learn from its experiences and, you know, improve its service delivery and things like that," Menicocci told WAMC. "So, again, I think folks were folks were very candid about it. Obviously, there's plenty of information just out there for public consumption, to, you know, so I could brief myself as I was thinking about the opportunity.”

He says social justice has always been at the forefront of his work.

“From my perspective, the inequities, the bias, the racism, things that have existed within our world, our governments and our institutions, is nothing new, in terms of, you know, the thought process of working through solutions for that," said the new town manager. "So, it's always been part of my work, and engaging in doing social welfare policy, and thinking about how we can improve those systems, improve the lives of folks, why they come to those systems in the first place, and what problems around bias and racism, things of that nature, have resulted in people’s situations, landing where they are.”

After years of intense local debate over these issues, Menicocci says he is “very anxious to be a very hopefully positive thought partner in that work.”

“My background and my passion for that has always been in place, and has always brought that to my work, you know, through a variety of different efforts and working to improve the lives of folks with recognizing first and foremost, you know, not just providing an immediate solution to an emergency, but really getting at the root of what inequities existed in our education systems, in our justice systems, and in our social welfare systems,” he told WAMC.

Menicocci starts as Williamstown’s new town manager on July 1st. His one-year contract comes with a salary of $155,000.

Josh Landes has been WAMC's Berkshire Bureau Chief since February 2018, following stints at WBGO Newark and WFMU East Orange. A passionate advocate for Western Massachusetts, Landes was raised in Pittsfield and attended Hampshire College in Amherst, receiving his bachelor's in Ethnomusicology and Radio Production. His free time is spent with his cat Harry, experimental electronic music, and exploring the woods.
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