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The Huntington News

The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News

The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News



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Get to know your local leaders: Q&A with Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Mission Hill, Fenway-Kenmore liaison Margaret Van Scoy

Kate Armanini
A sign welcoming visitors to Mission Hill. Margaret “Maggie” Van Scoy was chosen to be a liaison for the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services in July 2022 for the neighborhoods of Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Mission Hill and Fenway-Kenmore.

Margaret “Maggie” Van Scoy became a liaison for the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services in July 2022. In this role, she serves as the connection between the city government and four neighborhoods: Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Mission Hill and Fenway-Kenmore. While these historic areas have many differences, Van Scoy enjoys having the opportunity to engage with the wide array of cultures and communities. The News spoke with Van Scoy about her experience as a liaison and how she handles the variety of issues in each neighborhood.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

HN: How did you enter into this role?

Van Scoy: I knew about this role and this opportunity because I was watching what the mayor was doing — what Michelle [Wu] was doing. I was doing that because I used to be a policy intern for her when she was a councilor at-large back in 2019. I just have always found her such an inspiring and thoughtful leader that I thought it would be a great opportunity.

HN: What has this role been like for you so far?

Van Scoy: This role is kind of a wild ride. I listen to the residents, and I let the city know what the residents are thinking and what’s going on in neighborhoods, so it’s a lot of information that you have to gather into your mind when you first start out. 

HN: You cover a wide variety of neighborhoods compared to other liaisons. How do you approach these different communities?

Van Scoy: I think understanding that each neighborhood has a different identity is important. I knew about the general makeup of neighborhoods from an outsider’s perspective, but when I started this role, I think I learned quickly that the way that you get to know a neighborhood is through talking to people who have lived there, who have built community there, who know the history of the neighborhood. 

HN: What are some of the biggest issues you hear about?

Van Scoy: Obviously, there are a lot of different things going on. 

On trash day, [Beacon Hill residents] take up a garbage bag and they set it on their sidewalk. They do this in Back Bay as well. And they’re allowed to do that after 5 [p.m.] the day before their trash pickup … which means that rodents can smell the food, chew through the bag and then have a feast basically all night.

[Fenway-Kenmore] and Mission Hill have seen a lot of development in recent years. And so, I hear a lot about what you want to see in terms of more housing affordability or what development should look like.

HN: What does the role look like on a daily basis?

Van Scoy: Our work is a mix of more administrative work in City Hall and on the ground fieldwork. Answering phone calls, answering emails, getting in touch with departments to follow up on cases like if somebody has reported a pothole. And then on other days in the field, we run coffee hours in our neighborhoods where people can stop by and ask us a question or state a concern. I will use the 311 app and walk my neighborhood and log issues that I see. I went all around [Beacon] Hill and took a photo of every gas mount that needed repair so that I was able to track on my 311 app all the repairs that happened.

HN: What’s been your experience getting in contact with residents?

Van Scoy: I like to introduce myself to business owners by going into different businesses and walking up to the counter and introducing myself and telling them a bit about my role and giving my business card and things like that. I also do that when I go to citywide events and when I go to neighborhood events. I’ll meet people through other residents. I reach out to people on social media, those sorts of things too.

HN: What role does Northeastern University play in the neighborhoods you liaise for?

Van Scoy: I’ve seen Northeastern get really involved in neighborhood-led events like the Mission Hill Road Race every year. I do think that Northeastern’s presence on the Hill, sometimes with parties, can get a little bit much for some other residents, so we like to manage kind of the student population and the resident population living together with the help of Northeastern University leadership, our police and others. 

Van Scoy: Being a liaison to me means that the neighborhood knows that they can go to you for information about the city, that you’re a friendly face of the administration, that you are the government with boots on the ground. 

HN: What do you like most about the role?

Van Scoy: My favorite part of the job is probably attending events and meeting people. I love seeing what people care about seeing what gets people excited — what brings community together every year. That’s been my favorite part.

About the Contributors
Darin Zullo
Darin Zullo, Deputy Lifestyle Editor
Darin Zullo is a second-year journalism and English combined major with a minor in photojournalism. This is his second semester as a deputy photo editor for The News. He has also written for the Global Observer and the Scope and is looking forward to continue working with The News this semester.
Kate Armanini
Kate Armanini, Editor-At-Large
Kate Armanini is a second-year journalism and political science major with a minor in Spanish. She's currently on co-op at The Boston Globe on the city/express desk. Kate is from San Francisco and has been writing for The News since fall 2021.
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