Joseph C. O'Brien

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Joseph C. O'Brien
Mayor of Worcester, Massachusetts
In office
Preceded by Konstantina Lukes
Succeeded by Joseph Petty
Personal details
Born November 25, 1965 (age 50)
Worcester, Massachusetts
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Lisa Laurel Weinberg
Profession Community Organizer

Joseph C. O'Brien (born November 25, 1965) is a Massachusetts politician. He is currently an at-large member of the Worcester, Massachusetts City Council. From 2010–2012, he served as Mayor of Worcester, Massachusetts.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

O'Brien was born and raised in Worcester. He earned a B.A. in urban studies from Fordham University and a M.A. in public administration from Harvard University.[2]

Professional career[edit]

After graduating from college, O'Brien worked as a community organizer in the Bronx and Worcester. In 2001, O'Brien was elected to the Worcester School Committee. He served on the School Committee for three two-year terms and led efforts to improve programs for at-risk students and to expand student health services. From 2003-2004 O'Brien woerked as the Director of the Mass Voters For Clean Elections and then as Director of the Commonwealth Coalition. In 2006 he served as campaign Manager for then Worcester Mayor Tim Murray's successful campaign for Lt. Governo. From 2007-2009, O'Brien worked as District Director for U.S. Congressman and Worcester resident Jim McGovern.[2]

O'Brien launched a campaign for Mayor of Worcester in 2009. He faced off against incumbent Konstantina Lukes and City Councilor Kathleen Toomey. His campaign received support from Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray, himself a former mayor of the city. On November 3, 2009, O'Brien won the mayoral election with 50% of the vote.[3]

As Mayor, O’Brien initiated and led a special Mayors Task Forces on Job Growth and Retention that created a comprehensive strategic plan for economic growth in the city. ( He also created the Mayors Civic Academy to teach civic participation to community leaders and this model program has been continued by current Mayor Joe Petty. ( As Char of the Worcester School Committee he spearheaded a comprehensive effort to address the capital needs of the city’s public schools that resulted in more than 13 million dollars of funding for school renovation and technology upgrades ( He also created the Mayor’s Task Force on Latino Student Excellence to address the growing achievement gap for Latino students. ( To better support the cities growing immigrant population he helped launch the Mayors Immigrant and Refugee Roundtable.

O'Brien aroused controversy by spearheading a boycott of Arizona due to its law regarding illegal immigration, Arizona SB 1070.[4] He also supported a resolution made by the U.S. Conference of Mayors that called for the United States to pull its troops out of Afghanistan.[5] O'Brien took stances on taxes, such as supporting shifting taxes from businesses to homeowners and raising the state income tax, generated opposition.[6]

O'Brien announced on September 16, 2011 that he would not seek reelection as mayor after he and his wife adopted two young children from Ethiopia. O'Brien then served for one term as an at-large seat on the City Council.[7]

O'Brien currently works as the Political & Finance Director for Congressman James McGovern and is an Adjunct Professor at Clark University in Worcester. He also works as an EMS Paramedic part-time in Central Massachusetts.

Personal life[edit]

O'Brien is a resident of the main south neighborhood in the city of Worcester. He is married to Lisa Laurel Weinberg, a human rights attorney and they have two children, Wondimu and Wotatwa. He currently serves on the board of several community-based organizations and is an active volunteer in his neighborhood.


  1. ^ "Councilor O'Brien". Retrieved 2011-01-05. 
  2. ^ a b "Biography". Retrieved 2011-01-05. 
  3. ^ "Election Results". Retrieved 2011-01-05. 
  4. ^ Robert Zemeth (2011-07-18). "Three Cheers for Arizona". Worcester Telegram & Gazette. 
  5. ^ Sam Stein (2011-06-15). "U.S. Mayors to Push for First Anti-War Resolution Since Vietnam". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2011-01-05. 
  6. ^ Shaun Sutner (2011-06-15). "`The mayor is an enigma'; O'Brien not afraid to take sometimes unpopular positions". Worcester Telegram & Gazette. 
  7. ^ Nick Kotsopoulos (2011-09-17). "O'Brien ends re-election bid for city mayor. Family challenges cited". Worcester Telegram & Gazette. 
Political offices
Preceded by
Konstantina Lukes
Mayor of Worcester, Massachusetts
January 10, 2007-January 2, 2010
Succeeded by
Joseph Petty