Batter Up: Micho F. Spring, chair, Weber Shandwick Global Corporate Practice and New England region; government, civic and corporate leader
Micho Spring’s family fled Communist-controlled Cuba in 1960, leaving behind everything they owned. At age 10, she was a young immigrant facing assimilation challenges as old (and new) as America itself. She would go on to study at Georgetown and Columbia University and earn a master’s degree from the John F. Kennedy School of Government. After working in New York City for Mayor John Lindsay, she joined the staff of Boston Mayor Kevin White in the mid-1970s, eventually becoming deputy mayor and chief of staff.
At Weber Shandwick, a global public relations firm, Micho has solidified her reputation as one of Boston’s most influential business leaders. She sits on the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce’s Executive Committee and on numerous boards, including the Massachusetts Women’s Forum. In March, she joined Barack Obama’s delegation on the President’s historic trip to Cuba. She is being honored at the 2016 BASE Ball for her work on behalf of Boston’s immigrant communities and inner-city youth, and for her many contributions to civic life over the past five decades.
Connect your own life story to the work you’re doing today.
Having been an urban youth myself, I’ve always made opening up opportunities for young people a top priority. When I worked in city government, youth programs were at the heart of what we did. The crusade to save our cities became my generation’s defining cause. At the time, the future of cities like New York and Boston was in serious question. A crucial element was making sure inner-city youth could imagine a future for themselves. It’s a lot better today, although there’s still work to do.
Compare 1970s-era Boston to what the city is like now, demographically and otherwise.
From busing to G.E., right? Seriously, it’s a very different city now. When I started at City Hall, it was an Irish male bastion. For a young Hispanic woman like myself, it was quite a cultural challenge. In those days, you had to make the case for embracing minorities and diversity because it was the “right thing to do.” In today’s Boston, it’s our competitive advantage.
In your experience, what kinds of programs and initiatives work best?
Education and training work best. Partners HealthCare is a good example, by providing not only entry level jobs for people in the community but by giving them a chance at upward mobility. It’s also what Robert does [at The BASE]: building tangible bridges between communities so they really understand each other and work together.
The political climate in 2016 has been pretty divisive. How has that affected the challenges you’re talking about?
No question, it has. As an immigrant and a woman, I’ve been offended in so many ways. But I’ve also been heartened by what is no longer deemed acceptable. In Boston, none of this [divisiveness] has really been echoed, fortunately. Relationships between the police and our communities are certainly better than in many other cities. There’s also a powerful sisterhood here, modeling behavior for our young people in positive ways.