ENRIQUE PEPEN

Executive Director
City of Boston Office of Neighborhood Service

Heritage: Dominican

By: Frank Morris Lopez

 

Awards & Recognitions:

  • Dominicano Ejemplar 2019 

  • Best Delegate Award Model United Nations - 2017 

  • Nathan Miller Outstanding Scholar / Suffolk University 2015-19

Growing up in public housing in Charlestown, Enrique Pepen remembers the strong community support shown by neighbors living in his apartment building.

“We’d have cookouts and everyone was invited. Neighbors would literally knock on the door asking for sugar. We didn’t have the most resources, but we took care of each other,” he said.

After a major shooting at Charlestown High School and a promise by former Mayor Thomas Menino to open a police station nearby, Pepen knew he wanted to be “a part of the solution.” So, at a young age, Pepen — the son of Dominican immigrants — set his sights on a career in public service.

In high school, he got involved in Model United Nations and found himself excited to learn about politics, history and government. The first in his family to attend college — and to experience the college application process — Pepen landed a full ride to Suffolk University.

And from there, he would not stop. From freshman to junior year, Pepen worked for former City Councilor Tito Jackson as a constituent service representative. He then went on to serve as district coordinator for former U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy III, helping constituents with government-related casework and teaming up with Senator Elizabeth Warren’s office to assist Puerto Rican refugees in Fall River.

Come his senior year of college, Pepen got a position working for former Mayor Marty Walsh as the Jamaica Plain liaison for the City of Boston, serving as the community contact for residents.

After undergrad, Pepen worked on Kennedy’s senate campaign, before becoming the community engagement coordinator for Transportation for Massachusetts. “That job was actually very different, because instead of doing constituent work, I was pushing progressive transportation policy,” he recalled.

This year, Pepen landed the role of executive director at the Boston Office of Neighborhood Services, where he makes sure all neighbors across the city have their essential municipal needs met. He does it all while pursuing a master’s in public administration from Northeastern University and serving as chair of the Young Democrats of Massachusetts Latino Caucus.

Pepen’s recommendation to Latino youth? “Find a topic that personally impacts you, find whatever you’re passionate about, and become an activist in that field — because that is how you create change.” 

“If you want to make an impact, you have to use your voice, and if you don’t do that, you’re missing out on what happens if you don’t step up.”