Mitchell B. Weiss
doesn't come out of the traditional school of Boston politics.
As the 33-year-old Harvard Business School graduate prepares to ascend to his
new job as Mayor Thomas M. Menino's chief of staff, you won't find him tossing back pints at Doyle's or poring over ward and precinct numbers from the last election.
has been boning up on his
favorite books, rereading "The Wealth of Networks,'' an erudite exploration of how online collaborations are changing society, and "Predictably Irrational,'' an MIT professor's unraveling of how social norms skew our ability to reason.
- who has spent the last four years thinking about regulatory policy at The Tobin Project
, an obscure Harvard Square nonprofit - is putting his
own cerebral spin on things as he
goes to work for Menino, the ultimate meat-and-potatoes urban mechanic.
"There are 1,463 days left when the new term starts Jan. 4th,'' said Weiss, a native of suburban Chicago who moved to the Boston area in 1995 to attend Harvard as an undergraduate.
"The mayor wants to make the most of every single one of those days, and my mission is to help him really make this term his
"It appears, with the appointment of Mitch, that he's looking at some fresh thinking and a new perspective than has existed at City Hall, and that's a positive thing,'' said James E. Rooney, a former Menino chief of staff.
After graduating from Harvard in 1999 with a degree in economics, Weiss worked at Merrill Lynch in Chicago, focusing on mergers and acquisitions.
He returned to Boston to attend Harvard Business School, and interned after his first year of graduate school in Chicago's city budget office.
After his fellowship, Weiss became the first executive director of The Tobin Project, a nonprofit that seeks to engage academics in public policy questions.
Behind the scenes, Weiss remained "one of the Tom Menino gang,'' - a small circle of confidants the mayor regularly called upon for advice, according to David A. Passafaro, a former chief of staff who is now treasurer of the mayor's campaign committee.
The mayor, for example, quietly enlisted Weiss
to help him write his 2005 state of the city address, his 2006 inaugural address, and his victory speech on election night last November, when Menino declared: "We haven't made history with this election, but we will, with what we create of it.''
At the same time, Weiss
was becoming a Bostonian
proposed to his
wife, Lori, on a 17-foot motorboat in Boston Harbor, and they were married last summer.
The couple live on the South End-Back Bay border, and have gotten to know Boston, he
said, by "eating our way through most of the neighborhoods,'' and going to games at Fenway Park.
"The Cubs aren't going to be in the World Series anytime soon,'' said Weiss
, who grew up in Deerfield, Ill. "So I find it easy to root for the Red Sox.''
also enjoys running and clocked 4:31:33 in the 2005 Boston Marathon.
While serving as a member of the retirement board, Weiss chose not to accept the $2,500 annual stipend.
He stepped down from the post after accepting the job as the mayor's sixth chief of staff, a post that pays $147,000 a year.
Weiss will replace Judith Kurland, whom Menino appointed to a new job as director of partnerships.
wants to bring "urgency, accountability, and outside-the-box thinking,'' to City Hall.
talks excitedly about "deliverables,'' "choice architecture'' and "surfacing ideas.'' He
declined to discuss specific issue priorities, saying that is the mayor's purview.
job is "to support the mayor's agenda for the city, and I think that breaks down into helping surface and gather ideas, move the agenda forward, and help to make sure that it turns into results for the people.''
, who acknowledges some nervousness about his
new job, said, "I'm definitely going to make some mistakes.