Candidate for Lieutenant Governor
Video from the JPP Forum held on March 26, 2014
Bio from James Arena-DeRosa’s website:
James was born in Boston and raised in Walpole with his three sisters. All four grandparents were Italian immigrants who came to Boston with a dream. His dad, Nicholas, ran a gas station, drove a truck, and was self-taught in lithography. His mom, Vera, was a nurse who worked with the mentally disabled and in prison health. As with many boomers raised in the 60s, he grew up in a home where they were taught to make a difference in the lives of others.
James attended Xaverian Brothers High School and went on to graduate from Harvard University with a degree in Anthropology. Shortly after graduating college, James began working to give back to his community and improve the lives of those around him. He was actively involved in local Democratic politics and was trained by the United Farmworkers in community and campaign organizing. Additionally, James served for a few years as the Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Commonwealth.
In 1986, he married his wife Lina Arena from Concord, MA, choosing to each take each other’s last name as both a cultural tradition and a sign of gender equity.
During his time as the Director of Public Advocacy at Oxfam America, James conceptualized and led program to place community partner issues before policymakers. James developed Oxfam’s strategy to influence U.S. public policy and international financial institutions. He worked with community leaders, community based organizations, government officials, and international non-governmental organizations from over 40 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin American and the Caribbean.
Oxfam exposed James to a diverse array of public policy issues related to development, emergency relief, conflict, human rights, status of women, child labor, environment, health, hunger and nutrition, education, and small scale private enterprise.
Early in his Oxfam career, James served as an SEIU Union Leader and was an active partner in creating a fair workplace; this was an effort that he continued to promote as a member of management.
After a decade with Oxfam, James was brought into federal government by the Clinton Administration as the New England Director of the Peace Corps. He directed regional volunteer recruitment, candidate nomination, community and media relations, financial management, and human resources. James was the lead agency spokesperson in the region, represented Peace Corps at events, built relationships with elected officials and community leaders, and served as vital link to Returned Peace Corps Volunteers. In this role, James sent thousands of volunteers to over 80 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Europe.
In 2010, James was appointed by the Obama Administration to be the Northeast Regional Administrator for the USDA. He oversaw 15 federal food and nutrition programs and was responsible for a $12 billion annual budget. Programs included National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs, (SNAP), Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), the Summer Food Service Program, The Women Infant and Children (WIC) program, Farmers Markets, Food Banks as well as emergency and disaster assistance programs. During the great recession, 1 in 4 residents of Massachusetts were in need of food assistance administered by the USDA. James worked with farmers, educators, health providers, businesses, and local, state, and federal governments throughout New England.
James and Lina live in Holliston with their two sons, Anthony and Alessandro. Lina directs the Holliston Senior Center and works with senior organizations throughout Massachusetts. James has been an active member of the community – as a member of the Finance Committee, Little League Coach, and photographs for the Holliston High School Theater. Additionally, James has served on charitable boards, the Sons of Italy Scholarship Commission, and the Dante Alighieri Society’s Board of Governors.
James is running for Lieutenant Governor to continue to be a voice for those who need an advocate. He has seen where things are falling through the gaps and is uniquely qualified to bridge those gaps between the local, state, and federal governments. James has the leadership skills, management background, and passion for public service that will make him an effective and tireless Lieutenant Governor.