Photo by Leonardo March
February has flown by, and it’s time to take a few minutes to introduce myself.
My name is Luis Edgardo Cotto, and I have the honor of serving as the next Executive Director of the Central Square BID. Originally slated to start the first week in February, the blizzard on January 30 required all hands on deck, so I got my official start a day early, supporting our Ambassadors' incredible work alongside Cambridge's DPW and other contractors to keep the Square safe for all.
In 2012, my family and I moved to Central Square from Hartford, CT, where I was born and raised. I’ve had the fortune of working in the arts going on three decades. My sisters and I opened and ran a coffeehouse and bookstore in the City, which became a third place that celebrated the Latinx experience in the City and the region. I was elected twice to serve as a City Councilor where I became known as an Arts, Parks, and Immigrant rights advocate. I also independantly program cultural events through my Center Without Walls initiative.
When we moved to Cambridge I initially worked at The Democracy Center in Harvard Square. Since then, I served as the Executive Director for Egleston Square Main Street where I worked with close to 80 merchants, who are mostly immigrants. Most recently, I worked for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts' arts agency, the Mass Cultural Council to manage the agency’s Cultural Districts Initiative, working alongside stakeholders from the 51 designated Cultural Districts in the state, including Jason Weeks and Michael Monestime with the Central Square Cultural District.
As a Central Square resident, I’ve been a part of the day-to-day breathing of the Square, as a patron in many of its great retail and food establishments, as a dancer, both at the annual Dance Party and as a student at the Dance Complex classes, and as a presenter in Starlight Square.
As Executive Director of the BID, I hope to bring my decades of experiences: working to bring arts to the people and the people to the arts, my experience as a small business owner, and as a public servant and steward. I look forward to working with an incredible team to continue to make Central Square a safe, clean and wonder-filled space. In my first month, I clearly see the great passion and commitment our staff bring to our work. Our Ambassadors care for the Square like it’s our home. Our Outreach Workers are getting to know Cambridge’s Continuum of Care providers in order to better assist and connect our constituents with them. And the entire team is getting ready for Season 3 of Starlight Square (RFP here) with local performances, by many of our own Cambridge neighbors.
With the help of the City, we look to further activating Lafayette Square—where you have TWO ice cream shops to choose from—and MLK plaza in front of the Central Square Branch of the Cambridge Public Library. Finally, YES, we are planning to add to our incredible and urban art gallery with more murals in the Square.
Thank you for taking the time to get to know me a little better. Please introduce yourself when you see me in the Square. Share your own story and what you would like to see in the district.
Until then, I remain, civically and culturally yours,