Kristen Strezo is a fighter, social justice advocate, single mom, former punk rock singer, former co-chair of the Somerville Commission for Women, journalist and proud Somerville resident. She has always been grateful for the sacrifices her family made to give her a better life, which fuels her deep commitment to community service. She’s proud to represent Somerville as a Councilor-at-Large.
Born on the South Side of Chicago, Kristen is the descendent of factory workers. Her grandmother worked gluing eyeballs onto plastic snowmen. Her grandfather led his co-workers as union president of his factory, and if the union was on strike, money grew tight. Through her grandfather’s experience, Kristen knew that standing stronger together meant staying afloat, and that their community was always there for support.
From those early life lessons, Kristen knew how vital it was to stand up for working families and defend just causes. She formed a popular Chicago feminist punk band while studying community activism at DePaul University, and graduated with honors in 2006 with a degree in Women’s Studies and Communications.
Grad school brought Kristen and her family to New England in 2012. While attending, she interned at Harvard Magazine, gave birth to her second child, and advocated as a full-time caregiver for both her preschooler and her grandmother. She earned her degree from Harvard University Extension in 2015, winning Harvard’s commencement speech prize for her speech describing the unique needs of Sandwich Generation families.
Kristen moved to Somerville shortly after her son was born, a change she views as transformative and inspirational. “I felt instantly at home in Somerville,” she said, “I made friends with my librarians, my neighbors, the business owners in my community. I knew Somerville was where I wanted my children to grow.” She quickly became active in local issues, and was unanimously elected co-chair of the Somerville Commission for Women. During her tenure, she pushed for a better Somerville for all: examining barriers to women’s health, driving for financial stability and advocating for policy changes that benefited Somerville’s women and children.
Along for the journey was Kristen’s grandmother, Grace—now in her early nineties—who lived with her. However, Kristen found that it was near-impossible to find housing in Somerville that was both affordable and handicap-accessible for her grandmother. Kristen chose to move into affordable housing to help stabilize the diverse needs of her family— a move that changed her life for the better. It allowed her family to just be instead of chronically worrying about safety and affordability.
Because of this lived experience, Kristen is sensitive to the complex needs many Somerville families face. She knows first-hand how critical of an issue housing affordability is in Somerville. She is committed to fighting for its expansion, so that every resident can have the peace of mind of housing stability. She knows that Somerville residents from all cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds deserve the opportunity to thrive in their community, and she will continue to fight for that right.
Kristen lives in Assembly Square with her two children and their dog, Martha.