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Town Manager Khumalo announces his pending departure

by | Dec 4, 2023 | Featured: News, News

Town Manager Norman Khumalo announced Monday that he will be leaving his job as Hopkinton’s town manager after nearly 15 years. In a public relations statement from the town, he announced that he is retiring in early 2024 after more than 30 years in municipal service to take a leadership position with a multinational sustainable energy company.

“I am extraordinarily proud to have spent such a significant portion of my career in the wonderful Town of Hopkinton,” Khumalo stated. “It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve such a vibrant, growing town. I am grateful to all the great civic leaders, board and commission members and volunteers. Together we have worked to make Hopkinton the community it is today.”

Khumalo’s end date will be finalized in collaboration with the Select Board and all senior town leaders to ensure a smooth transition. He has accepted a job as vice president of government relations and growth with Pattern Energy, a multinational sustainable energy company. He will remain local, living and working in Massachusetts.

Over the past couple of years, Khumalo had signaled a willingness to leave his position. He was a finalist for the position of Cambridge city manager in June 2022. A month prior to that, he had been interviewed for the city manager of Watertown.

Khumalo began his role in Hopkinton in 2009 and helped usher in a number of new initiatives. He successfully led a reorganization of town departments, including the consolidation of land use, planning and permitting into a one-stop shop. He also consolidated the legacy treasurer, accounting and assessing offices into the Hopkinton Finance Department.

Transforming Hopkinton into a model of sustainable energy use has been a part of Khumalo’s vision for the town. Hopkinton became a Massachusetts designated green community under Khumalo’s watch by pledging to cut municipal energy use by 20% over five years. Khumalo also created the first engineering and facilities department to support the town’s sustainability goals, and he secured millions of dollars in grant funding for the town’s sewer system.

Under his leadership and collaboration with the Select Board, Appropriations Committee, department heads and town boards, Hopkinton saw its bond rating rise from AA to AAA, saving money for taxpayers by allowing the town to borrow at a better interest rate.

Before his tenure in Hopkinton, Khumalo worked as assistant town manager in Westford from 2002-09 and served in various roles in Wellesley, Walpole and Lawrence. Khumalo worked for Oxfam earlier in his career, an experience that he credits with his eventually moving into his chosen profession in public service as well as his next chapter in the private sector.

A native of Zimbabwe, he also worked as town planner and later senior town planner for the city of Bulawayo in the Matabeleland region of Zimbabwe. He holds two master’s degrees, one in regional and urban planning and a Master of Public Administration degree from Carleton University in Ottawa. He stated in a press release that he hopes to share his expertise in sustainable energy with his homeland.

“I have always believed in giving back, and I have long felt a calling to give something back to Zimbabwe and to Africa,” Khumalo said. “Solar and renewable energy present a unique opportunity to bring advancement and opportunity to the people of Africa. With the skills I have developed and opportunities I have been given here in North America, I hope to fulfill this lifelong dream to help those in my native country and the continent of Africa.

Select Board chair thanks Khumalo for his service

In a phone interview shortly before Khumalo confirmed the news, Select Board chair Muriel Kramer expressed her appreciation for his efforts.

“Mr. Khumalo has done an exceptional job in building professional structures in Hopkinton,” she said. “He has done a lovely job, and we are wishing him the best.”

She added that “we expect to have a supported transition” as the search for a new town manager begins.

“First and foremost, we wish Mr. Khumalo well in all of his future endeavors,” Kramer added in a written statement. “It is always hard to see valued employees retire or leave for new opportunities, and he will certainly be missed. That said, he leaves us having securely positioned Hopkinton with durable and sustainable structures and processes firmly in place that we will use to continue to build for the future.

“The Board will work with Mr. Khumalo to plan for his departure ensuring that Hopkinton continues to be managed with secure and consistent oversight,” she added.

Stressed Kramer: “Mr. Khumalo has served Hopkinton with dedication and unwavering professionalism, and I know I speak for the board and the town as a whole when I thank him for his years of exceptional service and wish him and his family blessings for their future.”

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