Josh Zakim, an attorney and community activist, was elected to the Boston City Council in 2013. Josh is the chair of the City Council’s Committee on Civil Rights, and previously chaired the Committee on Housing & Community Development and the Special Committee on Transportation, Infrastructure, Planning & Investment. Growing up, Josh's parents instilled a strong sense of social and economic justice in him and his younger sisters. Josh's father, Lenny, lived out those values every day in his work throughout Greater Boston by building and growing coalitions among the region's many diverse groups. Josh brings that same passion for inclusiveness to his work serving the people of Boston.
During his first term, Josh led the Council's efforts to address issues of equity and fairness in Boston. He authored the Boston Trust Act to improve trust and cooperation between immigrant communities and law enforcement, prohibiting the Boston Police Department from detaining residents based on immigration status. Josh also led a series of hearings to investigate serious health and safety concerns faced by Boston residents in rental housing, improving landlord accountability and maintenance. He successfully introduced an ordinance extending protections for apartment tenants whose homes are converted to condominiums or co-ops, including increased financial safeguards for elderly, disabled, and low-income tenants. Josh has also convened hearings to address the unique challenges faced by seniors in the LGBT community in finding affordable, welcoming housing in Boston. In 2015 he proposed a city-wide ballot referendum on Boston’s bid to host the 2024 Olympic Games, an effort to give the city’s residents a greater voice in the conversation.
Josh has consistently advocated for the interests of Boston's underserved and disempowered. Whether holding tax-exempt institutions publicly accountable when they resisted paying a fair share into the city's PILOT program or issuing the first City Council subpoenas in decades to hold slumlords accountable, Josh has worked to ensure that all Bostonians have a voice in matters of civic importance. He filed legislation to decrease barriers to the ballot box, allowing easier access to voter registration during routine interactions with city departments, including the Boston Public Schools, the Boston Public Library, and the Boston Transportation Department. After the election of Donald Trump, Josh led the Council in unanimously passing a resolution in support of immigrants with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and, using Boston’s Trust Act as a model, he worked with advocates and elected officials from cities and towns across Massachusetts to help establish protections for immigrant populations in municipalities outside of Boston.
Josh graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and Northeastern University School of Law, and began his career at Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS) where he represented working families who were facing the loss of their homes to foreclosure at the hands of predatory lenders. At GBLS, Josh fought for economic justice by working with stakeholders at all levels of government, his clients, and lenders to secure loan modifications that allowed most of these families to remain in their homes. Before running for office, Josh worked in the Public Finance group of the law firm Mintz Levin, focusing his practice on municipal bond transactions for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, MassPort, and the MBTA.
Josh continues to play an active role in community organizations as a member of the Boston Ward 5 Democratic Committee and a board member of the Lenny Zakim Fund, an organization founded by his father and friends to provide financial support and management training to innovative non-profits dedicated to tackling complex social issues.
Josh and his wife, Grace Sullivan Zakim, live in Downtown Boston with their son, Leo.