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Saturday, April 20, 2019
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Kwan ’13 steers mayor speeches in snow

Kwan

With another potential blizzard predicted for Boston this weekend, Nancy Kwan '13 continues to get some intense but rewarding work experience as the city weathers several major snowstorms: She is one of two speechwriters for Mayor Marty Walsh.

“The mayor has had a lot of speaking roles, as you can imagine,” Kwan said in a February 11 interview. “Between three and five events per day. We’re writing a lot.”

Kwan, who lives in the city’s Allston section, was hired in September after working as the deputy director of communications for then-State Senate President Therese Murray—a job she attained immediately upon graduating Emerson, where she majored in Political Communication in the Communication Studies Department.

“I started in Senate President Murray’s office as an intern in my last semester at Emerson, and that translated into a job, which I was really lucky to get,” she said.

Kwan’s primary role was handling media relations for the Senate President.

“But I really loved speechwriting,” she said. “I’m excited to have this new position.”

During the recent snow emergencies, Kwan and her colleague, chief speechwriter Eoin Cannon, have worked hard to convey important public safety messages—like shoveling out fire hydrants, freeing car tail pipes to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, and not walking down the street with headphones on—as well as signs of reassurance from city government.

“Being compassionate and letting everyone know we’re there for them is important, because it’s a hard time for everyone,” she said.

Kwan has wanted to be a speechwriter since she was in high school in West Bridgewater, Massachusetts, when Barack Obama was running for president in 2008.

“I really got caught up in the election,” she said. “I thought [speechwriting] was a good combination of my love of politics and writing.”

“I wanted to go to Emerson because I wanted to be a speechwriter,” Kwan continued. “It’s one of the few colleges that has a Political Communication major, as opposed to just political science, and that intrigued me.”

Kwan remembers a class her first year with Associate Professor Michael Weiler when students evaluated each other’s political speeches, which had to be written in Obama’s voice.

“That was the first time a lot of us had done any type of speechwriting,” Kwan said. “My professor used mine as an example for the rest of the class. He said I had a pithy style of writing. That’s something that really stuck with me.”