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Eric Nakajima

Eric has devoted his life to making a positive difference for our community. He's been a statewide leader in economic and community development. He's been an advocate for UMass Amherst and our community colleges. He's dedicated to supporting our public schools. Eric loves working with others to find solutions - cheerfully, creatively and effectively.

A life shaped by Amherst & Pelham

Eric is a graduate of Fort River Elementary School, where his mom taught for 13 years, and Amherst-Regional High School. He went to Pelham Elementary for 3rd and 4th grades. Amherst of the 1970s and 80s was rich with beautiful outdoors, cultural activities and activists trying to improve our world. Eric was involved in the theater, co-starring in Oklahoma, and sang in the choir. He played football and track, starting as linebacker and fullback. He has been a Democrat since he can remember, and attended Jesse Jackson's Northampton speech in 1984 and VP nominee Geraldine Ferraro's rally at UMass Amherst.

Lessons in how to make a difference

From a young age, Eric has been passionate about understanding how we can make our society more equal and just. He worked for Governor Dukakis in his office of educational affairs and was active in the Western Massachusetts Rainbow Coalition in the 1990s. Eric has been active in the Massachusetts Democratic Party since high school, and was on the UMass Amherst Alumni Association Board of Directors. As a planning and development consultant, Eric has written extensively on affordable housing, community development, and helping regions adapt and thrive in the innovation economy.

An immigrant's son - proud Japanese Heritage

Eric's Dad lived through WWII in Japan and emigrated to the United States - like many people - for opportunity. He earned a doctorate, started a family and embraced our democracy. Eric has close family in Japan and is proud to embrace his heritage through membership on the U.S.-Japan Council, trips to Japan, and a love of Japanese culture and food.

UMass Amherst: education for a lifetime

Eric studied Political Science and History at UMass Amherst, graduating after many years in 1999.  He started in 1986 and studied with professors who opened his perspective, and students who became best friends for life. Eric held numerous leadership positions, including UMass Trustee and Chair of Student Advisory Council for the Board of Regents. He fought for UMass and student aid, organizing in 1989 the largest rally on Beacon Hill since the Vietnam War. Eric returned to UMass in 1998 and went on to earn a Masters in City Planning from the University of California, Berkeley in 2002.

Governor Patrick: an opportunity to serve

Eric served in Deval Patrick's Administration for both terms. He has often said, he never had a bad day at work. Eric led efforts to help regions - like ours - adjust to the innovation economy through investments in education and infrastructure. Eric worked on major investments into UMass Amherst, such as the Life Sciences Building, UMass Springfield, and the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center and new HCC Culinary School in Holyoke. He led the development of the state's advanced manufacturing strategy. Eric has worked with legislators and leaders in every Senate district in the state.

A family legacy of farming and education

Eric had the joy of growing up spending summers and holidays on his Mom's family farm in Ohio. The 130 acre was an oasis of old growth trees and rare flowers - and a working farm. Eric comes from four generations of public school teachers. As in Amherst, the book and plow always went together. The farm was permanently preserved in 2017. Learn more here.

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