UNE Students Are Already Starting to Change the World : Isabella Petroni, the youngest elected official In Framingham, Massachusetts

Isabella Petroni, a senior environmental studies and marine affairs double major, was raised in the “weird” city of Framingham, Massachusetts where she was surrounded by both city and woods, and her passion for environmentalism and the humanities grew with her.


Petroni knew at the age of 19 that she wanted to, “give back to the community that has given to me, and try to make the world a better place.” Isabella ran for the four-year Library Trustee position in Framingham 2020 and was officially elected at the age of 20. 

Petroni spoke on what inspired her to run for an office position at such a young age. 

She credits being “dragged along” by her mother’s journalism job as giving her exposure to powerful political women like Senator Elizabeth Warren, assistant House Speaker Katherine Clark, and others that prompted the push she needed to believe in herself. As a full-time UNE student and leader of a Youth Council, a group dedicated to engaging youth in community-based decisions, Petroni doubted that she should commit to the position.

 She says in reflection, “There’s kind of that need for a push because of how the political structure is, because of feeling like you’re not adequate, or not qualified or prepared for it. I think that’s a common thing I’ve heard about from a lot of women.” 

During the campaign process, Petroni made connections with city members by attending summer block parties, and putting dozens of yard signs around commonly walked roads. She reached out to family friends and asked what improvements they would like to see in the library, a place she connected with and learned from. 

Regardless of how Petroni felt before running, she proved that anything is possible. She knew that her voice was needed. As the youngest runner, she got second overall on the city ballot, being beaten only by the city’s former Chair. 

Petroni explained what some of her responsibilities are as trustee, and what it’s been like managing that with being a full-time student. 

Petroni responds that, “It’s definitely a balancing act,” and explains that she is part of three subcommittees, groups that are assigned a portion of the library’s jurisdiction. The groups Petroni is involved in are equality inclusion, advocacy, and programming that meet each month to discuss their role in improving the library. Her position as  trustee involves oversight of educational programs and events, building upgrades, and library policies; some of the legislation she wrote herself. 

On top of that, she is a part of Framingham’s Neighborhood Association where locals can address common concerns about the city, and a local democratic committee that serves as a point of contact between local voters and their main political party. In addition, she was assistant director in planning Framingham’s 11th Annual Earth Day Festival this year. Petroni’s leadership roles and resume is nothing short of remarkable for her age. 

When asked about her future plans, Petroni states she would like to go to law school, and will likely get a dual degree in public health, urban planning, or public administration. 

While her career options are anything but limited, she says, “I promised myself [to be] involved in the community… It just all depends. I just know that public service is my lifeline, wherever that crosses, I know those are my values. That is the center of what I am doing, and I don’t think I want to change from that.” 

Isabella’s advice for other young students considering careers in government positions or public service in a predominantly aged system is this, “your perspective is your strength, not a weakness. We need young, diverse voices. So that’s the advice, I guess; never not value yourself and your lived experiences, and have confidence in it.”

One thing is for sure, we have confidence in you, Isabella, and in all of UNE’s bright students. Go out, and change the World; it needs you.