James Diossa is a senior advisor at The Policy Lab. In this role, James provides strategic advice and insights on The Lab’s engagement with state and local government partners, helping to identify emerging priorities and develop new project leads, as well as broader opportunities for collaboration.
Prior to joining The Policy Lab, James served two terms as Mayor of the City of Central Falls, Rhode Island. Upon taking office in 2012, James became the youngest mayor in the state’s history and the city’s first Latino mayor. Assuming leadership of a postindustrial urban city in the midst of municipal bankruptcy proceedings, he sought to tackle these challenges head-on. Through hard work and the development of strategic partnerships, James turned Central Falls around, stabilizing the city’s finances and raising its long-term bond rating to investment grade. He also secured millions of dollars in federal, foundation, and private sector funding to improve the city’s quality of life and infrastructure. Most recently, James led efforts to partner with the neighboring city of Pawtucket to create a unified response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which included organizing a volunteer corps and engaging the former head of the Rhode Island Department of Health to serve as the city’s Chief Health Strategist.
James previously served on the Central Falls City Council, where he organized citywide efforts to save the city’s only library from closing and stopped the US Postal Service from closing the city’s only post office. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Becker College. Born and raised in Central Falls, Rhode Island, James is the proud son of Colombian immigrants and a lifelong soccer enthusiast.