40 Under 40 Class of 2008

Azell Murphy Cavaan

Age 37: Communications Director, City of Springfield

Azell Murphy Cavaan has been around the block a few times, not to mention the world.

With plenty of journalism and public-relations experience spanning Europe, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Boston, Springfield couldn’t have called on a better person to help get it back on the map.

Cavaan spent more than 14 years honing her skills in some of the biggest media markets in the world, including London as a trade journalist, Chicago as a reporter for the Daily Law Bulletin, Washington D.C. for the Medill News Service, and as a reporter for the Boston Herald. She’s interviewed some big names, including former President Bill Clinton and former First Lady Hillary Clinton. But even with all of the excitement of big cities and big names, Cavaan always held a special admiration for her home.

Thus, in 2002 Cavaan returned with her husband to Springfield. They were expecting their first child, and Cavaan hoped the city would provide her child with the same nurturing and quality of life that she experienced here. “My family was here, so I wanted to make sure that my son would be close to them,” she said.

After the move, Cavaan worked for the Republican, covering Springfield City Hall as officials tried to get the city back on its feet. In 2007, former Mayor Charles Ryan beckoned Cavaan to join his team as a herald to get the word out about the positive things happening in Springfield. “When your city needs or asks you to help, you do it,” said Cavaan.

That’s a philosophy she came to wholeheartedly believe in after all of her traveling. “When I was working in these big cities, I got the professional development and personal growth that I am able to apply to Springfield,” she notes. “I’m glad to have gone and then come back.”

Cavaan also enjoys lending her time to various organizations, including the Mass. Commission on the Status of Women.

She is also a member of the Springfield School Volunteers and has become a mentor to students. “I’ve developed a real energy with them,” she noted.

All in, Cavaan said she always thought that she would end up staying in a big city, but has realized that Springfield is the best community on the map for her. Simply put, she said, “I love this city.”

Laura DeMars

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