Sen. Anne Gobi (Photo courtesy Governor’s Press Office)

Gov. Maura Healey and Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll announced today that Sen. Anne Gobi will join the administration as the new director of rural affairs in the Executive Office of Economic Development.

In a new role created by the administration, Gobi will serve as a dedicated advocate cultivating economic development in rural communities. In a statement, Healey said Gobi will ensure that the needs of rural and regional economies are incorporated into the state’s economic development plan and will be responsible for coordinating with secretariats and state agencies to ensure that state government “is attuned to the unique needs of these towns.”

“Sen. Gobi’s fierce advocacy of rural equity, agricultural and small businesses, and conservation initiatives makes her the ideal candidate to help our rural towns across the state succeed,” Healey said.

Driscoll said Gobi brings “deep knowledge of the challenges that rural and small-town economies face.”

Economic Development Secretary Yvonne Hao said the state’s rural and small towns have an important role to play in the state’s economy.

“Sen. Gobi has the knowledge, experience, and passion required to connect with the needs of rural towns and plug these municipalities into our state’s many economic development resources,” Hao said.

Gobi said she is “thrilled to take on this important role, and grateful to the Healey-Driscoll administration for elevating our rural communities.”

Gobi will start on June 5 as a member of the Executive Office of Economic Development’s economic foundations team, led by Undersecretary Ashley Stolba.

She will be tasked with conducting a review of all state grant opportunities, including the Community One Stop for Growth, to ensure that barriers for rural and small towns are mitigated, and will host dedicated office hours for rural towns to receive technical assistance to identify and explore grant opportunities. She will also serve as a member of the Rural Policy Commission, which advocates for the vitality of rural communities as well as legislative and policy solutions that address rural needs.

Gobi was first elected to the Legislature in 2001 as a representative and became a senator in 2014, representing 22 communities in Worcester and Hampshire counties, several of which are rural.

She is the Senate chair of the Agriculture Committee, vice chair of the Higher Education Committee, and co-chair of the Legislature’s Commission on 21st Century Farming. She also serves on the Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs and the East-West Rail Commission, and co-chairs the Rural Caucus, Food Systems Caucus, Regional Transit Authority Caucus, Municipal Light Caucus, and Regional Schools Caucus. Gobi co-founded the Sportsmen’s Caucus, which convenes supporters of fishing, hunting and other outdoor activities.

Prior to being elected to the Legislature, she taught at Leicester High School, had her own law office, and worked with victims of domestic violence at Central Mass Legal Assistance. A lifelong Spencer resident, Gobi graduated from Worcester State University and the Massachusetts School of Law.

On March 1, Gov. Healey filed legislation to split the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development into a new Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities headed by a cabinet-level secretary and an Executive Office of Economic Development. The reorganization plan will take effect on June 1.