Former Harvard Square restaurateur, current community leader

Mary-Catherine Deibel Deibel

Mary-Catherine Deibel of Arlington will become director of development at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education on Monday, July 17.

A community leader who has promoted multifaceted, cultural engagement in Cambridge for more than three decades, she has co-owned and operated two iconic Harvard Square restaurants, UpStairs at the Pudding and UpStairs on the Square, between 1982 and 2013, before becoming associate director of donor relations for the Longy School of Music in 2013, the center said in a July 5 news release.

A onetime cello student at Longy, she was drawn back by the distinguished school's long-standing commitment to teaching excellence and social justice. At the Cambridge Center, Mary-Catherine's efforts will support a wider range of learning experiences and a renewed commitment to connecting more broadly throughout the community.

The center's 300-plus faculty serve more than 9,000 students who take courses in the arts, foreign languages, ESL, cooking, business skills and literature, among others.

Linda Burton, executive director of the Cambridge Center, noted in the release that Deibel's "intimate knowledge of Cambridge is a huge plus for us as is her appreciation of the Center and the opportunities ahead."

Board chair Jock Herron, added: "Mary-Catherine has been an outstanding Cambridge Center Board member whose strategic savvy, collaborative instincts, constitutional generosity and good humor are a very timely fit as we move forward."

Deibel has received numerous awards over the years, including the Greater Boston Convention Bureau's Spirit of Hospitality, the prestigious Burt Miller Classic Citizens' Award from the Anthony Spinazzola Foundation and jointly with her business partner Deborah Hughes, Business Person of the Year from the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce.

She was recently named a "Food Hero" by the City Council.

She is a vice president of the board of the Harvard Square Business Association and serves on the board of Community Servings, an organization dedicated to providing free home-delivered meals to people home-bound with HIV/AIDS and other acute life-threatening illnesses.

Her restaurants had a famously welcoming spirit, warmth and high standards, a tradition that she noted "aligns well with the Center's commitment to a service-oriented culture and experiential learning for all." 

Deibel lives in town with her husband, Reid Fleming, whom she met playing tournament croquet when, as a seven-time North American champion, he taught her how to do a killer stop-shot.

Founded as the Cambridge Social Union in 1870, the Cambridge Center for Adult Education is a self-supporting nonprofit organization providing community members with the opportunity to explore their interests and nurture their talents and potential.

Renamed the Cambridge Center for Adult Education in 1938, it has consistently offered the most diverse menu of courses to adults in Cambridge and surrounding areas. While embracing technology and an increasingly diverse array of learning formats, the center remains deeply committed to place-based, person-to-person, experiential learning across a wide range of domains from the visual arts to literature, from ESL to culinary craft, from dance to theater, from music to entrepreneurship and beyond.

This news announcement was published Saturday, July 8, 2017.