A lifelong advocate, James Brett, president and CEO of The New England Council, is known throughout the state, as well as national organizations, for his commitment to improving the quality of life for people with intellectual and physical disabilities. Brett, a former board president of the Massachusetts Association for Mental Health, was recently honored by the organization as the recipient of the Michael and Kitty Dukakis Lifetime Achievement Award.
“I am so pleased to receive this special recognition,” Brett said. “The Massachusetts Association for Mental Health has a long tradition of serving people with disabilities, and helping them access the social and economic programs and supports that enable so many people to achieve a high quality of life. I am proud to be recognized by the Association. Their mission and work is an inspiration for all of us working on these important issues.”
At the New England Council, he launched a collaboration between business and higher education to advocate for access to employment for people with disabilities. At the University of Massachusetts-Boston, he raised funds to establish a permanent position to research and study the use of technology to help more people with disabilities enter the workforce.
Prior to joining the New England Council, Brett served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives for more than 15 years. Throughout his career in the public and private sectors, and in his volunteer work, he has continued to be a tireless advocate for people with disabilities.
In 2016, Congress appointed Brett to the National Council on Disability. He is also chairman of the Governor’s Commission on Intellectual Disability and serves as the chairperson of the Massachusetts Disabled Persons Protection Commission. On a national level, he has served in a volunteer capacity on the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities under both President Bush and President Obama.