James (Jim) Brett, president and chief executive officer of the New England Council, has spent his life and career enhancing the lives of others. Jim was inspired at a young age to advocate for individuals with disabilities. His mother refused to place in an institution her first-born son, Jack, who was diagnosed as a child with intellectual disabilities. She raised him and his five siblings at home, in the Boston community. Jim’s motivation to help individuals like his brother propelled him into politics. Serving for more than 15 years in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, he championed many social service causes aimed at expanding access to health care and employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. In addition to leading the New England Council, an alliance of public and private organizations formed to promote economic growth in the region, Jim is a tireless advocate for people with intellectual disabilities, working to promote their full citizenship rights, independence, self-determination, and life-long participation in the community.
“Jim has significantly changed the way we, as a society, support individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” said Ned Murphy, executive chair of The MENTOR Network. “He is a leader and friend to the most vulnerable members of our society and an inspiration to those of us who advocate for greater opportunities on their behalf.”