James T. Brett

James T. Brett, President and Chief Executive Officer of The New England Council, was appointed to those positions by the Council’s board of directors in October 1996.

The Council, a nationally respected and influential regional organization, was established in 1925.  It is an alliance of schools, hospitals, corporations, and other private organizations throughout New England, working together to promote economic growth and a high quality of life in the region.  It identifies and supports federal policies of importance to all six states, and advocates for its membership regionally and nationally.

Mr. Brett has been a leading voice in advocating for public policy issues such as health care, education, financial services and energy throughout New England and Washington, D.C.

The Council’s membership and financial growth have been impressive under Mr. Brett’s leadership.  In the past four years, revenues have doubled and net assets have significantly exceeded historical levels.  Mr. Brett is co-host of D.C. Dialogue, a monthly public affairs program broadcast on New England Cable News.


Prior experience

Before joining the Council, Mr. Brett served for more than fifteen years as a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives.  He held a succession of important leadership positions, including the chairmanship of two of the most significant committees in the Massachusetts legislature, Banking and the Committee on Taxation.  In these positions, he brought together various constituencies to create economic opportunity for the Commonwealth’s citizens and businesses.

While serving as Chairman of the Joint Committee on Taxation, for example, Mr. Brett co-authored legislation granting tax relief to the Commonwealth’s mutual fund companies, in return for the creation of 11,000 new private-sector jobs in Massachusetts over a five-year period.  He also sponsored the “Single Sales Factor” legislation designed to help Massachusetts manufacturers remain competitive, and keep high-skilled and high-wage jobs in the state.

He previously served as Chairman of the Joint Committee on Banks and Banking, the Joint Committee on Criminal Justice, the Joint Committee on Congressional Redistricting, the Joint Committee on Counties, and the House Committee on Legislative Redistricting.


Professional and charitable affiliations

Mr. Brett has served as the Chairman of The President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities.  In 2016 Congress appointed Mr. Brett to the National Council on Disability and currently serves as Vice Chairman.  He is also Chairman of the Governor’s Commission on Intellectual Disability and serves as the Chairperson of the Massachusetts Disabled Persons Protection Commission.  Mr. Brett is a former member of the Federal Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities, as well as a former member of the Board of Directors of the National Apostolate for Inclusion Ministry.  He is a member of the Board of Trustees of Saint John’s Seminary, Don and Marilyn Rodman Foundation and a member of the Board of Directors of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, The Missionary Society of Saint James the Apostle, Rodman Ride for Kids, Inflammatory Breast Center and the Mary Ann Brett Food Pantry.  He serves on the New England Advisory Council of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, the Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps, The New England Center For Children and The Irish International Immigration Center.  Mr. Brett serves as a member of the Home Base Leadership Council, a partnership between the Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital. Mr. Brett is also a member of the Board of Advocates of Bay Cove Human Services, Inc. and serves on the Advisory Board of The Boys and Girls Clubs of Dorchester.  He is an Honorary Board of Directors member of Special Olympics Massachusetts, and a member of the Campaign Advisory Council, Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program.

Mr. Brett is Past President of the Board of Directors of the Massachusetts Association for Mental Health.  He is a former trustee of the Shriver Center, Catholic Charities, the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Sisters of Saint Joseph Aids Education Ministry, Carney Hospital and Franklin Pierce University, as well as former board member of Project Bread, the Notre Dame Education Center, Marian Manor Nursing Home, National Apostolate for Inclusion Ministry, and the Laboure Center Advisory Board. Mr. Brett is also a former member of the Board of Advisors of the Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and a former member of the Advisory Board to the Rappaport Center for Law and Public Service at Suffolk University Law School.

Mr. Brett has been awarded with Papal Honors as being named a Knight of Malta and Knight Grand Cross of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. He is also a member of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George, and the Royal Brotherhood of the Order of Saint Michael of the Wing.


Awards and recognition

While a legislator, Mr. Brett was formally honored on several occasions by labor, human service, and law enforcement organizations for outstanding public service.  Many other groups honored him as “Legislator of the Year,” and organizations such as, Friends of the John F. Kennedy Library, Central Remedial Clinic in Ireland, and the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers have publicly honored him for his service. Mr. Brett was named the 2011 New Englander of the Year by The New England Council in recognition of his extraordinary commitment, leadership and contributions to the economy and quality of life in New England.

Mr. Brett has continued to be a tireless advocate for the physically and mentally challenged.  In 2018 he was awarded The Michael and Kitty Dukakis Lifetime Achievement Award from the Massachusetts Association for Mental Health and in 2017 he was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement and Advocacy Award for Individuals with Disabilities from Community Work Services and in 2014 he was awarded the John “Jack” Brett Champion’s Award from Special Olympics Massachusetts as well as being inducted into the Special Olympics Massachusetts Hall of Fame.  Also in 2014, the Disability Law Center bestowed upon him, the Edward M. Kennedy Leadership Award.  In 2013, the University of Massachusetts Boston established the James T. Brett Chair in Disability and Workforce Development, the nation’s only endowed chair in disability and workforce development.  In recognition of his national contributions to the field of intellectual disability, the Boston Red Sox designated Mr. Brett, Disability Advocate in 2009 and again in 2011, which included the ceremonial first pitch at Fenway Park.  Mr. Brett also received the Distinguished Leadership Award from Special Olympics Massachusetts in 2008. In 1996, Bay Cove Human Services of Boston named a new community home for disabled adults “Brett House” in his honor. He has also been recognized for his humanitarian work by Action for Boston Community Development, Lifetime Public Service Award and induction into the ABCD Hall of Fame.  Hospice of Boston also named him Humanitarian of the Year.  In 2018 Mr. Brett was inducted into the Junior Achievement of Northern New England Hall of Fame and was also awarded the Gold Medal from the Eire Society of Boston.  In 2015 Mr. Brett and his wife Patricia were awarded with the Saint John the Evangelist Medal in recognition of their extraordinary and faithful contributions to the spiritual life of Saint John’s Seminary.

In the past decade, Mr. Brett introduced a proposal to the White House for a savings plan for families of individuals with disabilities to save for the future.  After moving through the Legislative process, the Federal Government passed the Able Act creating a savings plan for people with disabilities for future education, training, living expenses, and other supports.

Mr. Brett is a recipient of an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Beacon College, an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of Saint Joseph, an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from Anna Maria College, an Honorary Doctor of Public Service Degree from Bridgewater State University, an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from Emmanuel College, an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters Degree from New England College, an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters Degree from Worcester State University, an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters Degree from Rivier University, an Honorary Doctor of Public Service Degree from Suffolk University, an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from Saint Anselm College, an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from Curry College, an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters Degree from Salem State University, an Honorary Doctor of Public Service Degree from Westfield State College and an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from the University of Massachusetts Boston.

Please click here for a full list of Mr. Brett’s awards and honors.


Mr. Brett holds degrees from American University, Suffolk University and Harvard University.

Mr. Brett and his wife Patricia reside in Dorchester, Massachusetts.

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