BOSTON GLOBE: A new outlet for Jim Brett’s lifelong passion As originally appearing in The Boston Globe
BY JON CHESTO
(Illustration by CHRIS MORRIS FOR THE BOSTON GLOBE)
Jim Brett just won another one for Jack.
Brett’s friends know the New England Council CEO has a side vocation, a lifelong passion: advocating on behalf of people with disabilities.
It’s a mission to honor his older brother, Jack Brett, who was born with intellectual disabilities. That mission just took on a new dimension a few weeks ago when House minority leader Nancy Pelosi appointed Brett to the National Council on Disability, a federal agency that advises the White House and Congress on disability issues.
Brett’s day job involves running a group that advocates on behalf of New England businesses, with a focus on federal policies.
Through that role, he maintains a close connection with the New England delegation in Congress. He said representatives Richard Neal, Joe Kennedy, and Stephen Lynch were particularly important in helping him land Pelosi’s appointment.
The new role, a volunteer position, will involve attending two-day events in Minneapolis in July and in Detroit in December, as well as participating in a number of phone calls.
“My mission statement is to make sure people who have disabilities have an opportunity to work, just like everyone else,” Brett said.
Brett said his brother was a driving force behind why he became a state representative in 1981, a job he held for more than 15 years.
His brother Jack died in 2010, at the age of 76. But his memories of Jack continue to motivate him. He already has other roles similar to the council appointment: He chairs the Governor’s Commission on Intellectual Disability in Massachusetts, for example, and is a member of the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities.
“One of the reasons I stay engaged in these issues is to keep my brother’s memory alive,” Brett said.