UMass Boston to honor Jim Brett with dedicated chair; disability efforts cited

UMass Boston has announced the creation of a chair in Disability and Workforce Development that will be named in honor of Jim Brett, President and CEO of the New England Council and a former member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, from Dorchester. A longtime civic leader, and an advocate for people with intellectual disabilities, his board service includes the chairmanship of the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities and the Massachusetts Governor’s Commission on Intellectual Disabilities.

Brett was also recently appointed president of the board of directors for the Massachusetts Association for Mental Health. His humanitarian work has been recognized by a number of organizations.
On Mon., Sept.16, the university will host a gala to help endow the James T. Brett Chair in Disability and Workforce Development, the nation’s only such-endowed chair, which will provide leadership for research, training, and technical assistance to enhance workforce participation and social inclusion for people with disabilities.

Fifteen percent of the world’s population, and one in five Americans, are people with disabilities. With the help of effective job matching and other resources, many — if not most — persons with disabilities are able to enter and remain in the workforce. For these people, employment provides a path out of poverty, and more importantly, a way to develop self-worth, gain respect in the community, and contribute to the economy.
The Brett Chair will expand Massachusetts’s commitment to inclusion. It will take advantage of the state’s unique connections between industries, such as health care and technology, to facilitate new collaborations developed by UMass Boston’s inclusion-related research.
The Gala is being co-hosted by Jack Connors of Hill Holliday, Patricia Jacobs of AT&T-New England, and Joseph Nolan of NSTAR.
“Jim Brett’s life of service has been world- class,” Connors said. “The Brett Chair will be a fitting reflection of Jim’s tireless work to create economic opportunity and a more equitable society for people with disabilities.”
To learn more about the Brett announcement, contact UMass Boston Vice Chancellor Gina Cappello at 617-287-5335.