James T. Brett, president and CEO of The New England Council, was appointed by President Barack Obama to chair the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities.

The committee's mission is to "provide advice and assistance to the president of the United States and the secretary of Health and Human Services on a broad range of topics that impact people with intellectual disabilities and the field of Intellectual Disabilities. Undergirding [its] mission is the goal to improve the quality of life that is experienced by people with intellectual disabilities by upholding their full citizenship rights, independence, self-determination, and life-long participation in their respective communities."

Brett, MPA '76, served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives for 15 years. He is chair of the Massachusetts Governor’s Commission on Intellectual Disability and sits on the board of directors of the Massachusetts Association for Mental Health and the advisory councils of the Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps and the New England Center for Children.

He has been honored with several awards for his advocacy for the disabled, including the Action for Boston Community Development’s Lifetime Public Service Award, the Massachusetts Special Olympics’ Distinguished Leadership Award, and the Hospice of Boston’s Humanitarian of the Year Award. In 1996, Bay Cove Human Services of Boston named a new community home for disabled adults "Brett House" in his honor.