BOSTON — More than 250 guests attended the Irish Cultural Center’s event for the inaugural Brian J. Donnelly Award for Leadership in Public Service, which was given to former state representative James T. Brett, president and CEO of the New England Council.
Held at the Omni Parker House Hotel in Boston, the event recognized the work of former US Reprensentative Donnelly who, like Jim Brett, had deep roots in Dorchester. Donnelly, who served in Congress 1979 to 1993, is best known for the Donnelly Visa program, which granted green cards to 26,000 undocumented Irish people in America. Donnelly died in February 2023.
Jim Brett has a long history of public service. He was appointed by President Biden as chairman of the Presidenyt’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities in 2022. A former member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, Brett represented the state’s 14th Suffolk District, which includes parts of Dorchester, Mattapan and Roxbury, from 1981 until his resignation in 1996. He joined his family in founding the Mary Ann Brett Food Pantry named for his mother and located at St. Margaret’s Church in Dorchester, the parish where his family grew up.
Jim Brett was presented the award by Cultural Center President Martina Curtin and Executive Director Jerry McDermott.
All photos by Bill Brett