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To The Arc of Massachusetts Community:

I am writing to share the news that Leo Sarkissian has decided to retire from his full-time position as Executive Director of The Arc of Massachusetts on November 1.

On behalf of the Board of Directors, I want to express our deepest gratitude for Leo’s lifelong career dedicated to ensuring that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including autism, have the right and the opportunities to live full lives in the community. Leo has impacted countless individuals and families across this state both directly and through his state and national advocacy and policy work. It is not an overstatement to say that Leo will affect people for decades to come. He has been recognized numerous times for his achievements by state and national organizations, including The Arc’s National Conference of Executives Executive Excellence Award in 2022. This is his enormous and lasting legacy.

The Arc of Massachusetts has had an outsized impact on disability policy and advocacy since its founding 70 years ago. For the past 33 years, that can be credited to Leo’s leadership and vision for a world in which people with disabilities can thrive. From legislative victories such as Autism Omnibus, Real Lives, National Background Check, Nicky’s Law, and Operation House Call to the Boulet and Rolland lawsuits that successfully expanded services to securing nearly yearly increases in the funding for critical services and supports, Leo has played a pivotal role in all of them. During the dark days of the coronavirus pandemic, Leo worked tirelessly to find ways to meet the new needs and health equity challenges of our community and shepherd the chapters of The Arc and other human service agencies.

We are beyond grateful for Leo’s leadership and wish him all the best. I know many of you reading this will want to express your gratitude as well, and there will be several opportunities to do so at upcoming events and online. This summer we are holding four community open houses across the state, and on October 17 the Board of Directors is honoring Leo at the gala at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the US Senate. You can learn more, share your stories of Leo, and sign up to receive updates at

The Arc of Massachusetts Board of Directors is actively engaged in the transition process. In the coming months, you will hear more about succession planning and a new Executive Director. To be sure, The Arc will build on Leo’s legacy and remain the leading advocacy organization in our state for people with disabilities, making a positive difference in the lives of some of our most vulnerable citizens. Leo has built a hard-working, mission-driven team that will carry on this important work.

Leo’s dedication, commitment, and effectiveness are a beacon to all in our community and beyond. Please join me and the Board of Directors in thanking him for all he has done.


Janet Sweeney Rico, Ph.D.

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