Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility RELEASE: The Arc of Massachusetts Announces Retirement of Executive Director Leo V. Sarkissian - The Arc of Massachusetts Skip to main content

WALTHAM (March 28, 2024) – The Arc of Massachusetts announced today that Leo V. Sarkissian, the nonprofit organization’s longtime Executive Director, will be retiring from the role on November 1. The Arc is the state’s leading advocacy organization for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), including autism, and their families. The Arc of Massachusetts Board of Directors is actively engaged in the transition process and will be sharing information about succession planning and a new Executive Director in the coming months.

The Arc of Massachusetts has had an outsized impact on disability policy and advocacy since its founding 70 years ago. Sarkissian’s leadership for the past 33 years has resulted in legislative victories such as Autism Omnibus, Real Lives, National Background Check, Nicky’s Law, and Operation House Call, as well as nearly yearly increases in the funding for critical services and supports. Lawsuits in the late 1990s successfully expanded services for thousands of Massachusetts residents. During the coronavirus pandemic, Sarkissian worked tirelessly to find ways to meet the new needs and overcome the health equity challenges facing people with IDD.

Sarkissian has dedicated his career to ensuring that people with IDD and autism have the right and the opportunities to live full lives in the community. Through The Arc’s work, he has positively impacted countless individuals and families across the state both directly and through his state and national advocacy and policy work. His impact will continue to be felt 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. Prior to his tenure at The Arc of Massachusetts, he served as Executive Director of The Arc of the South Shore for seven years.

Janet Sweeney Rico, Ph.D., President of the Board of Directors said, “We are beyond grateful for Leo’s leadership. The Arc will build on his 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.”

The Arc of Massachusetts will be holding several events to celebrate Sarkissian’s legacy. This summer they will host four community open houses across the state, and on October 17 the Board of Directors is honoring Sarkissian with a celebration at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the US Senate. More information about these events and other activities is posted on The Arc’s website at

“Leo’s dedication, commitment, and effectiveness are a beacon to all in our community and beyond. We are looking forward to welcoming the community to participate in these upcoming events and celebrate Leo’s enormous and lasting legacy,” said Rico.


The Arc of Massachusetts (The Arc) is a statewide advocacy organization representing 200,000 individuals with 17 chapters in the state. Its mission is to enhance the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including autism, and their families. It fulfills this through advocacy for community supports and services that foster social inclusion, self-determination, and equity across all aspects of society. To learn more, visit

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