The Healey-Driscoll administration announced the appointment of seven members to the Veterans’ Homes Council. Established through a 2022 law aimed at strengthening the governance of veterans services in the Commonwealth, the Council is an advisory body that makes recommendations to the Secretary of Veterans’ Services to ensure the health, well-being, and safety of residents of state-operated Veterans’ Homes and access to equitable, high quality, and competent care for veterans across the Commonwealth.
“The Veterans’ Homes Council will play a critical role in ensuring that we are providing the care that our veterans need and deserve. These seven appointees have an intimate understanding of the complex needs of veterans, including access to health care, mental health care, housing and food assistance,” said Governor Maura T. Healey. “Our administration is grateful to the Legislature and our teams at the Executive Office of Health and Human Services and Department of Veterans’ Services for their hard work to create this important council.”
“As the proud daughter of a Navy veteran, I understand how important it is that our veterans receive comprehensive services and care,” said Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll. “This Council will be critical for ensuring that families can trust that their loved ones are being well cared for in our Veterans’ Homes and that their health, safety and well-being are protected.”
“We are pleased to reach this important milestone in the implementation of chapter 144 and appreciate the valuable perspective that today’s appointees will bring to the Veterans’ Homes Council,” said Acting Secretary of Health and Human Services Mary A. Beckman. “The Council will contribute meaningfully to ensuring that the Commonwealth’s Veterans’ Homes provide high quality care and support the health, safety and wellbeing of our veterans.”
The Council’s responsibilities include recommending improvements and policies for Veterans’ Homes to the Secretary of Veterans’ Services, submitting recommendations for appointments and removal of Veterans’ Homes Superintendents, and developing an annual report reviewing the Veterans’ Homes’ demographics, finances, staffing levels, efficacy, equity, and resident well-being.
These council appointees include four individuals appointed by Governor Maura Healey and three individuals appointed by the Acting Secretary of Health and Human Services Mary Beckman, and as indicated in statute.
Appointed by the Governor:
Ziven Drake is a US Air Force Veteran who served as a Crew Chief in Tactical Aircraft Maintenance. She is a current member of the Pile Drivers Local 56 Union. Drake currently serves as Assistant Executive Director of the North Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters Apprenticeship Training Fund.
Lt. Colonel USMC (Retired) Mike Dunford
Mike Dunford is a retired US Marine Corps Reserve Officer and served as the Chief Human Resources Officer and Senior Vice President of Human Resources for Covidien. Dunford is an active member of the business community and a veteran advocate focused on employment, food security, homelessness, case management and outreach. Dunford currently serves as president of the Cape & Islands Veteran Outreach Center.
Colonel USA (Retired) Andrea Gayle-Bennett
Andrea Gayle-Bennett, Retired Army Colonel, Brigadier General (Massachusetts), served for more than 35 years in the Massachusetts Army National Guard, including as a chief physician assistant and battalion surgeon. Gayle-Bennett currently serves on the Governor’s Council to Address Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence, the Governor’s Advisory Council on Veterans’ Services, the North Shore Community College Board of Trustees, and is corporate secretary for the Veteran Business Owners Initiative.
Michael Jefferson, a veteran of the US Marine Corps, is president of Somerville IAFF Local 76 and founder of the Fraternal Order of Firefighter Military Veterans, Inc. He is also a member and director of the Member Assistance Program for the Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts.
Appointed by Acting Secretary of Health and Human Services:
Dr. Louis Chow, PhD
Dr. Chow is the Sr. Director of Network Development and Training Institute at Home Base, a Red Sox Foundation and Mass General Hospital program. He is a clinical psychologist, Assistant in Psychology at MGH, Instructor in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, and a specialist in treating veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and other invisible wounds of war. Dr. Chow has overseen the education and training of thousands of clinicians and health professionals across the Commonwealth seeking to care for veterans impacted by the invisible wounds of war.
Tony Francis, MBA
Tony Francis serves as the president and CEO of Edgar Benjamin Health Center, a non-profit nursing home in Boston and the only minority-owned nursing home in New England. Francis brings with him broad experience in long-term care, business administration and management consulting. He has served as chairman of the Central Boston Elder Services Board of Directors and is currently a co-chair of the Boston Healthcare Preparedness Coalition.
Jill Landis, RN
Jill Landis has been the vice president of quality management at Integritus Healthcare, a not-for-profit committed to fulfilling the health and residential needs of communities, since 2008. Landis previously was a regional nurse manager at Genesis Health Care, where her responsibilities included the management of quality outcomes for nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Landis is certified in rehabilitation nursing and is a member of the Massachusetts Senior Care Association.
In addition to the seven members appointed by Governor Healey and Acting Secretary Beckman, the Veterans’ Homes Council includes Executive Director of Veterans’ Homes and Housing Robert Engell, who serves as chair, and Chelsea and Holyoke Soldiers’ Homes Boards of Trustees members, who are ex officio, voting members.