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Council marks 20 years under Weekes’ leadership

The Providers’ Council’s President and CEO Michael Weekes recently marked 20 years at the helm of the Council. He is the longest-serving chief executive in the history of the organization, followed by John McManus, who served from 1984-1993.

Weekes’ tenure began as executive director Feb. 1, 1998 and, according to the story in The Provider, he was tasked with three key issues: “servicing current members, expanding the membership base and effectively advocating the industry’s issues to the Legislature and the Administration.”

“Twenty years ago, the Council made an extremely important decision: hiring a new director. How fortunate for the Council's members and our field that we hired Michael Weekes,” said Board Member Bill Lyttle, President and CEO of The Key Program and a part of the hiring committee that selected Weekes. “Michael has proven not only to be an incredible leader and spokesperson, but a person who has inspired all to understand and embrace civil discourse and respect for everyone.”

Over the last two decades under his leadership, Council membership has grown to more than 200 members across the state, The Caring Force was begun and has surpassed 25,000 members and attendance at the annual convention consistently breaks records.

One of the biggest legislative victories gained during his tenure is the passage of Chapter 257, the landmark rate-setting law passed in 2008. The Council, working as a part of The Collaborative, was instrumental in its passage and continuing oversight of its implementation. The Council has led efforts resulting in more than $250 million in salary increases for low-paid workers.

“The Providers’ Council has been extraordinarily well-served under the leadership of Michael Weekes as President and CEO. Three words come to mind when I think of Michael: integrity, commitment and excellence,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders. “Each and every day, he is focused on providing voice to hundreds of human service agencies, their thousands of human service workers and the individuals they are privileged to serve.”

At Weekes’ direction, the Council has also significantly increased its efforts to provide cost-effective education and training opportunities to the human services workforce. In 2015, the Council’s attention turned to student loan debt with legislation to establish a loan repayment program for qualified direct care staff. Weekes is also a member of the Attorney General’s Student Debt Working Group that is seeking ways to help mitigate the issue.

Additionally, Weekes has led the CareVote initiative to increase voting among workers, clients and consumers; is a founder and past board chair of Nonprofit VOTE; and a founder of the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network.

“I’ve been both blessed and honored to have served in this capacity with a great Council team focused on our mission to support a healthy, diverse and productive human services community,” Weekes said. “Our focus will continue to identify opportunities to strengthen our workforce and initiate change that matters.”