The AARP Massachusetts Executive Council (EC) provides strategic direction for AARP at the state level. The volunteer board is led by State President Sandra Harris. Each member brings uniquely valuable skills and experience to AARP.
PRESIDENT, Sandra Harris is the volunteer state president of the Massachusetts State Office and was appointed in January 2019. She was formerly a member of the AARP Massachusetts Executive Council, having joined in 2018.
Harris works in collaboration with AARP Massachusetts State Director Mike Festa to achieve the Association’s vision, mission, and strategic priorities in the state, and serve as chairwoman of the AARP Massachusetts Executive Council. The Council, in partnership with Festa and staff, develops the framework for the state’s strategic plan and supports the development and delivery of AARP’s community outreach programs, advocacy, and grass-roots activities for its 760,000 members age 50 and older in the Commonwealth.
Harris has significant managerial and financial experience in business, higher education and academic health. Immediately before becoming State President, she served as principal, S Harris Interiors, an interior design firm specializing in senior living design for 21 years.
Sandra has worked extensively with the City of Boston AgeStrong Commission on its Age-Friendly initiative and is a member of the AgeFriendly Boston Advisory Council. Sandra also co-chairs the state-wide AARP MA Taskforce to End Loneliness and Build Community. She is a founding member of the Boston Society of Architect’s Knowledge Committee on Designing for Aging. She also serves on the Community Leadership Advisory Board at Brigham & Women Hospital; the Advisory Board of St Helene’s House and the Advisory Board of Project Q. Sandra holds a bachelor’s degree in finance and accounting and a master’s degree in interior design.
Anita Albright, M.A. is a respected management professional with 35 years’ experience working with older adults and people with disabilities in community and health care settings. While at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, she established a network of federally funded Healthy Aging programs across the Commonwealth. In 2011, Ms. Albright was appointed by US Secretary of Health and Human Services to the National Advisory Council on Alzheimer’s Research, Care and Services. She has an ongoing commitment to support Livable and Age Friendly Communities.
Melody Beach began her human resources career with Fenwal Safety Systems. In addition to FSS, Melody has worked for Rolls-Royce North America. She has provided human resources support to functions ranging from IT to business development as well as manufacturing personnel to administrative.
Melody earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Management at Newbury College and her Master of Science in Leadership & Human Resources Management from Northeastern University. Melody is professionally trained and certified through The Center for Application of Psychological Type (CAPT) as a Certified Practitioner of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, MBTI Step 1 and Step II.
Melody lives in central Massachusetts with her husband and three fur babies. She loves gardening, meditation and yoga. She spends much of her spare time riding her Harley Davidson on the country roads of CT and Western MA or hiking and camping in the Berkshires with her husband.
Kathleen Betts is a lifelong resident of the Boston area and completed her undergraduate degree at Boston College and Masters in Public Health at Boston University. Her career path took her to both the public and private sectors in a variety of leadership positions. In 2015, Kathy retired from her role as Assistant Secretary for Children Youth and Families in the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services. She continued working in the field of public health by consulting for various agencies, and most recently served as Chief Community Officer, Director of Community Health for Cambridge Health Alliance.
Deborah JacQunetta Cairo-Williams
Deborah, better known as JacQuie, was born and raised in Boston. She is a longtime Community activist and has been recognized many times for her contributions. She has a Masters in Management Degree and a Certificate of Organizational Development from Cambridge College, Cambridge, MA., and also has a Global Career Development Facilitator Certificate. In addition, she is a Justice of the Peace and a Notary Public. She was formerly the Vice President of the Board of Directors of Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative and the Treasures for Dudley Neighbors, Inc., a land trust.
She has served as the President and First Vice President of the Urban League Guild and now serves as the Membership Chair.
Cairo Williams was also the Director of the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP), serving people 55 and older with challenges to employment, excluding age. She received the Whitney Young Award from the National Urban League, Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts' Presidents Award for Outstanding Performance, and the Lee F. Jackson Award. Cairo Williams was honored and awarded for her work with the Vietnamese American Community Center and awarded by the Commonwealth of MA’s Workforce Development Department for her achievements.
She was also an Assistant Vice President and Banking Center Manager at Bank of America, as well as a member of the region's Diversity Group.
The most important things that happened in her life was giving birth to her daughter, Charisse Monique, becoming a grandmother to, Dalisa Monique and a great grandmother to Trenai Charisse and Isaiah. The next thing that she felt had importance in her life was falling in love and the third thing was attaining her Masters degree.
Cairo Williams believes in God and will tell you that none of the aforementioned would have been possible without Him.
Kun Chang is the regional coordinator and project director for the National Asian Pacific Center on Aging, and the assistant executive director for the Greater Boston Chinese Golden Age Center. Kun has extensive social work and non-profit agency management experience, integrating his expertise in the areas of social services, long term care, community outreach, community education, adult day health care, health insurance, managed care, Alzheimer and Dementia services, and older worker job training for Asian elders. Kun has provided consultation to several community-based organizations and research institutions in the design and development of integrated elderly services for Asian communities. In addition, he is involved in a consulting capacity with the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the National Alzheimer’s Association, and AARP, focusing on integrated health and social services for Asian seniors. Kun is a member of the Advisory Council for the Area Agency on Aging (AAA), South Shore Elder Services, and the South Shore Workforce Investment Board in Massachusetts, and has served on numerous advisory councils and boards in state and national organizations. In the past 25 years, he has worked with a variety of coalitions and groups of service providers on the national, state, and local level, focusing on increasing effectiveness in responding to the growing diversity of elders and of the overall workforce. He received his Master’s degree in Social Work from the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.
Linda Desmond has been actively working to improve the lives of older people in the United States and Ireland. She started her career path at Highland Valley Elder Services (HVES), holding positions of increasing responsibility within the agency. Leaving HVES after twelve years of service, she became the Director of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) Hampshire County for eighteen years. While Director of RSVP she assumed the role of Director of the Foster Grandparent Program and was elected to the Northampton City Council – defeating a ten-year incumbent. She then moved on to become Vice President of Community Investment with the United Way of Hampshire County. After her husband was offered a position in Dublin, Ireland, Linda followed and her influence and impact expanded. Her first post in Ireland was working for Age Action Ireland, a national Irish organization working with older people. As Head of Empowerment and Regional Development for Age Action, she designed a national IT literacy program that provided the vehicle for hundreds of Irish elders to access the internet and create their own email addresses for the first time. She introduced an advocacy initiative in nursing homes throughout Ireland that helped alleviate a problem with malnutrition, and she created Cross Border programs that addressed advocacy, education, and health/social activities that included older people from Northern Ireland and the Republic. She went on to hold the position of CEO of Care Local and Regional Program Director for Crosscare. On returning home she assumed the role of Director of the Northampton Senior Center. Throughout her career she has been recognized and received awards for a number of social programs including the E-Inclusion Excellence by the Department of the An Taoiseach (Ireland’s Prime Minister), the Vodaphone World of Difference Award, EU Intergenerational Solidarity Award, and was recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency for organizing Project Radon in the state of Massachusetts. Linda is a graduate from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and holds a Master of Social work (MSW) and Graduate Certification in Gerontology from the University of Connecticut. In retirement she assists in volunteer coordination for Northampton Neighbors, is a member of the Treehouse Foundation Board of Directors, volunteers for the Pioneer Valley Memory Care Initiative, and bi-weekly facilitates the Northampton Neighbors Florence/Leeds Neighborhood Circle.
Carol Harvey, Ed.D., taught management, organizational behavior, and diversity courses on the college and graduate levels at Assumption College in Worcester and Suffolk University in Boston for 29 years. She is the co-author of six editions of "Understanding & Managing Diversity" (Pearson:Prentice Hall) and over twenty other publications. Prior to her career in higher education, she worked for the Xerox Corporation in marketing research and training.
She is an ESL tutor for the Literacy Volunteers, a member of the Curriculum Committee for WISE (Worcester Institute for Senior Education), and a former board member for Big Brothers & Big Sisters and Girls. Inc. She is particularly passionate about combating ageism in the workplace, creative programs for mature workers, and the issues of finding full time meaningful employment for those in their 50s and 60s who have experienced downsizing, mergers, and layoffs.
Charles (“Chuck”) McKenzie spent more than 40 years in the financial services industry in the US and abroad, serving in client-facing, marketing, asset management and executive management roles for a variety of firms, including investment consulting firms, mutual fund companies, asset management firms, trust companies, banks and insurance companies. Chuck’s career took him and his wife to London, England and Tokyo, Japan for 5 years, before they returned to Massachusetts in mid-2019.
Now a resident of Cotuit on Cape Cod, Chuck is a senior advisor to an investment management start-up firm, he serves on the Town of Barnstable’s Comprehensive Financial Advisory Committee, he is a volunteer tax preparer for the AARP Tax-Aide Foundation on the upper Cape, and he is an officer of the Cotuit Highlands Association.
In his spare time, Chuck enjoys golf, travel, kayaking, modern art, reading (fiction and non-fiction) and writing.
Chuck has a BA from Bates College, an MBA from the University of Chicago, and has attained a number of professional designations, including CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst), CFP (Certified Financial Planner), FLMI (Fellow of the Life Management Institute), and CEBS (Certified Employee Benefit Specialist), and he is a Level 3 Golf Instructor certified by the USGTF.
Ellie Meyer is an occupational therapist with more than 30 years of clinical experience. She has been working for Paragon Rehabilitation as a program director and clinician since 2013 at locations in Cambridge, Brighton and Natick. She is a Certified Aging in Place Specialist with the National Association of Home Builders and has an Executive Certificate in Home Modifications from the University of Southern California. Ellie is a founding member of Home Modification Occupational Therapy Alliance (HMOTA) which seeks to promote the role of occupational therapy in home modifications, and she is completing 12 years as the Public Relations Representative for the Massachusetts Association of Occupational Therapy (MAOT). She has offered her skills in home assessment to both Rebuild Together Boston as well as the Boston Survivors Accessibility Alliance which served the victims of the Boston Marathon Bombing.
Since 2014 Ellie has been instrumental in organizing volunteer recruitment and training for the AARP HomeFit program in Massachusetts. As a doctoral student at Boston University, she is working to develop a supplemental curriculum of study for entry-level occupational therapy students which will prominently feature HomeFit. It is her hope that this will result in an increase in the number of occupational therapy professionals volunteering to be HomeFit presenters, not only in Massachusetts, but across the country where the curriculum is adopted.
Michael St. Peter is a multi-Emmy Award winning journalist and business leader. He most recently held the position of President and General Manager for NBC Boston, NECN and Telemundo Boston at NBC Universal in Needham, Mass. He has worked in radio and television in New York City, Los Angeles and Buffalo covering some of the biggest news stories of the last 30 years including the attack on New York City’s World Trade Center in 2001.
Among his accomplishments is the inauguration of a brand new television station in Boston on January 1, 2017. The new NBC-owned station launched with a major marketing campaign after hiring more than 100 employees to complement the staff already in place for co-owned NECN. NECN is the largest 24-hour regional cable operation in the country; it serves all of New England. Together, the operations deliver hundreds of hours of award-winning LIVE news throughout the week.
St. Peter also led the project in 2014 to bring the operation of Spanish-language WNEU-TV into the NBC family. The station, branded Telemundo Boston, began airing local newscasts for the first time in its history in 2015. The newscasts were later expanded to serve communities in Springfield, Hartford and Providence.
Another achievement is the completion in March 2020 of the NBC Universal Boston Media Center – a new state of the art facility housing Boston’s four NBC properties. The 160-thousand square foot space is home to six television studios and a podcast studio designed for media development over the next twenty years.
During his tenure in Boston, St. Peter created content in English and Spanish for television, for several online platforms as well social media. He also delivered on his promise to serve the communities beyond the TV screens. His stations supported dozens of community groups in their missions. They became the prime media sponsors for Boston’s New Year’s Eve celebration, the annual Pride Week festival, and Zoo New England among others. Separately, his stations awarded local non-profit groups more than $675K over three years.
From 2006-2013, St. Peter was the Vice President for News at the NBC-owned television station WVIT-TV in the Hartford – New Haven, Connecticut market. In 2013, he was honored with the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award for the station’s coverage of the tragic Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.
St. Peter was honored in 2012 with a New England television Emmy (National Academy of Arts and Sciences) for news coverage of Hurricane Irene. Previously, he received two Emmys for his news work in New York City; one for “Best Television Newscast” in 1997 and one for “Breaking News” for coverage of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
Prior to assuming the role of Vice President for News at NBC Universal, St. Peter spent 18 years at the Fox-owned television station, WWOR-TV, serving the New York City market. He was instrumental in directing news coverage of two Papal visits to New York City and the devastating attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Under his leadership, the station received an “Overall Excellence” award from the Radio-Television News Directors Association.
St. Peter also had management roles in Buffalo, New York, at the ABC-television affiliate and at a ground breaking non-commercial all-news radio station.
St. Peter is a Maine native. He attended the University of Maine where he studied Journalism and was honored by the school’s Senior Skull Society. In 2015, he was honored by the New England School of Broadcasting located in Bangor, Maine.
St. Peter has served on the boards of the Charles River Regional Chamber and the Massachusetts Hall of Fame Broadcasters Association. He was also active in the Boston College Chief Executive’s Club. And since the outbreak of Covid-19 in 2020, he has been lending a hand at Algonquin Regional High School filling its urgent need for substitute teachers.
He currently lives in Southborough, Massachusetts with his wife Elaine. They have three children and four grandchildren.
Award-winning journalist Jorge Quiroga recently retired after a 45-year tenure at WCVB Channel 5. As a general assignment reporter, Quiroga covered every major national and local story of importance to New Englanders including the Blizzard of '78, the September 11 attack on America, Sandy Hook school shootings, and the Boston Marathon Bombings. Jorge joined WCVB in 1974 as the first producer/host of Aquí, a Hispanic public affairs program he created.
Throughout his career, he received many prestigious broadcasting awards and honors, most recently, election to the Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall of Fame (2021), a Silver Circle Award from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (2018) and a Lifetime Achievement Award (2015) from El Mundo Newspaper. In conjunction with this honor, Mayor Marty Walsh proclaimed October 9, 2015 to be "Jorge Quiroga Day" in recognition of his distinguished career and service to viewers in the city of Boston.
Quiroga is a member of the Executive Council of AARP of Massachusetts and was appointed by the Governor of Massachusetts to the Special Commission to Study Journalism in Underserved Communities (2021).
Earlier in his career, Jorge was awarded a Goldsmith Fellowship at Harvard University's Shorenstein Center for Press, Politics and Public Policy. His public policy analysis, "Hispanic Voices: Is the Press Listening," was published by the center and the Harvard Journal of Hispanic Policy.
Jorge was born in Bogotá, Colombia. He received a M.Ed. from Harvard University in 1974 and graduated from Emerson College in 1972 with a B.A.