Senator Barbara L’Italien was educated in Andover Public Schools and is a graduate of Merrimack College where she obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. A former State Representative for the Eighteenth Essex District from 2003 to 2011, Barbara joined the Senate in January 2015. She represents the communities of Andover, Dracut, Lawrence and Tewksbury in the Second Essex and Middlesex District.
Barbara is the Chairwoman of the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure and Chairwoman of the Joint Committee on Elder Affairs. She is Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Bills in Third Reading. Barbara also serves on three other legislative committees: The Joint Committees on Health Care Financing and Education, as well as the Senate Committee on Redistricting.
Barbara and husband Kevin live in Andover and have three grown children and a fourth child in high school. Barbara is a former member of the Andover School Committee.
Prior to running for public office, Barbara worked as a social worker. In this role, she served the elderly at Merrimack Valley Elder Services, worked at the MA Elder Abuse Hotline and West Suburban Elder Services.
As a legislator, she has shown a strong interest in working together to meet the needs of children, families and the elderly in her community. Following her experience as a State Representative, Barbara worked with the treasurer’s office to serve the people of Massachusetts. She worked with local banks on the Small Business Banking Partnership, which places Massachusetts’ money into community banks for small business lending. She focused on all legislative and budgetary matters relevant to the Treasury and worked with local, state and federal officials.
Barbara has served as Chair of the Autism Commission since November of 2010. The bipartisan commission includes parents, medical professionals, teachers, advocates and the Commissioners of state agencies working together to draft a ten year plan to better coordinate and serve people on the autism spectrum.
A Champion for People With Disabilities
Barbara L’Italien has shown leadership in protecting the well-being of our most vulnerable citizens, especially those in the autism community.
She has worked with Republicans and Democrats to pass a bill granting comprehensive autism medical insurance coverage– a bill that attracted the support of Scott Brown and passed unanimously. She founded an autism commission to better plan service delivery throughout the spectrum and lifespan. She has worked with members of both parties to protect children on the spectrum from bullying; require training for teachers on augmentative communication; create of an Autism Division within the Department of Developmental Services; and pass of legislation to establish an Autism Federal Medicaid Waiver.
Her work on behalf of the developmentally disabled includes passage of the name change from DMR to Department of Developmental Services in addition to tireless advocacy to fund vital programs such as Family Supports; Day and Work Programs; the Special Education Circuit-breaker and Early Intervention.
A Leader on Eldercare Issues
Another focus of the former representative is elder home care. She initiated a community-based care program called Caring Homes which delays seniors from entering nursing homes by providing relief to their families who care for them in their homes. Barbara worked with other legislators in the House to pass the “Choices” bill to provide broader access to community based care for elders and the disabled through a Federal Medicaid Waiver. Her advocacy resulted in funding to ensure that seniors receive counseling regarding community-based programs at the point of hospital discharge.
She also worked to ensure that the Prescription Advantage; Senior Circuit-breaker tax relief and Council on Aging programs remain funded and the safety and well-being of all seniors are ensured.
At the State House, Barbara L’Italien built relationships with other legislators with similar interests in helping people. She is the former co-chair of the Legislative Caucus on Older Citizen’s Concerns and the Special Education Caucus, alongside Republican Richard Ross. In addition, she is a member of the Children’s Caucus, the Northeast Legislative Caucus, the Mental Health Caucus and the Women’s Caucus.
A Passion for Community Service
Barbara L’Italien is very active in her community. She volunteers her time for numerous organizations that improve the quality of life for people in her area:
- Founding member of the Asperger’s Association of New England (AANE)
- Board Member of Autism Speaks
- Board Member of the ARC of MA
- Advisory Board Member of the New England Center for Children
- Democratic State Committeewoman
- Member and former vice-president of the Andona Society
- Andover Service Club
- Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus
- Merrimack Valley Chamber of Commerce
- Andover/North Andover League of Women Voters
- Merrimack Valley Economic Development Council
- Andover High School Vocal Music Association
- Andover Democratic Town Committee
- Past board member of the Andover ABC (A Better Chance) program
- Past board member of the Andover Youth Foundation
- Served on the board of the Andover/North Andover YMCA Swim Team
- Served on the board of the Andover School Town-wide PTO
- Served on the board of the Bancroft School Improvement Council
- Spent 3 years as a Samaritans suicide prevention volunteer
Awards & Honors
She has received the following awards from various organizations recognizing her hard work and determination to serve her constituents.
- Professional Center for Child Development Children First Award – April 2011
- MA Advocates for Children Legislator of the Year Award – November 2010
- MA Council of Human Service Providers Legislator of the Year Award – November 2010
- Criterion Child Enrichment Award – October 2010
- Mass Advocates Standing Strong Kate Crowley Unsung Hero Award – 2010
- MA Coalition for Suicide Prevention Leadership in Suicide Prevention Award – 2010
- Recognized by Easter Seals for the sponsorship and passage into law of Disability History Awareness Month – 2010
- Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley Courage in Advocacy Award – 2009
- Peggy Munro Homecare Advocate Award – 2009
- Human Services Advocate of the Year “Advocating for and supporting people with developmental disabilities” – 2009
- ADA Champion Award for her enduring commitment to improving the lives of people with disabilities – 2009
- Department of Developmental Services Commissioner’s Exemplar Award – 2009
- North Shore Arc Legislator of the Year – 2009
- Association of Developmental Disability Providers Legislator of the Year – 2009
- Asperger’s Association of New England Advocacy Award – 2008
- Merrimack Valley AFL-CIO Central Labor Council Legislator of the Year for advocacy on behalf of working men and women – 2007
- Religious Coalition for the Freedom to Marry “Byron Rushing Freedom of Religion Award” for outstanding leadership supporting Marriage Equality as a Civil Right – 2006
- MA Arc and MA Developmental Disabilities Council Legislator of the Year Award for advocacy on behalf of the disabled – 2006
- Doug Flutie Foundation Award for advocacy on behalf of the Autism community – 2005
- MA Association of Jewish Federations and Jewish Community Relations Council “Legislative Achievement Award” for work on social justice issues – 2005
- MA Home Care “No Care Like Home Care” award for advocacy for community based services and prescription drug coverage for the elderly of MA – 2004
- MA Nurses Association “Frank Hynes” award for advocacy on behalf of nurses – 2004
- MA Legal Services “Pillar of Justice award” for fighting for funding for legal representation for the poor and elderly – 2003
- Elder Services Merrimack Valley special recognition for advocacy in restoring the budgetary vetoes of Home Care and Care Management line items – 2003
Her advocacy on behalf of marriage equality was chronicled in the 2004 independent documentary “Saving Marriage”.
She also served as a 2005 Flemming Leadership fellow – one of thirty-six citizen legislators chosen nationwide to work together in a cooperative, bi-partisan way to create positive solutions.