Jay R. Kaufman

Jay Kaufman has served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives (D-Lexington) since January 1995 and is now in his fourth term chairing the legislature’s Committee on Revenue.  He had, for two terms before this, chaired the Committee on Public Service and led the effort to develop and pass major pension reform initiatives.  He led the fight to pass and implement the state’s campaign finance reform law, and has chaired special task forces on medical records privacy, the social and ethical implications of genetic technology, alternatives to property taxes to fund public schools, closing tax loopholes, and encouraging greater tax fairness.  During his freshman term, he broke a six-year logjam to win passage of the Rivers Act, a major environmental protection bill.  He has sponsored legislation aimed at tax fairness, including the Property Tax Circuit Breaker, and has consistently secured major budget increases for METCO, the state’s premier racial desegregation program.  He is currently leading the effort to institute major revenue tax reform, and is the lead sponsor of The Act for Healthy Families & Businesses, a bill that would encourage the substitution of safer alternatives to commonly-used toxic chemicals.

His monthly “OPEN HOUSE” public policy forum, now in its twentieth season, has been recognized with the prestigious Beacon Award as the nation’s best televised government relations series.  In addition to his legislative duties, Jay is the founding director of New Leadership Collaborative, newly-created to offer leadership development workshops and coaching for those in – and aspiring to – leadership in our public life.  He has worked with legislators from across the country, a Governor’s cabinet and staff, the leadership team of a public school district, leaders and officials in county & municipal government, classes of promising leaders from minority communities, and groups of community leaders from local governments, churches, universities, civic groups, and state agencies.  He serves on the faculty of the National Conference of State Legislatures’ (NCSL) leadership programs for lawmakers and legislative staff in the US and abroad.


Why I’m In Public Life

My parents immigrated to this country in the ’30s in search of safety and freedom. Out of the hurt and dislocation they experienced in Germany, they came to know and believe in the American dream. We were a close family and, as a child, I felt the energy born of the mix of determination, hard work, community, and faith that is at the heart of the American spirit. I came of age in the ’60s believing – and seeing all around me – that we each have to do our part to make and sustain a community. I came to regard public service as a high calling and to expect a great deal of our leaders. Where they fall short, I feel disappointed and angry, but I also see challenge and opportunity. I don’t subscribe to the cynicism, selfishness, and distrust of government so popular in some circles today.

But business-as-usual just isn’t good enough. In our communities, in our Commonwealth, and in our country, there is much work to be done. It is work that demands experience, integrity, energy, vision, and skill, and, above all, a willingness to change. It requires new approaches, new leadership, and new alliances. It requires not just winning elections, but affirming a mandate. And it demands a commitment to bringing diverse people and constituencies together, not just to find common ground but to break new ground.

That is what good government is—or should be—all about.

About the Staff

Chief of Staff Sean Fitzgerald, Legislative Director Nicole Stephens, Legislative Aide Jacob Blanton, Chief Counsel & Research Director Kevin Larivee, Deputy Legal Counsel Alicia Scahill, Research Analyst Anthony Sacco and Scheduler Karin Wall make up Rep. Kaufman’s staff. Sean, Ben, and Kristin are the primary contacts for the district, while Kevin, Alicia, Anthony and Karin staff the Committee on Revenue, which Rep. Kaufman chairs.

Sean Fitzgerald, Chief of Staff, was previously Senator Charlie Shannon’s Chief of Staff, and before that worked as the Communications Director for Somerville Mayor Dorothy Kelly Gay. Over the past 20 years, he has also served as a campaign manager, statewide field & finance director, and media & message development strategist. Sean holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Northeastern University and resides in Somerville. He enjoys running, hiking, and spending time with his wife and two children. You can email Sean at sean.fitzgerald@mahouse.gov.

Nicole Stephens, Legislative Director, graduated from Boston University in 2012 and earned a MPA from UMass Boston in 2015. Prior to joining Representative Kaufman’s staff, she worked for Representative Paul Heroux of Attleboro for three and a half years. Additionally, she has worked for MassEquality, NARAL Pro-Choice MA, and the Army’s Pyrotechnics division in NJ.  In her spare time, she enjoys fitness, playing with her two cats, and volunteering with More Than Words and Team Red, White and Blue Boston.  Nicole can be reached at Nicole.stephens@mahouse.gov.

Jacob Blanton, Legislative Aide, is a graduate of Haverford College and received his J.D., cum laude, and his M.S.W. from Washington University in St. Louis. During graduate school, he worked as an intern in Missouri State Representative Jeanne Kirkton’s office. Additionally, he participated in the Civil Rights and Community Justice Legal Clinic, where he investigated housing discrimination claims for the Equal Housing and Opportunity Council. In his spare time, he enjoys watching and playing basketball, spending time with his spouse and two cats, and cooking meals with friends. Jacob can be reached at jacob.blanton@mahouse.gov

Kevin R. Larivee, Chief Counsel and Research Director, is a graduate of Bowdoin College and received his J.D., cum laude, from Georgetown University Law Center.  Previously, Kevin served as legislative director and counsel in the Office of State Senator Mike Barrett, where he worked on environmental issues and legislation before the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities.  Prior to the State House, he was an associate at the law firm of K&L Gates.  Kevin, his spouse, and their retired racing greyhound live in Medford, where they enjoy hikes in the Middlesex Fells, home cooking, and (mis)adventures in homeownership. Kevin can be reached at kevin.larivee@mahouse.gov

Alicia Scahill, Deputy Counsel, is a graduate of Nazareth College as well as Northeastern University School of Law.  She began her career as Assistant General Counsel at the Executive Office for Administration and Finance (A&F), where she was the primary legal advisor for A&F’s Commonwealth Performance, Accountability and Transparency Unit.  She most recently served as Staff Counsel for Senator Brian A. Joyce.  Alicia grew up in Williamson, NY, a small town outside of Rochester, NY, and currently lives in Jamaica Plain, MA.  In her free time, she can be found on the rugby pitch with the Charles River Women’s Rugby Football Club.  Alicia can be reached at alicia.scahill@mahouse.gov.

Anthony Sacco, Research Analyst, grew up in Tewksbury, MA, and graduated from Princeton University in 2013, where he studied Politics and Finance. He has previously served as Legislative Aide for Rep. Kaufman and interned in the Executive Office of Administration and Finance and the office of State Senator Steven A. Baddour. Aside from his policy and history work, he’s a music enthusiast and longtime pianist, playing keys for a local rock cover band. Anthony can be reached at anthony.sacco@mahouse.gov.

Karin Wall has been working in The State House for the past 10 years. She resides in Lynn with her husband Tom and has a grown daughter and son, as well as 2 grandsons. In her spare time, Karin enjoys playing with her grandsons and doing all kinds of dance. Whether freestyle, swing, cha cha, salsa, ballroom or Chicago Steppin’, Karin never misses an opportunity to be on the dance floor. You can email Karin at karin.wall@mahouse.gov