Karen B. Johnson, President 2018    

“Leadership and Learning are indispensable to each other” – John F. Kennedy.

This is what I love about MassNAELA.  We are a gold standard chapter that combines the wisdom and talent of our members to learn and to lead.

As we kick off our 25th anniversary year, my goals are three-fold:


Ensure that our vibrant chapter remains a viable and trusted voice in the fields of elder and special needs planning and to collaborate with the agencies and organizations that make these issues a top priority.  We are in discussions with joining the Coalition for Elder Economic Stability led by the Mass Senior Action Council and Mass Council on Aging, as well as 70 other organizations/providers (continuing the efforts of our past president, Dan Surprenant).


Encourage each and every member to participate and offer their individual experiences and knowledge with the chapter.  Please check out our website for information about our committees and a link to a committee sign-up sheet. In addition, I urge you to become an active participant at the public policy meetings chaired by Susan Levin and Patti Keane Martin and at the litigation committee meetings chaired by John Ford, Paula Nedder and Jack McNicholas, each of which meet immediately  prior to our monthly meetings.  This is one of the best ways to stay up-to-date with legislation and case related changes.


Continue to sponsor legislation with the guidance of our lobbyist, Nomita Ganguly.  We will re-file the Act to Support Equal Access to Community Care for Elders and the Disabled (formerly known as the PACE and Other Waivered Services bill) with the goal of expanding the Frail Elder Waiver to persons whose income is over the 300% of the Federal Benefit Rate through cost-sharing.  In addition, we have finalized language for two additional bills – the first,  relative to the countability of Veterans Aid and Attendance benefits when calculating income for purposes of eligibility; and second,  preserving the ability for individuals over 65 to fund pooled trusts .

Efforts to Date

Beginning with the 2016 Thanksgiving break, a team of MassNAELA attorneys (Susan Levin, Emily Starr, Patti Keane Martin and Liane Zeitz) was in full gear around the clock to address the proposed MassHealth regulations which are slated to take effect on February 1, 2017.   Thank you to this group which developed written comments which were submitted in response.  Furthermore, MassNAELA representatives set forth our position at a public hearing on December 16, 2016.  Thank you to Lisa Neeley, Pamela Greenfield and Arthur Bergeron for testifying on our behalf.

On January 5th, the Nadeau and Daley cases were heard by the SJC.  Lisa Neeley, Brian Barreira (and National NAELA’s Ron Landsman) ably presented the cases.

Upcoming Events – Please mark your calendars!

January 19 – our program committee chaired by Michael Couture and Geralyn Warren is kicking off our dinner meetings with “Best Practices” and a tutorial on navigating our website,  which has been totally revamped and made user friendly by Pamela Greenfield (and her husband Josh).

March 2 – we will be running our annual satellite breakfast meetings at four locations across the Commonwealth (Natick, Westfield, Duxbury, Peabody).  The topic will be Diminished Capacity.

March 31 –  the  Elder Law Institute, chaired by Karen Johnson,  will be held at the Federal Reserve Bank in Boston.  This year’s focus is Irrevocable Trusts.

April 27-29 – National NAELA’s  Convention will be held in Boston.  Judy Flynn and Margot Birke are on the Planning Committee and our own Hyman Darling will be voted in as National President.

Our remaining dinner programs, all to be held at the Boston-Newton Marriott, will be held on May 18, June 15, September 7, October 25 and our annual meeting on December 7.  Watch your e-mails for more information and topics.  If you have an idea for a topic or speaker, please let the Program Committee co-chairs know.

We also intend to run our annual litigation workshop, led by John Ford, and the Paralegal Program.

Finally, three new initiatives are under development.  First, a new member outreach committee will be formed under the guidance of  Clarence Richardson.  Second, we will solicit questions for the  Ask the Expert column in our newsletter facilitated by Jessica Batsevitsky. Lastly, to further our past president’s goal of incorporating special needs into our practices, we hope to run another conference in the fall devoted to this topic.

I feel fortunate to be a part of this organization and privileged and humbled by the opportunity to lead and learn from our membership.

Join me as we take MassNAELA to new heights – onward to another 25 years!