Hinds resigns to join Kennedy Institute

  • State Sen. Adam Hinds, D-Pittsfield, will resign his seat, effective Sunday, with less than three months left on his term to become the new CEO and executive director Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate. file photo

State House News Service
Published: 9/20/2022 9:32:27 AM
Modified: 9/20/2022 9:31:47 AM

The Senate’s string of lame-duck informal sessions may soon feature a farewell speech from Sen. Adam Hinds, who will resign less than three months before his final term ends to take over as the leader of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate.

Hinds, a Pittsfield Democrat and former United Nations negotiator, will start a new role next week as CEO and executive director of the organization headquartered in Boston that works to promote civil discourse, generate democratic engagement and educate the public about the U.S. Senate.

The three-term senator mounted an unsuccessful bid for lieutenant governor, which ended when he failed to qualify for the primary election ballot at the Democratic nominating convention in June. He was poised to leave the Senate in January before the institute announced his hiring on Tuesday. The institute said Hinds plans to resign from the Senate on Sunday, Sept. 25.

Rep. Paul Mark of Becket will face off against special education paraprofessional Brendan Phair of Pittsfield, who is unenrolled, on Nov. 8 in the race to succeed Hinds in the reshaped Berkshire, Hampden, Franklin and Hampshire District. The district covers the Hampshire County towns of Chesterfield, Cummington, Goshen, Huntington, Middlefield, Plainfield, Westhampton, Williamsburg and Worthington.

The departure of HInds will drop the Senate to 39 members for the final few months of the 2021-2022 lawmaking term, and it will also create a vacancy at the top of the Revenue Committee with state government about to return nearly $3 billion to taxpayers and legislators preparing to revive a stalled economic development and tax relief bill.

Before he was first elected to the Senate’s westernmost district in 2016, Hinds led the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition and Pittsfield Community Connection, and he was an aide to former Congressman John Olver. He spent nearly a decade working for the UN, where he focused on resolving territorial disputes in Baghdad, moving toward peace in Jerusalem, and removing Syria’s chemical weapons program, according to the institute.

Senate President Karen Spilka appointed Hinds as co-chair of the Revenue Committee at the start of his second term. In 2019, she tasked him with leading a 21-member working group that would give the state’s tax code “a careful and comprehensive look.” That group held its meetings behind closed doors and never released any findings publicly, though Senate leaders often cited its work when discussing tax issues before the Legislature.

Hinds also led the Senate committee tasked with examining and addressing structural problems revealed and exacerbated during the pandemic, such as a lack of funding for early education and child care.

Hinds will become the institute’s first permanent leader since November 2019, succeeding Interim Executive Director Sue Heilman. He said a focus will be The Senate Project, a series of Oxford-style debates launched in May with a goal of promoting consensus-building.

“I’m deeply grateful to take on the role of CEO of the Kennedy Institute, especially as we reposition it for a national role related to political dialogue at this critical time, including through The Senate Project,” Hinds said in a statement provided by the organization. “The Institute is also well placed to expand its award-winning K-12 civic education programs to reach young people in all 50 states. For 33 years, as a Western Massachusetts native, I was represented in Washington by Senator Kennedy, and I can’t begin to express what an honor it is to become a steward of his legacy and his commitment to invigorating civil discourse and civic engagement to create a better, stronger country for all.”

Former U.S. Sen. Majority Leader Tom Daschle, who served in the Democratic caucus alongside Kennedy and is a member of the institute’s board, praised Hinds for “a unique combination of deep roots in Massachusetts public affairs and experience in international diplomacy.”

“As the Kennedy Institute moves to a new level of national reach and impact in promoting a renewed search for bipartisan common ground in the Senate and stronger civic engagement among all Americans, Adam’s government, political, and nonprofit experience here and abroad made him an ideal candidate for CEO,” said Kennedy Institute Board of Directors Chair Bruce Percelay. “Among the 160 candidates we considered, Adam stood out as exceptionally qualified, connected, and committed to the Kennedy Institute’s mission.”


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