About Denise


State Representative Denise C. Garlick represents the 43,000 people of the 13th Norfolk District, comprised of Needham, Dover and Medfield (precincts 1 and 2).  She currently serves as the Chair of the Education Committee, which considers all legislation and matters pertaining to early and K-12 education in the Commonwealth. She also serves as the elected Chair of the permanent funded Commission on the Status of Persons with Disabilities and was formerly the only legislator serving on the Opioid Recovery and Remediation Fund Advisory Council. 

During the 2021-22 session, she was Chair of the House Committee on Bills in the Third Reading, which is the final committee legislation must pass before it can be engrossed. In the 2019-20 legislative session, Representative Garlick served as the Vice Chair of the House and Joint Committee on Ways and Means, which is responsible for crafting the state’s annual budget and considering all legislation affecting the finances of the Commonwealth. Starting in 2019, she was appointed by the Speaker to lead the Caring Collaboration for Vulnerable Children and Families, which sought to support children in the care and custody of the Commonwealth. Throughout 2020, she was one of five members of the House of Representatives leading the COVID-19 response for the House and acting as a liaison between the members and the Massachusetts COVID-19 Response Command Center.  

As a former Chair of the Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use, and Recovery, Representative Garlick is the House author of the 2018 Opioid Bill (An Act for prevention and access to appropriate care and treatment of addiction). And as Chair of the Joint Committee on Elder Affairs she worked to change the Council on Aging formula, influencing services to older adults throughout the Commonwealth. Representative Garlick has also previously served as the Vice-Chair of the Joint Committee on Education and on the Joint Committees on Public Health and Healthcare Financing.  

In addition to her work as a legislator, Representative Garlick is a Registered Nurse and a past President of the Massachusetts Nurses Association. Carrying this experience with her, she was the sponsor of the ICU staffing law signed by the Governor in 2014 (An Act relative to patient limits in all hospital intensive care units), one of the only laws on nurse staffing in the nation. 

Representative Garlick served on the Needham Select Board from 2008 to 2011 and chaired the Needham Senior Center Exploratory Committee, which resulted in the building of the Center at the Heights. Additionally, she served 2 terms on the Needham Board of Health, including as Chair, and co-founded the Needham Coalition on Suicide Prevention, a recognized model of community coalition building.  

Currently, Representative Garlick’s legislative focus includes championing local and regional public health, children’s mental health, improving veterans’ survivor benefits, addressing workplace violence in healthcare facilities, efficient use of school resources, Medicare for all, and ensuring access to open meetings through remote options.  

Representative Garlick’s work focuses on and reflects the issues and concerns of the communities she represents including climate change, affordable housing, access to affordable quality healthcare, voting access, issues related to individuals with disabilities, COVID-19 relief for families, individuals, schools, & businesses, and resources for schools, including the Special Education circuit breaker and METCO funding. Representative Garlick consciously addresses all issues with a careful lens for vulnerable individuals and communities in the Commonwealth. 

Representative Garlick strongly believes in working in coalitions with her community organizations and her colleagues. She serves as a board member on the Massachusetts Health Policy Forum and previously served on the Harvard School of Public Health Occupational and Environmental Advisory Board.  

Denise and her husband Russell are the grateful parents of 4 extraordinary young adults, their partners and a merry group of grandchildren. 


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