About Denise


  • State Representative Denise C. Garlick represents the 44,800 people of the 13 Norfolk District, comprised of Needham, Dover, and Medfield (precincts 1 and 2).  She currently serves as the House Chair of the Joint Committee on Education, which overlooks all matters concerning early education in the Commonwealth. She is also serving as the elected Chair of the permanent funded Commission on the Status of Persons with Disabilities and she is the only legislator serving on the Opioid Trust Fund Advisory Council.
  • Her life has been dedicated to public service and advocating for the rights of people in her town, state and nation. In addition to her official state duties, she is proud to be a mother, a nurse, a volunteer, and known by all as a hard worker. Denise and her husband, Russell, are long-time residents of Needham, Massachusetts. They are the proud parents of four adults. 
  • Currently Representative Garlick’s legislative focus includes championing local and regional public health, addressing workplace violence in healthcare facilities, efficient use of school resources, Medicare for all, and ensuring access to open meetings through remote options.

Legislative Background

During the 2021-2022 legislative session, Representative Garlick served as the Chair of the House Committee on Bills in Third Reading, which is the final committee legislation must pass before it can be engrossed. With Representative Garlick’s leadership, Bills in Third Reading received 937 bills and reported out 782 bills to the House floor for voting.  

2019-2020 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 to lead the Caring Collaboration for Vulnerable Children and Families. 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 (Chapter 208 of the Acts of 2018). And as Chair of the Joint Committee on Elder Affairs she worked to change the Council on Aging formula, influencing the guide to services for older adults throughout the Commonwealth.  

Committee Assignments and Memberships

Representative Garlick currently serves as the House Chair on the Joint Committee on Education. Representative Garlick is a champion for public education in the Commonwealth, advocating for efficient uses of school resources. An Act relative to school operational efficiency was signed into law, helping schools across Massachusetts optimize funding to educate students. Given Representative Garlick’s rich experience and passion for education, she brings a fresh perspective and ideas to the Committee on Education and students across the Commonwealth.

Former Committee Assignments:

  • Chair, Bills in Third Reading
  • Vice Chair, Joint Committee on Ways and Means
  • Chair, Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance
  • Use, and Recovery
  • Chair, Joint Committee on Elder Affairs
  • Vice Chair, Joint Committee on Education
  • Member, Joint Committee on Public Health
  • Member, Joint Committee on Healthcare Financing

Working in Community and Collaboration:

Representative Garlick strongly believes in working in coalitions with her community organizations and her colleagues.

  • Caucus of Women Legislators
  • MetroWest Caucus
  • Labor Caucus
  • Caucus for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities
  • Elder Affairs Caucus
  • Biotech Caucus
  • Manufacturing Caucus
  • Food System Caucus
  • MBTA Caucus
  • Tech Hub Caucus
  • Prevention Health Caucus
  • Progressive Caucus

Other Memberships:

  • Massachusetts Health Policy Forum
  • Harvard School of Public Health Occupational and Environmental Advisory Board
  • Opioid Recovery and Remediation Fund Advisory Council
  • Conference Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery

Professional Background

Denise is a Registered Nurse and values her wide-ranging experiences in both teaching and community hospitals, including union and nonunion systems, as well as community health settings.

She has had many leadership roles in her profession and the broader field of health care. Nationally, she has delivered lectures on health and safety issues for healthcare professionals.

Local Leadership

Before serving in the state government, Denise was a member of a number of elected and appointed boards in her community. Serving on her hometown of Needham’s Board of Selectmen, Board of Health, Senior Center Exploratory Committee, and Coalition for Suicide, Representative Garlick’s work continues to make an impact in her community till this day.  

On Needham’s Board of Selectmen, she was responsible for municipal issues of education, public safety, public works and public health, and helped to manage a budget of more than $100 million.

Denise also served as the Chair of the Needham Board of Health and as a Town Meeting Member.

In 2006, Denise founded and chaired the Needham Coalition for Suicide Prevention, which continues its work today and serves as a model for communities across the United States.

Denise also chaired the Needham Senior Center Exploratory Committees, which lead the charge in constructing a $8.2 million Senior Center.


Denise and her husband, Russell, are long-time residents of Needham, Massachusetts. They are the proud parents of four adults.

Denise Garlick with her family

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