About Ken

State Senator Ken Donnelly has spent over 54 years living in and serving the 4th Middlesex district . Born in Cambridge, Ken moved to Arlington at age 7, attended the public schools, and raised a family with Judy, his wife of 42 years.

For 35 years, Ken worked for the town of Lexington as a fire fighter and a lieutenant within the fire department. As a leader, Ken consistently exhibited compassion towards those in need of assistance, made important decisions under pressure, and fostered a team environment in order to attain common goals. Ken has brought the skills he developed as a firefighter to everything he has done in his professional life.

Ken brought his leadership experience to Beacon Hill in 2009, when he was first elected to the State Senate. In the Senate, he played an instrumental role in crafting and passing municipal healthcare reform and the pension reform bill of 2010.  He was appointed as the Senate representative to the Pension Commission to study the Massachusetts Pension System in 2009. This was an extension of the work he began as the legislative agent for the Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts where he played a key role in crafting the 1987 landmark pension reform which helped curb pension abuse, improve oversight, and increase the accountability of local retirement boards so that future generations would not be burdened with a large unfunded liability.

In addition to his work on municipal health and pension reform, Ken has sponsored and championed the Middle Skills Solutions Act. The act builds on existing resources - such as our community college, voc-tech and workforce development programs – to provide programs and training that prepare workers for employment in high growth and economically targeted industries around the Commonwealth that have middle skill job needs. Middle skill jobs are those that require more than a high school degree but less than a four year baccalaureate.  

Because of his work on middle skills, Ken was invited to join the Governor’s working group formed to look at issues around shaping a community college system to advance economic development .  The group is  composed of various interested parties who have come together to  offer the Governor advice and perspective on the subject.  The group met several times and discussed how the objectives of aligning community colleges with the state’s economic development vision can best be realized.

Ken currently serves on Senate President Stanely Rosenberg's leadership team as the Majority Whip. He is also the vice-chair of the Joint Committee on Election Laws, and holds seats on the Joint Committees on Public Health, Public Service and on Mental Health and Substance Abuse.  In addition, Ken sits on the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, the Senate Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets, and the Senate Committee on Personnel and Administration.

Ken holds a BA from the University of Massachusetts and is a graduate of the Harvard University Trade Union Program. Ken and Judy have 3 children and are the proud grandparents of 5.