In March 2015, Commissioner Adelaide “Nicky” Osborne was appointed by Governor Charles Baker to head the MA Rehabilitation Commission. She has nearly 40-years of experience developing and implementing services for individuals with physical and developmental disabilities, brain injuries, and mental illness.

Commissioner Osborne first worked for the Commonwealth at the Department of Mental Health in the 1970’s. After providing the state 15 years of service, she joined the private, non-profit sector where she held key management roles at the South Middlesex Opportunity Council, Riverside Community Care, and Eliot Community Human Services. In her various roles, she provided executive management of residential and support services for individuals with developmental disabilities, traumatic brain injury, and behavioral health conditions.

Previous to her appointment, Commissioner Osborne served as the director of the Brain Injury and Statewide Specialized Community Services in the Community Living division of the MRC, and successfully managed the program’s $34 million budget.

Commissioner Osborne received her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Nebraska and her Masters in Social Work from Boston College. She also completed the Executive Management Program at Harvard University. She has served on a number of advocacy boards around issues of behavioral health, substance abuse and developmental disabilities.


How did you get into this field?

From a young child, I was aware that people were discriminated against only because of the color of their skin, or the religion they practiced. Later in life, I witnessed discrimination against people who were in institutions or who had a visible disability. For the last 35 years, I have worked to create opportunities for people to live independently and to be a part of their communities. I believe that all people should be treated with respect and dignity regardless of any perceived differences.

Who would you consider to be your mentor and why?

My mentor is former Commissioner Robert Okin. He was the Commissioner for the Department of Mental Health (DMH) during the early days of moving people out of institutions into the communities. He had a vision of a better world for people with mental illness, he communicated that vision, and supported me as an Area Director in every possible way to make the vision real. He showed me that major social change initiatives can take place.

What quote do you live by?

I like both of these quotes because they put into perspective the work that we do every day:

“A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.” Buddhist Sutra


“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.” Confucius

Can you share an interesting fact about yourself that your colleagues wouldn't necessarily know?

I grew up in Omaha Nebraska and graduated from the University of Nebraska with a Bachelors in Zoology and Physiology. After college, some friends and I packed up a blue Volkswagen van and headed to Boston for a new life!


This information is provided by the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission.