- Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission
The Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC) is pleased to announce Aja James has been named Assistant Commissioner, Disability Determination Services (DDS). She will assume the role on March 7, 2021.
“Aja is a dedicated and passionate leader,” said MRC Commissioner Toni Wolf. “She brings a wealth of experience and knowledge of the Social Security Administration and DDS. Her leadership will empower MRC and DDS to continue to fervently advocate for individuals with disabilities.”
James began working for DDS nearly two decades ago after encouragement from her mother Juanita Taylor. James had recently graduated from Saint Paul’s College, a historically Black College in Lawrenceville, VA, and was living in Connecticut with her son when a vocational disability examiner position at DDS became available. Taylor was working for DDS at the time and encouraged her daughter to apply and move back to Massachusetts. The rest is history.
Driven and committed, James focused on advancing her career at DDS, and was promoted numerously throughout her tenure. Most recently she has served as the Director of Statewide Support Operations. In addition to her roles in the agency, she has served as a union steward, and was elected to the SEIU Local 509 Chapter Board and Joint Executive Board. A champion of social justice, James also is the Co-Chair of the Black Managers Committee.
In addition to her duties at DDS, and raising a family, James attended grad school at night, and earned a master’s degree in Public Administration from Suffolk University.
“In the course of my career at DDS I’ve tried to create opportunities for professional growth and development, not only myself but my colleagues,” James said. “It’s important to know that everyone has a story and colleagues need to see people as people. As you develop in an agency, sometimes you face obstacles. As you grow as a leader you have to be vigilant and sometimes need to break barriers for others.”
James is eager and excited for her new role as Assistant Commissioner and says she will focus on building a team that is rooted in partnership, community, and civility. “One thing I am proud of is that we are a state that advocates for the citizens of the Commonwealth,” she said. “Examiners at DDS actually look at how they can help, and advocate for their claimants to get the correct decision. It’s my hope that we can create a stronger partnership with the other divisions at MRC to better serve our constituents.”