Senator John Keenan graduated with honors from Harvard in 1986, with a government concentration. Three years later, he graduated from Suffolk University Law School. A lifelong learner, John attended the Harvard Kennedy School as a Rappaport Urban Scholar, graduating in 2019 with a Master’s Degree in Public Administration (MPA).
After law school, John worked first as a litigator, then as a public defender, followed by work as an attorney combating insurance fraud. He is admitted to practice in all Massachusetts State Courts, the Federal District Court for the District of Massachusetts, the Federal First Circuit Court of Appeals, and the United States Supreme Court.
In 2003, John was appointed to the Quincy City Council to fill a vacant seat and was elected Councilor at Large in 2004. He was re-elected Councilor at Large four times, the last time topping the ticket. He served as Chairman of the Council’s Finance Committee for eight years.
Since being elected to the Senate, John has served as the Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse, the Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Public Health, the Chair of the Senate Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets, and as Chair of the Senate Committee on Post Audit and Oversight. In the 2021-2022 session, John serves as the Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Housing and as Vice-Chair of the Joint Committee on Transportation. Throughout his legislative career, John’s policy focus has been on substance use, mental health, and other public health issues, as well as transportation and housing.
In the areas of drug policy, behavioral health, and public health, John has collaborated closely with public and behavioral health advocates producing impactful legislation and policies, with many becoming national models. For instance, he drafted and introduced legislation known as Chapter 55, a data collection model that has helped inform drug policy in Massachusetts. The Institute for Excellence in Government calls it, “a model of data-driven and interdisciplinary resolve with results that have begun to turn the tide.” The Massachusetts Medical Association has recognized it as, “the first of its kind in the country . . . generating breakthrough findings on the manifestations of opioid use disorder.” Also, in 2019 John was the Senate sponsor of Chapter 133 of the Acts of 2019, An Act Modernizing Tobacco Control, first in the nation legislation banning all flavored e-cigarette/vaping products and all flavored tobacco products in Massachusetts. The Wall Street Journal called it the “U.S.’s toughest flavored-tobacco ban.”