Herb Weiss, an agent of change… shifts focus to Pawtucket’s senior community

by Nancy Thomas, publisher

Big changes for our writer on aging issues – and how lucky we are to have this news to share.

Herb Weiss, of Pawtucket, has worked for his city for over 23 years, serving most recently as Economic and Cultural Affairs Officer. On August 22nd, Herb will be following his most passionate concern, issues of relevance to the aging population, and move over to serve as Deputy Director of the Pawtucket Senior Center. There, he will work with Mary-Lou Moran, Director of the Leon Mathieu Senior Center, who has worked for the city for over 20 years, and also served as VP and President of the RI Senior Center Directors Association. The Center is widely recognized in the state as one of the most successful senior centers serving its community.

Weiss will focus his work on building and maintaining a constructive working relationship with local aging, medical and healthcare groups as an aging liaison for the City and will focus on community outreach to strengthen relationships between the organization and the community,” according to a portion of his new job description, sent to us by the City. “His ongoing contact with the community in organizing outreach campaigns, coordinating events and budgeting, will include conducting periodic outreach to the older local community in order to assist in the development of department programs and services.”

In addition to his 23+ years with the City, Weiss has over 45 years, total, in the field of aging, including his education and writings to bring to the table.

Writing Career

Weiss published his first article in 1980 – on aging – and has been a journalist for the past 42 years. He has authored or co-authored more than 846 articles on aging, health care and medical issues. Weiss’ columns regularly appear in newspapers throughout Rhode Island and RINewsToday, a digital news site. He writes a weekly “Age Beat” commentary covering issues that impact America’s baby boomers and seniors, published in the Pawtucket Times[ and Woonsocket Call, also penning the occasional cover story for Senior Digest, a monthly newspaper covering aging issues. All in addition to his column on Mondays with RINewsToday.

The American College of Health Care Administrators recognized his work in 1994 and 1999 National Journalism Awards. In January 1997, McKnight’s LTC News named Weiss one of its “100 Most Influential People” in the Long-Term Care industry. He received the 1998 Distinguished Alumnus award from the Department of Applied Gerontology at the University of North Texas in 1998, and the AARP Rhode Island’s 2004 Vision Award.

Weiss has served on the editorial advisory boards of the following publications covering long-term care: The Brown LTC Quality Letter (1993); McKnight’s LTC News (1992–2000); Aging Network News (1991–1993); The Journal of Long Term Care Administrators (1985–1995); and Contemporary Long Term Care (1983–1990).

Weiss oversaw editorial content for seven nationally published trade newsletters and newspapers. These include Founding Editor of Aging Network News (1985 to 1988); editor of three medical-related national newsletters on CPT and CPR coding, as well as Medicare reimbursement issues for physicians (1988 to 1990); editor of Senior Law Report and Marketing to Seniors (1990-1991); managing editor of Brown LTQ Quality Letter (1993); and Founding Editor of Senior Living, now called Prime Time (1997 to 1998).

Weiss covered Capitol Hill writing the Capitol Report for The Journal of Long Term Care Administration (later renamed Balance) from 1990 to 1998, and Washington Report for Contemporary Long Term Care from 1986 to 1987. As a journalist, he was accredited by the House Press Gallery (1987, 1988, 1990, 1991) to cover Congress.


In 2014, Weiss co-edited an e-book with Dr. Nancy Carriuolo, then president of Rhode Island College, detailing the emails of Richard Walton, a well-known Rhode Island social activist.

In 2016, Weiss published a collection of his articles for seniors called Taking Charge: Collected Stories on Aging Boldly. Weiss published an additional anthology of his collected articles and columns in 2021 called Taking Charge, Volume 2: More Stories on Aging Boldly.

RI State appointments

Weiss was appointed by five governors to serve on the Rhode Island Advisory Commission on Aging. The appointments were made by Governors Bruce Sundlun, Lincoln Almond, Donald L. Carcieri, Gina Raimondo, and Daniel J. McKee.

Weiss was appointed by Rhode Island Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio in November 2021 to serve on the Advisory Council on Alzheimer’s Disease Research and Treatment. 

Professional licenses

Weiss was licensed as a nursing home administrator in Washington, DC, from 1981 to 1987 and from 1993 to 1999 in Rhode Island.

City of Pawtucket – the Arts – and Economic Development

Weiss served as the City’s Program Manager for Development Projects, later changed to the Economic & Cultural Affairs Officer, where he serves up until his new position begins.

Highlights of his career include being charged in 1999 by Mayor James Doyle with oversight of Pawtucket’s newly established 307-acre Arts and Entertainment District. Over the years, he has been a driver of Pawtucket’s arts-oriented development strategy. In particular, his efforts to bring artists to the city’s historic mill buildings have attracted national attention. Weiss was among those featured by filmmaker Jason Caminiti in Pawtucket Rising, a 2008 documentary.

Weiss’ activities with the arts community also brought awards. He was part of the group that created the month-long Pawtucket Arts Festival (PAF) in 1999, and later received its inaugural Medal of Excellence Award in 2015. Weiss was the first recipient of the non-profit Pawtucket Foundation’s Person of the Year award. In 2005, the All Children’s Theatre awarded him the Advocacy in the Arts Action Award, and in 2013 he was recognized with an Excellence in Arts and Business award from the Blackstone Valley Tourism Council.

Weiss continues to serve as the liaison between the city and filmmakers wanting to use Pawtucket as a location in movies, television shows and commercials. For his advocacy and support of the film industry, the non-profit Rhode Island Film Collaborative gave Weiss its first Excellence Award in 2010. In 2016, the Rhode Island International Film Festival recognized his efforts to promote the Rhode Island film industry by awarding him its Producer’s Circle Award.


Weiss was also invited by other municipalities around the region to discuss Pawtucket’s arts policy and its economic impact on the city. These invitations took him to: Maine – Portland; Pennsylvania – Philadelphia and Oil City: Rhode Island – Providence, Cranston, Newport, and Woonsocket; New York – New York City; New Jersey – Camden and Millville; Massachusetts – New Bedford, Fall River and Rockport. 


Weiss’ bachelor’s degree is in psychology with a social work certificate from the University of Texas. His master’s degree is from the North Texas State University, and he has completed 24 credits of his doctorate in public policy from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Weiss is a 2012 graduate of the Theta II Class of Leadership Rhode Island.


Weiss is married to Patricia S. Zacks (D’Angelo) of Pawtucket, and is the owner of Camera Works, in Providence, and he has two stepchildren, Ben and Samantha. He has lived in Pawtucket since 1995. His 4 year-old chocolate lab, Molly, is often by his side and can be heard adding her commentary to the many cell phone conversations as Weiss works on business, day and night, but often on that 2-mile walk each day to the dog park or being chauffeured to doggy daycare.

What they say about Herb

RINewsToday reached out to several people for commentary about Herb as part of our feature story, today. The response was unanimous – and superlative!  Here is a selection:

Mayor Don Grebien, Mayor of Pawtucket  – “Herb is a staple in the community. We are looking forward to and are excited for him to continue serving Pawtucket in his new role following his outstanding work in Economic Development. I know that his new position aligns with his interests and what he has written about in the past. We look forward to having his voice also advocating for those in Pawtucket over at the Senior Center.” 

Bernie Beaudreau, Executive Director, Senior Agenda Coalition of RI – “Herb Weiss, through his years of careful research and articulation on the issues of aging, has been a powerful lifelong advocate creating a growing community that cares. His writing passion makes him a real agent of change.”

Bill Benson, former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Aging at the Administration on Aging & President, and Health Benefits ABCs & President, International Association for Indigenous Aging (IA2) – “The City of Pawtucket and its Pawtucket Senior Center are most fortunate to have Herb Weiss to serve as the Center’s Deputy Director. Over the nearly four decades that I have known and worked with Herb, he has proven over and over to be a passionate, compassionate, thoughtful, and steady champion of older adults, particularly those who have needed a voice to amplify their needs and desires. He understands the importance of policy and its relationship to direct services in improving the well-being of older adults, having worked with me in the U.S. Senate, and being one of the nation’s foremost journalists writing about aging for decades. This is a time of great challenge in serving older adults, especially as we (hopefully) emerge from the coronavirus pandemic, and also attempt to be responsive to the demographics of our aging society. The Pawtucket Senior Center is getting a truly gifted, hard-working and – especially kind – deputy director to help fulfill its responsibilities in serving older adults.”

Kathleen Connell, Former RI Secretary of State, Former State Director, AARP RI “This is great news FOR Pawtucket Seniors. The appointment of Herbert P. Weiss as Deputy Director of the renowned Pawtucket Senior Center is a summer bonus for Pawtucket and the seniors of that community. Herb is a true professional, but he is much more. Over the many years I have worked with him he has been a tireless advocate for seniors: in his paid professional positions, in his writing, and in his volunteer efforts. Herb is the recipient of numerous awards including the 2004 AARP Vision Award. Herb’s writings are a rare treat and reflect a unique perspective, an appreciation of history, and a sense of humor. The “AGING BOLDLY,” collection is a perfect example.

A wise person once said that the assets most important to success are imagination and persistence. Herb’s enormous contributions to the Pawtucket Arts scene bear witness to his ability to see opportunity. His dedication on behalf of all seniors is persistence personified. I recall advising a colleague, ‘you need to respond to him now because he won’t give up until you do.’ True statement—but Herb always persisted with patience and grace, and we are all better for it. Congratulations to Herb! Go forth boldly!

Scott A. Davis, owner, Rhode Island Antiques Mall – Herb’s unconventional approach to revitalizing the city produced remarkable results.  Hopefully he’ll find ways to breathe new life into our senior community next.

Paul Harden, Director, Greater Newport Region, Small Business Development Center – I have worked with Herb for over 20 years. He is a valuable and underappreciated asset in Pawtucket who helps every business in the City no matter what the size of the business. I once said that RI would be a better place if every City and Town had someone like Herb!  His determination and creativeness will be a valuable asset in his new position. 

Paul Kleyman, National Coordinator, Journalists Network on Generations & Editor, – “My hearty congratulations go to the Pawtucket Senior Center: They could not have chosen a more capable and knowledgeable a person as your new Deputy Director. Herb not only has great experience in agency management, but as an author and columnist he brings his capacity as a fine communicator about both the public policies and lived experience of growing older.”

with Vin Marzullo

Vincent Marzullo, former federal civil rights & social justice administrator, AmeriCorps; current Board member, Senior Agenda Coalition of RI; executive committee member, NAACP Providence Branch, & former President, AARP RI – “Herb is uniquely qualified and experienced to assist the highly regarded Pawtucket Senior Center Director, Mary Lou Moran, and strengthen the City’s capabilities to serve its older adults.  I wish Herb and Mary Lou even greater success now that they have the opportunity to work collaboratively for seniors.”

Mary Lou Moran, Director Leon Mathieu Senior Center Pawtucket Division of Senior Services – “We are very excited about having Herb join the dedicated staff at the Leon Mathieu Senior Center Pawtucket Division of Senior Services.  He is poised to bring some very good writing and research expertise and advocacy work on issues facing older adults.  He will also assist us in doing some long range planning which will enable us to keep step with the current needs of the community and its older residents.  Welcome aboard Herb!

John O’Connor – Editorial Director, McKnight’s, – “Herb is smart, charismatic, and a darn good writer. But more importantly, he truly cares.  Herb has spent his adult life in the service of our nations seniors. I wish him all the best on the next part of his journey and have no doubt he will excel yet again.”

Miriam R. Plitt, Chairperson , Pawtucket Arts and Culture Advisory Commission – “Pawtucket is the city of the arts and Herb Weiss played a key role in bringing in artists to live and work here, enhancing the arts festival, promoting the arts city and statewide.  Herb is a promoter and writer and known as – Mr. Pawtucket!”

Wayne Rosenberg, Creative Commerce Center, Pawtucket – “I was a small Real Estate Developer out of the Boston arena when I first met Herb Weiss 20 years ago. I know him best as a cheerleader for all things with the City of Pawtucket. For 10 years Herb Weiss tried to get me to invest in Pawtucket when finally he hooked me up with David Gold from Gold Machinery. Herb was key to helping with the successful transfer of what is now the CREATIVE COMMERCE CENTER, a 52,000 sf building that had been left underutilized for over a decade. He was Pawtucket’s “ace” economic co-ordinator for 23 years working behind the scenes to assist numerous Mill developments throughout the City. Yet even with his full time gig for the City, Herb continued to write and publish articles and two books on the maladies of aging. In these books Herb offers sage advice on difficult and seldom written about topics that affect all seniors and their caregivers. Herb Weiss  knows how to work the City of Pawtucket. He gets the big picture, and as such, will be an available and a valuable asset to every Senior in our city. This is a win-win for everyone.”

Jonathan N. Savage, Esq., Savage Law Partners, LLP – “Herb has been an extraordinary advocate for the City of Pawtucket promoting its arts and business communities. His commitment and tenacity have been invaluable to me and many other developers and business people who care deeply about the City. I’m sure he will bring his extraordinary talents to his new position. Herb is a true gem. One of a kind!”

Wow! What started as a little human interest piece and announcement on Herb’s career change developed into an outpouring of love for our friend – and our Feature Writer on Aging – Herb Weiss.  Congrats, Herb – we all know change isn’t easy (at any age) and we wish you well with this one – and look forward to reading new perspectives and opportunities in your column each Monday!