When Gov. Maura Healey stood in front of a microphone last year, she most likely wanted to talk about jobs.

A GBH News analysis of the governor’s speeches during her first year in office found that Healey mentioned jobs and the workforce in 46 out of 67 major policy speeches — more than any other topic — as part of her repeated promise to make Massachusetts “more affordable, more competitive and more equitable.”

The governor also regularly highlighted equity and diversity as top goals for her administration. But she usually referenced those topics in a general sense, rarely mentioning any specific racial group by name in her prepared speeches.

“From day one of our administration, Governor Healey said she was going to prioritize affordability, competitiveness and equity” the governor’s spokesperson Karissa Hand told GBH in a statement. “Her public comments and her actions reflect that commitment.”

What isn't included in this analysis

GBH News did not include content from speeches Healey delivered at events organized by third parties, interviews, Q&As or written press releases. The topics and content included in those formats could be influenced by people other than the governor.

To assess what Healey spent her own time on — any executive’s most precious resource — GBH News’ review focuses narrowly on public speeches over which she had the most control. It does not include remarks the governor made at events organized by third parties that she was invited to participate in. Instead, the analysis focuses solely on Healey's speeches posted on the governor’s website and YouTube channel.

Tammy Vigil, who researches political communication as an associate professor at Boston University, said audiences can understand a lot about a leader's priorities from public comments — even if someone else wrote the script.

“Any good speech writer is going to write on behalf of and in the voice of the candidate or the politician,” Vigil said. “So you learn a lot. You learn a lot about what's important to that person — about how they view issues.”

Most mentioned: jobs and workforce

The governor repeatedly stated her goal to make Massachusetts more economically competitive against other states by retaining employers, educating the workforce and connecting individuals to job opportunities.

“At this very moment we have tens of thousands of jobs out there that are unfilled,” Healey said during a March 2023 speech announcing free community college for residents 25 and older. “It is about harnessing the immense talents and riches we have in our state: human capital, intellectual capital, innovation.”

Vigil said the governor’s focus on jobs reflects the concerns of many residents following the economic shock of the COVID-19 pandemic and the following shift to remote work.

“People were concerned about jobs [and] job security,” Vigil said. “But also what’s going to happen to them going forward.”

Affordability, housing and taxes

The governor spoke explicitly about making Massachusetts more “affordable” in nearly half of her speeches — and brought up housing almost as often.

Healey's focus on housing ramped up late last year as the arrival of thousands of immigrant families increased pressure on the state's already strained shelter system.

Jacquetta Van Zandt, host of the Politics and Prosecco videocast and previous advisor to former Framingham Mayor Yvonne Spicer, said she expects jobs, housing and immigration will remain among the governor’s most talked about issues going forward.

“She’s going to have a trifecta,” Van Zandt said. “She's going to have to talk about these things and make them interrelated.”

An October poll conducted by University of Massachusetts Amherst and WCVB found that the expensive housing market and high cost of living were among the top reasons Massachusetts residents considered leaving the state last year.

In her public comments, Healey said reducing taxes was crucial for keeping residents and businesses in Massachusetts. During an October speech in Pittsfield titled “Cutting Taxes, Saving Residents Money” Healey warned about “too many people struggling financially, too many people leaving, too many businesses looking to locate or relocate outside of the state.”

“It’s not what we want,” she said.

Evan Horowitz, executive director at Tufts University's Center for State Policy Analysis, said Healey presents her tax policy to resonate with progressive groups that care about tax cuts for vulnerable people and also to reassure business leaders who advocate for reduced taxes to bolster the state’s economic competitiveness.

“From the governor's perspective, it was also about building an effective coalition,” Horowitz said.

Diversity, equity and inclusion

While the governor referenced “diversity,” “equity”’ or “inclusion” in more than half of her speeches, her remarks less frequently named specific racial and ethnic groups.

Under the 'diversity, equity and inclusion' umbrella

GBH News’ analysis looked at broad terms about race and ethnicity, including Black, African American, Hispanic, Latino/a/x, Asian, Indigenous and Native American. This analysis did not count references to nationality, such as Haitian or Vietnamese.

Healey, the first lesbian elected governor in the United States, referenced the LGBTQ+ community in four speeches. She spoke about women’s issues — including reproductive rights, as well as representation in the workplace and leadership — in eight.

Seven of the 67 major policy speeches GBH News analyzed explicitly mentioned the Black population in Massachusetts, five mentioned Latinos as a group and two mentioned the Asian population.

Tatishe Nteta, politics professor at University of Massachusetts Amherst and director of UMass Poll, said center-left Democrats like Healey often align themselves with the values of diversity, equity and inclusion, but they tend to avoid directly addressing minority groups in public comments to prevent alienating white residents, who make up the majority of the state population.

“Direct and specific and substantive appeals to people of color historically have done political damage to Democrats — at least this is the perception,” Nteta said. “So in public discussions, it is a ‘lift all boats’ argument.”

Hand, the governor’s spokesperson, told GBH News that the Healey administration prioritizes equity in “every decision they make.”

“She is committed to engaging with Black, Latino, AAPI and Indigenous communities every step of the way,” the statement said.

Healey attended and spoke at multiple minority-community events including the annual Martin Luther King Breakfast and a Korea Day celebration, but these speaking events do not appear on the governor’s webpage of major policy speeches.

GBH didn’t find mentions of the Native American community in the governor’s speeches, but the governor’s office did release written press statements mentioning Native Americans — including announcements of the administration’s investments in local tribes’ climate resilience and supporting diverse entrepreneurs.

Mahtowin Munro, co-leader of the United American Indians of New England, wrote in an email to GBH that “there is no excuse” for excluding Native American populations from the governor’s speeches on diversity, equity and inclusion.

“In addition to members of tribal nations here in Massachusetts such as the Aquinnah Wampanoag, Mashpee Wampanoag, and Nipmuc, there are tens of thousands of other Indigenous people here,” Munro said. “Apparently, we don't count as far as her administration is concerned.”

Munro urged Healey to meet with Native American leaders and publicly support legislation which will ban sports mascots based on racist native caricatures, rename Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day and update how Indigenous issues are taught in schools, among other priorities. Healey’s office expressed support for the change to Indigenous People’s Day to reporters last year.

Cities, towns and regions

Among the commonwealth’s cities and towns, Healey named Boston most frequently — 18 times, more than twice as frequently as the next runner up. Her second most mentioned city was Salem, where Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll used to be mayor.

The governor’s speeches brought up cities and towns spread throughout Eastern Massachusetts, as well as pockets in Central and Western Massachusetts.

Healey’s spokesperson told GBH that the governor’s team intentionally reached out to residents throughout different regions of the commonwealth.

“We spent the first year of our administration getting out into communities across the state, bringing diverse groups of people together, and speaking directly to residents about our work to cut taxes, make housing more affordable, and strengthen our workforce,” the spokesperson wrote in a statement.

The Western Massachusetts Policy Center told GBH News it is “heartened” by the governor’s “genuine” commitment to visiting and speaking about Western Massachusetts but that the administration’s affordability and economic stability policies needed to be more tailored to the region’s specific needs, particularly “focusing on direct economic empowerment to low-income and historically excluded or marginalized people and communities.”

Van Zandt said threading the needle to keep “not only the constituents but [Healey’s] staffers, her donors” happy is not an easy task.

“Governor Healey is trying her best to navigate in a very divisive political climate,” Van Zandt said. “That's a heavy plate to carry.”

To produce this story, GBH partnered with Boston University's Justice Media Computational Journalism co-Lab with assistance from professors Mark Schifferli and Brooke Williams. Renee Yang also contributed to this report.