Tweet El Cea: Judith E Heumann joins the US State Department, by Adolf Ratzka

jueves, 24 de junio de 2010

Judith E Heumann joins the US State Department, by Adolf Ratzka

Judith Heumann, an international leader in the Independent Living and disability rights movement has joined the US Department of State (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) as their Special Advisor for International Disability Rights. This position was announced last summer, when President Obama and Minister of Foreign Affairs Clinton declared that the United States would sign the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Heumann resigned her position as Director of the Department on Disability Services for the District of Columbia which she has had since 2006.

Previously, Heumann was the Advisor on Disability and Development for the World Bank from 2002 - 2006 and served as President Clinton's Assistant Secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services from 1993 -2001. She was a cofounder of the World Institute on Disability in Oakland, California, and served there from 1982 -1993. She was also a cofounder of the Berkeley Center for Independent Living, serving as their Deputy Director from 1975 - 1981. She started her career as disability advocate in the early 1970s when after earning a teaching credential she was refused employment as a teacher, took her case to court, won and started the organization Disabled in Action in New York City.

Judy Heumann has been at the forefront of the Independent Living Movement since its beginnings both nationally in the US and internationally. Her personal career reflects the growing importance of our movement in the US and worldwide with an increasing number of former activists moving into positions of policy and executive power.

Judy has had a hand in ENIL's origins when at a national German conference in 1987 in Cologne a group consisting of Judy, Horst Frehe, Lothar Sandfort and myself discussed the possibility of organizing a European conference on personal assistance in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France. Lothar who at that time was the Green Party's national coordinator for disability issues managed to raise funds from the European Greens in the EU Parliament and organized the April 1989 meeting which lead to the founding of ENIL. Over 80 persons from all over Europe and Judy Heumann attended.

Judy has travelled widely lecturing and networking tirelessly. Her many personal friends in Europe and all over the world can testify to her ability to establish warm and personal relationships with people she meets whether they are newcomers at the grass-roots level or high government officials. Her new position will allow her to influence US and international development programs. With her genuine warmth, impressive knowledge and experience as well as through her personal example Judy who uses personal assistance and an electric wheelchair will now have an even wider base to promote the rights of persons with disabilities.

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