Viscardi Awards Showcase a New Era of PwD Talent

On March 4, the Viscardi Center announced the recipients of a new international Award designed to identify and honor people living with disabilities for their work and influence on the global disability community of more than one billion people. The winners were:

• Laurie Ahern, President, Disability Rights International, Washington, D.C.
• Rosangela Berman Bieler, Senior Advisor on Children with Disabilities, UNICEF, New York City
• Tony Coelho, former U.S. Rep. from California, primary sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
• Lex Frieden, Professor, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Biomedical Informatics; Director of the Independent Living Research Utilization program at TIRR Memorial Hermann
• Yoav Kraiem, Chairman, National Council for Community Relations – Mental Health, Israel
• U.S. Rep. James R. Langevin, Rhode Island’s 2nd Congressional District
• Kathleen Martinez, Assistant Secretary, U.S. Department of Labor, Washington, D.C.
• Patrick D. Rummerfield, Community Liaison, International Center for Spinal Cord Injury, Kennedy-Krieger Institute, Chesterfield, MO. 
• Michael Ashley Stein, Executive Director, Harvard Law School Project on Disability

[Read complete biographies here:

Sevaral months ago, I was asked to be a member of the selection committee that eventually chose these distingushed and "able" men and women for their courage and achievements, as well as service to the PwD global community. I am not easily impressed by events at this point in my life, but I was blown away by what I learned about each of these individuals. In fact, I was inspired. 

I was also reminded that the journey of  life is a mix of disappointment, shattered dreams and brilliant successes. As I read the biographies of these Viscardi awardees, one theme stood out: through disappointment came strength. And, with that strength they were able to change for the better the lives of a larger community, much larger than themselves. 

My colleaques on the Viscardi Selection Committe were: 
  • Rohini Anand, Senior Vice President and Global Chief Diversity Officer, Sodexo;
  • Cari Dominguez, Former Chair, U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission;
  • Col. Sherwood D. Goldberg, Esq. (Ret.), Senior Advisor for Asian Affairs, Center for Naval Analysis;
  • Hiro Itoh, President & CEO, Abilities of Japan;
  • Axel Leblois, president & CEO, The Global Initiative for Inclusive ICTS (G3ict);
  • Inmaculada Placencia Porrero, Deputy Head of Unit, Integration of People with Disabilities European Commission;
  • Nina Viscardi, daughter of Dr. Henry Viscardi.    


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