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Judy Heumann joins Leonard Cheshire Disability

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Judy Heumann, the renowned disability rights campaigner, is to join Leonard Cheshire Disability as a global ambassador.

An architect of the disability rights movement and long term campaigner for equality and human rights, Judy will promote and share the values of the organisation internationally.

Judy has experienced discrimination throughout her life and has been an activist working to establish and support numerous organisations in the US and around the world fighting for the rights of persons with disabilities. This included a pivotal role in establishing the independent living movement in the US and abroad.

Judy worked for the Clinton administration from 1993 to 2001 as Assistant Secretary of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services in the Department of Education. She was the World Bank’s first advisor on disability and development from 2002-2006 and in 2010 she joined the Obama administration as Special Advisor on disability rights for the State Department.

Judy will amplify the voice of an organisation that celebrates seventy years in the field in 2018 and has long standing relationships with key international bodies such as The United Nations and the World Bank. She will work towards ensuring the realisation of the UN Convention on The Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

Leonard Cheshire Disability’s global programmes and influencing work includes inclusive education and livelihoods projects that aim to support over 100,000 persons with disabilities across Africa and Asia.

Leonard Cheshire Disability is also a leading resource for the global development community, with a centre for international research based at University College London.  The centre undertakes field based studies, policy reviews, theoretical and sector wide analysis to help build the evidence base on disability in international development.

Judy contracted polio at eighteen months and began campaigning for disability rights in New York in the 1950’s. Backed by her parents, she successfully campaigned for accessible schools in her home city and after initially being denied a college place on dubious medical grounds, won the right to study and became the first person in a wheelchair to teach in New York.

She is proud to become an ambassador for Leonard Cheshire whose international efforts are aimed at empowerment and implementation of the CRPD: “I’m honoured to be an ambassador for Leonard Cheshire Disability and have long been an admirer of the organisation and people within it. I relish the opportunity of us working together to support the rights of persons with disabilities across the world.”

Leonard Cheshire Disability’s CEO Neil Heslop said: “We are thrilled to welcome Judy as a Global Ambassador. Her record as a disability rights advocate speaks for itself and underlines our ambition to build the international reputation of our life changing programmes, and support more persons with disabilities around the world.”

Leonard Cheshire Disability’s International Director Tiziana Oliva added: “I’ve had the privilege of knowing Judy for some time and I’m very excited about the unique expertise and perspective she will bring to the organisation.”