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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

NCIL Conference Less Than Two Weeks Away: Additional Speakers Confirmed!

Revolution - A Global Independent Living Movement - Annual Conference on Independent Living 2017. Graphic: Continents have been added to NCIL's logo (a blue semi-circle), which forms a globe. A red heart sits between the end points of the semi-circle.We’re looking forward to seeing many of you at this year’s Annual Conference on Independent Living from July 24-27 in Washington, DC! If you haven’t registered yet, see below for more information. You don’t want to miss it!

We are happy to announce the confirmation of two additional speakers to our lineup. This year, we are excited to welcome Judy Heumann as our keynote speaker and Melissa Ortiz, who will be joining Bob Williams at our closing plenary.

Judy Heumann is an internationally recognized disability rights activist and an early leader in the Independent Living movement. She is one of the leading voices on disability rights around the world, which makes her perfect to keynote this year’s NCIL conference focusing on the Global Independent Living Movement!

Since the 1970s, Judy has been a powerful force in the disability community. She has a long history of working for disability rights, which has included working for state government, the federal government, and non-profit organizations. She also has a long history of involvement and leadership within the Independent Living movement, which includes co-founding, serving as the Deputy Director and serving on the Board of the Center for Independent Living in Berkeley. Judy was instrumental in organizing the Federal hearings held at the Berkeley CIL that led to Title VII of the Rehabilitation Act of 1978.

Judy worked as the Assistant Secretary of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services (OSERS) at the US Department of Education under President Clinton, was the World Bank’s first Advisor on Disability and Development, and served as Special Advisor for International Disability Rights for the US State Department. In addition to co-founding the CIL at Berkeley, she co-founded the World Institute on Disability (WID) and Disabled in Action (DIA). She has also been deeply involved with several landmark pieces of legislation for people with disabilities, including Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA – previously known as the Education for All Handicapped Children Act), and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Melissa Ortiz joined the Administration for Community Living (ACL) in June of 2017 as the Commissioner of the Administration on Disabilities (AoD). Melissa believes that everyone has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, disabled or not. Her mission is to provide people with disabilities with the necessary tools and supports to live independently. Her belief is that these fundamental rights are woven into our national fabric.

In her role as Commissioner of the AoD, she is enthusiastic about working on behalf of Americans with disabilities. She has worked in the classroom in Nashville, Tennessee, in the nonprofit sector in Washington, DC and New York City, on a number of political campaigns around the country, and has bent the ear of some of the country’s most powerful leaders in the process.

She identifies as a “happy patriot” and is committed to driving a dialogue between both sides of the political aisle and people with disabilities. She is uniquely suited to bridge the gap between these groups and is passionate about creating solutions. She currently resides in Washington, D.C. with her husband Tony and Service Dog Dachshund, Annie Oakley. 

Melissa will join Bob Williams, Deputy Commissioner of the AoD and Director of the Independent Living Administration (ILA), in addressing the NCIL membership and answering our questions that have come up during the IL transition.

This year’s conference is shaping up to be exciting and impactful. It will also be an important opportunity for NCIL members from around the country to join together and advocate on Capitol Hill for the issues that most concern our community right now.

Online registration for the 2017 Annual Conference on Independent Living closes at midnight tonight, July 14. Onsite registration is also available. Please note that onsite registration fees differ from standard registration fees and plan accordingly. Plan to join us for the March for Disability Rights and Rally on Capitol Hill – no registration is required!

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