ADA Watch is a program of the Coalition for Disability Rights and Justice (CDRJ), a nonprofit alliance of disability, civil rights, human rights and social justice organizations. CDRJ programs also include the Road To Freedom bus tour, Disability Rights Concert series, Media and Public Awareness Campaign, Campaign for Fair Judges, and more.
ADA Watch/CDRJ builds and supports coalition between social change movements. Our initiatives have united disability, civil rights and social justice organizations to defend and advance the human rights of people with physical, mental and all types of disabilities.
Our constituency consists of the one-in-four Americans with disabilities, their families, their advocates and more. CDRJ promotes rights-based approaches and the social model of disability with the goal of instilling individual, organizational and movement empowerment.
In response to legislation and court rulings potentially reversing years of progress for people with disabilities, and with disability rights icon Justin Dart, Jr. and “Father of the ADA” serving as our founding chair, ADA Watch was launched in 2000. Patrisha Wright, the disability community’s “ADA General,” also served as chair of our National Advisory Council in our early years.
Notable founding members of the ADA Watch/CDRJ National Advisory Council also include the late Judy Heumann, the renown international disability rights leader often cited as the “Mother of the Disability Rights Movement”; and Becky Ogle, former Executive Director of the Presidential Task Force on the Employment of Adults with Disabilities.
Our founding National Advisory Council was also led by organizations and leaders from the larger progressive community, including the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, AARP, People For the American Way and the Alliance For Justice.
Jim Ward, a former elected official, longtime human rights advocate and person with a disability, is our founder and executive director.
In 2008 and upon passage of the ADA Amendments Act, ADA Watch/CDRJ—and our Road To Freedom tour—were recognized on the floor of the US Senate and in the Congressional Record, for educating America about the rolling back of our rights and the need for restoration of vital disability rights protections.
Our coalition initiatives have included diverse disability organizations and leaders from ADAPT to the Consortium for Constituents with Disabilities (CCD); from the National Black Deaf Advocates to the National Council on Independent Living; and from the National Disabled Student Union to Paralyzed Veterans of America.
Throughout our history, we have relied on the legal expertise of our coalition partners including the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN), Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF), and the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law.
National Advisory Council
Our current National Advisory Council is still being formed and we encourage you to come back for updates. Our latest leaders include:
Marlene Sallo, Executive Director of the National Disability Rights Network
Theo Braddy, Executive Director of the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL)
Maria Town, President & CEO of the American Association of People with Disabilities
Maya Wiley, President & CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights
Dom Kelly, Founder, President & CEO of the New Disabled South.
Rabia Belt, Legal Historian, Faculty, Standford Law School
Jeff Hughes, Executive Director of Progressive Independence, Inc.
Steve Higgins, Executive Director of Independence Associates
Andrew Brown, Treasurer of Independence Associates
Paul Timmons, Kelly’s Kitchen
Laura Van Tosh, Founder & Convener, Mental Health Policy Roundtable
Our founding National Advisory Council:
Justin Dart, Jr.
Patrisha Wright, Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF)
Curtis Decker, National Disability Rights Network (NDRN)
Claudia Gordon, National Black Deaf Advocates (NBDA)
Bob Kafka, ADAPT
Nancy Starnes, National Organization on Disability (NOD)
Jennifer Mathis, Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law
Michael Allen, Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law
Ron Bassman, National Association for Right Protection and Advocacy (NARPA)
Marca Bristo, Access Living
David Oaks, MindFreedom International
Janine Bertram Kemp, Cedar Media
Susan Henderson, Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF)
Anne-Marie Hughey, National Council on Independent Living
Bobby Coward, ADAPT
Brewster Thackeray, AARP
Kyle Glozier, National Disabled Student Union (NDSA)
Tom Olin, Disability Rights Center
Mike Oxford, National Council on independent Living (NCIL), ADAPT, TILRC
Lee Page, Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA)
Michelle Pollak, AARP
Debra Robinson, Speaking for Ourselves
Marcie Roth, National Spinal Cord Injury Association
Jamie Ruppmann, TASH
Pope Simmons, Mental health Liaison Group
Our Staff, Consultants & Contributors
Founder and Executive Director:
Jim Ward, M.S.W.
Administration & Operations:
Social Good Fund Team
Karin Bloom, M.S.
Kristina Kapp— “KK”—, Deputy Executive Director.
Samantha Smith, Outreach Coordinator
Len Duran, Wexford Group
Website Design & Development: