Our People

Our History

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 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

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 Citizens 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.

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.

National Advisory Council

Our current National Advisory Council is still being formed and we encourage you to come back for updates. Our latest leaders to join include Theo Braddy, Executive Director of the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL), Maria Town, President and CEO of the American Association of People with Disabilities, and Dom Kelly, Founder, President and CEO of the New Disabled South.
Check back for updates!

The ADA Watch/CDRJ founding National Advisory Council was comprised of:

Justin Dart, Jr.
Patrisha Wright, Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF)

Judy Heumann
Curtis Decker, National Disability Rights Network (NDRN)

Becky Ogle
Claudia Gordon, National Black Deaf Advocates (NBDA)

Bob Kafka, ADAPT

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

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)

Andrew Imparato, American Association of people with Disabilities (AAPD)

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

Jim Ward, founder and executive director