The Viscardi Center Awards Committee Announced

For Immediate Release:

January 7, 2013

Contact: Paul Larrabee


518.491.7577 (cell)


Senator Bob Dole, actress Marlee Matlin and leaders from the international disability

community to select influential figures in the disability movement to be recognized.

A group of leaders in the global disability community have been empaneled to identify people of any age in the disability movement who have stood out among their peers by profoundly improving the lives of people with disabilities and are driving positive change across continents.

The prestigious inaugural Henry Viscardi Achievement Awards Selection Committee includes a diverse representation of individuals. Their charge is to identify and recognize people with disabilities who have had a profound impact on shaping attitudes, raising awareness and improving the quality of life of people with disabilities.

The Committee is co-chaired by former U.S. Senator Bob Dole, Academy Award-winning actress Marlee Matlin and the Honorable Luis Gallegos, permanent representative of Ecuador to the United Nations in Geneva, who spearheaded the creation of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The international Awards initiative was inspired by Dr. Henry Viscardi, Jr., who wore prosthetic legs, was a leading advocate for people with disabilities globally, and served as a disability advisor to eight presidents. Dr. Viscardi died in 2004. Nominations will be accepted at through January 22, 2013.

“I thank our esteemed panelists for their continued work on behalf of all people with disabilities and for helping to shine a spotlight on leaders and influencers of our disability movement who share their commitment and passion,” said John D. Kemp, president and CEO of The Viscardi Center, a network of non-profit organizations that provides a lifespan of services that educate, employ and empower people with disabilities, based on Long Island, New York. “Their efforts will ensure that we cast a wide net and encourage nominations of extraordinary leaders with disabilities among us worldwide.”

The Selection Committee includes:

  • U.S. Senator Robert J. Dole (retired), Co-Chair
  • Marlee Matlin, Academy Award-winning Actress, Co-Chair
  • Hon. Luis Gallegos, Ecuador’s Permanent Representative to the U.N., Co-Chair
  • 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)
  • Nina Viscardi, daughter of the late Dr. Henry Viscardi, Jr., and member of the Henry Viscardi School Board of Trustees

The Committee is charged with selecting individuals who have:

  • served as a powerful force for change and enhanced the opportunities for people with disabilities to participate fully in all aspects of society;
  • demonstrated a vision, understanding and commitment to improving the quality of life of people with disabilities; and
  • helped to lead societal transformation that is producing improved outcomes and higher expectations for the disability community.

The Awards selection process includes an important symbolic milestone as the recipients will be announced on March 4, 2013, the 80th anniversary of the inauguration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who as a member of the disability community was among the most influential figures of the 20th century. Dr. Viscardi consulted with President Roosevelt on disabilities issues and collaborated with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt on groundbreaking employment initiatives for people with disabilities.

Individuals of any age, with any type of disability, are eligible. Nominations will be considered from many walks of life, including but not limited to business, innovation, education, military, health care, nonprofit, entertainment, athletics, government, public service, and emerging leaders.

The Viscardi Center provides Pre-K through High School education, school-to-work transition services, vocational training, career counseling and placement, assistive technology and workforce diversification assistance to children, adolescents, and adults with disabilities and businesses. A global leader, it employs more than 300 professionals, including experts in education, human resources and technology. Learn more at

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