By Julissa Catalan
The Viscardi Center, a network of nonprofit organizations providing a wide range of services that empower adults and children with disabilities, announced today that its President and CEO, John D. Kemp, will receive the 2014 Dole Leadership Prize next month at the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas.
The prize is awarded annually to an individual or group whose public-service leadership inspires others. Kempwho is the first disability leader to receive the distinctionwas personally selected by former Senator Robert Dole and joins the ranks of other prestigious recipients including Nelson Mandela, former Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko, former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala, former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, former U.S. Senators Howard Baker and George McGovern, former Polish President Lech Walesa, Congressman John Lewis and former President George H.W. Bush.
“I am humbled to have been chosen by the Senator to receive this year’s Dole Leadership Prize and to join an elite group of past recipients who have made positive impacts on the lives of people around the world,” said Kemp. “I have dedicated my life to improving the quality of life for all people with disabilities and it is my hope that this distinction shines the spotlight on The Viscardi Center and the work it does every day to build the leaders of tomorrow and contributing members of society today.”
Kemp is recognized as a disability-rights statesman in the United States and around the worldin both the corporate and nonprofit worlds. As aperson with a disability who uses four prostheses, Kemp inspires others to achieve the impossible through knowledge, experience, vision,personality and persistence.
With more than 50 years of experience in the disability movement, Kemp has partnered with, worked for and served as board member, chair or CEO of several leading disability and nonprofit organizations. In 1995, Kemp co-founded the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) with Paul G. Hearne. In 2001, he became a partner in the Washington, D.C., Law Firm of Powers, Pyles, Sutter & Verville, P.C. He has also served on the Medicaid Commission and the U.S. State Department’s Advisory Committee on Persons with Disabilities. In November 2012, he was asked to serve on the NYS READY Commission, established by New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Past honors include: an Honorary Doctorate of Law from Washburn in May 2003 while in March 2006, Kemp received the Henry B. Betts Award, widely regarded as America’s highest honor for disability leadership and service.
Kemp will be honored on Sunday, Dec. 14, in an interview-style program taking place at the Dole Institute.
The prize includes a $25,000 monetary award that Kemp has chosen to gift to The Viscardi Center.
“As a wounded veteran and tireless advocate for disability rights, Senator Dole has taken a personal interest in Mr. Kemp’s outstanding service to the disabilities community,” said Dole Institute Director Bill Lacy. “Senator Dole and the Dole Institute are passionate about highlighting the unique work and inspiring life of Mr. Kemp and what he has accomplished for the disabilities movement. He simply couldn’t be more deserving of this award.”
The Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics is dedicated to promoting public service, civic engagement and politics.
In May, The Viscardi Center partnered with DiversityInc to host the eventDining for a Difference. With 50 corporate leaders in attendance, the event opened the conversation and developed action plans to address the talent gap.