Monday, August 3, 2009


Last Thursday Ari and I went on an adventure to NYC to celebrate the US Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, signing the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. Although Ari and I had a pretty messy time getting to NYC, it was definitely worth it. The stories we have about getting to NYC and celebrating the UNCRPD are amazing and definitely unforgettable.

When we arrived at the UNCRPD reception, Ari and I walked in with our “Community Choice Act NOW!” buttons proudly pinned to our chests. We received a lot of compliments on our buttons, so we started handing them out. Soon many people had bright orange buttons on their chests, some even asking Kareem Dale if the Obama Administration was going to do the right thing by the CCA (His response? “We’re going to try”).

After meeting many powerful disability rights leaders, the room went silent so that Ambassador Rice could speak. Following Ambassador Rice was Valarie Jarrett, Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President for Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs. Jarrett announced that President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are creating a new senior level position at the State Department. The individual hired will develop a comprehensive strategy to promote the rights of the disabled internationally. This announcement excited the whole crowd. While I am very excited about this new position, I must admit, I was more excited about the announcement of a new position in the Department of Transportation devoted to people with disabilities and their access to public transportation. This excites me because I work as the Transportation Systems Advocate at the Center for Disability Rights in Rochester, NY and it will be nice to have someone in the Department of Transportation on my side.

The whole event was really amazing. Meeting the Ambassador and Valarie Jarrett was very cool, as well as meeting everyone else at the reception. I am very grateful to Ari for taking me with him. I am so happy that I was able to participate in such a historic event!

Stephanie Woodward

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