For Immediate Release: December 5, 2023
Contact: Jess Davidson at email@example.com
WASHINGTON, DC – The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) is deeply saddened by the passing of disability rights activist, attorney, and Chairman of the National Council on Disability, Andrés Gallegos. He was a visionary leader in the fight to ensure access to healthcare, housing, and civic participation for people with disabilities, and he will be deeply missed.
Andrés was awarded AAPD’s Paul G. Hearne Emerging Leader award in 2015. In his acceptance speech, he described advocates for disability equality as “human guardrails” who ensure disabled people are kept safe from harm on the road to opportunity and full inclusion. Andrew was himself a fierce “human guardrail,” working as a disability rights attorney, Chairman of the Board for Access Living, and then Chairman of the National Council on Disability (NCD).
Andrés’ leadership at NCD was especially visionary. He quickly crafted a vision and priority statement for his time in the role, which evolved into, among other strategic efforts, the Framework to End Health Disparities of People with Disabilities as a policy blueprint for recommended changes across government. One of the key pillars of this framework was to designate people with disabilities as a health disparity population for purposes of research. Just weeks ago, the NIH agreed to do so.
“Andrés was a giant in the disability community, and a trusted friend of AAPD,” said Maria Town, AAPD President and CEO. “He was incredibly strategic, thoughtful, and sharp. He used his positions of leadership to inspire a shared vision of the future for our community, while simultaneously engaging in advocacy that would bring us closer to that vision.”
“Our entire community and movement is better for his efforts and commitment, and he leaves behind a legacy of bold, principled leadership and strategy that AAPD and many others will work to honor and advance through our own advocacy efforts.”
Andrés’ family has requested that in lieu of flowers, those who wish to honor Andrés do so through a donation in his name to the American Association of People with Disabilities, Access Living, or your local Center for Independent Living.