Washington, D.C. (August 8, 2011) – Today the American Association of People with Disabilities announced that Lara Schwartz will join the organization as Vice President of External Affairs. In this role, she will lead AAPD’s communications functions including media strategies, marketing, web, and social media presence. She will also serve as an organization spokesperson and work with the AAPD team to strengthen partnerships with allied organizations.
“As AAPD engages Americans with disabilities and our supporters from coast to coast, having someone of Lara’s caliber is critical,” said AAPD President and CEO Mark Perriello. “Lara is a skilled writer and advocate, and she has a wealth of experience helping real people share their stories with their communities, their members of Congress, and the public at large. That’s how we make our case for civil rights,” he added.
“Lara Schwartz has a strong commitment and demonstrated passion for the mission, vision, and work of AAPD,” said AAPD Board Chair Joyce Bender. “Lara is a sophisticated communicator and builder of coalitions. Her expertise will deepen AAPD’s impact on important issues to the disability community.”
Ms. Schwartz has extensive experience in the civil rights community, both as an advocate and as a communications professional. Most recently, she has worked as a consultant, speech writer, and strategist for numerous civil rights groups, including organizations focused on disability, education, housing, veterans, health care, and LGBT rights. Previously, she served as legal director to the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest organization advocating for civil rights for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender community. There, she promoted hate crimes legislation, an independent judiciary, benefits and protections for families, and the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the Defense of Marriage Act. Lara has extensive experience working in civil rights coalitions.
Ms. Schwartz has also worked in private law practice and served as a judicial clerk to the Honorable Ronald Lee Gilman on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit. Lara is a graduate of Harvard Law School and earned an A.B. in English from Brown University. Before law school, Lara worked for four years as a therapeutic riding instructor, teaching riding and horsemanship skills to children and adults with disabilities.
“It’s an honor to join AAPD. The organization has a strong track record of advancing civil rights for people with disabilities, and has been an invaluable member of the civil rights community at large,” said Schwartz. “Many people from our community still do not have equal access to jobs, education, transportation, and health care. Americans of every political orientation believe in equal opportunity. It’s our job to show the American public a way forward and mobilize them to make a difference,” she added.
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The American Association of People with Disabilities is a convener, connector, and catalyst for change, increasing the political and economic power of people with disabilities.