Washington, D.C. (June 1, 2011) – Mark Perriello, longtime civil rights leader and current Obama aide, was named President and CEO of the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), the country’s largest cross-disability membership organization, by the organization’s board of directors.
Upon taking the helm of AAPD on June 6, Perriello will host a series of virtual town hall meetings in order to talk with members of the disability community and our allies from across the country on topics ranging from workplace employment, healthcare, housing and other issues.
Perriello, the former Director of Strategy for the largest LGBT political action committees in the nation, has a proven track record of increasing organizational standing with decision makers through creative and high-impact grassroots and grass-tops programs across America. As a political strategist, he oversaw highly successful efforts to elect candidates to office at the federal, state and local level.
“With his political and advocacy experience, Mark’s leadership will be instrumental in helping AAPD and the disability community build a powerful political movement,” said Tony Coelho, AAPD’s Board Chair. “Mark understands the importance of political power to a civil rights movement, and his ability to harness that power for change made him the best candidate to run the organization.”
Immediate past AAPD Board Chair Cheryl Sensenbrenner added, “We have full confidence that Mark will appeal to a broad audience across the ideological spectrum. He will continue AAPD’s strong bipartisan tradition.”
“As an American with a disability, I am honored to serve AAPD and the disability community in the ongoing effort to create an America that recognizes the intrinsic value of all its citizens,” Perriello said.
“AAPD is not simply an organization that represents more than 50 million Americans with disabilities; we are an organization for everyone who supports us. We must enlist our friends, family members and co-workers to talk with their elected officials and to vote in order to increase our voice in Washington D.C. and in state capitals across the nation.”
“The talented team of professionals at AAPD has positioned the organization as a unifying voice across disabilities. As our unity grows, so will the power and strength of our community.”
Before joining AAPD, Perriello served as the White House Liaison at the U.S. Department of the Interior and worked as the White House Priority Placement Director, where he was instrumental in placing diverse candidates in jobs in the administration. Due in large part to his work, the Obama Administration is one of the most diverse in U.S. history. Prior to that, Perriello served in leadership roles in the LGBT community fundraising, organizing and developing communications strategies at the Human Rights Campaign and Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund and Leadership Institute. Perriello is the founding treasurer of the Disability PAC, which is the only federal cross-disability political action committee. He is also a board member of Disability Power & Pride. Perriello, who has had a visual disability since childhood, is a graduate of Rhodes College in Memphis, TN, with a B.A. in Religious Studies.
Perriello will be the second full-time President & CEO in the organization’s nearly 16-year history. Helena Berger, who has served as Acting President & CEO since November 2010, will now be AAPD’s Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer.
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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.