Paul G. Hearne Emerging Leaders Award
The AAPD Paul G. Hearne Emerging Leader Awards recognizes outstanding emerging leaders with disabilities who exemplify leadership, advocacy, and dedication to the broader cross-disability community.
Through the AAPD Paul G. Hearne Emerging Leader Awards, the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) recognizes outstanding emerging leaders with disabilities who exemplify leadership, advocacy, and dedication to the broader cross-disability community. Two (2) individuals or groups will each receive $2,500 in recognition of their outstanding contributions and $7,500 to further a new or existing project or initiative that increases opportunities for people with disabilities. The recipients of the 2024 AAPD Paul G. Hearne Emerging Leader Awards will be honored among national disability leaders at the 2024 AAPD Leadership Awards Gala in the Spring.
The 2024 Paul G. Hearne Emerging Leaders Award application is now closed. Please check back late next summer for the 2025 cycle.
AAPD Paul G. Hearne Award 2024 Webinar Recording and Resources
Previous AAPD Paul G. Hearne Emerging Leader Award Recipients
Tips for applying for the AAPD Paul G. Hearne Emerging Leader Award
Questions & Answers about the 2024 Paul G. Hearne Emerging Leader Award
Paul G. Hearne: A Legacy of Leadership
This award is named in honor of Paul G. Hearne, an advocate and visionary leader with a lifelong disability who achieved success as a nonprofit executive, foundation president, federal agency director, and mentor to countless people with disabilities. A passionate advocate for increased employment of people with disabilities, Paul opened doors for thousands through his leadership of Just One Break, an employment agency for people with disabilities in New York City and The Dole Foundation for Employment of People with Disabilities in Washington, DC. Until his passing in 1998, Paul pursued two core passions: 1) to create a national association that gave people with disabilities more consumer power and a stronger public voice, and 2) to cultivate potential leaders to carry on the disability rights movement. Paul achieved his first goal during his lifetime with the 1995 creation of AAPD, now recognized as a powerful force for organizing the disability community and catalyzing change. The AAPD Paul G. Hearne Leadership Awards were established in 1999, not only as a way to honor his lifetime of leadership and advocacy, but to help realize Paul’s second goal by highlighting and supporting emerging leaders with disabilities.
Meet the 2023 Award Winners
Jennifer Lee (she/her) is the Founder of the Asian Americans with Disabilities Initiative (AADI), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that amplifies the voices of disabled Asian Americans nationwide. She is particularly passionate about the role intersectionality and inclusion play in disability justice.
Jennifer serves as a 2022 ‘Youth to the Front Fund’ Frontliner from the We Are Family Foundation, 2022 Coelho Law Fellow at Loyola Law School, and is a 2021 Heumann-Armstrong Education Award recipient. After completing her undergraduate studies in public policy at Princeton University, she will attend Harvard Law School, where she intends to specialize in disability and civil rights law.
Mary Lou (Lu) Freitas is the Advisor of Proud Parents. Lu is a proud mom and foster mom. She has spent her entire life supporting and advocating for people with all types of disabilities. She promotes empowerment, independence, and relationships.
Quiana Mayo is one of the Co-Chairs of Proud Parents. Quiana is the proud mother of 2 young men. She is a strong advocate for disability rights. She is on the board of The Assocation of Successful Parenting (TASP). She works on making public documents easy to read so they are accessible to everyone.
Sierra Scott is Legislative Liaison and Peer Support Specialist for Proud Parents. Sierra is the proud mother of 2 boys. Sierra has a passion for advocacy, especially the Department of Children and Families (DCF) systems change. Her hope is to end stigma and discrimination towards individuals who have DCF involvement.
Jossie Torres is one of the Co-Chairs and Website Developer for Proud Parents. Jossie is a Self-Advocate Coordinator for the Department of Developmental Services. She wants all people ot receive fairness and equal rights. Jossie is bi-lingual in English and Spanish and translates Proud Parents materials.