Obama names new faces to disability panel

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This is a photograph of the White House with an American flag at the top of the frame.

White House

President Barack Obama has appointed 15 disability advocates to his special panel on intellectual disabilities.

“These fine public servants bring both a depth of experience and tremendous dedication to their new roles,” Obama said in a May 10 news release. “Our nation will be well-served by these men and women and I look forward to working with them in the months and years to come.”

The President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities, which meets four times a year, advises Obama and Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, on a range of disability related issues to “improve the quality of life that is experienced by people with intellectual disabilities, by upholding their full citizenship rights, independence, self-determination, and life-long participation in their respective communities.”

The appointees come from a variety of backgrounds, including Peter Berns, CEO of the national advocacy group The Arc, and Susan Ramirez, special education advocate for DisAbility Rights Oregon.

The committee was originally formed by President John F. Kennedy in 1961 as the President’s Panel on Mental Retardation to address the needs of people with disabilities.

DisAbility Rights Oregon is part of the federally funded protection and advocacy system and a member of the National Disability Rights Network.