DREDF Government Affairs Director to Receive the George Bush Medal

For Immediate Release — February 24, 2000

Beatrice Burgess

DREDF Government Affairs Director to Receive the George Bush Medal

Patrisha A. Wright, Director of Government Affairs at the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, will be awarded the George Bush medal at a gala luncheon ceremony today in Houston. The award is presented to individuals who have “distinguished themselves in the movement for equal rights and opportunity for people with disabilities worldwide,” writes the Bush Medal Committee. Past recipients include President Bush, Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Ed Roberts (founder of the first Center for Independent Living), and Bengt Lindquist (special envoy on disability to the United Nations.) It was first given in 1993.

Ms. Wright is known as the “General” of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for her strategic role in the campaign to enact that legislation. Her ability to unify the disability community raised bipartisan support for the ADA, and gave a clear message to Congress on the importance of federal action against entrenched discrimination. As one of DREDF’s original staff members, Ms. Wright has fought to include disability as a civil rights issue in setting public policy for over twenty years, and is on the executive committee of the Leadership Conference for Civil Rights. She continues to work across the United States and internationally to promote awareness of civil rights for people with disabilities and help set policy for disability legislation.

The George Bush award recognizes her leadership and effectiveness in the disability rights movement, ten years after the passage of its most famous law, the ADA. Today’s ceremony will include a “torch lighting” and the start of the torch’s nationwide relay journey to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the ADA.

Other award recipients are: Justin Dart, Jr., beloved disability advocate; Joshua Malinga, President of Disabled Peoples International in Zimbabwe, and former Attorney General Dick Thornburgh. Posthumous awards will be go to: Elizabeth Boggs, founder of the Arc, and Evan J. Kemp, Jr., former chairman of the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.