Interview with DRA’s Rebecca Williford

Portrait of Rebecca Williford
Portrait of Rebecca Williford

Rebecca Williford has been with DRA since 2008 and was recently promoted to Deputy Director of Litigation. She specializes in impact litigation on behalf of people with disabilities and has achieved multiple precedents on matters of first impression, advancing the rights of people with disabilities nationwide.

How did you first learn about DRA and what made you want to join?

During law school, I explored different disability rights legal organizations where I might work after law school, and DRA’s mission really resonated with me.  As someone who has used a wheelchair since I was a teenager, I love that DRA uses litigation to dismantle systemic barriers throughout the country.  I had also met DRA co-founder Larry Paradis through my work with the National Association of Law Students with Disabilities, and realizing Larry could be my mentor if I worked at DRA really sealed the deal for me!

How long have you been working at DRA and what keeps you here?

I have been at DRA for 12 years, and I love the work that we do every day to make society more accessible for people with all types of disabilities.  I became a lawyer precisely for that reason, and I am fortunate to work with an extraordinarily talented team at DRA who keeps that dream alive every day.  We are literally changing the landscape to ensure the promise of the ADA – that people with disabilities are fully integrated into all aspects of society.

Which of DRA’s cases that you have worked on are you most proud of?

In 2013, we tried (and won!) a case against the City of New York for its failure to include people with all types of disabilities in its emergency preparedness plans.  Not only did this case address life-and-death issues for people with disabilities in emergencies, but I was able to work on every aspect of the trial, even as a relatively new attorney at the time, thanks to DRA’s commitment to my professional development. 

What is DRA currently working on that you are most excited about?

I love that DRA is constantly conquering new frontiers for disability rights and making precedents that will ensure the rights of people with disabilities are solidified in case law.  I am especially excited about all of DRA’s intersectional work that is seeking to break down barriers for the most marginalized people with disabilities – for instance our work on behalf of people who are incarcerated and people who rely on public benefits like Medi-Cal are near and dear to my heart and critical to our mission to further the rights of all people with disabilities