Disability Rights Advocates Announces New President and CEO

Headshot of Kathy Martinez
Image: Headshot of Kathy Martinez

March 1, 2021—Berkeley, CA—Kathy Martinez, internationally recognized disability rights leader, joins Disability Rights Advocates (DRA) today as the nonprofit legal center’s new President and CEO.

“For the last three decades my focus has been to improve social and economic justice for people with disabilities, especially concerning women and people of color. We believe this will be a dynamic combination: DRA’s expertise in disability justice litigation and my life-long experience in putting disability rights into action.” –Kathy Martinez, President and CEO

Martinez is a seasoned leader having served as the Executive Director of World Institute on Disability, as U.S. Assistant Secretary of the Office of Disability Employment Policy, as well as her most recent Senior Vice President role at Wells Fargo.

“We’re thrilled to welcome Kathy to DRA. Her decades of leadership and advocacy in nonprofit, corporate, and government sectors along with her life experience as a person with a disability makes her ideal for the job.” –Cristina Rubke, Board Chair

At Wells Fargo, Martinez defined internal and external strategies related to online and physical accessibility, hiring and promotion of employees with disabilities, national nonprofit partnership programs, and disability-owned suppliers. At the U.S. Department of Labor under President Obama, she played a seminal role in expanding employment opportunities for people with disabilities. And at World Institute on Disability, she collaborated with organizations around the world to increase economic security, health care, and employment for people with disabilities.

Martinez serves on the board of The American Association of People with Disabilities and has served on the boards of The National Council on Disability, the U.S. Institute of Peace, and the State Department’s advisory committee on disability and foreign policy.

A graduate of San Francisco State University, Martinez speaks and publishes on a wide array of topics related to disability justice, including the emergence of disability as an essential component of workplace diversity and inclusion and the importance of expectation in ensuring youth with disabilities grow up with an assumption of work—a topic on which Martinez, who herself was born blind, offers compelling and personal perspective.

About DRA

With offices in California and New York, Disability Rights Advocates (DRA) is the leading national nonprofit disability rights legal center. Its mission is to advance equal rights and opportunity for people with all types of disabilities nationwide. DRA uses litigation, structured negotiations, advocacy, community education, and media to reform systems and practices that discriminate against people with disabilities. In the organization’s 28-year history DRA has taken on more than 550 cases, achieving dramatic improvements for people with disabilities seeking health care, employment, transportation, education, disaster preparedness planning, voting, and housing. For more information visit www.dralegal.org.


Chris Maccarone cmaccarone@dralegal.org 510-665-8644