Disability Rights Advocates Announces Rebecca Williford, Attorney and Advocate, as President & Chief Executive Officer
April 24, 2023 – Disability Rights Advocates (DRA), the leading national nonprofit disability rights legal center, after a sweeping national search, today announced that Rebecca Williford has been named the President and Chief Executive Officer.
“We are thrilled to announce, after a thorough national search yielding impressive disability rights leaders from across the country, that the Board of Directors has unanimously selected Rebecca Williford as our CEO. Rebecca’s stature in the national disability and legal communities, her profound connection to DRA, and her demonstrated commitment to working across sectors to create inclusion and equity for people with disabilities is unprecedented. Rebecca is the right leader to take DRA into the future.”
–Scott Smigel, Chair, DRA Board of Directors
“I’ve worked with Rebecca for more than a decade. Her commitment to DRA’s clients across the disability spectrum combined with her deep knowledge of disability laws makes her an ideal leader for DRA as we continue our work, needed more now than ever before, to protect the civil rights of people with disabilities in a rapidly changing world.”
–Stuart Seaborn, DRA Managing Director of Litigation
Rebecca, an ardent disability rights litigator, has spent the last two decades fighting for disability justice—in and out of the courtroom. She started her legal career at DRA as a fellow and went on to achieve multiple precedents on matters of first impression, advancing the rights of people with disabilities nationwide. In Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled v. Bloomberg, she litigated a class action to a successful trial verdict, representing more than 900,000 people with disabilities in a challenge to New York City’s failure to address their needs in its disaster plans. In Legal Services for Prisoners with Children v. Ahern, she litigated a taxpayer action that resulted in a court-enforceable settlement agreement that will ensure dramatic improvements to basic accessibility for people with disabilities housed in one of the largest county jails in California. In American Council of the Blind v. Hulu, she represented people who are blind and have low vision, resulting in Hulu’s agreement to make its website and software applications accessible via screen readers and to increase audio description tracks for streaming content. A steadfast leader and mentor in the disability community for the last two decades, Rebecca also serves on the Board of Directors of the Disability Rights Bar Association and is a member of the National Disabled Legal Professionals Association.
“Since becoming a wheelchair-user 25 years ago, my life’s work has been advancing the rights, inclusion, and equity of people with all types of disabilities. Having built my career at DRA, working and learning alongside DRA’s late Executive Director and Co-Founder, Larry Paradis, I am truly humbled to lead this organization into the future as President & CEO. As society evolves, technologically, environmentally, politically, and socially, DRA has critical work to do to ensure we are building a truly inclusive world from the ground up for the disability community nationwide.”
–Rebecca Williford, DRA President & CEO
About Disability Rights Advocates: Disability Rights Advocates (DRA), founded 30 years ago in 1993, is the leading national nonprofit disability rights legal center. With offices in Berkeley, CA, New York, NY, and Chicago, IL DRA’s mission is to advance the rights, inclusion, and equity of people with disabilities through high-impact litigation, education, and advocacy.