Washington, D.C. (May 22, 2019) – The Board of Directors of the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) announced today that Maria Town has been selected as the new President & CEO.
Ms. Town, a well-recognized disability rights advocate, will begin her new position on July 15, 2019. AAPD Board Chair, Ted Kennedy, Jr., said he is excited about the future of AAPD with Maria at the helm. He went on to say that he is “incredibly grateful to our current CEO, Helena Berger, for her leadership and dedication to AAPD. She has created an environment that will allow the new CEO, Maria Town, to have maximum impact at AAPD in 2019 and beyond.”
Ms. Town is currently the Director of the City of Houston Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, where she serves as the primary liaison between the more than half million people with disabilities in the greater Houston area, the Mayor, Houston City Council, and other key city, state, and national leaders. Ms. Town quickly became an expert on emergency response having begun the position shortly before Houston felt the impacts of Hurricane Harvey.
Prior to that, Ms. Town served as the Obama White House Senior Associate Director & Disability Community Liaison in the Office of Public Engagement. While there, Ms. Town increased the White House reach to the disability community by more than 700%. She also engaged with leadership from the nation’s premier disability and civil rights organizations, including AAPD, to provide White House Senior Advisors with daily briefings on key issues related to Americans with disabilities, seniors, cabinet agencies, and the Obama Administration’s place-based initiatives.
Upon being named President & CEO, Ms. Town stated, “I am incredibly honored to be the next CEO of AAPD. I look forward to working alongside our committed board, staff, and stakeholders to ensure that AAPD represents and engages our diverse community in the collective fight for equal access, integration, and full inclusion for Americans with disabilities.”
Ms. Town is the recipient of many awards and honors including the Henry Viscardi Achievement Award, Texas Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities Martha Arbuckle Award, Susan Daniels Mentoring Hall of Fame Honoree, and an AAPD Paul J. Hearne Leadership Award Finalist.
Ms. Town began her professional disability rights career as a disability advocate in a policy advisor role at the Office of Disability Employment Policy at the Department of Labor. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Emory University.
AAPD is a convener, connecter, and catalyst for change, increasing the political and economic power of people with disabilities. As one of the leading national cross-disability civil rights organizations, AAPD advocates for the full recognition of rights for the over 60 million Americans with disabilities. AAPD’s programs and initiatives have been effective in mobilizing the disability community through communications advocacy; cultivating and training new and emerging leaders with disabilities through leadership development programs; increasing the political participation of Americans with disabilities and elevating the power of the disability vote through the REV UP (Register! Educate! Vote! Use your Power!) Campaign; and advancing disability inclusion in the workplace through the Disability Equality Index (DEI) — the nation’s leading corporate benchmarking tool for disability equality and inclusion. To learn more about AAPD, visit aapd.com.