Skip Navigation

News Release

Monday, October 27, 2008

Contact: HHS Press Office
(202) 690-6343

HHS Celebrates Contributions to People With Disabilities

HHS today has recognized the significant achievements of five leaders in science, education, business and entertainment during a ceremony celebrating National Disability Employment Awareness Month. During the ceremony, other honorees were also acknowledged for their role in support of the Administration's commitment for full inclusion in the workforce for people with disabilities. The honorees have contributed greatly to advance the goals of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and President Bush’s New Freedom Initiative (NFI).

“Our 2008 award honorees represent models of what all of us, with or without disabilities, can contribute toward removing barriers that limit persons with disabilities’ ability to participate fully in their communities,” HHS Deputy Secretary Tevi Troy said. “Their contributions allow us all to build on all efforts that ensure our nation remains a place of opportunity for all Americans.”

Honorees awarded today include the following:

  • Dr. Alim Louis Benabid, world renowned pioneering scientist and mentor in the area of deep brain stimulation that changes the lives of persons with Parkinson’s disease, dystonia and other movement disorders, received the International Award.
  • Dr. Phyllis Magrab, educator, scholar, skilled clinician and champion for children with disabilities, nationally and internationally, received the Pioneer for Persons with Disabilities Award. Dr. Magrab is with the Georgetown University Medical Center.
  • Dr. Joseph Rosen, researcher, professor and noted plastic surgeon who performs facial and body reconstructions at Walter Reed Medical Center, received the Health/Service Provider for Persons with Disabilities Award.
  • Mr. Kyle Maynard, born with congenital amputation of all four limbs, a champion wrestler, author, motivational speaker, advocate, and role model, received the Persons with Disabilities Across the Lifespan Award.
  • Ms. Emily P. Kingsley, Emmy® award-winning writer for “Sesame Street” and long-time advocate of kids with special needs, on the popular children's program and beyond, received the Entertainment Industry Award.
  • Ms. Dora Ricks, HHS employee who instructs, mentors and motivates young persons with disabilities within HHS to become employed as productive citizens with disabilities, received the 2008 Certificate of Appreciation.

Most Americans, regardless of gender, socioeconomic status, race, or ethnicity will experience a disability at some time during the course of their lives.  Some individuals are born with a disability; others acquire them through an illness, an injury, genetics, or any number of other causes. The ADA provides greater equal opportunity protections for all Americans. The Act allows more Americans with disabilities than ever before greater assurances of equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency for Americans with disabilities of all ages.

“The Bush Administration works to provide opportunities for all Americans, including persons with disabilities,” said Margaret Giannini, M.D., F.A.A.P., director, HHS Office on Disability. “America can be proud of the progress made toward fulfilling the principles and meeting the goals of the American Disabilities Act and the New Freedom Initiative.”

“The goals of the New Freedom Initiative are the goals of occupational therapy -- to enable Americans to live life to its fullest,” commented Penny Moyers Cleveland, president of the American Occupational Therapy Association. “The NFI charts a vision and provides the means to achieve the vision of the Americans with Disabilities Act.”

The NFI is a public-private effort that eliminates barriers that keep persons with disabilities from participating fully in community life. NFI responds to the needs of Americans by promoting the access to resources, skill development and dignity of full and inclusive citizenship.

“It is an honor for us to co-sponsor this awards program,” said American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) President R. Scott Ward, P.T., Ph.D. “People with disabilities face significant challenges that often limit their ability to have a reasonable level of physical activity.  As experts in the way the human body moves, physical therapists are dedicated to helping people of all ages and abilities improve their quality of life through achieving their highest possible level of function."

During National Disability Employment Awareness Month, HHS recognizes the talents, skills, and dedication of disabled Americans who are a vital part of our workforce. With more than 51 million people with disabilities living in the United States, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, HHS’ 2008 honorees are among those leading our best efforts to help those with disabilities and their families improve their own circumstances and take more control over their lives.

To view the President’s 2008 National Disability Employment Awareness Month Proclamation, visit

For more information on the Office on Disability, HHS' disability efforts and the New Freedom Initiative, go to


Note: All HHS press releases, fact sheets and other press materials are available at

Last revised: October 27, 2008