It was with great pride that, in June 2004, I accepted official appointment as the Director of the Massachusetts Office on Disability. From March 2002, I served as the agency’s Acting Director. I assumed that position just as the Commonwealth entered the most difficult financial situation it has ever faced. While budget constraints greatly impacted the agency, the entire staff reaffirmed their commitment, redoubled their efforts, and services and programs provided by the Office on Disability continued uninterrupted. As I look towards the future I see our alliance with advocates, municipalities and other state agencies remaining strong so that together we are able to accomplish the mission of the agency to ensure the full and equal participation of all people with disabilities in all aspects of life.
I believe the strength and success of any organization is a direct result of those who have a vision and the fortitude to pave the way, create the foundation, and build a solid structure. Through the advocacy efforts of leaders in the community, people with disabilities organized and demanded representation within state government. They argued that disability issues were not issues of health, but of equality. Human Service agencies did not deal with their civil rights needs. Issues such as physical access to buildings, communication access, program and activity access, the requirement of special accommodations, and the assurance of non-discriminatory policies were left unanswered.
The Massachusetts Office on Disability (originally named the Office of Handicapped Affairs) was established by statute as an independent agency. Independence allowed the Agency to monitor the provision of state services for people with disabilities without interference. The Director of the Office would report directly to the Governor.
In gratitude for their guidance, their strength, and their commitment to disability rights, we acknowledge the contribution of the former Directors of the Massachusetts Office on Disability:
- Jim Gleich 1984 - 1991
- Speed Davis 1991 - 1994
- Lorraine Greiff 1994 - 2002