Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

NCD Celebrates the Life of Amber Buckley-Shaklee

Thursday, November 5, 2015

November 5, 2015

Amber Buckley-Shaklee, 31, of Urbana, IL passed away suddenly on November 3, 2015 at Presence Covenant Medical Center in Urbana. Amber was an intern at the National Council on Disability (NCD) in the Summer of 2011.

A 2002 graduate of Charleston High School, Amber furthered her education at the University of Illinois (U of I). She earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology in 2006 and at the time of her passing was a doctoral student. For the past nine years, Amber has been employed at U of I as a teaching assistant in the Sociology Department and was a union member of the Graduate Employees Organization.

Amber was a passionate advocate for social justice.  Her tribute in the Champaign/Urbana News-Gazette noted that Amber served as co-chair of Illinois Imagines Statewide Policy Committee in support of statewide policy for women with disabilities who have been sexually assaulted, and was at one time a volunteer for Illinois’ Sexual Assault Counseling and Information Service. She served three separate summer internships; two in Washington, DC, beginning in 2011 here  at the National Council on Disability and later with the Office of Civil Rights in the U.S. State Department. Amber served another internship in Madison, WI with the Veterans Administration Hospital.

Through Mobility International, Amber attended their conference in Costa Rica and volunteered with senior citizens in Peru. She adored her pets and was an unabashed, unapologetic and avid sports fanatic. She enthusiastically cheered on a number of sports teams including basketball across the Prairie state, the St. Louis Cardinals, Green Bay Packers, and U.S. Men’s and Women’s Soccer, especially her beloved Chicago Red Stars.

“Amber came to the National Council on Disability as an intern through the American Association of People with Disabilities summer internship program.  She was an incredible addition to NCD’s policy team, and within days of starting everyone marveled at her extraordinary work ethic and professionalism,” recalled Joan Durocher, NCD’s Director of Policy and General Counsel. “She maintained a relationship with NCD as she continued her professional studies and through her later internship with the State Department. We saw a great future ahead for Amber working on international issues impacting people with disabilities – her passing is a huge loss for the disability community, and a personal loss for everyone here at the Council.  We will deeply miss Amber and her sunny, warm and engaging personality.”

“While I only had the privilege of working with Amber for one summer and brief check-ins over the last few years, I will miss her,” added Judith Heumann, Special Advisor for International Disability Rights at the US Department of State. “She was a passionate and joyous person. Amber influenced so many lives. Her fighting spirit and deep humanity will be missed. Most importantly, we need to commit ourselves to continuing to advance the rights of disabled people in the United States and around the world in her memory.”

As her obituary noted, “Amber worked to make the world a better place, and the world was a better place with her in it. She will be missed not only by her loving family and many friends, but by so many that she represented with her voice.” NCD echoes this sentiment. We can’t believe she’s gone.

Amber’s memorial website is available at, where condolences may be sent to the family by clicking on obituaries.



An official website of the National Council on Disability