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National Council on Disability Welcomes New Presidential Appointees

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Posted: November 23, 2016

WASHINGTON, DC — November 23 — The National Council on Disability (NCD) – an independent federal agency that recommends disability policy to the President, Congress and other federal agencies – welcomed President Barack Obama’s intent to appoint three new council members to the agency.  The Obama Administration announced its intention November 18.

The Council’s incoming members, Billy W. Altom, Dr. Rabia Belt and Dr. Wendy S. Harbour will join Council Member Benro T. Ogunyipe and NCD Chair Clyde Terry, who were both newly reappointed for second terms by the President; and Council Members Lt. Col. Daniel Gade (retired), Bob Brown, Neil Romano and James T. Brett when the appointment process is completed. Biographies for the incoming council members are provided at the end of this release.

“The Council extends a warm welcome to our incoming members,” proclaimed reappointed NCD Chair Clyde Terry. “The depth and breadth of experience and knowledge they bring to the Council’s work will prove invaluable in our collective and historically bipartisan pursuit to ensure the human, civil, and legal rights of the 57 million Americans with disabilities across the nation.”

NCD also sends its collective gratitude to outgoing NCD Council Members Gary Blumenthal, Janice Lehrer-Stein, and Dr. Katherine D. Seelman for their dedicated work on behalf of Americans with disabilities and for their commitment to public service.

Appointments to NCD are made by the President of the United States, the Senate Majority Leader, the Senate Minority Leader, the Speaker of the House, and the House Minority Leader pursuant to Section 451 of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (Pub. L. 113–128). The bill was signed into law by President Obama on July 22, 2014.

Biographies for Incoming NCD council members:

  • Billy W. Altom is Executive Director of the Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living, a position he has held since 2007.  Mr. Altom was Executive Director for Delta Resource Center for Independent Living from 1996 to 2007 and Program Director for Spa Area Independent Living Services, Inc. from 1993 to 1996.  He serves on the National AgrAbility Project Advisory Committee and the National Disability Leadership Alliance Steering Committee.  He previously served as Chair of the Rail Vehicles Accessibility Advisory Committee of the U.S. Access Board.  Mr. Altom received a B.A. from the University of Arkansas.
  • Dr. Rabia Belt is an Assistant Professor at Stanford Law School, a position she has held since 2016.  Dr. Belt was a Visiting Assistant Professor at Georgetown University Law Center from 2014 to 2015 and a Graduate Student Instructor at the University of Michigan from 2007 to 2010.  She was named a Kathryn T. Preyer Scholar in 2014.  Dr. Belt received an A.B. from Harvard University and an M.A., J.D., and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan.
  • Dr. Wendy S. Harbour is Director of the National Center for College Students with Disabilities, Coordinator for the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Disability Consortium, and Advisor for Disability Rights, Education, Activism, and Mentoring, positions she has held since 2015.  Dr. Harbour held various positions at Syracuse University from 2009 to 2015, including the Lawrence B. Taishoff Professor of Inclusive Higher Education, Executive Director of the Taishoff Center for Inclusive Higher Education, Co-Director of the Center on Human Policy, Co-Coordinator of the Disability Studies Program, and Coordinator of the American Sign Language Program.  Dr. Harbour was an Adjunct Professor at the Boston Teacher Residency Program at the University of Massachusetts-Boston from 2006 to 2008 and at the American Sign Language Program at Northeastern University in 2007.  She was a Disability Specialist from 1995 to 2001 and an Academic Assistance and Testing Coordinator from 1995 to 1998 in Disability Services at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities.  Dr. Harbour received a B.A. and M.A. from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities and an Ed.M. and Ed.D. from Harvard University.

About the National Council on Disability (NCD): First established as a small advisory Council within the Department of Education in 1978, NCD became an independent federal agency in 1984. In 1986, NCD recommended enactment of an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and drafted the first version of the bill which was introduced in the House and Senate in 1988. Since the ADA became law in 1990, NCD has continued to play a leading role in crafting policy solutions, and in advising the President, Congress and other federal agencies on disability policies, programs, and practices.


An official website of the National Council on Disability