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In Memoriam: Andrés Gallegos

Andrés Gallegos picture

Chairman (Died Dec. 1, 2023)

Chicago, Illinois

Chairman Andrés J. Gallegos, Esq., 62, of Illinois, passed away Dec. 1,. 2023.

U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, recommended Gallegos, of Chicago, be appointed to the Council to then-U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who obliged the recommendation and appointed Gallegos to the Council on Feb. 7, 2018. Gallegos was then also serving as Chairman of the Board for Access Living.

He officially joined the Council after taking his oath of office on Feb. 22, 2018. A few years later, Sen. Duckworth again recommended Gallegos to then-President-Elect Biden to serve as NCD’s chairman. On January 20, 2021, President Biden designated Gallegos Chairman of NCD shortly after being inaugurated President of the United States.

Gallegos was a U.S. Air Force veteran, serving 14 years before pursuing his law degree at St. Louis University’s School of Law, graduating in 1993. He gave the 2022 graduating class commencement speech.

He was a well-regarded disability rights attorney in Chicago, who often remarked that he joined the “Disability Class of 1996,” after acquiring quadriplegia due to a spinal cord injury from a car accident. His disability would shape his experiences navigating his legal profession, and pursuits of disability rights.

“In a fraction of a second, I joined a beautiful community—a community today that consists of over 61.4 million people in the United States and in our territories,” he said, adding, “Disability is not something that needs to be avoided, not something that needs to be feared, and not something that needs to be cured.”

Council members are appointed by the President, and majority and minority leaders of the U.S. House and Senate. The President designates the chair of NCD.

Since Gallegos was appointed to the Council in 2018, NCD released 31 reports and papers–15 while chair–making systemic recommendations to improve national disability policy. These full-length publications were in addition to dozens of letters of advisement to various policymakers. To start his time as chair, he published a vision and priority statement focused on health equity, then led a cadre of esteemed disability health experts—known as his “Dream Team”—through lengthy discussions, ultimately crafting the Framework to End Health Disparities of People with Disabilities as a policy blueprint for recommended changes across government.

Previous Biography

Andrés J. Gallegos, Esq. is the Chairman of the National Council on Disability. He is a partner with the law firm of Hughes Socol Piers Resnick & Dym, Ltd., in Chicago, Illinois, where he focuses his practice on disability rights and healthcare law. He directs the law firm’s national disability rights practice, which has as its primary emphasis ensuring accessible healthcare, civic access and accessible housing for all people with disabilities. He is a board member of the American Association on Health & Disability, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring health equity for children and adults with disabilities through policy, research, education and dissemination at the federal, state and community level; a board member of Disability Lead, a Chicago-based non-for profit whose mission is to increase civic engagement and diverse leadership in the Chicago region by developing and building a network of leaders with disabilities. Andrés is a past Chairman of the Board of Directors of Access Living of Metropolitan Chicago, Chicago’s Center for Independent Living, and is a two-term past-member of the Statewide Independent Living Council of Illinois, having been appointed by the governor. He has written numerous articles for national and state professional healthcare and legal organizations on matters relating to the application of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act to healthcare providers, and is a highly-sought out lecturer on accessible healthcare and disability rights. He graduated with Honors from the University of Southern Mississippi, with a B.S. in Business Administration, and he attained a Juris Doctorate from the St. Louis University School of Law. He is a veteran of the United States Air Force, serving honorably for 14 years.

An official website of the National Council on Disability