She taught us how to get in “Good trouble.”
Today, on this special Women’s International Day, my heart is filled with gratitude and admiration for all the incredible women who have made a difference in this world. Among them, Judy Heumann, a pioneer who recently passed this weekend, led the fight for U.S. disability rights. She never stopped working for us and with us.
Judy was the most humble female powerhouse I met in Washington, D.C. when I started my career working in disability and media. She was “the mother of the disability rights movement.” As a New Yorker myself I knew I was going to like this “go getter” from Brooklyn. She was feisty, authentic, and wanted women around her to succeed especially women with disabilities. I loved that she was a teacher like my mom. She taught the world many lessons. Real life lessons to move this movement.
“You are a fire hazard,” 5 year old Judy was told by her principal.
Judy was at school, in her wheelchair, and with her family. They will never forget hearing these harsh words.
Certainly this wasn’t the last time she heard discriminatory remarks.
This was only the beginning.. and it’s still not the end for many of us…
Sometimes the power of words lead us to
A GREATER PURPOSE.
Words hurt, and now more than ever, it is our time to stand up for what we believe in.
Judy’s unique ability to instill confidence in women is a testament to her incredible spirit and character. I admired her unwavering commitment to influence on the importance of creating a more accessible, equitable world.
Her awe-inspiring trailblazing work in the disability rights movement earned her countless accolades, including her induction as an honorary member of the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 2019.
She showed us: the realities of the world not being accessible, the financial heartaches people with disabilities face everyday, whether it be through our healthcare systems, rights to receive an education, to having fair accommodations as an employee. Judy knew the struggle to be counted was real.
As she continued her advocacy for equality and access, she showed leaders we CAN work and lead at Fortune 500 Companies, lead not for profits, be successful entrepreneurs, mothers, teachers, lead as policy changers in the White House, be top scientists, lawyers, news anchors, gold medalists, Oscar nominees and winners, social media influencers, best selling-authors, and be adaptive fashion designers.
We can do ANYTHING when their is opportunity and access.
The work never stops.
I remember when Justin Dart, “The Father of the ADA” said, “Nobody is going to give us rights, we have to take rights.” He was right. We all have a job to do.
These last few days, I am deeply inspired by the outpouring love we are all sharing, witnessing the power of this community and the stories being shared. I’m more than READY to continue her legacy and move the movement into the mainstream so we all can feel the power, equality and access we deserve.
Let us ALL honor this exceptional Heumann and LEAD ON.
Thank you for being our leader and I will hold you in my heart forever.