The Council Members of NCD live across the country and each brings a unique perspective informed by varied personal and professional experiences. Council Members are people with disabilities, parents or guardians of people with disabilities, or other people who have substantial knowledge or experience of disability policy or programs. NCD Council Members are appointed to represent people with disabilities, national organizations concerned with disabilities, providers and administrators of services to people with disabilities, people engaged in conducting medical or scientific research related to disabilities, business concerns, and labor organizations. A majority of NCD Council Members are people with disabilities.
Neil Romano has dedicated his career to the marketing of ideas and messages to help save lives and promote public policy. Romano’s extensive professional background includes tenure as director of communications for the White House Office of Drug Abuse Policy. In that role, he worked on notable public awareness campaigns including “Just Say No” and “America Responds to AIDS.” In 2007, Romano was nominated by President George W. Bush to be the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy and was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate. As head of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), Romano advised the Secretary of Labor and worked with all DOL agencies to lead a comprehensive and coordinated national policy regarding the employment of people with disabilities in the United States. His work as a member of the Committee for Purchase from People Who are Blind or Severely Disabled, helped improve the quality of life for workers with disabilities. In 2010, Romano’s work as a member of that committee was recognized by the full committee with a special leadership award. As a producer/director, Romano’s film, “Youth Homicide: A Public Health Crisis,” earned a Best Director Emmy Nomination.
James T. Brett
James T. Brett served for more than fifteen years as a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. Brett served as the Chairman of the Presidents Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities and remains a member of its Committee. He is Chairman of the Governor’s Commission on Intellectual Disability in Massachusetts. He is also a Commissioner of the Massachusetts Disabled Persons Protection Commission. He is the former President of the Board of Directors of the Massachusetts Association for Mental Health. In 2014, he was inducted into the Special Olympics Massachusetts Hall of Fame. Also in 2014, the Disability Law Center bestowed upon him the Edward M. Kennedy Leadership award. In 2013, the University of Massachusetts Boston established the James T. Brett Chair in Disability and Workforce Development, the nation’s only endowed chair in disability and workforce development. In 1996, Bay Cove Human Services of Boston named a new community home for disabled adults “Brett House” in his honor.
Billy W. Altom
Little Rock, Arkansas
Billy W. Altom is the Executive Director of the Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living. APRIL is a national membership organization dedicated to advancing the rights and responsibilities of people with disabilities living in rural America. APRIL provides leadership and resources on rural independent living through a national network of rural centers for independent living, programs and individuals concerned with the unique aspect of rural independent living. The goal of APRIL is to work together to find solutions to common problems and to bring rural issues in independent living into focus on the national level. Altom is a member of the Rural Transportation Policy Group of the National Rural Assembly, the National AgrAbility Advisory Committee, the Transportation Equity Caucus and the Arkansas Public Transportation Coordination Council. He recently served as chair of the Rail Vehicles Access Advisory Committee of the United States Access Board and continues to work with Amtrak to ensure accessibility to all their amenities. He also represents APRIL as a member of the National Disability Leadership Alliance.
Jim Baldwin has a business background in banking. He has been President of Bakersfield Arc (BARC) since 2001. He has worked with local nonprofits to establish a countywide collaboration called VOICED. It is a group of executive Directors of organizations that provide jobs and services to people with disabilities and their families. Over the 18 years as BARC’s President and 7 years on the BARC Board, Jim is actively involved in the local, state and national level of the Arc. He is well known by the elected officials and is a recognized advocate at the local, county, state and national levels.
Dr. Rabia Belt is an Assistant Professor at Stanford Law School. She is a member of the Board of Directors for the Disability Rights Bar Association. She is a legal historian specializing in mental disability and citizenship and is at work on a book manuscript titled Disabling Democracy in America: Disability, Citizenship, Suffrage, and the Law, 1819-1920. She lectures frequently on the rights of people with disabilities, especially people with mental disabilities. She received an A.B. from Harvard College, a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School, and a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan.
Andrés J. Gallegos, Esq. is a shareholder with the law firm of Robbins, Salomon and Patt, Ltd., in Chicago, Illinois, where he focuses his practice on disability rights and healthcare law. Andrés founded and directs the law firm’s disability rights practice, which has as its emphasis on improving access to healthcare and wellness programs for persons across all types of disabilities. Andrés is the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Access Living of Metropolitan Chicago, Chicago’s Center for Independent Living, and is a recent two-term past-member of the Statewide Independent Living Council of Illinois, having been appointed by the governor. Andrés is the 2015 recipient of the Paul G. Hearne Leadership Award from the American Association of People with Disabilities. 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. Andrés 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.
Wendy S. Harbour
Dr. Wendy S. Harbour is the director of the National Center for College Students with Disabilities, based at the Association on Higher Education And Disability (AHEAD). She is also a lecturer in policy and communication equity at St. Catherine University. Past positions include being the inaugural Lawrence B. Taishoff Chair for Inclusive Education at Syracuse University, where she held various positions, including directing the Taishoff Center for Inclusive Higher Education, and co-directing the disability studies program and the Center on Human Policy. Her publications include chapters in How Did You Get Here? Students with Disabilities and their Journeys to Harvard and Righting Education Wrongs: Disability Studies in Law and Education, and articles on disability and higher education in the Journal on Postsecondary Education and Disability, Review of Disability Studies, and Innovative Higher Education. Her primary scholarly interests are disability in higher education, race and disability, disability studies, and universal design. She holds a bachelor’s and Master’s degree from the University of Minnesota, and a Master’s degree and doctorate from Harvard University. She is active in the Deaf community and lives with her wife and family in Minnesota.
Benro T. Ogunyipe
Benro T. Ogunyipe, MPA is a Senior Accessibility Specialist for the State of Illinois, Department of Human Services (IDHS), Bureau of Accessibility and Job Accommodation in Chicago, IL. In this capacity since 2004, he directs and administers the bureau’s program and training activities to ensure department compliance with Titles I & II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the department’s legal obligations under the Illinois Human Rights Act. He also serves as a reasonable accommodation specialist, disability discrimination complaint investigator, bureau legislative liaison and communication & telecommunication access trainer. Benro has 15 plus years of professional experience in public service administration, non-profit leadership management and multiple advocacy and policy board positions driven to promote full inclusion and accessibility for people with disabilities as well as personal and professional advocacy for Deaf and hard of hearing people in all settings of the society. He served as President of the National Black Deaf Advocates, Inc. from 2011 to 2013, and served as Vice President and Chairman of the Board from 2007 to 2011. Benro was appointed by three different Illinois Governors to public bodies including twice as a Commissioner of the Illinois Deaf and Hard of Hearing Commission. Benro received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Gallaudet University and a Master of Public Administration (M.P.A.) from the School of Public Service at DePaul University.
Concord, New Hampshire
Clyde E. Terry is the Chief Executive Officer of Granite State Independent Living in Concord, NH. Previously, Terry was the Executive Director of the New Hampshire Developmental Disabilities Council. His work has included spearheading a national coalition of disability organizations on election reform and election accessibility. In this role, he co-authored "Voters Denied Equal Access at the Polls; A Status Report of the Accessibility of Polling Places in the United States" in 2001. Terry received his B.S. from Emerson College and his J.D. from the Franklin Pierce Law Center, now the University Of New Hampshire School of Law.