Judith Heumann is an internationally recognized leader in the disability community and a lifelong civil rights advocate for disadvantaged people. She served as the first Special Advisor for International Disability Rights at the U.S. Department of State from 2010 – 2017 under the Obama Administration. She previously served as the Director for the Department on Disability Services for the District of Columbia, where she was responsible for the Developmental Disability Administration and the Rehabilitation Services Administration.
From June 2002- 2006, Judith E. Heumann served as the World Bank's first Adviser on Disability and Development. In this position, Heumann led the World Bank's disability work to expand the Bank’s knowledge and capability to work with governments and civil society on including disability in the Bank discussions with client countries; its country-based analytical work; and support for improving policies, programs, and projects that allow disabled people around the world to live and work in the economic and social mainstream of their communities. She was Lead Consultant to the Global Partnership for Disability and Development.
From 1993 to 2001, Heumann served in the Clinton Administration as the Assistant Secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services in the Department of Education. Heumann was responsible for the implementation of legislation at the national level for programs in special education, disability research, vocational rehabilitation and independent living, serving more than 8 million youth and adults with disabilities.
For more than 40 years, Heumann has been involved on the international front working with disabled people’s organizations and governments around the world to advance the human rights of disabled people. She represented Education Secretary, Richard Riley, at the 1995 International Congress on Disability in Mexico City. She was a US delegate to the Fourth United Nations World Conference on Women in Beijing, China. She has been active with Disabled Peoples’ International, Rehabilitation International and numerous Independent Living Centers throughout the world. She co-founded the Center for Independent Living in Berkeley California and the World Institute on Disability in Oakland California.
Heumann graduated from Long Island University in 1969 and received her Masters in Public Health from the University of California at Berkeley in 1975. She has received numerous awards including being the first recipient of the Henry B. Betts Award in recognition of efforts to significantly improve the quality of life for people with disabilities. She has received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Long Island University in Brooklyn, an Honorary Doctorate of Public Administration from the University of Illinois, Champaign, and an Honorary Doctorate of Public Service from the University of Toledo.