AAPD press release from 2003 when Susan Daniels received the AAPD Henry B. Betts Award:
WASHINGTON, DC - The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) proudly announces that The Henry B. Betts Award Committee has... selected Susan M. Daniels, Ph.D., Principal of Daniels and Associates, a firm that focuses on transforming disability policy into practice at the state and local levels, to receive the 2003 Henry B. Betts Award.
An extraordinary longtime national and international disability rights advocate, Dr. Daniels' many accomplishments on behalf of people with disabilities include, while Deputy Commissioner for Disability and Income Security Programs of the Social Security Administration (SSA), laying the foundation for the landmark Ticket to Work and Work Incentive Improvement Act. According to people who know and have worked with her, everything that she has done throughout her life has been with the goal of improving the lives of people with disabilities.
Dr. Daniels was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, and contracted polio at six months of age. Though she spent much of her young life in rehabilitation institutes and hospitals, her parents strived for her full independence, also ensuring that she attended a mainstream school. She went on to graduate summa cum laude from Marquette University (before campuses were accessible), and received her Masters of Psychology from Mississippi State University and her Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of North Carolina.
As Chair of the Department of Rehabilitation Counseling at the Louisiana State University Medical Center, early in her career, Dr. Daniels developed a program to train individuals working with people with intellectual disabilities in community-based settings, which subsequently was a core element in that state's deinstitutionalization efforts. During this same period, she wrote extensively, lectured internationally on disability issues, served as Board Chair of the Louisiana Protection and Advocacy Agency, and co-authored Who Cares: A Handbook on Sexuality and People with Disabilities, the first book ever published in the U.S. on disability and sexuality.
Dr. Daniels went on to hold a number of senior Federal positions, including Deputy Commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration and Associate Commissioner for the Administration on Developmental Disabilities in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In the latter position, she initiated the Home of Your Own program to assist people with disabilities in becoming homeowners and also supported a national Home of Your Own technical assistance center to expand home ownership opportunities for people with disabilities to other states. Home of Your Own networks have since expanded to 27 states.
But perhaps Dr. Daniels' greatest accomplishment is the Ticket to Work and Work Incentive Improvement Act (TWWIIA). As Deputy Commissioner for Disability and Income Security Programs of SSA, where she directed programs that serve more than 11 million people with disabilities, she worked tirelessly to lay the groundwork for TWWIIA. This groundbreaking legislation creates employment incentives for people with disabilities and removes the systemic barriers that have placed too many of this country's citizens with disabilities in the position of having to choose between health coverage and work.
Dr. Daniels' disability-rights advocacy has also reached internationally. She has spoken about disability policy at international conferences and research forums in Europe and Asia; served as President of the US Council of International Rehabilitation and is currently Rehabilitation International's Deputy Vice President for North America; and in 1998, orchestrated efforts to convene the International Women with Disabilities Leadership Forum. Also in 1998, she was the recipient of a citation by Congress and was honored with The 1998 Good Housekeeping Award for Women in Government.
The Henry B. Betts Award was created by the Prince Charitable Trusts and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago in 1989 and is administered by AAPD. It is named in honor of Henry B. Betts, M.D., a pioneer in the field of rehabilitation medicine who started his career with the Institute in 1964, making it the base for his career as an advocate for people with physical disabilities and leader in the field of rehabilitation medicine, and who has devoted himself to improving the quality of life for people with disabilities.
"Susan Daniels has been a leading voice for transforming our country's income support policies and programs to bring them in line with the goals of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)," says Andrew J. Imparato, AAPD President and CEO. "Her vision and hard work are making it possible for more disabled Americans to work, own homes, and participate in the American dream. AAPD is delighted to join with the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago in recognizing Susan Daniels for what she has done and what she will do in the coming years."