University Alumnus Named to Presidential Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities
Advocate for people with disabilities in position to offer advice on policy issuesMonday, December 19, 2011
President Barack Obama recently appointed Julie Petty of Fayetteville to be a member of the President's Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities. Petty, who has cerebral palsy, is a long-time state leader in the self-advocacy movement, which encourages people with disabilities to take greater control of their lives. She is a graduate of the University of Arkansas journalism department.
Petty will be sworn in by Fayetteville Mayor Lioneld Jordan at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 20, in his office at City Hall.
The President’s Committee was established to provide advice and assistance to the President and the Secretary of Health and Human Services on a broad range of topics that impact the lives of people with intellectual disabilities. The committee’s goal is to improve the quality of life for people with intellectual disabilities and uphold their full citizenship rights, independence, self-determination, and life-long participation in their respective communities.
“I’m very excited to be named to the President’s Committee,” Petty said, “but I know I have my work cut out for me.”
Petty currently works as a project trainer for Partners for Inclusive Communities at the UAMS Center on Disabilities. Her work focuses on educating those with intellectual disabilities on health and safety. She is also co-chair of the Alliance for Full Participation, a nationwide coalition of developmental disability organizations. Previously, she served as state coordinator for Arkansas People First (1998-2007), national chairperson of Self Advocates Becoming Empowered (2006-2008), and policy analyst for the Human Service Research Institute (2007 – 2009).
In Feb. 2010 Julie Petty was part of a delegation that met with then-White House chief-of-staff Rahm Emanuel after he was quoted as calling certain liberal’s actions “retarded.” The delegation was led by Special Olympics chairman Timothy Shriver and wanted Emanuel to understand that such language was offensive, inappropriate and hurtful. Petty has described the meeting as “productive” and said she was impressed by Emanuel’s willingness to both listen and to apologize.
Petty obviously made an impression as well. Since that meeting she has been invited to the White House twice, first for the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act and later when President Obama signed “Rosa’s Law,” which removed terms like “mental retardation” from federal law. Earlier this year she was asked to testify before Congress on issues facing people with disabilities.
Steve Voorhies, manager of media relations
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