The Viscardi Center — an Albertson-based non-profit organization providing a lifespan of services that educate, employ, and empower people with disabilities — announced nine recipients of the 2017 Henry Viscardi Achievement Awards at a special ceremony held on December 4 at the Mutual of America building in New York City.
First bestowed in 2013, the awards honor exemplary leaders in the disability community who, through the example of their professional accomplishments and advocacy efforts, are reshaping societal perceptions and making significant changes in the quality of life of people with disabilities.
Drawing nominations from cities throughout the U.S. and countries around the world, this year’s cohort are an accomplished and diverse group representing Bangladesh, India, Israel, Pakistan, South Africa, and the United States. Recipients come from a variety of distinguished backgrounds, including academia, healthcare, sports, government, technology, non-profit, and corporate sectors.
“Tonight, we recognize nine individuals from around the globe who we believe not only motivate all of us to reach higher, but who are today’s leaders, mentors, and role models for their peers and our next generations,” said John D. Kemp, President and CEO of The Viscardi Center. “These individuals have been catalysts for change and are making a positive impact on how people with disabilities view themselves and the world.”
The Henry Viscardi Achievements Awards were established to commemorate the vision of the Center’s founder, Dr. Henry Viscardi, Jr., who himself wore prosthetic legs. As a premier disability advocate, he served as an advisor to eight presidents, from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Jimmy Carter, and implemented groundbreaking employment and education programs for people with disabilities.
The 2017 Selection Committee was co-chaired for the fifth consecutive year by Robert Dole, former U.S. Senator, along with Sherwood “Woody” Goldberg, Esq., retired U.S. Army Colonel and current Senior Advisor for Asian Affairs at the Center for Naval Analysis.
The 2017 Award Recipients
Vashkar Bhattacharjee, Access to Information (a2i) Program, Bangladesh’s Prime Minister’s Office/Young Power in Social Action (YPSA)/GAATES Board of Directors, Bangladesh
Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, Ministry of Social Development, South Africa
Justin Constantine, The Constantine Group, New York, NY
Col. Gregory D. Gadson, U.S Army Veteran/Patriot Strategies, Alexandria, VA
Matt King, Facebook, Menlo Park, CA
Dr. Satendra Singh, University College of Medical Sciences, Delhi, India
Yuval Wagner, Access Israel, Israel
Thomas J. Wlodkowski, Comcast, Philadelphia, PA
Asim Zafar, Saaya Association/Community Based Inclusive Development Network, Pakistan
Dr Singh become the first ever Indian to win this prestigious award. He is best described as a healer, a teacher, a disability rights crusader, and an advocate for disability employment in the medical and health care industries. Acquiring a physical disability as an infant, due to polio, Dr. Singh went on to become a medical doctor and a professor at the University College of Medical Sciences in Delhi, India. A firm believer in diversity and inclusion, he fought discrimination to bring policy reforms that unlocked 1,674 faculty posts for doctors with disabilities. His tireless work also helped raise the bar for web accessibility standards in hospitals under the Government of Delhi. Outside of the health care industry, Dr. Singh played an integral role in making India’s 2014 General Elections in Delhi accessible to people with disabilities.
Media release from Viscardi Center