Reflecting on National Disability Employment Awareness Month

November 08, 2021
Submitted By: Office of Diversity and Community Engagement

Podcast Interview with Congressman Tony Coelho

As we reflect on National Disability Employment Awareness Month, the UHart Disabilities Network (an employee affinity network) in partnership with Executive Vice President Mark Boxer, Abe Hefter, associate professor in the School of Communication, and the Office of Diversity and Community Engagement, presents an interview with Congressman Tony Coelho.

In the interview, Congressman Coelho, the author and primary sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), talks about his life with a disability, the people who supported and motivated him through his journey, the ADA legislation, and where we go from here.

We invite the UHart community to listen to or read the transcript of the interview, and take information and inspiration from Congressman Coelho’s story.

I think the key thing is to understand that those of us with disabilities have abilities. I like to say all the time, because of my epilepsy I can't be a pilot on a plane, I can't drive an ambulance or a police car...There are a lot of things I can do better than people who don't have a disability.

Tony Coelho, Congressman

About Congressman Coelho

The Honorable Tony Coelho (D-Modesto, CA) brings a national reputation as one of the top strategists of the Democratic Party, having served in the U.S. Congress as House Majority Whip (the third highest position in the House of Representatives), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and general chairman of Al Gore’s presidential campaign.

A high-ranking Republican, who would later serve as House Speaker, said that the GOP would never attain its goal of taking control of the House unless it studied Coelho’s success, adding, “You watch him with awe.”

Coelho is credited as the author, primary sponsor and leader of a bipartisan movement in support of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which was signed into law by then- President George Herbert Walker Bush. In 2018 he founded The Coelho Center for Disability Law, Policy & Innovation, which brings together all the schools and colleges within Loyola Marymount University and is housed at Loyola Law School.

Following a career in politics, Coelho served as president and CEO of Wertheim Schroder Investment Services, which grew from $400 million to $4 billion in managed investments under his leadership. Currently, Coelho serves on the Board of Directors of publicly traded Service Corporation International, Esquire Bank and AudioEye.

Coelho partnered with NBC Universal and the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) to create the NBCUniversal Tony Coelho Media Scholarship, which encourages people with disabilities to pursue media-related degrees and careers.  Each year eight college students are provided a total of $50,000 towards tuition and fees at their college or university.

Coelho graduated with a B.A. from Loyola University of Los Angeles (now Loyola Marymount University), where he was elected Student Body President during his senior year.