“I believe that intentional access and equity are necessary drivers of a successful disability rights movement.”

Leadership: Maria Town is president and CEO of the American Association for People with Disabilities (AAPD), a national civil rights organization focused on advancing the economic and political power of the cross-disability community. As someone who self-identifies as a person with a disability, she draws on her personal experience in her fight for increased accessibility and inclusion.

When she joined AAPD in 2019, Maria led the organization’s efforts to eliminate barriers to employment and obstacles to civic engagement for those who do not control their own mobility. Prior to that, she served as director of the City of Houston Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, as well as in the Obama White House.

Vision: Although there is increasing recognition of disability issues, all too often, disability and accessibility remain on the periphery of equity-focused solutions. Maria aims to address inequality based on perceptions of ability and health on the global stage.