Leslie Dara Baldwin, MPA
Born in Torrejon, Spain to parents involved in serving their country, the desire to serve has continued through her education and current career journey. She started her first career while attending college and worked in Healthcare Administration in various operational and finance executive positions, for almost twenty years. In 2004 she changed her career to advocacy in the social justice/equity realm of work. Currently Ms. Baldwin is the Director of National Policy for the Center for Disability Rights, Inc. (CDR). The (CDR) is a not-for-profit, community-based advocacy and service organization for people with all types of disabilities. CDR uses a peer model where people with disabilities show other people with disabilities how to live independently and advocate for themselves. The Center for Disability Rights, Inc. is an unique fusion of advocacy and supportive services.
In her position Ms. Baldwin is responsible for the legislative work, from research and writing comments, testimonies, letters and reports to assisting with advocacy outreach and working with Congressional staff, the Administration, coalition partners and others on multiple issue areas for improving the lives of persons with disabilities. She has extensive knowledge of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), The Access Carrier Act of 1986, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and other disability laws. She is an expert analyst of pertinent legislative proposals and enactments. She has a keen ability for networking and outreach to grassroots national and international advocates. She has organized and facilitated several national meetings with the White House, Congress and civil and human rights organizations covering issues of importance and providing recommendations for immediate actions.
She has led multiple national and international advocacy campaigns. She assisted with writing the disability provisions and was a leader in the advocacy campaign to get the Violence Against Women Act 2013 passed in February 2013. She is highly skilled in social media outreach and advocacy. Ms. Baldwin worked on 12 bills that passed in Congress and signed by President Barack Obama during his term in office, as well as budget bills. She is the Campaign Manager for the passage of the Disability Integration Act and works on Housing, Criminal Justice, Violence and Abuse and other issue areas. She also works on fiscal year funding for Transportation Housing and Urban Development (THUD), Criminal Justice and other appropriations and budgets.
Ms. Baldwin was a Senior Public Policy Analyst at National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) and an ADA Compliance Specialist in the DC Government. She was a policy analyst at The National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) the longest running national cross-disability membership organization that advances independent living and the rights of people with disabilities through consumer–driven advocacy. She engaged members by their involvement in advocacy work to make a change. She was responsible for the diversity and cultural competency outreach as well as working on coalitions to assist with better legislative outcomes for the community.
Prior to this work Ms. Baldwin worked as a Child Advocate in NJ, Sr. Policy Analyst on multiple criminal justice issues such as the Second Chance Act and as an Advocacy Manager at TASH. She has written numerous articles, served on advisory committees, facilitated focus groups, presented at many programs, appeared on Local news as a disability expert and conducts technical assistance training in multiple areas. She serves on the Board of Directors for the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), the Board of SPAN Parent Advocacy Network, the Board of The Daniel Initiative SET – Support, Equip and Train program and served as a Trustee for the American Society for Public Administration’s Board of Insurance Trustee (BIT) for two terms.
Currently she serves as an expert advisor on several research projects or policy movements with organizations such as African American Policy Forum, Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals, Winning on Equity Working Group at PolicyLink, Smart Growth America, Transit Center, Justice 4 Women Task Force, the Progressive Caucus Action Fund Progressive Governance Project Worker Power Table, One-Fair Wage and Urban Institute. She is a mentor in Women Changing Transportation Mentor Program hosted by Transit Center and Co-chair of the Transportation Equity Caucus housed at PolicyLink.
L. Dara Baldwin has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Rutgers University, Newark, NJ and was a Pi Alpha Alpha honors Graduate with a Masters of Public Administration from Rutgers University the School of Public Affairs and Administration, Newark, NJ. She received a 2009 and 2010 Presidential Citation Award for her work in the American Society for Public Administration. She serves as an Associate Member of the National Academy of Public Administration’s Standing Panel on Social Equity. She has been an Adjunct Professor at Bloomfield College, Bloomfield, NJ. Ms. Baldwin believes that it is her duty to move forward with her career goals and at the same time, create a pathway for others.
Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety – 30th Anniversary Highway Safety Hero – In recognition of my leadership and contributions to safer cars, safer roads and safer drivers and passengers. – April 9, 2019
National Action Network’s (NAN) – Action & Authority Award honoring women who support equality and justice through their policy work. Presented at NAN’s Annual Legislative Day – November 14, 2019