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2018-2019 CDR Disability Rights Policy Fellow

Employment Type: Full-Time

The Center for Disability Rights (CDR) announces its first Disability Rights Policy Fellowship. The purpose of the Fellowship is to expand the knowledge and expertise of CDR Advocacy and Policy leadership through first-hand experience advocating and organizing for positive legislative and policy change in Federal and State legislation, government, and regulatory agencies. This Fellowship is intended to prepare the Fellow to leverage CDR's proven advocacy strategies to create ongoing, sustained advocacy and policy work at an Independent Living Center, ADAPT chapter, or disability rights organization.

CDR's Current Federal and State advocacy activities are expected to have significant impact on the nature and extent of services and supports for persons with disabilities in New York and across the nation. It is, therefore, of great value to the Disability Community for current and future disability advocates to develop and acquire hands-on advocacy and policy experience as well as an understanding of the laws, regulations, and policies which affect the lives of people with disabilities.

The CDR Disability Rights Fellowship Experience is intended to provide significant experience in national and state- advocacy, organizing, and policy activities related to the advancement of disability rights, for the purpose of equipping the Fellow to replicate these activities elsewhere. The Fellowship is envisioned as a mutually beneficial arrangement between the Fellow and CDR, and will take operate out of CDR's Albany Policy office. The Fellow will benefit from the experiences and contacts developed during the Fellowship period. The program will benefit from having "one of its own" participating in state and national level activities and creating and deepening advocacy efforts. CDR will benefit by having increased assistance to carry out its mission as well as the additional experience and information the Fellow is able to develop. The overall goal of the Fellowship is to enhance the leadership capacity of the Fellow through a range of work experiences and responsibilities aiming to:
  • Provide experience in the development of national policy and legislation related to securing the equality, integration, and civil rights of disabled people;
  • Develop contacts, tools, and other information useful to the operation of a policy and advocacy office;
  • Contribute to CDR's campaign to prevent the legalization of physician assisted suicide by engaging the legislative process, media, social media as well as through direct action and public speaking.
  • To articulate the ways physician assisted suicide laws disproportionately impact and discriminate against the disability community.
  • Organize and inspire advocates, create effective advocacy campaigns, and use data to identify and mobilize key constituencies and legislators;
  • Broaden the Fellow's knowledge of the CDR advocacy operations as well as the work and issues facing the Independent Living movement; and
  • Develop key relationships with organizations including State and Federal agencies, associations, advocacy groups, and other public and private entities related to the disabilities field.


Responsibilities of the Fellow
The Fellowship experience will be jointly developed by the Fellow and CDR senior staff based on the needs of CDR and the Policy Office, taking into consideration current CDR projects and priorities, as well as skills and interests of the Fellow. The Fellow may be responsible for any or all of the following, as assigned by the Manager of Government Affairs or other Senior Staff:
  • Assist in writing op-eds, blog posts, and other public-facing documents about legislative or policy issues the Fellow is working on;
  • Assist with organizing and promoting CDR's campaign to prevent the legalization of assisted suicide in New York;
  • Develop and/or maintain organizing and outreach tools, mailing lists, scheduling and messaging tools by which CDR manages its ongoing advocacy efforts;
  • Attend and participate in legislative hearings, legislative visits, and stakeholder meetings on policy issues which affect people with disabilities;
  • Assist in the review, analysis, and preparation of a detailed response to, the Governor's State of the State Address and Budget;
  • Attend and participate in at least one ADAPT action;
  • Work with CDR's Advocacy team to formulate and promote the legislative goals of CDR;
  • Provide policy updates and technical assistance to CDR's Manager of Government Affairs, Senior Staff, and CDR's Policy Committee;
  • Draft press releases;
  • Develop and distribute action alerts;
  • Attend CDR all-staff meetings; and
  • Other special projects/activities/tasks as needed.

Reporting and Monitoring
The Fellow will keep supervisor(s) aware of his/her progress as well as submit a year-end report to CDR Senior Staff and the Board of Directors on his/her activities, accomplishments and challenges encountered during the Fellowship and recommendations for improving the Fellowship program.

Duration of Fellowship

The Fellowship period is for a Period of one year.


Eligible Applicants

Eligible applicants include: Staff working for at least 2 years at an ILC or disability-led disability rights organization, in an advocacy or direct service position. Persons with disabilities or family members and persons from culturally diverse backgrounds are encouraged to apply.

Criteria and Requirements

  • Fellowship is based in CDR's Policy Office in Watervliet, , NY. Fellow is expected to relocate to Albany area, if necessary, in order to commence fellowship.
  • Travel around New York State or out of state may be necessary (20%-30% travel), including travel to ADAPT actions in other states or in Washington, D.C.
  • Applicant must be fluent with office equipment, personal computers, office software (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Outlook, &c.)
  • Experience in project management & leadership;
  • Demonstrated experience in working collaboratively with local and state organizations;
  • Experience in local or state policy development;
  • Demonstrated work excellence and leadership potential; and
  • Interest in participating in national level project development, technical assistance, interagency collaboration and policy development.
  • Applicants must submit a letter of interest explaining how they meet the criteria, what they hope to get out of the Fellowship, and how they expect to use the knowledge and skills gained when they return to their home Center/Program. In addition, the applicant will submit a current resume and at least three letters of reference, one of which should come from the director of the center or program.

Selection Process

The leadership of the CDR Advocacy Team will review all applications and select finalists for interviews.

Start Date
The Fellowship Start date is flexible but the Fellow is expected to start no later than November 30.

For More Information

For additional information please contact: Director of Government Affairs Adam Prizio or CDR Advocacy Director Stephanie Woodward.
Language Required: English
Minimum Education: Bachelors Degree
Minimum Experience: 2-5 years
Contact Name: Human Resources
Contact Email:
Contact Phone: (585) 546-7510
The Center for Disability Rights strives to be a participant controlled, cross disability organization that is reflective of the community it serves. CDR values diversity and does not discriminate on the basis of age, color, cultural or ethnic group membership, disability status, educational level, family status, gender, income, national origin, race, religion, or sexual orientation. People with disabilities are encouraged to apply. CDR will make reasonable accommodations for qualified individuals with disabilities.
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