Dara Baldwin Bio

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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. She works within the Disability Justice movement and with an intentional strategy to end racism and systems of oppression.

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, IDEA (1990) 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 “in the streets” national and international activists. 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 led the work to dismantle a number of harmful amendments and provisions in the 2015 Mental Health legislative package that past with better programs, services, funding and saved the Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness (PAIMI) program.

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. In the last Administration she worked on four bills and multiple budgeting bills that were signed by the President. She currently assisted with ensuring equity language was included in the recent Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill (BIB). The first time ever that equity language was included in Transportation funding legislation. Ms. Baldwin has worked on a number of bills signed by President Biden.

She is the Campaign Manager for the passage of the Latonya Reeves Act and works on Housing, Transportation, Justice Transformation, Education Equity, Hate Crimes, Voting Rights, Violence and Abuse, Immigration and other issue areas. She also works on fiscal year funding for Transportation Housing and Urban Development (THUD), Criminal Justice, Education 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) where she engaged members to get involved 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) (Personnel Committee & Membership Chair), the Board of SPAN Parent Advocacy Network (Treasurer), the Board of The Daniel Initiative SET – Supporting, Equipping and Training program, the Board of Curious Communications, Inc. – The Laura Flanders Show and served as a Trustee for the American Society for Public Administration’s (ASPA) Board of Insurance Trustee (BIT) for two terms. She is an Ambassador for Health Equity Fellow – Cohort III through PolicyLink. She is a member of the #SheWillRise Collective – which works to ensure greater equality in America by ensuring a Black woman justice on the US Supreme Court for the first time ever.

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, Project South, Winning on Equity Working Group at PolicyLink, Smart Growth America, Transit Center, Justice 4 Women Task Force, Interrupting Criminalization, Compact for Thriving Communities – CSH, 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, on the Steering Committee of the Campaign for Housing and Community Development Funding (CHCDF) and Co-chair of the Transportation Equity Caucus housed at PolicyLink.

She was part of the writing team for: The Problems with Threat Assessments in Schools – K-12 Threat Assessment Processes 2/2022Civil Rights Impact. This paper is used to fight opposition to threat assessment legislation in Congress. She worked with fellow activists to publish an article: “My Back is Still the Bridge” by Dara Baldwin, Tamika Butler, Anita Cozart, Veronica O. Davis and Wesley Lowery – The Carolina Planning Journal: Volume 46 2021 The Problem with White Planning. Currently Ms. Baldwin is an Adjunct Lecturer at the Georgetown McCourt School of Public Policy teaching a course on Disability Justice, Equity and Policy for graduate level students.

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.

2019 Awards:

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

To see a full list of her work please go to her Curriculum Vitae (CV) available upon request.

Full text of writings or presentations available upon request.

Social Media Outreach:

Follow on Twitter and InstaGram: Personal @NJDC07 – ReTweets, Mentions and Favs are not endorsements

Blog: thewiyatt.wordpress.com – This blog is about What I Yell At The TV (WIYATT) or media: https://thewiyatt.wordpress.com

For more information on the Center for Disability Rights go to: http://www.cdrnys.org/

Follow on: Twitter @CDRNYS; FB @rochestercdr

Contact information: daraldb18@gmail.com