Award Presentation to be Made at the AAPD Leadership Gala in Washington, DC on Wednesday, March 8, 2006

(WASHINGTON, DC) January 9, 2006 — The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) announces with great pride that The Henry B. Betts Award Jury has selected John D. Kemp, a renowned disability rights and civil rights leader and spokesperson, to receive the 2006 Henry B. Betts Award. The award will be presented to Kemp in recognition of his service, advocacy and leadership on behalf of all children and adults with all disabilities.

"John's expansive vision, strategic management, personal commitment, and contagious enthusiasm for growing the power and cultural identity of people with disabilities have helped to transform organizations and individual lives for decades,” says Andrew J. Imparato, AAPD President and CEO. “He builds bridges, lays foundations, plants seeds, and achieves successes that make our world work better for everyone."

In the 1970’s, Kemp started a consulting firm that worked exclusively with organizations and corporations to implement first-ever disability employment laws. His work in this area continues to this day, whether as a volunteer, speaker, advocate, consultant and lawyer. As a person born without arms and legs, Kemp inspires others to achieve the impossible through knowledge, experience, vision and persistence. In fact, he has said that his disability has given him an edge in achieving his goals.

Today, he is a Principal of Powers, Pyles, Sutter & Verville, PC, a law firm in Washington, DC, that specializes in healthcare, rehabilitation, disability, higher education and tax-exempt organizations. In this capacity, Kemp is working with his clients to find new ways for children to learn and utilize accessible technology and universal design for learning. Previously, he served as President and CEO of HalfthePlanet Foundation, President and CEO of VSA Arts, and Executive Director of United Cerebral Palsy Associations.

In 2004, Kemp co-authored and co-edited Reflections from a Different Journey, a collection of essays offered by adults who were raised from birth or early childhood with a disability, and which offers advice that people with disabilities want all parents to have about parenting.

Kemp also currently serves on the State Department’s Advisory Committee on Persons with Disabilities, which advises the Secretary of State and the Administrator of the Agency for International Development (USAID) on the formulation and implementation of U.S. foreign policy and assistance with respect to people with disabilities. He previously served for seven years on the National Council on Disability, as appointed by former President Clinton.

He also delivers keynote addresses at conferences and meetings of organizations, corporations and government agencies throughout the year, including for Ohio’s Youth Leadership Form, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the Dearborn (Michigan) Disability Awareness Day, Respect-ABILITY2005, and the IBM Worldwide Accessibility Center in 2005.

Kemp has served on the boards of numerous nonprofit organizations, currently including The Abilities Fund, National Rehabilitation Hospital, Boys & Girls Club of America, Goodwill Industries. He is also a former chairman of AAPD, which he also co-founded in 1995 with longtime friend and advocate Paul G. Hearne.

As summarized by Marlee Matlin, one of the individuals who nominated Kemp to receive the Henry B. Betts Award and who provided the foreword for Reflections from a Different Journey, “He is a true champion of the national and international disability community, and his very being is a living model for others to follow. John Kemp provides a positive vision for the disability community.”

The Henry B. Betts Award, which is administered by AAPD, was created in 1989 by the Prince Charitable Trusts and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. It is named in honor of Henry B. Betts, M.D., a pioneer in the field of rehabilitation medicine who started his career with the Institute in 1964, making it the base for his career as an advocate for people with physical disabilities and leader in the field of rehabilitation medicine, and who has devoted himself to improving the quality of life for people with disabilities.

It will be collaboratively presented by AAPD and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago at the 2006 AAPD Leadership Gala, an awards ceremony and dinner, on March 8, 2006, at the Capital Hilton in Washington, DC. For additional information about the gala, visit the AAPD website at