WASHINGTON, March 21, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) will hold their annual Leadership Awards Gala tonight at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, bringing together leaders from government, business, and the disability and civil rights communities to celebrate achievement, leadership and progress in AAPD's mission to organize the disability community to be a powerful force for change – politically, economically, and socially.
New York fashion designer Marc Ecko, who lent his creative vision to the event logo and decor, will debut an original film featuring models with disabilities wearing his original designs. Tony Coelho will serve as Master of Ceremonies.
The 2012 AAPD Leadership Awards Gala will honor USA Network with the AAPD Image Award. Through its public service campaign Characters Unite, USA Network is combating prejudice and discrimination while promoting tolerance, understanding and respect. On hand to receive the award will be USA Network Co-President, Chris McCumber and "Covert Affairs" Actor, Christopher Gorham.
Mark Barlet and Amber Smock are this year's recipients of the prestigious 2012 Paul G. Hearne Leadership Award. Barlet, of Harper's Ferry, WV and Smock, of Chicago, IL will be presented with their awards, which are given to emerging leaders within the national cross-disability community. The two were chosen by a national advisory committee to receive $10,000 each to further their work.
Mark Barlet is the co-founder and current President of the AbleGamers Foundation, which serves the disability community by advocating for greater accessibility of digital media and developing equipment, programs, and services for people with disabilities.
Amber Smock is the Director of Advocacy at Access Living, a Chicago-based, nationally prominent Center for Independent Living. As Director of Advocacy, Smock oversees both public policy and organizing activities that include systems advocacy for funding and access at the local, state and national levels, and leadership development of people with disabilities of all ages.
The Honorable Gregg Harper (MS) will receive the Spirit of the ADA award, which honors extraordinary individuals who have shown leadership in support of the ADA's goals and AAPD's mission to increase the political and economic power of people with disabilities. Since entering Congress, Harper has been a strong voice and champion for special needs issues.
The American Association of People with Disabilities is the nation's largest cross-disability organization. They promote equal opportunity, economic power, independent living, and political participation for people with disabilities. Members include people with disabilities and their family, friends, and supporters, representing a powerful force for change.
More than 50 million Americans with disabilities and their supporters have the power to achieve full civil rights for all. They are powered by the vision of a community whose voice is heard through the halls of government, in their culture and communities.
For additional information about this event, visit the AAPD website: www.AAPD.com
CONTACT: Lara Schwartz, +1-202-521-4309, [email protected]
SOURCE American Association of People with Disabilities