Washington, DC – Last week, President Barack Obama announced appointments to the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities, which included The Arc’s CEO Peter Berns. This expert group will provide advice and assistance to President Obama and the Secretary of Health and Human Services on a broad range of topics that impact people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and their families.
“I’m honored to continue my role on this panel advising the Obama Administration on matters related to the inclusion of people with I/DD in their communities. We are facing enormous challenges right now with education, employment, community living and basic income supports for individuals with disabilities; it is clear we need to increase our efforts. There has been great progress since this committee was first convened in 1961, but we still have much work to do before we have a truly inclusive society. It is a critical time for the disability community, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to find real results for individuals with disabilities,” said Berns.
The President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities has a rich history, dating back to October 1961, when President John F. Kennedy appointed the first panel to advise him on a broad range of topics relating to people with I/DD. This was a turning point for the I/DD community, as President Kennedy shined a spotlight on the deplorable living conditions in institutions and limited opportunities for people with I/DD across the country. The panel produced a report with more than 100 recommendations for research into the causes and prevention of I/DD and for expanding opportunities for education, employment and community living and participation. President Kennedy pushed and signed into law major pieces of legislation that established the foundation for current civil rights protections and programs and services for people with I/DD.
A nationally recognized nonprofit sector leader and public interest lawyer, Berns joined The Arc in 2008. Previously, he was Executive Director of the Maryland Association of Nonprofit Organizations from 1992 to 2008. He was CEO of the Standards for Excellence Institute from 2004 to 2008. Earlier in his career, he held positions in the Maryland Attorney General’s Office, including Assistant Attorney General and Deputy Chief of Consumer Protection. Mr. Berns was first appointed to the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities in 2011. He has been named to The Nonprofit Times’ Power and Influence Top 50 list five times over the past decade. Mr. Berns received a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, a J.D. from Harvard Law School, and an L.L.M. from Georgetown University Law Center.