FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 16, 2006
MAYOR BLOOMBERG APPOINTS MATTHEW P. SAPOLIN TO THE RANK OF COMMISSIONER AT A RECEPTION HONORING 16th ANNIVERSARY OF THE PASSAGE OF THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT
Second Annual Mayoral Advocacy Awards Presented To 5 Recipients
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced today that Executive Director of the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities Matthew P. Sapolin is being promoted to Commissioner. This announcement was made as Mayor Bloomberg hosted a reception at Gracie Mansion in celebration of the 16th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Mayor Bloomberg also honored five recipients of the Second Annual Mayoral Advocacy Awards. The Mayoral Advocacy Awards honor people and organizations that are raising the quality of life for people with disabilities. Joining Mayor Bloomberg in commemorating the anniversary of the ADA were Executive Director Sapolin, Chairman and CEO of Avis Rent-A-Car System, LLC Ronald L. Nelson, IBM's Director of Human Ability & Accessibility Center Frances West, Associate Director of Human Resources for Bear Stearns and Company Bettie Jones, Executive Director of the John F. Kennedy, Jr. Institute for Worker Education at CUNY Dr. William Ebenstein and Executive Director of the Disabilities Network for New York City Alexander Wood.
"The passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act was a civil rights milestone," said Mayor Bloomberg. "For more than 50,000,000 Americans living with a disability, some aspects of daily life are still challenging. New York City is working to break down barriers that keep people with disabilities from fully participating in City life. Tonight we honor New Yorkers who are making a difference and making our City more accessible for all, and we congratulate Matt on his well deserved promotion."
"I am honored to join Mayor Bloomberg in the presentation of our Mayoral Advocacy Awards," said Matthew Sapolin, Executive Director of the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities. "The City has made significant gains to improve the lives of people with disabilities - from Mayor Bloomberg's recent signing of the Disabled Rent Increase Exemption, to improved ferry access, to the enactment of legislation that will increase the number of taxis in our City. It is also fitting that we recognize and pay tribute to our courageous neighbors who are working daily to increase the standard and quality of life for people with disabilities."
At the reception the Mayor and New York City Sports Commissioner Kenneth J. Podziba also announced the publication of the second edition of Exercise Your Ability: The Ultimate Guide to Sports and Recreation for People with Disabilities. This valuable resource for athletic and recreational opportunities provides an expansive list of adaptive sports for athletes with disabilities. To receive a copy of Exercise Your Ability, please call the New York City Sports Commission at 212-487-7120.
"Exercise Your Ability provides valuable information on the myriad of adaptive sports and recreation programs in New York City and the country," said Commissioner Podziba. "This book showcases many exciting recreational and therapeutic programs that are available, and it is our hope that this book encourages our disabled community to lead a healthier, more active lifestyle."
The following are this year's award recipients:
Bear Stearns & Co., Inc. is being honored with a Title I of the ADA Employment Award for its significant commitment to the hiring of employees with disabilities. Associate Director of the Human Resource Department Bettie Jones accepted the award on behalf of the organization.
City University of New York is being honored with a Title II of the ADA Public Service Award for its contributions as a public entity in providing services to people with disabilities through its Youth Transition Demonstration Program and Graduate Certificate Program in Disability Studies. Executive Director of the John F. Kennedy, Jr. Institute for Worker Education Dr. William Ebenstein accepted the award on behalf of CUNY.
Avis Rent-A-Car System, LLC is being honored with a Title III of the ADA Public Accommodation Award for its Avis Cares Program, which provides a full range of products and services for drivers or passengers with disabilities. Chairman and CEO of Avis Budget Group Ronald L. Nelson accepted the award on behalf of the company.
IBM is being honored with Title IV of the ADA Telecommunications Award for its commitment to providing increased access to computer technology and communications for people with disabilities. Director of the IBM Human Ability & Accessibility Center Frances West accepted the award on behalf of the company.
Alexander Wood, Executive Director of the Disabilities Network for New York City is being honored with the Frieda Zames Advocacy Award for his overall commitment to helping individuals with disabilities.
Sponsors of this evening's reception included: Avis Rent-A-Car System, LLC; IBM and the Verizon Foundation.
Matthew P. Sapolin was appointed Executive Director of the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD) October 2002. As Commissioner of the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities, Mr. Sapolin will continue to serve as a liaison between the disability community and City government. MOPD works collaboratively with other agencies to assure that the rights and needs of people with disabilities are included in all City initiatives by fostering greater cooperation, communication and coordination of functions and services in New York City.
Prior to his appointment in 2002, Mr. Sapolin served as Co-Executive Director for the Queens Independent Living Center, where he oversaw operations. Previously, he was the Coordinator of the Client Assistance Program for the Center for Independence of the Disabled of New York. Sapolin received his BA at New York University as well as a Masters of Public Health Administration from The Wagner School of Public Service at New York University.
Stu Loeser/Silvia Alvarez (212) 788-2958