Amber Smock recipient of prestigious Paul Hearne Leadership Award

Amber Smock, speaking into the bullhorn in this photo, is a 2012 Paul Hearne Award Winner!
The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) is pleased to announce Amber Smock as one of the winners of the prestigious 2012 Paul G. Hearne Leadership Award.

Smock and the other recipient will be presented with their awards, which are given to emerging leaders within the national cross-disability community, at the 2012 AAPD Leadership Gala on March 21in Washington, D.C. As award recipients chosen by a national advisory committee, each will receive $10,000 to further their work in the disability community.

Amber is the Director of Advocacy at Access Living. In that role, Smock oversees 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. Smock is also the Media Chair for National ADAPT, and a co-founder of Feminist Response in Disability Activism.

Amber believes the honor provides a chance to carry on her work. “The award is a great opportunity to talk with many more people across the country about the issues I work on,” she said. “It is also a validation that the type of work I do---integrating policy with direct action organizing---is highly relevant to a wide cross section of disability advocates. Frankly, it also helps make all the evening meetings, emails and standing over the copy machine worth it!”
The Hearne Leadership Award is the highest-profile cross-disability national award that is not a lifetime achievement award. It lends visibility to the awardees and their communities. The award has in recent years gone to two recipients annually, one focused on employment or business, and one focused more on advocacy. Amber is the third Access Living staff member to receive the award.

Talking more about her work and vision, Amber went on, “my work is about braiding together many groups of people to find common ground. We need social change solutions that work for everyone, not just solutions that work for only some people.”

The Paul G. Hearne Leadership Award carries on the work of one of AAPD’s founders, Paul G. Hearne, a renowned leader in the national disability community, and realizes his goal of cultivating emerging disability rights leaders.

Speaking about Amber’s work, AAPD President and CEO Mark Perriello said, “Amber Smock has a talent for connecting with diverse audiences from the grassroots to legislators in order to forge partnerships for social change.”

Way to go Amber!