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Governor Hochul Establishes Office of The Chief Disability Officer

Appoints Kimberly T. Hill as the State’s First Chief Disability Officer 

Governor Kathy Hochul announced the establishment of the Office of the Chief Disability Officer to advocate on behalf of persons with disabilities and appointed Kimberly T. Hill as the State’s first Chief Disability Officer.

Video of the event is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h.264, mp4) format here.

Audio of the Governor’s remarks is available here.

“My administration is committed to protecting the right of all New Yorkers to live and work in our state free from the fear of discrimination,” Governor Hochul said. “It is critical that we prioritize the protection of our most vulnerable communities, and the new Office of the Chief Disability Officer will ensure we remain accountable to the pursuit of a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable New York.”

In 1983, the State Office of the Advocate for the Disabled was established through Executive Order 26. The primary task of the office was to advocate on behalf of persons with disabilities and implement laws that prevent discrimination against the community.

However, the function and responsibilities of the office was to a large extent absorbed into a different body when the Commission on Quality of Care and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities (CQC) was established in 2011. The CQC was then disbanded when the Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs (The Justice Center) was created.

While there have been many advances in the services available for people with disabilities, it is critical to prioritize the needs of the entire disability community, which includes individuals with physical sensory, mobility, intellectual, developmental, and psychiatric disabilities, with a Chief Disability Officer who leads a well-resourced office.

Office for People With Developmental Disabilities Acting Commissioner Kerri Neifeld said, “At OPWDD, we applaud Governor Kathy Hochul for continuing to show people with disabilities across New York State that they have a strong and supported voice in her administration. The appointment of a Chief Disability Officer will not only provide a driving force to uphold the rights of all New Yorkers with a disability, but this new position will also help ensure that people can live as independently as possible within the community of their choice fully supported to achieve their individual goals, and help break down silos and ensure people can access the supports they need.”

Kimberly T Hill

Kimberly T. Hill has been appointed as the State’s first Chief Disability Officer. Ms. Hill has most recently served as the Principal Analyst for the New York State Assembly Standing Committee on People with Disabilities. She previously served as Director of the Assembly Task Force on People with Disabilities, which focused on issues pertaining primarily to people with physical and sensory disabilities. In that role, Ms. Hill worked with disability advocates, Assembly Chairpersons and staff on several priority issues which led to the passage of bills such as the Most Integrated Setting Coordinating Council (MISCC), the Nursing Facility Transition and Diversion Waiver, New York State’s Medicaid Buy-In Program, and the codification of Titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into State law.

Ms. Hill also coordinated 24 Legislative Disabilities Awareness Days for the Assembly in which hundreds of people gathered annually to inform legislators, staff and others about disability issues and recognized the achievements of people with disabilities and advocates alike. Ms. Hill has been an appointed public member of the MISCC since its creation in 2002. Ms. Hill began her career in State service as a writer for the Assembly’s Communication and Information Services Department. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Utica College of Syracuse University and resides in Latham, NY.

Under Kim’s leadership, the Office of the Chief Disability Officer will establish New York as a model for inclusivity, integration, and accessibility by ensuring all State policies, programs, and activities truly meet the needs of all people with disabilities. Kim will collaborate with the State’s Chief Diversity Officer in the Executive Chamber to further strengthen a comprehensive approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion work across the State. Kim will also coordinate the State’s implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and serve as the Chair of the Most Integrated Settings Coordinating Council.

February 14, 2022 – Troy, NY – Governor Kathy Hochul announces the creation of the Office of the Chief Disability Officer in Troy. (Mike Groll/Office of Governor Kathy Hochul)

According to New York State’s newly appointed Chief Disability Officer Kimberly T. Hill, “It is the honor of a lifetime to serve as New York State’s first Chief Disability Officer. I am looking forward to leading a well-resourced Office of the Chief Disability Officer to bring the voices and priorities of all people with disabilities to the forefront and working towards a more integrated, inclusive and accessible New York. Thank you Governor Hochul for this incredible opportunity.”

Syracuse area State Senator John W. Mannion said, “By creating the new Office for the Chief Disabilities Officer, Governor Kathy Hochul is building on her record of addressing the pressing issues facing New Yorkers with disabilities. I’m proud to co-sponsor legislation giving people with disabilities a voice at the highest levels of state government. I’m grateful to Governor Hochul for her continued partnership on addressing issues impacting the disabilities community and to Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Senator James Skoufis, and Assemblymember Steck for their leadership.”

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