Center for Independence of the Disabled, New York Announces Retirement of Executive Director Susan M. Dooha and the Appointment of Dr. Sharon M. McLennon-Wier as CIDNY’s New Executive Director
New York, NY, July 06, 2021 – The Center for Independence of the Disabled, New York (CIDNY) announced that Susan M. Dooha, J.D., is stepping down after 19 years as CIDNY’s Executive Director. It announced that Sharon M. McLennon-Wier, Ph.D., has been appointed as CIDNY’s new Executive Director.
Ms. Dooha became CIDNY’s Executive Director in 2002. Together with the Board, staff, grassroots leaders, and allies, she built a strong, racially/ethnically diverse disability-led organization that is recognized as a leading advocate in New York. CIDNY’s mission is to ensure full integration, independence, and equal opportunity for all people with disabilities by removing barriers to the social, economic, cultural, and civic life of the community. With offices in Manhattan and Queens, CIDNY employs more than 80 people, and annually serves more than 40,000 New Yorkers with disabilities, many with multiple disabilities, in all five boroughs of New York City. Some of CIDNY’s successes during Ms. Dooha’s tenure include:
- Bringing about suits to enforce disability civil and human rights laws which resulted in 11 cases related to emergency preparedness, curb cuts, library access, homeless shelters, subway access, and voting access.
- Helping people with disabilities to achieve a key tenet of disability rights to live in the community and move home from institutions, also saving taxpayers tens of millions of dollars.
- Creating a robust support system which helps the disabled address hunger, housing, health care, transportation, and education.
- Building CIDNY’s annual budget eight-fold.
- Introducing use of statistical research as a tool in education and outreach campaigns, the design of programs, legislative initiatives, and litigation.
- Addressing disparities between people with disabilities and those with no disability as well as inequities based on race/ethnicity.
- Diversifying CIDNY staff to mirror the diversity of New York. 80% are Black, Latino/a/x, and Asian Americans. 55% are bilingual, with staff capability in 24 languages. CIDNY staff members are disabled and experts in their fields.
- Educating the public through thousands of appearances in major media outlets.
“After nearly 20 years, I am stepping down as CIDNY’s Executive Director. I am proud to have worked with CIDNY’s Board, staff, volunteers, grassroots advocates, allies, and people with disabilities in our community,” said Susan Dooha. “Together we made New York a better place to live for people with disabilities. The work is unfinished and will remain so as long as people with disabilities are discriminated against, segregated, and experience inequities in education, employment, income, health, transportation, civic participation, and housing. I am confident that CIDNY’s new Executive Director will open new opportunities for CIDNY and the people we serve. I look forward with enthusiasm to her leadership.”
Martin Eichel, who serves as Chair of CIDNY’s Board, said “It has been my distinct pleasure to work with Susan for the past two decades. Her relentless pursuit of equality for people with disabilities has improved the lives of so many New Yorkers, including those without disabilities. I thank her for her tireless dedication, and look forward with great confidence to the next stage of the organization’s growth under Dr. Sharon McLennon-Wier’s leadership.”
Dr. Sharon M. McLennon-Wier has extensive professional expertise in the field of disabilities and was chosen after a national search. She is a Black woman who is totally blind and has more than twenty-five years of experience in academia, non-profits, and disability advocacy. She previously served as the Director of Disability Services at Berkeley College and District Manager of the Harlem Office for the New York State Commission for the Blind. She earned a Ph.D. degree in Counseling Psychology from Seton Hall University, a master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from Hunter College, a U.S. Law and Methodology Certificate from New York University, and a bachelor’s degree in Biology from Syracuse University. She is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor, a New York State Licensed Mental Health Counselor, and an adjunct professor.
“I’m delighted to be joining CIDNY and look forward to working with our staff and our Board to advance the goals of independence, equality, and equity for people with disabilities. I want to thank Susan Dooha for building a strong organization. I look forward to advancing the mission of CIDNY”, said Dr. McLennon-Wier.
About Center for Independence of the Disabled, New York (CIDNY):
The Center for Independence of the Disabled in New York is a leading advocate for people with disabilities in New York City. It was founded in 1978 to ensure full integration, independence, and equal opportunity for all people with disabilities by removing barriers to the social, economic, cultural, and civic life of the community. For more information, visit www.cidny.org.