2015 Annual Gala Honorees
October 15, 2015
2015 Gala Honorees
Senator Kelly Ayotte
Dole-Harkin Award Recipient
Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) has been a longtime advocate for people with disabilities, demonstrated by her legislative actions and leadership, including support of the U.S. ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), joining Senators Dole, Harkin, Kirk, and McCain. She’s demonstrated continued adherence to the tenets of the historic Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), particularly relevant in this 25th anniversary year, and initiated legislation to benefit all persons with disabilities, including this years’ TIME Act (Transitioning to Integrated and Meaningful Employment), ending the practice of paying workers with disabilities subminimum wages. The TIME Act further ensures workers with disabilities are treated equally and do not have to work in an environment where their wages and expectations are lower than those of workers without disabilities. Senator Ayotte has been a vocal supporter of the CRPD and strong leader on behalf of all persons with disabilities. USICD is honored to present the 2015 Dole-Harkin Award to Senator Ayotte.
Kalle Könkkölä of Finland
International Advocate Award Recipient
Kalle Könkkölä was a member the Finnish Parliament from 1983-1987, where he advocated to make trains accessible in Finland; now, fifteen years later, we witness the results of his advocacy and leadership, with accessible trains in Finland. Kalle, who has been physically disabled since birth, works in the Kynnys association, which campaigns for greater rights and accessibility for people with disabilities. Kalle was the chairperson and then director of Threshold (the Finnish equivalent to an Independent Living Center). Currently, he is Executive Officer of Disabled Peoples' International (DPI) and Vice-President of the Finnish Disability Forum in Finland. Kalle is also Chair of the Abilis Foundation of Finland, which funds disabled peoples organizations in developing countries. USICD is honored to recognize Kalle Könkkölä as this year’s International Advocate Award recipient.