Dr. Susan Daniels, International Disability Rights Activist, Dies at age 62

October 31, 2011

Resolution Acknowledging

Susan M. Daniels, Ph. D

Whereas USICD owes its existence in part to founding member Susan M. Daniels, Ph.D who served as President of what was then United States International Council on Rehabilitation (USICR) and convened the International Women with Disabilities Leadership Forum

Whereas Susan lived more than six decades on this Earth and dedicated most of them to being an ardent leader in the disability rights advocacy movement, working tirelessly to remove systemic barriers for people with disabilities to live full and independent lives

Whereas the passion, energy, and commitment of Susan was instrumental in bringing about the Social Security “Ticket to Work” program, which has enabled more people with disabilities to enter the American workforce as employed citizens

Whereas Susan’s career included working with the Social Security Administration, Rehabilitation Services Administration, and the Administration on Developmental Disabilities, as well as speaking engagements in Europe and Asia on inclusion and dignity for people with disabilities

Whereas her long and distinguished career promoting equal opportunity for people with disabilities earned Susan the 2003 Betts Award from the American Association of Persons with Disabilities (AAPD) as well as recognition from Congress and the disability community at wide

Whereas, in the words of a colleague, “No one who knew her will ever forget her.  She had more than a life well-lived.  She set the highest bar for humanitarianism.”

Whereas, in the words of her husband John, Susan “lived a life filled with love received and given, a life having made a huge contribution to society.”

Therefore, be it resolved that the board of the United States International Council on Disabilities expresses its profoundly heartfelt respect and appreciation for Dr. Susan M. Daniels and the leadership she has provided to us all. 


DANIELS SUSAN M. DANIELS, Ph.D. International disability rights activist and leader, Susan M. Daniels, Ph.D., passed away peacefully on October 20th in Washington, DC. She was 62 years old, born in New Orleans, Louisiana, on October 24, 1948 to Harry James Daniels and Marie Ducote Daniels. She began her career as the youngest Chair of the Department of Rehabilitation Counseling in School of Allied Health Profession at Louisiana State University Medical Center in New Orleans. She went on to serve in three senior Federal positions: Associate Commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration in the Department of Education, Associate Commissioner of the Administration on Developmental Disabilities in the Department of Health and Human Services, and Deputy Commissioner for Disability and Income Security Programs at the Social Security Administration (SSA). She was appointed as SSA's Deputy by President Clinton to oversee programs serving over 11 million Americans with disabilities. Her work at SSA and her efforts on the 1999 Ticket to Work and Work Incentive Improvement Act- landmark legislation that supports workers with disabilities- are viewed as her greatest accomplishment. Dr. Daniels received the prestigious Henry B. Betts award (2004) of the Prince Charitable Trusts and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and played a key role in international forums in Africa, Europe and Asia. As principal of Daniels & Associates, LLC, she assured the continuance of her projects on policy, advocacy and electronic tools for people with disabilities. Of great importance to her legacy is her work with young college students and graduates with disabilities. Her commitment to these young professionals will continue through a non-profit Mentorship Fund created in her name. Dr. Daniels was an inspiration to people with and without disabilities around the world. She is survived by her husband, John Watson of Washington, DC, her sister and brother-in-law Mary and Bob Cantwell of Wilmington, NC, her brother Harry Daniels Jr. of New Orleans, LA and grandchildren, nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews. A Celebration of Life event is planned for December 4, 2011 from 2 to 6 p.m. at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. More information about the event and how to donate to the non-profit Mentorship Fund can be found at www.honoringsusanmariedaniels.com.

Published in The Washington Post on October 30, 2011