ANCOR stands with its peers in the national disability community as we mourn the loss of Andrés Gallegos, Chair of the National Council on Disability (NCD) and longtime disability civil rights advocate, who passed away late last week at the age of 62.
A giant in the U.S. disability community, Gallegos enjoyed a 14-year career in the U.S. Air Force before pursuing a law degree and becoming a civil rights attorney. His focus on the civil rights of people with disabilities was inspired in part from his own experience sustaining a spinal cord injury in a 1996 car accident.
Since then, Gallegos led a storied career using his advocacy to end discrimination against people with disabilities, especially in the health care sector, where his national framework to end health disparities became the nation’s go-to blueprint for addressing the social determinants of health. Gallegos would go on to be nominated to NCD by Senator Tammy Duckworth of his home state, Illinois; he began his tenure in 2018.
In his time as Chair ofNCD, Gallegos was a fierce advocate for addressing the dramatic disparities Puerto Ricans with disabilities experience relative to people living in the states. A Puertorriqueño in his heart, his leadership on this issue provided Congress and the administration a set of concrete recommendations for eliminating these inequities.
Notably, Gallegos was a friend and ally of the disability provider community. Until his appointment to NCD, he served as Chair of the Board of Directors for Chicago-based Access Living, a provider agency and advocacy organization run for and by people with disabilities. And, earlier this year, he spoke at ANCOR’s Annual Conference in Chicago on the health disparities experienced by people with I/DD resulting from the COVID-19 public health emergency.
On behalf of the entire ANCOR community, our thoughts are with the Gallegos family, including Andrés’ wife and two children, as well as with everyone whose life was positively impacted by Gallegos’ tireless advocacy.
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