Director, Center for Workforce Development
Curtis Richards is a nationally recognized leader in the disability community. He served the last three years of the Clinton Administration as Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services in the U.S. Department of Education. In that capacity, Richards administered more than $10 billion of national programs in special education, disability research and vocational rehabilitation for youth and adults with disabilities.
Since leaving government, Richards has joined the Institute for Educational Leadership as a Senior Policy Fellow dedicated to the National Collaborative on Workforce & Disability for Youth. Richards also formed his own public policy consulting and lobbying business, known as The Advocrat Group, with an emphasis on issues of disability, education, employment and health care.
Before trekking to Washington, Richards was Chief Consultant to the California State Assembly's Budget Committee where he guided strategy for legislative discussion, modification and adoption of a state-spending plan. As he did for several years, Richards held specific budget responsibilities for key programs and department serving people with disabilities, including special education, vocational rehabilitation, aging & long term care, mental health, and developmental services. And, from 1991 to 1995, Richards served as an Assistant Director for Consumer Affairs in the California Department of Rehabilitation.
Richards also has an extensive background in postsecondary education. He served as Consultant to a California State Assembly committee on higher education from 1985 to 1991, and, before that, lobbied for California State University students for five years.
Richards has spoken extensively on disability issues throughout the country on a wide range of topics including the disability civil rights movement, the Americans with Disabilities Act, education of disabled youth and adults, and disability and employment. And, a freelance writer, he has a number of magazine, journal and newsletter articles in his portfolio, many addressing the same subjects.
Richards has been honored for his work in the disability field. Among his numerous awards are: a 2000 Certificate of Appreciation from the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, a 1999 Disability Rights Activist Award from the California Foundation of Independent Living Centers, and the 1997 Lanterman Award from the California Association of Postsecondary Education and the Disabled.
Richards has been visually impaired since he was a toddler.
Richards is still pursuing a Master's Degree in Government from California State University, Sacramento and holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Government-Journalism from the same institution.