Disability Rights Ohio Board of Directors elects five new members

Posted Date: December 11th, 2013 | Categories: Social Security Disability

On Tuesday, April 9, the Disability Rights Ohio Board of Directors elected five new members who have a wide variety of backgrounds and expertise, including civil rights law, program administration, and disability-related consumer advocacy. They will serve four-year terms, beginning immediately, and join Board President Sue Willis, Secretary Angela Kurtz and members-at-large M. Vanessa Eubanks and Linda Wetters.

“We are excited to welcome these five individuals to the Disability Rights Ohio Board of Directors,” says Willis. “Their breadth of experience and knowledge will prove vitally important as we move forward in our mission to advocate for the human, civil, and legal rights of people with disabilities in Ohio.”

New Board Member Bios:

Ruth Colker is a Distinguished University Professor and the Heck Faust Memorial Chair in Constitutional Law at the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. She comes to the board with nearly 30 years of experience in civil rights and disability law, including at the United States Department of Justice. She has also represented numerous individuals through her pro bono work and with the American Civil Liberties Union. She was involved with the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990.

Jeffrey Folkerth is an attorney who retired from Ohio Legal Rights Service (the predecessor to Disability Rights Ohio) after 25 years, first as litigation coordinator and then as administrative services director. As an independent contractor for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), he assisted in the review of eight different Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness (PAIMI) programs and helped to review PAIMI annual reports for three years. He currently volunteers as a court appointed special advocate for abused and neglected children in Franklin County.

Peter Keiser retired in 2012 after 40 years in advocacy and social work, most recently as the advocacy coordinator at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. He has served on numerous disability-related Boards and committees, including United Cerebral Palsy of Greater Cincinnati, United Cerebral Palsy Associations Inc., the Resident Home Corporation, the Inclusion Network of the Mayerson Foundation, Hamilton County Developmental Disability Services, and the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council, where he was chair.

Patrick Risser has been an advocate for people with disabilities for more than 20 years and currently works as a consultant for projects related to mental health. He is a member of Disability Rights Ohio’s PAIMI advisory council, a board member and past president of the National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy, and chair of the Ohio Mental Health Planning Council. He also previously served on the Ohio Legal Rights Service Commission.

Donzel Shepherd has been living with quadriplegia for 25 years and has turned his personal frustration with navigating the Medicaid and Social Security Administration systems into a desire to help others successfully apply for the help they need. He is a current member of the Consumer Advisory Council and the Greater Cleveland Partnership.


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