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Sandra Swift Parrino
Keynote

Sandra Swift Parrino pictured with George W. Bush at the signing of the ADA in 1990.
Sandra Swift Parrino shown smiling.

Sandra Swift Parrino is CEO of The Western Strategy Group, a government affairs, public policy and business investment consulting firm with offices in New York and Washington, D.C. 

 

Mrs. Parrino began her career in public relations and government affairs when she headed up the staff of Tom Carroll Associates  (TCA), a public relations and advertising firm in New York City.  TCA clients included Governor Nelson Rockefeller, Senator Kenneth Keating, the NYS Republican State Committee, the NYS Sports Facilities, the Winter Olympic Trials and NYS Republican Conventions.  In addition to fundraising through telethons, banquets, and political dinners, her responsibilities included the organization and planning of State and Presidential Conventions and she participated in two successful gubernatorial campaigns.  

 

In recognition of the important contributions that she had made over the years to the issues of disability and rehabilitation in the United States as well as in Europe, Russia and Asia, Ms. Parrino was appointed to the Chairmanship of the National Council on Disability, an independent federal agency of the United States.  She was the driving force behind the creation of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) in connection with which she led the effort in writing and enactment of the Act.  On July 26, 1990 Ms. Parrino was present on the podium at the White House Ceremony when President George Bush signed the Act into law. This groundbreaking legislation guarantees people with disabilities the same civil rights protections already offered to minorities in the 1964 Civil Rights Act. 

 

As a result of her endeavors, the National Council issued the first national disability policy statement in 1984 called “A National Policy for Persons with Disabilities”. This report was developed by the Council in order to provide policy advice requested by the Executive Branch and Congress and it was drafted in consultation with more than two thousand members of the disability community.  Thereafter, another important achievement was the first national survey of attitudes and experiences of Americans with disabilities in conjunction with Louis Harris and Associates. In  1988  the  Council issued a major report to the Congress and the President entitled “Toward Independence” which outlined key components of a comprehensive civil rights law protecting people with disabilities.  This has been hailed as one of the most significant policy documents ever issued. Ms. Parrino was also instrumental in influencing Congress to authorize and appropriate funds to create a nationwide Disability Prevention Program at the Centers for Disease Control in 1988. She later led her Agency in writing the Disabilities Prevention Act of 1991  (Silvio O. Conte Disabilities Act).

Christopher Bove

Presenter

Christopher Bove shown smiling wearing a blue shirt

Christopher Bove is a lifelong Rhode Islander hailing from Middletown. He served as president of URI’s College Democrats and College Democrats of Rhode Island, secretary of the URI ACLU, and secretary of the Middletown Democratic Town Committee. He brought his advocacy work to Washington, D.C. in 2023 for the National Federation of the Blind of Rhode Island, has served as a congressional intern for U.S. Rep. David Cicilline and U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, and as an outreach and communications intern for former Gov. Gina Raimondo. He recently received the A. Robert Rainville Award for Student Leadership at URI in 2023. Christopher is an OSCIL board of directors member, a Catherine T. Murray Memorial scholarship winner, and a proud URI alumni. He is passionate about public transit, housing, and Taylor Swift.

Panelists

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