The Honorable Tony Coelho
Congressman (Former), Author of American's with Disability Act
Candlelight Gala
November 21, 2015
6:00 P.M.
The Fairmont Hotel, San Francisco 

Celebrate Tony Coelho!

Tony Coelho, a former United States congressman from the Central Valley and primary sponsor and author of the American's with Disabilities Act, will be honored with the Innovation Award at our 2015 Candlelight Gala on Saturday, November 21st.

A champion in the epilepsy community, Tony has dedicated his life to his "ministry" in helping to advance the lives of people with disabilities.  We honor Tony for providing a voice to patients in our epilepsy community by prohibiting discrimination based on disability.

Tony Coelho was born in rural Los Banos, CA and grew up working on his family's dairy farm. As a teenager, Tony had an accident on the farm that caused him to black out sporadically for the rest of his life. Coelho attended Loyola University of Los Angeles (currently Loyola Maramount University) with the intent to attend law school. His plans changed after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, deciding that the priesthood would express Kennedy's vision of public service. On Tony's 22nd birthday,
he learned that his blackouts were caused by epilepsy. At the time, those with epilepsy were barred from the priesthood.*

After suffering from bouts of depression, Coelho worked briefly for comedian Bob Hope, who encouraged him to pursue a career in politics which he did first as a staffer and then as a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives.  Tony's work has contributed to significant milestones: 
  • Primary author and sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-the most important piece of civil rights legislation in the last 30 years.
  • Advocating for the ratification of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
  • Pushing the federal government to establish the Office of Disability Employment Policy at the U.S. Department of Labor to strengthening Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
  • Served in senior positions on the Agriculture, Interior, and Administration Committees during his ten years in the House of Representatives.*
"The Americans with Disabilities Act provides a clear, comprehensive national mandate for the elimination of discrimination against individuals with disabilities." Tony stressed in 1989. "My epilepsy is what makes me tick. Discriminatory attitudes hold that you can't employ someone with epilepsy because they may have a seizure on the job, when today the overwhelming majority of people with epilepsy have their physical conditions under control through medication."
Tony was instrumental in removing barriers for
Tony Coelho
Life Achievement Award
those with disabilities: in the workplace, transportation and public accommodations, communications, and governmental activities. 

After leaving Congress, Tony 
served as a Managing Director and President and CEO of Wertheim Schroder Investment Services, an  investment-banking firm in New York. He formed ETC w/TCI, an education and training technology company in Washington, D.C., where he served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer until 1997. 

President Bill Clinton appointed Tony to serve as
Chairman of the President's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities, a position he held from 1994 to 2001. He also served as Vice Chair of the National Task Force on Employment of Adults with Disabilities. In 1998, President Clinton appointed Tony as the United States Commissioner General at the World Expo in Portugal and appointed him as Co-Chair to the U.S. Census Monitoring Board, a position he held until his appointment as general chairman of the 2000 presidential campaign of Vice President Al Gore. In 1999, Tony was appointed to the Presidential Commission on the Roles and Capabilities of the United States Intelligence Community.

Six years ago Tony Coelho was named as Chairperson for the Partnership to Improve Patient Care (PIPC). In this capacity,  Tony continues to work to amplify the voice of patients, including people with disabilities, racial and ethnic communities and the elderly, among others.*
*Excerpted from LMU| School of Education: " The Honorable Tony Coelho"
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