University of Pittsburgh
May 20, 2014

Pitt’s Seelman Named by President Obama to National Disability Council

Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH—KatherineKatherine D. Seelman D. Seelman, associate dean of disability programs in the University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences (SHRS), has been appointed as a member of the National Council on Disability (NCD) by President Barack Obama.

Seelman was part of the staff of the same independent federal agency in its formative period when it helped to enact the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990. In the intervening quarter-century, Seelman has gone from working for the NCD as a public policy research specialist to becoming one of its 15 appointed members who advise presidents, Congress, and policymakers at the federal, state, and local levels.

Seelman joins new appointee Royal P. Walker Jr. of the University of Southern Mississippi and current member Alice Wong of the University of California, San Francisco, as the only academicians on the Council. She is the only member of this NCD panel who worked for the agency dating back to the historic passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“I am honored to serve on the National Council on Disability,” Seelman, who is hearing impaired, said. “The NCD has a remarkable track record in the advancement of civil rights, with more yet to come. As a person with a disability and a teacher of future leaders here at the university and its communities, I look forward to advancing advocacy and research in support of full rights and social supports for all of our citizens and those outside of our borders.”

"We take great pride in the news that Katherine Seelman, one of our most capable and committed academic leaders, has been named to the National Council on Disability, an important and prestigious appointment," said Pitt Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg. "Professor Seelman is exceptionally qualified to serve in this capacity. She brings a wealth of experience, talents, and expertise that will be of immeasurable value to the NCD, just as they have proven to be invaluable to our University.”

Added SHRS Dean Cliff Brubaker, who helped to bring Seelman to Pitt in 2001: “Kate is a tremendous contributor not only to our school and to the entire university in an educational sense. She has also been a significant force in the disability community on campus and around Western Pennsylvania. This is the perfect role for her, providing her an opportunity to once again serve and make an impact on a national scale as well.”

Seelman began working for governmental agencies in 1986 at the state level in Massachusetts. She joined the NCD in 1989 and from there went on to serve under the Clinton Administration in various areas pertaining to disability. In 1993, she became the director for program development with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and in 1994 was named director of the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research under the U.S. Department of Education. She was one of just two U.S. representatives on the World Health Organization/World Bank international committee overseeing the first World Report on Disability.

She came to Pitt in 2001 to teach and lead in the Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology of SHRS. She has secondary appointments to the Center for Bioethics and Health Law, the Health Policy Institute, and the Graduate School of Public Health, and she serves as an advisor to the newly formed Students for Disability Advocacy.

In addition to the NCD appointment, among other memberships and honors, Seelman is a member of the Society for Disability Studies and the American Sociological Association. She serves on the advisory board at George Mason University’s Center for the Study of Chronic Illness and Disability along with UPMC, WQED-TV, and various other Western Pennsylvania boards, including as co-chair of the City-County Task Force on Disability and the Allegheny County Area Agency on Aging Advisory Council.