TASH’s Board of Directors Announces New Executive Director

We are pleased to announce that Dr. Ruthie-Marie Beckwith has been selected as the TASH Executive Director.

Ruthie-Marie is best known for her visionary leadership in the evolution of self-advocacy in the disability rights movement. She was the Founding Advisor and CEO of People First of Tennessee, Inc., a grassroots, non-profit, advocacy organization run by individuals with disabilities. The organization provides a forum for individuals with disabilities to work together to educate, advocate, and address issues that affect their quality of life and empowered participation as citizens in their community. People First has been effective developing the culture and language of self-advocacy, promoting community living and closing institutions, and — most importantly — assisting youth and adults with disabilities to become empowered. These concepts have been codified, replicated in other states, and provided the template for a national self-advocacy organization.

Ruthie-Marie’s personal and professional experience as an advocate and professional provides a unique match for TASH commitment to equity, opportunity, and inclusion. She has been a consultant, researcher, educator, expert witness/subject matter expert on civil and human rights, special education, Home and Community-Based Waiver eligibility and services, the Olmstead decision. Her experience working with chapters and within a membership organization is invaluable.

Among the talented and experienced applicants for the Executive Director position, Ruthie-Marie stood out as an individual who embodied TASH values. She provided a vision for an evolving role for TASH in a changing socio-cultural, political landscape with technologies and outlooks affecting opportunities and challenges for individuals with disabilities. Her insightfulness on the strengths of the diverse constituencies within the TASH membership: advocates, families, researchers, educators and other academicians, community living providers, policymakers, and other professionals supports TASH’s progressive leadership in disability and social justice.

The TASH Board, members and allies look forward to working with Ruthie-Marie.

In commemoration, TASH established the Barbara R. Trader Leadership Award given in recognition of a TASH member contributing to the success and growth of the organization. Barb Trader was the 2015 inaugural recipient.

Thank you, Barb! We wish you success and joy in your next “recalibration.”

Finally, I want to thank the Search Committee — lead by Ruby Moore and Kathy Fallon — for their steadfast commitment in this effort.

On Behalf of the TASH Board of Directors,

Ralph W. Edwards, President