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Devin D. Thorpe
Devin Thorpe

Women With Disabilities Face Avoidable Challenges, This Nonprofit Seeks To Help

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

“It’s a tough fact of life that women with disabilities face challenges many of us cannot even imagine. But the tragedy is that many of their most difficult challenges could be avoided,” says Richard Ellenson, CEO of the Cerebral Palsy Foundation.

Ellenson elaborates, “Women with cerebral palsy and other physical disabilities receive basic healthcare services that are widely and persistently inadequate, inconsistent, and substandard. In fact, many physically disabled women experience life-threatening crises, and endure life-draining experiences, directly related to deficient medical care. All women deserve recognition and delivery of optimal healthcare; for women with disabilities, efforts aimed at improving their particular requirements for optimal healthcare delivery is urgently needed, deserved, and long overdue.”

To address this crisis, the Cerebral Palsy Foundation has launched its “Transforming Healthcare for Women with Disabilities” initiative.

Ellenson explains, “CPF, with the extraordinary support of 100 Women in Hedge Funds, has put together an innovative collaboration with four leading medical institutions – Columbia, UCLA, Harvard, and Northwestern – to create an organic team approach to addressing this issue.”

“We will spend our first year developing a model, and our second putting that model in place in a beta test. We will then spend that second year refining and evolving our approaches. Eventually, all the institutions will implement these new protocols and begin to share the work nationwide,” he adds.

Ellenson shared his vision for the future that will result from the current effort, “The success of this project will empower women with cerebral palsy to expect the same standard of healthcare received by us all. And give physicians the knowledge to finally deliver it. While women with cerebral palsy are the focus of this project, the outcomes will benefit many more women with physical disabilities including stroke, traumatic brain injury, multiple sclerosis.”

On Tuesday, September 15, 2015 at noon Eastern, Ellenson will join me for a live discussion about the new initiative, including further discussion of the problems facing women with disabilities and what he hopes CPF can do to alleviate those problems. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

More about the Cerebral Palsy Foundation:

Twitter: @yourcpf

The Cerebral Palsy Foundation is a 60 year old organization whose Chairman Emeritus is Paul A. Volcker. Our mission is to transform lives for people with cerebral palsy today – through research innovation and collaboration.

Our collaborative networks bring together great thinkers in science, research, and technology who work actively with us developing solutions to the most pressing problems faced by people with cerebral palsy and related disabilities.

CPF plays an instrumental role in a wide variety of initiatives – from improving basic healthcare to adapting new technologies which provide advanced access for gaming and therapies, to funding translational research and clinical application which allow individuals to leverages the enormous advances being made in the sciences.

The Cerebral Palsy Foundation is guided by a deep commitment to delivering innovations that can change lives today. We are driven not only by vision, but by experience. More than half of our Board members have children or family members with CP, or have the condition.

Richard Ellenson with his son Tom

Richard Ellenson with his son Tom

Ellenson’s bio:

Richard Ellenson brings enormous vision and energy to his role as CEO of the Cerebral Palsy Foundation. In his first year there, he has launched major initiatives that have helped evolve the Foundation and ready it for significant growth in its work and profile.

Prior to leading CPF, Richard was founder and CEO of two assistive technology companies (Blink Twice and Panther Technologies) which helped transform and reimagine the field of assistive technology. Said Alan Brightman, Founder of Apple AAPL +0.86% Computer’s Worldwide Disability Solutions Group and now Vice President for Global Accessibility at Yahoo YHOO +3.23%, “The mass market mentality Richard Ellenson brought to this market was unprecedented in the history of assistive technology.”

Prior to this work, he was an advertising executive who created memorable campaigns for brands such as American Express AXP +1.32% and Remy Martin, and who penned the classic line, “It’s Not TV. It’s HBO.”

Richard has worked tirelessly to create awareness about people with disabilities and to share stories about their vibrant lives. He and his son have been featured as ABC World News People of the Year, on CNBC’s Squawk Box , in a New York Times Sunday Magazine cover story, and as a feature on ESPN’s E:60.

Richard has been honored with many awards in the field, has served on several Advisory Councils and has also been the recipient of two NIH grants. Richard is a graduate of Cornell and holds an MBA from The Wharton School. He lives in New York City with his wife Lora, Director of Gynecologic Pathology at New York Presbyterian Hospital-Cornell, and with his two very special children, Thomas and Taite.

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