Jim Ward

director of disability rights, American Way Foundation | executive director ADA Watch and Wired on Wheels

Jim began his advocacy journey well over forty years ago with experience in disability, mental health, advocacy, and electoral politics. He has served as Director of Public policy at the National Association of Protection and Advocacy Systems and is the Founder and President of ADA Watch and the National Coalition for Disability Rights (NCDR). Jim was instrumental in the “The Road To Freedom: Keeping the Promise of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)”, a yearlong, cross-country bus tour and traveling exhibit promoting the civil rights of people with disabilities and advocating for passage of the ADA Restoration Act of 2007.

People for the American Way Foundation is launching an initiative to fight for the civil rights of people with disabilities.

The group has taken on Jim Ward as director of disability rights. He will continue as executive director of two disability rights projects, ADA Watch and Wired on Wheels, but will operate them as projects of the foundation.

“All Americans must continue to understand that disability rights are fundamental civil rights,” said Ralph G. Neas, president of People for the American Way Foundation.

Neas said the association with Ward and the two projects represents People’s “commitment to civil rights and disability rights” and the group’s “principal mission of building a national progressive movement.”

The foundation does not lobby. But People for the American Way will be forming the ADA Action Fund, an advocacy group, to lobby Congress and organize voters.

Neas is a Republican-turned-Democrat who used to head the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights. He fought for the Americans With Disabilities Act and has a personal interest in disability rights — he almost died from a paralyzing disease, Guillain-Barre syndrome, 20 years ago but recovered fully.

Enron Lobbyist Jumps Ship Enron’s Washington lobby shop closed last week, as our sources said it would.

Mark Palmer, spokesman for the beleaguered company in Houston, said Enron’s pipeline and utility regulatory work will be handled on a contract basis in Washington.

The buzz now is that Linda Robertson, who had been Enron’s vice president for federal government affairs, will be heading to Dickstein Shapiro Morin & Oshinsky, where she worked when it was known as Dickstein, Shapiro & Morin.

Robertson had joined Enron in the fall of 2000 after serving as assistant treasury secretary for legislative affairs and public liaison in the Clinton administration. Earlier, she was tax counsel for Rep. James R. Jones (D-Okla.) and worked for the House Ways and Means Committee. After leaving the Hill, she also worked at Powell, Goldstein, Frazer & Murphy.

From Labor to Health Christopher Bowlin, deputy assistant secretary for congressional and intergovernmental affairs at the Labor Department, has been named senior vice president for federal and public affairs at the Health Insurance Association of America. Earlier, he was a staff member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee.

The Father — and Son — Rises Former representative Larry LaRocco (D-Idaho) has joined FH/GPC, the government relations subsidiary of Fleishman-Hillard Inc., as vice chairman. His son, Matthew LaRocco, also signs on as a vice president.

They’re bringing along clients from their public affairs firm, LaRocco & Associates, including MetLife and the American Bankers Association. Matthew LaRocco spent three years in the Clinton administration as special assistant to Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt.

Comings and Goings Former U.S. ambassador to Portugal Elizabeth Frawley Bagley joined Manatt, Phelps & Phillips and Manatt Jones Global Strategies last week. She is counsel at the law firm and senior managing director of the consulting shop.

In the other direction . . . Robert J. Kabel has left Manatt, Phelps and joined Baker & Daniels as a partner specializing in insurance and financial services. He also joined the law firm’s lobbying subsidiary, Sagamore Associates as a senior vice president. Earlier, Kabel was a special assistant for legislative affairs on the Senate side for President Ronald Reagan and legislative director for Sen. Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.).

Also signing up at Sagamore is Craig Piercy, former lobbyist for Wayne State University and earlier chief of staff for Rep. Joe Knollenberg (R-Mich.).

Ex-Texaco Lobbyists Move Around Former Texaco lobbyist Jim Groninger has joined the Natural Gas Supply Association as director of government relations. He has also worked for then-Rep. Jim Slattery (D-Kan.).

In other ex-Texaco lobbying news since the Chevron-Texaco merger last fall: It’s a reunion of sorts for James C. Pruitt, former vice president for government relations for Texaco and an aide to Rep. Robert Livingston (R-La.). He has joined The Livingston Group lobby shop. Livingston called him “an original member of the Livingston team.”

New Arrivals Jennifer Coken, a Washington consultant and former deputy director of the Congressional Hunger Center, has joined the Americans for National Parks Campaign, a relatively new coalition of nonprofits, businesses and trade associations, as director. Her job will be to work with opinion and civic leaders and the public to promote increased funding for the national parks. The campaign, launched by the National Parks and Conservation Association, has received a grant of $900,000 from the Pew Charitable Trusts, the first of what the group hopes is a two-part grant, Coken said.

Sarah J. Dufendach, a longtime aide of Democratic Whip David Bonior (D-Mich.), joined the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation as chief operating officer.