2014 Diane Lipton Award for Outstanding Advocacy Winners Announced
Monday, February 17, 2014
Posted by: Denise Marshall
COPAA Board of Directors is delighted to announce this year’s winners of the
Diane Lipton Award for Outstanding Advocacy, which recognizes outstanding
achievement by members of the special education advocacy community.
Each year as part of the annual conference we honor the memory of COPAA
member Diane Lipton, a tireless advocate for children with disabilities for
over two decades. Diane began as a parent-advocate on behalf of her own
daughter, Chloe, who had been placed in a segregated school, separated from her
peers without disabilitiesby a chain link fence. Diane became an
attorney for the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF), where
she championed the civil rights of children with disabilities.
more about Diane and her accomplishments at the UC Berkeley's website
on the Disability Rights and Independent Living Movement.
Previous recipients of the Diane Lipton Award for Outstanding Advocacy have
included Wendy Byrnes (2006), Kathleen Boundy (2007), Judith Gran (2008), Ellen
Chambers (2009), Warren J. Sinsheimer (2010), Joseph Tulman (2011), Dorene J.
Philpot (2012) and Terrie Rymer (2013).
This year we have the great honor of announcing two winners, Leslie Seid
Margolis and Susan Tobin, both tireless advocates who are exceptionally
dedicated to the rights of children with disabilities.
Leslie Seid Margolis is a Managing Attorney for the Education Unit of
Maryland’s Protection and Advocacy agency, Maryland Disability Law Center
(MDLC). The effect she has had on children with disabilities and their families
has been multifaceted for her entire professional career. Her accomplishments
are extensive: Leslie served as co-counsel on Vaughn G. v. Mayor and City
Council of Baltimore, MDLC’s long-standing special education reform
litigation in the Baltimore City School District; she authored the United
States Supreme Court amicus curiae brief on behalf of national
disability organizations in Cedar Rapids Community School District v. Garret
F., which expanded the provision of related services for students with
disabilities nationwide and enabled students with medical needs to receive a
free appropriate public education; she testified before Congress on special
education statutes and regulations; she has engaged in education and public
awareness efforts as a speaker and has published many articles on educating
children with disabilities. Leslie takes a leadership role in policy issues at
the state and national levels, including the issue of restraint and seclusion
of children with disabilities in schools. She is involved in systemic work with
the Maryland State Department of Education as a member of various Task Forces
and Workgroups, where she was responsible for writing restraint and seclusion
regulations in Maryland.
Leslie generously shares her knowledge, skills, and passion with others. Her
commitment to the educational rights of children with disabilities is
irrefutable. Her work not only assists Maryland residents, but also continues
to have a nationwide impact. She epitomizes someone who is ‘exceptionally
dedicated to the rights of children with disabilities,’ as is the intent of the
Diane Lipton Award for Outstanding Advocacy.
Susan Tobin recently completed more than 30 years of service with
Disability Rights Ohio, Ohio’s Protection and Advocacy organization where she
served as Chief Legal Counsel. Although it would be impossible to catalogue all
of Susan’s contributions to the disability community over the years she served,
her accomplishments include: serving as lead counsel in the class action suit Doe
v. State of Ohio,which impacted state funding for special education and
improved state compliance with federal law; serving as lead counsel in a case
in which the state of Ohio was enjoined from implementing regulations that
would conflict with Medicaid requirements regarding medical services for
children with autism; and traveling all over her state for many years,
presenting on disability related topics. Most recently, Susan spearheaded a
statewide effort to curb the use of restraint and seclusion in public schools,
which resulted in the promulgation of regulations to protect students. Susan
has also been involved in efforts to change the due process hearing system in
Ohio so as to level the playing field for parents.
Susan has dedicated her entire life to improving the lives of people with
disabilities. She commands respect from people on both sides of the table. She
is a ferocious advocate and yet maintains a degree of professionalism rarely
seen. She has been a valued member of the disability community and has improved
the lives of many who don’t even know her name.
join us in congratulating Susan and Leslie. The Diane Lipton Award will
be given at the 16th Annual COPAA Conference Saturday Awards Luncheon on March
8, 2014 at the Baltimore Waterfront Marriott.