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Vermonter Receives Advocacy Award At National Conference

August 7, 2015

The executive director of Disability Rights Vermont, Vermont’s protection and advocacy system, was honored at a national civil rights conference recently.

Ed Paquin is the recipient of the National Council on Independent Living Region 1 Advocacy Award for his dedication to promoting the rights of people with disabilities and advancing the independent living movement in New England (which comprises NCIL’s Region I). The award was presented on July 29 at a banquet in Washington, D.C.

Paquin said, “It was a real surprise and an honor to receive the NCIL Region I Advocacy Award. It has given me an opportunity to step back and think about how lucky I am to be able to work with some of the best people and organizations around to make the world a better place.”

He added, “It was a joy to be at the NCIL Conference celebrating the ADA surrounded by hundreds of people whose very presence was proof that disability is a foolish reason for any sort of discrimination — they were sharp, good-willed, motivated, funny and ABLE! We don’t get this work done alone and when I feel frustrated that I am not making the impact I should, I will think about this award and realize that I am a part of something truly greater than the sum of its parts!”

Kim Brittenham, the Vermont Center for Independent Living’s civil rights manager, said she nominated Paquin for the award because he is the type of man she would like her sons to become. “Ed is a tireless, yet graceful, warrior for civil rights who has put his shoulder to improving lives of people with disabilities no matter what role he has filled.”

Paquin is a well-known leader in the Green Mountain State. He served six terms in the Vermont House of Representatives. A longtime board member of the Vermont Center for Independent Living (where he has served as both president and treasurer), he is also president of the Vermont Coalition for Disability Rights.

Sarah Launderville is executive director of VCIL and represents New England on the NCIL Board. She said, “I was so excited to present this award to Ed. He is so humble and it was fun to see the surprise in his face that he was being honored. It was particularly special because we were celebrating the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act and there were so many young people at the conference who are motivated by what he has helped create here in Vermont.”

She added, “Ed always makes time to listen, think about how to improve a situation and advocate against injustice. He is a wonderful man and champion of disability rights.”