Susan DoohaSusan Dooha was the executive director of the Center for Independence of the Disabled, NY (CIDNY) for nearly 20 years, retiring in July 2021. During her tenure at CIDNY she helped to increase the center’s budget from $1 million to $8 million, greatly expanding the services provided to people with disabilities throughout New York City.

Susan was born into a family of strong, progressive advocates. Her mother was president of the City Council in Detroit for 32 years, fighting for the rights of women, welfare recipients and people with disabilities, and against fought against racism and police violence.

Susan earned her law degree from Yeshiva University in 1990 and has served in various advocacy roles throughout her career. Before joining CIDNY, she spent eight years as director of health policy at Gay Men’s Health Crisis, advocating on behalf of the more than 10,000 low-income men, women and children they served.

At CIDNY, Susan used statistical research as a tool to increase outreach and services provided to diverse communities, growing participation from fewer than 5,000 to 100,000 individuals in 2021, reflecting the racial/ethnic composition of New York City. Susan has ensured CIDNY’s workforce mirrors the diversity of the city’s population; 55 percent of the staff are bilingual, speaking a total of 24 languages.

Under Susan’s leadership, CIDNY was involved in 11 civil rights lawsuits to enforce the rights of people with disabilities in the areas of emergency preparedness, voting accessibility, curb cuts, accessible subways, and accessible public accommodations such as homeless shelters and libraries. These actions resulted in significant improvements, including a full-scale emergency evacuation plan, significant progress in voting accessibility, the creation of accessible shelters, and the adoption of a wide-sweeping curb cut plan for every intersection in the city.

Susan has served in many leadership and mentor roles throughout her career, including chair of the New York Association on Independent Living; a national trainer with Independent Living Research Utilization; and a founding member of Medicaid Matters NY and New Yorkers for Accessible Health Coverage.

Susan has been extraordinarily successful at bringing disability rights issues to the media. She instituted a media campaign that resulted in more than 200 appearances by CIDNY in major national, state and local news outlets in 2021 alone.

Susan has raised the profile of the disability community in New York City and across the state with her outspoken advocacy, her presence as a spokesperson on a wide range of issues and her principled participation in legal actions to improve accessibility to people with disabilities.