Disability Rights California announces selection of Andrew J. Imparato as new Executive Director

Press Release

Sacramento, CA - The Board of Directors of Disability Rights California (DRC) is delighted to announce the selection of nationally-recognized disability rights attorney Andrew J. Imparato to serve as the new Executive Director of DRC beginning February 3, 2020. Imparato will succeed Catherine Blakemore, who is retiring after a long and successful career at the helm of DRC.

“For more than 40 years, DRC has worked to advance the rights of Californians with disabilities. During this time, DRC has grown into the largest disability rights organization in the nation. My colleagues on the Board and I are so grateful for Catherine’s extraordinary leadership of DRC, and we are thrilled to have selected a leader with the experience and track record of Andy Imparato as the person who will lead DRC into the future,” said Charles Ehrlich, the Chair of the DRC Board of Directors.

“I am honored and humbled with this opportunity to return to my home state of California and work with the talented staff and Board of Disability Rights California,” said Imparato. “On July 26, 2020 our country celebrates the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. DRC is well-positioned to build on this legacy and define a future for disability rights advocacy that extends the reach and impact of the disability rights movement to populations and places in California that have yet to realize equity, justice, and true equality of opportunity.  California has been a global leader in disability rights for decades, and I am excited to cultivate and collaborate with diverse leaders across the State who are ready to take the disability movement to another level in California and inspire similar leadership across the United States and globally.”

Imparato joins DRC after a high impact 26-year career in Washington, DC working inside and outside government in significant leadership positions, including 17 years as the chief executive of two national disability organizations, the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) and the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD).  Imparato’s experience also includes serving as Senior Counsel and Disability Policy Director for Chairman Tom Harkin on the US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions; President and CEO of the American Association of People with Disabilities; General Counsel and Director of Policy for the National Council on Disability; and as an attorney at the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. He graduated with distinction from Stanford Law School in 1990 and was a summa cum laude graduate of Yale College.  He grew up in Los Angeles California, and is married to historian Elizabeth M. Nix, Ph.D. Their two sons, Gareth and Nicholas, both live in Southern California. Read Imparato’s full bio below.

Andy’s commitment to promoting a diverse and inclusive world is highly regarded. As Claudia Gordon, an Obama appointee and disability rights attorney noted, "Andy Imparato has been a key mentor for me and so many diverse leaders in DC. I appreciate his ability to recognize and cultivate talent, achieve results, build creative coalitions, and stay true to his core values. I and many others will miss him in DC and I am confident that folks in California will enjoy and benefit from his skilled leadership in this new role."

Catherine Blakemore, DRC’s outgoing Executive Director, said, “It has been an extraordinary privilege to serve as DRC’s leader for more than 25 years. I am extraordinarily proud of our many accomplishments, made possible because of our talented staff and their commitment to creating a more just and inclusive world.  DRC is an incredibly strong and effective organization, and I know that with Andy Imparato’s leadership, DRC will continue to achieve great outcomes for Californians with disabilities in the decades ahead.”

Additional Documents

Andrew J. Imparato Bio (pdf)
Andrew J. Imparato Bio (rtf)



Disability Rights California (DRC) - Is the agency designated under federal law to protect and advocate for the rights of Californians with disabilities. The mission of DRC is to advance the rights, dignity, equal opportunities, and choices for all people with disabilities. For more information visit: https://www.disabilityrightsca.org/