The Honorable Tony Coelho

Author of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

Tony Coelho

Tony Coelho is a former United States congressman from California and primary author and sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act widely recognized as the most important piece of civil rights legislation in the last 30 years. Mr. Coelho was elected to Congress in 1978 and served for six terms until 1989. He served on the Agriculture, Interior, Veterans Affairs, and Administration Committees during his tenure, specializing in disability rights. In 1986, Mr. Coelho was elected House Majority Whip.

President Bill Clinton appointed Mr. Coelho to serve as Chairman of the President’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities, a position he held from 1994 to 2001. He also served as Vice Chair of the National Task Force on Employment of Adults with Disabilities. In 1998, President Clinton appointed Mr. Coelho as the United States Commissioner General at the 1998 World Expo in Portugal. President Clinton also appointed him as Co-Chair to the U.S. Census Monitoring Board, a position he held until his appointment as general chairman of the 2000 presidential campaign of then Vice President Al Gore.

In March 2009, he was named as Chairperson for the Partnership to Improve Patient Care (PIPC). In this capacity, Mr. Coelho works to amplify the voice of the partnership’s diverse members, including people with disabilities, racial and ethnic communities and the elderly, among others.

After leaving Congress in 1989, Mr. Coelho joined Wertheim Schroder & Company, Inc., an investment-banking firm in New York. He served as a Managing Director to 1995, and from 1990 to 1995 he also served as President and CEO of Wertheim Schroder Investment Services, a firm that he grew from $400 million to $4 billion in managed investments. In 1995, Mr. Coelho formed ETC w/TCI, an education and training technology company in Washington, D.C., where he served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer until 1997.

Mr. Coelho’s former and current business affiliations include service on a number of corporate boards. He served as Executive Chairman and Director of ICF Kaiser International, Inc., and as Director of Circus Circus, Inc. (now part of MGM.); AutoLend Group; Kaleidoscope Network, Inc.; Pinnacle Global Group, Inc., Cadiz, Inc., and Cyberonics, Inc. He currently serves on the boards of Service Corporation International as Lead Director and Esquire Bank as its board chair.

A native of California, Mr. Coelho earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science in 1964 from Loyola Marymount University, where he served as Student Body President during his senior year. He began his career in 1965 as a Legislative Assistant to Congressman Bernie Sisk and served as Mr. Sisk’s Chief of Staff from 1971 to 1977 before being elected to the House upon Mr. Sisk’s retirement.

Mr. Coelho participates annually at New York Law School for its Tony Coelho Lecture in Disability Employment Law & Policy. He has endowed a chair in Public Policy at the University of California in Merced and also in Neurology for Pediatric Surgery at UCLA. In addition, he serves on the Epilepsy Foundation Board of Director and the American Association of People with Disabilities. He has also funded The Coelho Center on Disability Law, Policy and Innovation at Loyola Marymount University.

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