Monday, July 15, 2013

Easter Seals Project ACTION Celebrates the Life of Michael Winter

Michael Winter (left) and Rita Daguillard,
director of the Office of Research Management
at FTA, during an international exchange in
Europe in which ESPA participated
Contributed by Mary A. Leary

Michael Winter, a Federal Transit Administration leader in accessible transportation and civil rights, long-time disability advocate and advisor to Easter Seals Project ACTION, passed away suddenly on July 11, 2013. Winter worked tirelessly throughout his life for the rights of people with disabilities and particularly led efforts to increase access to transportation. One of Winter’s ardent passions was accessible transportation around the world. ESPA worked closely with him on a number of international events including a disability forum in Hong Kong in 2010 at TRANSED. Winter leaves an incredible legacy of leadership, advocacy, program management, policy development and mentorship regarding civil rights for people with disabilities.

In 1977, after college and graduate school, Winter went to the Berkeley Center for Independent Living in California where he worked as an intern and client service manager before serving as their director for 12 years. He was elected to the Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District Board of Directors. He served on the board for six years. During that time, Winter was also elected president of the National Council on Independent Living.

Winter joined the U.S. Department of Transportation in 1994 and served in a number of key roles. From 1994 to 1997, he was a special assistant to the associate deputy secretary and director of the Office of Intermodalism. Winter was associate administrator for budget and policy with FTA from 1997 to 2000. From 2001 on, Winter was responsible for a number of programs associated with federal civil rights at U.S. DOT as they applied to the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and environmental justice issues.

Winters served on ESPA’s National Advisory Committee for many years.  ESPA will miss talking with and learning from Winter, but we are grateful to have his legacy and leadership. His many contributions will continue to positively impact accessible transportation for years to come.

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