It is with deep sadness that we mourn the passing of Marca Bristo, tireless partner to and supporter of Human Rights Watch’s Disability Rights program. To me and so many around the world, Marca was a true force of nature; a fierce advocate, visionary thinker, incredible mentor, and kind friend. She died Monday at the age of 66.
Marca dedicated her life to pushing for the rights of people with disabilities in the United States and abroad. And she left her mark: from playing a key role in the adoption of the Americans with Disabilities Act to founding Access Living in Chicago, to influencing other countries’ efforts on equality, inclusion and independent living for people with disabilities.
I first met Marca during negotiations on the United Nations disability rights treaty in New York. She quickly became a mentor and ally. When Marca spoke, you listened because she asked the tough and necessary questions. She embodied the disability community’s motto: “Nothing about us, without us.” She was extraordinary.
When I joined Human Rights Watch nearly 10 years ago, I knew we needed a strong group of advisers, particularly experts with disabilities, to steer our new work on disability rights. I knew we needed Marca.
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