In recognition of advocacy that propelled changes in the employment landscape for people with disabilities, as well as continuous efforts to advance rights, Dr. Josie Badger was awarded the third annual Richard Meritzer Award at the ReelAbilities Pittsburgh Film Festival on September 11, 2021
Dr. Badger, a resident of Butler County, is campaign manager of the United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania’s #Iwanttowork campaign. The award acknowledges her work advocating for the 2021 passage of Pennsylvania Act 69, which removes income and asset limits for workers with disabilities. A monumental achievement for disability employment, Act 69 improves the lives of people with disabilities by allowing them to earn wages above the poverty rate while maintaining essential disability services. The legislation amends Act 77 of 2001, expanding the Medical Assistance for Workers with Disabilities (MAWD) program.
In addition to the #Iwanttowork campaign, Dr. Badger is founder of J. Badger Consulting Inc., which provides youth development and consulting services for transition-to-adulthood, self-advocacy and leadership. She is also co-director of the national RSA-Parent Training and Information technical assistance center (RAISE).
“Josie Badger is a powerful changemaker,” said Elisabeth Healey, chair of the Imagine Different Coalition, who nominated Dr. Badger for the award. “Josie has brought many others together to increase employment opportunities for people with disabilities and now to successfully advocate for the passage of Act 69. She is the best at working across the aisle to build support for these policy changes.”
The Richard Meritzer Award is co-sponsored by ReelAbilities Pittsburgh and the City of Pittsburgh-Allegheny County Task Force on Disabilities. The award honors the memory of Richard Meritzer (1953-2019), who served as the City’s ADA Coordinator from 2007 to 2019 and was a leader in promoting understanding and implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.