The Consortium notes the sudden passing of disability employment advocate Mary Brougher in a tragic accident on August 10, 2021.
Mary was a lifelong disability rights advocate and a mentor for many young people in the disability community. Aware of the struggles within marginalized communities, Mary helped create a pathway to transform practices surrounding disability rights and employment equity.
In 1994, Mary began her work to expand employment opportunities for people with disabilities at Bender Consulting Services. She worked alongside founder and CEO Joyce Bender and rose to the position of president.
In a press release from Bender Consulting Services announcing Mary’s death, Bender said, “Mary was my rock. All of those who loved and cherished Mary will celebrate her life, not just over the coming days, but in the years to come, by emulating her joyful spirit and tireless advocacy by doubling our efforts to support the disability community. Mary’s physical presence is gone but her heart and spirit must live on in our work to honor the life she lived.”
Mary’s work was known nationally and internationally. Former U.S. Representative Tony Coelho, who was a primary author of the Americans with Disabilities Act and who chairs the Bender Advisory Board, said in a statement that “Mary was a fierce advocate for disability rights, one who led with her enormous heart, intellect and work ethic that was second to none. Mary’s loss is one that will be felt across the disability community and by all those who had the honor of knowing and working with her.”
Maria Town, president and CEO of the American Association of People with Disabilities, said in a statement that Mary “was a force for good in every way and led a life of purpose. She was a champion of disability employment and supported so many people with disabilities on their personal and professional journeys. A friend to everyone she met, Mary’s boundless energy and enthusiasm for life was infectious, making her loss all the more painful. Her impact on the disability community will continue for years to come, and she will be deeply missed.”
The Consortium honors the commitment that Mary brought to her work, the hundreds of young adults she mentored, and the lasting change she helped create.
Mary’s obituary can be found here.
Donations to Bender Leadership Academy in her memory can be made here.