Paul S. Miller

The New York Times obituary for Paul S. Miller, 49, a lawyer who was galvanized by life events into a leader in the disability rights movement, reports that Miller has died of cancer at his home in Washington state.

The obituary notes that Miller, a graduate of Harvard Law School who served as an adviser to Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, became a law professor and an expert on the convergence of disability law, employment discrimination, and genetic science.

As a professor at the University of Washington, Seattle, Miller was director of the university’s disabilities studies program.

For a decade before joining the faculty in 2004, he served as a commissioner of the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, while simultaneously serving as the Clinton administration’s liaison to disability organizations, a role he resumed during the first 9 months of the Obama presidency.

The Times obituary quotes Andrew J. Imparato, president of the American Association of People With Disabilities, who said Miller "was the person in the White House who recruited folks with disabilities to take positions all over those administrations—assistant secretaries, deputy assistant secretaries, commissioners.”

Miller was born in Flushing, Queens, New York on May 4, 1961, and grew up in East Northport on Long Island.

He graduated summa cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania in 1983, and received his law degree from Harvard in 1986. His post as director of litigation for the disability rights law center at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, led to his position in the Clinton administration.

Miller married Jennifer Coletti Mechem in 1997, who at the time, served as disability policy coordinator at the Department of Education. Mechem has a hearing impairment.

Miller is survived by his wife; daughters Naomi and Delia; sisters Marjorie Piquiera and Nancy Miller; stepsister Susan Wolfert; and stepbrother Marc Freyberg.

Click here to read the entire article in The New York Times.

Below is the statement from Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Washington:

“Paul Miller was a tireless advocate for people with disabilities, a champion of equality for all, and a great personal friend. While we extend our deepest sympathies to his family, his loss is also felt by the millions who benefited from his life’s work, regardless of whether or not they knew him.

Paul’s influence in the area of disability law and employment discrimination was far-reaching and profound. He will long be remembered for his work as a Commissioner at the US EEOC. We once shared the stage at a commencement at the City University of New York School of Law at Queens College, where along with Dolores Huerta, Paul and I received honorary Doctorates of Law. It was a moment we both remembered with pride.

Instead of accepting the role that society had defined for him, Paul dared us to better ourselves and to recognize the tremendous contributions that people with disabilities have and will continue to make to this country. For that, we are deeply grateful.”

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition comprising a diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations that strive to promote and protect the rights of all people in the United States.

[Sources: The New York Times and The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights]