Mark Stroh smiles into the camera with flowers in the background.
Image: Mark Stroh, Executive Director of DRW smiles into the camera.

A message from our Board of Directors Chair, Grace Wang:

On behalf of the Disability Rights Washington (DRW) Board, I’m writing to share that Executive Director Mark Stroh has announced his plans to retire this summer. We are so thankful for Mark’s 33 years of service to DRW and for his thoughtful, compassionate, and wise leadership.

Shortly after Mark first started at DRW in 1990, Congress passed the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act and an amendment to the Rehabilitation Act creating the Protection and Advocacy for Individual Rights. Together, these expanded DRW services to all people with disabilities. In the mid-1990s, as a result of the persistent advocacy of one Mental Health Advocacy Council member, DRW’s Board challenged Mark to transform DRW’s work to focus on systemic advocacy. To do this, he not only established a legal team with the expertise to engage in complex systemic litigation, he also secured the financial resources to support the work. DRW is now known for its extraordinary capacity to fight above its weight class in pursuing class action litigation in pursuit of justice for disabled individuals.  

Mark has always taken an innovative, multi-modal approach to systemic advocacy. He conceived of and developed Rooted in Rights – the nation’s first disability specific video and social media advocacy program. He also built a coalition of protection and advocacy systems in 7 states to advocate for people with disabilities in prisons. The resulting Amplifying Voices of Incarcerated Individuals with Disabilities (AVID) Program shed light on prison conditions and issued recommendations to policy makers for how to enact prison reforms. Mark was particularly proud when AVID staff received an invitation to present a report at the White House under President Obama’s administration. More recently, DRW continues to add groundbreaking programs, including the Office of Developmental Disabilities Ombuds and the Disability Mobility Initiative. And, under Mark’s leadership, all DRW staff have been involved over the last several years in recognizing their responsibility and building their capacity for antiracist work.

Mark helped DRW to grow from an agency with 4 funders to an agency with more than 30 diverse, public and private funders. In the last ten years alone, DRW’s budget grew from just over $2 million to nearly $5.7 million per year. DRW is in a financial position to weather uncertainty and respond to emerging opportunities. It will also safely continue to advocate for the more than 1 million people with disabilities in Washington State well into the future.

Mark reflects, “My lifetime spans the same period as the stunning evolution of the disability rights movement and I have been fortunate to have a seat to watch it all. It has not always been a front row but a seat, nevertheless. I will be forever grateful to DRW’s Board, staff, and volunteers over the past three decades for supporting me in this critical work.”

Marlene Sallo, Executive Director of the National Disability Rights Network, shares, “Mark Stroh’s dedicated service to DRW and the National Disability Rights Network will be remembered for generations to come. Throughout his time as Executive Director, Mark served as a mentor and guide to countless people, helping to strengthen our advocacy and build the next generation of disability rights activists. Without a doubt, the lives of countless Americans with disabilities are better today because of Mark’s generosity of spirit and tireless efforts.

Mark sets a high bar for all of us as we look toward DRW’s next chapter. To that end, the Board has formed a search committee chaired by Board members Angela Holton and Nick Allen. This committee has chosen Bender Consulting Services to lead the search for DRW’s next Executive Director.

We offer our deepest thanks to Mark for his many years of outstanding service to this organization. It has been a privilege to work alongside Mark.

Grace Wang
Chair of DRW Board of Directors

We now have a unique Executive Director opening – please share the job posting with your network and those you think may be interested. Thank you!