Chicagoan Kareem Dale tapped to be Obama White House Disability Policy advisor

SHARE Chicagoan Kareem Dale tapped to be Obama White House Disability Policy advisor

WASHINGTON–Vice President Biden on Thursday announced the appointment of Chicagoan Kareem Dale as Special assistant to the President for Disability


Dale, who is partly blind, was the Disability Vote Director for the Obama presidential campaign.

Biden announced the Dale appointment during his visit to the Special Olympics World

Winter Games in Boise, Idaho.

Dale flew with joined Biden on Air Force 2 from Washington to Boise. Said Dale: “Im just humbled and honored for the faith the president and vice president have shown in me and I look forward to working with them.”


Boise, Idaho

Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday announced the appointment of named

Kareem Dale to a new post, Special assistant to the President for Disability


Biden made the announcement during his visit to the Special Olympics World

Winter Games.

Dale, of Chicago, joined Biden on his trip on Air Force 2 from Washington

to Boise. Said Dale: Im just humbled and honored for the faith the

president and vice president have shown in me and I look forward to working

with them.

Biden said the new position is proof of the administrations commitment to

bettering conditions for persons with disabilities.

Biden said of Dale: He is going to have absolutely direct access to the

president. What were trying to do is make sure that not only do we deal

with getting support for what youre seeing happeningat these Winter Games,

but also to make sure that persons with disabilities are in position to also

be in the work force, so they dont have to chose, like many have to do now,

between staying in a job thats a dead-end job that they dont like, or else

leaving a job that they like because its the only way to get health care.

Biden suggested President Obama would have attended the Games, but for the

stimulus legislation debate. Had we had a few things settled back in

Washington, hed of been here today, Biden told Special Olympics athletes

and volunteers at Boise State University for a Healthy Athletes event.

Biden said hed been involved with Special Olympics since shortly after he

joined the Senate in 1973, when founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver grabbed me

and said, Youre now involved.

He said he was struck by the growth of Special Olympics and the

international participation — 95 nations are represented at the Games.

Look, said Biden, this is a movement. What started off as an avenue and

an outlet and a recognition for athletes has turned into a worldwide

movement. This is about to change the attitude, change the attitude of

governments, change the attitude of individuals.

Its a big deal. I started off in the civil rights movement. This is a

civil rights movement. This is a movement to make sure that we guarantee

that all peoples in the world have the opportunity to succeed to the degree

they are capable.

Tim Shriver, chairman of the Special Olympics board and the son of Eunice

Shriver, praised Biden, the appointment of Kareem Dale, and the

administrations commitment to persons with disabilities.

Shriver: When this campaign came and hit the world stage, we felt that

finally someone was speaking our language.Theyve been saying, Lets break

down all barriers. Lets find a new way to get along and work together.

Shriver said 3 million athletes participate in 30,000 events worldwide. We

believe this represents the largest movement for tolerance and acceptance in

the world, Shriver said.

To which Biden added: I think thats true.

Shriver: Discrimination persists, people make mockery and

institutionalization persists. We have finally found a part of ourselves is

a little bit angry about it. Were attacking words like retard thats a

common word.

After Shriver spoke, Biden was asked how policy changes would follow when

the Games have been largely uncovered by national media.

Biden: Let me tell you, if you notice, the fella I serve with has the

ability to bring focus on issues. And this is one of the areas were going to

focus on.

Biden: Theres a lot of barriers. Weve broken down barriers before. Were

going to break down more barriers.


Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Boise, Idaho, Thursday, to attend the

Special Olympics World Winter Games. Air Force 2 touched down at 1:50 p.m.

following a nearly four-hour delay due to high winds on the Eastern


Biden was greeted on the tarmac at Boise airport by Gov. Butch Otter, Lt.

Gov. Brad Little, Secretary of State Ben Ysursa, Attorney Lawrence Wasden,

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna and Boise Mayor Dave Bieter.

Biden, who seemed to have been briefed about the governors recent surgery

on his right shoulder, immediately reached to shake Otters left hand.

Bieter, the lone Democrat among the greeters, had the longest conversation

with Biden, which lasted about 60 seconds before Biden waved to reporters

and climbed in a black limousine, which departed at 2:03 p.m. Biden then

headed to Qwest Arena downtown to attend figure skating at the Special

Olympics World Winter Games.

When Biden entered the arena at 2:25 p.m., he was applauded and spent

several minutes shaking hands. Before joining the crowd, he had donned a red

parka and a Special Olympics blue-and-white scarf. He was seated with

athlete Tim McConnell, who was draped with medals, and McConnells mother,

Daphne. McConnell is a double-gold-medal speed skater from Enola,

Pennsylvania. Also with Biden were Olympic figure skating medalist Michelle

Kwan and Tim Shriver, board chairman of the Special Olympics and a son

Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver.

Biden watched five pairs in Division 2 pairs freestyle figure-skating

perform, three from Chinese Taipei, one from Mexico and one from Germany.

The teams were: Chang/Sung, Hung/Lin and Pan/Wang of Taipei;

Monreal/Visiconty of Mexico and Werner/Ziebe of Germany.

Biden then awarded medals to the pairs, while Kwan handed them bouquets.

Gold medalists were Werner/Ziebe; silver medal pair was Pan/Wang; bronze was

Monreal/Visiconty. Fourth place went to Hung/Ling and fifth of Chang/Sung.



Its an honor to be here. And its a particular honor to be here with such

fine athletes.

This fulfills a dream of mine to walk out on the ice with Michelle Kwan.

And a dream to see such fine athletes.

You have over 2,000 athletes with hears on the line, here competing from

100 countries. And what lives in the hearts of every one of these young

athletes as my mother would say, lives in every heart is bravery,

tenacity, grit and determination.

I bring greetings from President Obama, who wanted to be here today. I

assure you that his entire administration will focus on these fine athletes

and many, many others.

Biden then headed to Boise State, where he met athletes and volunteers,

including medical personnel, at a Healthy Athletes event. Also present

were U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

Biden congratulated athletes including Brandon Timmerman of Knoxville,

Tenn., a triple gold medalist in speed skating. He signed autographs and

had his picture taken.

To one athlete wearing medals around his neck, Biden gave the man a hug and

said, Congratulations! Look at this. Look at this. I never won one of these

and I played for years and years and years.

Learning about the Healthy Athletes eyeglass program, which provides new

glasses and sunglasses to athletes on the spot, Biden joked with Michael

Barantes, a floor hockey team member from Costa Rica. Barantes team plays

for bronze on Friday.

He also said, This is incredible. Our own health care system can learn from

whats happening here.


Earlier, as he arrived and stood on the tarmac, Biden introduced Idaho

schools chief Luna to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and the pair

chatted briefly. Lt. Gov. Little, wearing a blue-and-white scarf thats been

a trademark of the Winter Games, removed it from his shoulders and presented

it to Susan Axelrod, president of Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy

and the wife of Obama senior advisor David Axelrod.

Members of Bidens delegation included Lisa Brown (red coat), Axelrod (red

wrap), Tim Shriver, Kareem Dale (short black trench coat), and Chester Finn,

president of the board of Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered and a special

assistant in the New York State Office of Mental Retardation and

Developmental Disabilities (with cane for sight-impaired).

After leaving the arena, Biden was to head for a “Healthy Athletes” event at

Boise State University, a program that teaches people with intellectual

disabilities healthy eating and living habits. Volunteers have been

providing medical, dental, vision and podiatry screenings for athletes and

non-athletes during the Games.

One-third of Special Olympics athletes cannot see well and need new or

different eyeglasses; six percent have serious untreated eye diseases; more

than 30 percent fail hearing tests, six times the rate of the general

population; and 35 percent have obvious tooth decay in the molars, up to 50

percent have obvious gum infections and 15 percent require urgent care. A

woman dressed as the Tooth Fairy has been helping convey the need for proper

tooth-brushing techniques.

About 2,500 athletes from nearly 100 countries have been in Boise, McCall

and Sun Valley, Idaho for the games.

U.S. Rep. Walt Minnick, D-Idaho, was to have been on Air Force 2, but

decided to remain in Washington to vote on the stimulus package. Minnick was

one of 11 House Democrats to oppose the original House bill. A freshman and

the lone Democrat in the Idaho delegation, Minnick joined his GOP colleagues

in opposing the plan. He proposed a smaller stimulus bill of his own.

Minnick’s office released this statement: I very much regret not being able

to attend the World Special Olympics Winter Games today with Vice President

Biden, Idaho Congressman Walt Minnick said. My duties in the U.S. House of

Representatives kept me in Washington, D.C., but Im glad to know the visit

is shining even more positive attention on such a fantastic event. The Games

have been great for Idaho, and I am pleased that Vice President Biden will

today get to see great performances which are representative of so many

wonderful athletes, coaches and volunteers.

Release below, from the Obama campaign in July, 2008….

Obama Campaign Hires New Disability Vote Director

Campaign Continues to Strengthen Constituency Vote Operation

Chicago, IL – Kareem Dale, founder and chief executive officer of The Dale Law Group (DLG) in Chicago, has been appointed as the Obama campaign’s Disability Vote Director, effective July 14, 2008. Dale, partially blind, will help broaden the campaign’s reach and involve even more voices in this coalition for change.

In his role as Disability Vote Director, Dale will be responsible for all disability outreach efforts for the campaign, including attending national conferences, coordinating grassroots efforts, speaking at events as a surrogate for the campaign, and ensuring that campaign locations are accessible for all Americans with disabilities.

“Throughout this campaign, Barack Obama has insisted that we can change our politics and involve new voters in the process if we focus on our common hopes as Americans,” Campaign Manager David Plouffe said. “Kareem Dale shares Barack Obama’s fundamental commitment to building a world free of unnecessary barriers, stereotypes, and discrimination, and we’re excited he’s a part of this campaign.”

Fifty-four million Americans – roughly 1 in 6 – personally experience some form of disability. Senator Obama is committed to empowering people with disabilities so that they can fulfill the American dream and take full advantage of their talents and become independent, integrated members of society. “I look forward to encouraging all Americans with disabilities to support a candidate who is going to bring real change to their lives,” Dale said.

Prior to his appointment as Disability Vote Director, Dale also served as a volunteer on the Disability Policy and the Arts Policy Committees for the Obama For America campaign.

Dale is a native Chicagoan and received his bachelor’s degree in Advertising from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He graduated Cum Laude with a law degree and an MBA from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in May, 1999.


For Immediate Release

July 21, 2008

Obama Press Office; 312-819-2423

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