For Immediate Release
July 29, 2015
Contact: Julia Freeman-Woolpert, Outreach Advocacy Director
Disability Rights Center – NH (603) 228-0432
Attorney Amy Messer has been named Executive Director of Disability Rights Center – New Hampshire. Messer, currently DRC’s Legal Director, is succeeding Richard Cohen, who is retiring after a long career as a national leader in the disability rights movement.
DRC’s Board President Paul Levy had high praise for Messer. “Our job as a Board was easy,” he said. “We were thrilled to have such a capable and respected internal candidate as Amy Messer to replace Dick Cohen. Amy is an outstanding person, lawyer, and leader and we have every confidence that she will continue DRC’s long tradition of excellent management and exceptional advocacy in New Hampshire.”
Messer has been with DRC since 1999. Her work has encompassed class action and impact litigation, as well as policy work and individual representation. She was the lead attorney in Amanda D. v. Hassan, the landmark mental health class action lawsuit that settled in 2014 and requires major improvements and expansion of NH’s community mental health system. Messer was a 2014 recipient of the Frank Rowe Kenison Award, selected by the NH Bar Foundation, for “substantial contributions to the betterment of New Hampshire citizens through the administration of justice, the legal profession, or the advancement of legal thought.”
Messer’s litigation, which has included trial and appellate work in state and federal court, has encompassed most areas of disability rights law, including healthcare, housing, special education, Medicaid, employment, services to people with mental illness and developmental disabilities, ADA litigation and ensuring the rights of individuals with disabilities to autonomy, self-determination, and community integration.
“The work of the Disability Rights Center is critical to protecting and advancing the rights of individuals with disabilities in New Hampshire,” said Messer. “The DRC has an incredible staff dedicated and committed to our mission. I look forward to leading the organization as we continue our work to identify and eliminate the barriers people with disabilities face and to work towards an improved quality of life for the individuals we serve, their families, and our community as a whole.”
Messer has also worked collaboratively with the state and other organizations in finding solutions to critical issues facing children and adults with disabilities. She has served on the Board of Directors of the Brain Injury Association of New Hampshire (BIANH), as a member of the Legislative Commission on Deafness and Hearing Loss, and on the Office of Long-Term Care Ombudsman Advisory Committee.