Dr. Chris Rosa became president & CEO of The Viscardi Center, a network of non-profits that educate, employ and empower children and adults with disabilities, in January 2022.
He is a staunch advocate for equity and economic justice for people with disabilities, being a wheelchair-user since age 12 who has Limb-Girdle Muscular Dystrophy.
A published disability studies scholar, he serves in national leadership roles for organizations that promote access and wellness for Americans with disabilities. He is also a sought-after orator on a variety of topics including disability as a key dimension of diversity, equity, & inclusion and American disability culture.
Before joining Viscardi, he served as the assistant vice chancellor for Student Inclusion Initiatives at the City University of New York, the nation’s largest urban public university system.
In this role, Dr. Rosa designed and led programs that promote access, equity, and inclusion for over 35,000 students who have historically under-participated in higher education. Dr. Rosa’s higher education governance includes serving as interim vice chancellor for Student Affairs and the University’s Assistant Dean for Student Affairs for CUNY’s 25-campus system.
Dr. Rosa’s major accomplishments at CUNY include creating a model career readiness program for college students with disabilities that empowers them to achieve competitive employment at more than twice the national rate; leading efforts to establish CUNY as a first-choice college destination for neurodiverse students; launching intercollegiate inclusive athletics program; and collaborating with New York City Department of Education’s District 75 to create its Inclusive Higher Education Program.
He has also chaired the Executive Committee of the U.S. President’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities (now known as the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy) and served in leadership roles at the New York State Independent Living Council, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and the Society for Disability Studies.
Dr. Rosa earned his B.A. in Sociology & Philosophy from Queens College in 1989 and his Ph.D. in Sociology from the CUNY Graduate Center in 2001, with a dissertation entitled “Disability Rites: Constructing American Disability Culture.” He was elected to the Long Island Association’s Board of Directors in October 2022.
How do you see your business evolving due to the changing times?
As the digital revolution continues to transform the way we all conduct business in the 21st century, access to digital information and resources is crucial to ensure that all individuals have the opportunity to participate fully and equitably in our economy. With this in mind, The Viscardi Center will seek to amplify its role as a leader in Digital Accessibility Services to ensure that close to one billion people with disabilities, across the globe, have meaningful access to online information and resources.
What advice would you give business owners?
All business owners are seeking new and untapped audiences for their products and services. We’d like to remind them that the disability community is an underleveraged market – 1 in 4 individuals in the U.S. have a disability. In fact, the global disability community has a combined disposable income of $1.2 trillion. We encourage businesses to look right here at home and to devise products and services that are attractive and accessible to consumers with and without disabilities.