Michael Ashley Stein ’88, co-founder and executive director of the Harvard Law School Project on Disability, received the American Bar Association’s Paul G. Hearne Award for Disability Rights in August. The ABA Commission on Disability Rights selected Stein for his commitment and service as a disability rights advocate and teacher. Stein, a professor at William & Mary Law School, is a visiting professor at Harvard Law School, an appointment he will hold through 2019.
Created in 1999, the award honors the work of Paul G. Hearne, a lawyer born with a connective tissue disorder, who became a leader in the disability rights movement. The award, co-sponsored by Starbucks Coffee Co., was presented at the commission’s Reception for Lawyers with Disabilities during the 2014 ABA Annual Meeting in Boston.
Martha Minow, dean of Harvard Law School, has called Stein’s work “truly groundbreaking.” “Since co-founding HPOD as a truly global center for disability research, advocacy and policy, he has persuaded courts and governments across the world to recognize and enforce the rights of people with disabilities. His impact has been immeasurable. The landmark work reflects vision, tenacity creativity, diplomacy, and cultural sensitivity that are uniquely Michael Stein’s; his work opens opportunities that change lives every day.”
An internationally acclaimed expert on disability law and policy who participated in the drafting of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), Stein works with disability rights organizations around the world and advises a number of United Nations bodies, such as UNDESA, UNICEF and UNOHCHR, as well as individual national human rights institutions.
Stein co-founded the Harvard Project on Disability in 2004 with Harvard Law School Professor William P. Alford, who is now vice dean for the Graduate Program and International Legal Studies and also director of the East Asian Legal Studies Program at HLS. HPOD has worked in some 40 countries implementing the CRPD.
Stein is the recipient of numerous awards from global disability rights groups. In 2013 he received the Viscardi Award for work on disability rights, and in 2014 he received the inaugural Morton E. Ruderman Award in Inclusion. He was also recognized by the Boston Globe Magazine as a “Bostonian Changing the World.”
Stein has been awarded an American Council of Learned Societies Andrew W. Mellon Faculty Fellowship, a Mark DeWolfe Howe Fund Grant, a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend and a National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research Merit Fellowship. He has been a fellow in both the East Asian Legal Studies Program and the Human Rights Program at Harvard Law School. In 2012, President Barack Obama appointed Stein to the United States Holocaust Council.