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Known as an “Architect of the ADA,” Disability Rights Advocate Bobby Silverstein Has Died

November 22, 2022
Source: Powers Pyles Sutter & Verville PC (Attorneys at Law)

In Memoriam: Robert “Bobby” Silverstein (1949 – 2022)
February 19, 1949 – November 17, 2022

It is with profound sadness that POWERS announces the passing of our beloved partner, Robert “Bobby” Silverstein.  Often referred to as the “behind-the-scenes architect” of twenty pieces of federal legislation impacting persons with disabilities, including the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), Bobby was the epitome of the consummate professional, revered for his analytical skills while also incredibly thoughtful and compassionate.

Highly regarded on Capitol Hill as well as throughout the nation as an authority on disability issues, Bobby has been praised by legislators and staff, disability leaders, clients, and colleagues for his commitment to bipartisanship, his principles, dedication and hard work, and tireless advocacy on behalf of individuals with disabilities. Always humble, Bobby often blushed when anyone referred to his very long list of amazing accomplishments.

Bobby initially developed his consensus-building style while serving in various capacities in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, including staff director and chief counsel for the Subcommittee on Disability Policy of the Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources (now the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions). In that role, he negotiated and drafted bipartisan, consensus-based legislation, that has had – and will continue to have – a lasting, positive impact on persons with disabilities.

Bobby was “an icon in the field of disability policy,” said POWERS’ Managing Partner, Peter Thomas, J.D.  “Bobby’s integrity, hard work, and brilliance made him a true leader in the field,” he added.  “Bobby was much more than an exceptional lawyer, policy expert and advocate; he was a husband, father, grandfather, mentor, and friend to so many,” Thomas noted.

A prolific author, speaker, and trainer, Bobby wrote several peer reviewed journal articles and over 100 papers and articles on public policy issues from a disability perspective.  He served as a keynote speaker before multiple national and state organizations and facilitated training sessions in more than 40 states on various public policy issues and the policymaking process. Bobby was the recipient of dozens of national awards, including the Distinguished Services Award of the President of the United States.

From 1997-2007, Bobby served as the Director of the Center for the Study and Advancement of Disability Policy. From 1997-2000, he also served as an Associate Professor of Health Care Sciences at The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences and as an Associate Professor of Health Services Management and Policy at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services. Bobby joined POWERS in February 2007 and for the past 15 years has been a principal with the firm.

While Bobby enjoyed professional success, he always said his greatest achievement in life was his family.  His wife Lynne, sons Evan and Mark, along with his grandchildren were his pride and joy.  Bobby loved to share stories of summer “Camp” spent with his grandchildren at his home and how he and Lynne enjoyed planning adventures both exciting and mentally stimulating for their grandchildren.

Bobby had an unfailingly positive attitude and held firm to the motto to disagree without being disagreeable.  His smile, encouraging words, and commitment to mentoring the next generation of leaders will be missed every day.  For those who knew and loved Bobby – his legacy will help light the way to a brighter future.

May Bobby’s memory be a blessing!

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