Obituary: Deidre Davis, Disability Advocate

Deidre Davis Butler was an attorney and disability rights expert and advocate. With a career spanning more than 40 years, Deidre has worked to promote legislative and social change geared toward providing equal access to all things, with and for persons with disabilities. She helped craft, implement and enforce employment laws, including, but not limited to the Air Carrier Access Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Fair Housing Act, a.nd the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

Image of Deidre Davis Butler

Dee was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey and reared in Linden, New Jersey.  After matriculating at Brandeis University and Howard Univ. Law school, she initiated her legal career with the (then known as) Public Advocate’s Office’s Advocacy for the Disabled. Her assignments included the Client Assistance & Independent Living Programs. Following that, she became the Deputy Director of the only CIL in NJ, DIAL. Her last contribution to NJ was as Director of the Union County Office of Disability. She was most proud of establishing the job bank in the state for consumers with disabilities.

In addition to Deidre’s commitment for disability rights was her commitment to her clients in her private law practice. She partnered with her late father for several years.

In 1987, she transitioned to Federal service. The DC tenure was: (1) Chief of the Federal Independent Living Program U.S. Depart of Education from 1987-1991; (2) Director of ADA Training at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Deidre lead the Federal Government’s training initiatives, which were necessary to implement the ADA. (Joint EEOC & Depart of Justice) (3) From 1995-2001, she was appointed by President Bill Clinton to the White House Office of Presidential Personnel and at the U.S. Depart. of State (DOS) as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for EEOC. There, she enforced civil rights laws within the Foreign Service, at U.S. embassies and for the DOS Civil Service employees. Davis traveled worldwide training on the ADA, independent living and the importance of disability rights as human rights.

In 2005, Fortune One Company Wal-Mart, Inc. appointed Deidre as the first Director of ADA Services. She was responsible for helping to ensure that all Wal-Mart retail, transportation and distribution facilities complied with the ADA. Her expertise helped to shore up Wal-Mart’s reasonable accommodation programs for associates and customers.

Deidre was a Board of Directors member of many organizations, but she held dear the National Council on Independent Living (1985-87) Howard University Center on Minorities with Disabilities (1981-1991); and the National Black Disability Coalition (Emeritus).

Thank you for your service.
Rest in Peace.