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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Women's History Month: Stephanie Ortoleva


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Office of Civil Rights
Washington, DC
March 2009


Stephanie Ortoleva is the focal point for leading the Department to expand the ways in which the needs of persons with disabilities are addressed in international relations and foreign assistance. Through her service as the Department’s Disability Coordinator and as Executive Director of the Department’s Advisory Committee on Persons with Disabilities, Stephanie has brought the concerns of persons with disabilities into the forefront. Through training programs she developed, the coverage of the human rights situation of persons with disabilities was significantly improved in the widely published annual Human Rights Reports.

As part of the U.S. Delegation to negotiate the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Stephanie made significant contributions to the treaty and organized several well attended events there, focusing on disability-related grant projects funded by the U.S. With her outstanding skills as an international human rights lawyer, she brought the concerns of persons with disabilities into several resolutions before the UN Human Rights Council and other multilateral bodies. She also brings her work in advocacy for women’s rights to disability issues by focusing on the unique challenges confronting women with disabilities.

In the area of employment, Stephanie made significant contributions, trouble shooting and resolving complex employment problems. She was the driving force behind the drafting of the Department’s reasonable accommodation procedure for applicants and employees with disabilities.

Stephanie has made outstanding contributions to persons with disabilities around the world. People at the Department and others throughout the federal government and private sector look to her as a valued expert and colleague.



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