Gwen Gillenwater is a disability consultant who is dedicated to empowering people of all ages and all types of disabilities to live independently and fully integrated into community life and work.
She was formerly the executive director of the disAbility Resource Center (dRC), a center for independent living in North Charleston, SC, supported by funding from the U.S. Department of Education, Rehabilitative Services Administration. The dRC is run by individuals with disabilities and offers community-based programs that support its mission to advocate, educate and empower for a fully inclusive community. These programs foster self-determination, including advocacy for self and others, peer support, information and referral, and training in independent living skills.
Ms. Gillenwater has extensive experience in disability advocacy, independent living, and health/disability policy at local, state and national levels. She has held national leadership positions as the senior director of Policy and Outreach for the American Association of People with Disabilities, and director of Advocacy and Public Policy for the National Council on Independent Living. She was appointed to the Bipartisan Commission on Medicaid Reform by former U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Senator Michael Leavitt.
Ms. Gillenwater is a strong supporter of approaches to research with people with disabilities that support the philosophy of independent living (IL). IL advocates that people with disabilities are the experts on their needs, and therefore must take the initiative in creating and advancing solutions to their needs.