Story by Phil Pangrazio
With the upcoming 28th anniversary of the ADA, it’s fitting to recognize and thank long-time Ability360 employee and Vice President of Advocacy, Amina Kruck. She officially retired in December of 2017 after 27 years at Ability360. A tireless advocate, Amina always made sure we celebrated the ADA anniversary so that we’d never forget its importance and how hard we fought to get it. She constantly explored new ways to commemorate its history and celebrate its achievements.
With that said, let me share some history about Amina. I met her in 1991 when I became a board member at Ability360. I learned quickly how devoted she was to social justice and disability rights. Her advocacy was passionate, articulate and persuasive. She occasionally ruffled feathers, but it never diminished my support for her. Throughout the years, I’ve seen her advocate and testify before just about every political and governmental body possible… from the state legislature, city councils, village planning, transit and building code committees, to AHCCCS, DES, Rehab Services, Congress members, Senators, and the Governor’s office. She had no fear and could always make it heartfelt, personal and relevant.
Amina has always been passionate about providing economic empowerment opportunities for people with disabilities.
One of the first things I was briefed on when I became CEO was our grant proposal to become a Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) grantee. Amina wrote the grant, which was part of the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999. Amina learned early in her social work career how disempowered and stuck people were who lived on Social Security Disability benefits. She knew it would take an unbiased, non-government advocate to educate consumers about work incentives and the opportunities to pull oneself out of poverty through working. She understood that advocacy was the only way to eliminate fear in returning to work after disability. Ability360 was awarded the WIPA grant in 2000 and Amina managed and directed it until her retirement last year.
During that time, Amina also led a coalition of community partners to advocate for the successful passage of the Arizona Medicaid Buy-In program, called AHCCCS Freedom to Work that for the past eighteen years has helped thousands of Arizonans with disabilities become self-sufficient through work, earning income, and being taxpayers while still being able to receive their Medicaid long term care coverage.
Amina also spearheaded or managed a plethora of programs and initiatives at Ability360 such as our nationally recognized Peer Mentor Volunteer Program, Living Well with a Disability, This Is My Life Self Determination for persons with developmental disabilities, Improbable Theatre360 Company, and the Volunteer Income Tax Credit site.
Finally, Amina created and facilitated many advocacy-related workshops, disability awareness trainings and support groups. When necessary, she developed community partnerships to address barriers and disability issues. Amina has lived with chronic health conditions since childhood but never let it stop her from living independently and encouraging others to do the same. Thanks for all your great work Amina! Cheers to your retirement!
President and CEO, Ability360