PHOENIX, Ariz. (April 9, 2021): Following an extensive national search, Christopher Rodriguez, who has spent the past two decades working and advocating for and on behalf of individuals with disabilities, has been named President and CEO at Ability360, effective June 1.
Rodriguez, currently Executive Director at New Orleans-based Disability Rights Louisiana, will succeed current President and CEO Phil Pangrazio, who in December announced his decision to step down from his role. Pangrazio will remain with Ability360 during a transition period.
“Christopher Rodriguez is the right person at the right time to build upon the foundation that Phil Pangrazio has developed during his exceptional tenure at Ability360,” said Andrew Reilly, chair of the Ability360 Board of Directors. “Chris brings not only extensive experience supporting and empowering the disability community, but a lifetime of understanding and commitment to individuals with disabilities.”
Rodriguez has been responsible for leading Disability Rights Louisiana since September 2018 following positions as Senior Policy Advisor and then Director of Public Policy at the National Disability Institute in Washington, D.C. Previously, he served as Director at the ABLE National Resource Center in Washington, D.C.; Director of Governmental Affairs and Media Relations with the Michigan Protection & Advocacy Service, Inc.; and as a consultant for both United Cerebral Palsy and the National Council for Developmental Disabilities.
He earned a Masters of Public Affairs with a concentration in social and economic policy from the University of Texas, Austin and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley.
“Ability360 has a deep, rich history of supporting and empowering the disability community, so much of it shaped by Phil Pangrazio’s leadership,” Rodriguez said. “I want to contribute my personal and professional passion for advocating on behalf of individuals with disabilities and my desire to empower the community to exercise their autonomy to become well informed self-advocates.”
Rodriguez’ entire professional career has been dedicated to serving individuals with disabilities. He is the sole sibling to an older brother with significant intellectual and development disabilities.
“The experiences with my brother founded my passion for wanting to contribute to the solution of these challenges and continue to help me develop a better understanding of disability and the disability community,” he said.
Under Pangrazio’s leadership, Ability360 developed into one of the nation’s largest Centers for Independent Living and established itself as a premiere model for other centers throughout the country. Pangrazio also guided Ability360’s growth to an annual budget of more than $48 million and the expansion of its programs and services to include Home Care Services, SSA Work Incentives Planning and Assistance, Ticket-to-Work Employment, Youth Transition Services, and the Living Well with a Disability program, among others.
He also directed the planning, construction and financing of the Ability360 Center, home to Ability360 and 9 other non-profit organizations that serve people with disabilities in Arizona. Also with his guidance, the $12.3-million Ability360 Sports & Fitness Center was opened in 2011, the first of its kind in the southwest.
Learn more about Ability360.
Ability360 continues a tradition of empowering programs for people with all disabilities. Ability360 offers and promotes programs to empower people with disabilities to take personal responsibility so that they may achieve or continue independent lifestyles within the community. The independent living philosophy states that people with disabilities should have the same civil rights, options, and control over choices in their own lives as do people without disabilities. Ability360 is located at 5025 E. Washington St. Ste. 200, Phoenix, AZ 85034, www.ability360.org, 602-256-2245.
About the Ability360 Sports & Fitness Center:
The Ability360 Sports and Fitness Center is a 45,000-square foot, state-of-the-art facility located in Phoenix, Arizona. Owned and operated by Ability360, the Sports & Fitness Center offers a wide variety of amenities to help you achieve your health and fitness goals including a fitness center with wheelchair accessible weight machines, an aquatic area equipped with lifts and elevators, accessible locker rooms, and more.