Disabilities advocate chosen for this year’s Dole Leadership Prize

The 2014 Dole Leadership Prize will go to the leader of a network of nonprofit groups with a mission of educating, employing and empowering children and adults with disabilities.

John Kemp, who himself uses four prostheses, is president and CEO of The Viscardi Center based in Albertson, N.Y. His connection to Kansas is a degree from Washburn University School of Law, where he also was awarded an honorary doctorate of law in 2003.

The Dole Institute of Politics announced Kemp’s honor on Wednesday.

“As a wounded veteran and tireless advocate for disability rights, Senator Dole has taken a personal interest in Mr. Kemp’s outstanding service to the disabilities community. Mr. Kemp couldn’t be more deserving,” Dole Institute director Bill Lacy said in a news release. “Additionally, this year’s prize is a fitting introduction to the upcoming 25-year anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which we will begin commemorating this summer.”

In addition to leading The Viscardi Center, Kemp’s resume includes more than 50 years of direct experience in the disability movement, including with nonprofit organizations, as an attorney and on federal committees.

He said he was humbled by the award.

“I have dedicated my life to improving the quality of life for all people with disabilities, and it is my hope that this distinction shines the spotlight on The Viscardi Center and the work it does every day to build the leaders of tomorrow and contributing members of society today,” Kemp said in the news release.

The Dole Leadership Prize is awarded annually to an individual or group whose public service leadership inspires others. The prize includes a $25,000 award, which Kemp said he will donate to The Viscardi Center.

Past Dole Leadership Prize winners include Nelson Mandela, the Wounded Warrior Project, former Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko and Women Air Service Pilots of WWII, among others.

Kemp will be honored at 4 p.m. Dec. 14 at the Dole Institute of Politics, 2350 Petefish Drive. The interview-style program is free and open to the public.