Harvard Law School Visiting Professor Michael Stein ’88, an internationally recognized expert on disability rights, received the inaugural Morton E. Ruderman Award in Inclusion from the Ruderman Family Foundation. The award recognizes an individual who has made an extraordinary contribution to the inclusion of people with disabilities in the Jewish world and the greater public. The $100,000 award is based on past achievements and the potential for future contributions to the field.
“Our foundation decided to establish an award in my father’s name to remember his values and work which has touched so many lives,” said Jay Ruderman, president of the Ruderman Family Foundation. “Those who knew my father agree that what drove his interest in disability inclusion was a bedrock commitment to fairness: he fervently believed that people with disabilities were not getting a fair shake in the Jewish community or in society at large. It was his belief that everyone deserves to be treated fairly that has inspired our mission to work toward the full inclusion of people with disabilities in our community. We are honored to name Michael Stein as the first recipient of the Morton E. Ruderman Award because his life’s work encompasses the values my father believed in. I know that my father would have liked him.”
Stein is co-founder and executive director of the Harvard Law School Project on Disability (HPOD). Stein participated in the drafting of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and actively consults with international governments on their disability laws and policies. Stein has also acted as legal counsel to Rehabilitation International, Disabled Peoples’ International and to Special Olympics International. He works with organizations fighting for disability rights around the world and advises a number of United Nations bodies, such as UNDESA, UNICEF, and UNOHCHR, as well as individual national human rights institutions. Stein has received international recognition for his work on disability rights, and in 2012, the Boston Globe named him one of “12 Bostonians changing the world.”
“Michael Stein’s work in disability law has been truly groundbreaking,” said Martha Minow, Dean of Harvard Law School. “Since co-founding HPOD as a global disability and policy center, he has influenced agencies and governments around the world, including the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which recently relied extensively on his arguments in a landmark decision on the voting rights of persons with intellectual disabilities. He is thoroughly deserving of this recognition.”
“I am deeply honored to receive the inaugural Morton E. Ruderman Award for Inclusion and will work very hard to uphold the values expressed by Mr. Ruderman, the Ruderman family, and the foundation,” said Stein. “HPOD has been privileged to serve people with disabilities and their representative organizations in some forty countries, and I have been personally inspired, humbled, and energized by working with these advocates.”
The award was named after Mort Ruderman, a founder of the Ruderman Family Foundation. Morton E. Ruderman was a successful entrepreneur, mentor and proud family man. He saw his success as the result of help he received from others and was therefore passionate about providing opportunities for others – including assisting many people in becoming independent and successful in business.
The work of the foundation addresses Mort’s view that the exclusion of persons with disabilities and absence from Jewish life is fundamentally unfair. The primary consideration for the award is whether the recipient’s work has made life more equitable for people with disabilities.
“It is a privilege and joy to work with Dr. Michael Stein. His blend of wisdom, humanity, determination and wit is without parallel. It is absolutely inspiring to see him in action—bringing his immense G-d given talents to bear as he works tirelessly, with brilliance, compassion and humility, to improve the lives of others and to make the world better for all of us,” said Harvard Law School Professor William Alford ’77, Vice Dean for the Graduate Program and International Legal Studies and chairman of Harvard Law School Project on Disability.
A three-person nominating committee identified a highly selective pool of candidates to recommend. The trustees of the Ruderman Family Foundation made the final selection of Stein. This award joins other signature programs of the Ruderman Family Foundation, which believes that inclusion and understanding of all people is essential to a fair and flourishing community.
“Inspiring leaders can strengthen an entire community by valuing each person’s contributions. My father was one such leader; now the Morton E. Ruderman Award in Inclusion honors his legacy by celebrating one outstanding leader whose lifetime achievements inspire others towards greater inclusion,” said Jay Ruderman.