Tony Coelho Headshot
Report a problem with this profile
[email protected]

Tony Coelho      

Former Member of the U.S. House of Representatives; Epilepsy Survivor & Advocate; Primary Sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act

Tony Coelho is a former politician who represented California in the U.S. House of Representatives. A member of the Democratic Party, Coelho was the primary sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which was passed in 1990. Coelho himself struggles with epilepsy, and he is a former chairman and current member of the board of directors of the Epilepsy Foundation.

At age 15, Coelho was injured in a pickup truck accident, which doctors later suggested was the precipitating event for the onset of his epilepsy. For years after the accident, Coelho did not know he had the illness.

Coelho graduated with a B.A. from Loyola University of Los Angeles (now Loyola Marymount University) in 1964. At Loyola, he was initiated as a brother in Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity and a member of the prestigious Crimson Circle and later was elected Student Body President during his senior year.

After the Kennedy assassination, Coelho decided to become a priest. He went to a doctor for a medical exam, a prerequisite for entering into the seminary. The doctor informed him that he had epilepsy. Because of canon law, he was unable to become a priest. Once the diagnosis was reported to the state, Coelho lost both his driver's license and his health insurance.

He is a former chairman and current member of the Board of Directors of the American Association of People With Disabilities. He also sits on the Council on American Politics, the advisory board of George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management. Coelho also served as an advisor of ZeniMax Media. Coelho also serves as a founding partner of Vectis Strategies, a national public affairs firm.

President Bill Clinton appointed Coelho the Chairman of the President's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities, a position he held from 1994 to 2001.

Coelho served as chairman of Vice President Al Gore's 2000 presidential campaign for a time, and he has also served as a senior adviser to the DNC.

Coelho received one of the inaugural Henry Viscardi Achievement Awards in 2013. The Henry Viscardi Achievement Awards "recognize exemplary leaders in the disability sector around the globe who have had a profound impact on changing the lives of people with disabilities and champion their rights."


Guns are killing us, not mental illness | TheHill

Guns are killing us, not mental illness By Former Rep. Tony Coelho (D-Calif.), opinion contributor 6,323. The views expressed by contributors are their own and  ...

Former congressman on working with G.H.W. Bush on historic ...

President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act nearly 30 years ago. Former Democratic Congressman Tony Coelho championed the ...

Related Speakers View all

More like Tony