Diane Coleman is the President and CEO of Not Dead Yet, a national disability rights group which she founded in 1996 to give voice to disability rights opposition to legalization of assisted suicide and euthanasia. Prior to that, she served for three years as Director of Advocacy at the Center for Disability Rights in Rochester, New York and twelve years as Executive Director of Progress Center for Independent Living in Forest Park, Illinois. Ms. Coleman has presented invited testimony four times before Subcommittees of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. She is a well-known writer and speaker on assisted suicide and euthanasia, and has appeared on national television news broadcasts for Nightline, CNN, ABC, CBS, MSNBC and others, as well as National Public Radio. She co-authored Amicus Briefs filed in the U.S. Supreme Court and various state courts on behalf of Not Dead Yet and other national disability organizations on the topics of assisted suicide and surrogate health care decision making. From 2003 to 2008, she was a member of the adjunct faculty at the University of Illinois at Chicago and co- taught two graduate courses in disability and medical ethics. Ms. Coleman is a person with neuromuscular disabilities who has used a motorized wheelchair since the age of eleven.
Stephen Drake, MS
Stephen Drake obtained his Masters Degree in Special Education from Syracuse University in 1991. Since 1980, he has worked in the field of disabilities, serving in programs for children and adults with labels of mental retardation. He left the doctoral program at Syracuse University in Special Education in 1997 to become a full time activist and researcher working with Not Dead Yet. In 2001, he was a recipient of a Positive Images Award from TASH, a national disability rights organization, for “Exemplary Achievement in Disability Media Coverage and Advancement.” He is a nationally acknowledged expert on media coverage of disability issues. He is the co-author of a 1998 article in the journal Disability & Society titled “Disability, Eugenics and the Current Ideology of Segregation: a modern moral tale.” In addition to his various media appearances, Mr. Drake appeared on 60 Minutes II as a representative of Not Dead Yet in their profile of bioethicist Peter Singer. Stephen Drake is a person with “invisible” disabilities and a survivor of a doctor’s recommendation of passive euthanasia.
John B. Kelly
Boston-based disability rights activist and writer John B. Kelly is a longtime member of Not Dead Yet. As someone commonly referred to as “paralyzed from the neck down” from a spinal cord injury, John was influenced by the writings of Paul Longmore about the “right to die” cases of the 1980s and 90s – people with similar disabilities were put on the fast track to death before being offered the resources to live. After Jack Kevorkian’s notorious killing of Roosevelt Dawson in 1998, he published an op-ed for the Boston Globe, and wrote another piece during the 2000 conference in Boston hosted by the Hemlock Society.
Most recently as director of Second Thoughts: People with Disabilities against the Legalization of Assisted Suicide, John helped stop the legalization of assisted suicide in Massachusetts. In the media and in public forums, John represented the disability rights perspective, thrice squaring off against assisted suicide proponent Dr. Marcia Angell. Other opposition groups often asked John to represent them at public events. He is now helping reorganize Second Thoughts for ongoing work against assisted suicide and broader threats to disabled people’s lives. John has a Masters degree in Sociology from Brandeis.