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Dana Olsen Receives 2014 Dr. Joseph Adlestein Professional Leadership Award

Dana Olsen

This year’s recipient of the Dr. Joseph Adlestein Professional Leadership Award is Dana Olsen. The award is presented to a person who has shown exceptional leadership and advocacy for men, women, and children to live meaningful lives in the community. Dr. Adlestein was the author of the Mental Health Act of 1966, which paved the way for the deinstitutionalization of thousands of men and women who previously had no hope for freedom, dignity, or a meaningful life in the community. Adlestein also advocated for inclusion and school readiness through early intervention and positive parenting.

Dana Olsen worked with the Pennsylvania Office of Developmental Prorams (ODP) from 1973 to 2009. During his tenure, he led initiatives in developing state-wide programs in family living and life sharing, as well as the Medicaid waivers. These waivers became the cornerstone of policy leading to the reduction in the number of people in state centers from 12,000 in 1973 to approximately 1,000 today.

Dana is a passionate advocate to countless people with intellectual disabilities by providing information, arranging self-advocacy meetings, and assisting with personal connections and issues. His advocacy continues to this day after his retirement from State Government. He is a member of the Lifesharing Coalition of Pennsylvania, a member of ARC of Pennsylvania, and a officer of the effort to preserve Pennhurst State Center and its history. He is currently the project director of a DPPC-funded grant related to the history of oppression in partnership with WITF. Dana is completing a three-part book series entitled, Arching Tale: A Generation’s Support of People with Disability in the United States.

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