Class of 2020

White woman with strawberry blonde hair in a peach blouse reclining in her power wheelchair

Dr. Josie Badger DHCE, CRC

Advocate, Visionary, Mentor, Motivational Organizer

“Mentoring isn’t a job or volunteer opportunity, it’s a lifestyle. As an advocate, there is only so much that I can do but through empowering others, the possibilities are endless.”

We are proud to induct Dr. Josie Badger into the Susan Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame.

Josie grew up and still resides in rural Southwestern Pennsylvania. After she graduated as valedictorian from high school, she continued her education, earning a bachelor’s degree from Geneva College in Disability Law and Advocacy, a Master’s of Rehabilitation Counseling from the University of Pittsburgh, and a Doctorate of Healthcare Ethics (DHCE) from Duquesne University.

While in college, she was of a founding member of the Pennsylvania Youth Leadership Network (PYLN). This network has provided inclusive youth development and leadership support throughout the state of Pennsylvania since 2003 for over 10,000 youth and young adults. PYLN was modeled after the National Youth Leadership Network, where she served as president for two terms.

In 2012 Josie was crowned Ms. Wheelchair America, she used this national platform, to share her message of youth engagement throughout the country. During her year reign she had the opportunity to travel from New England to Alaska, sharing her message of empowerment.

In 2008, she took a position as Youth Engagement Director at the Parent Education and Advocacy Leadership Center (PEAL). Badger established Youth Development and Youth Leadership Institutes throughout Pennsylvania from 2008-2014. These regional, weekend trainings were funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Health and led to the presentation of 11 white papers, meetings led by youth with the Department of Health, and statewide youth engagement on various boards and commissions.

Josie facilitated the development of the Children’s Hospital Advisory Network for Guidance and Empowerment (CHANGE) in 2013. This one-of-a-kind, patient-driven advisory group works to provide leadership opportunities at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and gives patients a platform to directly influence policies and practices in the hospital.

In 2014 she founded J Badger Consulting Inc. which provides consulting services to organizations in the state and across the country on disability-related issues. She is the Director of the National RSA-Parent Technical Assistance Center, RAISE, a program of SPAN Parent Advocacy Network. Badger is Campaign Manager of the United Way of Southwestern PA’s #IWantToWork Campaign. Working through state legislation, its goal is to improve the employment opportunities for people with disabilities. This self-advocacy, social media propelled campaign, #IWantToWork, has had two state bills unanimously passed and is working on a third bill which will allow employees with disabilities to continue receiving Medicaid, regardless of their income or assets. She is also a Field Organizer with the Women and Girls Foundation for the Pennsylvania Family Care Act and future federal paid family and medical leave legislation. In this role she has had the opportunity to develop TRAIL, a statewide advocacy and lobbying training program for individuals with disabilities. Through every job or work experience, she has ensured that other people with disabilities are given opportunities to learn, grow, and work.