American Association on Health and Disability Announces Leadership Transition

Rockville, MD – The American Association on Health and Disability (AAHD) today announced the Board’s selection of Karl Cooper to succeed Roberta Carlin as Executive Director, effective June 1, 2023. Karl will transition into this role from his current position as AAHD’s Director of Public Health Programs. Karl’s appointment comes as Roberta Carlin is retiring after 21 years of service to AAHD as the Executive Director.

“The selection of Karl as the newly appointed leader of the AAHD is as much a testament to his skills, expertise and accomplishments as it is to Roberta, our retiring executive director. Roberta’s leadership after all set the standards, goals and vision that cultivated a culture of excellence at AAHD that Karl has embraced. We are confident that Karl will provide a seamless transition and continue to amplify the respect that the AAHD has earned over the years,” said Rick Rader, MD, President and Board Chair of AAHD.

Karl Cooper brings his own lived experience as a person with a disability to years of professional experience working as an attorney, advocate, and public health professional. Karl has been dedicated to AAHD since 2013, when he was involved with the establishment of AAHD’s National Disability Navigator Resource Collaborative (NDNRC) which led to his role in 2017 as the Project Director of Organizing for Outreach, a partnership with Community Catalyst that provides essential health coverage information to people with disabilities across the country. He has played a key role in the growth of the organization’s disability and health outreach programming, including his work as Director of Engagement in AAHD’s work with the All of Us Research Program.

Karl has been deeply involved with national public health community, serving in leadership roles for the Disability Section of the American Public Health Association (APHA) since 2014, including as chair of the section from 2020-2022. He also currently serves on the APHA Intersectional Council Steering Committee.

“I am honored to take on this new role and thank the AAHD Board for the opportunity and Roberta for leading this organization for 21 years,” said Karl Cooper. “I look forward to leading AAHD as we continue to promote health and wellness for all people with disabilities.”

Karl’s leadership will carry forward what AAHD has achieved under Roberta’s leadership. Through Ms. Carlin’s tenure, AAHD has advanced its mission to integrate disability into the national public health agenda and to support health equity for children and adults with disabilities through policy, research, education, and dissemination.

AAHD has collaborated with federal partners, private foundations, and non-profits across the country to support health equity, accessibility, and inclusion for people with disabilities. Roberta supported disability health research through numerous funded projects and under her leadership AAHD established  the National Center on Research, Knowledge Translation and Dissemination. She oversaw the launch of AAHD’s national partnership with the All of Us Research Program in 2018, and the development of the Disability Community Engagement Partner Project in 2021. The importance of women’s health and breast cancer screening for women with disabilities became a priority for AAHD under her leadership. She stewarded the launch of AAHD’s Disability and Health Journal in 2008 and oversaw the creation of AAHD’s Scholarship Program for college students with disabilities.

“It has been an honor being a part of AAHD for the past 21 years,” said Roberta. “I am so proud to have had the opportunity to work with a talented staff and a committed board of directors, all partners in our joint mission to promote health equity for people with disabilities.  Under Karl’s leadership, I have tremendous confidence that AAHD will continue to grow and thrive.”


About the American Association on Health and Disability: AAHD is dedicated to ensuring health equity for children and adults with disabilities through policy, research, education, and dissemination at the federal, state and community level.  AAHD strives to advance health promotion and wellness initiatives for people with disabilities. AAHD’s goals are to reduce health disparities between people with disabilities and the general population, and to support full community inclusion and accessibility.