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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

NCIL Mourns the Loss of Bobby Silverstein

NCIL is saddened to learn of the passing of Robert “Bobby” Silverstein, J.D. on November 17, 2022 due to complications from cancer. Bobby leaves behind an enormous legacy because of his behind-the-scenes work to develop and pass the Americans with Disabilities Act and other laws that advance the rights of people with disabilities through his various roles in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate.

Bobby’s “A Congressional Insider’s Guide to Influencing Disability Policy”, which includes “General Guidelines for Disability Policy Change Agents,” “Developing Organized Coalitions and Strategic Plans,” and “Effective Strategies for Inter-Acting with Policymakers,” are classics that have educated disability advocates on how to bring about systems change for over two decades.

Bobby was staff director and chief counsel for the Senate Disability Policy Subcommittee under former Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA).

“Bobby was as kind as he was brilliant,” said NCIL’s Interim Executive Director Darrell Jones. “He gave more to people with disabilities than we can ever totally thank him for.”

“A prolific author, speaker, and trainer, Bobby wrote several peer reviewed journal articles and over 100 papers and articles on public policy issues from a disability perspective. He served as a keynote speaker before multiple national and state organizations and facilitated training sessions in more than 40 states on various public policy issues and the policymaking process. Bobby was the recipient of dozens of national awards, including the Distinguished Services Award of the President of the United States.” Read more about his life in the In Memoriam from Powers Pyles Sutter & Verville.

“Bobby was one of the people who had a profound influence on me personally. He was one of the most human people I’ve ever met and he will be deeply missed,” said NCIL Vice President Jeff Hughes.  

Funeral Service Details & Livestream

Bobby’s funeral service will be held on Tuesday, November 22 at 1:00 pm at Temple Rodef Shalom, 2100 Westmoreland St., Falls Church, VA 22043. There will be a reception held immediately after at Rodef.

For those who cannot attend in person, the service will be live-streamed on the Rodef Shalom website:

Donations in Bobby’s Memory

In lieu of flowers, if you wish to make a donation in Bobby’s memory, please direct contributions to either the Rodef Shalom Accessibility and Inclusion Fund to assist in making the synagogue’s outdoor natural play space, Bunny’s Place, more accessible, or to the Rodef Shalom Refugee Fund to help families in need. Donations can be made at: