Washington, DC – The Arc of the United States, the oldest and largest nonprofit serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), today named Katherine (Katy) Neas as its new CEO. Katy brings more than 35 years of experience in disability policy and public and nonprofit leadership to the role. Her tenure with The Arc of the US will begin in January 2024.
Katy is a visionary leader who has devoted her career to disability rights, and she has deep connections in the field. She joins The Arc from the U.S. Department of Education, where she served as Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services. Prior to that role, she was Executive Vice President of Public Affairs for the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) and for Easterseals. She is widely regarded for her bipartisan and collaborative work, earning her roles including Past Chair of the Consortium for Constituents with Disabilities (CCD). Earlier in her career, Katy served as Legislative Assistant to Senator Tom Harkin and the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Disability Policy, where she worked on landmark legislation such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Katy holds a B.A. from Georgetown University.
“We are very excited to welcome Katy Neas as the next CEO of The Arc,” said Laura Kennedy, Board President for The Arc of the US. “Her more than 35 years of working as a highly respected advocate for people with disabilities will continue to move The Arc forward with its important work. She is well known as an ally and thought leader by government officials and legislators, nonprofit providers, self-advocates, parents, and executive staff across the country. She is the right person for our organization as we continue to work hard to help every person with IDD be heard and have the opportunities to thrive.”
“Stepping into this role as CEO of The Arc feels like coming home,” said Katy Neas. “Throughout my career, I’ve been lucky to work arm-in-arm with fierce advocates and caring providers to drive progress. That open collaboration and trust is what makes The Arc so special – never losing sight that we do this WITH people with disabilities, not just FOR them. I’m in awe of The Arc’s profound legacy, from pioneering special education access to spearheading community living. Now, I’m honored to continue that legacy into the future, but we won’t rest on past wins. Together with families, self-advocates, and partners, we’ll build an even stronger organization to meet the challenges ahead. I can’t wait to listen and learn from every corner of this community and lead inclusively into the next era of success. The Arc’s brightest days lie ahead.”
“The Arc’s Board of Directors made a very wise choice in selecting Katy,” said Paul Marchand, a longtime and influential disability policy champion who served The Arc for 38 years. “I’ve worked closely with her for more than 30 years, and her disability policy knowledge is outstanding. She is a leader in all respects – smart, loyal, a good listener, and a coalition builder. Katy has held high level positions in nonprofits, in a huge federal agency, and she cut her teeth on Capitol Hill. She’s done it all, and The Arc couldn’t have found anyone better to lead into the future.”
As CEO of The Arc of the United States, Katy will be responsible for leading the nearly 75-year-old organization and its Washington, DC-based national office for 578 chapters across the United States. She steps into the role at a pivotal moment for disability rights, as issues like the caregiving crises, ongoing exclusion from schools and workplaces, and threat of losing hard-won civil rights have made The Arc’s mission more crucial than ever. Katy will build upon The Arc’s legacy and thought leadership among disability and civil rights groups while advancing its mission to ensure people with IDD can lead full, meaningful, and self-directed lives.
Katy was selected following an extensive national search led by Heidrick & Struggles and a Search Committee comprised of staff and Board members from The Arc, chapter executives, community partners, and a self-advocate. Heidrick & Struggles conducted town halls, surveys, and one-on-one meetings with key stakeholders, including The Arc’s National Council of Self-Advocates and chapter executives.
About The Arc of the United States: The Arc advocates for and serves people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), including Down syndrome, autism, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, cerebral palsy, and other diagnoses. Founded in 1950 by parents who believed their children with IDD deserved more, The Arc is now a network of nearly 600 chapters across the country promoting and protecting the human rights of people with IDD and actively supporting their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes. Through the decades, The Arc has been at the forefront of advances in disability rights and supports. There are over 7 million people with IDD in the United States, which encompasses over 100 different diagnoses, and over 80 million family members who love and care for them. Visit thearc.org or follow us @TheArcUS to learn more. Editor’s Note: The Arc is not an acronym; always refer to us as The Arc, not The ARC and never ARC. The Arc should be considered as a title or a phrase.