Dr. Chris Rosa
President & CEO, The Viscardi Center
Dr. Chris Rosa became President & CEO of The Viscardi Center, a network of non-profits that educate, employ and empower children and adults with disabilities, in January 2022. He also serves as President of the internationally renowned Henry Viscardi School. Dr. Rosa is a staunch advocate for equity and economic justice for people with disabilities, being a wheelchair-user since age 12 who has Limb-Girdle Muscular Dystrophy. A published disability studies scholar, he serves in national leadership roles for organizations that promote access and wellness for Americans with disabilities. He is also a sought-after orator and speaks frequently on higher education and social mobility for people with disabilities; disability as a key dimension of diversity, equity, & inclusion; disability and intersectionality; and American disability culture.
Before joining Viscardi, he served as the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Inclusion Initiatives at the City University of New York (CUNY), the nation’s largest urban public university system. In this role, Dr. Rosa designed and led programs that promote access, equity, and inclusion for students who have historically under-participated in higher education, including CUNY’s more than 11,000 students with disabilities, 3,200 student veterans, 17,000 LGBTQI students, and over 6,000 undocumented students. Dr. Rosa’s higher education governance includes serving as Interim Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and the University’s Assistant Dean for Student Affairs for CUNY’s 25 campus system. He joined the CUNY Office of Student Affairs in July 2004 after 11 years of student affairs experience at his alma mater, Queens College. While at Queens College, he served as its Director of Services for Students with Disabilities, as Director of its Student Support Services Program, as its 504/ADA Compliance Officer, as its Chief Diversity Officer, and as a Student Disciplinary Officer. At Queens College, he collaborated with the New York City Department of Education’s District 75 to create its Inclusive Higher Education Program.
Dr. Rosa’s major accomplishments/recognition include:
- Creating the “CUNY LEADS” program, a model career readiness program for college students with disabilities that empowers them to achieve competitive employment at more than twice the national rate.
- Leading efforts to establish CUNY as a first-choice college destination for neurodiverse students through the creation of the FAR Fund-supported CUNY Project REACH for students on the autism spectrum and CUNY Unlimited, an inclusive higher education program for students with intellectual disabilities.
- Launching CUNY’s intercollegiate inclusive athletics program, including its varsity men’s and women’s wheelchair basketball teams.
- Acting as the Chair of the Executive Committee of the U.S. President’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities (now known as the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy).
- Playing a key role in bringing the Robin Hood-funded SingleStop USA program to CUNY community colleges, which supports the retention of students from low-income families by helping them to secure important city, state, and federal benefits.
- Serving as Vice Chair of the New York State Independent Living Council, as a member of the National Board of Directors of the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and as Co-Executive Officer of the Society for Disability Studies, the international professional association for Disability Studies Scholars.
- Receiving a “Liberty Medal” by the New York Post in 2012, for his leadership in expanding employment opportunities for New Yorkers with disabilities.
Dr. Rosa earned his B.A. in Sociology & Philosophy from Queens College in 1989 and his Ph.D. in Sociology from the CUNY Graduate Center in 2001, with a dissertation entitled “Disability Rites: Constructing American Disability Culture”. A native New Yorker, Dr. Rosa is deeply engaged in his community, having served as a youth basketball coach in the CYO program at St. Ann’s Roman Catholic Church in Flushing.