Head shot of JR Harding.

Dr. JR Harding is a recognized disability leader from both personal and professional experiences. As a two-time quadriplegic, author of “Now What?” and “ADA Adventure,” accessibility expert and international speaker, he has contributed for over 30 years to national, state and community policy for the independence and self-sufficiency of persons with disabilities. He has served under two U.S. presidents and four Florida governors and continuously serves on a number of community-based organizations. This service currently includes: The Able Trust (ambassador), Evergreen Life Services (director), The Florida Alliance for Assistive Service and Technology (FAAST) (director), The Florida Network on Disabilities (director) and the Delta Disability Advisory Board (member). He is the first person with a significant disability to graduate from both Leadership Florida and Leadership Tallahassee, and he is also a co-founder of Florida Disability Mentoring Day (DMD) which is now a part of the Florida Disability Employment and Awareness Month (DEAM) annual programming. He completed his doctorate from Florida State University (FSU) in Higher Education and Public Policy. He works full-time for the state of Florida with the Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD). He and his lovely wife Erica live and work in Tallahassee, Florida.

Affiliations

Family Network on Diabilities
Disabled Veterans Insurance Careers
Florida Alliance for Assistive Services and Technology
Evergreen Life Services
Florida State University
Culver Military Academy
National Eagle Scout Association
City of Tallahassee/Leon County's Blueprint Intergovernmental Agency 2000
Delta Airlines Accessibility Advisory Board
  • The Able Trust: 2009 – 2015
  • Florida State University Alumni Board: 1999–2005
  • Florida Board of Regents: Twice appointed by Governor Lawton Chiles, 1996–1998
  • Tallahassee Citizen’s Advisory Committee (TCAC): Appointed by Chairman of County Commissioners, 2003
  • Tallahassee Transportation Community Advisory Committee: Appointed by Chairman of County Commissioners, 2003
  • The Governor’s ADA Working Group: Appointed by Governor Jeb Bush, 1999–2006
  • Florida Building Commission: Appointed Vice-Chairman of Waiver Council by Secretary of Community Affairs, 2000; Reappointed, December 2005–2009
  • The U.S. Access Board: Elected to the position of Vice-Chairman, 2006–07; Appointed by President George Bush to Chairman of Executive Committee, Subcommittee Chairman of Public Rights of Way (PROW), 2002–2011
  • The US Election Assistance Commission: Appointed by Chairman of US access Board to Advisory Committee and Technical Guidelines Committee, 2003
  • The Transportation Disadvantaged Commission: Appointed by Secretary of Education in 2001 and appointed by Governor Bush in 2006; Rate Review Committee Chair, 2005-2006.
  • The Governor’s Commission on Disabilities: Appointed by Governor Crist, 2007–2009

2014 – Mary Kane Leadership and Advocacy Award, Ability 1st (local Center for Independent Living)

2012 – Civil Rights Warrior Award, City of Tallahassee

2011 – ADA Access Award, Orange County

2011 – Service Award, 2007-2011, U.S. Access Board

2011 – Leadership and Service Award, the Transportation for the Disadvantaged Commission

2011 – Ten Year Service Award, Agency for Persons with Disabilities

2011 – You Make the Difference Recognition, University of South Florida

2009 – Disability Leadership Award, Able Trust

2009 – DMD Appreciation, Governor Crist

2009 – Leadership Florida Class XXVII Graduation

2008 – Service Award, Florida Building Commission, Accessibility Counsel

2008 – Disability Mentoring Day Recognition Award, Ability 1st

2008 – Outstanding Alumni Award, University of West Florida

2008 – VR Excellent Customer Service Award, Florida Vocational Rehabilitation

2008 – VR Excellent Customer Service Award, Florida Vocational Rehabilitation

2007 – Appreciation Award, International Association of Rehab Professionals

2007 – Meritorious Performance Award, Florida Department of Education

2006 – Service Award, U.S. Access Board

2006 – VR Excellent Customer Service Award, Florida Vocational Rehabilitation

2006 – VR Sapphire Award for Exemplary Customer Service, Florida Vocational Rehabilitation

2006 – Exemplary Service Award, FSU Alumni Association

2006 – Recognition of Achievement Award, Transportation Disadvantaged

2006 – Performance bonus for work with Vocational Rehabilitation

2004 – da Vinci Lifetime Achievement Award, Engineering Society of Detroit and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Michigan Chapter

2004 – Federal United We Ride Award, Governor Jeb Bush and the State of Florida’s Transportation Disadvantaged

2004 – Certificate of Appreciation for advocacy and commitment to alcohol and drug prevention, treatment, and recovery services for persons with disabilities, National Association of Alcohol, Drugs, and Disability

2003 – Certificate of Appreciation from for leadership with the Disability Mentoring Day 2003, Governor Jeb Bush

2002 – FSU Created Annual “Student, JR Harding Award”

2002 – Appreciation Award for Community Service (CHP), United Way

2001 – Leadership Tallahassee Class XIX

2001 – Highest Individual Fundraiser for 2001 Award, Relay for Life

2001 – Certificate of Recognition for Relay for Life contribution, Florida Vocational Rehabilitation

2000 – ADA Torch Spirit Appreciation Award

2000 – Advocacy Award, Brooks Health System in accordance with their Celebration of Independence

2000 – Selected to run the 23rd stage of the 10th anniversary ADA Torch Run in Tallahassee, Florida

1999 – Distinguished Service Award, Florida Student Association

1999 – Distinguished Service Award, Republican Party, Florida

1998 – Service award, Florida Board of Regents, State University System

1998 – Service award, Florida Student Association, 1996-1998

1997 – Service award, Florida Board of Regents, State University System

1997 – Service award, Florida Atlantic University, Student Government

1997 – Graduate Student Citizenship Award, Florida State University

1997 – Dissertation Research Grant Award, Florida State University

1995 – Community Service Medal, State of Rhode Island, Town of Johnston

1993 – Outstanding University Service Award, University of West Florida

1981 – Eagle Scout, Boy Scouts of America

Active Living Photos

Active Living Videos

Testimonials

“As Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, there was no greater advocate for persons with disabilities than JR. He was my leader of choice for dependable, reliable and current information affecting persons with disabilities. Together we did good things for the state of Florida.”

Will Weatherford
Former Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, 2012-2014

“[Now What? is] a great read and story about a determined young man. An inspiration to us all. A MUST READ when you’re feeling sorry for yourself.”

Lee Corso
ESPN Broadcaster and Football Analyst

“JR is a friend and a tenacious advocate for opportunities for people with disabilities.”

Jeb Bush
Former Governor of Florida

“I recently had the pleasure of working with Dr. Harding, and he may be the finest disability advocate I have ever met. Dr. Harding’s entertaining and inspiring speeches highlight the importance of tenacity in the face of disaster, a crucial lesson for people with and without disabilities. Hopefully I will get to work with him again in the near future.”

Ian Brown
Attorney at Carlson Lynch Ltd.

“I have known JR for nearly 20 years and he is not only a friend, but a leader within the disability community. My general managers and I frequently count on him for expert advice on accessibility standards, equipment and related sensitivity issues for persons with disabilities. I would recommend JR to any business regarding their ADA needs.”

Harris Rosen
CEO and Founder of Rosen Hotels and Resorts

“I’ve called upon JR Harding to assist in the presentation of leadership development information on several occasions. His extensive background in public policy development – combined with his personal experience and advocacy – proved to be right on target for those of us who share his commitment to accessibility. He’s a proven resource!”

Dr. Bill Law
President, St. Petersburg College

Dr. Harding’s expertise has been an invaluable tool in training our team members in ADA standards. His personal insights and stories from his own life have given our Associates a deeper understanding of the daily challenges one faces when traveling with a disability. In doing so, he has not only taught our Associates to have a greater awareness of ADA requirements but to have a greater sensitivity to the needs of the community.

 

Donna M. Golden, CHE, SHRM-SCP℠, SPHR
Director of Human Resources, Peabody Memphis