The National Park Service has named disability advocate, Jeremy Buzzell as the Branch Chief for the Accessibility Management Program. Buzzell began in his new position on August 25. He joins the National Park Service after working for more than 20 years in disability policy with different federal agencies including the U.S. Department of Education (DOE), the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the Library of Congress.
“I’m excited to combine my passions of advocacy for people with disabilities with my love of the outdoors. It is the perfect match,” says Buzzell when asked what attracted him to the NPS Branch Chief position.
Buzzell began his career as a Presidential Management Fellow and later a Legislative Fellow to Senator Ted Kennedy, with whom he worked on disability policy. In 2004, he was appointed to the DOE Office for Special Education and Rehabilitation Services where he oversaw implementation of the department’s assistive technology program. He later served as the Branch Manager for Disability for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. There he was responsible for outreach to the disability community, policy development, training, and civil rights complaints regarding accessibility of TSA checkpoints at airports across the United States. Most recently, Buzzell served as a Program Specialist to the Chief of Support Operations at the Library of Congress.
Buzzell believes his experience with TSA and the Library of Congress will serve him well at the Park Service when it comes to adapting Section 504 and the accessibility standards in the very diverse context of outdoor recreation and preservation. “We have to figure out how to adapt global goals [of inclusion and accessibility] to a very specific environment and context to meet the needs of a very broad range of the population of people with disabilities. Managing that level of diversity and trying to apply the universal design principles in very different environments like the geography of the park or the historic nature of the facility is very challenging. [We need to ask] How do we creatively find solutions?”
Buzzell holds a bachelor’s degree in special education from Boston University and a master’s degree in disability studies from Syracuse University. His love for the outdoors stems from growing up in North Carolina among the Blue Ridge Mountains where he would go hiking, fishing and camping. Now with two small children of his own, his family enjoys camping in Shenandoah National Park and visiting the nature centers in Montgomery County, Maryland.
“I have been blessed to have the opportunity to work with federal agencies, disability experts and advocates in Washington and across the country. I hope to bring those really good relationships and a good understanding of the groups to bridge the gap of advocacy and Washington bureaucracy,” says Buzzell.