Important announcement from DRF/DRAF Founding Executive Director Diana Samarasan

It is with bittersweet excitement that I announce the news that after fourteen years, I will be leaving DRF and DRAF. It has been an honor to launch and lead the development of the Funds, and to nurture an incredible community supporting the global disability rights movement.

Image of the DRF team
Diana and the DRF/DRAF team in Rwanda

In 2007, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) had just been adopted at the United Nations. The CRPD built on the disability community’s slogan “nothing about us without us” and opened new possibilities for disability movements around the world by mandating participation in the achievement of rights. At the same time, persons with disabilities were not broadly seen as human rights activists and resources for organizing were few. This was the opportunity that brought DRF and DRAF into existence – at first, just as an idea, and a dream shared by many.

From the beginning, I have served as a conduit and a facilitator of this dream, bringing together disability activists and donors to learn together and shape the Funds. I am proud of all we have done, and I am grateful that I have been able to help ensure a journey to justice with and for the one billion persons with disabilities.

What started as a dream is now a powerful force. Since 2008, DRF and DRAF have distributed more than $38 million in grants to over 300 organizations of persons with disabilities across 34 countries. The changes this money helped to make possible are vast; you can read about our impact here. Most importantly, in a world where too many people have no power over how money is accumulated and spent, we have done this work through participatory grantmaking – involving persons with disabilities at all levels of our structure and in all of our decision-making. From the beginning, we have led and lived a paradigm shift in how persons with disabilities are seen in this world – from passive recipients of charity or services to active participants in changing the world for the better.

When I say “we,” I am talking about more than 20 staff members around the world. I am talking about a Board with more than 50% representation of global leaders with disabilities. I am talking about a Grantmaking Committee which models a new power relationship and learning between donors and persons with disabilities. I am talking about hundreds of organizations that are key in building forward better. I am talking about Funds and a global movement with a bright future and a key role in the realization of human rights and inclusive development for all.

Image of Diana with colleagues

DRF and DRAF are ready for the next chapter. With a $7.5 million annual budget and a solid and diverse team — including a management team led by Deputy Director Roger Falcon, and a Board co-chaired by Lorraine Wapling and Andy Ferren — the Funds are perfectly positioned to scale. Perhaps you are the person who will help to do that? Read here our Executive Director job announcement, with links to the job description and FAQs about the recruitment process we begin today.

Our search for a next Executive Director will be managed by the Board’s Transition Team in partnership with staff. With a July 1 deadline for applications, we hope to have our next leaders hired by this fall, to support a thorough hand off before I step away at the end of the year. Thank you for helping us spread the word about this unique opportunity to learn alongside and resource leaders all over the world who are making the promise of justice and rights a reality for all persons with disabilities.

With deep gratitude to the global disability movement for trusting me with this role over the last 14 years, and for our joint efforts to make this world more just, I remain ever yours,


A message from the DRF/DRAF Board of Directors