DISABILITY RIGHTS & RESOURCES NAMES NEW EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR JOHN A. ROPER
Roper to bring 19 years of nonprofit and governmental experience to Birmingham nonprofit
Disability Rights & Resources (DRR) and its board of directors are pleased to announce the hiring of John A. Roper as DRR’s new executive director. Roper will assume his leadership role beginning Jan. 3, 2022.
Roper brings a wealth of experience in leading nonprofits that advance rights and opportunities for a diverse range of people. This experience directly complements DRR’s mission as a nonprofit dedicated to serving people with disabilities and advancing opportunities for independent living.
“Every day, the incredible team at Disability Rights & Resources is on the front lines of creating positive change,” Roper said. “This is an organization filled with men and women who have devoted their lives to making a meaningful difference for people with disabilities, and the team’s insights, initiatives, and compassion set the organization apart. My focus will be to further empower DRR and its teams to serve people in helpful and innovative ways. Many of us come from different backgrounds, but we are all united by the power of hope and freedom, and we will build on DRR’s foundation for success and reach new heights in serving our communities – together.”
Roper succeeds Dan Kessler who recently announced his retirement effective Dec. 31, 2021.
Roper most recently served as chief executive officer (CEO) of the Arc of the Emerald Coast in Florida, where he oversaw a staff of 180-250 people. The Arc’s mission is to provide a path from disability to capability. As the leader of the Emerald Coast chapter, Roper established and maintained positive working relationships and collaborative arrangements with a wide range of advocates for people with disabilities. He also developed an operational plan incorporating goals and objectives that work toward the strategic direction of the Arc and ensured programs and services advanced the organization’s mission.
Roper’s experience also includes serving as executive director of Lighthouse Counseling Center, Inc. Lighthouse delivered extensive services reaching people facing a number of challenges. In addition to its alcohol rehabilitation and substance abuse treatment services, Lighthouse reached people with co-occuring mental health needs. Lighthouse also conducted outreach for pregnant women; in addition, the organization delivered housing solutions for homeless clients. Further, Lighthouse provided services to meet the needs of people with HIV or AIDS.
Prior to Lighthouse, Roper served as Vice President of Southeast Affordable Housing for the Volunteers of America Southeast. Roper managed and directed planning, building and housing for recipients across Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi.
Each of these roles involved working with people who lack many of the advantages and opportunities of the average American. In addition, each role required complex strategies to effectively carry out key strategic initiatives that made a measurable difference in people’s lives. Roper’s success in leading these organizations is a key factor that prompted DRR’s board to select him for the executive director role.
“John will use his passion for serving others, knowledge of nonprofits, grant-writing experience, and fundraising skills to bring Disability Rights & Resources to the next level,” said Kathy Lovell, board president for Disability Rights & Resources. “His extensive leadership background, combined with his deep personal commitment to service, make him uniquely qualified to lead our organization. United around a vision for empowering and serving more people with disabilities, we are confident DRR will reach new heights as we move forward.”
Besides having experience operating nonprofits, Roper has a direct connection to disability and is no stranger to independent living needs. He has a daughter with Osteogenesis Imperfecta, a genetic bone disorder that affects one throughout his or her lifetime. She requires daily assistance and the use of a wheelchair and is an amazingly successful high school student. Roper has advocated and continues to advocate for her full inclusion in society. He ensures every day that she lives the independent living philosophy and has enabled her to meet the challenges of living with a significant disability.
In addition to his work experience, Roper has been involved with other nonprofits and board affiliations. He is a graduate of the Nonprofit Executive Leadership Institute, as well as the Rotary Leadership Institute. He served as a member of the Affordable Housing Committee – Montgomery Homeless Coalition, River Region United Way Executive Committee, One Place Family Justice Center Advisory Board and Okaloosa County Early Learning Coalition Board. He has held various volunteer positions such as: membership chair of the Alabama Association of Non-Profits, secretary of The Arc of Florida State Board of Director and Executive Committee, chairman of The Arc of Florida Advocacy Committee, director of Chilton County Law Enforcement Explorer Program, president of the Fort Walton Beach Rotary Club and team member of the Chilton County Area Drug Free School Community team.
Roper earned his Bachelor of Science in Psychology and minored in criminal justice at Troy University and earned his Associate’s in Business from Wallace State Community College in Selma, Ala.
DRR offers essential services and programs, including assisting youth with determining their future goals, peer support, services surrounding the transition to adulthood, employment guidance and more.
About Disability Rights & Resources
Disability Rights & Resources is a nonprofit center for independent living serving Jefferson, Walker, Blount, St. Clair and Shelby counties in Alabama and is a United Way agency. Visit www.drradvocates.org for more information.