News & Events


  • Jul - 06 - 2020
  • FDR Memorial Legacy Committee


Contact:         Mary E. Dolan, Executive Director, 202-368-1083


FDR Memorial Legacy Committee Launches Inaugural Education Effort

WASHINGTON, DC (July 6, 2020) – Every year, nearly 2.5 million people visit the FDR Memorial in Washington, DC, which was dedicated in 1997 to pay tribute to our longest-serving president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Visitors now experience a seamlessly constructed memorial; however, representation of FDR’s disability was not included in the initial design. The first room – Prologue – was not added until four years after the initial opening of the Memorial.

“My wife Lulie and I and the Gordon and Llura Gund Foundation are supporting the FDR Memorial Legacy Committee to ensure that the full and accurate story of the FDR Memorial, including FDR’s disability, be told today and preserved for tomorrow,” said Gordon Gund, Chairman and CEO of Gund Investment Corp. “Disability advocates like my dear friend Mike Deland fought too hard to ensure that this story would not be forgotten.”  In August 2019, the Gordon and Llura Gund Foundation offered a 2-year matching challenge pledge to the FDR Memorial Legacy Committee (FDR Committee) of $210,000.  The FDR Committee met the first goal of raising $100,000 by May 2020 through contributions large and small and received the matching funds from the Foundation.  The remaining $110,000 must be raised by July 31, 2021, to receive the additional match.   

The mission of the FDR Memorial Legacy Committee (FDR Committee) is to promote FDR’s and Eleanor Roosevelt’s legacy of leadership as celebrated at the FDR Memorial in Washington DC.  The FDR Committee will educate and cultivate future leaders to uphold and expand FDR and Eleanor’s principles of equality, opportunity, dignity and perseverance.

The FDR Memorial was constructed to educate about the historic impact of the Roosevelt years, yet there are no formal, organized educational materials to facilitate a live or online visit. As a result, the FDR Committee has prioritized the development of an educational program, starting with the campaign led by the disability community to add the depiction of FDR in a wheelchair and the impact of disability on FDR’s leadership. “As we near the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act in July of this year and the 20th anniversary of the dedication of the FDR wheelchair statue in January 2021, it is long overdue that the story of the disability community’s leadership gets told,” commented Mary E. Dolan, Executive Director of the FDR Memorial Legacy Committee.

With the Gordon and Llura Gund Foundation commitment and other donations, the FDR Committee has: 

  • Established a powerful advisory committee comprised of disability leaders and allies.
  • Secured the repair of the plaque in the FDR Memorial bookstore, which commemorates the dedication of the wheelchair statue.
  • Initiated the project to document the history of the disability community national campaign to include the wheelchair statue at the Memorial. 
  • Launched an initial websitewith phase two coming this summer.

The goals of the FDR Committee are to establish an educational program as part of the FDR Memorial experience, expand outreach and awareness to new audiences, and advocate for improved access and inclusion at the Memorial.  

The FDR Committee thanks the Gordon and Llura Gund Foundation and all of our donors for making the match possible.  Major contributions came from Jane S. Deland, Ambassador C. Boyden Gray, Judy and Peter Blum Kovler Foundation, David and Susan Rockefeller, Butler’s Hole Fund at the Boston Foundation, and The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation.




About the FDR Memorial Legacy Committee

The FDR Committee brings together historians, disability and civil rights advocates, artists, academics, leaders in government, business, and non-profits, and interested people across the country.  The FDR Committee operates independently under the non-profit status of the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL), which serves as a fiscal sponsor.