Susan Daniels



About Susan M. Daniels

Susan Marie Daniels was a life-long champion of efforts to improve the lives of all Americans, particularly those with disabilities.

Born in New Orleans, Susan contracted polio at six months and spent much of her early life in rehabilitation institutes and hospitals. Her parents encouraged her to keep up with her education in regular elementary and secondary schools.

In 1970, she graduated summa cum laude from Marquette University in Milwaukee. She received a master’s degree in psychology from Mississippi State University in 1972 and a doctorate in psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1976.

Starting at age 28, Dr. Daniels spent ten years as chairwoman of the Louisiana State University medical center’s department of rehabilitation counseling. In that role, she helped train people working with the developmentally disabled in community-based settings. During that period, she lectured around the world on disability issues and co-wrote a handbook on sex and people with disabilities.

She settled in the Washington area in 1988 and became associate commissioner of the U.S. Department of Education’s Rehabilitation Services Administration.

Daniels joined the Clinton administration in 1994 where she spearheaded Social Security disability reform initiatives that resulted in passage of The Ticket To Work and Work Incentive Improvement Act of 1999.  Daniels led the Administration on Developmental Disabilities in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and served on the President’s Committee on Employment of Persons with Disabilities. At HHS, she was associate commissioner in the Administration on Developmental Disabilities and launched a program to help people with disabilities become homeowners.  At the Social Security Administration, she was deputy commissioner in charge of disability programs.

After leaving the government, she started a consulting firm focused on public policy development and advocacy.  As a principal of Daniels and Associates, she consulted and advocated for innovations to help those on Social Security cash benefits understand their work options.  Susan also served on the Advisory Board of The Journal on Disability Income and Work Injury Compensation of the Social Insurance Research Network (SIRN).

Dr. Daniels’s honors included the prestigious 2003 Henry B. Betts Award, created by the Prince Charitable Trusts and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, to honor her work for people with disabilities.

Dr. Deborah Freund, President of Claremont Graduate University and a Fellow with the National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI), writes:  “Susan was a friend and colleague at NASI and at CGU, someone who tremendously enriched the CGU community.  She touched all of us deeply with her warmth and enthusiasm, and brought such an important perspective to the high quality research being conducted by our faculty and students.”

Dr. Sue Feldman, who worked closely with Dr. Daniels at the Kay Center for E-Health Research at CGU, as well as conducted several studies with her, including one in India, said “Susan’s finely tuned mentoring provided an impeccable balance of nurturing and urging. Her words instilled trust and confidence leading to accomplishments far exceeding expectations. Her successes came when those around her succeeded.”

Dr. Thomas Horan, Director of the Kay Center for E-Health Research adds, “Susan shined a light on the need to consider the needs of those with disabilities and with this scholarship we can keep that light shining through a new generation of scholars and leaders.”

We look forward to partnering with you as we honor Susan’s legacy with the Susan M. Daniels Scholarship.