CPR Names Kathryn L. Rucker as Its New Legal Director

April 2, 2024

Attorney Kathryn RuckerThe Center for Public Representation, a national legal advocacy organization for people with disabilities, today announced the appointment of Kathryn L. Rucker as legal director. A longtime senior attorney at CPR, Rucker is succeeding Steven J. Schwartz, CPR’s founder, who has served over the decades as executive director and legal director. He will remain on staff as senior counsel.

“Kathryn is a natural for this position,” said CPR Board Chair Bob Agoglia. “Over the past 25 years, she has worked alongside Steven and current Executive Director Cathy Costanzo on major litigation and systemic reform initiatives across the country as a dedicated advocate for individuals with serious mental illness, intellectual and developmental disabilities, and brain injuries.”

“Her compassion keeps pace with her competence,” said Schwartz. “We’ve been lucky to have Kathryn on staff all these years, and we are thrilled that she is now the legal director.”

Rucker began her legal career with CPR in 1999. She has served as co-counsel in several class actions, including two of CPR’s landmark Massachusetts cases – Rosie D. v. Romney, which overhauled the children’s Medicaid mental health system, and Hutchinson v. Patrick, which led to the development of a new community-based service system for people with brain injuries who were stuck in nursing facilities.  She also is co-counsel in cases advocating for the development and expansion of integrated community service systems for adults and children with psychiatric and developmental disabilities in New Hampshire, Ohio, and Alabama. Kathryn currently works on two CPR initiatives seeking to transform segregated employment systems and is co-counsel in a Georgia case challenging the failure to provide medically necessary mental health services to Medicaid-eligible children with Serious Emotional Disturbance and their resulting unnecessary segregation.

“It’s been gratifying to watch Kathryn take on new and expanding responsibilities in state and national policy development as well as litigation,” said Costanzo. “In recent years, she has stepped up as director of CPR’s training and technical assistance initiative and has emerged as a mentor to attorneys nationwide.”  

Rucker has provided numerous trainings for the National Disability Rights Network and other advocacy organizations. She has co-authored several amicus briefs and submitted testimony to state legislatures and the US Congress on various issues such as home and community-based services, disability discrimination, and punitive forced treatment. Notably, Rucker represented a young woman who successfully challenged electric shock therapy, as advocated by her guardian and her treatment team at the Judge Rotenberg Center, the only facility in the nation that uses an electric device to shock people with disabilities.

“I am excited and humbled to accept this new role. It’s been a privilege to spend my career helping to advance CPR’s mission and I am confident that with our incredible team of staff and board members, and our amazing colleagues around the country, we will continue to develop new initiatives that protect, preserve, and enforce the rights of children and adults with disabilities,” said Rucker.

Costanzo added, “We are extremely fortunate that Steven will stay working at CPR and that he is such a generous, trusted and skillful mentor to Kathryn and other members of our legal team, as well as other public interest attorneys nationally.”