Smiling child

Disability Rights Wisconsin mourns the passing of Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary Kitty Rhoades

The disability community has lost an ally who was committed to improving the quality of life for people with disabilities, mental illness, and dementia. Secretary Rhoades had a strong record of engagement with the disability community and was a vigorous proponent of self-determination and community-based services for people with disabilities.

Disability Rights Wisconsin has always valued our partnership with the Secretary.

“I recall getting several direct calls from Secretary Rhoades over the years asking for our help in making sure people with the most complex needs could live in the community,” said Kit Kerschensteiner, Managing Attorney.

Throughout her career Rhoades was personally engaged with people with disabilities across the state and was a leader in advocating for funding for services for children with significant disabilities. She was one of the original proponents for self-direction and was a champion for increasing support for community-based mental health.

“Kitty was a strong and clear leader who worked to improve the system of care and supports for those with disabilities and older adults in Wisconsin. She was always respectful and open to differing perspectives,” stated Daniel Idzikowski, DRW’s Executive Director.

We join the health care community and the Department in expressing our sadness and condolences to the Secretary’s family and friends.