Lorraine Sheehan

(1937 - 2009)
Lorraine Sheehan

Lorraine Sheehan grew up in New Hampshire and moved to Maryland with her husband and family in 1965.  She has four children and six grandchildren.  At an early age, her third child, John, was diagnosed as deaf and mentally retarded.  Later, he was diagnosed with autism.  John has significant disabilities and lives at home with the family. 

Lorraine became involved in the disability movement because of John and his needs, especially as it related to his schooling.  Later, she became concerned about independent living opportunities for individuals with disabilities.  What began as a "pet project" became a life long passion—advocacy on behalf of individuals with disabilities and their families.  That passion, coupled with intelligence and personality, has made Lorraine Sheehan Maryland's leading advocate for individuals with disabilities, and indeed, one of the nation's most influential disability rights advocates.  Lorraine has educated policymakers and the general public, and her efforts have resulted in communities where all people are valued.

She has been an active member of The Arc for many years—serving as a member of The Arc of Prince George's County, past President of The Arc of Anne Arundel County, and Government Affairs Chair and President for The Arc of Maryland.  Currently, she is Vice President of The Arc of the United States and Chairs its Government Affairs Committee.

As a member of the Maryland General Assembly for nine years, Lorraine Sheehan introduced bills on transportation for students with disabilities and the first bill ever, addressing the Developmental Disabilities Administration's waiting list.  Governor Harry Hughes appointed her Secretary of State of Maryland for one four-year term.

Because of her expertise in the area of disabilities, Lorraine was appointed a Commissioner to the Anne Arundel County Housing Authority.  Over the last two years, she has focused much of her work on independent housing for people with disabilities, ensuring that even the most significantly disabled individuals have an opportunity to choose where they live.

Professionally, Lorraine is the Public Policy Director for the Maryland Disability Law Center and during legislative session, represents nonprofit organizations/associations in the State capital.  She always has volunteered her time and expertise, by serving on boards and committees charged with improving the lives of individuals with disabilities.

Biography courtesy of the Maryland Commission for Women, 2002.

© Copyright Maryland State Archives, 2002