Highlighting NRA’s History
1923 - A group of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation agencies met during the National Society for Vocational Education conference and called themselves the “National Civilian Rehabilitation Conference.”
1924 - The National Civilian Rehabilitation Conference held a meeting in Indianapolis with 24 members representing 18 states.
1925 - Cleveland, Ohio, was the site of the first meeting of the conference as an independent association. Dues were $1.00 per year.
1927 - The Conference approved National Rehabilitation Association as its official name.
1928 - Requiring employment with a state VR agency was relaxed, persons employed in private sector rehabilitation were invited to become members, and annual dues were set at $3.00.
1930 - The NRA drafted and had introduced into Congress, legislation to renew the State/Federal program. Membership categories were established. Dues went back to $1.00.
1934 - The National Rehabilitation News was created with Willis W. Grant, of Iowa, as Editor.
1935- The Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, which became the Journal of Rehabilitation, was published, and was the official publication of the Association.
1936-1940 - Funding of the State/Federal program and growing the program to meet the needs of persons with disabilities took priority
1940’s-1950’s- NRA employed staff. NRA’s first subunit, the region, was established in 1948, to facilitate member participation in meetings. Chapters were authorized in 1950, after Michigan organized in 1949. Divisions were authorized in 1957 and the National Rehabilitation Counseling Association, was the first approved.
1960’s -1970’s - Years of change…Membership reached an all time high, with thousands of “members, at no cost”, a practice that ended in 1975. NRA successfully fought a legal battle known as the “Florida test case” in support of the provisions of the Rehab Act of 1973, but was almost bankrupt by the action.
1975-1980 - E. B. Whitten retired, and a succession of staff leaders after him combined with the uncertainty of the times led to turbulent years.
1980’s - An aggressive campaign to revitalize the organization and a spirit of enthusiasm began to show results with membership growth and stable staff leadership in Dr. Robert Brabham.
1990’s - A new mission, and the first certified association executive, Dr Ann Tourigny, brought strategic planning into the process. The first leadership conference was held in 1994. By 1996, the need for more unity of purpose was being discussed, culminating with a decision by the 1998 Board of Directors to implement a plan for restructuring the organization.
2000 - The 1999 NRA Delegate Assembly voted to approve the restructuring plan.
2002 - After Legislative Director Tom Stewart’s unexpected death, Patricia Leahy was recruited for this position. Patricia’s knowledge of rehabilitation and expertise in legislative matters is unequaled on Capitol Hill.
2005- The restructuring plan of 1999 was completed.
2007- NRA/RCEA member Dru Fentem was successful in getting the US Senate to designate March 22, 2007 as National Rehabilitation Counselor Recognition Day, in honor of the day in 1983 that the term “qualified rehabilitation counselor” was added to the language in the Rehabilitation Act.
As we go forward - NRA will continue to facilitate active and enthusiastic membership through on-going enhancement of member benefits and excellence in leadership. Recent additions in member benefits have included the development of a job board for resume posting and position advertisements, a new website, increased CEU opportunities relevant to members’ professional certifications, and teleseminars. NRA’s legislative advocacy program continues to be immensely effective, keeping the Association and its members at the forefront of issues related to the field of rehabilitation and persons with disabilities. NRA