For so many years, there were people who lived in squalid conditions in adult homes and suffered in silence. It took a few courageous leaders to coalesce and speak out in support of the residents. There were few voices more courageous and respected than that of Woodrow ‘Woody’ Wilson. He was a man of great dignity, intelligence and respect whose leadership helped change the landscape for adult home residents. Woody passed away recently. He leaves an incredible legacy. There is a very moving tribute from our friend and Director of CIAD, Geoff Lieberman, listed below.

Dear Friend of CIAD,

CIAD lost our great leader and friend, Woodrow Wilson, President of the Board, last month. Everyone knew him as Woody. He was the powerful, steady and articulate voice for CIAD for over 20 years. He presided over the many defining moments of the organization during that time: CIAD’s move to focus on adult home issues; our work leading up to and in the wake of the New York Times’ Pulitzer-Prize winning investigation of adult homes; the first Adult Home Resident Speak Out, still going strong after 15 years; air-conditioning residents’ rooms; giving resident councils significant power over the EQUAL Grants Program, and responding to the plight of 1,000 evacuated residents in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

I have fond memories of traveling with him across the state, to Binghamton, Long Island, and Staten Island, and getting lost along the way more often than not. But he kept the organization and me on track when it came to the important things: sticking to CIAD’s empowerment mission, and his clear-eyed vision of what can be achieved when residents work together. His strong and committed advocacy on behalf of the institutionalized aged and disabled was not confined to New York alone. He had a national impact as well, as a Board member of the National Citizens’ Coalition for Nursing Home Reform (NCCNHR), now the Consumer Voice, and the National Senior Citizens’ Law Center, now Justice in Aging. NCCNHR awarded Woody the Janet Tulloch Advocacy Memorial Award, which recognized him as a champion for the rights of long-term care residents.

There are many things for which we can remember Woody. For me, the strongest memory of him will be his presence. He was tall in stature, and not only in the physical sense. He carried himself with a grace and dignity that belied the post-polio syndrome he lived with for many years. In his easy and unassuming, but leonine way, he commanded respect. It was the same way when he spoke. He didn’t need volume to get people to listen to him, even when he was addressing a large crowd. He epitomized the dignity and respect due to all adult home and nursing home residents. We were lucky to have him as our leader for so long, and we will miss him.

Our mailing address is:

Coalition of Institutionalized Aged and Disabled
425 East 25th Street
New York, NY 10010