Mark Johnson, M. Ed., is the director of advocacy for the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, where his duties include identifying and researching disability issues, educating staff and communities on those issues, and serving as liaison with national groups dedicated to improving the lives of people with disabilities. He also counsels people with disabilities on how to access programs and services that will assist them.
Mark has an extensive background in independent living in North Carolina, Colorado and Georgia, and is a founder of ADAPT, a national grass-roots community that organizes disability rights activists to engage in nonviolent direct action, including civil disobedience, to assure the civil and human rights of people with disabilities to live in freedom. He earned his M. Ed. in guidance and counseling from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and is a recipient of the Betts Award and the New Mobility Person of the Year Award.
Born and raised in North Carolina, Mark became a C5-6 quadriplegic in a 1971 diving accident while a sophomore in college. Before his accident, he planned on studying business and becoming a salesman, like his father. But post-accident plans have a way of changing; instead Johnson earned a master’s degree in guidance and counseling from UNC-Charlotte in 1977. Then came counseling, consulting and founding a local chapter of the National Paraplegia Foundation. By the early ’80s he had married his wife, Susan, and moved to Denver, where circumstances drew him deeper into activism and he joined Wade Blank in the early days of ADAPT.