Celebrating Dinah F.B. Cohen
We are deeply saddened to inform you that Dinah F. B. Cohen, the pioneering former director of the Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program (CAP), passed away peacefully on March 23, 2018 following a brief and brave battle against cancer.
Dinah made it her life’s work to create a better, more inclusive future for individuals with disabilities. In her federal career, she worked at the U.S. Administration for International Development, and, as most of us recall, at the U.S. Department of Defense. As CAP Director from 1990 to 2013, Dinah implemented the world’s largest centralized accommodations program, providing assistive technology and services to DoD employees, wounded, ill and injured Service members, and to employees at 69 partner federal agencies. Moreover, she was well-known as an outstanding presenter and trainer, reaching thousands and thousands of individuals through her dynamic delivery of disability and inclusion curriculum.
Sharon Terrell-Lindsay, CAP Program Analyst and long-time colleague and friend of Dinah’s, commented on Dinah’s passing:
“I would be remiss if I didn’t say how I met Dinah because I would remind her every chance I got, that she didn’t want me. I came to CAP off of Priority Placement and that was the only thing Dinah couldn’t control (she sure tried), and we all know how she changed laws that she didn’t like, but this was one law that she and I both came to appreciate that she couldn’t change!! Once she realized I had truly joined her team, we were bonded forever. We have laughed about this for 19 years including one of my recent visits with her. She was one of a kind and my daughter and I both were benefactors of her generosity and kindness, and we will miss her surprises in the mail and random emails just to say hi! I felt empowered by Dinah who never accepted no for an answer, made people listen when she spoke, and was an inspiration to me to become so passionate about the program and its purpose that has helped so many.”
Dinah received numerous awards and honors throughout her career recognizing her leadership, accomplishments and dedication, including the prestigious Service to America Citizen Services Medal, Vice President Gore’s Hammer Award, the Quality Award from President George W. Bush, and the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Civilian Service.
In a 2007 interview, Dinah said, “I enjoy the public sector because I really feel we can have an impact on not just the people we are working with directly, but a much bigger scope. The reason I stay so engaged and so passionate about what I do is customer service. When I go out, I will meet some of my customers and they will let me know the impact that we’ve been able to have on their lives. It’s what makes each day special.”
Though Dinah’s passing is a great loss for the CAP family and wider disability community, her tireless work and dedication to her mission of accessibility and inclusion will continue to impact and improve the lives of people for years to come.
Dinah often wondered if her work would make a difference – to help increase access, inclusion and opportunity for people with disabilities in the federal sector and in society. We are pleased to confirm that although more work needs to be done, Dinah indeed made the world a better place through her spirit, passion and life’s work.