DRT Presents Annual Freedom Awards

  • October 26, 2016

Honors Joey Hassell and Martie Lafferty 

NASHVILLE, TN—Disability Rights Tennessee (DRT) is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2016 Freedom Awards, honoring Tennesseans who through their leadership have advanced the rights of people with disabilities. This year DRT honored Joey Hassell and Martie Lafferty as part of the 3rd Disability Employment Awareness Luncheon held on October 20, 2016. 

Lisa Primm and Martie LaffertyJoey Hassell and Lisa Primm

As Assistant Commissioner for Special Populations in the Tennessee Department of Education, Hassell implemented a holistic approach to aligning services for all students. He promoted policies that demanded high expectations, created access to general education curriculum, and leveraged appropriate supports to meet the academic and non-academic needs of students with disabilities.  

The second award of the event was presented to Lafferty for legal excellence. For thirteen years Lafferty played a critical role at DRT in the advancement and protection of the rights of Tennesseans with disabilities. She won landmark cases that granted access to Tennessee courts and Medicaid Waiver services to thousands. As legal director, Martie led litigation to ensure equal access to health care for Tennesseans who are deaf and hard of hearing and built a strong partnership with the Deaf community. 

“I am grateful for the thirteen years I practiced law at Disability Rights Tennessee and intend to continuing collaborating with my colleagues at DRT as we all work to ensure that a day will come when people with disabilities no longer experience discrimination,” stated Lafferty in her remarks. “In my new role as a litigator at Stein & Vargas, I look forward to continuing to represent people with disabilities in Tennessee and across the United States. Working together we can make a difference for all people with disabilities.”

Prior to Lafferty receiving her award, DRT shared a video featuring former clients thanking her for being a champion.

This year’s Luncheon brought together business, nonprofit, government and community leaders to network and learn about how to create and strengthen diverse and inclusive workplaces. Through the luncheon DRT brings attention to the win-win that is employing individuals with disabilities.



Disability Rights Tennessee (DRT) is a nonprofit legal services organization that provides FREE services to protect the rights of Tennesseans with disabilities.

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