Laurie Ahern is the President of Disability Rights International and is responsible for all of the day-to-day operations of the organization. She also conducts human rights investigations and is the co- author of Torture not Treatment, United States; Torment not Treatment, Serbia; Behind Closed Doors, Turkey; and Hidden Suffering, Romania. For ten years before joining Disability Rights International, Ahern was the co-founder and co-director of the National Empowerment Center, Inc. (NEC), a national, federally funded recovery and technical assistance center for people diagnosed with mental illness and their families.
Ahern was the editor of the award-winning NEC newsletter and co-created the Empowerment Model of Recovery and the PACE model, a non-coercive alternative to Assertive Community Treatment. Her work has been featured in many professional journals, in the media, and has been translated into nine languages. She is the recipient of the National Mental Health Association’s Clifford Beers Award and the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law’s Advocacy Award. In addition, she has conducted workshops, given talks and organized conferences for consumers/survivors/users, families and mental health providers to promote recovery. Ahern is the former vice president of the National Association of Rights, Protection and Advocacy (NARPA) and editor of the NARPA newsletter, The Tenet. Prior to her position at the NEC, she was the managing editor of several newspapers and freelance writer for The Boston Globe and Associated Press and has won national awards for her investigative and editorial writing and reporting. Ahern is the winner of the 2015 Encore.org Purpose Prize.