Clarence J. Sundram

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Clarence J. Sundram, JD is the President of the Mental Disability Rights International, and "is a nationally recognized expert on conditions in institutions and community programs for persons with mental disabilities. He currently serves as the Special Master in class action lawsuits in Maine and Washington, DC involving the rights of persons with mental disabilities. For 20 years, he served as the founding Chairman of the New York State Commission on Quality of Care for the Mentally Disabled, an independent state oversight agency charged with advising the governor and legislature, investigating deaths, child abuse, patient abuse, and financial fraud and abuse in programs serving persons with mental disabilities. The Commission also serves as New York State's Protection & Advocacy agency for persons with disabilities. Mr. Sundram has also served as Vice-Chairman of the New York State Developmental Disabilities Planning Council, and as a member of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Protection & Advocacy Agencies.

"Prior to his service on the Commission, Mr. Sundram served as Assistant Counsel to the Governor of New York where his responsibilities included corrections, criminal justice, juvenile justice and mental health. Mr. Sundram has also served by appointment as a member of court monitoring bodies in several landmark class action cases involving institutional reforms, and as a Neutral Fact-Finder and Expert Witness. He has consulted in over 20 states and for the US Department of Justice on issues of client protection from abuse, neglect and exploitation; investigations; and Quality Assurance and risk management. Mr. Sundram has also participated in international efforts to reform mental health services in Uruguay, Armenia and the Russian Federation as a member of the Board of Mental Disability Rights International and as a consultant to UNICEF and WHO.

"Under Mr. Sundram's leadership, the Commission has been cited by the Public Citizen Health Research Group for its innovative approaches to monitoring conditions in institutions and community programs. In 1990, the Commission won an Innovations Award from the National Council of State Governments for pioneering a new approach to obtaining timely informed consent for major medical treatment for persons who are incompetent to make decisions for themselves.

"Mr. Sundram has been invited to lecture at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and at the National Judicial College. He has conducted workshops on institutional reform for members of the Russian Duma and several Ministries. He has testified by invitation before both Houses of Congress and before state legislative committees regarding legislation dealing with abuse, neglect and exploitation. He has published numerous articles in legal and other professional journals, and is a frequent speaker at national conferences. He has appeared on such programs as Nightline, 48 Hours and The CBS Evening News. He has received several awards in recognition of his public service, including legislative resolutions by the New York State Senate and Assembly; Distinguished Public Service Awards from the Nelson A. Rockefeller College of the University of Albany and from the New York State Association of Rehabilitation Facilities, Human Rights Award from the American Psychosocial Rehabilitation Association; a Special Award from the American Association on Mental Retardation and the Humanitarian Award from the New York City Chapter of the Association for Retarded Children." [1]

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  1. Bios, Mental Disability Rights International, accessed April 7, 2009.