Jake Cornett, Executive Director

head shot of Jake smiling at the cameraAs executive director of Disability Rights Oregon, Jake leads a team of lawyers and advocates who help lift barriers preventing Oregonians with disabilities from reaching their full potential.

Jake brings to this role deep experience in federal policymaking, coalition-building, and management. In addition to his professional experiences in the non-profit sector and academia, he has worked on the federal level to support the rights of people with disabilities through legislative advocacy and advocating for funding the network of Protection and Advocacy agencies across the country.

Jake’s career has been devoted to advancing the civil rights of people with disabilities, people of color, women, LGBTQ people, religious minorities, older people, and immigrants to the United States. He served as the Senate’s top staff members on disability policy. While serving as senior advisor to U.S. Senator Patty Murray on the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, he directed the Democrat’s work protecting the rights of people with disabilities, broadly encompassing issues that fall within the areas of education, healthcare, and employment. His responsibilities spanned legislation, executive branch oversight, nominees, and political strategy.

In the fight for people with disabilities to earn fair wages, he helped to successfully build coalitions to support the repeal of section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act, which allows employers to pay workers with disabilities less than federal and state minimum wage. Additionally, he pushed back against and stopped legislation that would weaken the Americans with Disabilities Act by restricting a person’s ability to enforce her or his right to be free from disability discrimination. To ensure continuing access to health care for people with disabilities, he worked to defend Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act from being repealed or cut, which would have harmed people with significant health needs and preexisting conditions.

Jake first began working in Congress when the Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation selected him as a fellow. Prior to working on Capitol Hill, he served as a project manager at the top-rated University of Kansas Department of Special Education. He was responsible for writing and administering the grant and managing staff involved in research focused on understanding how general and special education teachers learn new instructional methods in school settings to pinpoint best practices that create effective inclusive education.

He also worked for a multinational non-profit research firm conducting a national evaluation of elementary school reading for the U.S. Department of Education called Response to Intervention. Prior to that, Jake worked as a technical assistance provider in elementary and secondary schools providing inclusive education to children with disabilities.

Cornett holds a Bachelor degree from Western Washington University and a Master’s degree in special education from the top-ranked University of Kansas. In his free time, Cornett enjoys hiking, traveling, and cooking for friends and family.