Mary E. Switzer

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Mary Elizabeth Switzer (February 16, 1900 – October 16, 1971) was an American public administrator and social reformer. She notably shaped the 1954 Vocational Rehabilitation Act, which provided a great expansion of vocational rehabilitation service for people with disabilities. She publicized the government's growing role in vocational rehabilitation and encouraged expansion of vocational rehabilitation projects among non-governmental organizations.

Federal government career

Switzer graduated from Radcliffe College in 1921 and started working for the federal government in the U.S. Department of the Treasury. She worked successively with the Minimum Wage Board, the Public Health Service and the Federal Security Agency, becoming increasingly concerned with health care issues. In 1950 she became director of the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation; then the commissioner of the Vocational Rehabilitation Agency in 1961; and finally, the administrator of the Social and Rehabilitation Service in 1967. She retired in 1970 and died in 1971.

Switzer was the first woman to serve on the Board of Directors at Georgetown University in 1969. She served as president of the National Rehabilitation Association and as advisor to many American health organizations, including the Menninger Foundation and St. Elizabeths Hospital.


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