Richard Pimentel

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Richard Pimentel speaks at a 2012 NAVAIR event commemorating National Disability Employment Awareness Month and Warrior Care Month.

Richard Keith Pimentel (born 1947 or 1948 in Portland, Oregon)[1][2][3] is a disability rights advocate, trainer, and speaker who was a strong advocate for the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act. He developed training materials aimed to help employers integrate persons with disabilities into the workplace. His life story is recounted in the film Music Within.[4] He is a senior partner of Milt Wright & Associates, Inc.[5]

Personal life[edit]

Pimentel's mother was mentally ill, his father died in Richard's childhood, he temporarily stayed in a local orphanage, and was mainly raised by his grandmother. He graduated from Jefferson High School in Portland, Oregon, then enlisted in the U.S. Army, was deployed to Vietnam, and returned 1970 almost completely deaf. He enrolled in a vocational rehabilitation program for veterans but, based on his deafness, the Veterans Administration declined his application to help him become a professional speaker. With support by the university's Speech and Hearing Department's professor and College Bowl founder Ben Padrow, Pimentel finally received a veteran rehabilitation grant to enroll at Portland State University.[4][6][7][8] Richard is happily married. He and his wife, Deborah, are the parents of 12 children: 6 children still at home, his youngest, a son, born in 2013, named after his best friend Art Honeyman and the actor who played Art in the movie of his life story, 'Music Within', Michael Sheen.


Starting as a sociology class project at the university, Pimentel developed a training program for supervisors on disability issues to see if that would increase job placements of disabled people.[4]

In 1981, he authored the disability attitude training Tilting at Windmills Training Program (Windmills) to help employers hire more people with disabilities.[9]

Since then he trained tens of thousands of workers, supervisors, managers, and representatives of US government agencies and Fortune 500 companies[4] on disability awareness and sensitivity, disability management, return-to-work models for injured and recently disabled employees.[9]

Commissioned by the President’s Committee on Employment of Persons with Disabilities, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and the National Institute of Health (NIH), Pimentel co-authored AIDS in the Workplace in 1988. This attitudinal training program aimed to reduce congressional resistance to AIDS being covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).[10][9]

Shortly after the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law in 1990, the chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission publicly thanked Pimentel for educating employers on disability issues.[4]

Beginning in 1997, Pimentel developed training material and acted as keynote speaker for the Marriott Foundation for People with Disabilities. The foundation's Bridges program helped placing 1,200 young people with disabilities into employment each year.[9][11]

Pimentel started in 2008 with designing and implementing a training program for the employers of disabled veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan focusing on PTSD and traumatic brain injuries.[2][4][9]

Also in 2008, the Portland State University awarded Richard Pimentel an Honorary Doctorate in Humanities.

According to Milt Wright & Associates' website, Pimentel has been the Chairperson of VACOR, the Department of Veterans Affairs' Civilian Advisory Committee for Rehabilitation.[5][10]

Movie Music Within[edit]

Warner Brothers released in 2007 the full-length motion picture Music Within of Richard’s life story, starring Ron Livingston as Richard Pimentel and Michael Sheen as Art Honeyman.[3][4][12][13]


Richard Pimentel has authored the following:[14]

  • Developing the New Employee: Retaining and Enhancing a Diverse Workforce.
  • The Return to Work Process: A Case Management Approach. 1987. ISBN 9780942071337
  • Return to Work for People with Stress and Mental Illness. 2001. ISBN 9780942071511
  • Working with people with disabilities in a job placement/job retention environment. 2011. ISBN 0942071506

Pimentel has co-authored the following:[15]

  • Job placement for the industrially injured worker. 1987. ISBN 9780942071047
  • Americans with Disabilities Act : a comprehensive guide to Title I. 1992. ISBN 0942071174
  • Americans with Disabilities Act : making the ADA work for you. 1992. ISBN 094207114X
  • Job placement—ADA connection : limiting liabilities and maximizing opportunities for training and placement of persons with disabilities. 1993. ISBN 0942071190
  • Workers' compensation—ADA connection : supervisory tools for workers' compensation cost containment that reduce ADA liability. 1993. ISBN 0942071247
  • Taking control process : beyond light duty. 1995. ISBN 9780942071313


  1. ^ The Boston Globe: 'Music Within' strikes familiar notes. October 26, 2007
  2. ^ a b Australian Government Comcare: Speech by Richard Pimentel at the Comcare National Conference 2011
  3. ^ a b USA today: Disabled war veteran's activism forges onto film. November 5, 2007
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Portland State Magazine, Lisa Loving: Pushing for Fairness. May 19, 2008
  5. ^ a b Milt Wright & Associates: Dr. Richard Pimentel
  6. ^ Milt Wright & Associates, Inc.,: Dr Richard Pimentel: Life Story, as Portrayed in the Movie 'Music Within' (last visited December 3, 2016)
  7. ^ ABC: Disability and work: Richard Pimental. September 22, 2011
  8. ^ Veterans Rights Advocates: Dr. Richard Pimentel
  9. ^ a b c d e
  10. ^ a b Schweik, Susan M.: Kicked to the Curb: Ugly Law Then and Now, 2011. In: Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review Amicus, Voulme 46, pages 1-16
  11. ^ Dallas Business Journal: Program for children with disabilities expands in Texas. November 17, 2005.
  12. ^ Mental Health Association of Portland: In Memorium: Art Honeyman. December 10, 2008
  13. ^ IMdB: Music Within (2007)
  14. ^
  15. ^ Library of Congress Online Catalog: Richard Pimentel

External links[edit]