Technology – We Will Not Go Back

Last week Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, First Lady Fran DeWine, Ohio State University President Kristina Johnson, Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities Director Kevin Miller, and many others visited Assistive Technology of Ohio. AT Ohio Executive Director Dr. Bill Darling provided an update on the latest technology to assist Ohioans with disabilities to become employed and/or be more independent and interactive in their homes and communities.   

Mr. Brad Whitmoyer – a small businessperson with a disability who is nonverbal – showed us how he uses current technology to communicate and run his own business.  Mr. Whitmoyer uses the Accent 1400 AAC device from Prentke Romich. It is an interactive computer where he selects icons that correspond to words that allow him to quickly build complete sentences. He uses a combination of eye-gaze technology and a switch to select the appropriate icon. 

This meeting brings several important issues to mind that I wish to highlight.   

First, as an Ohioan with a disability, it is good to be represented by elected and appointed folks who have spent many years directly working with people with disabilities, advocates, and many others, supporting our full participation in employment and our communities. FYI, longtime advocates like me remember, as a U.S. Senator, Mike DeWine helped author the original 1999 Workforce Investment Act that ensured that all employment programs work with the Vocational Rehabilitation program for people with disabilities leading to more employment opportunities and additional support for independent living programs. 

Next, with the utmost reverence for the over 580,000 Americans who have died from COVID – 19 and many, many more with long-term illness, I submit that we must not forget or relinquish all the societal and technological advances that have come to the forefront and been widely accepted.   

For most of my life, working from home was forbidden (no job if you can’t be in the office) or required special permission and many, many human resources forms to be sure it was allowed. Now, suddenly, not only is working from home necessary to keep us all healthy; it is also a “great new idea” to increase productivity.   

Of course, this is where technology comes in. A myriad of creative and assistive technology has given all of us new ways to work, communicate, learn, and interact on a daily basis. Because of this – and a once in a century pandemic – society worked out what people with disabilities have done all our lives, figured out more than one way to achieve something in our work, our community, and our lives.   

Governor DeWine’s visit reminded me that we have elected & appointed officials who know, support, and are constantly learning new ways for us to achieve independence and employment in our communities to the full extent of our abilities – And we need more of them.  

Finally, since it seems we have now “learned” that with technology and ingenuity there are many ways to work, learn, communicate, and interact with each other; we cannot and will not return to “the way it was before”.    

If you want a job, to attend a meeting, communicate with family & friends, be independent to the full extent of your abilities, and help in learning and growing new abilities, don’t allow anyone to say you/we can’t do it.   

Suggest a way that works for you. Ask for help or an accommodation to figure out a way to do it. Talk about your abilities and all the things you can do.   

Times and technology will constantly change. The pandemic simply accelerated some of that change.   

We will not go back. There is no going back.  

Thank God!   

Now to April 26th – Dept of Labor dialogue/input: people with disabilities employment equity in underserved communities

US Department of Labor opens dialogue to ensure equity in employment for people with disabilities from historically underserved communities

Initiative will inform future policy, programs, funding opportunities

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Labor announced, beginning April 12, it will open a two-week national online dialogue to gather ideas for ensuring equity in employment policies and programs for people with disabilities from historically underserved communities. Those seeking to participate should register at RacialEquity.ideascale.com.

The department will use input received between April 12 and April 26 to help identify strategies for dismantling systemic barriers to employment and participation in workforce services that people with disabilities from diverse backgrounds, communities and identities face. This group includes communities of color, religious minorities, LGBTQ+ persons, rural communities and those otherwise affected by persistent poverty or inequality.

Co-hosted by the department’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs and Women’s Bureau, the dialogue will also help formulate future programs and funding opportunities that respond to the needs of people with disabilities, including people with mental health conditions and those recovering from long-term effects of the coronavirus, from diverse backgrounds. The dialogue follows  Executive Order 13985, “Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities through the Federal Government,” signed by President Biden on Jan. 20, 2021. 

“This national dialogue gives us a unique opportunity to listen to those with lived experience, and opens a valuable line of communication,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary for Disability Employment Policy Jennifer Sheehy. “Outreach like this strengthens our understanding and better equips us to ensure equity in our policy work and grant programs and respond to the needs of all Americans with disabilities.”

“The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs plays a vital role in rooting out entrenched employment inequities and ensures that federal contractors – which employ about 25 percent of the U.S. workforce – fulfill their contractual promise and deliver equal opportunity and affirmative action in their workplaces,” said Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs Director Jenny R. Yang. “Hearing what workers with disabilities from diverse backgrounds and identities face will guide our efforts to remove their barriers to opportunity and ensure their access to good jobs.”

“We know that the strongest policies don’t overlook marginalized communities and are designed to work for everyone,” said Women’s Bureau Director Wendy Chun-Hoon. “Engaging stakeholders as we seek to make sure our actions and policies support workers across many identities and experiences, including gender, race, sexuality, ability, religion, geography and wealth, is a core priority that ensures better employment outcomes for all.”

Agency: Office of Disability Employment Policy

Date: April 7, 2021

Release Number: 21-619-NAT

Contact: Bennett Gamble

Phone Number: 202-693-6587

Email: Gamble.Bennett@dol.gov

Spanish Helpdesk line – Milestones Autism Resources

Milestones Autism Resources ofrece ayuda gratuita en español – Milestones Autism Resources provides free Spanish Helpdesk

MAR OFN info card ENG AND SPANISH.pdf

MAR HelpDesk Business Card_SPANISH.pdf

Milestones Autism Resources, located in Warrensville Heights, is proud to now provide a Spanish Helpdesk line, as a part of our work with the Ohio Family Network (OFN) through the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD). We hope that you might share this information with your network. 

The Spanish Helpdesk will serve as a direct line to a Spanish-speaking staff member for help finding individualized local resources. Anyone can use the Spanish Helpdesk to find the best services in their community for their family, friend, or self. 

To connect to the Spanish Helpdesk or learn more about the Ohio Family Network, please contact 216-464-7600 ext. 5. You can also contact informacion@milestones.org or visit milestones.org/services/helpdesk 

The goal of the Ohio Family Network is to connect people with any intellectual and developmental disability and their families to local information and resources within their communities. Through the OFN program, Milestones is excited to be able to expand our Diversity Initiative with the addition of this new Spanish Helpdesk line, as well as the recent translation of our website and downloadable autism tool kits.

To translate milestones.org into Spanish, simply click the Espanol button in the top right corner of any page on the website.

Ohio DD Awareness Day Ohio Tech Ambassador Panel on FaceBook Live + Upcoming Tech Online Zoom Sessions

All five Ohio Tech Ambassadors, listed below, will be giving a panel presentation at 2021 Developmental Disability Awareness and Advocacy Day on Tuesday, March 2 at 10 AM representing each of their specific regions. This will be streamed live on Facebook Live Streaming at the Developmental Disability Awareness & Advocacy Day Facebook Page at: https://www.facebook.com/OhioDDAwareness

 The Southern Ohio Council of Governments (SOCOG) recently launched the Ohio Tech Ambassador Network, a program promoting how adaptive technology use enhances lives and independence for people with developmental disabilities. Five Tech Ambassadors have been selected statewide to discuss how they use supportive technology at home, at school, at work and in the community. 

Tech Ambassadors will share their personal experiences through virtual peer-to-peer mentoring events scheduled through June 2021. Service providers, family members, mentors and individuals with developmental disabilities will have the opportunity to hear from the Tech Ambassadors firsthand about their own experiences, learn more about adaptive technologies that are available today and ask questions live.

Upcoming events with Zoom registration links:

Here’s information on each Tech Ambassador and the Website:

Central: Marci Straughter <mstraughter@ohiotechambassadors.org 

Southwest: Robert Shuemak <rshuemak@ohiotechambassadors.org

Northwest:   Nathan Turner <nturner@ohiotechambassadors.org 

Southeast: Tanner Huff <thuff@ohiotechambassadors.org 

Northeast: Chris Cooley <ccooley@ohiotechambassadors.org 

Website for more information: www.ohiotechambassadors.org 

Technology Showcase on March 3 – Email to receive Zoom Link

Technology Showcase on March 3
Marci Straughter, one of the Tech Ambassadors for the State of Ohio, will be having a technology showcase on March 3, 2021 at 10:00 a.m. to show people how technology can be used to enhance safety and independence for people who have developmental disabilities. The showcase will be held on Zoom.
Marci will demonstrate how she uses technology in her home and the community. Marci also serves on the Self-Advocate Advisory Council with the Franklin County Board of Developmental Disabilities. 

If you are interested in more details or would like to receive the Zoom Link to March 3rd, 10 AM event, send an email to Marci at marci@ohiotechambassadors.org 

Pondering the Meaning of Liberty

Pondering the Meaning of Liberty

By Mark E. Seifarth

As of late, my pen and my keyboard have been a bit silent as I sort through the cacophony of opinions & ideas on the recent nation shattering events.

Then, on an early morning news and comment program, Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Jon Meacham gave me a gift, he spoke about a quote from President Ronald Reagan about losing liberty and freedom.

I believe the quote in part reads, “”Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.”

As we try to put the historic events of the last months into context and relevance, and how to address the deaths and injuries of Capitol Police Officers defending the U.S. Capitol, let’s ponder for a few brief moment what freedom and liberty have meant to the disability community.

Full disclosure, I look at this through the view of a person with a lifelong disability who personally experienced one and more of these current events.

What it has meant thus far, that we still have much liberty and equality yet to achieve for people with disabilities, and perhaps with importance, what it means to lose our liberty and our country’s liberty.

Let us remember just some examples of over more than 50 years of hard work and sweat that achieved liberty:

  • Individuals with Disabilities Education Act ensuring equal access to free public education and appropriate special education for children with disabilities.
  • Rehabilitation Act (and its many subsequent iterations) not only giving access to job training services and later independent living services & centers for people with disabilities but also very importantly Rehabilitation Act Section 504 banned discrimination on the basis of disability by recipients of federal funds.
  • Americans with Disabilities Act & subsequent ADA Amendments – The White House archives called the ADA “a landmark moment in history.”    “…On July 26, 1990…America became the first country to adopt a comprehensive civil rights declaration for people with disabilities. The ADA was a landmark moment in history, designed to provide universal accessibility in the areas of employment, public service, public accommodations, and telecommunications.”
  • Olmstead Decision – the United States Supreme Court held in Olmstead v. L.C. that unjustified segregation of persons with disabilities constitutes discrimination in violation of title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

With those examples of achievements in the disability movement, we must remember that we have yet far to go under the protection of our Democratic Republic that for over 200 years has espoused freedom and liberty for all, not just those with the biggest club. Just a few examples of yet to do:

  • Repeal Section 14 ( c ) of the Fair Labor Standards Act permitting subminimum wage for workers with disabilities.
  • Equal access to Home and Community-Based Services – so people with disabilities have equal access in our society and to their communities where they wish to live with informed choices.
  • Access to affordable high-speed internet and technology across the country in both urban and rural locations.
  • All have access to affordable health care coverage without having to live in poverty.

So, why the brief history lesson of what has been achieved and the short litany of work yet to be done?

Because perhaps John Meacham and President Reagan have shown us a path to the future.

Without our Democratic Republic with its Three Branches of Government (Executive, Legislative, Judiciary) – where one branch does not attempt to take over the others – we would never have had the opportunities to achieve the equal access we have thus far and continue to work for a fairer more inclusive future.

With respect, do not forget governments in this world that disregarded liberty & freedom and how the rights & lives of people were cast away with that liberty.

Our history teaches us that we must preserve the freedom and liberty of persons with disabilities (and all people) in each generation to come.

Remember when other governments decided our rights and lives had no value and acted accordingly.

REGISTER Feb 10-12 – RELEASE ANNUAL DISABILITY STATISTICS COMPENDIUM VIRTUAL CONFERENCE — Free

Virtual Release of the Annual Disability Statistics Compendium Conference continues all week.

Register Now!

https://disabilitycompendium.org/event

https://disabilitycompendium.org/annualreport

https://disabilitycompendium.org/

Date: February 9-12, 2021 | 12:00pm – 1:15pm (ET) each day
Location: Online via Zoom Webcast
Cost: Free
Follow along on social media at: #DisabilityCompendiumEvent

We hope you will join us for our four-part virtual release of the Annual Disability Statistics Compendium on February 9-12, 2021, 12:00-1:15 pm. During this webinar series, experts will present three web-based tools (Compendium, Supplement, and State Report) that make finding and using disability statistics easier for individuals working on legislative and other matters relating to persons with disabilities.

February 9th was recorded and will be available on website soon.

Live captioning and ASL interpretation will be provided during this event.

Speaker List (PDF)

Agenda (View as PDF)

Day 1 (Tuesday, Feb. 9): Release of the Annual Report and Compendium

Moderator: Andrew Houtenville (UNH)


Day 2 (Wednesday, Feb. 10): Federal Data Collection and Adjusting to COVID Environment

Moderator: Kirstin Painter (NIDILRR)

  • Rapid Changes to U.S. Census Bureau Household Surveys: Data Collection During COVID-19
    Jason Fields (Census Bureau)
  • Health Data
    Julie Weeks (CDC/NCHS)
  • The Occupational Requirements Survey
    Michelle Dressner (BLS)
  • Disability Employment Data and Trends During COVID-19
    Chris McLaren (ODEP)
  • Questions & Answers

Day 3 (Thursday, Feb. 11): Impact of COVID-19 for People with Disabilities

Moderator: Amanda Reichard (NIDILRR)

  • Intersection of Race, Disability, and COVID-19: A Machine Learning Approach
    Allison Kolbe (ASPE)
  • Use of Telehealth
    Kimberly Phillips (UNH)
  • Employment Trends and State Patterns
    Andrew Houtenville & Shreya Paul (UNH)
  • Food Sufficiency
    Debra Brucker (UNH)
  • Questions & Answers

Day 4 (Friday, Feb. 12): Disability and African Americans

Moderator: Shelly Reeves (NIDILRR)

  • Infographic: Social Inequities Experienced by African Americans
    Kimberly Phillips & Marisa Rafal (UNH) 
  • COVID-19 Agenda among African Americans with Disabilities: A Social Determinants of Health Perspective
    Edward Manyibe & Andre Washington (RRTC on Research and Capacity Building for Minority Entities, Langston University)
  • Questions & Answers
  • Closing Commentary
    David Wittenburg & David Mann (Mathematica)
  • Quick Closing Remarks
    Andrew Houtenville (UNH)

(Agenda is subject to change)

A Time for Work

Mark E. Seifarth 

Every two years we elect U.S. House Members and one-third of the U.S. Senate. Every two years we elect legislators in our states all across this country.

Every four years we elect and inaugurate the President of our United States. Today is that day.

Here’s a Presidential Inaugural Day thought or two by way of comparison.

In many ways our great and diverse country is not unlike the great and diverse disability community. We are all different and yet we all work toward common goals as well.

One of the first things I learned when I began working on disability policy and public policy almost 40 years ago is the only disability I can speak about is my own. I can talk about being a person with Cerebral Palsy. We all work together so all persons with disabilities can speak for themselves and we can move forward for full inclusion in employment, our communities and our lives as equals with all our fellow Americans.

But, perhaps there are other questions to contemplate today.

Part of the reason that we as a varied United States and a varied disability community come together is because we all have work to be done. Employment work; Access work; Community work; Reasonable Accommodation work; Equality & Equity work;

So is not Inauguration Day a time to ponder the work? The work as a country we have done and the work yet to be accomplished.

The question for our elected officials, our disability community, our advocates, our neighbors, our friends is can you do the work? Will you do the work?

I think we all want to work toward goals to improve ourselves, our communities, our country. That takes effort, commitment, and yes, work.

One can ask the question and perhaps should ask the question periodically, have our elected officials done the work? Have we done the work?

Have we increased access to health care for those with no or limited access?

Have we improved Medicaid so that people can stay healthy and out of unnecessary and expensive hospital stays?

Have we examined Medicare so that our seniors and others so we can stay healthy and continue to contribute in our communities?

Have our states and our federal government worked together and not just tried to foist the responsibility on each other without resulting in a better use of scare resources?

I could go on and on…

And I realize we are in a time of a once in a century pandemic that has taken up much of the available resources. But again, have our federal, state, and local governments worked together during a time of unprecedented need?

I raise all this on Inauguration day to look to our history and look to our future.

Our great country has worked together through depression/recession, world wars, unrest, and now a pandemic. The disability community has worked together through the Rehabilitation Act, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), ADA Amendments, and so many others so we have equal access, equity, and equality.

I submit for your consideration: Have we done the work in the past four years? Have we tried to do the work in the past four years?

With that examination, I will conclude with the much more difficult questions.

Can we move forward together? With all our grand diversity, and our chosen spiritual guidance, are we prepared to support each other as we agree and disagree? Are we ready for the work ahead? 

What is each of us ready to do to empower ourselves, educate our elected officials, and do the work?

 

Reflections January 7, 2021 of Yesterday’s U.S. Capitol Riots

Architect of the Capitol Symbol

Reflections January 7, 2021 of Yesterday’s U.S. Capitol Riots

Those who know me/worked with me over almost 40 years of Public Policy impact, know that I have been neither the most conservative nor the most liberal. I have tried to be an honest, informational, educational voice for lawmakers to work with people with disabilities, advocates & families to craft the needed public policy and services for equal access in our communities.

While I consider myself a moderate who works hard to learn and understand both sides of an issue to help craft a useful and workable compromise, this morning I find myself seeing no compromise in the defense of our Republic and Democracy in our country.

I will not go back to our founding fathers and mothers to discuss our democracy and my current sadness on yesterday’s violent occurrences. I will simply speak of things I remember and/or I experienced – and how it illustrates disparate treatment and how we must move forward now to heal this country.

Over 30 years ago, during consideration of the Americans with Disabilities Act in Congress, people with disabilities crawled up the steps of the U.S. Capitol as it demonstrated that our crutches and our wheelchairs had limited or no access and we did not have the same rights as our neighbors in our communities.

People with disabilities have chained themselves to buses, sat in Congress, Statehouses, and government buildings to demand our rights and access – even when these rights were already in law and not being enforced or completed in the needed administrative rules. And we were arrested, dragged out in our wheelchairs – and if immovable – dragged out of our wheelchairs, taken away from our needed mobility and medical devices and arrested.

So here is my question today from an old white guy with a lifelong disability:

Why were people with disabilities arrested when we protested for our rights, but rioters who engulfed the U.S. Capitol yesterday by and large were not? They were simply herded out of the Capitol after destruction trying to stop the acceptance of the Electoral College votes for our President. (Full disclosure: so far about 50 of the thousands were arrested.)

Now, I am not a person of color, but of the thousands of persons who overran the U.S. Capitol yesterday and were not stopped or arrested by law enforcement – of all the news coverage pictures – I visually saw only one person of color. Contrast this with the many Black Lives Matter protests and the peaceful protesters in Lafayette Square near the White House who were either arrested or violently pushed out.

I’m not asking you to simply agree with me, but please quietly in your own mind and heart consider the question:  Are people with disabilities and others treated differently? Have yesterday’s riots and protests bought this treatment again into the stark light of day to be addressed? I’m just saying. . .

Former Governor/Attorney General Richard Thornburgh Dies – Bipartisan ADA Advocate

Let’s pause to remember Dick Thornburgh – who on behalf of President George H. W. Bush, worked in a bipartisan way with Democrats & Republicans in the U.S. House & U.S. Senate to help craft the Americans with Disabilities Act that President Bush supported and signed into law July 1990.
Washington Post December 31, 2020 – partial quote of complete article further below:
“…One of Mr. Thornburgh’s policy triumphs as attorney general emerged from the Justice Department’s civil rights division. He served as the Bush administration’s point man in the passage of the 1990 Americans With Disabilities Act, which broadened the scope of civil rights for people with disabilities. He reassured lawmakers wary of the cost of new regulations on businesses, countering with the benefit to productivity and the economy from contributions by workers with disabilities.

The passage had been personally satisfying for Mr. Thornburgh, whose son Peter suffered from the effects of a traumatic brain injury in a car accident in 1960. The accident had also taken the life of Mr. Thornburgh’s first wife…”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/dick-thornburgh-dead/2020/12/31/b876404c-4b9d-11eb-a9f4-0e668b9772ba_story.html?s=09#click=https://t.co/Q1ewL0eoGF

Obituaries

Richard L. Thornburgh, former Pennsylvania governor and U.S. attorney general, dies at 88

By Louie Estrada Dec. 31, 2020 at 2:50 p.m. EST

Richard L. Thornburgh, a former crime-busting federal prosecutor who unflappably led Pennsylvania through the Three Mile Island nuclear crisis as the state’s two-term governor and served as U.S. attorney general from 1988 to 1991, died Dec. 31 at a retirement community in Oakmont, Pa. He was 88.

His son David Thornburgh confirmed his death but did not cite a specific cause.

In the summer of 1988, President Ronald Reagan needed to replace besieged Attorney General Edwin Meese III, who had resigned amid charges of ethics violations for mixing personal finances with government business and for allegedly helping cover up the White House’s role in the Iran-contra scandal. The administration sought a Republican with a law enforcement background and a track record of public integrity to take quick command of the Justice Department.

Mr. Thornburgh, who was tall, with a boyish, round face and horn-rimmed glasses, seemed an ideal candidate. Schooled in engineering and law, he was widely seen as methodical, effective and cool under extreme pressure.

As the U.S. attorney for western Pennsylvania from 1969 to 1975, he won convictions against organized-crime figures as well as police chiefs, city council members, mayors and other public officials who collectively took millions of dollars in bribes from mobsters.

For Mr. Thornburgh, the biggest professional challenge came not in a courtroom but rather in a trial-by-fire in crisis management when, as governor, he helped avert pandemonium during the Three Mile Island crisis in 1979, the most serious nuclear power plant accident in U.S. history.

He arrived in Washington amid high expectations to take control of a Justice Department reeling from Meese’s tenure.

Mr. Thornburgh served in the Reagan Cabinet for five months, then was asked to remain as attorney general in the new administration of George H.W. Bush even though some Republican leaders expressed doubts about his conservative bona fides. He was widely regarded as a GOP moderate, especially in contrast to Meese, a blunt and polarizing campaigner against abortion rights and affirmative action, and on other cultural flash points.

In the ensuing three years as U.S. attorney general, Mr. Thornburgh led the Justice Department during its investigation of the bombing of Pan American Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, as well as cases involving Colombian drug cartels and global money-laundering operations.

But the glare of national media scrutiny, harsh battles of political partisanship and legal turf wars took a toll on Mr. Thornburgh’s “Mr. Clean” reputation.

His department faced scrutiny for its slow pace — compared with those of state prosecutors — in pursuing prosecutions of Charles H. Keating Jr. and other fraudsters in the multibillion-dollar savings-and-loan crisis that had cost millions of Americans their life savings.

Mr. Thornburgh also was accused by congressional Democrats of protecting the White House in a tangled scandal dubbed “Iraqgate.” It appeared to involve members of the American and Italian governments, a multibillion-dollar bank fraud in the Atlanta branch of an Italian bank, and an arms buildup by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq amid the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s.

One of the bankers went to prison for his role in making illicit loans. But the Justice Department, under Bill Clinton’s attorney general, Janet Reno, issued a report in 1995 absolving members of the Bush administration of misconduct.

One of Mr. Thornburgh’s policy triumphs as attorney general emerged from the Justice Department’s civil rights division. He served as the Bush administration’s point man in the passage of the 1990 Americans With Disabilities Act, which broadened the scope of civil rights for people with disabilities. He reassured lawmakers wary of the cost of new regulations on businesses, countering with the benefit to productivity and the economy from contributions by workers with disabilities.

The passage had been personally satisfying for Mr. Thornburgh, whose son Peter suffered from the effects of a traumatic brain injury in a car accident in 1960. The accident had also taken the life of Mr. Thornburgh’s first wife.

Richard Lewis Thornburgh was born in Rosslyn Farms, a prosperous suburb of Pittsburgh, on July 16, 1932. His family consisted almost entirely of engineers and Republican Party stalwarts.

He received a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Yale University in 1954 and graduated three years later from the University of Pittsburgh law school. He spent most of his early legal career with the law firm of Kirkpatrick & Lockhart in Pittsburgh.

He said the car accident that killed his wife, the former Virginia Hooton, and severely injured his son prompted soul-searching about his future.

He was remarried in 1963 to a former schoolteacher and three years later sought public office, running for the U.S. House of Representatives on a platform that included advocating for civil rights initiatives and de-escalating U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. He lost the race.

In 1969, the newly elected Republican president, Richard M. Nixon, named Mr. Thornburgh the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania.

His diligence in prosecuting cases caught the attention of higher-ups in Washington and, in 1975, he was elevated to assistant attorney general in charge of the Justice Department’s criminal division. The next year, he helped create the public integrity section to investigate allegations of political corruption.

In 1978, he won the gubernatorial race against former Pittsburgh mayor Peter F. Flaherty. Nothing in the campaign could have prepared him for what unfolded eight weeks into his first term.

On the morning of March 28, 1979, while meeting with state lawmakers about budget issues, Mr. Thornburgh received a phone call that there had been an accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant, located on a sandbar in the middle of the Susquehanna River about 10 miles downstream from the state capital, Harrisburg.

A chain of events involving mechanical failure, design flaws and human error led to the partial meltdown of the reactor core in Unit 2 at the nuclear power plant.

Mr. Thornburgh urged residents in the surrounding area to remain calm as he tried to get a grasp on what was happening at the plant. Using his prosecutorial questioning skills to cut through contradictory information during the early days of the crisis, he determined that the situation wasn’t as bad as some had feared but that government officials needed to remain vigilant.

After engineers regained control of Three Mile Island, Mr. Thornburgh led President Jimmy Carter and first lady Rosalynn Carter on a tour of the facility to help put a jittery public at ease.

Mr. Thornburgh spent many more years working on the Three Mile Island cleanup efforts, but he also focused his attention on the state’s declining industrial-based economy. He cut personal and business tax rates and balanced the state’s budgets for each of his eight years in office. He also helped forge partnerships to lure technology companies.

“He really understood the evolution of the old economy of coal, iron and steel to the new economy of finance, real estate and technology,” said G. Terry Madonna, a political scientist at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa. “After Three Mile Island, which he handled brilliantly, with calm and deliberate decision-making, his job approval soared.”

Prohibited by state law from running for a third term, Mr. Thornburgh was soon in Washington as the newly appointed U.S. attorney general.

In 1991, he left the Justice Department when Senate Republican leaders persuaded him to run in a special election for the U.S. Senate seat from Pennsylvania after the death of John Heinz (R-Pa.) in a plane crash. Painted as a Washington insider, he was defeated in a stunning upset by Harris Wofford, a former president of Bryn Mawr College, who rode anti-Bush sentiments to victory.

Survivors include his wife, the former Ginny Walton Judson of Oakmont; three sons from his first marriage, John Thornburgh of Wexford, Pa., David Thornburgh of Philadelphia and Peter Thornburgh of Pittsburgh; a son from his second marriage, William Thornburgh of Pittsburgh; six grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

Mr. Thornburgh, who became counsel to the law firm K & L Gates in Washington, continued to give speeches about the value of holding elective office.

“Democracy is not a spectator sport,” he said in a 2009 address at the University of Pennsylvania. “And politics is an honorable calling. All of us must exercise the opportunity to contribute to improving and sustaining higher levels of performance in public life. This involves much more than simply voting or even being part of a focus group or responding to poll questions. And it is just as important in contests for the local school board as in those for higher office.”