Sara Hart Weir’s life has been about service to her community and to those whose lives are often forgotten by the powerful or well-connected. She has dedicated her life to helping others and changing the system which so often has failed those in need of the most help. Sara’s passion of fighting for the human rights of all people with Down syndrome stems from her experience as a peer-mentor and friend to Kasey, from Lenexa. The two met almost two decades ago while Kasey was a student at Shawnee Mission West High School.
Sara quickly realized that the disability community did not have high-powered lobbyists, wealthy corporations or influential political action committees working for them - they relied on the strength of passionate voices outside the political spectrum who were willing to speak up for them.
Sara went on to change that, and dedicated her career and service to allow everyone to have a fair shot at the “American Dream” by promoting conservative solutions that give individuals with Down syndrome and all Americans with disabilities access to a better life.
As a national and global policy leader for the disability community, Sara vocally opposed Iceland’s radical policy aimed at eradicating individuals with Down syndrome and fought alongside national pro-life leaders to emphasize the value of all human life. Sara realized the power of voices outside the traditional political power bases while serving as the vice president of advocacy, and later as President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Down Syndrome Society. Sara has always deployed an “in the trenches” leadership style by engaging directly with her constituents - meeting with families from the Down syndrome in their local communities, in classrooms, visiting their places of employment and around their kitchen tables.
She built unique coalitions, mobilized new networks of engaged citizens and impacted the lives of countless Americans as she worked to provide public sector solutions to public sector problems. Sara led the advocacy effort behind the passage of the landmark, historical Stephen Beck, Jr. Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act in 2014, and the state advocacy effort to enact 49 state ABLE laws as well as played a significant role in launching over 40 state ABLE plans including the Kansas ABLE Savings Program with wide support from the Kansas Congressional delegation. The ABLE Act establishes tax-free savings accounts for people with disabilities and is hailed as the most significant legislation for the disability community since the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Sara’s life work was fashioned from her family and their deep commitment to community, hard work and a passion for improving Kansas. Her father, Scott, serves as the Director for the Institute for Advancing Medical Innovation at the University of Kansas Cancer Center and her mom, Lucy, is a successful realtor in the Kansas City metro. Sara is an Olathe, KS native, a proud graduate of Olathe South High School and Leadership Olathe. She was awarded the 2000 Olathe South High School Principal’s Senior Leadership of the Year Award.
Sara has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Political Leadership from Westminster College, Sara earned a Master of Science in Public Policy and Management from Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College. Sara was awarded a certificate of completion for the Emerging Leaders Program in November 2017 from the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government in Executive Education.
Sara is an international expert and featured speaker, and has been featured in CBS Evening News, BBC, USA Today, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, Washington Post, CNN, Fox News, and many others. Sara currently lives in Mission.