OACB honors disability and elder law attorney Franklin Hickman with Lifetime Achievement Award

By Erich Hiner, OACB
Published Monday, December 3, 2018 12:00 pm

In a ceremony at the 35th Annual Convention on November 28, OACB was proud to present the Lifetime Achievement Award to Franklin J. Hickman. The association’s highest honor, the Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to a public official, board member, or other individual who has demonstrated throughout his or her professional lifetime a commitment to enhancing the lives of people with developmental disabilities. Hickman is the award’s third recipient. Prior to this year, it had been presented just twice—first in 1985 to Dr. Raymond Horn for his role in founding Ohio’s county boards of DD and then in 2007 to former Ohio Governor and U.S. Sen. George Voinovich.

Click the image above to watch Franklin Hickman's
Lifetime Achievement Award presentation.

Hickman—known to his friends and colleagues simply as “Frank”—has been committed to empowering and supporting people with disabilities for decades. As a young man, he worked with Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver at her summer camp for children with intellectual disabilities, eventually becoming the camp’s program director. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1973, he immediately focused on disability and education law with the goal of helping people with disabilities and their families.

Hickman joined the board of the precursor organization to The Arc of Greater Cleveland in 1973 and served for eight years—receiving the organization’s Merit Award in 1982. He served on the Cuyahoga County Board of DD starting in 1983 and was one of the original inductees to the board’s Hall of Fame. He was also instrumental in the founding of OACB in 1984, serving on the association’s first board of trustees from 1984 to 1987. In 1984, Hickman began working with Janet Lowder (pictured below), who remains his partner in legal practice to this day.

Since going into private practice in 1981, Hickman has focused on working with families of people with intellectual and/or physical disabilities, mental illnesses, or substance abuse problems. He has represented families in special education cases since 1975 in negotiations, mediations, due process proceedings, and cases in all courts, including the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. He spends a major part of his practice on cases under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Today, he serves as general counsel for OACB and is a familiar face at many statewide trainings and professional events. Known for his keen legal mind, sharp insights, and dry wit, Hickman has been a constant champion of people with developmental disabilities and the people and agencies that support them. In recognition of his innumerable accomplishments, the Board of Trustees is honored to present him with the OACB Lifetime Achievement Award.

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