From the desk of Beth Loy, Ph.D., Principal Consultant
She was engaging. She was magnetic. As Director of the Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program (CAP), U.S. Department of Defense, Dinah Fayne Benveniste Cohen fulfilled a mission like no other. Although she recently retired from CAP, she continued to work in the disability field. Her goal was to make the world a better place, and she did. After a short bout with cancer, Dinah left us on March 23, 2018.
Dinah was a trailblazer, groundbreaker, and visionary in her professional world. She fought for equal rights for people with disabilities, and she won much more than she lost. Losing wasn’t in Dinah’s vocabulary. She was a huge fan of JAN and worked with us on articles, presentations, conferences, and other projects. You can do an Internet search and learn about her awards and accomplishments. She did a guest interview with JAN in 2013.
In her personal life, she was hilarious and a friend who I’ve had for 21 years. We met at CSUN in 1997. She was giving one of her hundreds of presentations, and she forgot to mention JAN. I called her on it, and she asked me to lunch. She was the daughter of Holocaust survivors. I was the daughter of West Virginians. From onlookers, we had nothing in common, but fate entwined us to be forever friends. We met up in DC, Florida, California, Illinois, Utah, Louisiana, and the list goes on. Sure, we worked together and made many strides. We even changed a thing or two along the way. Dinah loved my accent, and I loved her determination.
We had instant chemistry on stage, and she made the field of disability humorous for those around her. Honestly, I never imagined a world without her enthusiasm. Through Dinah, I’ve met some of my very best friends, including Derek and Sharon, two of my very closest. Friendship is a blessing from her that keeps giving after her loss. Two of my newest friends are Catherine and Dianne, who cared for Dinah. Friendships were her greatest gifts to me.
You may be a friend of Dinah’s or know a friend through her, but when you look collectively at her friends, you see strength, compassion, and laughter. Above all, she believed in equality. Yes, she was one of our great leaders, but she was also one of our best friends. Save a star for your JAN Crew, Dinah. Some day we will put the band back together. #TeamDinah