History & Awards
New Mobility was launched in 1989 to bring quality journalism to an underserved readership. Founder Sam Maddox recognized a community of wheelchair users who wanted more information on how to lead active, healthy lives and were willing to speak openly about everything from so-called “walking programs” to sexuality. He tapped seasoned writers with disabilities and college interns alike to produce a unique resource that shattered stereotypes and told real stories of living life on wheels. His greatest coup was recruiting legendary editor Barry Corbet, who led the magazine from 1991 to 2000.
In 1994, Miramar Communications purchased the magazine and continued its mission with additional resources. The company took NM from quarterly to monthly, gave it a makeover and invested in its writers and photographers more than previously possible. The result was a full-color glossy magazine with award-winning design and covers that rivaled any on the newsstand.
In 1998, Jeff Leonard bought the magazine, which dovetailed nicely with his direct-mail business, Disability Product Postcards. He formed No Limits Communications Inc., and though he had never published a magazine before, he brought the once-struggling NM into the black.
In 2010, United Spinal Association acquired New Mobility as part of a series of mergers with grass-roots disability organizations, including National Spinal Cord Injury Association and UsersFirst. Today New Mobility, edited by Tim Gilmer, remains an independent editorial voice and continues to be recognized as the premier wheelchair lifestyle publication in the world.
Since its inception, New Mobility has won many awards, including a 2006 Independent Press Award from Utne Reader; a Maggie for best buyer’s guide from the Western Publications Association; an Ozzie for best redesign from Folio; a DREAM (Disability Rights in Entertainment, Arts & Media) award from the Disability Rights Legal Center; and several EDI awards for Equality, Dignity and Independence from Easter Seals.
As editorial director of New Mobility, Jean Dobbs oversees the editorial team, guiding the magazine’s mission and design. She is also responsible for developing new departments and related projects, such as Life in Action magazine. With a master’s degree in journalism, she was previously NM’s executive editor and managing editor and has written for the magazine since 1991. She has interviewed many distinguished members of the disability community, including advocate Justin Dart, disability-culture scholar Carol Gill and entertainment photographer Christopher Voelker. She is editor of the book Kids on Wheels and publisher of Spinal Network: The Total Wheelchair Book. She works from home in North Carolina.
As New Mobility‘s editor, Tim Gilmer manages the magazine’s editorial content, working closely with staff and freelance writers. He is responsible for editing all features and departments and writes a monthly column, Bully Pulpit. He has written more than 50 features for NM, including recent pieces on director Ben Lewin and The Sessions, “standing quad” Rob Summers and politician Darren Jernigan. Prior to becoming editor in 2000, he taught writing classes and was a freelance writer. In 1995 he was awarded an Oregon Literary Arts Fellowship. In addition to NM, his work has appeared in The Oregonian, Writers Forum, Weber Studies and AlterNet (“Ron Kovic Reborn”). A wheelchair user since 1965, he telecommutes from his home, a working organic vegetable farm outside Portland, where he lives with his wife.
In addition to monitoring the editorial and production workflow, New Mobility‘s managing editor Josie Byzek helps develop story ideas, copyedits all articles and tracks down great photos and illustrations. She was previously NM’s associate editor and has written for the magazine since 2000. She has edited the Women’s Issue since 2002, focusing on such important topics as empowerment, body image and domestic abuse. She has also profiled leading figures in the disability community such as activists Bob Kafka and Stephanie Thomas and media personalities Teal Sherer, Zach Anner and the “Push Girls.” She works from her Lancaster, Pa., home.
Bob Vogel has been writing for New Mobility since 1996, covering a wide array of subjects, including travel, sports, equipment and health. In recent years, he has become known for his in-depth service columns “Para/Medic,” “Bladder Matters” and “Travel Matters.” Vogel, a wheelchair user since 1985, is an adventurer at heart and has written about experiences ranging from scuba diving Spanish Galleons to hang gliding at 20,000 feet above the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. He works from his Loomis, Calif., home where he is on his greatest and most rewarding adventure yet, being a dad to his 12-year-old daughter, Sarah, with the help of Schatzie, his German Shepherd service dog.
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