Educated originally as a Speech Language Pathologist, Penny Parnes has a long history focussed on issues related to disability. She has been a clinician, an educator, a researcher, a policy advisor and an administrator..
For the past 20 years Ms Parnes has been active in global disability issues in many parts of Asia and Africa. In 2004, Ms. Parnes was the founding executive director of the International Centre for Disability and Rehabilitation (ICDR) at the University of Toronto. A position she held until June 2012. As part of her role she conducted numerous research projects and authored several studies for agencies such as CIDA. She served as one of the authors of the 2011 WHO/ World Bank publication "World Report on Disability". Although retired as Executive Director of ICDR, she continues her involvement with the Centre as the Leader of a current project looking at the inclusion of children with disabilities in mainstream programs in 12 countries in West Africa.