While riding a mountain bike in Forest Park in 1994, Victor sustained a spinal cord injury that left him in a wheelchair and without the use of his legs.
Victor embraced this challenge. He got involved with disabled sports through United Spinal Association, and took up the sport of sled hockey. His dedication to the sport would take him to Japan in 1998 where he represented the United States on the sled hockey team in the Paralympics.
In 1997, he began working with United Spinal Association as Recreation Coordinator. He was promoted up the ranks until he reached the title of Director of Sports Marketing. In October of 2006, Victor took on a new challenge, joining the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation as ADA Coordinator.
The New York City parks system is a historic collection of properties, most of which were designed and built prior to accessibility requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). While at Parks, Victor coordinated an effort, worked on by staff at all levels, to improve compliance with the ADA agency-wide. Additionally, Victor was tasked with preparing a transition plan to increase accessibility in the city’s parks, beaches, recreation centers and other facilities.
On February 17, 2015 Mayor Bill de Blasio reappointment longtime disability advocate Victor Calise as Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD). Victor was originally appointed Commissioner of MOPD by Mayor Michael Bloomberg in June 2012. While acting as the disability policy advisor to city agencies and the Administration, Victor’s other responsibilities include: working to spearhead projects, partnerships and initiatives that better the lives of people with disabilities; advocate for the passage of legislation that will help the disabled community; and acting as the Chair of the Accessibility portion of the 2008 NYC Building Code revision process.
Victor currently lives on the Upper West Side of Manhattan with his wife and two children.