Seven years ago, we became the nation’s only disabled-led organization that both develops leaders with disabilities and connects them to civic and professional opportunities. As the only program of its kind in the U.S., we’ve long known that pipelines of disabled leadership are needed in all spaces and cities. We are excited to announce that we are in conversation with partners in Pittsburgh and have been listening and learning so much!
We're highlighting our newest Members from this past year so you can welcome and get to know them. Please give it up for: Jess Westbrook, Associate Professor, DePaul University; Safiya Eshe Gyasi James, Founder and CEO, Blaq Gurl Fya; Tina Lowry, Director of Quality, Aspire; Rebecca Williford, President and CEO, Disability Rights Advocates; Amanda Walsh, Director, Illinois Children's Mental Health Partnership; and Carly Englander, Career Placement Counselor, Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities.
In November 2021, Disability Lead launched the Collab, community of practice to learn with and from one another and support a collective vision toward racial equity and disability justice. We worked hard to attract and support Collab members and our deepest hope was that practitioners of racial equity and disability justice would find ways to partner together and find fellowship as we fight for our collective liberation. We hoped that the Collab, ultimately, would be self-sustaining, as its members would drive these conversations, connections and events. Now, nearly a year and half later, we have made the tough decision to sunset the Collab.
Last year, Disability Lead began nominating our Members for Crain’s Notable Leaders, which recognizes best-in-class executives who make a difference in Chicago. Since then, 20 of our Members have already been recognized as Notable Leaders across a variety of industries, from community development to sustainability.
Because the world continues to threaten our civil rights, we work to ensure there are strong disability perspectives in leadership spaces. By connecting our leaders to civic engagement opportunities, we believe they can and will create solutions for our most intractable social problems—ultimately, all social justice issues are also disability issues. Here's our Q2 update.
We're excited and grateful to be partnering with FISA Foundation to determine the potential to bring our model for building disabled leadership to a new geography. Serving Pennsylvania’s Southwestern region, FISA Foundation champions equity, justice, safety, and inclusion for women, girls, and people with disabilities, combating systemic racism that impedes progress for these populations.