Announcing our 2024 Fellows and Welcome to our New Members

Disability Lead
December 22, 2023

We're thrilled to announce our class of 21 new Fellows for our 2024 Institute – making this the largest Fellows class we’ve ever had! These impressive leaders represent an incredible mix across fields and sectors, from nonprofit to corporate, public to small business.

We’d also like to welcome three new Members to our Network, and to celebrate the 16 individuals graduating from the 2023 Institute who are now Members!

Our goal is that our Network will reflect the diversity of our region, and this year was no exception: 52% of applicants were people of color and 60% of Fellows are people of color; 80% of applicants and selected Fellows identified with a disability other than physical; we saw an increase in applicants who identify as transgender, genderqueer, gender nonconforming/non-binary; and 48% identified their sexuality as other than heterosexual. Overall, we had our greatest applicant numbers since 2019.  

The diversity of background and their clear commitment to systemic change make this incoming group of Fellows ready to come together to build on their collective power. Throughout the course of the year, they will participate in an immersive learning experience that prepares them to collaborate and to lead with their disability identity, supported by the power of a large, effective network.

“We are thrilled to welcome the 2024 Fellows and new Members to Disability Lead. To see such increased and growing interest in our program proves that our model—building a pipeline of disabled leaders to create positive civic change—is deeply needed,” said Emily Blum, Executive Director of Disability Lead. “All social justice issues are also disability justice issues, and with the work that these emerging leaders will do, we’ll be better poised to tackle them.”

Our 2024 Fellows are:

Atta Zahedi – Access Living

Benjamin Saylor – Avant

Bernardo Gomez – City of Chicago

Dane Hites – Cushman & Wakefield Inc.

Dr. Lisa Elliott – Soulutions Work, LLC

Eli Brottman – Self-employed

Elisabeth Johnson – Kennedy King College

Irma Gomez – Chicago Transit Authority

Jerome Palliser – Access Living

Jittaun Taylor – Rudd Resources

Lauren Galloway – Equip for Equality

Lauren Welke – United Way of Metro Chicago

Mary Bucklin – Rush University Medical Center

Miriam Bhimani – Self-employed

Parul Arora – Rush University Medical Center

Patrick Andrade – The Chicago Lighthouse

Richa Singhal – Self-employed  

Raika Kim – Northwestern Pritzker School of Law Student

Sadaf Ajani – Faenix Rising

Tayler Mathews – Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation (CAASE)

Tim Granzow – Access Living

And welcome to our new Members:

Danielle Bank – Midwestern University

Debra Thompson – Retired

Edmund Sylvester – The Next Level Foundation