Event Recap

Women’s History Month

Disability Lead
March 29, 2021

As Women’s History Month comes to a close, we can’t help but reflect on all of the amazing women with disabilities who brought power, honesty, and wisdom to our 2020 events. Each and every one of them are forging history, whether it’s by shaping disability policy, or by bringing the disability community together through art, or by leading our nation’s citizens towards a more inclusive and equitable world.

Please take a moment and join us in celebrating these positive disruptors! We’re so honored we got to know them all a little better in 2020.

By order of appearance:

Keah Brown

A young black woman with long brown hair smiling in a leafy outdoor setting, wearing a gray top.

Journalist, author, screenwriter, and disability rights advocate Keah Brown is author of The Pretty One, a thoughtful, inspiring, and charming collection of essays exploring what it means to be black and disabled in a mostly able-bodied white America. She is creator of the viral hashtag #DisabledAndCute and her work has appeared in Teen Vogue, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire UK, and The New York Times among other publications. Her debut picture book Sam’s Super Seats will be out in Fall 2022 via Koklia books. Follow Keah on Twitter.

Keah appeared in our 04/09/2020 event: Disability Power Series — A Conversation with Keah Brown

Judy Heumann

An elderly white woman with short brown hair and a big smile, wearing red glasses.

Internationally recognized disability advocate Judith (Judy) Heumann served in the Clinton and Obama Administrations. Her tireless activism led to the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). She was featured in the documentary Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution, a 2020 award-winning documentary film produced by the Obamas’ Higher Ground Productions. She is also co-author of the memoir Being Heumann. She is currently the producer of The Heumann Perspective, a podcast and YouTube channel that aims to share the beauty of the disability community. Follow Judy on Twitter.

Judy appeared in our 05/19/2020 event: Disability Power Series — Film, Memoir, and Heumann Perspectives

Tuyet Le

A young Asian woman with glasses and medium length black hair, smiling, wearing dramatic cat eye glasses.

Disability Lead Member Tuyet Le is an independent consultant for nonprofits and government. Previously, Ms. Le served as executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago for nearly 19 years. Her current board service includes Access Living and One People’s Campaign. She has been a panelist, keynote, and rally speaker on a wide range of issues including immigration, disability rights, census, redistricting, and political empowerment.

Tuyet appeared in our 05/19/2020 event: Disability Power Series — Film, Memoir, and Heumann Perspectives

Reveca Torres

A LatinX woman with a dark brown bob posing against a white wall, smiling. She is wearing a sleeveless black turtleneck and using a wheelchair.

Disability Lead Member Reveca Torres is an artist and nonprofit director. In 2009, she founded BACKBONES, a nonprofit organization that connects people with spinal cord injury and disabilities to their communities. Torres is also the co-director of ReelAbilities Film Festival Chicago and has curated touring photography and art exhibitions that showcase the work of people with disabilities and bring awareness to disability rights. She uses painting, illustration, photography, film, movement, and other media as a form of expression as a tool for advocacy and social justice.

Reveca appeared in our 06/17/2020 event: Disability Power Series — Crip Camp: Building Power to Create Culture Change

Andraéa LaVant

A young Black woman with curly dark brown hair pulled back, wearing a sleeveless floral top and dramatic multi-color cat-eye glasses, smiling in lipstick.

Andraéa LaVant is founder and president of LaVant Consulting, Inc. (LCI), a social impact communications. Andraéa has over a decade of experience working with programs that support youth and adults with disabilities and other underserved populations. In 2020, she served as the impact producer for Netflix’s feature-length documentary, Crip Camp, where she was charged with leading the campaign’s efforts to promote understanding of disability as a social justice issue and build across lines of difference. Follow Andraéa on Twitter.

Andraéa appeared in our 06/17/2020 event: Disability Power Series — Crip Camp: Building Power to Create Culture Change

Alice Wong

A young Asian woman with short black hair and a breathing tube, wearing a blue top with a geometric pattern.

Alice Wong is a disabled activist, media maker, and consultant. She is the Founder and Director of the Disability Visibility Project, an online community dedicated to creating, sharing and amplifying disability media and culture created in 2014. Currently, Alice is the editor of Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories from the Twenty-First Century, an anthology of essays by disabled people, available now by Vintage Books (2020). Her next book, Year of the Tiger, comes out in 2022, which she describes as “part memoir, part collected works–100% fun!” Follow Alice on Twitter.

Alice appeared in our 07/14/2020 event: Disability Power Series — Disability Visibility

Dior Vargas

A young LatinX woman with brown hair speaking into a microphone, wearing glasses.

Dior is a mental health activist with over 10 years of experience in advocacy. She is editor of The Color Of My Mind, a photo essay based on her viral online photo series (People Of Color and Mental Illness Photo Project). She uses her personal story to inspire others and is passionate about normalizing conversations around mental health. Her work and insight have been covered in media outlets such as The New York Times, Forbes, Newsweek, and NBC News Latino.

Dior appeared in our 10/14/2020 event: Disability Justice Forum — Building Intersectional Movements

Rachel Arfa

A young white woman with long brown hair smiles in front of the Chicago flag, wearing a black blazer.

As Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, Disability Lead Member Rachel Arfa leads the City of Chicago’s efforts in making Chicago a more accessible city. Rachel is the President of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Bar Association and in 2019, she made the motion using spoken language and ASL for 10 D/deaf and hard of hearing attorneys to be admitted to the United States Supreme Court Bar. She has served on the Board of Directors for the Chicago Cultural Accessibility Consortium and for 3Arts.

Rachel appeared in our 10/22/2020 event: Disability Justice Forum — Setting an Equity Agenda: A City Hall Perspective

Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley

A young bald Black woman posing solemnly, staring straight at the camera, wearing a black turtleneck.

Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley is an activist, a legislator, a survivor, and the first woman of color to be elected to Congress from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Throughout her career as a public servant, Congresswoman Pressley has fought to ensure that those closest to the pain are closest to the power-driving and informing policymaking. Throughout her first term in Congress, Congresswoman Pressley has been a champion for justice: reproductive justice, justice for immigrants, consumer justice, justice for aging Americans, justice for workers, justice for survivors of sexual violence, and justice for the formerly and currently incarcerated. Follow Congresswomen Pressley on Twitter.

Congresswoman Pressley appeared in our 10/27/2020 event: Disability Justice Forum — Mapping Our Paths Towards Liberation

Rebecca Cokley

A young woman with reddish blonde medium length hair and lots of freckles, smiling in front of a brick wall.

Rebecca Cokley is the first program officer to lead a U.S. based disability rights portfolio for the Office of the President at the Ford Foundation. Prior to this, she was Director of the Disability Justice Initiative at the Center for American Progress and the Executive Director of the National Council on Disability (NCD), an independent agency charged with advising Congress and the White House on issues of national disability public policy. In 2015, she was inducted into the inaugural class of the Susan M. Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame and was the recipient of the Frank Harkin Memorial Award by the National Council on Independent Living. She is currently working on her first book. Follow Rebecca on Twitter.

Rebecca appeared in our 10/27/2020 event: Disability Justice Forum — Mapping Our Paths Towards Liberation

Candace Coleman

A young Black woman with long brown braids in a turquoise top, smiling.

Dedicated to working with disabled people affected by the justice system, Disability Lead Member Candace Coleman has been featured in news stories by the BBC, WBEZ, Newsy, and The Chicago Defender. She was named the ADAPT Woman of the Year in 2018, 35 Under 35 by Chicago Scholars in 2017, and also received the Van Heck award for outstanding leadership and service in the disability community. In 2019 Candace was appointed to the Illinois Council on Women and Girls.

Candace appeared in our 10/27/2020 event: Disability Justice Forum — Mapping Our Paths Towards Liberation

Victoria Rodríguez-Roldán

A young LatinX woman with shoulder length curly hair and wire glasses, smiling in an outdoor scene, wearing a blazer and smiling in lipstick.

Victoria Rodríguez-Roldán is the Senior Policy Manager for AIDS United, where she brings her own unique intersectional specialties to the fight against the HIV epidemic. Prior to joining AIDS United, she was senior policy counsel at the National LGBTQ Task Force where she led the Trans/GNC Justice Project and the Disability Justice Project. She currently serves in the board of directors of HIPS, an organization dedicated to harm reduction for sex work and drug use in the District of Columbia and of Equality New York, the Empire State’s leading LGBTQ equality organization.

Victoria appeared in our 10/27/2020 event: Disability Justice Forum — Mapping Our Paths Towards Liberation

Danyelle Solomon

A young Black woman with long brown hair, wearing a purple top and smiling with dimples.

Danyelle Solomon is the Director of Justice Reform & Racial Equity Policy at Microsoft. Previously, she was Vice President of Race and Ethnicity Policy at the Center for American Progress, and has worked at the Brennan Center for Justice, the White House Office of Drug Control Policy and the United States Senate as Counsel to Senator Benjamin L. Cardin. She has been published in The Hill, written congressional testimony, and is the co-author of Reducing Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Jails: Recommendations for Local Practice. Follow Danyelle on Twitter.

Danyelle appeared in our 10/27/2020 event: Disability Justice Forum — Mapping Our Paths Towards Liberation

Keri Gray

A screenshot of a young Black woman with hair in long brown twists, wearing large cat-eye glasses and a green top, smiling kindly.

Keri Gray, founder and CEO of the Keri Gray Group, advises young professionals, businesses, and organizations on issues around disability, race, gender, and intersectionality. Previously, she was Senior Director of Stakeholder Engagement and Strategic Communications at the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD). She is also Founder and Executive Director of the National Alliance of Multicultural Disabled Advocates (NAMD Advocates). Follow Keri on Twitter.

Keri appeared in our 12/08/2020 event: Advancing Power and Influence

Event Recap