Meet the Leaders!

Disability Lead
Dec 13, 2019 · 3 min read
A group photo of about 20 people with visible and invisible disabilities pose with State Senator Robert Peters.

On December 12th, ADA 25 Advancing Leadership announced its class of 21 Fellows for 2020, the largest class in its five-year history. These accomplished leaders represent a cross-section of professionals from the region’s nonprofit, government, corporate and philanthropic sectors.

The event also welcomed the 17 individuals who are graduating from the 2019 Leadership Institute as well as 7 individuals to the Members Network, comprising 142 diverse leaders with disabilities.

The announcement was attended by more than 100 Members, supporters, and allies, including State Senator Robert Peters, who keynoted the event. In his remarks to our incoming and graduating classes, he remarked, “By joining Advancing Leadership, you are now part of a vision that people with disabilities will lead with influence, and the state of Illinois needs that voice at every table possible. Congratulations for taking the step to lead with your whole self and sharing your needed voice with communities around the region.”

The class of 2020 comes to Advancing Leadership from more than 17 neighborhoods and communities to build their leadership acumen, explore and define their disability identity, and engage with different perspectives and worldviews.

Throughout the course of the year, these new Fellows 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. Past Fellows have called the program “transformative,” “of the highest value,” and “like a master class in pride.”

Meet the Class of 2020

64 individuals applied

21 were invited to be a 2020 Fellow

70% identify as people of color

24% identify as queer or gay

47% reside in City of Chicago

53% reside outside of the City of Chicago

38% are men

62% are women

Our 2020 Fellows Include…

  • : Art Therapist, Thresholds
  • : Communications Coordinator, National Network of Abortion Funds
  • : Administrative Assistant, The Chicago Community Trust
  • : Racial Justice Organizer, Access Living
  • : Manager, Chapter & Membership Services, Association for Corporate Growth
  • : Co-Program Coordinator, Chicago Regional Organizing for Antiracism
  • : Assistant General Counsel, ComEd
  • : RN Coordinator/Transitional Care Nurse, Rush University Medical Center
  • : Program Manager & Communications Director, Blind Service Association
  • : Mapping Supervisor, ComEd
  • : President and CEO, The Righteous Ambition Program — Bureau of Violence Aversion
  • : Executive Assistant, Grant Thornton LLP
  • : Founder, Fighting Fiercely
  • : Founder & CEO, AK Prosthetics
  • : Specialist, Apple Store
  • : Associate Director of Development and Communications, ADA 25 Advancing Leadership
  • : Retail Associate, Meijer
  • : Career Law Clerk to the Honorable Joan B. Gottschall at United States District Court, Northern District of IL
  • : Sales Operations Supervisor, CDW Inc.
  • : Disability Services Specialist, University of Illinois at Chicago
  • : Principal, The Tuhey Law Firm LLC

Our New Members Include…

  • : Clinical Assistant Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago
  • : Owner, VA Harris Consulting
  • : Associate Director Health Sciences- Managed Care/ PhD Disability Studies Candidate at UI Health
  • : Associate Professor, Disability and Human Development, University of Illinois at Chicago
  • : Director, Police Practices Project at ACLU of Illinois

In addition to the announcement, Advancing Leadership’s Board President, Karen Tamley, who also serves as Chicago’s Commissioner for the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, recognized key founder and former Executive Director, Emily Harris, in recognition of her extraordinary service and leadership. “On behalf of the Board of Directors of ADA 25 Advancing Leadership, we express our deepest appreciation for all of Emily’s outstanding contributions. She helped launch and guide this organization, and for that, we are both grateful and commit to continuing her legacy.”

Power. Influence. Change.

Nearly 1 in 4 Americans has a disability, yet individuals with disabilities are vastly underrepresented in professional and civic leadership roles. Disability Lead imagines a Chicago region where everyone has access to lead with power and influence.

Disability Lead

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We connect Chicagoans with disabilities to leadership positions throughout the region. Learn more at disabilitylead.org

Power. Influence. Change.

Nearly 1 in 4 Americans has a disability, yet individuals with disabilities are vastly underrepresented in professional and civic leadership roles. Disability Lead imagines a Chicago region where everyone has access to lead with power and influence.