Today we are pleased to welcome 20 outstanding 2018 Fellows to the ADA 25 Advancing Leadership Institute. This 2018 class joins a network of more than 90 members with disabilities from all walks of life who are passionate change agents for the Chicago region.
Now in our third year, we are delighted by the level of talent, expertise and passion of all of our Fellows who will push to accomplish our vision: that people with disabilities will lead with power and influence for full participation and equal opportunity.
Disability is a natural part of the human experience. Using the broad definition of disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act, one in five Americans—more than 56.7 million people—have a disability: some of which are visible and many of which, like learning and mental health disabilities, are non-apparent.
But although people with disabilities are our neighbors, co-workers, classmates, family and friends, they rarely play a visible leadership role at tables of power and influence in Chicago.
“Although people with disabilities are our neighbors, co-workers, classmates, family and friends, they rarely play a visible leadership role at tables of power and influence in Chicago.”
For the past three years, it’s been my honor to work with passionate leaders to start to change this imbalance, and add the missing dimension of diversity to Chicago’s civic landscape by initiating and incubating ADA 25 Advancing Leadership.
We look forward to seeing their personal leadership plans develop and to helping them to connect to leadership opportunities in the future.
Introducing the ADA 25 Advancing Leadership 2018 Fellows:
- Azeema Akram
Legal & Policy Advisor, Illinois Commerce Commission
- Emily Blum
Director of Marketing and Communications, Metropolitan Planning Council
- Liz Davis
Front End Web Designer, Quikorder
- James Ferg-Cadima
Associate General Counsel, Public Safety, City of Chicago Office of Inspector General
- Valerie Gilles
Manager, Strategy and Management Consulting, KPMG
- Andre Johnson
Founder and CEO, LiveEquipd
- Evelyn Keolian
Children’s Librarian, Chicago Public Library
- Christina McGleam
Assistant to the Commissioner, Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities
- Angel Miles
Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Illinois at Chicago
- Carlos Navarro
- Manasseh Nuwagaba
Peer Support Specialist, Bobby E. Wright Comprehensive Behavioral Health Center
- William O’Connor
Information and Referral Specialist, AbilityLinks
- Joyce Otuwa
Staff Attorney, Equip for Equality
- Courtney Sass
Student Aide, British International School of Chicago
- Grishma Shah
Mass Media Consultant and Artist
- Ather Sharif
Software Engineer, Comcast
- William Sitter
Core Recruiting Coordinator, People Scout
- Jewel Ware
Owner, Jewels of Success
- Andrew Webb
Equal Justice Works Fellow and Attorney, Equip for Equality
- Bryen Yunashko
Owner, Access 256 Productions
Gary Beringer, Principal at Beringer & Associates and a member of the inaugural Advancing Leadership Fellowship class, shared his advice for the new Fellowship class:
“[We] congratulate you on being competitively selected for your potential as leaders. Look forward to the challenges and take advantage of immersing yourselves in a very hard but extremely transforming experience. It is well worth the effort it will take. Harness your passion, affirm your commitments, celebrate your diversity and strive for inclusion.”
Advancing Leadership is growing thanks to the continued investment of donors led by The Chicago Community Trust and Exelon as well as BMO Harris, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, JPMorgan Chase, Allstate Insurance Company, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, Hyatt Hotels Foundation and Microsoft.