Who We Are

This video uses closed-captions only. An Audio Described version can be accessed by clicking here.

VISION: ADA 25 Advancing Leadership’s long term vision is that Chicago’s vibrant civic life will include people with disabilities in proportion to the population.

MISSION: To build a pipeline and network of leaders with disabilities who are deeply engaged in the civic life of the Chicago region, consistent with the promise of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

For our Strategic Plan Click here.

What We Do

Image showing a group of our ADA 25 Advancing Leadership members convening around a table for a meeting

  • Civic Connections Project: A project aimed at increasing the number of leaders with disabilities serving in civic leadership positions

  • Members Network: A network of competitively selected leaders with disabilities who attend quarterly educational and networking events and participate in Civic Connections

  • Leadership Institute: A competitively selected class of emerging leaders with disabilities from diverse sectors who participate in an annual leadership development retreat, Civic Connections, and quarterly educational and networking events


Two rows of people featuring our Inaugural Fellows of ADA 25 Advancing Leadership

ADA 25 Advancing Leadership, a signature initiative of the Chicago Community Trust, is a legacy project of ADA 25 Chicago, a year-long initiative that leveraged the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to expand inclusion in the Chicago region. In the years following the signing of the ADA, progress has been made to further inclusion of people with disabilities, but there are still disparities in opportunities, including in leadership roles. ADA 25 Advancing Leadership aims close this gap by enabling civic engagement roles of the Chicago region reflect the diversity, including disability, of the population.

In 2015, ADA 25 Advancing Leadership announced its inaugural Members including 16 Fellows who attended the first Leadership Institute in January of 2016. After the retreat, all 25 Members have been engaged in various leadership opportunities, planning committees for the future of the program, and are continuing their commitment to become more civically engaged.

ADA 25 Chicago Final Report: Creating A More Inclusive Chicago: Today and Everyday

Executive Committee


  • Paulette Jagers, Vice President, Managing Director, Talent Management, BMO Harris
  • Karen Tamley, Commissioner, The Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities


  • Mark Ishaug, CEO, Thresholds
  • Kenton Klaus, Principal, Deloitte
  • Terry Mazany, CEO, The Chicago Community Trust
  • Steve Pemberton, Vice President, Chief Diversity Officer, Walgreens Boots Alliance
  • Steve Solomon, Vice President, Corporate Relations, Exelon
  • Shelley Stern Grach, Director of Civic Engagement, Microsoft
  • Manika Turnbull, Vice President, Chief Diversity Officer, Health Care Service Corporation

Program Committee


  • Ann Manikas, Director, Organizational Development and Learning, American Medical Association Chicago
  • Karen Tamley, Commissioner, Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities


  • Laurie Dittman, Senior Policy Analyst, City of Chicago
  • Daisy Feidt, Executive Vice President, Access Living
  • Joanie Friedman, Director of Civic Partnerships, University of Chicago - Office of Civic Engagement
  • Sarah Helm, Manager, Diversity and Inclusion, Talent Management, Discover Financial Services
  • Tony Martinez, Director of Development, The Chicago Community Trust
  • Melissa Reishus, President, Seaglass Group


  • Bridget Evans, Patient Safety Analyst, Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago
  • Sam Knight, Community Organizer, Wil Grundy Center for Independent Living


  • Emily Harris, Executive Director
  • Robin Burnett, Program Manager
  • Risa Rifkind, Program Associate
  • Alexandra Perez-Garcia, Program Coordinator