Civic Connections

The Civic Connections Project. Since December 2016, (and continuing!)... 25 members, of which 16 were inaugural Fellows, 17 news connections made for civic engagement roles, 4 scholarships to


Photo featuring Becky Brasfield and Bridget Evans who were part of the Inaugural class

Becky Brasfield

Becky Brasfield whose training and background is in the field of mental health assumed four new civic roles.  This year she became a member of the Crisis Intervention Training Co-Responder Sub-Committee for the City of Chicago, providing officers with education about mental illness and tools to effectively and safely interact with individuals experiencing crisis.  Becky works on the the Illinois Division of Mental Health’s Certified Community Behavioral Health Center Planning Workgroup, the International Association of Peer Specialists’ State Representatives Advisory Council, and the Assisted Outpatient Treatment Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Grant Steering Committee of the Cook County Health and Hospitals System to advocate for health services for individuals with mental health disabilities.

Becky was a featured guest writer for the Chicago Community Trust’s blog. Read her perspective on leadership here:

Bridget Evans 

This past year Bridget has served in a variety of roles that called upon her experience as an inaugural Fellow. As a Member of ADA 25 Advancing Leadership Program Committee, she participated in discussions and helped guide a redesign of our Leadership Institute in line with inaugural Fellow feedback collected in a UIC-led Evaluation conducted for the 2015 Leadership Institute for People with Disabilities.  Bridget participated in interviews of potential new facilitators for the Institute, and of 2016 applicants. This year she became a New Member of the Access Living Young Professionals Council, a diverse group of young professionals who use experience, networks, and resources in the movement toward inclusion and independence for people with disabilities through a variety of activities.

Bridget also launched a blog series featuring program Fellows on The Chicago Community Trust’s blog, read her post highlighting her experience as a Fellow, thoughts on leadership and disability and her path to becoming a leader here:


The Civic Connections Project actively works to connect ADA 25 Advancing Leadership members with relevant opportunities to serve in the Chicago region. According to the last census one out of every ten people identify as having a disability and this number will increase as the population ages. This project realizes the vision of the overall program that the leaders of Chicago’s vibrant civic life will include people with disabilities in proportion to the population.

Civic Connections Summary (2015-2016):

  • Francine Bell: Pace/Chicago Transit Authority Advisory Committee
  • Gary Beringer: AIDS Foundation Board of Directors
  • Becky Brasfield: Crisis Intervention Training Co-Responder Sub-Committee; Certified Community Behavioral Health Center Planning Workgroup – Illinois Division of Mental Health; State Representatives Advisory Council – International Association of Peer Specialists; Assisted Outpatient Treatment Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Grant Steering Committee – Cook County Health and Hospitals System
  • Clark Craig: Illinois Department of Human Rights: Housing – Fair Housing, Affordable Housing/Homelessness, Public Accommodations
  • Bridget Evans: ADA 25 Advancing Leadership Program Committee; Access Living Young Professionals Council
  • Tanya Friese: Chair, Community Support Services Human Rights Commission
  • Diana Helt: Forefront’s Diversity Equity and Inclusion Committee; Metropolitan Planning Council work group on Great Rivers
  • Kevin Knabe: Chicago Hearing Society Advisory Board
  • Sam Knight: Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning – Inclusive Growth Resource Group; Illinois Department of Human Rights Work group – Discrimination; ADA 25 Advancing Leadership Program Committee
  • Jose Mendez: Human Rights Committee at Anixter Center
  • Kathleen Narko: City of Chicago Advisory Committee on Taxis; CBLN Advisory Board
  • Kaney O’Neill: Open Communities Board

Do you know someone who contributes to conversations and change, who you feel would contribute to this strong support network as a member?

For information on nominating new Members, click here.

Organizations interested in including people with disabilities on their advisory committees, boards, commissions and more should contact Robin Burnett, Program Manager,, (312) 616-8000 x262.