Who We Are

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Nearly 1 in 4 Americans has a disability, yet individuals with disabilities are vastly underrepresented in professional and civic leadership roles.

ADA 25 Advancing Leadership has a bold strategy and groundbreaking programs—the first of their kind in the nation—for bringing greater disability inclusion to tables of power and influence in the Chicago region.

What We Do

    ADA 25 Advancing Leadership is creating a Chicago region where people with disabilities:

    Four concentric circles within a web of interconnected lines. The circles are embedded within each other to indicate the expanded network that a person participating in the program could have access to. The smallest innermost circle says Leadership Institute followed by Members Network followed by Civic Connections Project. The largest outermost circle says Diverse Leadership of the Chicago Region indicating the overall goal of the program.
  • LEAD—Our Civic Connections Project increases the number of people with disabilities in professional and civic leadership positions.

  • CONNECT—Our Members Network provides mentoring, support, and ongoing civic engagement opportunities for leaders with disabilities.

  • GROW—Our Leadership Institute is a year-long leadership development program for emerging leaders with disabilities.

200+ Civic Advancements

Two rows of people featuring established disability rights leaders

142 Members and Fellows

Large group of Fellows gathered together

Vision And Mission

OUR VISION: People with disabilities leading with power and influence for full participation and equal opportunity as a vital part of the civic fabric in the Chicago region.

OUR MISSION: To increase civic engagement and diverse leadership in the Chicago region by developing and building a network of leaders with disabilities — consistent with the spirit of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Board of Directors


  • Mary Anderson (Interim President), AARP
  • Kenton Klaus (Vice President), Deloitte and DePaul University
  • Chad Turner* (Treasurer), Bank of America
  • John Tuhey* (Secretary), The Tuhey Law Firm LLC


  • Adam Burke, Microsoft
  • Andrés Gallegos*, Robbins, Salomon & Patt, Ltd.
  • Anna Lee, The Chicago Community Trust
  • Lora Laverty, CDW Corporation
  • Ann Manikas*, American Medical Association
  • Karen Tamley*, Access Living
  • *Denotes Advancing Leadership Member

Program Committee


  • Ann Manikas*, American Medical Association Chicago


  • Azeema Akram*, Illinois Commerce Commission
  • Laurie Dittman, City of Chicago
  • Bob Eichinger, The Chicago Community Trust
  • Cheryl Farney*, Trilogy, Inc.
  • Daisy Feidt*, Access Living
  • Joanie Friedman, University of Chicago - Office of Civic Engagement
  • Tsehaye Geralyn Hebert*, Playwright
  • Brian Heyburn*, Ph.D. Student in Disability Studies
  • Melissa Reishus, Seaglass Group
  • Jewel Holly Ware*, Jewels of Success

*Denotes Advancing Leadership Member


  • Emily Blum, Executive Director
  • Robin Burnett, Director, Education and Operations
  • Risa Jaz Rifkind, Director, Civic Engagement and Marketing
  • Alexandra Perez-Garcia, Associate Director, Development and Communications

Be Part of The Change!

Learn how you can help build a region where people with disabilities lead with power and influence.