Civic Connections

What is the Civic Connections Project?

A group of leaders with disabilties sitting at a roundtable discussion on employment for one of ADA 25 Advancing Leadership events

The Civic Connections Project connects ADA 25 Advancing Leadership members to networks and relevant opportunities to engage in the Chicago region. This project realizes the vision that people with disabilties will lead with power and influence.

Over the last two years, the program has seen huge growth. In this blog post, Executive Director, Emily Harris, highlights the impressive evolution of this one of a kind program.

This Project continues to make connections for members to network, volunteer, and grow in their professional lives. In only its second year, Advancing Leadership’s Members Network has grown to 95 leaders with disabilities, and counting, who will continue to connect, convene, mentor, and lead change in Chicago in the coming year.

Civic and Professional Advancements

Our members serve in public and non-profit civic roles including on boards of directors, advisory committees and boards, and task forces. These positions are linked to diverse organizations throughout the region, and include: Pace/CTA, Near North Health Service Corporation, AIDS Foundation of Chicago, Illinois Department of Human Rights, Red Theatre, Forefront, Great Rivers, Chicago Hearing Society, Open Communities, and the Center for Disability and Elder Law.

Speaking and Leadership Opportunities

Our members have been speaking, mentoring, and leading discussions at events in Chicago including: the University of Chicago Booth School of Business’ On Board Conference, BMO Harris Bank, Chicagoland Business Leadership Network’s Disability and Inclusion Summit at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, and The Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities.

Why Civic Connections?

Approximately one in five Americans has a disability of some kind, and like employers, civic organizations are quickly recognizing that disability is an element of diversity they need on their committees, boards, and task forces if they are going to successfully serve their consumers, clients, donors, and constituents. ADA 25 Advancing Leadership aims to create a civic landscape where leaders with disabilities are included and engaged at every level of the conversation.


Do you know of an organization looking to diversify its board of directors, advisory board or committee, or task force with leaders who bring a disability perspective? Visit the Members page on this site to review brief profiles of our leaders and to connect to LinkedIn profiles.


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, Director, Education and Operations,, 312-994-4217.