Shannon Kelly is the Social Media Manager for United Spinal, as well as the Peer Connect Coordinator for Backbones, a Chicago based non-profit that supports people with spinal cord injuries. She plans monthly online meetings to connect the SCI community and provide resources. Shannon also helps disabled writers tell their stories through her work as an editor for Disability Horizons magazine.
John M. Tuhey is a principal at The Tuhey Law Firm where he uses his twenty years of experience advising board of directors and management teams of numerous small, mid and large-cap public companies. John also frequently counsels high net-worth and C-level individuals on investments, employment and other related matters. He regularly counsel’s clients in areas of complex commercial transactions, mergers and acquisitions, intellectual property, litigation, bankruptcy, leasing, securities law, antitrust, compliance, employment, board matters and corporate structure. John is also a passionate advocate for corporate diversity for people with disabilities. John was one of the first law firms in the United States to become a certified as disable-owned and is also a founder of the National Association of Disabled Owned Law Firms. John is a past fellow of Leadership Greater Chicago and ADA 25 Advancing Leadership.
Edison Lopez Jr. currently lives in Chicago and works as a specialist at Apple Store. With Latino parents and three deaf siblings, his background is rich with cultural diversity. Tapping into this experience lends to successful community collaborations resulting in several volunteer opportunities and leadership roles. In 2015, Edison achieved a Deaf Interpreter license in the state of Illinois. He is the current owner of Zepol Interpreting Services, LLC.
Adero Knott is the Founder of AK Prosthetics, an AdaptiveTech startup that makes customized prosthetics and adaptive wear accessible and inclusive. Adero is also an inventor and uses her experiences traveling the world to problem solve and create accessible tools that make life easier for people with disabilities.
Michelle N. Johnson began her journey of advocating health and wellness as a licensed massage therapist. Following her stage 4 endometriosis diagnosis, she founded the Fighting Fiercely© Endometriosis Awareness Movement. As an accomplished author, speaker, and educator, Michelle is dedicated to educating, enlightening, and empowering all affected by this disease.
Chris Huff is a 29-year-old African American male from Chicago’s Southside. He grew up in Auburn-Gresham where he developed a passion for social change and civic engagement. He went on to receive his Bachelor of Arts in Political Communication and Economic Development from Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, Ga. Then, he received his Master of Arts in Social Administration from the University of Chicago – School of Social Service Administration. He has 5+ years of professional experience that includes working with organizations such as Mikva Challenge, Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, Nextdoor, University of Chicago, Vera Institute of Justice, and the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice.
Deb Decker is an Assistant General Counsel at Commonwealth Edison Company. Deb avidly supports enhancing diversity and inclusion in business and works on various initiatives supporting that goal. She is a graduate of North Central College (B.A. in Spanish, Psychology and Speech Communications/Theatre) and University of Wisconsin Law School (J.D.).
Nicole Kelly stepped into the role of public figure after winning the 2013 title of Miss Iowa and going on to compete at the 2014 Miss America Pageant. She gained attention for being one of only a few competitors to have ever competed with a physical disability. After working for a year as Miss Iowa and traveling across the country to advocate for those living with a disability, Nicole transitioned into speaking professionally. Last summer Nicole completed her master’s degree in broadcast journalism at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. Now, she is an assistant production manager at Ravenswood Studio. Ravenswood is a Chicago-based custom fabrication company driven by passionate artisans creating world-class sets, scenery, and exhibits for opera, theater, museum, and corporate clients.
Jewel Holly Ware is the Owner and Founder of Jewels of Success with a personal mission to provide people with opportunities for personal and professional growth and success. Jewel is a leader in the areas of leadership and management and the interplay between beliefs and behaviors. Jewel earned an M.A. in Organizational Management from Ashford University and B.S. from Northern Illinois University.
Bill Sitter currently works for Chase as a Data Keyer. Bill serves in a number of volunteer roles including on the board of Inspiration Corporation.
Zully JF Alvarado is an educator, trainer, public speaker, entrepreneur and international leader and advocate on the rights of children, women, and persons with disabilities. Zully currently lives in Gary, Indiana and raises awareness on the importance of accessibility in infrastructure, transportation and outdoor recreation. Zully earned an M.Ed. from the Erikson Institute.
As Director of Civic Engagement at SPR, Pat Maher manages non-profit relationships within the tech sector. Pat supports the success of historically overlooked and discounted segments of the workforce – including professionals and aspiring candidates with disabilities, girls and young women, and younger candidates who lack social capital in the continually evolving technology industry. SPR’s strategic focus is supporting students through early-in-career (EIC) professionals to have the greatest impact.
Mark Williams develops and manages foundation and government grants at United Way of Metro Chicago. Mark has served the nonprofit and disability communities for many years and was a member of both the Statewide Independent Living Council of Illinois and the Illinois ADA Project Steering Committee. Mark earned his B.A. in American Studies from Lake Forest College and M.S. in Human Services Administration from Spertus College. He currently serves on the Boards of Directors at Blind Service Association, and Mental Health Association of Greater Chicago.
Brian Heyburn is a Ph.D. candidate in Disability Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago, having first received an M.S. in Disability and Human Development. At UIC, Brian serves as a Graduate Assistant at the Disability Cultural Center assisting with the development disability culture events across campus. Brian earned a B.A. in Religion from Centre College.
Michele Lee is a diversity leader at Aon and founder of the Empowering Abilities Employee Resource Group. Michele is passionate about disability employment, universal access, and accessible transportation. Michele represents Aon on the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab’s Business Advisory Board. Michele earned a B.A. from the University of Arizona.
Chad Turner is a Director, Senior Treasury Product Manager at Bank of America in Chicago. Previously Chad worked at JPMorgan Chase, where he was a member of Chase’s Access Ability Business Resource Group’s national board as the liaison to the Midwest state chapters. Chad serves on the board for ADA 25 Advancing Leadership as Treasurer and is also an incumbent member of Access Living’s finance committee. Chad is an alumnus of the Alpha Phi Omega National Service Fraternity (APO). Chad previously served as a governing member ambassador for the Chicago Zoological Society, and as a member of the Museum of Science & Industry’s Mission Accessible Task Force. Chad received both an undergraduate and a graduate degree from Bradley University, where he currently serves on the Department of Accounting Advisory Council.
At Discover, Chaitanya Manchanda is the founder and co-chair of the Discover’s employer resource group, “Accentuating Discover Abilities.” Chaitanya is actively involved in spreading awareness, advocating for disability rights and representing the Deaf/Hard Of Hearing (HOH) Community. Chaitanya was an Executive Committee Member of the Hearing Loss Association of America in Chicago Lincoln Park for two years. Chaitanya earned a B.S. from the University of Windsor in Ontario, Canada.
Bill Bogdan is responsible for the coordination, development, and implementation of programs and services for persons with disabilities for the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office. In 2010, Bill was appointed by the Governor of Illinois to Chair the Illinois Council on Developmental Disabilities. In addition, Bill serves on the Illinois Elevator Safety Advisory Board, the Illinois State Library Talking Books and Braille Service Advisory Council, the Board of Directors for the Spinal Cord Injury Association of Illinois and the Diveheart Foundation. Bill graduated with honors from DePaul University, and is active in many sport and recreational programs offered through Adaptive Adventures and the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab Adaptive Sports & Fitness Program.
D. Erick Allen is devoted to increasing disability diversity in the workplace. Erick is a former Director of Inclusion Consulting & Training at Access Living. Erick serves on the Chicago Jobs Council Board of Directors and previously served on the Board of Commissioners for the Chicago Commission on Human Relations. Erick received a B.A. and M.S. from Loyola University of Chicago.