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.
Alana Clark has a deep passion for finding ways to empower underserved communities through a holistic educational approach to health, which she believes includes everything from nutritional, physical, mental, and medical health to environmental, financial, cultural, and academic health. She strongly believes this vision will help break cycles of poverty and facilitate languages of justice and equity. Alana’s passion stems from her personal experiences growing up socio-economically disadvantaged in Chicago, receiving a B.A. from Princeton University, working in corporate America, and later being diagnosed with a disability.
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.
Brian Rohde is currently a ComEd Energy Force Ambassador where he conducts trainings on the benefits of energy conservation and provides energy saving tips. With a strong passion for environmental sustainability, this position allows Brian to share ComEd’s mission of Energy Efficiency with the public to achieve the goal of creating a greener, more sustainable future. The ComEd Energy Force Program is the only program taught solely by individuals with disabilities and helps build communication, organizational and working skills within the community. Not only has Brian developed each of these key skills substantially, but as an Energy Force Ambassador, Brian is a voice for the disability community to inspire change for the future.
Formerly, Brian interned at Argonne National Laboratory where he helped assess the impacts of drought on hydroelectric power generation in the Western parts of the United States at the HUC8 subbasin level. Through data collection, research analysis, and ArcGIS 10, Brian created a map of HUC8 subbasins within the California river basin and a DEM map to analyze the impact of droughts on stream flow.
Currently through JJsList, an online platform that connects businesses and people with disabilities, Brian is a Disability Performance Player, performing disability awareness trainings to the public at several venues throughout the Chicagoland area. This position has allowed Brian to better understand how to approach and communicate with others who have varying disabilities. Brian fully believes that spreading the message of disability awareness can lead to change in the current trends of people with disabilities being underrepresented in the workforce. With this experience through JJsList, Brian is able to help educate others outside of the community on how to effectively communicate with people with disabilities.
Brian received his Bachelor of Arts in Geography from Valparaiso University in 2014. With an immense passion for environmental science, Brian has obtained a Trained Severe Weather Spotter license through the National Weather Service.
Brian is a proud, lifelong resident of the Southwest suburbs and in his spare time, he enjoys traveling with his family, watching sports, and playing with his two dogs.
Whitney Hill is a specialist on accessibility with over a decade of experience in program management and communication. Her background in universal design and public accessibility combined with her personal background of identifying as someone with a disability give her a unique skillset to connect individuals with needed services, while also empowering them to advocate for themselves.
Throughout her career, Whitney has aimed to ensure that public and institutional spaces are made readily accessible to all. In her role with LCM Architects and previous position at the Institute for Human Centered Design, Whitney partnered with government and private entities in conjunction with the Americans with Disabilities Act to meet and exceed standards for equal opportunity in accessibility. Prior to these roles, Whitney facilitated services for over 250 clients with the Blind Services Association and implemented new programs monthly to provide an accessible experience for the growing client base.
Whitney is the founder and director of SPORK!, a 501 (c) 3 Nonprofit and website that serves as a voice for the disabled community. Named after the quirky utensil that celebrates the merger of two traditional tools, Whitney founded SPORK! as an alternative source to the more rigid representation of non-apparent differences in traditional medical journals. By collecting and sharing different resources for those with cognitive, physical and non-apparent differences/disabilities, Whitney has created a network that welcomes those struggling to find a place within the larger disabled community. Learn more about SPORK! at https://www.sporkability.org/about
Additionally, Whitney serves as an elected member of Chicago Transit Authority’s (CTA) ADA Advisory and as a Chair for the CTA Wayfinding Subcommittee, finding new ways to improve the transportation experience for the disabled community of Chicago. Whitney aims to continue her pattern of advocacy in Illinois as a newly elected member of Governor Pritzker’s Blind Services Planning Council.
Vanessa Harris brings to companies and governmental organizations a strong foundation in environmental and energy engineering, chemistry and business that allows her to consistently and creatively tackle complex initiatives and create award-winning, original and profitable yet sustainable solutions.
Currently Harris has a brand, fun4thedisabled.com which is a website showing short documentaries that she has produced about people, products, events activities, organizations for the disabled and their friends and families so that they can enjoy life.