Sergio Alfaro works with Rush University Medical Center as a Technical Trainer. He volunteers as a Peer Support Leader and a member of the National Campaign Team at Wounded Warrior Project. Sergio has a MS in Medical Science from Harvard Medical School and a BS in Neuroscience from UC Riverside.
Megan E. Doherty is a writer and photographer based in Chicago, IL. Megan has been featured in various photography exhibitions, including a solo show in Japan. She received her PhD from the University of Chicago in 2010.
Kyle was born and raised in Chicago’s northwest suburbs. He attended college at the Rochester Institute of Technology and graduated with a degree in finance. Upon graduation, Kyle moved to Seattle, Washington and worked for Starbucks in their finance program before relocating back to Chicago in 2020. Currently he is a Senior Finance Analyst at Walgreens.
Ericca Glasgow is a wife, mother of two and the Information Risk Manager at CDW where she’s worked for 21 years. Ericca was diagnosed with MS in 2002 and serves as a Team Captain to raise money for Walk MS annually. She is passionate about advocating for people with disabilities.
Brianna Morgan is an African American woman who is differently-abled and has ADD tendencies. She holds college degrees in Health Education and Library and Information Studies. She works full time as a school Librarian. She volunteers with several organizations in her community advocating for equity in educational services and supports.
Kira has worked with children and adults with disabilities for over 17 years in a variety of non-profit, community-based, and educational settings. Professionally, she is an Occupational Therapist and presently serves as a Community Reintegration Advocate at Progress Center for Independent Living. Much of her work has involved supporting individuals who utilize assistive technology and adaptive equipment as a means for communication, completing activities of daily living, supporting mobility, and accessing their environments.
Pursuing her Clinical Doctorate was an extension of her strong belief in the importance and need for service delivery to promote consumers’ and families’ self-determination and to further utilize consumer-directed approaches and empowerment strategies that enhance their choice and control. More specifically, her doctoral project was a continuing education course for educational professionals that support transition-aged youth who have communication barriers. Kira also serves as a special ed advocate for her little cousin, and recently became an Educational Surrogate Parent.
In light of the pandemic and the health disparities our community is facing, Kira also serves as the primary co-leader of the PPE for People With Disabilities Coalition. Her work involves accessing and distributing PPE to folks with disabilities and Personal Assistants living Cook County, as well as engaging in public policy work that addresses the dire need for people with disabilities to be prioritized in Illinois’ emergency response.
Kira is presently developing a business doing home and building modifications, named Empowering Design, LLC.
Ben Salentine serves as Associate Director of Managed Care at UI Health. Professional efforts focus primarily on contracting, credentialing, business development and operations efforts for the following Colleges: Applied Health Sciences, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy. Ben is also a second-year PhD candidate in the Disability Studies program at UIC.
Phil is an empathetic individual who can connect with people on a personal level to better understand their needs, concerns, goals, and aspirations. Phil can take that information and work with others to build a solution to any problem and ensure that everyone’s voice is heard.
Hugo Trevino is a first-generation Mexican American. Hugo graduated from the University of Illinois at Champaign Urbana ‘14 and Loyola University Chicago, M.Ed. ‘18. During his undergraduate/graduate career, he has studied abroad 5 times to Costa Rica, China, Taiwan, Vietnam, and Italy. Hugo’s history involves advocating for Latinxs, LGBQTIA, and people with disabilities rights on education, healthcare, and self-advocacy. Hugo’s passion led him to his current position helping students access higher education at UIC.
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.
Laura Isaacs has 20+ years of experience as an Executive Assistant and is an Executive Assistant in the Professional Standards Group at Grant Thornton LLP. In addition to her role as the National Coordinator for the Diverse Abilities & Allies BRG, Laura is also a lived experience volunteer with NAMI Chicago.
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.
LaShon Gurrola is currently a Registered Nurse Care Manager for the Ambulatory Care Management department at Rush University Medical Center, joining December 2016
Shortly after receiving her Associate Degree in Nursing, LaShon began her career as an Inpatient Surgical Nurse at Edward Elmhurst Hospital, building her career at Edward Elmhurst Hospital for over 19 years. LaShon has since received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Purdue University.
With experience ranging from Home Health Nursing to inpatient surgery and outpatient care, LaShon has developed a strong clinical background, including experience within Ortho/Neuro/Spine units, Home Health Nursing, and Transitional Care Nursing.
With a passion for helping support those with Lupus, LaShon started the first-ever Lupus Support Group at Rush University Medical Center in 2018, with the support of the Rheumatology and Social Work Departments. This support group not only provides a space for those suffering with Lupus to come together monthly and share experiences, but it is open to their families and significant others to learn more about Lupus and how to better support those diagnosed with it. LaShon also serves on the Associate Board of the Lupus Society of Illinois to fundraise and advocate for efforts supporting the Lupus community.
Sandy Tiania has over 20 years of accounting experience. Sandy is quite active in the hard of hearing community and serves as the co-coordinator of the Deaf Urban Professional (Duppies) Group. Sandy has a passion for civic engagement in literary, arts, philanthropy, and technology.
Becky is a National Accounts Manager at Vimly Benefit Solutions, after relocating to Denver, Colorado. While she no longer resides in the Chicagoland area, she maintains ties to the Chicago disability community through service as Vice President of the Board of Directors for L’Arche Chicago and her membership at ADA 25 Advancing Leadership. Becky’s previous experience includes Illinois State Chairperson for In-Abled Business Resource Group at Health Care Service Corporation, where she supported the mission to champion inclusion for people with disabilities and professional development opportunities for employees.
Legendary Broadcaster, Social Media Influencer, and Voiceover Artist.
Art Sims, affectionately known as “Chat Daddy,” has established a well-respected, 26-year career and has entertained audiences via the radio, television, print, on stage, and online. His undeniable charm and quick wit led to appearances on Windy City Live, ABC TV Chicago, You & Me This Morning, WCIU TV Chicago, in addition to a columnist role with the historic Chicago Defender.
Sims is currently the creator, executive producer, and host of The Real Chat Daddy Show. The Real Chat Daddy Show is a Live nightly digital media show that offers current news, health awareness, pop trends, and lifestyle stories, streamed via various social media platforms.
In 2014, Sims joined WVON 1690am as an on-air talent. He served as the Executive Producer of Real Talk, Real People with Chat Daddy, a nightly broadcast that was heard globally via iHeart Radio Network that highlights local and national lifestyle stories, relationship advice, and celebrity news connecting with change-agents who offer their expertise to listeners.
Sims is a familiar and welcomed voice in many diverse communities in Chicago and worldwide, providing inspirational, educational, and vital information on the development and maintenance of positive, sustainable relationships while connecting various communities through philanthropic efforts.
Sims civic engagement and social involvement includes a two year Board Member position for Healthy Living with A Vision Foundation. Sims is also an ADA25 Advancing Leadership 2019 Fellow & Ambassador. Sims recently joined the Health Equity Advisory Committee for the American Heart Association of Metro Chicago.
Sims is the recipient of numerous awards and honors for his commitment to more positive and sustainable relationships.
Christophe Quancard is a manager with Deloitte’s tax practice. Christophe is part of the Global Employer Services group, assisting clients with their global mobility policies and practices for employees on international assignments. Christophe has over 15 years of experience in Global Mobility consulting and International Human Resources.
Andrew Webb is a former Equal Justice Works ADA 25 Fellow, sponsored by McDermott Will and Emery. Since concluding his fellowship, Andrew has continued as a Staff Attorney at Equip For Equality, where he focuses primarily on providing education and representation to improve access to health care and related services for Illinois residents with disabilities. Andrew earned a J.D. from The University of Chicago and a B.S. in Foreign Service from Georgetown University.
Bill is an emerging leader in the Chicagoland disability community. For the past 13 years, his passion as a recruiter and disability advocate have empowered countless job seekers to achieve their career and employment goals. He has solid experience in full-cycle recruiting, diversity and inclusion consulting, and as a disability employment specialist. As a team leader with AbilityLinks, SPR Industries nAblement program, and the Information Technology Knowledge Abilities Network (ITKAN), he has presented to many for-profit and non-profit organizations about the return on investment that can be gained from hiring people with disabilities. Bill is also a member of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce.
To learn more about Bill and his passion for engaging with both the disability and employer communities, click here.
Emily Blum has a passion for helping people and organizations use their voice to create a better, more inclusive Chicago region.
A seasoned nonprofit leader, she has more than 20 years’ experience bringing stakeholders together to create and implement effective communications strategies around complex social and political issues. Prior to joining ADA 25 Advancing Leadership, Emily held senior positions at some of Chicago’s leading nonprofits, including Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC), Chicago Humanities Festival (CHF) and Heartland Alliance. At all three organizations, she drove branding and strategic messaging campaigns that created new kinds of conversations with a wide variety of audiences.
Prior to this, she worked with a number of boutique marketing/communications firms, including Valerie Denney Communications, where she served as a consultant for a wide range of clients, including the Joyce Foundation, Chicago Public Schools, Citizens Utility Board and dozens of members of Congress.
As a woman who experiences a disability, leading ADA 25 Advancing Leadership is both personal and professional. Emily is an ADA 25 Advancing Leadership Member (class of 2018), and that experience gave her additional tools to use her voice on behalf of those who experience disabilities.
Azeema Akram is an ALJ at the Illinois Commerce Commission, where she adjudicates matters involving licensing regulatory violations and licensing matters in several transportation industries including relocation and safety towing, intrastate trucking, collateral recovery, and household goods movers. Azeema serves on the Board of Directors of Red Clay Dance Company and is a Community Representative on the Regional Transportation Authority’s Paratransit Certification Formal Appeals Program Eligibility Review Board. Azeema earned her JD from DePaul University College of Law and BA in International Studies from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Andre Johnson is the Founder and CEO of LiveEquipd. LiveEquipd is a Chicago-based, health tech platform headquartered in the 1871 incubator space. LiveEquipd is a multi-sided platform that empowers people with paralysis related disabilities and their support system to quickly and efficiently navigate the product landscape to find the equipment and assistive technology they need.
Andre recently earned a Certificate from Northwestern’s University Kellogg Executive Education Program in Advanced Management. Andre is an Electronics Engineering professional and earned a B.S. from DeVry University. Andre Johnson was a 2018 Fellow of Advancing Leadership. He also holds the role of Client Success at Kaizen Health, a fast-rising startup solving SDOH (Social Determinants of Health) issues via transportation.
David Munar is devoted to building comprehensive systems of care and prevention that meet the needs of vulnerable populations. David has served on numerous advisory councils for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Health Resources Services Administration, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and gubernatorial and mayoral transition teams. David currently serves on the governing Board of the Pediatric AIDS Chicago Prevention Initiative, Funders Concerned About AIDS, Center for Housing and Health, and Equality Illinois. David is a graduate of Northwestern University.
Kelly O’Brien is the Founder and President of Ideaction Corps and is the Illinois Director of The Kenney Forum. Kelly has served as a public health advisor to Senator Richard Durbin, Senior Legislative Aide to Congressman Jerry Kleczka, Director of Government Affairs for Partnership for Prevention, and Congressional Liaison for the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Kelly received a B.A. from St. Mary’s College, Notre Dame and a M.P.A from The George Washington University School of Business.
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.
Amber has served as Access Living’s Director of Advocacy since 2010. She is responsible for executing Access Living’s advocacy vision through policy, community organizing, and issue education, with support from across Access Living’s program departments. She guides Access Living’s strategic partnerships and significant networking efforts at the local, state, and national levels across a range of disability topics, including healthcare/home- and community-based services, housing, education, transportation, racial justice, immigration, and incarceration of people with disabilities.
Amber facilitates the federal-state working group Disability Power for Community Integration. She also supports international disability learning exchange, particularly through the U.S. Professional Fellows Programs. Amber is a skilled presenter and trainer, a member of ADA25 and Leadership Greater Chicago, and a recipient of numerous local and national awards for her disability advocacy.
Amber is a proud member of the Deaf community who grew up in mainstreamed schools, learned ASL as a young adult, and now relies on lip-reading, ASL interpreters, and video relay technologies for communication access.
Margaret Sugrue is a Corporate Social Responsibility and Strategic Communications Manager at Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Previously, Margaret spent more than five years working in a variety of CSR and community roles at HCSC. She currently serves on the Multiple Solutions Associates Board of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society of Greater Illinois. Margaret earned a B.S. from Marquette University and a Master of Public Health degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Cheryl (Farney) Hahn is a Certified Recovery Support Specialist and works as Trilogy, Inc.’s Development Coordinator. Cheryl is on the Board of Directors at Trilogy, Inc., is the Secretary for Gift of Voice, and is a WRAP Recovery Educator. Cheryl is a member of the PAIMI Council at Equip for Equality. She is also on the Program Committee for ADA 25 Advancing Leadership. Cheryl earned a B.A. in Theatre and Classics from the College of Wooster in Ohio and a Master’s Certificate in Women’s Studies from Loyola University of Chicago.
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.
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.
Kevin is an Office Supervisor at Faithful+Gould. He is also a presentation coach, actor, writer, motivational speaker, storyteller, and teacher. As a storyteller, Kevin is a winner of The Moth StorySLAM. As a teacher: He created a personal narrative storytelling lab for detainees in Cook County Jail; at Piven Theatre, he helped establish a theatre games program for adults with development disabilities. Kevin presents anti-bullying motivational speeches to middle schoolers and high schoolers. He wrote a stageplay, Nobody Talks Nice about the journey of living with a disability. He is a graduate of The ACADEMY at Black Box Acting and is represented by Paonessa Talent. Follow him over social media: @kdaspeaker
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.
Bridget Hayman specializes in digital, media, and content marketing with 19 years of experience activating cross-channel communication strategies in healthcare, finance, and the nonprofit sector.
Before joining Access Living, Bridget was the director of digital content marketing at Easterseals’ national headquarters and served as the associate director of public relations and social media at Valence Health. Prior to that, she built and executed social media strategies from the ground up for both the American Dental Association and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois. She began her professional career at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
Bridget is a 2018 University of Chicago Civic Leadership Academy Fellow, a 2017 ADA 25 Advancing Leadership Fellow, and a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar. She holds a master’s degree in visual culture from Lancaster University, England, and a triple bachelor’s in English, journalism, and public relations from the University of Northern Colorado.
Diana is a Project Manager at Lurie Children’s Hospital and Grants and Program Evaluation Director for Great Lakes Adaptive Sports Association. Diana serves on the Board of Directors of Dare2Tri, the Chicago Rowing Foundation, and Friends of the Forest Preserves. Diana is a member of the ADA Advisory Committee for the Cook County Forest Preserves. Diana graduated from Slippery Rock University and received her Project Management Certificate from Loyola University – Chicago. Diana is an M.B.A. candidate (2021) at the University of Illinois.
Mary is an attorney on Access Living’s civil rights team. She represents people with disabilities in discrimination cases, conducts education and outreach about disability rights laws, and is involved in public policy advocacy. Formerly, as an attorney at Prairie State Legal Services, Mary represented homeowners in foreclosure. Prior to law school, Mary taught middle and high school special education in New York City. She completed her undergrad degree at Loyola University in Chicago and received a master’s degree in special education from Pace University. She graduated from John Marshall Law School in the top 3 percent of her class.
Tanya Friese is a retired U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman, Assistant Professor and Clinical Instructor in the Rush University College of Nursing, and Liaison for Intersectional Identities at Rush University Medical Center. As a nurse researcher, her areas of expertise include veterans and their families, individuals with disabilities, and people who identify as LGBTQ. Dr. Friese is an active member of many professional organizations including Sigma Theta Tau, the American Public Health Association, the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association, the National Organization for Nurses with Disabilities, and American Veterans for Equal Rights. She is a graduate of Central Michigan University, and earned a bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in Nursing and Systems Leadership from Rush University.
Bridget Evans is a Patient Safety Consultant at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and is the Founder and CEO of Illini Service Dogs, which aims to provide world class service dogs to individuals who have a physical disability. Bridget is a member of the ADA 25 Advancing Leadership Program Committee and a Board of Director for Snow City Arts, which inspires and educates children and youth in hospitals through the arts. Bridget is a graduate of the University of Illinois.
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.
Principal and CEO of Beringer & Associates Litigation Support, Gary Beringer is an epidemiologist with 40 years of experience in academic medicine, government, litigation support and consulting for community-based nonprofit organizations. Gary is a member of the of the AIDS Foundation of Chicago’s Board of Directors. Gary received a B.S. from Fordham University, and a master’s and doctorate of Public Health from Columbia University Faculty of Medicine School of Public Health.