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ADA 25 Advancing Leadership releases Its 2019 Leadership Institute Fellows

Program prepares participants to contribute to Chicago’s civic leadership

ADA 25 Advancing Leadership — the first program in the nation with a mission to build a pipeline and network of leaders with disabilities who are deeply engaged in civic life — has announced the names of its 2019 Leadership Institute class. The group of 17 professionals represents disabilities that are visible, invisible and acquired, and includes a radio talk-show host, a former Miss America® contestant, a Googler, a South Side community leader, an estate attorney and a stage actor.

The year-long Leadership Institute offers emerging leaders a tailored curriculum, mentorship, and networking opportunities. It is a competitive opportunity open to anyone who self-identifies as having a disability (visible, invisible, or acquired); resides or works in one of the seven Chicago-area counties (Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, Will, and McHenry); and has at least five years of management or leadership experience (in any context: professional, nonprofit, volunteer, etc.).

The 2019 class of Fellows is the fourth class to be chosen. Since the program’s inception, there have been 50 professionals to complete the Institute and become part of a large Members Network of nearly 100 professionals with disabilities who serve the Chicago region through board service and advocacy with “power and influence,” according to Emily Harris, executive director of ADA 25 Advancing Leadership.

“Disability is an essential part of the rich diversity of Chicago and the nation, and one in five Americans has a disability. Yet, we are under-represented on our region’s non-profit and public boards, commissions, task forces, and grassroots community organizations, said Harris. ”Our Leadership Institute helps to fill that gap, creating a network of support and learning for individuals with disabilities who have a passion for change.”

The 2019 Institute fellows are: 

Anthony M. About Ezzi, Owner and Founder, Ezzi Law

Richard Costes, Manager, Chapter & Membership Services, Association for Corporate Growth

Lori Goddard, VP, Management Director, FCB Chicago

Nakia J. Green President, Nakia J Consulting 

Robert Green Peer Health Navigator, University of Illinois Outpatient Therapy and Disability Studies

Nicole Kelly Marketing Coordinator, Keno Kozie 

Abdul Hakim Khan Measurement and Verification Services Manager, Honeywell

Shannon Maher Recruiting Programs Specialist, Exelon

Rosalind Moore Director of Special Programs, Teamwork Englewood

Anne Nash Program Manager, Google 

Christea Parent Studio Coordinator/Administrative Assistant, The Arts of Life

Christophe Quancard Manager, Deloitte

Art Sims Executive Producer and Radio Talk Show Host

Molly Wiesman Administrative Assistant, Peters & Associates

Rebecca Staley Market Performance & Strategy Consultant, Health Care Service Corporation 

Sandy Tiania Cost Accountant III, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois

Jason Lehmann QA Analyst, Aspiritech

In January, the new class will begin a journey of training and programs designed to advance their leadership skills. This includes:

  • A two-part, multi-day immersive retreat
  • The development of an individual leadership plan, and ongoing support from a mentor to move each plan forward
  •  Opportunities to pursue leadership positions in the nonprofit and public service sectors, with a focus on readiness and preparation

Regular meetings and networking events with other Members, and connections to civic leadership opportunities

While the Chicago region has tens of thousands of civic leadership positions, only a handful are filled by people who self-identify with disabilities. With a focus on personal leadership and civic engagement, the Leadership Institute is one of ADA 25 Advancing Leadership’s key strategies to meet its goal of having people with disabilities in 500 civic and professional leadership positions throughout the Chicago region by 2020.

“My lasting reflection was the time I spent with my fellow Fellows and the wide range of disabilities represented,” said James Ferg-Cadima, an attorney and 2018 Fellow. ”It was  humbling and a true world education to learn what it means to be in a rare cross-disability space, what it means to negotiate competing accommodations and needs and how we made sense of that so that we could all be included and we would all have access.

“I left that [BoardLead meeting] with a true world education and I’m proud to announce that the new board I’m on, Free Spirit Media (which serves future digital content providers on the west and south sides of Chicago) made me their board secretary,” Ferg-Cadima said.

About ADA 25 Advancing Leadership:

Disability is a natural part of the human experience, yet, people with disabilities remain underrepresented in the workplace and in civic and professional leadership in our communities. ADA 25 Advancing Leadership is changing the leadership of our region to be more reflective of our diverse population.

ADA 25 Advancing Leadership was founded in 2015 in honor of the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). It is the first program of its kind in the nation. Bringing people with disabilities to tables of power and influence will provide new insight, perspective, and innovative solutions to issues affecting our region today. Our vision is that people with disabilities will lead with power and influence for full participation and equal opportunity. Our mission is to build a pipeline and network of leaders with disabilities who are deeply engaged in the civic life of the Chicago region and advancing in their careers – consistent with the spirit of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

ADA 25 Advancing Leadership is housed at The Chicago Community Trust. In addition to the Trust, major supporters include MacArthur Foundation, BMO Harris Bank, Exelon, Robert R. McCormick Foundation, JPMorgan Chase & Co, Field Foundation of Illinois, BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois and Microsoft.






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