Emily Harris, Executive Director of the Disability & Philanthropy Forum, started her role with the Forum as a consultant to the Presidents’ Council on Disability Inclusion in Philanthropy in late 2019. She led development of and first steps to implement the Theory of Change, and is honored to work with Ford, Robert Wood Johnson and other foundations to build a new organization focused on disability inclusion in philanthropy.
Emily was the founding Executive Director of ADA 25 Advancing Leadership (now Disability Lead), the nation’s first disability civic leadership program. As a Senior Director at the Chicago Community Trust, she led ADA 25 Chicago, and engaged more than 200 local organizations in doing one thing to advance disability inclusion in honor of the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. At the Trust, she also directed the Disabilities Fund, and facilitated a roundtable multi-sector coalition to advance equity in the construction industry. As Vice President of Metropolis Strategies, Emily focused on regional economic growth, open space conservation, early childhood education policy, and served as Executive Director of the Burnham Plan Centennial. Through her consulting firm, Harris Strategies LLC, Emily helped non-profit organizations, public agencies, businesses and philanthropies to develop strategic plans and move their ideas to action.
Emily earned a B.A. from Oberlin College and an M.A. from the University of Chicago. She serves on the Forest Preserves of Cook County Conservation and Policy Council, the Local Initiatives Support Corporation Chicago Advisory Board, and is President of the Board of the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation. A member of Disability Lead, she is proud to be a part of the disability community.
Emily Ladau is the digital content and community manager for the Disability & Philanthropy Forum. She is a passionate disability rights activist, writer, storyteller, and digital communications consultant. In 2021, her first book, Demystifying Disability: What to Know, What to Say, and How to be an Ally, was published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House.
Emily’s career began at the age of 10, when she appeared on several episodes of Sesame Street to educate children about her life with a physical disability. A native of Long Island, New York, Emily graduated with a B.A. in English from Adelphi University in 2013 and now serves on their Board of Trustees. In 2017, she was named as one of Adelphi’s 10 Under 10 Young Alumni. In 2018, she was awarded the Paul G. Hearne Emerging Leader Award from the American Association of People with Disabilities.
Emily’s writing has been published in outlets including The New York Times, CNN, Vice, and HuffPost and she has served as a source for outlets including NPR, Vox, and Washington Post. Emily has spoken before numerous audiences, from the U.S. Department of Education to the United Nations. At the core of her work is a focus on disability identity, sharing our stories, and harnessing the powers of communication and social media as tools for people to become engaged in disability and social justice issues.
Gail Fuller is the program and communications director for the Disability & Philanthropy Forum. Prior to her current role, she served as the communications strategist for the Presidents’ Council. Aligning her professional experience and personal commitment, Gail works to deliver on the Forum’s mission to engage the philanthropic sector in a collective learning journey about disability that moves toward a more equitable, inclusive future.
With more than 30 years of experience, Gail’s career has spanned several industries, including nonprofit, corporate, publishing, sports, and philanthropy. Her philanthropic career has included serving as vice president of marketing and communications for the San Francisco Foundation and director of communications for the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. During her days in sports, she developed and spearheaded the Orlando Magic’s first corporate communications strategy. Early in her career, she served as a public relations consultant for AT&T.
Gail holds a Master of Business Administration from Nova University and a Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communications from Wake Forest University. As a recipient of the Central Florida YMCA Black Achiever Award and the YMCA Greater New York-Harlem Branch’s Black Achievers in Industry Award, she is a two-time YMCA Black Achiever honoree recognized for her accomplishments in her field and community. Click here to learn more about Gail’s story.
Anjali Balakrishna is the program and communications associate for the Disability & Philanthropy Forum. As a student in Boston University’s journalism program, she played an active role at both the student radio station, the university’s lifestyle magazine, and BU’s chapter of Active Minds, an organization dedicated to reducing the stigma around mental illness. Through this, she found her passion for mental health advocacy, and she began to delve deeper into mental health, disability, and wellness education.
During her time as a college student, Anjali interned with The Mighty as a content writer for their chronic illness section. It was a pivotal experience in her career, as she had the opportunity to explore her own experiences with chronic illness and to create her own project exploring how mental illness is stigmatized in the South Asian community. As a biracial Indian-American, Anjali used this platform to elevate the voices of South Asian individuals and educate people beyond the community.
Anjali is a proud advocate for social justice and cultural and political issues — particularly focused on how the issues intersect with mental health/disability. She strives to continually educate herself in order to be a more effective ally and supporter of marginalized communities, and aims to pursue a higher degree in psychology to further her commitment to social justice. Click here to learn more about Anjali’s story.