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Webinar – Disability and Lived Experiences of Communities of Color

Click here for a transcript of this webinar

In the United States, one in four Black Americans, three in ten Indigenous people, one in six Hispanic people, and one in ten Asian people are living with a disability in the United States. Structural forms of marginalization, including racism and gender bias, are inextricably linked, and exacerbate the stigma and discrimination experienced by people with disabilities who are also people of color.

In this session, we lifted up the voices of four disabled people of color as they share their lived experiences. Applying disability-explicit and race-explicit lenses to philanthropic work is critical to achieving equity and justice.

CART will be provided. If you require another accommodation to fully participate in the webinar, please note it in your registration, or contact us at or 407-917-6864. This free webinar is presented by the Disability & Philanthropy Forum.

About the Panelists

Ryan Easterly, a Black man wearing glasses, a gray jacket, and light colored button down.

Moderator: Ryan Easterly, Executive Director, WITH Foundation

Ryan Easterly (he/him) lives and works at the intersections of race, class, disability, and sexual orientation. Ryan serves as executive director of WITH Foundation. WITH promotes comprehensive healthcare for adults with developmental disabilities in the United States. Ryan previously served as manager of the National Youth Transitions Initiative at the HSC Foundation. He has also worked across the federal sector and within community outreach and advocacy efforts. He is a member of the Presidents’ Council on Disability Inclusion in Philanthropy, the Disability & Philanthropy Forum Steering Committee, Grantmakers for Effective Organizations Board, and co-chairs Exponent Philanthropy’s Disability Funders Peer Circle.

Jennifer is a Korean-American woman with medium-length black hair, wearing a white blouse. She is smiling against a background of red tulips and green bushes.

Panelist: Jennifer Lee, Founder of the Asian Americans with Disabilities Initiative

Jennifer Lee (she/her) is the Founder of the Asian Americans with Disabilities Initiative (AADI), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that amplifies the voices of disabled Asian Americans nationwide. Jennifer is particularly passionate about the role intersectionality and inclusion play in disability justice, and serves as a 2022 ‘Youth to the Front Fund’ Frontliner from the We Are Family Foundation and 2021 Heumann-Armstrong Education Award recipient. After completing her undergraduate studies in public policy at Princeton University, she will attend Harvard Law School, where she intends to specialize in disability and civil rights law.

Panelist: Katherine Pérez, Director, The Coelho Center for Disability Law, Policy, and Innovation

Katherine Pérez is the Director of The Coelho Center for Disability Law, Policy, and Innovation. Her sense of disability justice formed at a young age as she grew up with psychiatric disabilities and is a sister to an autistic woman with intellectual disability. Katherine has dedicated her life toward advocating for people with disabilities on local, national, and international levels. Katherine is a graduate from UCLA Law (’13) and a PhD candidate in Disability Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. As a queer, disabled woman of color, and granddaughter of Mexican immigrants, Katherine’s lived experience informs her approach to intersectional justice.

Light-complected Black woman shown shoulders up wearing hair in bun atop her head, blue button earrings, makeup with red lipstick and smiling. She is wearing olive-colored blazer and blue and white patterned blouse with long necklace of various blue-colored pendants.

Panelist: Heather Watkins, Disability Advocate, Author, Speaker

Heather Watkins is a disability advocate, author, blogger, mother, speaker, consultant, and graduate of Emerson College with a B.S. in Mass Communications. Born with Muscular Dystrophy, loves reading, daydreaming, chocolate, and serves on a handful disability-related boards and a former Chair of Boston Disability Commission Advisory Board. Heather is also a founding member of Harriet Tubman Collective, composed of Black Deaf & Black Disabled activists, artists, and organizers. Her blog, Slow Walkers See More, includes reflections and insight from her life with disability.