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Advancing Disability Diversity, Equity, And Inclusion Goals in Climates Where it is Not Encouraged or Welcomed

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A topic of growing concern for many AHEAD members is the recent increase in laws limiting higher education institutions from engaging in diversity/equity/inclusion work, and whether/how that also impacts disability equity work. Join this panel of leaders with past higher education experience in states including Wyoming, Alaska, and Arkansas for this webinar to discuss how this work can continue to move forward in spite of some recent setbacks. This discussion will not focus on any particular law or state—even in locations where such laws are not in place we sometimes encounter resistance to DEI work. Please join us for this important and timely conversation.


  • Karen Andrews

    Karen Andrews has over 12 years of higher education disability experience and more than 12 years of K-12 special education experience, Karen is a visionary leader in disability services. She has a passionate commitment to creating a culture of inclusion for everyone, recognizing the intersectionality of the disabled. She works to ensure equitable opportunities and compliance with federal laws, state regulations, best practices and University-wide and campus guidelines related to equal access, barrier elimination, and resources and services for disabled students. Karen’s work extends nationally as she serves on the Board of the Association for Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD) as a Director-at-Large, is the current AHEAD Board liaison to the Knowledge and Practice Communities and is the former chair for the organization’s Race, Ethnicity, Diversity and Disability Special Interest Group. She is the 2022 awardee for the AHEAD Duraese Hall Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion Award. Every day, Karen and her service animal, Dooley, show up to serve the Brown community in advancing the cause of disability as diversity. Karen earned a BS in Elementary and Special Education from Northern Arizona University and an M. Ed. in Adult Education and Development from Strayer University.

  • Zebadiah Hall

    Zebadiah Hall is the University of Wyoming’s first full-time Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and formerly held the role of Equity Officer on the AHEAD Board of Directors.

  • Melanie Thornton

    Melanie Thornton is the Coordinator of Access and Equity Outreach at the University of Arkansas - Partners for Inclusive Communities. In this position, she provides professional development and technical assistance on topics related to disability, diversity, digital access, leadership, and design. Previously, she worked at the Disability Resource Center at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock where she served as the Associate Director and Director of Project PACE, a Department of Education model demonstration grant. She led the campus community in increasing capacity related to Web accessibility and inclusive curricular design. Melanie has also served as a trainer for Project ShIFT, a project designed to develop the leadership skills of professionals across the country and supporting them in infusing disability studies perspectives into their practices. Melanie has presented at state, national and international conferences on topics related to disability and access and has worked as an independent consultant in a variety of capacities for 10 years.

  • Charnessa Warren

    Charnessa Warren holds a Bachelor of Science in Speech & Hearing Science, and a Master of Science degree in Disability and Human Development, with a concentration in Rehabilitative Technology. Charnessa is a current doctoral student in the College of Education at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, majoring in Education Policy, Organization and Leadership, with a concentration in Diversity & Equity in Education. Charnessa is also a NCCJ St. Louis certified DEI FaciliTrainer. Charnessa currently works with the University of Chicago as the Director of Student Disability Services, as well as leads the Ivy Plus Disability Services Workgroup for higher education disability service providers. With 23 years of experience as a disability accommodation specialist and assistive technology subject matter expert, she has grown into a well-respected disability accomplice, speaker, leader, and thought partner in establishing innovative ways to incorporate disability as a part of diversity and inclusion efforts.

November 7, 2023
Tue 3:00 PM EST

Duration 1H 30M

This live web event has ended.