Headshot of Lydia Brown, young East Asian person, with stylized blue and yellow dramatic background. They are looking in the distance and wearing a plaid shirt and black jacket.

Lydia X.Z. Brown

Lydia X. Z. Brown is a disability justice advocate, organizer, educator, attorney, strategist, and writer whose work has largely focused on violence against multiply-marginalized disabled people, especially institutionalization, incarceration, and policing. They have worked to advance transformative change through organizing in the streets, writing legislation, conducting anti-ableism workshops, testifying at regulatory and policy hearings, and disrupting institutional complacency everywhere from the academy to state agencies and the nonprofit-industrial complex.

Lydia co-leads the project on disability rights and algorithmic fairness at the Institute for Technology Law and Policy at Georgetown University Law Center, teaches for Georgetown University’s Disability Studies Program through the Department of English, and supports the Autistic Women and Nonbinary Network’s public policy advocacy. Additionally, Lydia founded and directs the Fund for Community Reparations for Autistic People of Color’s Interdependence, Survival, and Empowerment, which provides direct support, mutual aid, and community reparations to individual autistic people of color. In collaboration with E. Ashkenazy and Morénike Giwa Onaiwu, Lydia is also co-editor and visionary behind All the Weight of Our Dreams, the first-ever anthology of writings and artwork by autistic people of color and otherwise negatively racialized autistic people, published by AWN.

Among other appointments, Lydia is an appointed member of the American Bar Association’s Commission on Disability Rights and chairperson of the American Bar Association’s Section on Civil Rights and Social Justice’s Disability Rights and Elder Affairs Committee, founding board member of the Alliance for Citizen-Directed Supports, a consumer member of Disability Rights Maryland’s Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness (PAIMI) Program Advisory Council, a community advisory board member for the Operating System, and an advisory board member for the Transgender Law Center’s Disability Project. Lydia is also a frequent collaborator with the National Center for Cultural Competence at Georgetown University, JOIN for Justice, and the Lurie Institute for Disability Policy at Brandeis University.

Previously, Lydia was the 2018-2019 Justice Catalyst Legal Fellow at the Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, where they defended and advanced the educational civil rights of Maryland students with psychosocial, intellectual, and developmental disabilities facing various forms of disproportionate discipline, criminalization, restraint and seclusion, and school pushout. They were also Chairperson of the Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council, serving in that role from 2015 to 2017 as the youngest appointee nationally to chair any state developmental disabilities council. Lydia also designed and taught a course on critical disability theory, public policy, and intersectional social movements as a Visiting Lecturer at Tufts University’s Experimental College. Lydia served as TASH New England’s co-president and its stakeholder representative to the Massachusetts One Care Implementation Council overseeing health care for people who are dually eligible for Medicaid and Medicare. They were formerly staff at the Autistic Self Advocacy Network for several years, working on programs and policy matters. They have also been a Holley Law Fellow at the National LGBTQ Task Force, and a Patricia Morrissey Disability Policy Fellow at the Institute for Educational Leadership.

Lydia has been honored by the White House, Washington Peace Center, National Council on Independent Living, Disability Policy Consortium of Massachusetts, National Association for Law Placement/Public Service Jobs Directory, Society for Disability Studies, and American Association of People with Disabilities. In 2015, Pacific Standard named Lydia a Top 30 Thinker under 30, and Mic named Lydia to its inaugural list of 50 impactful leaders, cultural influencers, and breakthrough innovators. Their work has been featured in scholarly publications including Disability Studies Quarterly; Addressing Ableism: Philosophical Questions via Disability Studies; Religion, Disability, and Interpersonal Violence; Barriers & Belonging: Personal Narratives of Disability; Feminist Perspectives on Orange is the New Black; Torture in Healthcare Settings; and Films for the Feminist Classroom; and community publications including The Asian American Literary Review; All In Your Head Zine: To The Bone; QDA: A Queer Disability Anthology; Criptiques; Disability Intersections; Black Girl Dangerous; hardboiled magazine; POOR Magazine; and NOS Magazine.

Lydia graduated from Northeastern University School of Law as a Public Interest Law Scholar. While at Northeastern, they served as an active member of the Committee Against Institutional Racism (representing the Asian Pacific American Law Students Association), the Transgender Justice Task Force, and the Faculty Appointments Committee, and are a founding core collective member of the Disability Justice Caucus. Earlier, while at Georgetown University, Lydia co-founded the Washington Metro Disabled Students Collective for intersectional disability justice organizing, led multiple campaigns to reform university policies on disability access that led to creation of a dedicated pool of funding for sign language interpretation and real-time captioning as well as an access coordinator position responsible for public and non-academic programming, single-handedly founded and coordinated the first Lecture and Performance Series on Disability Justice, served two terms as Undersecretary for Disability Affairs with the Georgetown University Students Association, spurred the university to convene a Disability Justice Working Group, provided training to numerous student groups and university departments and offices, and served on the University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities’ consumer advisory council.

Portrait of Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings

Gloria Ladson-Billings

Gloria Ladson-Billings is Professor Emerita and former Kellner Family Distinguished Professor in Urban Education in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction and was Faculty Affiliate in the Departments of Educational Policy Studies, Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis and Afro American Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is the current President of the National Academy of Education. She was the 2005–2006 president of the American Educational Research Association. Ladson-Billings’ research examines the pedagogical practices of teachers who are successful with African American students. She also investigates Critical Race Theory applications to education.

Ladson-Billings is the author of the critically acclaimed books, The Dreamkeepers: Successful Teachers of African American Children, Crossing over to Canaan: The Journey of New Teachers in Diverse Classrooms, and Beyond the Big House: African American Educators on Teacher Education. She is editor of 6 other books and author of more than 100 journal articles and book chapters. She is the former editor of the American Educational Research Journal and a member of several editorial boards. Her work has won numerous scholarly awards, including the H. I. Romnes Faculty Fellowship, Spencer Post-doctoral Fellowship, and the Palmer O. Johnson outstanding research award. She is the 2015 winner of the Social Justice in Education Award given by the American Educational Research Association. She was named the 2012 winner of the Brock International Prize in education. In 2012 she was awarded an honorary degree from the University of Alicante, Alicante, Spain. In 2010 she was awarded an honorary degree from the University of Massachusetts – Lowell. In 2002 she was awarded an honorary doctorate from Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden. During the 2003–2004 academic year she was a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford, California. In fall 2004 she received the George and Louise Spindler Award from the Council on Anthropology and Education for significant and ongoing contributions to the field of educational anthropology. In spring 2005 she was elected to the National Academy of Education and the National Society for the Study of Education. In 2007 she was awarded the Hilldale Award, the highest faculty honor given to a professor at the University of Wisconsin for outstanding research, teaching, and service. She is a 2008 recipient of the state of Wisconsin’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Heritage Award and the Teachers College, Columbia University 2008 Distinguished Service Medal. In 2009 she was elected to Kappa Delta Pi International Education Honor Society’s Laureate Chapter—comprised of 60 living distinguished scholars. Former laureate members include notables such as Albert Einstein, John Dewey and Eleanor Roosevelt. Ladson-Billings is currently one of the NEA Foundation Fellows charged with providing advice on its “Achievement Gap Initiative.” In 2014 she was a panelist on the White House’s African American Educational Excellence Initiative’s Essence Festival, “Smart Starts at Home” panel. In 2015 she received the Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award from the Literacy Research Association. In 2016 she received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Benjamin Banneker Association of the National Council for Teachers of Mathematics. In Fall 2017 she received the John Nisbet Award from the British Educational Research Association at the University of Sussex in Brighton, England. In April 2018 she received the American Educational Research Association’s Distinguished Research Award and the Division B (Curriculum Studies) Lifetime Achievement Award. She was elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in Spring 2018.

Ladson-Billings has an active community life that includes serving on several community boards such as the Urban League of Greater Madison, The Madison Children’s Museum, the United Way of Dane County, and the Susan G. Komen for the Cure of Madison. She is a member of the Links, Inc. and a 50-year member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. At the 2017 Leadership Summit she was named the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. International Citizen of the Year. As an active member of the Mt. Zion Baptist Church of Madison, WI she is the 2nd woman named to the 108 year old church’s Board of Deacons.