The word council cut out and the letters have peoples faces inside

Accessibility Council

#journeyable

Journeyable’s Accessibility Council

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Inclusion and diversity in the business office with a businesswoman in a wheelchair

Council Members

Fred has spent more than 30 years as a corporate executive working for Fortune 100 and Fortune 50 companies while traveling the world and building his expertise and reputation as an internationally recognized keynote speaker, disability advocate, and accessibility travel and tourism expert. He works with international governments and Ministries of Tourism, including the Caribbean, Dubai, Jordan, Portugal, the UK, Israel, and the United States, businesses, airports and airlines, plus hotels and travel destinations across the globe to refine accessible travel, provide accessibility, diversity and inclusion training, and define market potential and strategies to attract more people to global destinations.

Most recently, Fred joined friend and former Comcast NBCUniversal colleague, Tony Colantonio, as a Partner and together they are Co-Founders of Journeyable. This global community platform is a content storytelling website which features an original accessible travel series hosted by Fred, in addition to content from some of the world’s most-recognized accessible travel writers, celebrities, and renowned experts on topics ranging from mental health and wellness, to stories of empowerment, as well as some of most impactful organizations around the globe.

Fred is a regular speaker about his journey, as well as accessibility issues and solutions, on stages around the world, including Dubai, Israel, Nepal, Africa, Guyana, Hong Kong, the Americas, the Caribbean, the UK, and Australia. And, he is expanding his portfolio to address disability, inclusion, and accessibility solutions in Asia and Europe.

Dr. Kathryn Johnson

Dr. Kathryn Johnson, in her vital role with Access to All, is responsible for establishing key partnerships and marketing educational courses, leveraging her extensive background in disability policy and advocacy. As the Director of Partnership and Policy for the Center of Disability Policy and Advocacy at St. Cloud State University, she brings a wealth of experience to this position.

Earning her Ph.D. in Comparative International Development Education from the University of Minnesota, Dr. Johnson has been instrumental in preparing future special education teachers and in leading international initiatives, notably in China. Her efforts include facilitating the development of Chinese immersion programs and the US-China School for the Deaf Project, aimed at enhancing global competencies for Deaf students.

With a decade-long background as a teacher for Deaf students before joining SCSU, Dr. Johnson is passionately committed to advancing the rights of Deaf students worldwide. Her work, spanning continents, focuses on global disability rights, particularly the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Sustainable Development Goals.

2361801685

We drive change through Synchronised Collective Action. Channelling the power of 500 partners working in harmony – moving in the same direction, at the same time, against the same system barrier. We hold each other to account.

Working towards the Valuable 500 Accountability Summit, Tokyo 2025 – where we will invite our 500 Companies to report on their progress against our three Synchronised Collective Actions: Leadership, Reporting and Representation.

We won’t stop until everyone is seen and valued equally.

Autistic child blowing a flower

The Arc is the largest national community-based organization advocating for and with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and serving them and their families.

We work tirelessly to uphold our vision that every individual and family living with IDD in the United States has access to the information, advocacy, and skills they need to support their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes.

After graduating from the Vienna University of Economics, Michael Fembek (born 1961) joined GEWINN, an Austrian business magazine, serving between 2000 and 2007 as editor-in-chief. In 2009 he initiated “Sinnstifter”, a project by Austrian philanthropists, and launched the annual Austrian CSR-Yearbook. In 2010 he joined the Essl Foundation as Programme Manager and – until 2014 – the bauMax group as its Head of Social Affairs.

Since 2011 he is the Director of the Zero Project, a project of the Essl Foundation, and organizes the annual Zero Project Conference in the UN Headquarters in Vienna. In 2014, he co-initiated the Verband für Gemeinnütziges Stiften, the Austrian philanthropic association, where he serves as Vice President.

In 2015, he became the Chair of the Thematic Group on Disabilities within the European Foundation Centre (EFC), and in 2016 he co-initiated the Haus der Philanthropie in Vienna, and became Member of the Board of GAATES, the Global Alliance on Accessible Technologies and Environments.

Peter Slatin hotel lobby

Peter Slatin is the founder and president of Slatin Group LLC, which provides education and training to the hospitality and tourism industry on service to consumers with disabilities.

Peter is an award-winning journalist and currently writes on disability for Forbes.com; he was previously a Forbes Financial Columnist focusing on real estate investment trusts. He was the co-founder and editor of Grid magazine, a trade publication covering commercial real estate and design. Grid received seven awards for editorial and design excellence from American Business Media and additional awards from the National Association of Real Estate Editors in its 3.5-year publishing history. He has written frequently on those subjects in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Barron’s and Architectural Record. He is a recipient of the Oculus Award for Excellence in Architectural Journalism from the New York City Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. He also served as editorial director of Real Capital Analytics, the leading industry data and research firm on commercial property investment. Peter, who is blind, is an adjunct instructor at New York University.

Peter is a longtime advocate for disability rights. He is a director of Empire State Employment Resources for the Blind and the Colorado Center for the Blind, an acclaimed educational organization affiliated with the National Federation of the Blind. He has served on the boards of Lighthouse Guild and the Van Alen Institute. He speaks frequently on disability rights, including universal design. He has consulted for organizations such as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and NYC &Company. He holds a Master’s degree from Hunter College.

Nick Santonastasso is constantly defying the odds. Despite being born with no legs and one arm, Nick is a bestselling author, world renowned keynote speaker and a professional model/bodybuilder.

When Nick was conceived, he had a 30% chance of surviving birth. Nick was 1 of 12 people in the world at the time who was born with Hanhart Syndrom, a rare genetic disorder which either leaves the babies with undeveloped limbs or undeveloped organs. Fortunately when Nick was born the only things that were affected were his limbs. They did a test on his organs and they came out a 100% healthy. Nick was self-loathing and thought about ending his life.

Fortunately, he was able to find his “WHY” through wrestling in high school. He had to Amputate part of of his arm to be able to wrestle. Nick was not the best wrestler but he would pack tournaments with spectators. People would approach him with tears of joy and excitement and say how much he inspired them.

That was a turning point for Nick and his life. Nick realized he was capable of achieving anything he set his sights on. Nick has continued to aim higher and higher, knowing that every day he lives is considered a medical miracle. He has made cameos on TV shows like “The Walking Dead” and has become a social media sensation gaining more than 1 million followers on “Vine” in less than a year.

Most recently Nick decided to become a competitive bodybuilder, showing he can achieve physical greatness. In 2017, he won the 3rd place in his first competition at the “Iron Bay Classic”. Now, Nick is sharing his experience with people all over the world as a keynote speaker and a coach at conferences, professional sports teams as well as Fortune 500 companies. He is using his challenges to inspire others to push beyond their limiting beliefs and live a life that has NO LIMITS. Nick already helped to inspire GIANTS in today’s world, such as Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Ed Mylett and many more.

Neha Arora, Planet Abled

Imagine as a child never been on a family holiday. Watching your class mates going for one in summer and winter vacations, and your travels limited to just school picnics or grandparents houses.

Hi, I am Neha Arora, and I was that child. My father is blind and mother is a wheelchair user. The thought of traveling to unknown places raises a lot of questions in the minds of a person with disability. Inaccessibility, lack of basic amenities and societal prejudice are some of the barriers they face. When we grew up and started to travel, every attempt was a surprise.

You travel 2000 miles only to realize that the place is not accessible & you can’t go in, or it does not offer the kind of pleasant experience you came for. Thanks to insensitivity and social stigmas, which persist in the community.

Lorraine Woodward

The CEO and co-founder of Becoming rentABLE, where she guides the entire Becoming rentABLE team with creative ideas that positively impact the lives of people with disabilities and their families in the world of accessible short-term rentals.

Lorraine is a full-time wheelchair user, having been diagnosed as a young child with limb girdle muscular dystrophy. Lorraine is passionate about the world of accessible short-term rentals due to her experience as a mother of two children who also have muscular dystrophy and the difficulty her family has had with finding accessible vacation destinations and short-term rental properties. Outside of work, Lorraine and her family enjoy eating tasty food and own two accessible short-term rental properties, the first of which was the inspiration for Becoming rentABLE.

proudly representing Off to Neverland Travel, LLC, a Travel Leaders Network Affiliate Agency

With a passion for travel that transcends physical barriers, I’ve been a dedicated force in the travel industry since 2007, proudly representing Off to Neverland Travel, LLC, a Travel Leaders Network Affiliate Agency. As a seasoned travel agent, I specialize in accessible travel, bringing a unique perspective to the world of exploration.

Born without arms and shortened legs, I navigate the globe from the vantage point of a powered wheelchair, proving that wanderlust knows no bounds. My journey into the travel industry was fueled by a desire to make the world more accessible to individuals with diverse abilities. Traveling with my wife and three daughters, making family memories while we are out and about is our passion

As a trailblazer in accessible travel, I have established myself as the go-to expert in crafting seamless and inclusive travel experiences. My expertise shines particularly in three key areas: the enchanting realm of Walt Disney World, Disneyland, and the high seas of cruising. By combining my extensive industry knowledge with a firsthand understanding of accessibility challenges, I ensure that every journey is tailored to meet the unique needs of my clients.

My mission is not just to send clients on vacations but to open doors to a world where everyone, regardless of ability, can experience the joy and wonder of exploration.

Justice Richard Bernstein

Justice Richard Bernstein became the first blind justice, elected by voters statewide, to the Michigan Supreme Court in November 2014. With a commitment to justice and fairness, Bernstein began his 8-year term in January 2015.

Prior to being elected to Michigan’s highest court, Justice Bernstein was known as a tireless advocate for disabled rights as an attorney heading the public service division for The Sam Bernstein Law Firm in Farmington Hills, Michigan.

Blind since birth, Justice Bernstein is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Michigan and earned his juris doctorate from Northwestern University School of Law. Committed to taking action to help clients who needed him, Justice Bernstein’s cases often set national standards protecting the rights and safety of people with and without disabilities. Among his cases in private practice, he represented the Paralyzed Veterans of America in partnership with the United States Department of Justice in an action against the University of Michigan to allow for safe access for disabled individuals when the university’s alterations to the stadium failed to accommodate and represent disabled visitors.

The case helped establish guidelines that are used by all commercial facilities across the country. He also successfully partnered with the United States Department of Justice to force the City of Detroit to fix broken wheelchair lifts on its buses, establishing a precedent for accessibility in public transportation. Further, Bernstein represented disabled residents against the Oakland County (Michigan) Road Commission after “roundabout” traffic circles were built without disabled access, impacting future ADA compliance for road construction throughout the United States.

In a landmark settlement against Delta Airlines and Detroit Metro Airport, Bernstein gained accessibility for disabled fliers, helping set the standard for which airlines and airports are to be covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. A proponent of education, he argued for, and won, preservation of special education funding throughout the state and filed a federal suit against the American Bar Association to put an end to its discriminatory practices toward blind students via requirement of the Law School Admissions Test. He also challenged the City of New York to make Central Park and all parks safer for visitors and accessible for disabled and visually impaired individuals. Bernstein previously served an eight-year term on the Wayne State University Board of Governors, elected by voters statewide, serving as its Chair from 2009-2010. He also served as an adjunct professor in the political science department at the University of Michigan. Honors Justice Bernstein has received include: “Michiganian of the Year” by the Detroit News, one of Crain’s Detroit Business’ “40 Under 40” and recognition on worldwide television by CNN as a leader in keeping government honest. He was selected by The Young Lawyers Section of the State Bar of Michigan as the 2003-2004 Regeana Myrick Outstanding Young Lawyer Award recipient for outstanding commitment to public service and is the recipient of the 2008 John W. Cummiskey Pro Bono Award from the State Bar of Michigan in recognition of his leadership as an advocate and activist. Michigan Lawyers Weekly named Justice Bernstein a 2009 Leader in the Law, and the University of Michigan presented him with the James T. Neubacher Award in 2011 for his unwavering commitment to equal rights and opportunities for people with disabilities. Also in 2011, L. Brooks Patterson, Michigan’s Oakland County Executive, selected Justice Bernstein as one of the region’s Elite 40 Under 40. In 2013, Justice Bernstein was inducted into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. In his spare time, Justice Bernstein is an avid runner, completing 22 marathons – including thirteen New York City marathons – the full Ironman triathlon in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho in 2008 and the Israman triathlon’s half Ironman in Eilat, Israel in 2011. He also previously co-hosted a one-hour legal radio show called “Fighting for Justice” on WCHB-AM (1200) in Metro Detroit.​

Shutterstock_1559531006

Adventure Travel Trade Association. Our mission is to empower the global travel community to protect natural and cultural capital while creating economic value that benefits both trade members and destinations.

Dr. Amy Hebert Knopf

Dr. Amy Hebert Knopf, the pioneer of Access to All, is a leading figure in disability rights and advocacy at St. Cloud State University. As the Director of Education and Research at the Center for International Disability Advocacy and Diplomacy, Dr. Hebert Knopf champions inclusive policies and practices, driven by zir own experiences with a non-apparent disability.

Ze has a distinguished history in disability research, highlighted by a fellowship at the Harkin Institute for Public Policy & Citizen Engagement and extensive work on the global stage, focusing on accessibility, education, and employment for people with disabilities. At St. Cloud State University, ze continues to break barriers and advocate for transformative changes in society.

Dr. Hebert Knopf’s commitment to creating an inclusive world where everyone, regardless of ability, has equal access to opportunities is at the heart of zir work with Access to All.

Eric Lipp
Executive Director at Open Doors Organization

Eric Lipp, Founder and Executive Director of the Open Doors Organization (ODO), after personally experiencing the restrictions that people with disabilities face in their everyday life. Right after Eric’s 30th Birthday he went into surgery to remove a tumor, which then led to unforeseen complications, since then he has been on a mission to make goods and services accessible in travel, tourism, and transportation. With his mission in mind, he has developed strong relationships within the disability community, both to encourage individuals with disabilities to participate in travel and to incorporate the viewpoints and needs of travelers with any disability type into ODO’s training and consulting services. 

He has implemented training across multiple transportation services that educated employees best practices when it comes to their customers with disabilities. He is a key resource for air carriers and service providers regarding the stowage and handling of wheelchairs and other assistive devices to ensure their mobility devices are transported safely and arrive without damage. As well as the assistance they receive throughout their journey adequately/reasonably meets their individual needs.

He has worked with over 70 airports globally, 65 carriers globally, dozens of hotels and destinations across the world.  He frequently speaks at travel, tourism and transportation events internationally.  He also co-authored the Easy Access Chicago Guide and the accessible landing page at I Love NY.  He was appointed to the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory board in 2022. It is because of these personal experiences that he has made an impact on the aviation industry and a difference for the disability community.

Autistic walker smiling at the camera whilst walking

Easterseals is leading the way to full equity, inclusion, and access through life-changing disability and community services.

For more than 100 years, we have worked tirelessly with our partners to enhance quality of life and expand local access to healthcare, education, and employment opportunities. And we won’t rest until every one of us is valued, respected, and accepted.

Through our national network of affiliates, Easterseals provides essential services and on-the-ground supports to more than 1.5 million people each year — from early childhood programs for the critical first five years, to autism services, to medical rehabilitation and employment programs, to veterans’ services, and more.

Our public education, policy, and advocacy initiatives positively shape perceptions and address the urgent and evolving needs of the one in four Americans living with disabilities today. Together, we’re empowering people with disabilities, families and communities to be full and equal participants in society.

Maria Town, AAPD

Maria Town is the President and CEO of the American Association of People with Disabilities. In this role, she works to increase the political and economic power of people with disabilities.

Prior to this she served as the Director of the City of Houston Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities where she advocated for the rights and needs of citizens with disabilities, served as a liaison between the mayor, city council, city departments and other public and private entities on matters pertaining to people with disabilities in Houston, and established local and national partnerships to advance inclusion.

Town is the former Senior Associate Director in the Obama White House Office of Public Engagement where she managed the White House’s engagement with the disability community and older Americans. She also managed the place-based portfolio and coordinated engagement across Federal agencies. While at the White House, Town hosted an inclusive fashion show that highlighted the efforts of makers and designers to enhance disability integration. Prior to this, Town was a policy advisor at the Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy. While at ODEP, Town led and coordinated numerous efforts to improve employment outcomes for youth and young adults with disabilities. She has particular expertise in areas of youth development and leadership and promoting college and career readiness for all youth. In addition to her disability policy work, Town is the creator of the popular CP Shoes blog where she writes about fashion, design, and disability. She was recently named to the Susan Daniel’s Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame and to the inaugural class of Emory University’s 40 Under 40. She hails from Louisiana, where her family still resides.

Empty seats in the departure lounge at the airport in the sunset

ACI World is fully committed to building a more accessible and inclusive air transport system.

Our members recognize that people with disabilities and those with reduced mobility require a focus on the design of accessible infrastructure and an inclusive passenger journey.

ACI World works closely with accessibility advocacy groups, members and international partners to develop resources and best practices that can help and guide airports in reducing barriers to accessibility, and to enhance the global regulatory framework.

Shani Dhanda

Shani Dhanda is an award-winning disability specialist, listed as one of the UK’s most influential disabled people.

As a keynote speaker and practitioner for inclusion across business, government, non-profit and wider society, Shani helps organisations break barriers and integrate inclusion into their business frameworks.

Shani’s style and approach are described as ‘a winning combination of authenticity and passion, helping to remove the awkwardness and fear of having confident conversations about disability within business and society.

Purple Tuesday is a global social movement and the #1 brand for improving the customer experience for disabled people and their families 365 days a year.

The initiative inspires leadership and staff of organisations from all sectors and sizes to foster awareness, deepen understanding, and implement solutions for enhanced accessibility in their customer environments.

Participating organisations are dedicated to making public commitments each year to improve accessibility and practices, ensuring that disabled customers have a more inclusive and positive experience. These commitments involve initiating at least one new activity or initiative.

Kathy Martinez

Kathy leads the development of the travel tech company’s disability inclusion and equality strategy, weaving awareness and accessibility into all physical, digital, and cultural aspects across the organization. 

Kathy is an internationally recognized disability inclusion thought leader. She most recently served as President & CEO of Disability Rights Advocates (DRA). Throughout her extensive career, she has also served as SVP, Head of Disability and Accessibility Strategy for Wells Fargo, and as  Assistant  Secretary of the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) at the U.S. Department of Labor, putting policy priorities into practice. Kathy is on the board of The American Association of People with Disabilities and has served on the boards of the National Council on Disability, the U.S. Institute of Peace, and the State Department’s advisory committee on disability and foreign policy.

A graduate of San Francisco State University, Martinez publishes on a wide array of topics related to disability employment, including the emergence of disability as an essential component of workplace diversity and inclusion and the importance of expectation in ensuring youth with disabilities grow up with an assumption of work—a topic on which Martinez, who herself was born blind, offers compelling and personal perspective.

Mindy Scheier, GAMUT Management

Mindy Scheier got to see up-close how people with disabilities don’t get products, services and experiences that others of us take for granted: her son Oliver, who has Muscular Dystrophy, dreamed of wearing jeans like everyone else but none would fit his needs. First, she adapted a pair herself, using her design skills honed over 20 years working in the fashion industry from being on the design team for the INC collection to being a stylist for Saks Fifth Avenue. Then, in 2014, she launched the Runway of Dreams Foundation (RoDF). Since then, Runway of Dreams has collaborated with Tommy Hilfiger, Zappos Adaptive, Kohl’s, Target, Stride Rite and many other brands. But still, she sensed a greater need in the market.

It became clear that if a non-profit can raise awareness, it takes a business to help change the way businesses work with and think about people with disabilities. So GAMUT was born in 2019.​ Representing people with disabilities and creating a marketplace where businesses and industries can be connected to this audience, GAMUT gives its community a voice in how brands market to them, create products for them and represent them. The continued support of the mission of Runway of Dreams will always be a component of the GAMUT business plan as the company’s 501(c)3 partner.

By 2022, GAMUT already manages a large talent pool of people with disabilities, providing opportunities such as film, television, modeling, focus groups, fit testing and product development. GAMUT also works closely with many mainstream brands in all aspects of their business for a truly comprehensive approach on how to serve and include people with disabilities.

Dr. Sandy Sufian_UIC School of Medicine

Sandy Sufian is an associate professor of health humanities and history in the Department of Medical Education at UIC School of Medicine and associate professor of disability studies in the UIC Department of Disability and Human Development.

Sufian received her doctorate from New York University in Middle East History and her Masters of Public Health in epidemiology and biostatistics from Oregon Health Sciences University. Dr. Sufian specializes in the history of medicine and disability.

She has published two books: Healing the Land and the Nation: Malaria and the Zionist project in Mandatory Palestine, 1920-1947 (U Chicago Press, 2007) and Reapproaching the Border: New Perspectives on the Study of Israel/Palestine (Rowman Littlefield, 2007). Sufian is currently working on a book project about the history of disability and adoption in America in the twentieth century. She teaches courses on the history of disability and the modern history of medicine and public health to medical students, PhD students and undergraduate students.

Facade of boutique

The BLLA was created to unify, empower, educate and advocate for a growing community of creators within the dynamic realm of boutique lifestyle—not only establishing and maintaining industry standards, but boldly advancing its cultural impact and category innovation. We are your voice and your megaphone. We are your home and your launching pad.

A catalyst for trends and unapologetic pioneer, the BLLA is where the best in boutique gathers to become better—from hoteliers and hospitality entrepreneurs to visionaries in retail, fashion, beauty, fitness, and beyond. Boutique is powerful. Boutique is captivating. And above all, boutique is a global movement that we are proud to lead.

Our mission? To counteract corporate monotony and champion creativity. To forget the forgettable and forge the once-in-a-lifetime. To break down doors and link the most brilliant minds in the industry. To build on our now 14-year legacy of reimagining the multifaceted future of boutique—together.

Fred has spent more than 30 years as a corporate executive working for Fortune 100 and Fortune 50 companies while traveling the world and building his expertise and reputation as an internationally recognized keynote speaker, disability advocate, and accessibility travel and tourism expert. He works with international governments and Ministries of Tourism, including the Caribbean, Dubai, Jordan, Portugal, the UK, Israel, and the United States, businesses, airports and airlines, plus hotels and travel destinations across the globe to refine accessible travel, provide accessibility, diversity and inclusion training, and define market potential and strategies to attract more people to global destinations.

Most recently, Fred joined friend and former Comcast NBCUniversal colleague, Tony Colantonio, as a Partner and together they are Co-Founders of Journeyable. This global community platform is a content storytelling website which features an original accessible travel series hosted by Fred, in addition to content from some of the world’s most-recognized accessible travel writers, celebrities, and renowned experts on topics ranging from mental health and wellness, to stories of empowerment, as well as some of most impactful organizations around the globe.

Fred is a regular speaker about his journey, as well as accessibility issues and solutions, on stages around the world, including Dubai, Israel, Nepal, Africa, Guyana, Hong Kong, the Americas, the Caribbean, the UK, and Australia. And, he is expanding his portfolio to address disability, inclusion, and accessibility solutions in Asia and Europe.

Dr. Amy Hebert Knopf

Dr. Amy Hebert Knopf, the pioneer of Access to All, is a leading figure in disability rights and advocacy at St. Cloud State University. As the Director of Education and Research at the Center for International Disability Advocacy and Diplomacy, Dr. Hebert Knopf champions inclusive policies and practices, driven by zir own experiences with a non-apparent disability.

Ze has a distinguished history in disability research, highlighted by a fellowship at the Harkin Institute for Public Policy & Citizen Engagement and extensive work on the global stage, focusing on accessibility, education, and employment for people with disabilities. At St. Cloud State University, ze continues to break barriers and advocate for transformative changes in society.

Dr. Hebert Knopf’s commitment to creating an inclusive world where everyone, regardless of ability, has equal access to opportunities is at the heart of zir work with Access to All.

Dr. Kathryn Johnson

Dr. Kathryn Johnson, in her vital role with Access to All, is responsible for establishing key partnerships and marketing educational courses, leveraging her extensive background in disability policy and advocacy. As the Director of Partnership and Policy for the Center of Disability Policy and Advocacy at St. Cloud State University, she brings a wealth of experience to this position.

Earning her Ph.D. in Comparative International Development Education from the University of Minnesota, Dr. Johnson has been instrumental in preparing future special education teachers and in leading international initiatives, notably in China. Her efforts include facilitating the development of Chinese immersion programs and the US-China School for the Deaf Project, aimed at enhancing global competencies for Deaf students.

With a decade-long background as a teacher for Deaf students before joining SCSU, Dr. Johnson is passionately committed to advancing the rights of Deaf students worldwide. Her work, spanning continents, focuses on global disability rights, particularly the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Eric Lipp Executive Director at Open Doors Organization

Eric Lipp, Founder and Executive Director of the Open Doors Organization (ODO), after personally experiencing the restrictions that people with disabilities face in their everyday life. Right after Eric’s 30th Birthday he went into surgery to remove a tumor, which then led to unforeseen complications, since then he has been on a mission to make goods and services accessible in travel, tourism, and transportation. With his mission in mind, he has developed strong relationships within the disability community, both to encourage individuals with disabilities to participate in travel and to incorporate the viewpoints and needs of travelers with any disability type into ODO’s training and consulting services.

He has implemented training across multiple transportation services that educated employees best practices when it comes to their customers with disabilities. He is a key resource for air carriers and service providers regarding the stowage and handling of wheelchairs and other assistive devices to ensure their mobility devices are transported safely and arrive without damage. As well as the assistance they receive throughout their journey adequately/reasonably meets their individual needs.

He has worked with over 70 airports globally, 65 carriers globally, dozens of hotels and destinations across the world. He frequently speaks at travel, tourism and transportation events internationally. He also co-authored the Easy Access Chicago Guide and the accessible landing page at I Love NY. He was appointed to the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory board in 2022. It is because of these personal experiences that he has made an impact on the aviation industry and a difference for the disability community.

2361801685

We drive change through Synchronised Collective Action. Channelling the power of 500 partners working in harmony – moving in the same direction, at the same time, against the same system barrier. We hold each other to account.

Working towards the Valuable 500 Accountability Summit, Tokyo 2025 – where we will invite our 500 Companies to report on their progress against our three Synchronised Collective Actions: Leadership, Reporting and Representation.

We won’t stop until everyone is seen and valued equally.

Autistic walker smiling at the camera whilst walking

Easterseals is leading the way to full equity, inclusion, and access through life-changing disability and community services. For more than 100 years, we have worked tirelessly with our partners to enhance quality of life and expand local access to healthcare, education, and employment opportunities. And we won’t rest until every one of us is valued, respected, and accepted.

Through our national network of affiliates, Easterseals provides essential services and on-the-ground supports to more than 1.5 million people each year — from early childhood programs for the critical first five years, to autism services, to medical rehabilitation and employment programs, to veterans’ services, and more.

Our public education, policy, and advocacy initiatives positively shape perceptions and address the urgent and evolving needs of the one in four Americans living with disabilities today. Together, we’re empowering people with disabilities, families and communities to be full and equal participants in society.

Autistic child blowing a flower

The Arc is the largest national community-based organization advocating for and with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and serving them and their families.

We work tirelessly to uphold our vision that every individual and family living with IDD in the United States has access to the information, advocacy, and skills they need to support their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes.

Maria Town, AAPD

Maria Town is the President and CEO of the American Association of People with Disabilities. In this role, she works to increase the political and economic power of people with disabilities. Prior to this she served as the Director of the City of Houston Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities where she advocated for the rights and needs of citizens with disabilities, served as a liaison between the mayor, city council, city departments and other public and private entities on matters pertaining to people with disabilities in Houston, and established local and national partnerships to advance inclusion.

Town is the former Senior Associate Director in the Obama White House Office of Public Engagement where she managed the White House’s engagement with the disability community and older Americans. She also managed the place-based portfolio and coordinated engagement across Federal agencies. While at the White House, Town hosted an inclusive fashion show that highlighted the efforts of makers and designers to enhance disability integration.

Prior to this, Town was a policy advisor at the Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy. While at ODEP, Town led and coordinated numerous efforts to improve employment outcomes for youth and young adults with disabilities. She has particular expertise in areas of youth development and leadership and promoting college and career readiness for all youth. In addition to her disability policy work, Town is the creator of the popular CP Shoes blog where she writes about fashion, design, and disability. She was recently named to the Susan Daniel’s Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame and to the inaugural class of Emory University’s 40 Under 40. She hails from Louisiana, where her family still resides.

After graduating from the Vienna University of Economics, Michael Fembek (born 1961) joined GEWINN, an Austrian business magazine, serving between 2000 and 2007 as editor-in-chief. In 2009 he initiated “Sinnstifter”, a project by Austrian philanthropists, and launched the annual Austrian CSR-Yearbook.

In 2010 he joined the Essl Foundation as Programme Manager and – until 2014 – the bauMax group as its Head of Social Affairs. Since 2011 he is the Director of the Zero Project, a project of the Essl Foundation, and organizes the annual Zero Project Conference in the UN Headquarters in Vienna.

In 2014, he co-initiated the Verband für Gemeinnütziges Stiften, the Austrian philanthropic association, where he serves as Vice President. In 2015, he became the Chair of the Thematic Group on Disabilities within the European Foundation Centre (EFC), and in 2016 he co-initiated the Haus der Philanthropie in Vienna, and became Member of the Board of GAATES, the Global Alliance on Accessible Technologies and Environments.

Peter Slatin hotel lobby

Peter Slatin is the founder and president of Slatin Group LLC, which provides education and training to the hospitality and tourism industry on service to consumers with disabilities.

Peter is an award-winning journalist and currently writes on disability for Forbes.com; he was previously a Forbes Financial Columnist focusing on real estate investment trusts. He was the co-founder and editor of Grid magazine, a trade publication covering commercial real estate and design. Grid received seven awards for editorial and design excellence from American Business Media and additional awards from the National Association of Real Estate Editors in its 3.5-year publishing history. He has written frequently on those subjects in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Barron’s and Architectural Record. He is a recipient of the Oculus Award for Excellence in Architectural Journalism from the New York City Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. He also served as editorial director of Real Capital Analytics, the leading industry data and research firm on commercial property investment. Peter, who is blind, is an adjunct instructor at New York University.

Peter is a longtime advocate for disability rights. He is a director of Empire State Employment Resources for the Blind and the Colorado Center for the Blind, an acclaimed educational organization affiliated with the National Federation of the Blind. He has served on the boards of Lighthouse Guild and the Van Alen Institute. He speaks frequently on disability rights, including universal design. He has consulted for organizations such as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and NYC &Company. He holds a Master’s degree from Hunter College.

Shani Dhanda

Shani Dhanda is an award-winning disability specialist, listed as one of the UK’s most influential disabled people.

As a keynote speaker and practitioner for inclusion across business, government, non-profit and wider society, Shani helps organisations break barriers and integrate inclusion into their business frameworks.

Shani’s style and approach are described as ‘a winning combination of authenticity and passion, helping to remove the awkwardness and fear of having confident conversations about disability within business and society.

Empty seats in the departure lounge at the airport in the sunset

ACI World is fully committed to building a more accessible and inclusive air transport system. Our members recognize that people with disabilities and those with reduced mobility require a focus on the design of accessible infrastructure and an inclusive passenger journey.

ACI World works closely with accessibility advocacy groups, members and international partners to develop resources and best practices that can help and guide airports in reducing barriers to accessibility, and to enhance the global regulatory framework.

Nick Santonastasso is constantly defying the odds. Despite being born with no legs and one arm, Nick is a bestselling author, world renowned keynote speaker and a professional model/bodybuilder. When Nick was conceived, he had a 30% chance of surviving birth.

Nick was 1 of 12 people in the world at the time who was born with Hanhart Syndrom, a rare genetic disorder which either leaves the babies with undeveloped limbs or undeveloped organs.

Fortunately when Nick was born the only things that were affected were his limbs. They did a test on his organs and they came out a 100% healthy. Nick was self-loathing and thought about ending his life. Fortunately, he was able to find his “WHY” through wrestling in high school. He had to Amputate part of of his arm to be able to wrestle.

Nick was not the best wrestler but he would pack tournaments with spectators. People would approach him with tears of joy and excitement and say how much he inspired them. That was a turning point for Nick and his life. Nick realized he was capable of achieving anything he set his sights on. Nick has continued to aim higher and higher, knowing that every day he lives is considered a medical miracle.

He has made cameos on TV shows like “The Walking Dead” and has become a social media sensation gaining more than 1 million followers on “Vine” in less than a year. Most recently Nick decided to become a competitive bodybuilder, showing he can achieve physical greatness. In 2017, he won the 3rd place in his first competition at the “Iron Bay Classic”.

Now, Nick is sharing his experience with people all over the world as a keynote speaker and a coach at conferences, professional sports teams as well as Fortune 500 companies. He is using his challenges to inspire others to push beyond their limiting beliefs and live a life that has NO LIMITS. Nick already helped to inspire GIANTS in today’s world, such as Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Ed Mylett and many more.

Purple Tuesday is a global social movement and the #1 brand for improving the customer experience for disabled people and their families 365 days a year.

The initiative inspires leadership and staff of organisations from all sectors and sizes to foster awareness, deepen understanding, and implement solutions for enhanced accessibility in their customer environments.

Participating organisations are dedicated to making public commitments each year to improve accessibility and practices, ensuring that disabled customers have a more inclusive and positive experience. These commitments involve initiating at least one new activity or initiative.

Neha Arora, Planet Abled

Imagine as a child never been on a family holiday. Watching your class mates going for one in summer and winter vacations, and your travels limited to just school picnics or grandparents houses. Hi, I am Neha Arora, and I was that child.

My father is blind and mother is a wheelchair user. The thought of traveling to unknown places raises a lot of questions in the minds of a person with disability. Inaccessibility, lack of basic amenities and societal prejudice are some of the barriers they face. When we grew up and started to travel, every attempt was a surprise.

You travel 2000 miles only to realize that the place is not accessible & you can’t go in, or it does not offer the kind of pleasant experience you came for. Thanks to insensitivity and social stigmas, which persist in the community.

Lorraine Woodward

The CEO and co-founder of Becoming rentABLE, where she guides the entire Becoming rentABLE team with creative ideas that positively impact the lives of people with disabilities and their families in the world of accessible short-term rentals.

Lorraine is a full-time wheelchair user, having been diagnosed as a young child with limb girdle muscular dystrophy. Lorraine is passionate about the world of accessible short-term rentals due to her experience as a mother of two children who also have muscular dystrophy and the difficulty her family has had with finding accessible vacation destinations and short-term rental properties. Outside of work, Lorraine and her family enjoy eating tasty food and own two accessible short-term rental properties, the first of which was the inspiration for Becoming rentABLE.

Justice Richard Bernstein

Justice Richard Bernstein became the first blind justice, elected by voters statewide, to the Michigan Supreme Court in November 2014. With a commitment to justice and fairness, Bernstein began his 8-year term in January 2015.

Prior to being elected to Michigan’s highest court, Justice Bernstein was known as a tireless advocate for disabled rights as an attorney heading the public service division for The Sam Bernstein Law Firm in Farmington Hills, Michigan. Blind since birth, Justice Bernstein is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Michigan and earned his juris doctorate from Northwestern University School of Law. Committed to taking action to help clients who needed him, Justice Bernstein’s cases often set national standards protecting the rights and safety of people with and without disabilities.

Among his cases in private practice, he represented the Paralyzed Veterans of America in partnership with the United States Department of Justice in an action against the University of Michigan to allow for safe access for disabled individuals when the university’s alterations to the stadium failed to accommodate and represent disabled visitors. The case helped establish guidelines that are used by all commercial facilities across the country. He also successfully partnered with the United States Department of Justice to force the City of Detroit to fix broken wheelchair lifts on its buses, establishing a precedent for accessibility in public transportation. Further, Bernstein represented disabled residents against the Oakland County (Michigan) Road Commission after “roundabout” traffic circles were built without disabled access, impacting future ADA compliance for road construction throughout the United States.

In a landmark settlement against Delta Airlines and Detroit Metro Airport, Bernstein gained accessibility for disabled fliers, helping set the standard for which airlines and airports are to be covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. A proponent of education, he argued for, and won, preservation of special education funding throughout the state and filed a federal suit against the American Bar Association to put an end to its discriminatory practices toward blind students via requirement of the Law School Admissions Test. He also challenged the City of New York to make Central Park and all parks safer for visitors and accessible for disabled and visually impaired individuals. Bernstein previously served an eight-year term on the Wayne State University Board of Governors, elected by voters statewide, serving as its Chair from 2009-2010.

He also served as an adjunct professor in the political science department at the University of Michigan. Honors Justice Bernstein has received include: “Michiganian of the Year” by the Detroit News, one of Crain’s Detroit Business’ “40 Under 40” and recognition on worldwide television by CNN as a leader in keeping government honest. He was selected by The Young Lawyers Section of the State Bar of Michigan as the 2003-2004 Regeana Myrick Outstanding Young Lawyer Award recipient for outstanding commitment to public service and is the recipient of the 2008 John W. Cummiskey Pro Bono Award from the State Bar of Michigan in recognition of his leadership as an advocate and activist.

Michigan Lawyers Weekly named Justice Bernstein a 2009 Leader in the Law, and the University of Michigan presented him with the James T. Neubacher Award in 2011 for his unwavering commitment to equal rights and opportunities for people with disabilities. Also in 2011, L. Brooks Patterson, Michigan’s Oakland County Executive, selected Justice Bernstein as one of the region’s Elite 40 Under 40. In 2013, Justice Bernstein was inducted into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. In his spare time, Justice Bernstein is an avid runner, completing 22 marathons – including thirteen New York City marathons – the full Ironman triathlon in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho in 2008 and the Israman triathlon’s half Ironman in Eilat, Israel in 2011. He also previously co-hosted a one-hour legal radio show called “Fighting for Justice” on WCHB-AM (1200) in Metro Detroit.​

Kathy Martinez

Kathy leads the development of the travel tech company’s disability inclusion and equality strategy, weaving awareness and accessibility into all physical, digital, and cultural aspects across the organization. Kathy is an internationally recognized disability inclusion thought leader. She most recently served as President & CEO of Disability Rights Advocates (DRA). Throughout her extensive career, she has also served as SVP, Head of Disability and Accessibility Strategy for Wells Fargo, and as  Assistant  Secretary of the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) at the U.S. Department of Labor, putting policy priorities into practice.

Kathy is on the board of The American Association of People with Disabilities and has served on the boards of the National Council on Disability, the U.S. Institute of Peace, and the State Department’s advisory committee on disability and foreign policy.

A graduate of San Francisco State University, Martinez publishes on a wide array of topics related to disability employment, including the emergence of disability as an essential component of workplace diversity and inclusion and the importance of expectation in ensuring youth with disabilities grow up with an assumption of work—a topic on which Martinez, who herself was born blind, offers compelling and personal perspective.

Mindy Scheier, GAMUT Management

Mindy Scheier got to see up-close how people with disabilities don’t get products, services and experiences that others of us take for granted: her son Oliver, who has Muscular Dystrophy, dreamed of wearing jeans like everyone else but none would fit his needs. First, she adapted a pair herself, using her design skills honed over 20 years working in the fashion industry from being on the design team for the INC collection to being a stylist for Saks Fifth Avenue.

Then, in 2014, she launched the Runway of Dreams Foundation (RoDF). Since then, Runway of Dreams has collaborated with Tommy Hilfiger, Zappos Adaptive, Kohl’s, Target, Stride Rite and many other brands. But still, she sensed a greater need in the market. It became clear that if a non-profit can raise awareness, it takes a business to help change the way businesses work with and think about people with disabilities. So GAMUT was born in 2019.​

Representing people with disabilities and creating a marketplace where businesses and industries can be connected to this audience, GAMUT gives its community a voice in how brands market to them, create products for them and represent them. The continued support of the mission of Runway of Dreams will always be a component of the GAMUT business plan as the company’s 501(c)3 partner.

By 2022, GAMUT already manages a large talent pool of people with disabilities, providing opportunities such as film, television, modeling, focus groups, fit testing and product development. GAMUT also works closely with many mainstream brands in all aspects of their business for a truly comprehensive approach on how to serve and include people with disabilities.

Chet McDoniel, proudly representing Off to Neverland Travel, LLC, a Travel Leaders Network Affiliate Agency

With a passion for travel that transcends physical barriers, I’ve been a dedicated force in the travel industry since 2007, proudly representing Off to Neverland Travel, LLC, a Travel Leaders Network Affiliate Agency. As a seasoned travel agent, I specialize in accessible travel, bringing a unique perspective to the world of exploration.

Born without arms and shortened legs, I navigate the globe from the vantage point of a powered wheelchair, proving that wanderlust knows no bounds. My journey into the travel industry was fueled by a desire to make the world more accessible to individuals with diverse abilities. Traveling with my wife and three daughters, making family memories while we are out and about is our passion

As a trailblazer in accessible travel, I have established myself as the go-to expert in crafting seamless and inclusive travel experiences. My expertise shines particularly in three key areas: the enchanting realm of Walt Disney World, Disneyland, and the high seas of cruising. By combining my extensive industry knowledge with a firsthand understanding of accessibility challenges, I ensure that every journey is tailored to meet the unique needs of my clients.

My mission is not just to send clients on vacations but to open doors to a world where everyone, regardless of ability, can experience the joy and wonder of exploration.

Dr. Sandy Sufian_UIC School of Medicine

Sandy Sufian is an associate professor of health humanities and history in the Department of Medical Education at UIC School of Medicine and associate professor of disability studies in the UIC Department of Disability and Human Development.

Sufian received her doctorate from New York University in Middle East History and her Masters of Public Health in epidemiology and biostatistics from Oregon Health Sciences University. Dr. Sufian specializes in the history of medicine and disability.

She has published two books: Healing the Land and the Nation: Malaria and the Zionist project in Mandatory Palestine, 1920-1947 (U Chicago Press, 2007) and Reapproaching the Border: New Perspectives on the Study of Israel/Palestine (Rowman Littlefield, 2007). Sufian is currently working on a book project about the history of disability and adoption in America in the twentieth century. She teaches courses on the history of disability and the modern history of medicine and public health to medical students, PhD students and undergraduate students.

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Adventure Travel Trade Association. Our mission is to empower the global travel community to protect natural and cultural capital while creating economic value that benefits both trade members and destinations.

Facade of boutique

The BLLA was created to unify, empower, educate and advocate for a growing community of creators within the dynamic realm of boutique lifestyle—not only establishing and maintaining industry standards, but boldly advancing its cultural impact and category innovation. We are your voice and your megaphone.

We are your home and your launching pad. A catalyst for trends and unapologetic pioneer, the BLLA is where the best in boutique gathers to become better—from hoteliers and hospitality entrepreneurs to visionaries in retail, fashion, beauty, fitness, and beyond. Boutique is powerful. Boutique is captivating. And above all, boutique is a global movement that we are proud to lead.

Our mission? To counteract corporate monotony and champion creativity. To forget the forgettable and forge the once-in-a-lifetime. To break down doors and link the most brilliant minds in the industry. To build on our now 14-year legacy of reimagining the multifaceted future of boutique—together.