The 15th Annual Chicago Disability Pride Parade
Karen was born with sacral agenesis and has used a manual wheelchair throughout her life, growing up in San Anselmo, California. After attending college at University of California, Berkeley, she moved to Washington, D.C., to work for the National Disability Action Center. After getting involved with the disability rights group ADAPT, Karen moved to Denver to organize for ADAPT and work on housing policy at Atlantis Community, also co-founding DRACH (Disability Rights Action Coalition for Housing.)
Karen began her Chicago career at Access Living, first as Housing Policy Coordinator and then Director of Programs, and has served as Commissioner of the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD) since 2005. MOPD promotes full inclusion of people with all types of disabilities and strives to make Chicago the most accessible city in the nation. In her role as Commissioner, Karen leads numerous disability policy and accessibility compliance initiatives in transportation, city infrastructure, emergency preparedness, housing, education, and technology. She also oversees the delivery of independent living services such as in-home supports, home accessibility modifications, amplified phones, and employment readiness to thousands of Chicagoans with disabilities. Karen also serves as the City’s representative regarding disability related policy on a number of boards and committees, including the Pace Board of Directors, the region’s Paratransit service provider. In 2015, Karen was appointed by President Obama to serve on the United States Access Board, which develops accessibility guidelines and standards for the built environment, transportation, communication, medical diagnostics equipment, and information technology. Karen currently also volunteers on the boards of Dare2Tri Paratriathlon Club, Meals on Wheels Chicago, and the Kohl Children's Museum.
Most recently, the Civic Federation of Chicago and Motorola Solutions Foundation named Karen the recipient of the 2015 “Excellence in Public Service Award” for her extraordinary impact. As a legacy project to mark the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Karen worked with the Chicago Community Trust (CCT) and others to develop ADA 25 Advancing Leadership, a signature CCT initiative that is the first program of its kind in the nation designed specifically to ensure that Chicago’s vibrant civic and professional life fully includes leaders with disabilities. Karen is also an alumna of Leadership Greater Chicago's Class of 1999.
Kevin was born with hemophilia B, has had HIV for over 35 years, and also had hepatitis C, growing up in Palo Alto, California. He attended Purchase College, State University of New York, and during that time got involved in HIV/AIDS activism and education, including volunteering with ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) in New York City and Rhode Island. After moving back to his hometown, Palo Alto, California, Kevin worked with people with developmental disabilities for Abilities United and continued his work as an activist, public speaker, educator and peer supporter in both the HIV and hemophilia communities. In 1993, Kevin moved to Albuquerque, worked for New Mexico AIDS Services and then Independent Living Resource Center, where he got involved in the broader disability rights movement and began organizing with ADAPT, helping to re-launch a New Mexico chapter.
After moving to Chicago, Kevin worked as an advocate and trainer for Equip for Equality (EFE) for 8 years, developing his interest and experience in advocating for access to public and private transportation, among other disability rights issues. He also served as a co-coordinator of Chicago ADAPT and was involved in the early years of the national disability rights group, Not Dead Yet, where he currently serves on its Board of Directors. When Kevin and Karen adopted their daughter, Dominika, in 2006, they knew that she would need many surgeries and therapies throughout childhood, due to her disabilities, but especially during her earliest years. Kevin left his job at EFE to be Dominika's primary caretaker.
In 2012, Kevin was appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to serve as a Director on the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) Board. One of his current roles at CTA is serving on its All Stations Accessibility Program (ASAP) working group, which is creating a plan to make the entire rail system accessible. Prior to his Board appointment, Kevin served as an advisor to the CTA’s Infrastructure Accessibility Task Force and as Chair of CTA’s Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Advisory Committee. Kevin served on the Board of Directors of Access Living from 2009-2015, is a member of the ADA 25 Advancing Leadership program, and is an alumni of Leadership Greater Chicago's Class of 2006. One of his favorite volunteer activities has been serving as an emcee of the Disability Pride Parade's Post-Parade Program, which he has done six times.
Dominika Tamley was born with Apert Syndrome and has a few other disabilities. She is a rising sixth grader at Agassiz Elementary, a Chicago Public School, where she enjoys performing in the musical theater produced there every spring. Dominika loves pop music, especially Taylor Swift and Meghan Trainor, and is an aficionado of YouTube videos, particularly daily family vloggers. During the warmer months, Dominika will take every chance she can get to ride her new adaptive bike, which she received thanks to Project Mobility and 100 Women Who Care-Geneva. She also enjoys participating in sports clinics and camps offered by Dare2Tri Paratriathlon Club and social/recreational activities through the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab's Caring for Kids program. Dominika gave her first public speech at three years old at the Disability Pride Parade, which was captured on the video that you can see on the main page of this website. As a "city kid" growing up in Chicago, Dominika is an expert user of public transit and loves exploring the city and suburbs on buses and trains. Dominika also enjoys spending time with her friends, walking her dog, Chaka, and memorizing portions of political speeches.