Addressing Disability & Creating Access: Understand and Remove Barriers
Linda Wolford, MS, and Kaitlin Desselle, MS, from Strategic Diversity Initiatives (SDI), and Mai Thor, co-facilitator and disability justice advocate, will present. Many organizations are relatively new to understanding “disability” as an equity and diversity issue. People with disabilities often face physical, programmatic, informational – and especially – attitudinal barriers that limit their opportunities and access. In this workshop, Wolford, Desselle and Thor address the specific stereotypes and myths that surround disability. They explore what it means to act as an ally in various contexts, thus increasing access for all.
Linda Wolford, MS (she/her)
Consultant/Trainer | Strategic Diversity Initiatives (SDI) Interagency Coordinator | Disability Services Division of the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS)
She coordinates employment, workforce shortage and other Olmstead initiatives across DHS, the Department of Employment and Economic Development and other state agencies. In addition, she is currently the co-chair of the Employees with Disabilities Employee Resource Group. She formerly worked at DHS doing home care policy, working on employment initiatives and consumer directed personal care assistance services under several federal grants.
Kaitlin Desselle, MS (she/her)
Director of Client Services | Strategic Diversity Initiative (SDI)
She brings over 10 years of inclusive leadership experience and business innovation to SDI. With a strong corporate background in crisis and change management, she is passionate about building empowered teams and organizational cultures that interrupt systems of oppression and marginalization. Kaitlin served as a Diversity Educator and on the Chancellor’s Commission for LGBTQ People at the University of Tennessee, where she earned a Master’s degree in Educational Psychology with a research focus in Critical HROD and Queer Empowerment. Kaitlin is an EQ Practitioner certified in the EQ-i2.0 and EQ360 method, as well as a Qualified Administrator of the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI).
Mai Thor (she/her/hers)
2021 Bush Fellow
Mai seeks to develop a community informed disability justice framework to incorporate into social justice work and systems throughout Minnesota. As a person living with a disability and as a leader who has helped design more accessible and inclusive systems for people with disabilities, she sees that social justice movements often leave disability out of their efforts. Mai recognizes that to achieve true justice, the intersectionality of all oppressions must be addressed, and ableism must be eliminated. Mai has a Master’s in Nonprofit and Public Administration from Metropolitan State University and a Bachelor of Arts from Augsburg University. She lives in the Highland Park area in St. Paul, MN with her two boys and cat.