November 1, 2023

Nothing About Us Without Us

Are you All In?

CommunityHealth is proud to present Nothing About Us Without Us: Health Care Access for People with Disabilities, on Friday, November 10th, at 12:00 pm CT.

In partnership with Access Living, this virtual experience is based in education, thought leadership, and networking for industry professionals, corporate partners, community leaders, students, and you.

Join the Conversation for a free Zoom webinar to learn more about accessibility and inclusivity in the health care safety net from disability advocates from Access Living.

The event will offer an in-depth conversation on how we can work to achieve a world free from barriers and discrimination, where disability is a respected and natural part of the human experience and people with disabilities are included and valued.

Please welcome the speakers of the panel…

Amber Smock

Director of Advocacy

Amber has served as Access Living’s Director of Advocacy since 2010, and was recently promoted to Vice President of Advocacy. She is responsible for executing Access Living’s advocacy vision through policy, community organizing, and issue education, with support from across Access Living’s program departments. She guides Access Living’s strategic partnerships and significant networking efforts at the local, state, and national levels across a range of disability topics, including healthcare/home- and community-based services, housing, education, transportation, racial justice, immigration, and incarceration of people with disabilities.

Amber was the original facilitator of the federal-state working group Disability Power for Community Integration. She currently serves on the Illinois state Medicaid Advisory Committee, the Cook County Commission on Human Rights, and the Illinois America 250 Commission. She also supports international disability learning exchange, particularly through the U.S. Professional Fellows Programs. Amber is a skilled presenter and trainer, a member of ADA25 and Leadership Greater Chicago, and a recipient of numerous local and national awards for her disability advocacy.

Amber is a proud member of the Deaf community who grew up in mainstreamed schools, learned ASL as a young adult, and now relies on lip-reading, ASL interpreters, and video relay technologies for communication access.

Ryan McGraw

Community Organizer

As Access Living’s Health/Home and Community Based Services Community Organizer, Ryan facilitates the Taskforce for Attendant Services.

He moved to Chicago from Michigan in 2008 and received his master’s degree in disability and development from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Since then, he’s held several positions in the disability advocacy field. Ryan is passionate about home- and community-based services because everyone should have the right to live in the community with the services they need.

Ryan also teaches accessible yoga, and loves to run, bike, and travel in his free time.

Michelle Garcia

Community Organizer

Michelle has worked for Access Living since 2009 when she joined the staff as the Latinx Community Organizer since 2009. As a Community Organizer, Michelle is responsible for increasing the number of Latinx leaders with disabilities and raising awareness in the Latinx community around disability issues, including immigration and healthcare.

In 2021, Michelle was promoted to the role of Manager of Organizing and Community Development (MOCD) and took on a new position of leadership position within Access Living’s Advocacy Department.

Michelle has collaborated with many others working in the Latinx community and has helped expand their knowledge about disability-related issues.

Neelam Dhadankar

Health Care Policy Analyst

In November 2022, Neelam Dhadankar joined Access Living’s policy team as the new Healthcare Policy Analyst. Neelam earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Next, she earned two master’s degrees: a Master of Social Work (MSW) and a Master of Public Health (MPH) from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Prior to joining Access Living, Neelam worked in Madison, WI in various policy areas related to disability issues and as a researcher for many policy and advocacy projects.

In her current role, Neelam works to advance access to health care and home and community-based services (HCBS) for people with disabilities. She is responsible for assessing, developing, and advocating for legislation and rules that shift healthcare systems to greater accessibility, affordability, and effective supports for all kinds of persons with disabilities, including those who are immigrants and those who are impacted by the criminal justice system.