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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

Webinar: Race, Disability, Organizational Culture, and Social Change: Promising Practices from Centers for Independent Living

October 28, 2021; 2:00 PM – 3:30 PM EDT

Register online

Part of the RACE + DISABILITY webinar series, co-sponsored by FISA Foundation, The Heinz Endowments, and The Pittsburgh Foundation

Historically, disability services were designed to accommodate a singular identity: person with a disability; all other aspects of an individual’s experience were considered secondary. But structuring services that ignore the lived experience of racism has created and exacerbated inequities within disability services. Treating disability as race-neutral has also created unwelcoming and sometimes unsafe working conditions for people of color with disabilities who are on staff.

This session will explore promising practices in cultivating a welcoming and equitable culture, designed to include people of color with disabilities who are both consumers of services and staff offering support. Presenters represent various Centers for Independent Living. All panelists are multiply marginalized people with disabilities who are recognized for their efforts to advocate for equity in both the provision of supports and the leadership of staff.

This session will:

  • Ground participants with professional and personal understanding of what intersectionality in disability services looks like;
  • Provide context regarding how attempts to provide services without an intersectional lens can cause unnecessary harm to consumers;
  • Present action steps that providers and managers can take to address existing equity gaps at their agencies.


  • Reyma McCoy McDeid
  • Ami Hyten


Reyma McCoy McDeid is the Executive Director of the National Council on Independent Living and is the former executive director of Central Iowa Center for Independent Living (winner of the 2018 Organization of the Year award from the Des Moines Civil and Human Rights Commission). She is the recipient of a 2019 AT&T Humanity of Connection award and her 2018 run for office was endorsed by the Working Families Party, the Asian & Latino Coalition, and Iowa Women for Progressive Change. She is also a single mom. Her work has been featured in Vice, Pantsuit Nation, TIME, The Guardian, and USA Today. Her vocation has shifted from serving marginalized people to addressing how systems create marginalized people in the first place.


Ami Hyten, JD, (she/her/hers), is the executive director for the Topeka Independent Living Resource Center, a federally recognized Center for Independent Living located on the unceded territory of the Shawnee, Pawnee, Osage and Kansa tribes. Ami is herself a member of the unceded and sovereign Kingdom of Hawa’ii, a disabled queer activist with a history of work ranging from grassroots organizing to direct care work, and trial litigation to stocking produce.

Image descriptions:

  • Header image includes event title, date, time and image of a diverse group of people, including people with disabilities, in a conference room conducting a video meeting
  • Reyma McCoy McDeid, a tall, light-skinned Black woman with long curly hair and glasses leaning on a tall stool. She is wearing a white dress with a blue and green design
  • Ami Hyten, headshot photo of a woman with dark, greying curly hair, and an olive complexion smiling toothily. She is wearing a red Nehru collared jacket.
  • Logos of FISA Foundation, The Heinz Endowments and The Pittsburgh Foundation