Black History Month Discussion on Intersectionality for Black People with Disabilities

Black History Month Discussion on Intersectionality for Black People with Disabilities

Several members of a black family sitting on a couch smiling. The young man in the center has a disability.



Black History Month Discussion on Intersectionality for Black People with Disabilities

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Deaka McClain


Serving on DRC’s Board Committee(s) – Executive, Office of Clients’ Rights Advocacy (OCRA), Program and Planning (P&P).

Deaka has a B.S in journalism from Cal State Long Beach and received her Master's Degree in Public Administration and two graduate certificates in Urban Executive Management and Employer-Employee Relations and Personnel Management.

Deaka has been active with several organizations and boards, including the Citizens Advisory Commission on Disabilities, Harbor Regional Center Client Advisory, and LA Care Health Plan.

She was born with cerebral palsy and weighed just a pound-and-a-half. Doctors were not sure if she would live. Because of her background, Deaka has made it her mission to tell her story – including her advocacy work that began in college when she advocated for reasonable accommodations.

Her motto in life is, “She lives her life with the mindset of making a difference and being a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves.”

Dante Allen

Executive Director

Dante Allen is responsible for directing the launch and operations of CalABLE. Prior to joining CalABLE, Mr. Allen had a leadership role with the California Department of Public Health’s Office of Health Equity where he developed communications strategies to promote the concepts related to the social determinants of health. He also served as a key advisor to the Deputy Director of the Office of Health Equity, the State's senior executive addressing disparities and health inequities. Mr. Allen also served in senior communications roles at the Chevron Corporation, the St. Joseph Health System, and Kaiser Permanente, where he served as the President of the Kaiser Permanente Association for Employees with Disabilities Business Resource Group. This group served as a networking, mentoring and advisory group for Kaiser’s 150,000 national employees.

A lifelong Californian, Mr. Allen received his undergraduate degree from the University of California at Davis and a Master’s degree at The University of Southern California's Annenberg School of Journalism and Communication.

Elizabeth Holliday Morgan

Program Coordinator

Elizabeth Holliday Morgan, Ed.M., is a Ph.D. Candidate in Human Development at UC Davis. An educator by training, she holds a Master’s in Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and has supported Early Childhood practitioners in utilizing developmentally appropriate practice and inclusion strategies since 2004. Elizabeth works as a program coordinator for the UC Davis Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities at the MIND Institute. Her area of focus includes Early Childhood and Early Intervention Services with a specific interest in under-represented populations. She has co-authored a publication titled “Caregiver Voices: Cross-Cultural Input on Improving Access to Autism Services” published in the Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities and has several additional publications under review. In 2019 Elizabeth was the lead writer and project manager for a $92,000 grant awarded to the CEDD from the Department for Developmental Services Disparity Grant Funds to create video modules to address disparities in access to early intervention services for families in the Black and Latinx communities of Northern California.  Elizabeth works as a graduate researcher at the MIND Institute and recently completed an NIH T36 Training grant with the Global Alliance for Training in Health Equity Research (GATHER) program where she spent a month interning for the African Population Health Research Center in Nairobi, Kenya. She’s also an elected Board member for the Association for University Centers in Disabilities (AUCD) from her work as an ASD parent activist. She is also a parent of a child with Autism and is an active board member for Warmline Family Resource Center in Sacramento, CA. When she isn’t thinking about autism service equity, Elizabeth enjoys the theater and spending time with her family and their dog, Billie Jean. 

Michael Agyin

Deaf & Disability Rights Advocate. Son of Ghanaian immigrants, he was born in MA, but raised in Compton, CA.

It wasn't until college that Michael understood he was not alone in the way he experienced life and that there was a word to describe people like himself: Deaf.  He quickly became empowered by learning American Sign Language (ASL) during undergrad, he began to see the need for deaf advocacy on campus as well as the larger community. Michael became determined to break the barrier that exists between the Hearing and Deaf worlds. This determination earned him the CSUN National Center on Deafness Outstanding Humanitarian Award.

After College, Michael continued working on his advocacy most recently spending the last 5 years as a Behavior Analyst for Deaf youth with Autism. He has also served as a Governor appointee to the State Independent Living Council, a volunteer for the California Youth Leadership Forum for Youth with Disabilities, and has served as President of Hear Zero (an African American Deaf Advocacy group).

Outside of Michael's ongoing work as a deaf and disability rights advocate, he is a Runner, a Star Wars enthusiast, an Uncle extraordinaire, & friend to many.

Gina M. Warren, Pharm.D.

Neighborhood Wellness Foundation Board President & CEO

Gina received her Doctorate in Clinical Pharmacy in 1996 from the University of California, San Francisco. She has over twenty years of pharmacy experience in many different areas of practice. In corporate pharmacy benefits management (PBM), Dr. Warren developed clinical programs to improve cost efficiencies with patient adherence to medication, analyzed clinical aspects of pharmaceutical contracts to assist with negotiations and served on several Pharmacy & Therapeutics (P&T) Committee Teams. In her clinical role, she worked in cooperation with physicians and other allied health care providers with comprehensive medication review to ensure the effective management of patients on chronic medication, managed patients in the Sacramento County Clinic, and served as a Preceptor to Pharm.D candidates.

For the community, Dr. Warren was a member of the Healthy Sacramento Coalition 2013-2017 and their Steering Committee co-chair in 2016-2017.  She served as the Health & Human Services Facet chair for the Sacramento Chapter of the Links, Inc., and the chair for the Annual North Sacramento Community Wellness Expo 2013 to present.

Stephanie Thomas

Disability Fashion Stylist and Advocate

Born a congenital amputee, Los Angeles-based Stephanie Thomas has redefined the contours of fashion styling, putting together accessible looks as a disability fashion stylist and advocate. Thomas is also the founder of Cur8able, a disability fashion and lifestyle blog-turned-company in 2015, pulling together disability-friendly clothing, disseminating advice and offering discount lists.

Chicago-born Thomas performed as a Chicago Bulls cheerleader and captain two years prior to college, despite early warnings from doctors’ that she may never be able to walk or dance independently due to her non-severe disability. She began researching clothing and retail trends for people with disabilities while competing in the Miss Kentucky preliminary pageant in the Miss America pageant system. Thomas had no intention of starting a business, but she was committed to providing solutions for challenges related to dressing with disabilities. She began contacting iconic designers in 2003 to ask them had they ever thought about designing for people with disabilities. After a year of no real interest within the industry to dress fashion customers with disabilities, Thomas took the three questions she’d been asking about clothing over the last decade; is the clothing accessible, smart and fashionable, and the Disability Fashion Styling System was born.

Thomas holds graduate degrees in both communication and fashion journalism. Her career includes various roles at Metro Traffic, WVKL Radio and appearances as an on-air personality at various television and news media stations. In 2004 she launched Cur8able and trademarked her Disability Fashion Styling System after over 10 years of research. In 2019, Thomas launched a podcast, and Cur8ble’s social media platforms now feature multiple regular contributors who Thomas dubs the “Cur8tors.”

In 2016 Thomas presented a TEDx Talk at TEDxYYC, the third largest TEDx event in Canada. She is also the author of a new textbook coming out January 2020 titled, Fitting in: The Social Implications of Fashion and Dressing with Disabilities.  Thomas lectures in fashion marketing and advocacy communication at Woodbury University in Burbank California and sits on the Zappos Adaptive advisory board as well as the board of directors of No Limits Media.