Cripping the Movement: How Disability Inclusion Can Save Progressives

Cripping the Movement: How Disability Inclusion Can Save Progressives

Session Type(s): Panel

Starts: Friday, Jul. 12 9:00 AM (Eastern)

Ends: Friday, Jul. 12 10:00 AM (Eastern)

Disabled people, both those with visible conditions and those with hidden ones (mental health, learning disabilities, chronic illness) are already within our movement. In this session, we’ll discuss how our issues and agendas overlap, incorporating best practices and strategies to recognize and combat ableism to strengthen our agenda, buttress our grassroots, and sustain us for the long road ahead.


Rebecca Cokley

Rebecca Cokley

Rebecca Cokley joined the Ford Foundation in January of 2021 as the first U.S. Program Officer to oversee a Disability Rights Portfolio. Prior to joining Ford, she served as the co-founder and Director of the Disability Justice Initiative at the Center for American Progress where she worked with 12 different Democratic presidential candidates to develop their disability policy platforms. She implemented campaigns to save the Americans with Disabilities Act, Medicaid, and SNAP and pushed back against work requirements, the public charge, and Trump’s Supreme Court nominations. At the National Council on Disability she restored NCD’s agency’s reputation as the civil rights voice for the disability community and managed projects on police violence, campus sexual assault, and the civil rights of disabled parents. In the Obama Administration she served at the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. And she had the pleasure of serving at the White House as Director of Priority Placement for Diversity in the first term. Every role she’s served in has centered on bringing the disability community to the table on progressive issues and helping the progressive community come to the table on disability priorities. In 2020 she was awarded the Richman Distinguished Fellow in Public Life for Brandeis University. Rebecca has spoken at Netroots Nation, New York City Comic-Con, Yale University, the Women’s March National Conference and given a TedX talk. Rebecca has published with The Body Is Not An Apology, Rewire, CNN, Refinery 29, and been a guest on MSNBC and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. She was a Karl Pister Scholar at the University of California, Santa Cruz where she graduated with a B.A. in Politics. She is the proud spouse of Patrick, mother of 3, and is working on her first book.

Other sessions: Disability Caucus


Sarah Blahovec

Sarah Blahovec

Sarah Blahovec is a chronically ill disability advocate. Diagnosed with severe Crohn’s Disease at age 15, Sarah has always had a passion for politics and focuses her advocacy on civic engagement and issues that intersect the chronic illness and disability communities. She graduated from American University in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in International Studies, and after struggling to find mentors with disabilities in her field, began blogging about disability rights for the Huffington Post. Sarah is currently the Disability Vote Organizer for the National Council on Independent Living, where she advocates for greater accessibility in elections; educates the disability community on voting rights and works to energize a disability voting bloc; and addresses barriers to running for office for people with disabilities.

Sarah is the creator of Elevate: Campaign Training or People with Disabilities, the first national run for office training program for people with disabilities. As part of her work, she also created “Including People with Disabilities in Your Political Campaign: A Guide for Campaign Staff,” which was used widely by campaigns and existing run for office training organizations in 2018. Sarah is also a founding board member, former Access and Inclusion Chair, and current Communications Chair of New Leaders Council of Virginia, which equips diverse Millennial leaders in Virginia with the skills to impact progressive change in their communities.

my website

Patrick Cokley


Mr. Cokley is a long-time disability advocate who works to bring issues of inclusion to the forefront of all communities. He has significant experience working at the intersection of disability policy and social media, in both the Federal and non-profit sectors. Under the blogger name Angry Negro and as a founding member of the Lead On Network, Mr. Cokley provides commentary on issues of inclusion and pop culture, technology, employment, and education as well as policies, programs, and events on Capitol Hill as they relate to disability.

As a graduate of a Historically Black University, Mr. Cokley believes that it is imperative that the disability and traditional diversity communities learn to work together as they both share the core values of inclusion. Cultural barriers have led to disability being a taboo subject in many ethnic communities, and the disability community needs the experience of the diversity field to continue their advocacy and policy goals. Only together can both communities realize the success of an America that is inclusive of all of its citizens.

Other sessions: The Double Down: Discussions of Black and Disability Identity

Reyma McCoy McDeid

Reyma McCoy McDeid

Reyma McCoy McDeid is the Executive Director of Central Iowa Center for Independent Living in Des Moines.

She has carved out a unique career in employment services, disability advocacy, and education and she works to engage voters with disabilities into the political process and educate elected officials on the issues that impact the nation’s largest marginalized community. She holds a Master’s degree in Nonprofit Administration with a concentration in Business; her vocation is supporting fellow individuals on the Autism spectrum to lead independent, fulfilling lives.

Other sessions: The Double Down: Discussions of Black and Disability Identity, Disability Caucus

Alice Wong


Alice Wong is a disability activist, media maker, and consultant based in San Francisco. She is the Founder and Director of the Disability Visibility Project® (DVP), an online community dedicated to creating, sharing and amplifying disability media and culture created in 2014. Alice is also a co-partner in #CripTheVote, a nonpartisan online movement encouraging the political participation of disabled people.

Other sessions: Sparkle or Shade? Let's Get Real About Inclusive Politics