About Us

Yes, there is the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. But, there is a large disconnect between the law on paper and the commitment of heart & mind to full participation in the community.

Disability Justice establishes a space to build political power by and for people with disabilities. Nothing will change without thoughtful, steady applications of political power at every level of government while empowering the community. People power is the fuel for democracy.

We are passionate about inclusion and democracy. The US Constitution and the Americans with Disabilities Act promise that every person has the right to be part of society’s everyday life.

Our approach to a healthy society with a vibrant democracy is always to promote inclusion. We examine public policy for inclusion/exclusion. Does our state and local public policy measure up to the Americans with Disabilities Act, to what advocates wanted, and to what Congress’ stated intent was?

We must change systemic, ingrained disability discrimination. Our combined experiences unite us to build a society that embraces every person.

Founding Board of Directors

Dorothy K. Dean, Founder & CEO

Dorothy K Dean served as an elected official for Milwaukee County. Dean advocated for better mental health options, fair housing, victims of crime, economic development, and mass transit. Dean is a lifelong advocate for public policy that improves the quality of life of every person. She has served on many nonprofit community boards.

Jo Kolanda, Board of Directors

Jo Kolanda led the effort to write and enact Wisconsin’s first statutory recognition of victims’ rights. This was the first victim rights legislation in the country. She was the first Director of the Victim Witness Services unit in the office of the Milwaukee County District Attorney, working to make the criminal justice system responsive to the needs of crime victims. She has been a featured speaker at seminars and conferences around the country. (Jo Kolanda died in late 2023)

Rachel C. Kresser, Board of Directors

Rachel C. Kresser, a proponent for disability rights, has worked with individuals and families to encourage self-advocacy. She has collaborated with the Milwaukee Public Schools system, Family  Court, community organizations, and non-profits in the Milwaukee area. Her diverse background as a consultant, research assistant, and coordinator gives her insight into the intricacies of disability civil rights.

Volunteers & Staff

  • Paul W. Nannis,  Advisory Committee Chair
    • Milwaukee Health Commissioner (former)
  • Sandy Pasch, Advisory Committee
    • Wisconsin State Legislator (former)
  • Jeffrey Spitzer-Resnick, JD, Legal
  • Gail Indvik, Tech

Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did, and it never will.

Frederick Douglass

People power makes a democratic society thrive. People with disabilities must be part of the work of democracy. Nothing will change unless we make it change. We remind state and local elected representatives that their job is ensuring social justice is part of every policy initiative.

Disability is a normal part of life. Everyone’s life. It makes no difference what their color, race, religion, poverty or wealth, age, gender, national origin, or gender identity.

One-quarter of all people in the US have a disability. Disabilities may be visible, invisible, permanent, or temporary. Disability affects people in each and every demographic.

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