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Georgia Carr sharpens Kresge’s commitment to the disability community

General Foundation News

Georgia Carr

Georgia Carr

The Kresge Foundation’s first Disability Inclusion Fellow. The privilege and honor of that title struck me each time I introduced myself in a meeting. What started as a part-time, three-month externship through RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program blossomed into a full-time, yearlong fellowship with the foundation.

Over the years, Kresge has made a concerted effort to weave equity into every fiber of its organizational culture. In 2021, Kresge signaled its commitment to the disability community by signing the Disability Inclusion Pledge, a critical step on their inclusion journey. Before my tenure, Kresge staff achieved commendable progress surrounding accessibility and inclusion. These accomplishments were vital to the success of my work.

At the start of my fellowship, the amazing Dr. Phyllis Meadows and I developed three top priorities for the year based on her previous work. I was tasked with (1) increasing organizational knowledge of disability, (2) advising on accessibility best practices, and (3) leading external engagement with disability-centered organizations. Thanks to the unwavering support of my mentors and colleagues, I completed several projects throughout my time with Kresge.

In my efforts to increase an overall understanding of disability, I created a Resource Guide with a variety of media sources offering a crash course on all things disability. Also included is a series of infographics detailing the process of securing accommodations for convenings. In addition to the guide, I organized a webinar for folks to deepen their understanding of disability justice. Disability Justice: Unlearning Ableism featured a panel of experts that explored ableism and its connection to white supremacy, misogyny, classism, and homophobia. Thanks to our collaboration with the Disability & Philanthropy Forum, the reach of these learning opportunities expanded far beyond the foundation.

Throughout my fellowship, I had the pleasure of engaging with the rich landscape of disability nonprofits. Words cannot accurately express my gratitude and admiration for Dessa Cosma of Detroit Disability Power whose insights and knowledge were instrumental to my success. My external engagement culminated in the Disability Outreach Virtual Town Hall where Kresge program staff presented information about their team’s funding priorities and application processes to disability-led and disability-serving nonprofits. The thoughtful Q&A that followed the presentations suggested the budding of several meaningful relationships.

Though I enjoyed all of the projects I had the opportunity to work on, I felt most fulfilled by our internal Brave Space event. In Embracing Disability: Unpacking the Stigma, a panel of Kresge staff shared our experiences living as, caring for, or loving someone with a disability. The vulnerability displayed by my colleagues led to incredibly thoughtful and honest discussions about what it means to navigate Kresge, and life in general, as a member of the disability community. Above all, I left the Brave Space with an unmatched sense of camaraderie and meaningful connections with colleagues outside of my typical workgroup.

For the past year, my mentors and colleagues at Kresge have nurtured my professional and personal growth. Though I will deeply miss this brilliant, passionate group, I take solace in knowing that the work will carry on through the Equity Task Force. Kresge’s disability inclusion journey did not start with me, nor will it end with me.