Katharine McLaughlin Share Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Email The Kresge Foundation recently welcomed Georgia Carr as a Philanthropy Fellow in RespectAbility’s National Public Leadership Program funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The program ensures that people with disabilities have a seat at decision-making tables, particularly in philanthropy. In her role, she will support Kresge in developing internal and external practices that promote disability inclusion and justice. Communications Officer Kate McLaughlin asked Georgia a few questions to get to know her and hear more about her work at the foundation. Q: What interests you about this work? A: As a person with a disability, this work is incredibly meaningful to me. Self-advocacy is a critical skill for people with disabilities; however, it does not always come naturally. I had to overcome internalized ableism through education and enmeshment in the disability community in order to develop the knowledge and skills I needed to advocate for myself and others. Through my own journey, I cultivated a passion for disability justice as a whole. In addition to my personal connection, I find disability inclusion impactful because of the way it intersects across all justice movements. True liberation cannot be achieved without the active inclusion of people with disabilities. Q: What do you see as the most urgent need(s) when it comes to improving disability inclusion for non-profit organizations? The nonprofit sector has the power and drive to make meaningful change in society; however, true liberation cannot occur without the centering of marginalized voices. Over the past few years, the sector has begun to emphasize the importance of diversity, equity, inclusion and justice practices. Though done in good faith, many of these DEI initiatives feel empty and performative. Many DEI statements fail to include any mention of disability. The lack of disability inclusion points to an urgent need for education. Unfortunately, disability remains incredibly stigmatized in our society. The stigmatization creates an air of awkwardness. Despite 1 in 4 adults having a disability, people find it uncomfortable to talk about in any type of meaningful way. The silence creates a critical lack of information to the detriment of people with disabilities. Improving disability inclusion in the nonprofit sector cannot occur until nonprofits commit to providing comprehensive education on disability to their entire organization- from board members to senior leaders to staff to volunteers. Additionally, people with disabilities need to have seats in decision-making roles within all nonprofit or philanthropic organizations. This will enable people without disabilities to be called in for practices that unintentionally exclude or harm the disability community. In order to achieve equitable representation, nonprofits must ensure they are actively recruiting and supporting staff with disabilities. Q: What are you excited to learn more about? A: I am thrilled to be joining a foundation on the forefront of progress and justice. The Kresge team is a group of phenomenal individuals, and I look forward to listening and learning from their knowledge and experience. Additionally, I am excited to improve my understanding of the grantmaking process. I am particularly interested in learning more about trust-based philanthropy. Q: What resources you would recommend for people to learn more? A: Sins Invalid is an organization that I cannot recommend enough. Their website has many resources about the disability justice framework. Created by queer people of color with disabilities, the disability justice framework highlights the need for intersectionality within the disability movement by centering the experience of those most marginalized. Sins Invalid is an invaluable resource for those wanting to deepen their understanding of disability issues.