Top left: Two Young Adults with Down Syndrome smile. Both wear glasses. ONe sits in a wheelchair; The other leans on the back of the wheelchair.; Top Right: A person with glasses and a graying beard smiles.; Bottom Left: A person with short curly hair and red lipstick smiles.; Bottom Right: A child with glasses sits on their parent's lap.

"No body or mind can be left behind – only moving together can we accomplish the revolution we require." - 10 Principles of Disability Justice, Sins Invalid

At Northwest Health Foundation, we believe every person is valuable and deserves the opportunity to lead a healthy life, whatever health means to them. We also believe when one person or community thrives, all of us benefit. And, in order to achieve health for everyone, all people and communities need to be represented in decision-making positions.

The Disability Justice Leaders Collaborative is made up of 16 people of color with disabilities from across Oregon, representing Asian-Pacific Islander, Black, Latino, Muslim and Native communities. Our participants also identify in other ways, including queer, transgendered, gender non-conforming, youth, houseless, multi-racial, immigrant, refugee and rural.

The Collaborative members will meet four times over the course of six months, starting in December 2017, to discuss how to ensure the voices and experiences of people with disabilities are represented by decision-makers in Oregon and Southwest Washington. They'll also discuss how disabled people can build collective power in Oregon and Southwest Washington. Disability Justice movement leaders Stacey Milbern and Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha will facilitate their conversations.

Short-term Goals

Leaders with disabilities will: 

  • Discuss visions and strategies for ensuring the needs of disabled people are centered in decision-making.
  • Deepen and collectively build their understanding of disability justice.
  • Discuss how disability-led organizations can work together in new ways with community of color-led organizations; existing and new disabled, Deaf, sick and neurodivergent communities and organizations; funders and leadership programs.

Long-term Goals

1.  Organizations led by people of color will understand disability justice and apply it to their work.

2. Our region’s leadership will include disabled people and people who understand, and are committed to, disability justice.

3. Disabled people will be able to build power, leadership, communities of support and organizing campaigns.

4. Organizations in Oregon and Southwest Washington led by people with disabilities will develop the knowledge, skills and resources to:

  • Hold elected officials and other decision-makers accountable;
  • Change laws and policies;
  • Build power for their communities.


Read the 10 Principles of Disability Justice.

Read more about Northwest Health Foundation's journey to understand and incorporate a disability equity lens in our work on Medium.