Guest Speaker

Lydia X. Z. Brown


Lydia X. Z. Brown, J.D., is a disability justice advocate, organizer, and writer whose work has largely focused on violence against multiply-marginalized disabled people, especially institutionalization, incarceration, and policing. In collaboration with E. Ashkenazy and Morénike Giwa-Onaiwu, Lydia is the lead editor and visionary behind All the Weight of Our Dreams, the first-ever anthology of writings and artwork by autistic people of color, published by the Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network in 2017. Morénike and Lydia also co-direct the Fund for Community Reparations for Autistic People of Color’s Interdependence, Survival, and Empowerment, which was created and launched this summer, and provides direct support, mutual aid, and community reparations to individual autistic people of color. The fund has already provided more than $7,000 in microgrants for needs including outstanding medical bills, rent coverage, and emergency relocation assistance. 

At present, Lydia serves as founding board member of the Alliance for Citizen-Directed Services, stakeholder representative to the Massachusetts One Care Implementation Council overseeing health care for Medicaid/Medicare dually-eligible individuals, and board member of the Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network. Brown designed and taught a course on critical disability theory, public policy, and intersectional social movements for two years as a Visiting Lecturer at Tufts University’s Experimental College and also served as Chairperson of the Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council for two years as the youngest appointee nationally to chair any state developmental disabilities council.

Lydia’s work has received numerous awards, including recognitions from the White HouseWashington Peace CenterNational Council on Independent LivingDisability Policy Consortium of MassachusettsSociety for Disability Studies, and American Association of People with Disabilities. In 2015, Pacific Standard named Lydia a Top 30 Thinker under 30 in the Social Sciences, and Mic named Lydia to its inaugural list of 50 impactful leaders, cultural influencers, and breakthrough innovators. In 2018, NBC Asian America featured Lydia as one of 26 emerging voices and breakout stars of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.

Lydia is a recent graduate of Northeastern University School of Law, as well as the 2018-2019 Justice Catalyst Fellow at the Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law.


10:15 – 11:45a.m.
1:15 – 2:45p.m.

Understanding the Self-Advocacy, Neurodiversity, and Disability Rights and Justice Movements

Purpose & Objectives

To educate participants on issues regarding discrimination, prejudice, and violence which occurs when living as a disabled person and what has been and still can be done about it. Disabled people have been organizing and advocating for rights, justice, and freedom for many decades, including from behind the walls of institutions and segregated schools. In this session, participants will:

  • Learn about and discuss historical and contemporary movements led by and for disabled people, various forms of interpersonal and societal violence that target disabled people, and current work to challenge and dismantle disability oppression
  • Define and explain the differences between self-advocacy, neurodiversity, disability rights, and disability justice
  • Identify historical and contemporary movements led by and for disabled people
  • Identify and explain at least three practices to create more radically accessible and inclusive communities, programs, or events

Keynote Speaker

Location and Venue

Savannah Convention Center
Savannah, GA

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