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Rahnee Patrick, MA is the first Asian American and disabled Director of the Rehabilitation Services, a Division of the Illinois Department of Human Services. The oldest of four, Rahnee‘s US-born father is an Air Force veteran who met her mother, of Ubonratchathani, Thailand, during the Viet Nam Conflict. The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) awarded Rahnee the Paul Hearne Award, as an emerging national leader. Rahnee is a proud aunt who lives with her spouse Mike Ervin in downtown Chicago with their two small dogs, Mao Mao and Roxy Pops.
Grace Tsao has spent her career working in higher education, non-profit, and state government. She has a B.S. in News-Editorial Journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, an M.S. in Cultural Foundations of Education with a concentration in Multicultural Education from the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, and an M.A. in Sociology from Loyola University Chicago where her focus was on race, gender, and disability. Grace teaches social science online to undergraduate students and is the Chair and Advocacy Chair of the Statewide Independent Living Council of Illinois.
Noa Fields (moderator) is a trans writer with hearing aids. She is the author of the poetry chapbook With, and has also been published in Tripwire, Anomaly, Zoeglossia, Elderly Mag, Tyger Quarterly, and Sixty Inches from Center, among others. She is the Events & Accessibility Coordinator at the Poetry Foundation in Chicago and a 2022 fellow with Zoeglossia and Disability Lead.