A Message from Theo Braddy: We Gather!

July 22, 2023

Greetings once again,

I’m Theo Braddy, the Executive Director of the National Council on Independent Living, reaching out to you with another important message. I am thrilled to provide this message before the start of our IL conference. I entitled it, “We Gather.”

We gather on July 24th, this Monday, where more than 500 individuals, both with and without disabilities, will assemble at the prestigious Grand Hyatt Hotel on H Street in Washington, D.C.

The reason for this gathering is NCIL’s 2023 Annual Conference on Independent Living. This year’s theme is “Indivisible,” meaning impossible to be divided or separated.

So why do we gather? First and foremost, we come together to empower ourselves through knowledge. Throughout this week, 24 different workshops will be conducted, focusing on topics such as CIL core services, community organizing, expanding the capacity of CILs, and best practices for putting equity into action in our organizations and communities.

We gather to organize and strategize alongside valuable allies, including federal agencies like the Administration for Community Living and corporate partners like Centene Corporation, CareSource, Elevance Health, Verizon, Airbnb, Waymo, Cruise, Microsoft, and many more.

We gather to enrich our lives with information and products that support us in our journey. Numerous businesses will showcase their offerings, including companies like Verizon, Cruise, IL-NET, Lotus Labs, Centene, FEMA, Mid- Atlantic ADA Center, United Spinal Association, Social Security Administration, and many more.

We gather to serve a greater purpose. We aim to break barriers and challenge societal preconceptions about individuals living with diverse disabilities. We want the world to see that we are not invisible; we exist and contribute to the betterment of society.

We gather to unify our collective voice, to advocate for change and seize opportunities for progress. As part of our efforts, we will march to and hold a rally in front of the US Capitol, featuring speeches from esteemed legislators and advocates, including Senator Bob Casey, Jr.

We gather to forge the path for meaningful change, so that once we disperse and resume our individual lives, discrimination and oppression no longer impede us from pursuing our individual aspirations.

Lastly, we gather to pay homage and respect to those who can no longer gather with us in person. May our ancestors rest in power and peace!

Be well,

Theo Braddy, Executive Director

National Council on Independent Living

About NCIL

NCIL is the longest-running national cross-disability grassroots organization, driven by and dedicated to people with disabilities. Since its founding in 1982, NCIL has represented thousands of organizations and individuals, advocating tirelessly for the human and civil rights of people with disabilities across the United States.

Image: Theo Braddy Headshot – A black man with a bald head, a salt and pepper full beard wearing eyeglasses, sitting in a wheelchair wearing an orange, blue, and white plaid dress shirt.