The Harkin Summit: Innovating for Inclusion

Doubling Disability Employment In A Changing Landscape

Dr. Johnnetta Cole, principal consultant at Cook Ross Inc. and Director Emerita of Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, started the second day of the 2017 Harkin Summit as the keynote speaker. Dr. Cole opened with an expression of gratitude towards Senator Tom Harkin (Retired) for his work on disability policy, and then continued on to unite the room with her discussion of kinship.

“Kinship is not so much about biology as it is about shared values,” Dr. Cole said. “It’s about going through challenges and experiencing triumphs. It’s about folks banding together in hope that one day their dreams will be a reality.”

Dr. Cole then continued to speak towards the benefits of analyzing intersectionality. “We cannot be simply disabled, because when anyone who is disabled is so much more than that,” Dr. Cole said. “Yes, you can define me as black, or even as a black woman, but I am more than that, and a bag of chips.”

She closed with a call to action for all in attendance, “It’s in your hands,” Dr. Cole said. “It is about responding to the call that Senator Harkin has put out for what we are to do now 20 years after ADA … so that all in the communities of disabled people will have their full rights, so that we will all have our full rights.”

Written by Anne Matte