need help

NEED HELP?

Find CCDC programs to help assist in advocating for you or someone you know with a disability.

LEARN MORE
ACTION ALERT

ACTION ALERT

Keep up to date with disability rights activities you care about. Choose a few topics or sign up for all of them!

LEARN MORE
issues

ISSUES

Find the most common issues people with disabilities face and how CCDC can help.

LEARN MORE

Person of The Month

title-line

Remembering Carrie Ann Lucas


Two white-appearing women with cameras and other photo gear. Carrie, on the left, in a denim skirt and black t-shirt using a wheelchair. Amy, on the right, standing, wearing a beige fleece, vest, and jeans. My friend — and multi-talented attorney, activist, and mother — passed last February.  We celebrated her life on Saturday.  These were my words.


When I sat down to write these words, I knew I would be able to plagiarize a lot of my own previous words. I’ve had the privilege of introducing Carrie at various events and presenting awards to her on a number of occasions.

So I did want any nerd would do: searched my computer for documents mentioning Carrie.

As I anticipated, I found the words I had said introducing her for a Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition award, and later an award from our organization, the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center, as well as the words I said to introduce her as a candidate for Windsor town board. I’ll reuse some of them in a sec.

But I also found a long list of other documents that show the central role Carrie played in my personal and professional life for the past 20 years.  For example:

  • Lucas v. Iliff – the case on which my husband, Tim Fox, and I first represented Carrie and got to know her, asking her divinity school for accommodations.
  • Lucas v. Kmart – and our tribute to her when that case was recognized by the Impact Fund as the largest disability public accommodations case to date (and possibly through the present), making Kmart stores nationwide accessible to people using w/c.
  • I also found the photos we took for the Impact Fund’s event. Sadly, they didn’t use the one of Carrie, Tim, Kevin Williams, and me all playing poker around our conference table.
  • Lucas v. DU and Lucas v. DU. Or in the words of one of Carrie’s best press releases, “Oops, they did it again!”
  • Carrie’s adoption reference.
  • Carrie’s dumpling sauce.
  • A spreadsheet called “Carrie Lucas Internship Timesheet” – when she interned at our law firm as a law student, prepared court-ready pleadings, and of course taught us more than we taught her.
  • Lucas v. Colorado Rockies: now you can buy accessible seats behind home plate without buying season tickets.
  • Carrie’s EJW photo. After she was awarded the prestigious Equal Justice Works fellowship, I had the privilege of taking the official photo wearing – of all things – a hat my mother made her.
  • Her first case in federal court, for which we drafted an amicus brief. (Amicus means friend in Latin – never was it truer than on briefs we wrote to support Carrie’s cases.) I also found the brief from the case last year in which she supported us as an amicus, along with Julie Farrar and Corbett, who is online.
  • The published case of Kerr v. Heather Gardens, setting an obscure but important ADA precedent. Every time I cite it, I recognize how Carrie still helps us and so many other lawyers in so many fields.
  • Lucas v. City and County of Denver: now you can buy accessible tickets to Red Rocks that don’t cost $5000 on StubHub.
  • The many cases on which we co-counseled, including two in a row against the City of Denver for accommodations for Deaf detainees (Oops, they did it again!)
  • A long messaging discussion – which I saved, God knows why – about why it is OK to have breakfast for dinner and dinner for breakfast, but NOT to mix breakfast food and dinner food, reaching the consensus that ketchup on eggs was a desecration.
  • A downloaded copy of “15 Theses – A Protest to Challenge the Church on Disability,” Carrie’s blog post on Reformation Day, in which she set forth 15 specific, biblically-sourced ways in which the Church needed to become more welcoming to disabled people. (She adds:  “I sketched these out during worship last week, but give me time, I could come up with 95.”)  I highly recommend this post to people of all faiths or none.

Carrie (purple dress; short hair; wheelchair) playing with a young golden retriever who has his paws on her knees.

Carrie was the get-shit-donest person I know. We lawyers can be a cautious bunch — always arguing this side and that.  I can recall many occasions when — confronting injustice or simply something that needed doing — while the rest of us were still pondering, planning, and arguing about the best route forward, we would discover that Carrie had already acted.

She saw something that needed to be done and she did it.  One of the best examples of this is when she found out her niece faced the possibility of foster care:  she moved immediately to adopt her.

Then realizing the obstacles she faced as a disabled woman trying to adopt, she made the rights of parents with disabilities the focus of her legal education and career.

When Carrie started her nonprofit, Disabled Parents’ Rights, the number of lawyers in the country who were addressing these issues was in the low- to mid-single-digits.  She quickly became an expert in this crucial area, and was a sought-after speaker and teacher for other lawyers, advocates, and even judges.

You’ll hear a lot about all of her many roles:  mother, lawyer, advocate, arrestee, photographer, cook.  She was all these things.  Then we’d be chatting and she’d say something like, “we’re going to see Hamilton, so I’m making Hamilton skirts for myself and my daughters.”  Or “I have some time over Christmas break — I’ve decided to learn the hammer dulcimer.”

She was the person I always turned to when I need an answer:  What’s the right case to cite?  Who should I vote for?  What does the trinity mean? How do I format a document in Word without throwing my laptop out the window?  She answered these and so many others.

When we gave her the CREEC award a few years ago, we summed up Carrie’s intersectional work and identities by saying: “she may be the only wheelchair-using Latina with a bumper sticker that reads ‘just another disabled lesbian for Christ,’ dressed in camo, driving her trak-chair into the wilderness for the perfect photo.

Carrie was our client, intern, colleague, and co-counsel, but most important to me, she was my dear friend.  She had just the right combination of wisdom, compassion, sarcasm, and love, and I miss her profoundly.

Cartoon drawing of Carrie as a superhero, with an orange cape.

Amy Robertson | August 5, 2019 at 7:50 am |  URL: https://wp.me/pXX8v-1sb

Carol Buchanan


Advocacy is the hallmark of democracy.  It facilitates the diversity which is cherished by America.  This dynamic creates social flow and order which is similar to the way lyrics give music a sense of organization. In this context, people like Carol Buchanan, the Director of Programs at the Denver Regional Mobility and Access Council (DRMAC), an organization that specializes in ensuring transportation is available to the disabled and the elderly, is s prime example of a true advocate.

Upon earning a Bachelor’s of Social Work from James Madison University and a Masters in Nonprofit Management at Regis University, Mrs. Buchanan has had a steadfast desire to uphold a specific vision of society, one in which every walk of life has a voice loud enough to alter the status quo.  Her advocacy work with DRMAC has provided those who have limitations with “voice” into having a sense of agency when it comes to expanding their quality of life by picking a simple destination. In turn, within the multifaceted opportunities that accessible transportation has the tendency to provide, individuality is the final achievement. Mrs. Buchanan has dedicated her career to creating a place which allows the purest form of diversity to blossom, ultimately pathing the way for everyone to contribute and participate within their own communities.  As a result, multiple voices are heard, and everyone has a chance to sing their song.

The theme of “voice” also manifests in Mrs. Buchanan’s personal life.  As a woman who is grounded in her faith, Mrs. Buchanan demonstrates the power of her own voice by participating in the church choir.  Moreover, not only does this activity allow Mrs. Buchanan to express herself in a personal context, but it ultimately plays a significant role in terms of shaping the work that she does on a daily basis.

 

Carrie Ann Lucas, Champion for Disabled Parents, Dies at 47


Carrie Ann Lucas, second from left, in 2018 in Windsor, Colo., with her children, from left, Asiza, Heather, Adrianne and Anthony. Ms. Lucas fought for the rights of the disabled, especially those who are parents.
Carrie Ann Lucas, second from left, in 2018 in Windsor, Colo., with her children, from left, Asiza, Heather, Adrianne and Anthony. Ms. Lucas fought for the rights of the disabled, especially those who are parents.

 

Carrie Ann Lucas, who championed people, especially parents, with disabilities and won a major lawsuit to make Kmart more accessible, died on Sunday in Loveland, Colo. She was 47.

Her sister, Courtney Lucas, said the cause was complications of septic shock.

Ms. Lucas, who lived with a rare form of muscular dystrophy for three decades, was an effective advocate for people with disabilities. A lawyer, she successfully forced several businesses to make their premises more accessible in accordance with the Americans With Disabilities Act.

And last year, through her forceful lobbying, she helped change Colorado law to ensure that the disability of a parent or potential guardian could not be the sole basis for denying custody, adoption, foster care or guardianship of a child.

The legislation grew out of her own struggle to adopt her niece, who was in foster care. Ms. Lucas, who used a power wheelchair, breathed through a ventilator, had low vision and minimal hearing, and relied on a feeding tube, went on to adopt a total of four children, all with disabilities.

“We hear things all the time like, ‘How can you be a parent if you can’t throw a football for your son?’ ” she told The Colorado Independent in 2016.

“As disabled people,” she said, “we are always addressing the issue of how society devalues our lives and experiences.”

On Monday, members of both the House and Senate of the Colorado legislature paid tribute to Ms. Lucas and held a moment of silence in her honor. “Carrie Ann Lucas is a testament to doing everything that you can with what you’ve got,” State Senator Julie Gonzales said.

Ms. Lucas’s commitment was evident in her relentless campaign against a measure to allow doctor-assisted suicide (sometimes called “right to die” or “death with dignity”) in Colorado. An active member of the disability rights group Not Dead Yet, she appeared at numerous forums to express her outrage at what she saw as the implicit suggestion that people with disabilities had such a low quality of life that their lives were not worth living.

Despite her protestations, voters approved the measure in 2016. Doctor-assisted death is now legal in seven states and the District of Columbia.

It was a rare defeat in a long career of advocacy. Perhaps her most notable legal victory came in a class-action lawsuit against Kmart, to make its stores more accessible.

Ms. Lucas was the lead plaintiff in that suit, filed in 1999, and in a settlement in 2006, Kmart agreed to pay $13 million in damages to shoppers — the largest payout in a disabilities case at the time — and to bring its 1,400 stores into compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act. Kmart agreed to spend as much as $70 million over eight years to do so.

Carrie Ann Lucas was born on Nov. 18, 1971, in Twentynine Palms, Calif. Her mother, LaVerne (Rupert) Lucas, was a sales manager; her father, Philip Emory Lucas, served in the Marine Corps for 20 years and was stationed at the base there. When he retired, the family moved to Windsor, Colo., where he was an appliance repair technician.

Carrie Ann graduated from high school in Windsor and went to Whitworth University in Spokane, Wash., graduating in 1994 with a double major in education and sports medicine.

While in high school, she began to lose muscle strength, and by age 17 she was walking with braces. She was in a wheelchair by her early 20s.

Still, she went overseas. She taught middle school science for two years in Saipan, part of the Northern Marianas in the Western Pacific. Her goal was to become a minister, and when she returned to Colorado she earned a master of divinity degree at Iliff School of Theology in Denver in 1999.

As her health deteriorated, her sister said, she became involved with the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition, which works for equal rights for people with any kind of disability. She investigated and monitored disability rights cases there.

At the same time, she sought to adopt her niece, Heather, then 9, the disabled daughter of her half brother, Eric Gover, whose family, in Tennessee, was unable to care for her. But because of her own disabilities, Ms. Lucas ran into resistance.

She fought the system and, with the help of a court-appointed special advocate, was able to adopt Heather. The experience inspired her to make sure that the same thing would not happen in Colorado.

Driven by the prejudice she saw against parents with disabilities, Ms. Lucas enrolled at the Sturm College of Law at the University of Denver, where she received a full scholarship. She graduated in 2005 and went on to adopt three more children, Asiza, Adrianne and Anthony, all of whom have disabilities.

Ms. Lucas was executive director of Disabled Parents Rights and served on the board of directors of the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado. In 2017, she ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the Windsor City Council.

She was among several people with disabilities who were arrested in 2017 on charges of trespassing after a 58-hour sit-in at the Denver office of Senator Cory Gardner. They were protesting the Republican plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which would have reduced Medicaid funding and eliminated services that make it possible for people with disabilities to live independently.

In addition to her sister, her half brother and her children, Ms. Lucas is survived by her parents and her partner, Dr. Kimberley Jackson. Her half sister, Kelli Mann, died in 2017.

For the last several years, Ms. Lucas had been writing a blog, DisabilityPride.com, which provided an unvarnished view of her life.

One of her final entries, the day after Christmas, described her fear of what would happen to her children, now in their late teens and 20s, when she was gone. She said she hoped that she had given them “the tools to thrive if given appropriate supports.” But, she added, she was terrified that they would be separated and lose contact with one another.

“My kids are all adopted and lost their first family,” she wrote. “I desperately don’t want them to lose this family too.”

To Read the Original Article:  https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/27/obituaries/carrie-ann-lucas-dead.html

Christiano Sosa


 

America is a unique place. In theory, it is a nation in which everyone has a place and an opportunity to fulfill almost any dream. This idea is sometimes presented as too idealistic to be incorporated into the social fabric of American society. However, this is the mindset that affords the field of advocacy the strong sense of validity for which it has sustained over decades.

Christiano Sosa, the Executive Director of the Arc of Colorado, a nonprofit organization that specializes in advocating for individuals with intellectual disabilities, has demonstrated the need for systemic and individual advocacy since the mid-nineties. Upon earning a degree in Social Work, Mr. Sosa began to build on his passion for problem solving by becoming involved with the Colorado Health Network DBA Colorado AIDS Project & Howard Dental Center, a nonprofit organization that provides service to and aims to create a sense of systemic equity within the HIV/AIDS community.

Mr. Sosa’s passion ultimately fueled his career path, leading straight into a case managerial position with the organization. On a professional level, this marked the beginning of Mr. Sosa’s alliance with the disabled community. This has become the breeding ground that nourishes his sense of creativity. His passion for creating an accessible society for everyone in the disabled community intertwines with his hobby of cake decorating; his desire for creating eloquent cakes for the sole enjoyment of admiring the finished product ultimately contributes to his overall desire of reducing inequality in many sectors of society.

Similar to one of Mr. Sosa’s cakes, the disabled community has the tendency to be multifaceted, as every disability presents various angles that affect systemic equilibrium. As a result, for people like Mr. Sosa, the process of advocacy is perpetuated on a continuum that intersects at a multitude of points. This dynamic plays a critical role in the decisions Mr. Sosa has made throughout the work he has done as an advocate.

In turn, given the fact that he has been active participant in the disabled community for the bulk of his career, Mr. Sosa is essentially motivated to reduce inequity for all parties who are ultimately marginalized due to the direct or indirect role that disability plays in one’s life. Like every other advocacy organization in the United States, Mr. Sosa’s objective has been to repair systemic glitches in order to assist with bringing a sense of balance between the roles of personal responsibility and society.

written by Timothy Postlewaite

Natalie Orrell


Image of Natalie Orrell and her guide dog named Liam
Natalie Orrell and Liam

 

Natalie Orrell who took CCDC advocacy class became a housing advocate. She believes that housing is the basis of everything a person needs. Housing provides shelter and a place to rest. Quality housing is important to have good health. She represents CCDC on the Renter’s Protection Roundtable and Colorado Homes for All. She has been surprised at the control that landlords have to set rents and the gentrification that is present in Denver. Natalie believes that Advocacy areas are too siloed and we need to look across areas because issues are connected If someone wanted to become an advocate Natalie says, “ Go for it”! Advocacy is hard work and you must take care of yourself.

 

Natalie earned a B.S. in Human Services from Metro State University. In her spare time, she and her service dog, Liam, enjoy walks. Natalie plays games on her phone and the guitar. She’s bilingual Spanish. Her motto for life is: “It’s all about feeling all right” Thank you, Natalie, for Advocating for affordable, accessible housing

Terese Howard


Many people experiencing homelessness are PWDs (people with disabilities). Each year CCDC supports DHOL’s (Denver Homeless Out Loud) legislative efforts to reverse the camping ban. The ban prevents people experiencing homelessness from sleeping or resting in public spaces as well as sleeping in legally parked cars.  I wanted to better understand what motivates Terese Howard to be an important leader within DHOL Terese and a small group of individuals started DHOL in September 2012 because no one was continuing the fight to reverse the camping ban and its devastating effects. Terese firmly believes everyone has something to contribute!  Some can raise money, others make signs, others drive individuals to appointments. People experiencing homelessness have a wisdom of what really will make their lives better. Currently, they are collecting signatures for the Denver Right to Survive Initiative so voters in Denver can decide whether the camping ban should stay in effect. For more information, please visit DHOL’s website Denver Homeless Out Loud

Terese and members of DHOL currently work on several projects. They are part of the new group Colorado Village Collaborative which is building tiny homes for individuals who were homeless to live in. Right now people are living in a village of eleven tiny homes. The locker project is an effort to place artistically decorated lockers throughout Denver so people can safely store their processions. Thank you, Terese, for organizing the wise voices of those experiencing homelessness!

 


Important Notice
CCDC’s employees and/or volunteers are NOT acting as your attorney. Responses you receive via electronic mail, phone, or in any other manner DO NOT create or constitute an attorney-client relationship between you and the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition (CCDC), or any employee of, or other person associated with, CCDC. The only way an attorney-client relationship is established is if you have a signed retainer agreement with one of the CCDC Legal Program attorneys.

Information received from CCDC’s employees or volunteers, or from this site, should NOT be considered a substitute for the advice of a lawyer. www.ccdconline.org DOES NOT provide any legal advice, and you should consult with your own lawyer for legal advice. This website is a general service that provides information over the internet. The information contained on this site is general information and should not be construed as legal advice to be applied to any specific factual situation.

A+ A-