The The DRF and DRAF Grantmaking Committees are Committees of the Boards responsible for contributions to grantmaking strategy and pooled fund grants decisions. The Committees are made up of institutional donors to the Funds and global disability activists. Current activist members are listed below.
Jenipher ‘Jane’ Akinyi is an advocate for persons with intellectual disabilities. She has been actively involved in advocacy since 2005 when she joined the Kenya Association of the Intellectually Handicapped (KAIH) as a self-advocate and member. She is well versed with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and uses it as a basis for training other self-advocates. Jane has a mild intellectual disability, which means she has difficulty in reading, writing, and conceptual skills, but this has not stopped her from speaking out about discrimination against persons with intellectual disabilities. She is an active member of Inclusion Africa and Inclusion International and has participated in numerous meetings both in and out of Kenya. She continues to champion the rights of persons with intellectual disabilities with the goal of equal rights for all, including the rights to independent living and legal capacity.
Nikki Brown-Booker is the Program Officer for the Disability Inclusion Fund at Borealis Philanthropy. As a person with a disability and a biracial woman, she has devoted her work to advancing rights at the intersection of disability justice and racial justice. The daughter of a domestic worker who immigrated from the Philippines and a professional chef and a long-term SEIU member, Nikki was taught from a young age that justice is a human right. Nikki was the Executive Director for Easy Does It Emergency Services, a nonprofit that provides emergency services for people with disabilities and seniors in Berkeley, California. She has a master’s degree in clinical psychology and is a licensed marriage and family therapist. Nikki continues to organize with Hand in Hand: The Domestic Employers Network and helped pass the California Domestic Workers Bill of Rights.
Nandini Ghosh is an academician-activist working on the intersectional issues of disability and gender. At present she is working as Assistant Professor of Sociology at Institute of Development Studies, Kolkata, India. She has a PhD degree in Social Sciences from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences Mumbai where her research focuses on cultural ideologies of disability and gender and ways in which they impact on lives of disabled women. She is widely published in academic and other journals, highlighting issues of disabled people in India. She is closely associated with disability activism within India and was also part of the process of framing the new disability rights law in India. She has also represented the delegation of Indian activists at the review of the implementation of the UNCRPD in India in 2018-19.
Sanja Tarczay was born in Zagreb, as a deaf child in a deaf family and later became DeafBlind. In 1994, she established the Croatian Association of Deafblind Persons – Dodir –where she currently serves as President. She is the creator of a Croatian Sign Language course, courses for Service Support Providers (SSPs), courses for Deafblind interpreters and the founder of the Croatian Sign Language Interpreting Centre. Since 2008, Sanja has been the practicum leader for a module on Deafblindness at the Faculty of Education and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Zagreb, and a lecturer on Sign Language at the University of Applied Health Studies in Zagreb. She has also lectured at numerous other universities at home and abroad as a guest lecturer. She has published several expert and research papers, both as a sole contributor and as co-author and has participated in 40 conferences at home and abroad. In 2013, she was elected President of the European Deafblind Union. Sanja earned her Doctorate degree in 2014; her thesis was titled, ”Meeting Challenges – Deafblind Interpreting From a User’s Perspective.“ She is fluent in five Sign Languages including: Croatian Sign Language, British Sign Language (BSL), International Sign Language (ISL), Swedish Sign Language and American Sign Language. She received the “Award for the Promotion of Rights of the Child” in 2016 from the Croatian Ministry of Demography, Family, Youth and Social Welfare for “outstanding achievement in protecting the welfare, rights and interests of children.”
Waqar Puri is a Project Manager at STEP, the Special Talent Exchange Programme, based in Pakistan. He is also a core member of Transforming Communities for Inclusion Asia Pacific (TCI AP) advocating for the inclusion of persons with psychosocial disabilities in the Asia region and is a member of the ICT Accessibility Group member for Pakistan Telecommunications Authorities (PTA). Waqar is the founder of the first ever rights based network of persons with psychosocial disabilities in Pakistan. He is an Accessibility Consultant for the IAAP & Global Alliance on Accessible Technologies and Environments (GAATES), is part of Technical Working Group for Elrha’s Humanitarian Innovation Fund, and is a BRIDGE Alumni from the BRIDGE CRPD-SDGs Trainings Initiative. Waqar is a member of the Pakistan US Alumni Network. Waqar graduated with a BSc Hons in Economics, Beaconhouse National University, Lahore.
Ishumael Zhou is a visually impaired disability rights advocate. He became blind at the age of seven due to measles. Mr. Ishumael Zhou is currently the President of the African Union of the Blind. He works as Executive Director of Zimbabwe National League of the Blind and the chairperson of an umbrella entity for over 50 organizations and persons with disabilities in Zimbabwe. He worked as a CBR Coordinator for a local disability organization and started the CBR project from scratch, expanding it into a fully-fledged stand-alone department. Mr. Zhou served on the National Disability Board, a government entity, for eighteen years and served on the Private Voluntary Organisation board as a board member for eight years. Mr. Zhou also worked as the chief researcher with the African Rehabilitation Institute (ARI) on orientation and mobility.
In past years, he worked with the Zimbabwe Public Service Commission as the lead researcher on service conditions for persons with disabilities working in the civil service with Zimbabwe’s government, which sought to introduce employment for teaching assistants for visually impaired teachers. His collaboration with the Zimbabwe government is now reaching over 2000 people nationwide. He worked as a technical advisor for a local humanitarian organization on disability inclusion to WASH services. He worked as a commissioner on Zimbabwe’s constitution commission and drafted a new constitution representing persons with disabilities. He was part of the leadership that lobbied for enacting the Disabled Persons Act and the ratification of the CRPD by the government of Zimbabwe.
He holds a degree in development studies and a diploma in social development.
DRF/DRAF is grateful to all Committee members for their time and valuable insights.