Chicago Cultural Accessibility Consortium (CCAC) facilitates a dynamic community of cultural administrators and visitors with disabilities striving to advance accessibility and inclusion across the Chicago region's vast cultural spaces.
CCAC is 501(c)(3) nonprofit run solely by volunteers.
2016: Lifeline Theatre awarded CCAC and its co-chairs the Raymond R. Snyder Commitment to the Arts Award.
2015: The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts awarded CCAC the Leadership Exchange in Arts and Disability Emerging Leader award.
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Bringing Chicago together around the intersection of disability and the arts was Christena's main aim as she started CCAC in 2013. Having over a decade of experience in cultural accessibility from the Metropolitan Museum and Lincoln Center, she currently serves as Director of Education at the Evanston Art Center. Thanks to her brother Travis who has Down syndrome, cultural accessibility became her passion as they visited museums and attended plays together. Christena speaks nationally and internationally about cultural accessibility, especially the importance of establishing a local access knowledge network in one's own community. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a B.A. in Art History and French, and received her M.A. in Arts Administration from NYU. Childhood Museum Memory: My fourth grade class studied From The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, which involves two kids running away from home and living in the Metropolitan Museum. Our class slept over at our city's art museum (Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum). It was magical to live like the characters in the book for a night!
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Risa is a Program Manager at The Chicago Community Trust. Previously she was the Program Coordinator for the 2015 yearlong ADA 25 Chicago initiative. In her current role as Program Manager, she works with the Disabilities Fund at CCT and with ADA 25 Advancing Leadership. Her work includes developing ways to incorporate full inclusion into all operations throughout CCT. Risa was a Founding Steering Committee Member in 2013 prior to co-leading the Steering Committee as a Co-Chair beginning in 2017. Memorable Cultural Experience: I had to be about seven or eight years old and my parents took me and my brother (who’s three years younger) to Madison Square Garden to see Crosby Still Nash and Young. I remember thinking that it was so cool and weird at the same time watching all these hippies and former hippies rock out all night (way past my bedtime). That didn’t stop me from standing on the chair and rocking out as well – minus the lighter and other hippy equipment, of course.
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Anna is the Director of Retail and Events at The Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois where she oversees the Special Events, Facility Rental, Food Service, and Retail departments. She has worked in museums in both Chicago and Washington D.C. since 2006 creating memorable and fun experiences for visitors that connect them to the unique story of the organization. Anna has been a CCAC Steering Committee member since 2015. Childhood Museum Memory: Growing up in southern California, my mother took my sister and I to the Madonnari festival every year at the Santa Barbara Mission where dozens of artists used nothing but chalk to create truly stunning works of art on the pavement. Their skill fascinated me – especially when I compared their work to my own sidewalk “masterpieces.”
Rachel Arfa (she/her/hers) is a staff attorney and PABSS Project Manager at Equip for Equality, Illinois' governor-designated protection and advocacy agency, whose mission is to advance the human and civil rights of children and adults with physical and mental disabilities in Illinois. Her work focuses on employment discrimination and civil rights cases on behalf of clients with disabilities. As an individual who is profoundly deaf, Rachel has long advocated for equal access in cultural institutions including in museums and live theater. Rachel was a CCAC Founding Steering Committee member, sitting on the Steering Committee since 2013. Memorable Cultural Experience: My second grade teacher designed a semester-long cultural immersion where we studied Japan through a variety of experiences including studying and wearing Japanese clothing, eating Japanese food, making traditional wooden shoes, creating haiku and even spending a day in a Japanese tea room replicated in our classroom. From this experience, I became fascinated by learning about new cultures which led to a lifelong love of travel to explore new places.
Matthew Bivins (he/him/his) is a web and software developer, actor and musician who moved to Chicago in 2008. He and brother Evan focus on designing and developing projects for nonprofits and other organizations for social good, and are responsible for building chicagoculturalaccess.org. Matt provides captioning for the D/deaf and hard of hearing community at Chicago live theaters with his project CaptionPoint, and loves dreaming up ways to help cultural organizations use technology to provide accessibility and inclusivity to patrons. Matt has been a CCAC Steering Committee member since 2017. Memorable Museum Moment: Before living in Chicago, I visited the city with my band and happened to catch an incredible Toulouse Lautrec exhibition at the Art Institute. Inspired, my brother and I went home to Charleston, SC and put together a theater piece that was a collaboration of musicians, writers, dancers, actors, designers, and a shadow puppeteer. On that same memorable day, I asked a beautiful deaf girl to come see the exhibit with me, and she said "yes." A few years later she also said "yes" when I proposed. Merci, Toulouse!
David Carrasquillo (he/him/his) is the Administrative Operations Manager at the Chicago Academy of Sciences/Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. He began working in museums as a public programs interpreter when he was 16 as a participant in the Nature Museum’s T.E.E.N.S. program. The majority of his 17 years of museum experience has been in various operations roles at Chicago area children, art, history, and science museums. David holds a BA in Museum Operations & Management from DePaul University. David joined the CCAC Steering Committee in 2019. Memorable Cultural Experience: Whether it is in Detroit, Michigan or Bali, Indonesia, if there is a zoo or aquarium I will make a point to visit. Favorite moments include seeing a cheetah run at nearly full speed in San Diego, feeding a basket of apples to a hippo in Budapest, and possibly the most special was the opportunity to watch two rescued Hawaiian Monk Seals, a critically endangered species, swim around their enclosure at the Waikiki Aquarium in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Susan A. Friel (she/her/hers) is an educator, artist and lifelong learner who currently manages education and engagement programs for the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE). Susan’s path along the way weaves in, out and around schools, museums and arts organizations across the globe, including the Art Institute of Chicago, Spain, Ethiopia and LA. In 2018 she initiated the first exploration of the Chicago Cultural Center through touch and sound which inspired the installation of a touch gallery and Learning Lab which celebrates all the senses. She is honored to have contributed to the inspirational book that continues to feed her spirit daily - Learning by Heart: Teachings to Free the Creative Spirit. Susan joined the CCAC Steering Committee in 2019. Memorable Museum Memory: I remember falling fast asleep on the cold hard floor of the City Museum of St. Louis after a thrilling day of perusing exhibits that involve crawling, jumping, and sliding down a four-story chute. Thanks to Barb and Tim for hosting the best adult sleepover wedding reception ever!
Tsehaye G. Hebert (she/her/hers) is a citizen playwright (Alliance Kendeda National Graduate Playwright Awardee; Voices Rising Fellow, Vermont Studio Center; The Guild Literary Complex, 30 Writers to Watch; Midwest Black Playwrights Project; Native Voices and Visions; Rhinofest; Cultural DC/Sourcefest, Frank McCourt Memoir, Sundance Theatre Lab, finalists). Passionate about accessibility, equity and inclusion in the arts led her to ADA 25 Advancing Leadership first as a Fellow, a program committee member and now as an ambassador. She works to engage community from page to stage for an American Theatre and the American cultural landscape truly reflects America. Tsehaye joined the CCAC Steering Committee in 2019. Earliest Cultural Memories: Memories of music, singing and dancing are in my family, neighborhood and school. Seeing the opera Aida unfold in its final dress rehearsal remains a galvanizing moment in my history and one whose magic has enthralled ever since.
Clare Killy (she/her/hers) is Director of Inclusive Solutions at Aspire and leads the non-profit's inclusion consulting services by facilitating community engagements, cultivating relationships with partners and driving the development of high-quality, inclusion-focused resources. Clare is a licensed educator and child development specialist with experience as a teacher, advocate, inclusion consultant and program manager. Clare has over a decade of professional experience working with children, families and providers across diverse environments. Clare joined the CCAC Steering Committee in 2019. Favorite Cultural Memory: My father is a professional artist and I recall my first time seeing his work in a gallery after having witnessed the lengthy artistic process that led to that point. Seeing the artist in action, and then the final result on such pristine display taught me to consider the process as much as the product - to this day, when I walk through a gallery space, I wonder about the idea that sparked each piece and the dynamic journey that brought it to life.
Kinneret Kohn (she/her/hers) is the Assistant Director for Student Learning at the Art Institute of Chicago. She previously led the New York City Museum Educators Roundtable Board of Trustees and has a wide range of museum education experience having managed, designed, and facilitated programs for diverse audiences at the New-York Historical Society, Brooklyn Children's Museum, and Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine. Kinneret earned an M.S. Ed in Leadership in Museum Education from Bank Street College of Education; an M.A. in International Education Development, focus on Peace Education from Teachers College, Columbia University; and a B.A. in International Studies from The Ohio State University. Kinneret joined the CCAC Steering Committee in 2019. Earliest Cultural Memory: My earliest memory in a cultural space is being kicked out of Monticello. At four years old, I was unimpressed by the long lines and heat, so I simply walked under the velvet ropes to take a seat on one of the fancy chairs. I like to think this act was an early sign of my critical consciousness and interest in how cultural institutions address the content and accessibility of their spaces.
Emma MacLean (she/her/hers) is an educator and artist living in Chicago and is the Arts Partnership Specialist at Communities In Schools of Chicago. When she's not at her day job, you can catch her as a teaching artist and program coordinator at A.B.L.E. (Actors Breaking Limits and Expectations) making theatre with individuals with Down syndrome and other developmental differences. Emma is passionate about access especially in the arts sector, she believes that with the right accommodations arts can and should be for everyone. Emma joined the CCAC Steering Committee in 2019. Favorite Cultural Experience: My favorite cultural experience was seeing Gatz, an eight hour experience where the theatre company Elevator Repair Service performed the entirety of The Great Gatsby. It was unlike any other show I had ever seen and made me think about what the bounds of theatre could be.
Chaitanya Manchanda (he/him/his) is the founder and co-chair of the Discover’s employer resource group, “Accentuating Discover Abilities.” Chaitanya is actively involved in spreading awareness, advocating for disability rights and representing the Deaf/Hard Of Hearing (HOH) Community. Chaitanya was an Executive Committee Member of the Hearing Loss Association of America in Chicago Lincoln Park for two years. He earned a B.S. from the University of Windsor in Ontario, Canada.
Hillary Pearson (she/her/hers) is the Manager of Operations at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, working directly with companies to ensure front of house set up needs are met and overseeing daily security staff operations in the facility. Previously at the Harris, Hillary worked on the part-time Audience Service staff (the orange scarf-wearing people if you’ve been to the theater) and had an opportunity to then become the full-time House Manager for the venue. Hillary is very excited for an opportunity to further the accessibility goals of the Harris as well as learn from and with other professionals from Chicago cultural institutions. Hillary has been on the CCAC Steering Committee since 2017. Memorable Cultural Experience: As a vocal performance major at Northwestern, a small volunteer group of singers had the chance to perform comedic opera scenes in English at the Kohl Children’s Museum up in Glenview a few times a year. It was a lot of fun performing opera for these kids in such a nontraditional setting (sometimes they even laughed with us instead of at us!), and it created a unique outreach opportunity for both the university and the museum.
Casey Peek (she/her/hers) is a sometimes freelance stage manager and fulltime Patron Services Manager at The Joffrey Ballet. Casey is an advocate for inclusion in the arts and the world and believes we can achieve this through conversation and groundwork. The arts in Chicago have provided Casey self-discovery and a family of folks who want to change the world through art and inclusion. Casey joined the CCAC Steering Committee in 2019. Childhood Museum Memory: As a kid in central Illinois we would take vacations to Chicago. I remember being mesmerized by the Egyptian exhibit at the Field Museum and the beautiful creatures of Shedd Aquarium.
Brittany Pyle (she/her/hers) is the Director of Audience Services at the Chicago Humanities Festival, where she has worked since 2013 leading the quality of audience experience, creating inclusive audience-serving initiatives, overseeing box office and front-of-house staff and operations, working in nearly 40 cultural spaces throughout Chicagoland. Brittany holds a BFA in Photography from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Brittany has been on the CCAC Steering Committee since 2017. Childhood Cultural Memory: Growing up outside of Champaign, Illinois, many elementary and middle school field trips bussed us to the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. Being an artistic youngster, I was enraptured at shows like King Lear and Ragtime, inspiring me to become a theatre kid in high school and a humanities devotee as an adult.
Bonnie Rosenberg (she/her/hers) is the Manager of Rights and Images at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. She worked previously as executive assistant to architecture historian Victoria Newhouse at Condé Nast Publications and was editorial assistant at the Art Newspaper in New York. She holds an MA in journalism from Syracuse University and a BA in art history and English from Saint Louis University. Bonnie joined the CCAC Steering Committee in 2019. Favorite Cultural Memory: My love of nitrates and nostalgia came together recently when I became the first person to stay overnight in the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile. After a full evening of wiener roasting and some frankly awful puns, I slept inside a hot dog-shaped RV that’s been roaming the US since 1936.
Karen Tekverk (she/her/hers) is the Manager of Interpretive Services at Shedd Aquarium where she oversees programming including Behind-the-Scenes Tours and Private Personalized Tours, and works with over 150 interpretive volunteers. Karen is part of Shedd Aquarium’s Access & Inclusion Team, and has spearheaded work to train guides and volunteers in audio description and tactile tour facilitation. Karen has a BA in Geology from Haverford College and a MS in Earth and Planetary Sciences from Northwestern University. Previously she worked in interpretation at Chicago Botanic Garden, researched climate change with Respiratory Health Association, and taught geology. Karen joined the CCAC Steering Committee in 2019. Favorite Museum Memory: There weren’t a lot of museums in my rural hometown, but we would visit New York each year. I loved spending Christmas Eve at the American Museum of Natural History. It felt like we had the place entirely to ourselves, and my sisters and I reveled in it. Our favorite thing was to find a 2-foot model of a mosquito, whom we had named Skippy. I visited NYC recently, and I was glad to find Skippy still going strong!
Andy Wilson (he/him/his) is a House Manager & Accessibility Coordinator at The Goodman Theatre. Prior to his time at Goodman, he worked at the Shedd Aquarium as well as the Museum of Science & Industry. Early in his journey as a trans man, he felt like there was no longer a place for him in theatre, but realized that he could be a part of making the arts more inclusive for a much wider range of people. Andy joined the CCAC Steering Committee in 2019. Favorite Museum Memory: My favorite memory in a museum is playing peek-a-boo with a beluga named Bella who spit all over me!
Yolanda Cesta Cursach (2015-2017)
Chauncey Alexander Davis-Mauney (2017-2018)
Jason Harrington (2013-2017), Founding Steering Committee Member
Alyssa Harsha (2017-2019)
Robin Jones (2013-2015), Founding Steering Committee Member
Lucas Livingston (2013-2015), Founding Steering Committee Member
Kris Nesbitt (2015-2019)
Theresa Pacione (2013-2015), Founding Steering Committee Member
Jeanna Rathell (2015-2019)
Mike Shaw (2015-2019)
Jaclyn Wegner (2013-2015), Founding Steering Committee Member
Sandie Yi (2013-2015), Founding Steering Committee Member
Above photo: Fifteen of Chicago's cultural access administrators holding plaques celebrating
CCAC's Kennedy Center LEAD Awardfor Emerging Leaders in August 2015.
Photo by Christopher Zarconi.