$50 – $3,500

Sponsors: 9th Annual African American Conference on Disabilities

Event Information

Share this event

Date and Time



Desert Willow Conference Center

4340 East Cotton Center Boulevard

Phoenix, AZ 85040

View Map

Event description


9th Annual African American Conference on Disabilities

February 28, 2020

8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Desert Willow Conference Center

Phoenix, Arizona 85040

Ability360, Arizona Center for Disability Law (ACDL), in collaboration with the Arizona Center for African American Resources (AZCAAR) are honored to host the nationally recognized 9th Annual African American Conference on Disabilities (AACD). The AACD is the only comprehensive all day conference in the United States that addresses the intersection between race and disabilities.

African Americans with disabilities face challenges of race and disability discrimination that the broader community overlooks and views with indifference. The goals of the conference are to eliminate barriers for persons with disabilities, and to provide the African American community, organizations and individuals who service the community, with cultural and linguistic competent information and resources. Participants will attend three general sessions and have an opportunity to select among twenty-four disability related workshops.

This event focuses on African Americans; however, the information provided will benefits everyone and is open to individuals and families, as well as, organizations who are interested in learning and eliminating barriers.

Conference Speakers

Opening Session:

James Herbert Williams, PhD., MSW., MPA

James Herbert Williams, PhD., is the Arizona Centennial Professor of Social Welfare Services and Director of the School of Social Work at Arizona State University. He holds his MSW from Smith College, MPA from the University of Colorado and PhD. in Social Welfare from the University of Washington. Dr. Williams is the Interim Director of the Southwest Interdisciplinary Research Center at Arizona State University, Distinguished Professor in the School of Sociology, China University of Political Science and Law, Beijing, China and Visiting Professor at SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Warsaw, Poland.

Dr. Williams’ research and publications focus on human security and economic sustainability, health promotion and disease prevention, behavioral health disparities and health equity, global practice and sustainable development, one health, adolescent violence and substance use, intimate partner violence, academic achievement, social services for African American children in urban schools, and community strategies for positive youth development. His scholarship and research are available in several prominent journals, books, and book chapters.

Dr. Williams has 30 plus years of experience as a scholar/educator and social work practitioner. He is a member of the Steering Committee for the Grand Challenges for Social Work Initiative. He is a Fellow in the American Academy for Social Work & Social Welfare, Society for Social Work and Research and chair the National Advisory Committee for the Fahs Beck Fund for Research and Experimentation.


Celebration of Civil Rights Pioneer-Honoring Ms. Jean Fairfax

Jean Fairfax, Civil Rights Pioneer

AACD is celebrating the life and work of Jean Fairfax, an unsung heroine of the Civil Rights movement. Ms. Fairfax committed her life to civil rights and social justice. She was a force for over 40 years, organizing black families in school desegregation cases in rural communities and led the effort to reform the National School Lunch program.

Her work with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the American Friends Service Committee allowed her to be committed to a lifetime work of fundamental fairness and simple justice. Ms. Fairfax’s dedication to civil rights led her to provide funding to the first African American Conference on Disabilities in early 2000. Due to her contribution, this event has evolved into the nationally recognized conference that the African American Conference on Disabilities Conference is today.

Ms. Fairfax grew up in Cleveland, Ohio; her parents were the first in their families to be born legally free. She attended the University of Michigan, and then attended Union Theological Seminary. After college, she worked as the Dean of Women at Kentucky State College and then held the same post at Tuskegee University. It was during this time that Ms. Fairfax found her passion for protecting civil rights and education rights.

She later moved to Phoenix to join her sister, Betty Fairfax, who was one of the first black teachers in the Phoenix Union High School District. There, they established the Betty H. & Jean E. Fairfax Fund for Educational Equity and the Black Legacy Endowed Fund through the Arizona Community Foundation.

It is through her work that we continue our work. Thank you, Jean.

“Someone had to break the pattern, and very often the civil rights revolution was initiated by the most vulnerable Black persons. Many of them were women and many of them were children—tough, resilient, hopeful, beautiful children. The greatest experience of my life was standing with them as they took the risks.”—Jean Fairfax

Closing Session:

Adiba Nelson

Author, Screenwriter, Performer, Activist, & "Emory's Mom" (that last one is half joking - I always say that's my title because people are always like "are you Emory’s mom? can I speak with Emory’s mom? This needs to be signed by Emory’s mom.)

Title: The Beauty of Adult Rebellion

Synopsis: We are raised to do what we're told, not question authority, and follow the status quo. But does that rule apply when life throws you curveball after curveball? Sometimes you just have to rebel, and that's ok. Sometimes, that rebellion is even life-changing.

Author, Screenwriter, Performer, Activist, Wife, Mother, Daughter, and most recently, subject of the Emmy winning documentary, The Full Nelson.

Often referred to as “inspirational”, Adiba Nelson wrote and self-published her first children’s book in 2013, after not being able to find a children’s book that adequately and appropriately represented her daughter (African American, with special needs). Since then she has led numerous workshops for educators and education professionals/paraprofessionals, focusing on disability inclusion and empowerment, and partnered with Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona to introduce a new inclusion patch program, Girl Scouts for ALL (which has now been replicated in California, Texas and soon to be Virginia).

More than just children’s literature, Adiba has also penned several articles for Huffington Post, Ravishly, Everyday Feminism, The Washington Post and My Brown Baby, focusing on issues around race, parenting, body image and womanhood. In 2017, she gave her first TEDx talk (Skating Downhill: The Art of Claiming Your Life), and joined Arizona Public Media as a regular contributor on Arizona Spotlight.

Information for her book to promote on the website and social media:


David Carey

Co-Committee Chair



Renaldo Fowler

Co-Committee Chair

Arizona Center for Disabilities Law


Share with friends

Date and Time


Desert Willow Conference Center

4340 East Cotton Center Boulevard

Phoenix, AZ 85040

View Map

Save This Event

Event Saved