Carol Ely.

In honor of Black History Month, we would like to honor and pay tribute to one of our beloved ICI colleagues who gave so much of her talent and passion to our shared mission of improving policies and practices to ensure that all children, youth, and adults with disabilities are valued by and contribute to their communities of choice. Carol Ely, a longtime colleague and friend to all at ICI, died May 12, 2016. She was 59.

Carol was a Community Program Specialist at ICI where she worked for over a decade as a core faculty member on the Minnesota Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (MNLEND) program; a content advisor for Self-Advocacy Online; a curator for a disability resource database on the topics of grief, loss, and end-of-life, women’s issues, and parents with disabilities; and performed as an actor for the College of Direct Support curriculum. Carol was an adjunct faculty member in the University of Minnesota’s Occupational Therapy program and a leader and advocate of open conversations about people with disabilities and sexuality. She was frequently a lecturer in University of Minnesota courses, presented at conferences, and was active in the University of Minnesota Black Faculty and Staff Association.

“I so admired her willingness to talk about herself and her life to students. Literally, students could ask her anything and she never paused in answering their questions,” recalls ICI Director Amy Hewitt.

To learn more about Carol, watch this 2015 interview in which she talked about the meaning of the Americans with Disabilities Act for her life that is featured on Self-Advocacy Online, and this tribute video made in her honor.

To learn about some of the many significant contributions to American society by African Americans with disabilities, read "Highlighting African Americans with Disabilities in Honor of Black History Month" on the RespectAbility website.