The Institute on Disability Culture is a tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. Biographies of the Co-Founders follow:
Lillian Gonzales Brown, Co-Founder, Institute on Disability Culture, has been an internationally renowned trainer in independent living, advocacy, personal assistance, civil rights, sexuality, peer support, public policy and Disability Culture. Lil started her career as a disability advocate working at the Center for Independent Living (CIL) in Berkeley, CA, in the 1970's. She was an instructor in the newly developed Independent Living Skills (ILS) department, as part of a team teaching people with disabilities the skills needed to live more independently in the community. She met with international visitors to CIL and the World Institute on Disability (an international disability policy think tank) which led to her being invited to do this kind of work abroad. She helped to start IL centers in Sweden, Finland and Norway, as well as Germany and Belgium. She was invited by the Japanese government to present at a series of conferences throughout the country, as well as working in Mexico with disability support services as part of the Sister Cities program after a serious earthquake. She also created and ran a program to help develop IL for disabled people from Japan. She completed a yearlong intensive study at the Sex and Disability Unit at UCSF, and became a Health Educator at Planned Parenthood, as well as creating and implementing curricula for people with developmental disabilities, continuing education for staff at hospitals, and Sex Education classes for people with disabilities. She lectured on the subject both nationally and internationally. She’s fought for ADA compliant services in NM, and been a member of the board of the Statewide Independent Living Council in Hawaii.
She has worked across North America, Europe, Asia, Latin America, and Scandinavia.
Historian Steven E. Brown is a retired Professor and Disabilities Scholar, Center on Disability Studies (CDS), University of Hawaii; and Co-Founder of the Institute on Disability Culture. Brown has published many articles about disability rights and disability culture and is a national and international speaker.
His books include Movie Stars and Sensuous Scars: Essays on the Journey from Disability Shame to Disability Pride; Surprised to be Standing: A Spiritual Journey, and Ed Roberts: Wheelchair Genius, written for Middle Grade ages. He is also a co-editor of the anthology, Rethinking Disability: World Perspectives in Culture and Society (2016). He has presented on disability rights and culture throughout the U.S. as well as in Canada; Germany; Hungary; Korea (via remote video) Japan; Norway; Saipan; Sweden; Taiwan; and Thailand.
Brown created the UH/CDS online courses: “Disability History and Culture: From Homer to Hip Hop,” and “Disability Through the Ages.” Although he retired from teaching these courses, they continue to be taught by a successor.
After retiring from his full-time Professor position, he and his wife (and co-founder of the Institute on Disability Culture), Lillian Gonzales Brown, returned to the mainland, where Brown continues to write, advocate, and teach. He is currently working on a book about Disability Culture.