04/04/18 - BOSTON, MA. - Lydia Brown, L'18, poses for a portrait on April 4, 2018. Photo by Adam Glanzman/Northeastern University
News Story

Social Impact Nonprofit Honors Disability Justice Advocate Lydia Brown (C’15) with 2020 Beacon Award

Los Angeles-based Social Impact Nonprofit Let’s Talk LD awarded Lydia Brown, faculty in the Disability Studies Program, this year’s Beacon Award for their work as an advocate, organizer, educator, attorney, strategist and writer. 

“Disability Studies is delighted that Lydia’s innovative, world-changing work is being recognized by this prestigious award,” says Jennifer Natalya Fink, director of Disability Studies. “They are a truly brilliant activist, lawyer, scholar, professor, and advocate whose presence in our program has been transformational.”

Brown and Beacon

Let’s Talk LD is an organization that addresses critically important social justice and equity of educational opportunity issues faced by those in the neurodiverse community. According to the co-found and executive director KD Harris, the Beacon Award is the “organization’s way of celebrating those rare individuals who are audacious in their activism and single-mindedly committed to advancing meaningful and impactful reforms designed to produce equity in educational and employment opportunities for individuals who are neurodiverse.”

“Mx. Brown’s approach to activism is visceral, you experience it with every ounce of your being,” Harris says. “They are unapologetic in conceptualizing programs and policies that are designed to shift power in ways that ensure equity, fairness, and justice for multi-marginalized disabled people.” 

In addition to this award, Brown served as one of the Keynote Speakers at Let’s Talk LD’s 2020 College Planning and Transition Conference for Learners who are Neurodiverse, one of only a handful of college conferences in the nation that is designed and produced specifically for students who are neurodiverse. 

This conference presents opportunities for students from 8th through 12th grade, current college students and their families, in addition to educational, therapeutic and clinical professionals, to access relevant resources, gain insights from dozens of noted nationally-recognized college transition and neurodiversity experts and to engage in relevant discussions concerning the college planning and transition journey. 

Continuing their work as a person for others, Brown says there is more to do in disability studies and beyond to create a society for all and recognize the accomplishments of members of underrepresented communities. 

“As a long-time community organizer and advocate, it is always an honor to receive recognition like the Beacon Award,” says Brown. “But I want to encourage us to honor the collaborative, collective, and interdependent nature of disability justice work, led by queer and trans, Black, Brown, Native, and Asian disabled people, many of whom go unnamed and unrecognized though this work is critical for our survival and our future.” 

More About Brown

Brown has been honored by the White House, Washington Peace Center, National Council on Independent Living, Disability Policy Consortium of Massachusetts, National Association for Law Placement/Public Service Jobs Directory, Society for Disability Studies, and American Association of People with Disabilities. 

In 2015, Pacific Standard named Brown a Top 30 Thinker under 30, and Mic named Brown to its inaugural list of 50 impactful leaders, cultural influencers, and breakthrough innovators. 

Their work has been featured in scholarly publications including Disability Studies Quarterly; Addressing Ableism: Philosophical Questions via Disability Studies; Religion, Disability, and Interpersonal Violence; Barriers & Belonging: Personal Narratives of Disability; Feminist Perspectives on Orange is the New Black; Torture in Healthcare Settings; and Films for the Feminist Classroom; and community publications including The Asian American Literary Review; All In Your Head Zine: To The Bone; QDA: A Queer Disability Anthology; Criptiques; Disability Intersections; Black Girl Dangerous; hardboiled magazine; POOR Magazine; and NOS Magazine.

-by Shelby Roller (G’19)

Disability Studies