February 21, 2019 | Keri Gray, Senior Director of Stakeholder Engagement and Strategic Communications
Keri Gray of Longview, Texas is the new Senior Director of Stakeholder Engagement and Strategic Communications at the American Association of People with Disabilities. Starting on Feb 25th, Gray will work with AAPD to manage external partnerships, socially and politically mobilize people with disabilities, and engage constituents through a variety of communications platforms. These duties will help support AAPD’s mission to serve as a convener, connector, and catalyst for change, increasing the political and economic power of people with disabilities. Please see below to learn more about Keri Gray.
For most of my life I identified as a strong black woman with many ambitions of making a significant impact. I have repeatedly fallen in love with Black culture over the years. But to be honest my love for the disability community was a journey. I was diagnosed with osteosarcoma bone cancer at 8 years old, and it had a big impact on the things that I did as a child. A lot of kids have energy for days. But it wasn’t the same for me. I had to learn how to just keep up.
One of my biggest lessons was learning how to embrace multiple cultures at the same time (blackness + womanhood + disability). I began to embrace having disabilities after participating in the American Association of People with Disabilities summer internship program. That summer, I not only learned a lot professionally but for the very first time I was exposed to the disability community. And it was EVERYTHING.
Since that time, I have worked passionately and diligently to impact our societal diversity & inclusion practices. Prior to AAPD, I worked as the Director of NextGen Initiatives at Disability:IN. I had the pleasure of creatively designing programs for approximately 1,000 young professionals. These programs collaborated with over 95 global fortune 500 companies to connect diverse talent to opportunities in the private sector. I’ve also worked with the National Council on Independent Living and consulted with many organizations and institutions of higher education.
Starting next week, I am extremely excited to work for AAPD as their new Senior Director of Stakeholder Engagement and Strategic Communications! This is an organization that clearly has had an impact on me and countless others. I plan to utilize all my experience thus far and the framework of intersectionality to contribute towards the advancement of people with disabilities and AAPD’s mission.