Lydia X. Z. Brown

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Headshot of young east asian person in business dress.

Lydia X. Z. Brown is a disability justice advocate, organizer, and writer whose work has largely focused on violence against multiply-marginalized disabled people, especially institutionalization, incarceration, and policing. They have worked to advance transformative change through organizing in the streets, writing legislation, conducting anti-ableism workshops, testifying at regulatory and policy hearings, and disrupting institutional complacency everywhere from the academy to state agencies and the nonprofit-industrial complex. At present, Lydia serves as founding board member of the Alliance for Citizen-Directed Services, stakeholder representative to the Massachusetts One Care Implementation Council overseeing health care for Medicaid/Medicare dually-eligible individuals, and board member of the Autism Women’s Network. Lydia recently completed a term as Chairperson of the Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council, serving in that role from 2015 to 2017 as the youngest appointee nationally to chair any state developmental disabilities council. In collaboration with E. Ashkenazy and Morénike Giwa-Onaiwu, Lydia is the lead editor and visionary behind All the Weight of Our Dreams, the first-ever anthology of writings and artwork by autistic people of color, published by the Autism Women’s Network in June 2017.

Most recently, Lydia has designed and teaches a course on critical disability theory, public policy, and intersectional social movements as a Visiting Lecturer at Tufts University’s Experimental College, beginning in Fall 2016. Lydia is a past Holley Law Fellow at the National LGBTQ Task Force, where they focused on reproductive justice and disability rights policy issues, and past Patricia Morrissey Disability Policy Fellow at the Institute for Educational Leadership, where they focused on employment opportunities for people with significant disabilities. Lydia also worked for the Autistic Self Advocacy Network for several years as part of the national public policy team, where Lydia worked on various issues relating to criminal justice and disability, healthcare disparities and service delivery models, and research and employment disparities.

While an undergraduate student at Georgetown University, Lydia co-founded the Washington Metro Disabled Students Collective for intersectional disability justice organizing, led multiple campaigns to reform university policies on disability access that led to creation of a dedicated pool of funding for sign language interpretation and real-time captioning as well as an access coordinator position responsible for public and non-academic programming, single-handedly founded and coordinated the first Lecture and Performance Series on Disability Justice, served two terms as Undersecretary for Disability Affairs with the Georgetown University Students Association, spurred the university to convene a Disability Justice Working Group, provided training to numerous student groups and university departments and offices, and served on the University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities’ consumer advisory council.

Lydia 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 Lydia a Top 30 Thinker under 30, and Mic named Lydia to its inaugural list of 50 impactful leaders, cultural influencers, and breakthrough innovators. Their work has been featured in scholarly publications including Addressing Ableism: Philosophical Meditations 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; Films for the Feminist Classroom; and community publications including The Asian American Literary Review; QDA: A Queer Disability Anthology; Criptiques; Tikkun; Rewire; Disability Intersections; Black Girl Dangerous; hardboiled magazine; POOR Magazine; The Washington Post; NOS Magazine; Sojourners; and The Establishment.

Lydia is now a Public Interest Law Scholar at Northeastern University School of Law, where they serve as an active member of the Committee Against Institutional Racism (representing the Asian Pacific American Law Students Association), the Transgender Justice Task Force, and the Faculty Appointments Committee, and are a founding core collective member of the Disability Justice Caucus. They have served on advisory boards to a number of research projects, including the National Center for Cultural Competence’s Embedding Cultural Diversity and Cultural and Linguistic Competence: A Guide for UCEDD[1] Curricula and Training Activities Project[2]; a postdoctoral Advanced Rehabilitation and Research Training Program on Health and Functioning of People with Disabilities hosted at Brandeis University’s Lurie Institute for Disability Policy within the Heller School for Social Policy and Management[3]; and Drexel University’s Ethical Autism Research Cultures and Community Engagement project[4]. They have also served as peer reviewer for Journal of Homosexuality and Autism in Adulthood.

[1] Federally-funded University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities

[2] Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, Grant No. 90DDTI0023, 2017 – 2018

[3] National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation, Grant No. 90AR5024, 2015 – 2020

[4] National Science Foundation, Grant No. 1737149, 2017 – 2020

[Photo by Katie Miller, showing Lydia, a young East Asian person with short hair, smiling in a professional headshot. They are wearing glasses, a black blazer, an Allah pendant, and a collared shirt with plaid striping in shades of teal and gray.]



Contact Me

+1 (202) 618-0187 (voice or text)


I am an educator, activist/organizer, speaker/trainer, policy advocate, and writer focused on violence against multiply-marginalized disabled people.
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