Candace Coleman is a black disabled woman from the South Side of Chicago. She works closely with disabled people affected by the justice system to organize around racial justice and disability. This work includes anti-bullying, the school-to-prison pipeline, restorative justice, police brutality, and deinstitutionalization. She is dedicated to teaching disabled people of color to take pride in all aspects of their identities so they can become leaders themselves.
Coleman has spoken around the country, and her pioneering work has been featured in news stories by the BBC, WBEZ, Newsy, and The Chicago Defender. She was named the ADAPT Woman of the Year in 2018, 35 Under 35 by Chicago Scholars in 2017, and also received the Van Hecke award for outstanding leadership and service in the disability community. In 2019 Candace was appointed to the Illinois Council on Women and Girls. In 2020 she was appointed to the City of Chicago’s Racial Equity Advisory Committee.
Coleman’s most notable work involves organizing around mental and behavioral health emergency response. She played an integral in passing the Community Emergency Services and Supports Act (CESSA) in 2021. She continues to work diligently to implement non-police alternatives to emergency response in these situations.