Introducing our 2017 Conversations in Bioethics panelists

This year’s Conversations in Bioethics event aims to complicate the notion of “disability” itself by examining how stigma can arise from normative definitions of “ability” and “normalcy,” and how this stigma can marginalize persons who fail to conform to the standards established and enacted by society. To do so, we’ve convened an expert panel of guests, whose range of experience spans the fields of medicine, law, theology, philosophy, labor policy, and photojournalism.

Meet them below, and read their full bios here.

Julia Watts Belser is an Associate Professor in the Department of Theology at Georgetown University, where her research brings ancient texts into conversation with disability studies, queer theory, feminist thought, and environmental ethics. Check out her 2015 inaugural Eiesland Endowment Lecture at the Chandler School of Theology, titled “Violence, Disability, and the Politics of Healing.”

Lydia X. Z. Brown is a gender/queer and transracially/transnationally adopted east asian autistic activist, writer, and speaker who found an audience online with the Autistic Hoya blog, which discusses disability and advocacy against violence toward multiply-marginalized disabled people, especially institutionalization, incarceration, and policing.

Teresa Blankmeyer Burke is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Gallaudet University. She is the first signing Deaf woman in the world to receive a doctorate of philosophy, having conducted her graduate education through American Sign Language. Dr. Burke’s research for the most part resides in deaf philosophy, the space where philosophy intersects with Deaf studies. She is coauthoring the book Puzzles About Disability (Oxford, forthcoming) with Adrienne Asch, Margaret Battin, Gretchen Case, Leslie Francis, and Anita Silvers.

John Hockenberry is a four-time Emmy Award winner and three-time Peabody Award winner, recognized worldwide for his career as a journalist and author. A prominent figure in the disability rights movement, Hockenberry sustained a spinal cord injury at the age of 19, which left him with paraplegia from the chest down. Since 2008, Hockenberry has been host of The Takeaway, a live national news program on public radio.

Rick Guidotti is an award-winning photographer who has spent the past eighteen years collaborating internationally with advocacy organizations/NGOs, medical schools, universities and other educational institutions to effect a sea-change in societal attitudes towards individuals living with genetic, physical, behavioral or intellectual difference. Positive Exposure, the non-profit he founded and directs, is a great primer on his work.

Donna Walton has executed a decorated career in the field of employment services, holding positions at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the United States Department of Labor Office of Assistant Secretary for Administration Management, and The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Prevention Office of Diversity Management and Equal Employment Opportunity, positions in which she worked to assure that people with disabilities are and continue to be an integral part of the workforce. The National Disability Institute (NDI), where Dr. Walton serves on the Board of Directors, is a great introduction to her work.

Learn more about the 2017 panelists »