Risa smiles in this candid while holding a microphone. She is a brown young adult woman with brown eyes, has shoulder-length dark brown hair parted to the side, and is wearing wearing a red coat with matching red lipstick.

Risa Jaz Rifkind

Senior Director of Programs and Strategic Initiatives
Fellow 2017

Risa Jaz Rifkind is a justice advocate who seeks to make change by shifting access to power and influence. As Senior Director of Programs and Strategic Initiatives for Disability Lead, she propels the organization to realize its vision to have people with disabilities lead with power and influence. By identifying and developing strategic partnerships, Risa positions Members to take on leadership roles that advance their careers, civic engagement, and equity for people with disabilities. By integrating this vision into all internal and external communications, she leads Disability Lead’s brand awareness, public and private Member programming, and community engagement and outreach. She is also a Disability Lead Member.

Outside of Disability Lead, Risa is involved in various leadership roles. In 2022, she was appointed to the National Council on Disability by President Biden. In 2020, Risa participated on the Disability Inclusion Fund’s grantmaking committee. Previously, Risa was Program Manager at The Chicago Community Trust where she developed their disability inclusion priorities and practices and managed several disability inclusion initiatives including the Disabilities Fund, ADA 25 Advancing Leadership, and ADA 25 Chicago.

She has consulted for organizations to increase their disability inclusion including the University of Indiana Kelley School of Business, Institute for Nonprofit Professionals, Proteus Fund, and has spoken at conferences including the Leadership Exchange in Arts and Disability, Unity Summit, and Upswell Conference.

Risa is passionate about the arts and serves on the Board of Directors for the Chicago Cultural Accessibility Consortium as Vice President. Risa received a B.A. from Johns Hopkins University.