[Cross-posted from Georgetown Institute for Tech Law & Policy]
We’re proud to announce the hiring of Lydia X. Z. Brown to co-lead the Georgetown Tech Institute’s work on algorithmic fairness and disability rights. Lydia is an internationally recognized disability justice advocate, organizer, attorney, educator, and writer whose work has largely focused on violence against multiply-marginalized disabled people, especially institutionalization, incarceration, and policing.
Lydia’s work will assess how algorithmic systems impact disabled people in areas such as employment, benefits determinations, and the many other settings where AI-driven decision-making affects people’s lives.
Lydia brings deep experience advocating for the rights of disabled people. They 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. They are lead editor of All the Weight of Our Dreams: On Living Racialized Autism, and founder of the Fund for Autistic People of Color’s Interdependence, Survival, and Empowerment, which provides direct support and mutual aid to autistic people of color, both projects through the Autistic Women and Nonbinary Network where Lydia has served on the board since 2014.
Most recently, Lydia served as a Justice Catalyst Fellow at the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, working on defending and advancing the educational civil rights of Maryland students with psychosocial, intellectual, and developmental disabilities facing various forms of disproportionate discipline, restraint and seclusion, and school pushout.
Lydia has been honored by the White House, Washington Peace Center, National Council on Independent Living, Disability Policy Consortium of Massachusetts and American Association of People with Disabilities. They were formerly policy staff at the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, and have also been a fellow at the National LGBTQ Task Force and the Institute for Educational Leadership.
As an undergraduate at Georgetown, Lydia also successfully advocated for the creation of a dedicated fund for sign language interpretation and real-time captioning at university public events and creation of a new access coordination and technical assistance position within the student affairs office, while serving two terms as the first disability rights undersecretary within the Georgetown University Student Association.
At the Tech Institute, Lydia will help lead the Institute’s work on algorithmic fairness and disability rights. The project assesses areas of risk, analyzes gaps in existing legal and policy protections, and forges cross-disciplinary collaborations to center the perspectives of disabled people in efforts to develop algorithmic fairness and accountability. In addition to research, writing and advocacy, Lydia will drive the Institute’s collaboration with other stakeholders, working with disability rights groups, directly impacted community members, and others focused on promoting algorithmic fairness and accountability.
Lydia will also teach the Disability Studies Seminar within the Disability Studies Program and the English Department at Georgetown University in the spring. The Program in Disability Studies, currently in its third year, offers an interdisciplinary curriculum on disability history, culture, and policy that enables students to explore this critical facet of human diversity in an in-depth fashion as it relates to their major field of study and to their professional aspirations.