Cathy Lynn Saunders
Disability Rights Advocate, Poet
Cathy Lynn Saunders was born in a marginalized community, educated in the Chicago Public School system and has earned a Bachelor of Science degree in the area of Speech Communication from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. She identifies as a Person born with a disability who identifies as female from birth (pronouns she/her/hers). She identifies as American.
Cathy has worked as a mentor with Access Living’s Mentor/Mentee (Roll) Model program (purposely Spelled R-O-L-L to Acknowledge & accept that women & girls using wheelchairs are R-O-L-E models) and is a strong advocate for people with disabilities, women and girls in particular. In May 2014, she completed her training to become Professionally Certified as a Self Advocate via University of Illinois@Chicago / Illinois Deptartment of Public Health, Illinois LEND (Leadership, Education, Neurodevelopmental Disabilities) Program.
Cathy has been very active as a self-advocate in anti-violence work locally and nationally, helping to educate women with disabilities in the prevention of sexual and domestic violence. She has worked with Illinois Imagines Chicago, the statewide Illinois Imagines project; Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority; the Vera Institute of Justice; and Activating Change’s BIPOC (Black Indigenous People of Color) group. She was featured in the 2019 video series by Newsy, “Sex, Love and Life: Navigating Womanhood with Disabilities.”
During 2020-2023, Cathy has been active in the CREST Illinois Project (funded by an Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority grant), training module #3 on People with Disabilities & Older Adults. The purpose is to educate first responders and law enforcement in communication and protocols of respectful and trauma informed response to the aforementioned populations who experience and survive violent crimes.
An avid reader, Cathy developed a strong interest in writing and a talent for poetry and spoken word performance. Her love of words began in her early childhood, perfecting her mastery of words, by creating celebratory poetry for special occasions as well as religious observances. Cathy won awards for poetry contests and vocabulary contests, obtaining district recognition for Walter S. Christopher Elementary School, in the time before mainstreaming was the norm. pioneering
Cathy published her first book of poetry in 2019, My Name is Cathy Lynn: A love letter from me to you, featuring “A Catalyst of Peace” and “Drowning in Debauchery Blue,” a drama/dance event presented at an EVAWI conference.