October 17, 2022

Commissioner Rachel Arfa – Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities

City Club event description:

Commissioner Rachel Arfa

Rachel Arfa serves as the City of Chicago Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD). Commissioner Arfa was appointed Commissioner by Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot, in July 2020.

Commissioner Arfa is the first deaf commissioner of MOPD, and the highest-ranking deaf person in municipal government nationwide. She has years of experience as a disability and civil rights attorney. Commissioner Arfa has held numerous civic and leadership roles, including advocating to make Chicago’s cultural spaces accessible to people with disabilities.

Commissioner Arfa leads the City of Chicago’s efforts to make Chicago a more accessible city including making physical spaces accessible and best practices on providing communication access. Under Commissioner Arfa’s leadership, MOPD is expanding its capacity and initiatives to meet disability community needs through investments and increased services. A significant initiative is the MOPD Career Center, launched on July 26 and is a landmark investment in disability employment, created to leverage hiring opportunities created by the pandemic. The Career Center serves job seekers with disabilities in accessing career opportunities and pathways. The Career Center also works with Chicago-area employers on more inclusive hiring practices to encourage increased hiring of employees with disabilities.

City Club video

MOPD has expanded personal assistance services which help people with disabilities live independently, connects people with disabilities with food options including home delivered meals, and shares information and referrals. MOPD also has a robust Home Modification program that homes for Chicagoans with disabilities more accessible by adding a lift or ramp to exterior entrances and makes kitchens and bathrooms barrier-free. Finally, MOPD provides expertise in developing disability policies, including in the following areas accessible transportation, emergency preparedness, accessible events (both in person and virtual), food equity and more. MOPD also provides resources to Chicagoans who acquire disabilities through gun, community, and domestic violence. Prior to this role, Commissioner Arfa worked as a disability rights attorney at Equip for Equality, litigating cases on behalf of people with disabilities who experienced disability discrimination in the areas of health care access, employment, and civil rights violations. Commissioner Arfa is a graduate of the University of Michigan (B.A. American Culture) and the University of Wisconsin School of Law (J.D.). She is a member of Leadership Greater Chicago, the Economic Club of Chicago and Disability Lead.