2020 – Katherine Perez ‘06


Katherine Pérez is the inaugural director of the Coelho Center for Disability Law, Policy and Innovation. She graduated from the UCLA School of Law (2013) and is a current doctoral candidate in disability studies at the University of Illinois Chicago. Katherine writes about and presents on disability and immigration law and policy, and she teaches disability rights law at Loyola Law School as a visiting professor of law. She has also spoken in Dr. Arthur Blaser’s disability studies classes at Chapman.

Katherine’s sense of disability justice formed at a young age; she grew up with psychiatric disabilities and is a sister to an autistic woman with intellectual disability. She worked for Congresswoman Linda Sanchez from 2006 to 2007 as a Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Fellow. From 2008 to 2010, Katherine lived in La Libertad, Peru, working with a local disability rights organization as a Peace Corps volunteer. From 2015 to 2019, she helped launch and lead The National Coalition for Latinxs with Disabilities (CNLD), an intersectional organization that advocates on important issues and provides a positive space for the disabled Latinx community. As a queer, disabled woman of color and granddaughter of Mexican immigrants, Katherine applies lived experience to inform her approach to intersectional justice.

The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) honored Katherine in 2017 with the prestigious Paul G. Hearne Award for her work as a CNLD co-founder. She currently serves on a number of boards, advisory boards, committees and councils, including the Disability Rights California (DRC) Board of Directors, Triage Cancer Legal Advisory Council, The Arc Legal Advocacy Committee, Loyola Marymount University’s Intercultural Advisory Committee and the Council for Diversity in the Educational Pipeline of the American Bar Association, where she acts as a disability rights liaison.