Katherine Pérez

Katherine Perez headshot
Director Katherine Pérez

Katherine Pérez is the first Director of the Coelho Center for Disability Law, Policy, and Innovation.  Katherine is an attorney, scholar, and recognized leader who helped initiate the Disabled Latinx Movement.  Through her leadership, she launched 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.

Her sense of disability justice was formed at a young age as she grew up with psychiatric disability and is a sister to an autistic woman with intellectual disability. Katherine has dedicated her life toward advocating for people with disabilities on local, national, and international levels. 

Katherine graduated from the UCLA School of Law, with specializations in Critical Race Studies, Law and Philosophy and Public Interest Law and Policy.  She is a current doctoral candidate in Disability Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago where she is writing a dissertation on the experiences of undocumented Latinx college students with disabilities.

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.  Katherine serves on the Rooted in Rights, National Center for College Students with Disabilities (NCCSD), and AAPD Rev Up Campaign advisory boards.  She will be teaching Critical Disability Legal Studies at Loyola Law School as a Visiting Professor of Law. 


Portrait of Judy Huemann

Judith E. Heumann, International Disability Rights Leader

Katherine brings a unique set of knowledge, experience and expertise to her position. She has not only dedicated her life to advancing the civil and human rights of disabled people but has worked to ensure that the diversity of our community is truly represented. The mission of the Coelho Center for Disability Law, Policy, and Innovation requires new thinking, the ability to collaborate, and an understanding of the complex issues disabled people and their families continue to face in the US and around the world. Katherine has faced challenges her whole life and has demonstrated how she turns them into opportunities that result in change. I look forward to her leadership in this new position.