The 2023 Access Living Gala


Thank you for joining us

The 2023 Access Living Gala was a wonderful celebration of the disability community and we are happy you were there to celebrate with us. Through your commitment to disability inclusion and justice, Access Living continues to advance towards a more equitable world for all. Thank you to our sponsors, host committee, donors, and gala chair for their support of our mission.

Text on black background reading, "We Are Access Living."

Event Highlights

Lachi, a young Black woman, looks off camera, one hand near her lips. She has a bright red flower topping a bun of braids that matches her lipstick. She is wearing dangly earrings, a cambry shirt tied at her waist, and some truly fantastic leather pants.
Gala honoree Lachi speaks at a podium on stage with an ASL interpreter to her left.

The 2023 Lead On Award: Lachi

This year, Access Living’s signature Lead On award went to multi-award-winning artist, GRAMMY Awards Board DEI Ambassador and Founder and President of, Lachi.

Born legally blind, Lachi has dedicated her platform and craft to amplifying disability culture, promoting inclusion and advocating for accessibility in the music industry.

At this year’s gala, Lachi honored us with not only a live performance, but gave us an exclusive first look at her newest music video before it drops. As of this writing it has yet to air, but when it does we will be sure to link to it!**

We were proud to present Lachi with an additional gift: a portrait of herself painted by Access Living’s artist-in-residence, Genevieve Ramos. Genevieve’s portrait of Lachi features tactile elements designed specifically for a low vision or blind recipient.

Thank you, Lachi, for the gift of your music and all you have done to advance disability inclusion. We can’t wait to see what you do next.

Lachi’s music video for her new song honoring Judy Heumann dropped on July 25, 2023. Check out the Lift Me Up music video here.

Artist Genevieve Ramos presents gala honoree Lachi with a portrait of herself. Lachi has one hand near her mouth as though in surprised delight. In the portrait on an orange background, a Black woman with a beautiful Afro gazes off to the left. She wears heavy gold earrings and has gold necklaces around her neck. The woman's shoulders are bare.
Lachi and artist Genevieve Ramos hold up Genevieve's painting of Lachi together to show the audience. Lachi has tears in her eyes. Both are smiling happily.

The Access Living Lifetime Achievement Award: Judy Heumann

For the first time ever, Access Living presented an Access Living Lifetime Achievement Award to the late Judy Heumann in honor of her life and legacy. This inaugural award was accepted at the 2023 Gala by Judy’s husband, Jorge.

Judy became a household name in 2020 with the premier of the Oscar-nominated documentary Crip Camp, a film that highlights her lifelong work pushing for disability rights in every aspect of modern society. Access Living had the privilege of knowing Judy, through working with her and in learning from her, for the past four decades.

The Judy Heumann International Disability Institute

At the 2023 Gala, Access Living announced the Judy Heumann International Disability Institute, through which we will remember Judy and honor her legacy as we build a more inclusive world for disabled people.

Side by side pictures of Judy Heumann. On the left, Judy as a young woman speaking at a rally for the 504 Rehabilitation Act. On the right, a professional photo of Judy in maturity as a senior member of the disability rights movement.
Jorge Pineada accepts the Access Living Lifetime Achievement Award on behalf of his late wife, Judy Heumann.
The projector screen as it shows a picture of a young Judy Heumann speaking to several people in a living room. Text across the top of the picture reads, "Heumann v. Board of Education of the City of New York." The captions at the bottom read, "...the first disability civil rights case."
A rear shot of guests watching a video tribute to Judy Heumann. The camera's focus is on Judy's widower, honored guest Jorge Pineda. He watches the video of his late wife speaking from his place in the audience.

The 2023 Host Committee Chair

Professional head shot of Drew Beres
Drew Beres
Croke Fairchild Duarte & Beres logo

Drew Beres is a co-founder of CROKE FAIRCHILD DUARTE & BERES and serves as the Managing Partner. A corporate attorney, Drew is a longtime, avid supporter of Access Living. He has successfully guided investment funds, financial institutions, government agencies, highly regulated companies, family offices, emerging and growth companies, and Fortune 100 companies through some of their most challenging issues and compelling opportunities. Prior to co-founding the Firm, Drew was a corporate attorney at Kirkland & Ellis LLP. Read Drew’s full bio.

Thank you to our 2023 Sponsors



Jennifer and Alex Brown

Clayco, Inc.

Croke Fairchild Duarte & Beres LLC

Carol and Peter Goldman

HUB International

Hughes Socol Piers Resnick & Dym, Ltd

RUSH University Medical Center

John Schmidt and Janet Gilboy

Walsh-McKillip Family