Shameka Andrews: Founder of Disability Empower Consulting and Community Outreach Coordinator at SANYS

Shameka wearing a hoodie and speaking into a microphone at a rally

 Shameka Andrews of Albany is an advocate extraordinaire. No matter what cause she happens to be advocating for, be it women's rights, housing rights or human rights, she says that she makes sure that disability issues are part of the conversation because disability affects everyone. Born with Spina Bifida, Shameka has dedicated her life to advocating for herself and others.

When she thinks back on the accomplishments of which she is most proud, Shameka’s thoughts turn to her college graduation. She spoke up and advocated for an accessible ceremony that enabled graduates like herself, who used wheelchairs, to cross the stage and be handed their diplomas in the same manner as their peers. Because she spoke up, the ceremony was moved to a new venue and now every graduate of her alma mater who uses a wheelchair receives their diploma like everyone else.

An author and woman of many accomplishments, Shameka is also proud of writing her children's book "Butterfly on Wheels;" her role in organizing and speaking at the Women of Color Rally in Albany which coincided with the National Women's March; and her advocacy for changing the name of the former Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities to its current name: the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities.

Shameka believes she inspires others through her advocacy work and also by sharing her meditation, gratitude and vision practices, which she recently incorporated into her work with self-advocates – who also inspire her. “It is the people I meet every day who strive to make this worked a better place in their corner of the world,” Shameka says.

Read other profiles