DL first traveled to Accra, Ghana in 2013. As an undergraduate student, they received a grant to meet with and learn from stakeholders in the Ghanaian disability rights movement. DL was drawn to Ghana after reading about the stigmatization facing persons with disabilities in West Africa. They hoped to use their lens as a queer and trans non-binary person to understand systems of oppression that affect the health of marginalized people in this context. DL went on to spend two of the next five years researching and living in southern Ghana. Through supporting small pilot projects alongside local advocates, they hoped to discover how they as a white American could effectively ally themself with persons with disabilities in Ghana. After several years, their conclusion was that a sustainable social enterprise model offered the greatest potential to address a major determinant of health for this population – lack of employment and living wages.
DL was introduced to Matilda early in their travels and developed a close relationship with her and her daughter who has different intellectual abilities. Over three years and many dinners together, they discussed the challenges of artisans and families with children with disabilities. In 2016, after graduating from Boston College, DL returned to Ghana to co-found the Matilda Flow Inclusion (MFI) Foundation with Matilda. Over seven months, they worked on-site, co-designing fashion, expanding her workshop, establishing inclusive employment practices, and transitioning to fully upcycled materials. DL remains on the MFI Foundation board with plans to depart in 2019 once it has expanded to its full size and scope of local interests. After returning to the USA in 2017, DL co-founded Make Fashion Clean (MFC) with Julia and Sarah and has since served as Acting Director of Business Development. In summer 2018, when MFC was accepted to participate at the Innovate@BU Summer Accelerator at Boston University, they worked full-time on the venture for three-months.
DL is now a second-year graduate student pursuing a Master’s of Public Health at Boston University where they study sexual and gender minority health. Their research interests are in how intersectional identities influence health outcomes. They remain active in the social enterprise space and are committed to advancing conversations about sustainability, creative enterprise, and inclusion of trans people and persons with disabilities. Their vision for MFC is that the project will grow sustainability while also remaining responsive to community interests.