Imari S. Nuyen-Kariotis is a life-long disability rights advocate, having both professional and personal connections to the disability community. She is a paralegal and disability policy researcher, focusing on federal, state, and local issues related to housing, transportation, public access, and emergency management. She is the Chair of the Imperial County Political Council, which is advocating for and responding to the rights and needs of people with disabilities and seniors and their caretakers, empowering community-wide resilience, and optimizing outcomes for all. She serves on the Board of Directors of Disability Rights California (DRC) and sits on the Executive, Finance, Ad Hoc Governance, and Bylaws Committees. She serves as Co-Chair of DRC’s Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness Act (PAIMI) Advisory Council. The PAIMI Advisory Council provides advice about services for people with mental health disabilities; the Council members review the PAIMI program's goals and priorities; and assist with the annual PAIMI Program Performance Review process.
Imari is a multiply disabled women (intellectual, developmental, and physical disabilities) who has Autism and Bipolar Disorder. She is a bi-sexual activist of color, with grassroots organizing experience on the local, state, and national levels. To help ensure those in marginalized communities, especially those who are multiply marginalized, are heard. She has dedicated her life advocating to end institutional bias, and making systems change that allows all people with disabilities to have the right to live in the community with the services and supports needed to live independently. As primary caregiver to her daughter Caurel, Imari has protected rights and made it possible for her to live in the community for the past 29+ years. Caurel is autistic, epileptic, aproxic (she does not speak), and bipolar.
Imari has worked many disasters, from historic flooding, hurricanes, fires, earthquakes, up to the Covid-19 Pandemic. Her expertise lies in integrating leadership, design, and organization. For over nearly two decades of disability community-focused disaster response, she has proven to be particularly adept at problem-solving and understanding the principles and requirements for leading in disability rights community organizing, disability-led disaster response, and empowering community resilience and optimizing outcomes for all locally, statewide, nationwide, and across the world. In developing this body of knowledge, she has earned her reputation as an SME (Subject Matter Expert) in disaster services for people with disabilities. Imari is also involved in various non-profits and advocacy groups, and embodies the disability rights movement’s motto: Nothing About Us Without Us!