CHICAGO (CBS) — Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Monday announced two new appointments to her administration – Rachel Arfa as commissioner of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, and William Fletcher as inspector general for the Chicago Public Schools.
Arfa is well-known as an advocate for accessibility in the nation’s political and legal systems and cultural spaces, according to the Mayor’s office. Most recently, she had been a staff attorney at Equip for Equality representing clients with disabilities in employment discrimination and civil rights cases.
Arfa was also project manager for the Illinois Americans with Disabilities Act project, and serves as president of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Bar Association. In December of last year, Arfa made the motion using spoken language and American sign language for 10 deaf and hard of hearing attorneys to be admitted to the U.S. Supreme Court bar.
“Chicago’s disability community is one of our city’s largest and most diverse, and I am thrilled to have Rachel take the helm of MOPD and lay the groundwork to tackle Chicago’s next frontier of disability issues,” Mayor Lightfoot said in a news release. “Our mission is simple. We want to make Chicago the most inclusive and accessible city in the nation. Period. No exceptions. That means being a city where everyone belongs, where everyone has something to offer, and where everyone’s God-given gifts are supported and expressed. Rachel’s experience and passion make her ideally suited to lead that effort, and Chicago should be proud to have her on our side.”
The Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities promotes accessibility and equal opportunity for those with disabilities in Chicago.
“As a Chicago native and deaf female attorney who has dedicated my career advocating on behalf of people with disabilities, I’m extremely proud to be serving in Mayor Lightfoot’s cabinet as the Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities,” Arfa said in the release. “People like me who experience disability live in every one of Chicago’s 77 neighborhoods. We are from all races and ethnicities, socio-economic backgrounds, and sexual orientations. We all deserve equal rights and resources so that we can fully participate in our city’s economic and social fabric including in the areas of employment, housing, civic engagement, and the arts. I look forward to working with all Chicagoans with disabilities – whether those disabilities are visible, invisible or acquired – so they can access the vital services that connect them to Chicago’s vibrant communities.”
Meanwhile, Fletcher has served in inspector general offices throughout city government, working on internal investigations, policy implementation, audits, and reviews.
Before being appointed as CPS inspector general, Fletcher served in the inspector general’s offices for Chicago Park District and as deputy inspector general for CPS.
Fletcher also served as the President of the Illinois Chapter of the Association of Inspectors General from 2016 to this year, and he is a Board Member of the National Association of Inspectors General.
“The CPS Office of Inspector General serves a critical role for our entire city, but especially for our students, whose lives and futures we are all responsible for,” Mayor Lightfoot said in the release. “As a graduate of Chicago Public Schools himself, Will brings not only years of experience and training critical to the role, but a personal perspective that will enrich his judgement and fuel his own passion to his mandate of ensuring all of us are held accountable to the same standard of care and excellence.”
The CPS Inspector General’s office leads efforts to prevent illegal or improper practices, among other roles.
“I am honored that Mayor Lightfoot has appointed me the next CPS Inspector General and for the privilege of working alongside the talented professionals of CPS OIG who are devoted to serving Chicago Public Schools. Through challenging times, our office will remain committed to the priority of making CPS a safe environment for children to learn,” Fletcher said in the release. “I also look forward to strengthening the working relationships with the Board of Education and CPS management. With the valuable contributions of everyone in the office, CPS OIG will continue to distinguish itself as a vigilant, independent agency dedicated to protecting children and holding accountable anyone responsible for fraud, corruption and waste at Chicago Public Schools.”