Shira Wakschlag

Shira WakschlagDirector, Legal Advocacy & Associate General Counsel

“As the sibling of two individuals with I/DD, my commitment to The Arc’s work and mission has deep roots. I work for The Arc so that I can play a role in advocating for the enforcement and protection of the civil rights of people with disabilities and to ensure that disability rights is a prominent part of our national civil rights dialogue.”

Shira joined The Arc in 2014. Her work involves directing The Arc’s disability rights impact litigation work, overseeing the policy and advocacy work of The Arc’s state chapter network, and general counsel responsibilities. Shira is the Chair of the Disability Rights Committee within the American Bar Association’s Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice and on the board of the Disability Rights Bar Association.

Prior to joining The Arc, Shira worked on civil and disability rights impact litigation in the Bay Area as a Skadden Public Interest Attorney Fellow at Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund and as an Associate Attorney at a plaintiffs’ side employment firm. She has organized a conference at Berkeley Law entitled “Rebranding Disability Rights Law: The Intersection of Disability, Gender, Race, and Class” and presented at a number of conferences on disability rights issues.

As a sister to two individuals with I/DD, Shira has long partnered with her siblings and parents to advocate for her siblings’ right to live independent and meaningful lives in the greater Chicago community.

Shira received her J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law in 2010 and her B.A. from Brown University in 2006. 

Ariel Simms

Ariel SimmsNCCJD Criminal Justice Fellow

Ariel Simms completed her Juris Doctor degree at Harvard Law School and has Bachelor of Arts degrees in Psychology and French from Saginaw Valley State University. Prior to law school, Ariel spent two years working as a Mental Health Counselor on an inpatient psychiatric unit of a hospital. After that experience, Ariel decided to become a disability and human rights advocate, especially on behalf of those living with mental disabilities. Throughout her time at law school, Ariel worked on disability rights issues both in the United States and abroad, including health care policy, human rights, and criminal justice.  Ariel also worked to promote mental health and well-being in the Harvard community as co-President of the Student Mental Health Association. Ariel has a passion for social justice reform, especially in the realms of legal capacity, supported decision-making, mass incarceration, conditions of confinement, and policing. Ariel hopes to see the United States ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities during her career. In her spare time, Ariel enjoys teaching indoor cycling.