Colleen Kelly Starkloff, Founder

Colleen Kelly Starkloff is co-founder, with her husband Max, of the Starkloff Disability Institute. During the 1970’s, she co-founded Paraquad, Inc. in St. Louis in conjunction with Max.

Ms. Starkloff has worked in the field of disability rights since 1973. She has extensive experience educating and training the disabled and non-disabled communities on issues related to employment of people with disabilities, independent living; developing new program initiatives; and coordinating activities that promoted the successful implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). She served two terms as the United States Organizer of the Japan/USA Conference of Persons with Disabilities. In 1999, she joined a citizens’ advocacy group responsible for the establishment of the Affordable Housing Commission in the City of St. Louis, which oversees a $5M Affordable Housing Trust Fund. She ensured that housing created by the Trust Fund must include Universal Design features. She served as Founding Chair of the Commission. She is the creator and Organizer of 6 national Universal Design Summits which train architects, designers and builders on uses and benefits of Universal Design in home and community design.

In 2005 she introduced Disability Studies into the curriculum at Maryville University and also taught a course on Universal Design in 2010. From 2005-2010 she collaborated with the Missouri History Museum to create a 1,000 square foot exhibit focused on Disability History. Titled “The Americans with Disabilities Act: Twenty Years Later”, this exhibit remained open and free to the public for 19 months. An estimated 163,000 visitors saw this exhibit. In 2011 she established the Max Starkloff Speaker Series, to educate the public on the need to create a world that welcomes all people with disabilities. In 2011 she was presented a Doctor of Humane Letters by Fontbonne University. In 2013 she began consulting and training on issues related to employment of people with disabilities in mainstream, competitive jobs. In 2014 she was responsible for organizing advocacy efforts in Missouri to encourage Senate ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

In 2016 she began a new venture, “Colleen Starkloff Talks Disability”, as a public speaker on disability issues. A university Commencement Speaker, and general speaker, Ms. Starkloff is sought after to speak nationwide on a variety of subjects related to employment of people with disabilities, disability history, the Disability Rights Movement, Independent Living and the emancipation of all people with disability. A 1993 graduate of Coro’s Women in Leadership Program, she has won numerous awards for her work in the Field of Disability. She is also a St. Louis “Woman of Achievement” for 2017. (Watch the award ceremony here.)

Her life story is captured in Max Starkloff and the Fight for Disability Rights, a biography about her late husband.  The book is available in print, at the Missouri History Museum and as an ebook through Amazon.com; An audible book can be downloaded at Audible.com.

“Colleen Starkloff Talks Disability” Speaking Engagements

Colleen Starkloff has over 40 years’ experience working in the field of Disability. During her career, she has trained thousands of people to welcome people with disabilities into various aspects of society. She brings her background as a national disability rights leader, as well as her public speaking, facilitation and training experience, to companies seeking methods and advice on welcoming people with disabilities into their workforce.

Ms. Starkloff is a sought-after speaker and thought leader on a variety of subjects related to employment of people with disabilities, disability rights, disability history, Universal Design and the emancipation of all people with disability.

The 2014 award-winning biography, Max Starkloff and the Fight for Disability Rights, by Charles E. Claggett, Jr., features Ms. Starkloff and her late husband, Max J. Starkloff, and their fight for civil rights for people with disabilities across the world. In conjunction with her late husband, Ms. Starkloff has co-founded 2 successful disability-focused organizations, organized and conducted 5 national training conferences, and continues to promote employment of people with disability as an important Diversity/Inclusion emphasis for major U.S. corporations.

Colleen is an expert on many disability subjects, and she is an experienced speaker and leader at conferences, commencements, guest lectures, organizational workshops and rallies. To request a booking, contact Dallas Adams at dadams@starkloff.org

For speaking engagements, Colleen is an expert on:

Disability Employment
Disability in Public Policy

Disability Rights History
Independent Living

Universal Design
The New Book: Max Starkloff and the Fight for Disability Rights

Click the links below to learn about Colleen’s past speaking events:

USA Today interview, March 14, 2018 Barrier Free Futures, August 12, 2017 (Scroll down to July 29, 2017) Voice America, Disability Matters, May 9, 2017 St. Louis Post-Dispatch Feature Story: A wheelchair comes out of storage to help disability advocate see new view of world, July 20, 2016 Barrier Free Futures with Jim Parker of KSFR radio in Santa Fe, NM Legal Broadcasting Network: Disabled Americans Still Struggle to Find Employment: an ADA Update, August 2015 St. Louis Public Radio KWMU NPR affiliate July 2015 PBS Nine Network Interview: Starkloff on Storycorps; June 2015 UMSL Spring 2015 Commencement Speech for the School of Arts and Sciences StoryCorps Interview, January 2015 Bender Consulting Services Interview January 6, 2015 St. Louis Public Radio, NPR affiliate, October 2013 St. Louis Public Radio KWMU, July 2013 Pacifica Foundation Radio Interview at the Democratic National Convention, 2012 Commencement Speech at Fontbonne University, Dec 2011 Interviewed by “It’s Our Story,” July 2010 Colleen Talks About Universal Design

Past Speaking Engagements

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