Taina Irish Rodriguez

Citizens Advisory Board Member

Taina Irish Rodriguez started her career as a Disability Rights Advocate with Access Living in the spring of 1999. Alongside her mentor, Susan Nussbaum, Ms. Rodriguez was a co-founder of the Empowered Fe-Fes, the first-ever sexuality support group for teenage girls with disabilities. The Empowered Fe-Fes was one of a kind. It is a safe space where teenage girls with all types of disabilities can freely speak about their bodies, insecurities, dating, sexual orientation and just about anything that they couldn’t ask their parents or medical professionals. In addition, it also held trainings about living independently, options for transportation and employment. The Empowered Fe-Fes has won awards for their films such as “Doin it: Sex and Disability.”  This curriculum is being replicated in the United States.

In August 2001, Ms. Rodriguez began working for U.S. Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky of Illinois. She grew up in the district with her grandparent. Ms. Rodriguez has always been determined to live independently and contribute to our society. She has worked for Congresswoman Schakowsky for 22 years now and is her expert in Immigration casework.

She is first generation born and was raised with her maternal grandparents.  She was born with a rare Connective Tissue Disorder called Marfan Syndrome. She spent most of her life advocating for herself with her doctors and school since her grandparents did not know English. She was the only one in her family with a disability, but always wanted to participate in anything and everything.

She has lived independently since 2003 and just recently purchased a condo in Skokie. Her family and friends know that she is a strong force and will not stop advocating for equality.


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