AXSChat Podcast

AXSChat Podcast with Kate Nicholson, Dawn Gibson and Charis Hill

September 24, 2021 Antonio Santos, Debra Ruh, Neil Milliken talk with Kate Nicholson, Dawn Gibson and Charis Hill
AXSChat Podcast
AXSChat Podcast with Kate Nicholson, Dawn Gibson and Charis Hill
Show Notes


Kate Nicholson, JD, is a health policy and civil rights attorney and a nationally-recognized expert on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). She served in the U.S. Department of Justice’s civil rights division for 18 years, where she litigated and managed cases, coordinated federal disability policy, and drafted the current ADA regulations.

Kate developed intractable pain after a surgical mishap left her unable to sit or stand and severely limited in walking for many years. During those years, she used opioid pain medication integrated with adjunctive therapies in order to continue to work and function. She gave the TEDx talk, What We Lose When We Undertreat Pain, and speaks widely at universities and conferences and to physicians groups.

Kate has published pieces on this topic in The Washington Post, the LA Times, The Chicago Tribune, the Miami Herald, the Hill, and STATnews, among others, and is writing a book. She has appeared on public radio, Stand Up with Pete Dominick, and The Roy Green Show, and has given interviews to Fox News, Vice, BBC, and others.

She is Co-Chair of the Chronic Pain/Opioid Task Force for the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) and was recently appointed to the Opioid Workgroup of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She regularly collaborates with drug policy, civil rights, disability rights and pain awareness organizations. She is also a 2019-20 Mayday Pain & Society Fellow.

Kate was a Senior Fellow at Dartmouth College and is a graduate of Harvard Law School.


Dawn Gibson is a health writer and disability activist best known for her work with arthritis patients, chronic pain, less evident disabilities, and eldercare. Dawn live tweets her advocacy trips and vacations to normalize chronic pain, disability travel accommodations, and highlight disabled folks moving freely through society.

She founded the Spoonie Chat Twitter community in 2013 and remains active in various disability communities. Some of her favorite things include Detroit Tigers baseball on the radio, hand raising butterflies, and Christmas trees and faux gingerbread houses. Dawn dyslexia, spondyloarthritis, and serious food allergies.


Charis Hill is an award-winning queer disabled chronic disease advocate, writer, speaker, and model living with Axial Spondyloarthritis (formerly Ankylosing Spondilitis), autism, major depressive disorder, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Charis’ story has been featured in dozens of publications and media outlets including Arthritis Today magazine, Mother Jones, CNBC, the Associated Press, and in the documentary film Becoming Incurable. Charis has also been instrumental in creating spondyloarthritis disease treatment guidelines; designing and conducting patient-centered rheumatological research; forming international criteria for disease treatment outcomes; and creating research guidelines. They are involved in national/international advocacy, and are the co-founder of #HighRiskCovid19.