A Conversation with Tami Hamalian

Tami - Photo
Tami Hamalian


DRA is excited to welcome Tami Hamalian to our Board of Directors. Tami is a senior paralegal with Starbucks Corporation and handles litigation cases that include personal injury, commercial, real estate, class action, ADA, and discrimination. Tami spoke with Chris Maccarone about the continued importance of the disability rights movement.

How did you first learn about DRA?

I was introduced to DRA by my Starbucks colleague, Katina Thornock, who had previously served as a board member. I know that Katina’s time with DRA was extremely rewarding and I look forward to assisting where most needed.

Why did you decide to join DRA’s Board?

I have been passionate about disability rights for decades and have volunteered in this arena for years, and then when I heard about the work DRA does and the loud voice they bring to the disability table, I knew I wanted a seat at that table.

Why is DRA’s work important/urgent?

The more I learn about disability rights, the more I see the world through different eyes and using New York simply as an example, I have encountered too many restaurant restrooms that are located on lower floors with no elevator access; stores whose aisleways are blocked with boxes and whose employees are not trained to keep pathways clear, plus sidewalks so badly scarred with wear that they are a danger to everyone. DRA’s work is highly important in a nation that needs stronger voices for change.  

What issues would you like to see DRA tackle in the coming months/ years?

Although I am still learning about all that DRA is working on, which may include this topic, there is one issue that comes to mind as a frequent traveler, and that is the lack of accessible airplane restrooms and in some cases, lack of airplane accessible seating. I do understand that many, but not all, wide-body airplanes provide accessible restrooms but narrow-body airplanes do not.  This is an area I am very interested in researching further.

What aspect of DRA’s work are you most proud of?

As a new board member, I have not yet reviewed all of DRA’s work and accomplishments but just learning about the MTA and NY City win was an amazing story to hear at my first board meeting.