Over the past 15 years Open Doors Organization has developed a nationwide network of associates and supporters who help us realize large-scale projects and keep us abreast of local and regional developments of importance to the wider disability community. These individuals, who represent many types of disabilities and areas of expertise, work with us on a regular basis as advisers and consultants. In addition to its Board of Directors, ODO has an active Advisory Board drawn from a wide variety of corporations, non-profits and educational institutions. We also benefit from and help to nurture interns from various Chicago-area undergraduate and graduate programs, many of whom go on to careers in disability-related fields.
Eric Lipp, Founder and Executive Director of the Open Doors Organization (ODO), started the organization after personally experiencing the restrictions that people with disabilities face in everyday life. A day before his 30th birthday Eric was diagnosed with Von Hippel Lindau disease, which had resulted in a tumor growth on his spinal cord. Eric was told that due to the trauma of the surgery he might never regain his ability to walk. This diagnosis and subsequent spinal cord surgery have not stopped Eric from participating in life to the fullest. This experience was the catalyst in encouraging Eric to found the Open Doors Organization.
Eric’s single most outstanding contribution to improving the quality of life for people with disabilities is in understanding the need for access into the larger domain of society. His ability to insist on helping businesses achieve equal access beyond simple compliance opens doors for people with disabilities. To this end, he initiated the 2002 and 2005 ODO/Harris Interactive studies on travelers with disabilities, which the travel industry views as the definitive source for statistics on travel by Americans with disabilities.
Before starting ODO, Eric worked for seven years as the National Account Executive for MIS Computer Corporation in Chicago. Prior to MIS, he was an Outbound Account Representative for CDW Computer Centers, a Fortune 500 company. Eric holds a B.S. from the University of Arizona and currently resides in Deerfield with his wife and two children.
Laurel Van Horn
VP Director of Programs
Laurel Van Horn has specialized in accessible travel and hospitality since 1987, working as a writer, educator and access consultant. Since joining Open Doors Organization in 2004, she has taken the lead on major projects such as the award-winning ODO Easy Access Guides and Airline Complaint Resolution Official CRO and Amtrak training programs. She is also ODO’s “go-to person” on regulatory issues and edits their website, newsletter and other publications.
Formerly the executive director of SATH (Society for Accessible Travel & Hospitality), Laurel also edited their magazine, Open World for Disability and Mature Travel. She has since written for numerous disability magazines, websites and scholarly journals, reporting on developments in inclusive travel worldwide. Laurel has extensive experience overseas, having conducted access projects and awareness training in Thailand, India, Egypt, Dubai, South Africa, Peru, Chile and Panama. She has served on a variety of transportation-related advisory boards: Greyhound Lines, Northwest Airlines, Project Action and the US Access Board’s Passenger Vessel Access Advisory Committee. A long-term resident of New York City, Laurel has an M.A. in Economics from the New School for Social Research and a B.A. from Bryn Mawr College.
Adrea Lipp joined Open Doors Organization in 2010. She assists in all aspects of managing the office and managing the daily activities of the staff, ensuring compliance with policies, procedures and regulations. Adrea is also responsible for the firm’s financial administration, reporting and bookkeeping.
Prior to joining Open Doors Organization, Adrea spent over 18 in the financial services industry. She was a Vice President and Wealth Strategies Advisor for US Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management and its predecessor LaSalle Bank. She coordinated the delivery of complex estate planning, financial consulting and tax services to high net worth individuals and their families. Previously, she was the Manager of Financial Planning Services at a brokerage firm as well as Sales Support Representative with a mutual fund company.
Adrea graduated with honors, earning her Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Finance and International Business from the University of Texas at Austin and her Master of Business Administration degree in Finance from DePaul University. She and Eric live with their two children in Deerfield.
Katy O’Reilly, who joined Open Doors Organization in 2015, is a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist. In addition to coordinating numerous programs at ODO, Katy conducts disability awareness and Complaints Resolution Official (CRO) trainings, plans several industry events including the upcoming UAIA 2020, and is involved in various research projects. She is also a frequent speaker at industry events in the US and overseas.
Katy previously was an Outreach Coordinator and Recreation Specialist at Fox Valley Special Recreation Association where she created, organized, and supervised accessible events including vacation trips, community outings, and social events with up to 120 participants. She also served as a Recreation Therapist at Helping Hand Center in Countryside, Illinois.
Katy has a Bachelor of Science in Recreation, Parks and Tourism Administration from Western Illinois University. She is newly married and resides in Algonquin.
Sr. Administrative Coordinator
Ryan Boesch joined the Open Doors Organization team in 2017. He oversees the daily administrative tasks for the office. He also assists the rest of the ODO staff on coordinating conferences and large-scale projects such as the Amtrak nationwide training. Ryan was drawn to work for Open Doors by his experiences caring for his great grandmother, Mary, who used a wheelchair after contracting polio as a child.
Before coming to Open Doors, Ryan worked as a Special Education Teacher in various areas of Chicagoland. He was also an Office Administrator for a small non-profit, the Lake County Fair Association, in Grayslake, IL. Ryan has a Bachelor of Science in Education with an emphasis in Special Education from the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater. He currently lives in Chicago with his partner and their two cats.
Craig is a Program Coordinator and trainer with the Open Doors Organization with more than 20 years of experience working with people with disabilities, disability travel and tourism and disability rights advocacy & legislation. Craig moved to Steamboat Springs, Colorado from the Adirondacks in upstate NY in 1994 where a skiing accident left him paralyzed from the waist down just two years later. Craig and his wife, Andy would later (2003) create Access Anything, a Disability Adventure Travel resource that published two adventure travel guides for people with disabilities. Craig and Andy are also founding (and former) members of the United Airlines Disability Advisory Board.
Craig started his disability consulting business, CK Consulting a few years later where he would cross paths with Open Doors founder Eric Lipp. As a leading expert in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), Craig spends most of his time on the road for Open Doors, training disability experts for airports and airlines all over the world. His love for travel drives his passion for disability work and he brings an infectious positive attitude with him wherever he goes in hopes of affecting positive change and bringing improved access to the world of disabilities.
Board of Directors
Eric Lipp – Executive Director
Jeffrey D. Lipp
Jeffrey S. Margolis
Jay Cardinali – Walt Disney Parks & Resorts
Chef Joe Cosenza – Henry Ford College
Dr. Michael Falender
Tom Fike – St. Johns University
David Nelson – Amtrak
Ray Prentice – Alaska Airlines
Lesley Slavitt– Roosevelt University
Constantine “Gus” Zografopoulos – Kostas Z Foundation