Derek Schmitz (they/them) is a disabled non-binary and queer, author, advocate, accessibility consultant, and student. Their work in advocacy and education has helped bring awareness to disability issues and intersectionality with other social justice issues, particularly as a Youth Advisory Member for US Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy’s Center for Advancing Policy on Employment for Youth.
In 2022, they became the first student in their district to host a student-led IEP and have since become a voice for self-advocacy by students in settings where they are often excluded. They hope to force system change to allow student input from the start. In doing this, they joined CEC as a Family Affiliate and member of CEC's Division on Career Development and Transition after presenting at the CEC 2023 Convention & Expo in Louisville, KY on Youth Engagement in Transition Planning.