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Photo of Yvonne Hughes wearing a black shirt and sunglasses. She has her mask pulled down and is smiling. She is outside.

Yvonne Hughes

We look at stuff in a box, but I’m outside the box. The things I do are things that people say I can’t do.


April 11, 2023


West Philadelphia


Spring 2022

Yvonne Hughes is an advocate by calling. She has been reaching people and spreading resources to increase accessibility across Philadelphia her whole life.

When Yvonne came to CPI in Spring 2022, she was already committed to community empowerment. What she learned was that there are many resources from the city to support the work she was already doing. CPI was now another tool in her arsenal, one that helped her cut through the red-tape to make connections to new, powerful resources. “I didn’t even know what a Registered Community Organization was before CPI,” Yvonne recalls. Now, she reaches out to RCOs and district managers to collaborate on all manner of projects. But the learning that happened while Yvonne was with CPI was not a one-way street. Yvonne is legally blind, and to ensure that she could participate fully in the course. CPI needed to overhaul a lot of materials, techniques, and methods. In collaboration with Yvonne, we have become a stronger and more accessible program.

I believe in the four Es: Educating to Empower people to be Engaged with others to help people Embrace themselves. Yvonne Hughes

Currently, Yvonne is focusing on a Senior Summit that is launching in the spring. The goal of the summit is to start conversations with older adults about their rights and the resources available to them. Yvonne knows first-hand what it’s like to navigate the city without supports. She has put in a lot of effort to access the resources that she knows are out there. “People with disabilities don’t feel safe in this city—not that anyone’s going to hurt them, but nobody’s helping them!”   

Starting conversations that increase accessibility is at the heart of Yvonne’s projects. Her hope is that seniors or young people with disabilities can live with autonomy and choice.

“Whenever I reach someone with a disability, I ask them, ‘what do you want to do?’ and most people don’t know because they’ve never been asked.”

The Senior Summit series will allow people to start asking the right questions. What was going to be a single workshop has since grown into seven upcoming summits across the city. The programs feature experts in transit, health and medical services, home care, estate planning, housing, and more. Some of these summits will be broad-ranging, and some will focus on more specific issues. Other programs are already in the works.   

Group photo from the September CPI Bash at the Boathouse. Yvonne is standing in the center of the group.

Yvonne and other CPI Alumni at our Fall 2022 "Bash at the Boathouse" event.

Next, Yvonne hopes to launch a summit for young people with disabilities. This summit would include job training and internship opportunities, along with other resources. The goal is to help young adults with disabilities find meaningful careers. Yvonne also hopes the summit will support parents whose children are becoming adults.    

For Yvonne, it all comes down to collaboration:

“We have so much but we don’t know how to work together. And that’s heartbreaking.”

She is an active member of the Community Connections Collaborative, a working group that focuses on community health and empowerment. In all Yvonne’s work, talking to people, sharing knowledge, giving and taking, and staying connected is essential.