Christy Gilliland Dunaway
Christy was born and raised in Jackson. She is the daughter of Pat and Linda Gilliland and sister to Lee Gilliland and Leslie McMellon. Christy was born with triple amputations, both arms below the elbow and the left leg below the knee. She is a graduate of St. Andrews High School and Millsaps College and has a Masters of Counseling from Mississippi College. Christy also received an honorary doctorate in Public Service from Millsaps in 2010.
Christy began working in the independent living movement as a peer counselor to others with disabilities, when she was 19 and still a student at Millsaps. Christy has worked in all aspects of the independent living field.
Christy started her career with the MS Department of Rehabilitation Services, working as a peer counselor before becoming an Independent Living Counselor and Counselor Supervisor with the Independent Living Program. She also was the Program Director for the state’s first Disability Prevention program funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Christy left employment with MDRS in June 1995 to work as the Center Director for the Jackson office of Living Independence For Everyone of Mississippi, the state’s non profit center for independent living. From there she became the Executive Director of LIFE in 2000. She remained Executive Director of LIFE until August of 2014, when she retired to pursue her and her late husband’s dream of starting their own business. Dunaway Consulting is providing disability and equal rights information, training and technical assistance regarding all aspects of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Emergency Planning. Christy was married to Daryel Dunaway for 11 years before his untimely death in 2011.
Christy has been actively involved in the civil rights of individuals with disabilities for over 30 years. She has organized and participated in many actions, conferences and events both statewide and nationally. She has written, developed and received numerous grants for funding and created and managed various programs designed to assist individuals with disabilities to live independently in their own homes and communities. Christy is most proud of her advocacy work within the disability community and of course, her years living with and working alongside Daryel.
These days, besides operating Dunaway Consulting, she is actively involved with St. Philip’s Episcopal Church as a Vestry member and volunteer, and she continues to spend lots of time working and volunteering for LIFE of Mississippi.