Shelley Jean Bergum
January 3, 1953 – January 7, 2016
Resident of Berkeley
Shelley Jean Bergum, activist and leader in the Bay Area disability community, died on January 7, 2016 following a two-year illness. Born in 1953 in Billings, Montana, Shelley was teaching junior high level special education in Newport, Oregon in 1977 when she sustained a spinal cord injury from a broken back in a car accident and became a wheelchair user.
In 1979, Shelley moved to Berkeley. From 1979 to 1982, she worked at the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, Inc. (DREDF) where she was a trainer and a project manager on a team that traveled around the country to educate people with disabilities about their legal rights and responsibilities. In 1980, Shelley met her future husband, Marc Krizack, who at that time was a wheelchair mechanic at the University of California’s Physically Disabled Students’ Program. In 1988, Shelley and Marc were married, and in 1989 their daughter Ariel was born.
Determined to have a big and lasting impact on the world, Shelley attended Stanford Graduate School of Business from 1982 to 1984, where she got her MBA Degree. For the next 6 years she worked for AT&T in San Francisco in the areas of Marketing and Regulatory Affairs.
In 1990, she was hired by a consumer advisory committee to be the first Executive Director of the California Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications Program (DDTP). She grew the Program from one employee (herself) to about 70 employees when, in 2002, the State decided to restructure the program and put it out for bid by private contractors
In response, Shelley formed the California Communications Access Foundation (CCAF) with two other Board members, and in 2003 CCAF won its first competitively bid contract to manage and operate the Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications Program. She grew the Program further from about 70 employees to over 100 in 2014. She was one of the original founders of the National Association of State Relay Administrators (NASRA), which was an education, advocacy and support group for people working in their state’s telecommunications relay services. Shelley served as the President and CEO of CCAF from 2002 until 2014, when she had to retire due to severe, persistent, incurable, and untreatable nausea.
Over the years, Shelley served on the Board of Directors and the Friends Committee of the Center for Independent Living and on the Board of Directors of Disability Rights Advocates and briefly until her death on the Board of Whirlwind Wheelchair International.
A memorial gathering will be held on Sunday, January 17, from 2 – 5 pm at the Ed Roberts Campus above the Ashby BART station in Berkeley. The family will also be receiving visitors Friday the 15th and Saturday the 16th from 3 to 8 pm at the family home at 2233 California Street in Berkeley.
Shelley Jean Bergum