Music

Music of Difference: Disability, creativity and social change

Catherine Branch Lewis is passionate about supporting inclusion on college campuses, in neighborhoods, and across the globe.  As a person with cerebral palsy, she holds a unique perspective on the assets that dis(diff)ability imparts. Upon graduating from Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music in 2008, Dr. Lewis was awarded a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship to research the role of art in social activism around the world.  While abroad, she founded the “Music of Difference” project: a concert series whose goal is to encourage positive conversations about disability and diversity.  Two Music of Difference albums have been released and the project has been presented at venues including Harvard University and the VSA International Disability Arts Convention in Washington, DC.  Dr. Lewis received both her Master of Music and Doctor of Music degrees from the Eastman School of Music.  In 2014 she completed a fellowship with the national Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) program at University of Rochester Medical Center.  Currently, Dr. Lewis serves as Assistant Director at Rochester Center for Community Leadership at University of Rochester.  There, she collaborates with an invigorated group of colleagues to empower students to become engaged citizens and leaders capable of effecting positive social change.  Dr. Lewis teaches a course about disability, mentorship, and inclusive higher education and coordinates peer mentor supports for University of Rochester students with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  In addition, she oversees a literacy tutoring program in partnership with Rochester City School District and advises undergraduate student organizations dedicated to political and community engagement.