Jill Pantozzi

Photo by Savannah Lauren

Jill Pantozzi is a rare bird.

That’s not because her social media handle is The Nerdy Bird, but because in a world where geek culture — comics, graphic novels, superheroes, science fiction, video games — has merged with pop culture, she analyzes it through the lens of a woman with a disability, but also gets to play an integral part in deciding whose voices get heard in that cultural conversation.

At a time when many people with disabilities still struggle to find employment, this 37-year-old mobility scooter user with spinal muscular atrophy has built a lengthy career as a reporter covering geek media and now serves as deputy editor of io9, one of the web’s preeminent geek media sites with over 44 million site visits per month.

A common refrain from the disability community is that we won’t see ourselves represented until more of us are working behind the scenes. Well, Pantozzi does work behind the scenes, and in addition to articulately dissecting key issues and themes affecting our community, she makes sure that more women, people of color and people with disabilities have their voices and perspectives included in the discourse.

This is important because as geek culture becomes more mainstream, with brands like Marvel, DC, Star Wars and Star Trek