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Campaign 2016 and People with Disabilities: Enabling Access and Opportunities for All

A Special Summit for Campaign Consultants, Hill Staff and Disability Leaders Featuring Gov. Jack Markell and Dave Hoppe

America has 56 million people with disabilities. Polls show that the majority of voters either have a disability or a loved one with a disability. Voters with disabilities and their families are up for grabs — and the actions that campaigns take to reach out to these voters can make the difference between winning and losing. Yet far too many campaigns are not reaching this demographic — one-in-five Americans — in a meaningful way.

A summit convened by the nonprofit nonpartisan organization RespectAbility showcased how campaigns, candidates and elected officials can not only reach out to but fully include voters with disabilities. It’s time for candidates to view people with disabilities — the largest minority group in America — as an important voting group like African Americans, soccer moms and the LGBTQ community.

Looking for the resources shared at the conference? View everything on our post: “#PwDsVote Summit Live on C-SPAN 2, Follow Along From Home.”

1 in 5 Americans have a disability


Sessions focused on important topics from disability messaging the 2016 national election to ensuring events and campaign materials are accessible to all. Gov. Jack Markell (D-DE) and Dave Hoppe, who serves as Chief of Staff to Speaker Paul Ryan, received awards for their work in ensuring people with disabilities have every opportunity to succeed. In addition, Rodney Hood of JP Morgan Chase spoke about the successes of the new Conference Accessibility Initiative and how you can utilize these best practices in your work.

2016 Best in Public Service Awards Presented To:
(Awardees Addressed the Conference)

Headshot of Dave Hoppe
Headshot of Gov. Jack Markell
Dave Hoppe
Chief of Staff
to Speaker Paul Ryan
Gov. Jack Markell

Confirmed Speakers

Headshot of Lauren Appelbaum
Headshot of Justin Chappell
Headshot of Eleanor Clift
Lauren Appelbaum
Justin Chappell
Eleanor Clift
The Daily Beast
Headshot of Rodney Hood
Headshot of Ted Jackson
Headshot of Dahlia Joseph
Rodney Hood
JPMorgan Chase
Ted Jackson
Dahlia Joseph
RespectAbility Fellow
Headshot of Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi
Headshot of Shelia Newman
Headshot of Brooke Oberwetter
Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi
Shelia Newman
New Editions
Brooke Oberwetter
Headshot of Norman Ornstein
Headshot of Clarence Page
Headshot of Philip Pauli
Norman Ornstein
Clarence Page
Chicago Tribune
Philip Pauli
Headshot of Cindy Ryan Headshot of Ben Spangenberg
Headshot of Doc Sweitzer
Cindy Ryan
New Editions
Ben Spangenberg
Doc Sweitzer
The Campaign Group
Headshot of James Trout
Headshot of Marian Vessels
Headshot of Richard Wolf
James Trout
RespectAbility Fellow
Marian Vessels
Mid-Atlantic ADA Center
Richard Wolf
USA Today

Thank You to Our Sponsors

Logo: AdvaMed CCAC Logo


How can I request accommodations?
ADA seating, live captioning and ASL interpreters will be provided. Please let us known in advance if you need other accommodations.

Can I participate virtually?
Yes! C-SPAN 2 will be airing the entire summit live. Join us on TV or via Internet. In addition, we will be live tweeting @Respect_Ability and invite you to join us there!

Where can I contact the organizer with any other questions?
Lauren Appelbaum: 202-591-0703, [email protected]


View Full Schedule

9:00 AM – 10:00 AM: Voters with Disabilities and the Issues that Matter: From Employment and Empowerment to Criminal Justice and Beyond – Who are Americans with disabilities, and what do we want?

  • Lauren Appelbaum, Director of Communications, RespectAbility
  • Philip Pauli, Policy and Practices Director, RespectAbility

10:00 AM – 10:45 AM: PANEL – Don’t Forget People with Disabilities: Ensuring Events are ADA Accessible

  • Marian Vessels, Director, Mid-Atlantic ADA Center
  • Rodney Hood, Corporate Responsibility Manager, JPMorgan Chase & Co.
  • Moderated by Lauren Appelbaum, Director of Communications, RespectAbility

10:45 AM – 11:00 AM: Break

11:00 AM – 11:10 AM: Rep. Brad Sherman Delivers Remarks

11:10 AM – 12:15 PM: PANEL – Campaign 2016 and Beyond: Insights on the Media, Campaigns, Public Policy, the Supreme Court and People with Disabilities

  • Eleanor Clift, Washington Correspondent, The Daily Beast
  • Norman Ornstein, Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute
  • Clarence Page, Columnist, Tribune Media Services
  • Richard Wolf, Washington Correspondent, USA Today
  • Moderated by Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, President, RespectAbility

12:15 PM – 1:15 PM: Lunch Break

1:15 PM – 2:15 PM: PANEL – Reaching All Voters by Making Electronic Communications Accessible

  • Shelia Newman, President, New Editions
  • Brooke Oberwetter, Manager of External Affairs for Policy, Facebook
  • Cindy Ryan, Executive Management, New Editions
  • Moderated by Doc Sweitzer, Founder, The Campaign Group

2:15 PM – 2:45 PM: Building Electoral Power, One Voter at a Time 

  • Ted Jackson, Disability Outreach Director, Democratic National Committee
  • NOTE: We have invited the RNC to send a representative. 

2:45 PM – 3:00 PM: Break

3:00 PM – 4:00 PM: PANEL – Empowering Americans with Disabilities to Participate in Political Process at the Grassroots Level

  • Justin Chappell, Democracy and Outreach Coordinator, RespectAbility
  • Dahlia Joseph, Former Communications Fellow, RespectAbility
  • James Trout, Policy and Democracy Fellow, RespectAbility
  • Moderated by Ben Spangenberg, the Special Assistant to the President, RespectAbility

4:00 PM – 5:00 PM: AWARDS – 2016 Best in Public Service Awards Presented To (Awardees will Address the Conference):

  • Jack Markell (D-DE), Chair, Council on State Governments
  • Dave Hoppe, Chief of Staff to Speaker Paul Ryan


Speaker Biographies

  • Lauren Appelbaum, Director of Communications, RespectAbility
    Appelbaum manages the #PwDsVote presidential outreach and #RespectTheAbility stigma and social media campaigns. Coordinating all outreach, she and her team have talked with all of the presidential candidates about the importance of engaging the disability community, reporting all interviews in The RespectAbility Report. Previously, she covered the 2006 midterm and 2008 presidential elections as a digital political researcher for NBC News’ Political Unit. She also serves on several national and local nonprofit boards. 
  • Justin Chappell, Democracy and Outreach Coordinator, RespectAbility
    Chappell spent months on the trail engaging presidential candidates in the early primary states. Previously he worked for Sen. Tom Harkin, the National Council on Independent Living and the White House. Chappell has served on several national nonprofit and local civic organization boards, and as an elected official focusing on employment, affordable housing, education, environmental protection, LGBT and mental health issues. 
  • Eleanor Clift, Washington Correspondent, The Daily Beast
    A regular on the McLaughlin Group, Clift also is the Washington correspondent for the Daily Beast, where she reports on the White House, Congress and the diverse personalities who make up the capital’s power structure. She is co-author of War without Bloodshed: The Art of Politics and Madam President: Shattering the Last Glass Ceiling. She also wrote Founding Sisters and the Nineteenth Amendment and Two Weeks of Life: A Memoir of Love, Death and Politics. 
  • Rodney Hood, Corporate Responsibility Manager, JPMorgan Chase & Co.
    Hood works in the Office of Nonprofit Engagement where he is responsible for managing relationships with national organizations that assist the bank in strengthening communities, spurring small business development, providing community development, financial capability and affordable housing. Prior to joining JPMorgan Chase, Mr. Hood was appointed by President George W. Bush and confirmed by the United States Senate as Vice Chairman of the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), the regulatory body for America’s credit union system. While at NCUA, he served on the Board of Directors of NeighborWorks America along with counterparts from the FDIC, OCC, Federal Reserve, and HUD. JPMorgan Chase & Co., in collaboration with the World Institute on Disability (WID) launched the Conference Accessibility Initiative, which aims to fully integrate disability access issues into the content and enable people with disabilities to fully participate in critical national discussions of economic opportunity and inclusion.
  • Dave Hoppe, Chief of Staff to Speaker Paul Ryan
    Most recently, Hoppe was in the private sector as president of Hoppe Strategies, a strategic planning, lobbying and political consulting firm. He has served nearly 30 years on Capitol Hill, where he held a number of important staff positions in the Republican leadership. He is an emeritus member of the board for Easter Seals of DC, Maryland and Northern Virginia, was Chairman of the Government Affairs Committee for the National Down Syndrome Society, and serves on the board of the Coalition to Promote Self Determination, a group of organizations working to empower disabled individuals to achieve greater independence.
  • Ted Jackson, Disability Outreach Director, Democratic National Committee
    Jackson most recently served as Office of Public Engagement & ADA Community Engagement Specialist at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, where he helped to create an accessible environment for people with disabilities and folks who needed at accommodation at the DNC. Previously he worked as the Community Organizing Director for California Foundation for Independent Living Centers and the Disability Organizing Network (DOnetwork). During his time at the DOnetwork, they celebrated advocacy success which include: California’s Online Voter Registration System – the first completely ADA compliant system of its kind in the nation; increasing access to voter education material in alternate formats; and the accessible redesign of the Bay Area Rapid Transit’s new train cars. Prior to working in the disability community, he was a LGBTQ advocate, working nationally on marriage equality campaigns. In 2004, Jackson was the field director for the successful campaign to repeal Article XII in Cincinnati, Ohio. Jackson is a member of the National Council on Independent Living and appointed by California Secretary of State Alex Padilla to the Voter Accessibility Advisory Committee.
  • Dahlia Joseph, Former Communications Fellow, RespectAbility
    Joseph was a Summer 2015 fellow who volunteered on democracy outreach to presidential candidates during her winter break, spending more than a month on the trail engaging candidates in the early primary states. Joseph also created graphics for use on social media and assisted with the daily maintenance of our social media accounts. She ensured all YouTube videos have captions for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. She currently is studying for a Master’s in Strategic Communications at American University.
  • Gov. Jack Markell (D-DE), Chair, Council on State Governments
    Markell has served as governor of Delaware since 2009. While chair of the National Governors Association, Markell led a one-year initiative that involved all of America’s governors in jobs for people with disabilities. Today, he is chair of the Council for State Governments where he is promoting the same issues. 
  • Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, President, RespectAbility
    Mizrahi is a champion for America’s 56 million citizens with disabilities. The coauthor of a major toolkit on best practices on employment for people with disabilities as well as of Disability & Criminal Justice Reform, she has authored more than 100 pieces on disability issues. Dyslexic herself, she also knows what it means to parent a child with multiple disabilities. A former spokesperson for a national political party, Mizrahi became “post-partisan” after 9/11. Previously Mizrahi was political and training director for Campaigns & Elections magazine. She has worked on winning political campaigns around the world.
  • Shelia Newman, President, New Editions
    Newman is the president of New Editions, a woman-owned, small business, specializing in professional consulting services to the federal government in health, disability, education and human services. The work Newman seeks for the company is work that improves the quality of life for vulnerable populations.
  • Brooke Oberwetter, Manager of External Affairs for Policy, Facebook
    Oberwetter manages Facebook’s relationships with think tanks, public policy advocacy organizations and other civil society groups on behalf of the U.S. public policy team. Previously, she worked on Facebook’s policy communications team and managed Facebook’s Small Business Boost program and Safety Roadshow program. Prior to joining Facebook, Oberwetter worked as an analyst on the public affairs team at New Media Strategies in Arlington, VA, where she focused on regulatory issues. She served as manager of strategic communications at the USTelecom trade association, and has worked in public policy research roles at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C. Brooke attended Denison University in Granville, Ohio, and pursued her Masters in Public Policy at American University in Washington, D.C.
  • Norman Ornstein, Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute
    Ornstein is a long-time observer of Congress and politics. He is a contributing editor and columnist for National Journal and The Atlantic and is an election eve analyst for BBC News. Ornstein served as co-director of the AEI-Brookings Election Reform Project and participates in AEI’s Election Watch series. He also served as a senior counselor to the Continuity of Government Commission.
  • Clarence Page, Columnist, Tribune Media Services
    A Pulitzer Prize winner for Commentary, Page is a columnist syndicated nationally by Tribune Media Services and a member of the Chicago Tribune’s editorial board. Page also is a regular contributor of essays to The News Hour with Jim Lehrer and has been a regular on The McLaughlin Group, NBC’s The Chris Matthews Show, ABC’s Nightline and BET’s Lead Story news panel programs.
  • Philip Pauli, Policy and Practices Director, RespectAbility
    Pauli leads education and advocacy efforts surrounding the implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), criminal justice reform and a host of other issues. Pauli’s role with RespectAbility includes communicating with state leaders and workforce agencies on best practices for employing people with disabilities under WIOA and addressing issues related to competitive integrated employment. Prior to RespectAbility, Pauli spent several years working on advocacy and policy at a nonprofit focused on traumatic brain injury.
  • Cindy Ryan, Executive Management, New Editions
    Ryan has more than 26 years of experience in various aspects of information technology, including telecommunications, information management and technical writing. Her extensive technical skills enable her to assess customer information needs and manage a broad spectrum of IT projects. She has 23 years of experience in the disability field with various responsibilities in managing web based data management tools for disability and rehabilitation research agencies, Section 508 compliance and training projects, and planning and conducting accessible meetings and conferences. Ryan currently manages IT infrastructure and security for New Editions, Section 508 Support and Trusted Tester Training contracts for the Department of Homeland Security’s Office on Accessible Systems and Technology, and IT development for various federal contracts.
  • Ben Spangenberg, Special Assistant to the President, RespectAbility
    In addition to his office-based work, Spangenberg has assisted with RespectAbility’s democracy work, spending several weeks in Iowa and New Hampshire interviewing presidential candidates. He has met 100 percent of the candidates on both sides of the aisle, educating their campaigns on the importance of not only ensuring accessibility of events and materials but also creating thoughtful policies for helping people with disabilities achieve employment goals. Prior to working with RespectAbility, Spangenberg worked on Capitol Hill and spent seven years working with a government contractor on several disability-related projects pertaining to employment, education and community living.
  • Doc Sweitzer, Founder, The Campaign Group
    An expert in media, messaging and winning organizations, Sweitzer is a veteran of two presidential campaigns and has successfully elected more than 30 members of Congress, statewide elected officials, and prime ministers around the world. He also is a board member of RespectAbility.
  • James Trout, Policy and Democracy Fellow, RespectAbility
    Diagnosed with Asperger’s at age 15, Trout joined RespectAbility as a Policy Fellow because he wants to work in an environment that helps people with disabilities successfully achieve employment. As a fellow, Trout spent months on the trail engaging presidential candidates in the early primary states. In addition, he conducts research on the campaign’s policies and creates contact databases. His reporting from the trail can be found on The RespectAbility Report. Prior to joining RespectAbility, he held several internships including with Senator Charles E. Schumer and the Office of Emergency Management at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Marian Vessels, Director, Mid-Atlantic ADA Center
    As the Director of the Mid-Atlantic ADA Center, one of ten regional ADA Centers funded by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Vessels provides disability awareness training and seminars on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The Center has developed an online Accessible Meetings, Events and Conferences Guide and a customer service film “at your service” that provides guidance to ensure full inclusion of those with disabilities.
  • Richard Wolf, Washington Correspondent, USA Today
    Wolf has reported on the Supreme Court, the White House and Congress in a Washington career spanning a quarter century.

Meet the Author

Lauren Appelbaum

Lauren Appelbaum is the VP, Communications and Entertainment & News Media, of RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so all people with disabilities can fully participate in every aspect of community. As an individual with an acquired nonvisible disability – Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy – she works at the intersection of disability, employment, Hollywood and politics. She regularly conducts trainings on the why and how to be more inclusive and accessible for entertainment executives throughout the industry. Appelbaum partners with studios, production companies and writers’ rooms to create equitable and accessible opportunities to increase the number of people with lived disability experience throughout the overall story-telling process. These initiatives increase diverse and authentic representation of disabled people on screen, leading to systemic change in how society views and values people with disabilities. She has consulted on more than 100 TV episodes and films with A&E, Bunim-Murray Productions, NBCUniversal, Netflix, ViacomCBS, and The Walt Disney Company, among others. She represents RespectAbility on the CAA Full Story Initiative Advisory Council, Disney+ Content Advisory Council, MTV Entertainment Group Culture Code and Sundance Institute’s Allied Organization Initiative. She is the author of The Hollywood Disability Inclusion Toolkit and the creator of an innovative Lab Program for entertainment professionals with disabilities working in development, production and post-production. She is a recipient of the 2020 Roddenberry Foundation Impact Award for this Lab. To reach her, email [email protected]

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