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Powerful Role that Mentorship can Play in Supporting Employment Opportunities for Youth with Disabilities

Derek Shields of the National Disability Mentoring Coalition

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caption of Derek Shields

Derek Shields


Derek Shields, Vice President & Co-Chair of the Mentoring Committee

The mission of the National Disability Mentoring Coalition (NDMC) is to increase the awareness, quality and impact of mentoring for individuals with disabilities across the nation. Member organizations share core values and align with the Coalition’s initiatives to streamline communication, standardize and systematize data collection, reduce duplication of efforts, increase mentoring opportunities, and improve outcomes for youth and adults with disabilities. The Coalition integrates mentoring into its own operational model to transfer historical knowledge, incorporate reverse mentoring to generate innovation and develop new opportunities for individuals with disabilities across their lifespan.

Speaker Bio: President of ForwardWorks Consulting, LLC for PolicyWorks, Derek serves as Vice President and is the Co-Chair of the Mentoring Committee that guides the Susan M. Daniels Mentorship Fund. As a Project Management Professional (PMP), Derek has experience in strategic planning, program and performance management. Former contract work included: Social Security’s Ticket to Work Program, Walter Reed Army Medical Center’s Assistive Technology Training Program, the Defense Department’s Office of Family Policy and the Family Advocacy Program Office in support of their Domestic Violence and Child Abuse initiatives, the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Assistive Services and Technology and projects at HUD, DOI, DOT, the State Department, the Access Board, GSA, and the VA.

Special thanks to JP Morgan Chase for making this webinar with live captioning available for free.

Meet the Author

Lauren Appelbaum

Lauren Appelbaum is the Vice President, Communications, of RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for and with people with disabilities, and managing editor of The RespectAbility Report, a publication at the intersection of disability and politics. Previously she was a digital researcher with the NBC News political unit. As an individual with an acquired invisible disability - Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy - she writes about the intersection of disability, employment, Hollywood and politics. From entertainment professionals to presidential campaigns, journalists to philanthropists, she conducts trainings on the why and how to be more inclusive and accessible. Behind the scenes in the entertainment industry, Appelbaum engages decision makers and creatives to improve the quality and number of authentic, diverse and inclusive presentations of people with disabilities on TV and film so audiences can see people with disabilities as vital contributors in America and around the world. She and her team have consulted on projects with Amazon, Disney/ABC Television, NBCUniversal, Netflix, and The Walt Disney Studios, among others. Appelbaum also enriches the pool of disabled talent in Hollywood by nurturing and connecting them to those who can assist with their careers, both on the creative and business sides of the industry. She is the author of The Hollywood Disability Inclusion Toolkit, which was created to help entertainment professionals to be as inclusive of people with disabilities as possible, and the creator of an innovative Lab Program for entertainment professionals with disabilities working behind the camera. To reach her, email

Respect Ability - Fighting Stigmas. Advancing Opportunities.


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