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From Hollywood to Capitol Hill: The Future of Americans with Disabilities

A Special Summit for Congressional and Senate Staff, Journalists and Disability Advocates

This summit, “From Hollywood to Capitol Hill,” features Marc Summers of The Food Network, Casting Director and Producer Leah Daniels-Butler and Tommy Morrissey, the one-arm golfer

Location: Rayburn House Office Building, Gold Room, Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.

July 31, 2017, 8:30 AM – 3:00 PM

There is no charge to attend this event.


Ollie Cantos smiling in an official portrait wearing a suit and American flag pin in front of an American flag Headshot of Eleanor Clift head shot of Leah Daniels-Butler wearing a blue collared blouse
U.S. Department of Education
Eleanor Clift
The Daily Beast
casting director and producer
headshot Sneha Dave with hair loose color photo head shot of Stan Greenberg wearing a gray blazer and blue collared shirt smiling and facing the camera with a white background head shot of Calvin Harris wearing a blue suit, white shirt and red tie
Sneha Dave
Chronic Illness and Disability Advocate
Stanley B. Greenberg, Ph.D
Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research
CalVIN Harris
BiPartisan Policy Center
Headshot of Jennifer Mizrahi, smiling and facing the camera Tommy Morrissey, who has just one arm, golfing wearing blue shorts and a red collared shirt and baseballcap Meg O'Connell smiling and posing for a photo outside with a brick wall behind her
Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi
tommy morrissey
One-Arm Golfer
The Poses Family Foundation
Headshot of Clarence Page Brilynn is facing the camera, has brown eyes, very curly hair, and is wearing a black shirt color photo headshot of Gerard Robinson, wearing a gray suit, blue shirt and red tie
Chicago Tribune
visually-impaired dancer
Jennifer Sheehy official DOL Portrait wearing a red blazer sitting in front of two flags - American flag and DOL flag headshot of Marc Summers wearing a black suit and blue shirt with arms crossed in front of a kitchen set headshot of Steven James Tingus wearing a black suit and blue tie seated in his wheelchair outside
Office of Disability Employment Policy
Marc Summers
Food Network Host
Steven James Tingus
entertainment inclusion consultant
head shot of Donna Walton wearing a black suit and pearls
Donna Walton
Author Of Shattered Dreams, Broken Pieces

Please Complete the Form to Register!


    • 8:30 AM – 9:15 AM: Registration and Networking
    • 9:15 AM – 9:30 AM: Introduction: Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, President, RespectAbility
    • 9:30 AM – 9:45 AM: Ollie Cantos, U.S. Department of Education (invited)
    • 9:45 – 10:10 AM: Stan Greenberg, Ph.D., Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research
    • 10:10 – 10:30 AM: Gerard Robinson, AEI
    • 10:30 – 10:40 AM: Brilynn Rakes, Visually Impaired Dancer
    • 10:40 – 11:00 AM: Donna Walton, Divas With Disabilities Project
    • 11:00 AM – 11:30 AM: Tommy and Joe Morrissey, One-Arm Golfer and Father
      • Moderated by Lauren Appelbaum, RespectAbility Communications Director
    • 11:30 AM – 12:15 PM: Marc Summers, Television Network Host with OCD
    • 12:15 PM – 1:00 PM: Lunch Break
    • 1:00 PM – 1:45 PM: Leah Daniels Butler, Casting Director and Producer
      • Moderated by Steven James Tingus, Entertainment Inclusion Consultant
    • 1:45 PM – 2:00 PM: Jennifer Sheehy, Deputy Assistant Secretary, ODEP
    • 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM: PANEL – From Hollywood to Capitol Hill: The Future of Americans with Disabilities
      • Eleanor Clift, Washington Correspondent, The Daily Beast
      • Sneha Dave, Chronic Illness and Disability Advocate
      • Meg O’Connell, The Poses Family Foundation
      • Clarence Page, Editorial Board, Chicago Tribune
      • Moderated by Calvin Harris, The Bipartisan Policy Center

    Speaker Biographies

    • Ollie Cantos, U.S. Department of Education

      Olegario “Ollie” D. Cantos VII has dedicated his life toward helping to advance equality of opportunity and access for this nation’s more than 50 million Americans with disabilities. An attorney, public speaker, advocate, networker and leader, his efforts to foster change stem from actions to bring together key influencers via a collaborative process to maximize community impact and promote full participation of children and adults with disabilities in every aspect of societal life. Cantos once had the unique distinction of being a presidential appointee and career attorney all at the same time. He also dedicates his time to community service and other endeavors. Over his lifetime thus far, he has spoken to audiences totaling more than 56,000. Issues of focus have included criminal justice (victims’ side), education, emergency preparedness, employment, transportation, and leadership development. He also has a high Internet presence as Google searches will show. Through the years, he has appeared on radio and television and in newspapers and magazines.

    • Eleanor Clift, Washington Correspondent, The Daily Beast

      Clift 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. 

    • Leah Daniels-Butler, Casting Director and producer

      Leah Daniels-Butler is a casting director and producer most notable for launching the careers of gifted actors like Best Actress Nominee Gaborey Sidebe, star of the Academy Award winning film “Precious,” securing talent for both blockbuster and award-winning films like “2 Fast 2 Furious” and “Lee Daniels, The Butler” and as Casting Director for television’s #1 show, “Empire.” Her ongoing commitment to championing the inclusion and representation of diverse acting casts of color, gender and ability has guided her career path to being appointed a National Board Director for the Casting Society of America, spearheading the CSA’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee. Daniels-Butler has endured through her own bouts of adversity, when undergoing a highly publicized legal case battle, she saw her career floundering under intense scrutiny. Through strength and dedication, Daniels-Butler ultimately was able to procure many of her careers’ most applauded projects including “Lee Daniels, The Butler.” Daniels-Butler dedicates her time to helping shape the second chance futures of women in her community as Board Director for “A New Way to Life ReEntry Project,” an organization that provides housing and support to formerly incarcerated women in South Central Los Angeles. Alongside her husband and music executive Henry Butler, Jr., and her five adult children, she is hard at work on several new ventures including the launch of a new Tequila brand, “Amo Del Cielo,” and the formation of a television and film production company, “1oneninety5,” a nod to the year she was married.

    • Sneha Dave, Chronic Illness and Disability Advocate

      Sneha Dave is a Policy Fellow at RespectAbility. A rising sophomore at Indiana University, where she majors in Chronic Illness Advocacy and Economics with a certificate in Journalism. Her enthusiasm for chronic illness and disability advocacy stems from her own condition, Ulcerative Colitis. She is the founder of the Crohn’s and Colitis Teen Times, a nonprofit organization with a mission of providing support to teenagers battling Inflammatory Bowel Diseases. Dave is a motivational speaker and delivers speeches at leadership conferences, corporate events and fundraising events. Additionally, she is a content creator for U.S. News and World Report and many of her works have been published in different media outlets. Dave also is passionate about bridging the patient-pharmaceutical company gap, and serves as a part of the Pfizer advisory board. She is currently designing the first-ever conference of its kind, the Health Advocacy Summit, aimed at teaching teenagers with chronic conditions and disabilities advocacy skills.

    • Stanley B. Greenberg, Ph.D., Founding Partner, Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research

      Greenberg is a New York Times best-selling author and polling adviser to presidents, prime ministers and CEOs globally. Now, he is conducting deep research in more than a dozen countries. He was the senior pollster for President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and President Nelson Mandela. Greenberg’s corporate clients include Boeing, BP, Microsoft and other global companies. He was inducted into the American Association of Political Consultants’ “Hall of Fame.” He has been described as “the father of modern polling techniques,” “the De Niro of all political consultants,” and “an unrivaled international ‘guru.'” He is always on call because his research is relevant, innovative and deep, whether it is exploring the new economy, climate change, new gender roles, political reform, or the hegemonic role of the millennials. Greenberg always works collaboratively with distinguished Republican pollsters and conducts the bi-partisan polls for NPR, The Los Angeles Times and the Bipartisan Policy Center. He is married to Rosa DeLauro and they have three children and four wondrous grandchildren

    • Calvin Harris, Senior Manager of Public Affairs, Bipartisan Policy Center

      Harris, a native of St. Louis, Missouri, became involved in the disability space as a teenager. Because of his mother’s work in the neuromuscular lab at the Washington University School of Medicine, Harris met many kids with a disability. This experience inspired him to volunteer as a camp counselor at the Muscular Dystrophy Association Camp for Kids, where he spent several summers during high school and college. Today, Harris serves as senior manager of public affairs at the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC), the only Washington-based think tank that brings together leaders with different perspectives, yet stand united in their resolve to work for consensus-based solutions. He works alongside BPC’s experts to increase the visibility of regional, state and local efforts to better inform the federal decision-making process. Harris is a graduate of Morehouse College and the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University.

    • Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, President, RespectAbility

      Mizrahi is a champion for America’s 56 million citizens with disabilities. She has published dozens of op-eds and publications on disability issues, including in USA Today, The Hill and other publications. She has columns in The Huffington PostTimes of Israel and The Mighty. Mizrahi is a co-author of Disability & Criminal Justice Reform: Keys to Success, which brought critical attention to the school-to-prison pipeline for people with disabilities and was featured on the PBS NewsHour. She is involved in the Emmy-winning TV show Born This Way and advancing diversity in Hollywood. Dyslexic herself, she also knows what it means to parent a child with multiple disabilities.

    • Tommy Morrissey, One-Arm Golfer

      Morrissey was born without most of his right arm but at the age of three was deemed a golf prodigy and today, at the age of six, travels the world advocating for other limb different children. He began his global journey as a result of being a guest on The Ellen Degeneres Show at the age of three. He has since gone on to win the hearts of millions around the world as he competes against PGA Tour Players at a “closest to the pin” contest via his “One Arm Challenge.” After many national television documentaries, two features in Golf Digest Magazine and a robust social media following, Morrissey uses his platform to help other children get the help they need to fulfill their dreams just as he has. His father Joseph Morrissey, who will be joining him, is a career veteran in the financial services sector, focusing on the Northeast Banking demographic. He is a third-generation trader specializing in equity trading markets for community banks. He became an advocate for adaptive sports in 2010 when his son Tommy was born with one arm. He serves as Chairman of the unLIMBited Foundation and dedicates time to both his son and others with physical challenges.

    • MEG O’CONNELL, The Poses Family Foundation

      Meg O’Connell is the Vice President of the Workplace Initiative for the Poses Family Foundation. She leads a team of five to drive and deliver against their vision to be a catalyst for change in how the nation views disability employment and inclusion. The Workplace Initiative focuses on three key areas; local/regional collaboration, national company-based projects, and disability inclusion field building efforts. O’Connell is also the Founder and President of Global Disability Inclusion, a boutique consulting firm dedicated to assisting companies, foundations, nonprofits and government agencies to realize disability inclusion has a competitive advantage. Past and present clients include, Toys R Us, P&G, Arrow Electronics, Starbucks, Lowe’s and NCR.

    • Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune

      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 NBC’s The Chris Matthews Show, ABC’s Nightline and BET’s Lead Story news panel programs. He also used to be a regular on The McLaughlin Group.

    • BRILYNN RAKES, Visually-Impaired Dancer

      Brilynn Rakes is a Communications Fellow with RespectAbility, where she is working on changing the narrative in Hollywood to ensure accurate and positive cultural media portrayals of people with disabilities. Rakes is originally from Visalia, California. She is a recent graduate from Fordham University where she earned a BA in Communications and Media Studies. She also earned a BFA in Dance from the Ailey/Fordham program. As a visually-impaired dancer, Rakes has performed works by Donald MyKayle, Christopher Huggins and Jose Limon. She also was invited to participate in the New York City Finals of the International Ballet Competition and Youth American Grand Prix in 2012 and 2013. Prior to joining RespectAbility, Rakes was the AT&T Spotlight Performer on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars where she performed alongside Emmy-nominated dancer and choreographer Derek Hough.

    • Gerard Robinson, Resident Fellow, Education Policy Studies, AEI

      Gerard Robinson is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where he works on education policy issues including choice in public and private schools, regulatory development and implementation of K-12 laws, the role of for-profit institutions in education, prison education and reentry, rural education, and the role of community colleges and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in adult advancement.

    • Jennifer Sheehy, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP)

      Jennifer Sheehy is the Deputy Assistant Secretary, leading the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), U.S. Department of Labor. The mission of ODEP is to develop policies to increase the number and quality of employment opportunities for youth and adults with disabilities. Prior to her current position, Sheehy spent ten years at the U.S. Department of Education in many roles, including acting Director of the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, acting Deputy Commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration and Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services. Sheehy came to the Department of Education from the Presidential Task Force on Employment of Adults with Disabilities where she was Senior Policy Advisor and served a detail as Associate Director in the White House Domestic Policy Council. Before she joined the task force staff, Sheehy was Vice President of the National Organization on Disability and Director of its CEO Council. She has worked for Marriott, Sheraton and Anheuser-Busch and has received many civic and leadership honors. Sheehy earned a BA from Cornell University and an MBA from Georgetown University.

    • Marc Summers, Food Network Host

      Walk down any street in America and you will discover people of all ages will stop him to say hello. Whether it’s daytime or nighttime television viewers, many recognize this multi-faceted talent for his wide-ranging contributions to television in a career that has been successful both in front of and behind the camera. Summers currently is hosting the longest running show on Food Network, “Unwrapped,” a job he has held for eleven years. Some will remember him as the former Host/Producer of Nickelodeon’s “Double Dare” and “What Would You Do?” while others will remember him from his days on ABC’s “Home Show,” where he doubled as both Correspondent and Guest Host. He also is the Executive Producer of Restaurant Impossible on the Food Network. Summers has been the National Spokesperson for The Obsessive Compulsive Foundation, has appeared on Oprah, The Today Show and Dateline discussing the issue, and wrote a book, Everything In Its Place, The Trials and Tribulations of OCD. In October, a new documentary about his life called On Your Marc will be released. Summers and his wife currently are bi-coastal, splitting time between Los Angeles and Philadelphia. Their two children are both in “the family business” as well.

    • Steven James Tingus, Entertainment Inclusion Consultant

      Steven James Tingus is recognized and serves as a national expert on disability, aging and health care policy. Tingus has more than 20 years of experience in managing policy issues impacting the disability community. Currently he advocates for diversity and inclusion within the entertainment industry. He particularly enjoys bringing his expertise in disability policy to the entertainment industry in support of talent with disabilities. Tingus believes that the entertainment industry can be an incredible ally in creating social change. He enjoys educating industry leaders (e.g., Comcast NBCUniversal, Writers Guild of America West, and Television executive producers) on the business sense of hiring highly-talented and trained people with disabilities onscreen and behind the camera. Toward that end, to build a network of high-profile actors, producers, directors and other key players in the entertainment industry toward increasing storyline development and hiring so that the abysmal one percent representation on TV and in film is changed for the disability community. Tingus worked as a presidential appointee at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in Washington, D.C., as deputy assistant secretary for Planning and Evaluation for Disability, Aging, and Long-Term Care Policy, and preceded by as director of the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research at the U.S. Department of Education. Tingus currently lives in Los Angeles, CA.

    • Dr. Donna Walton, Founder of LEGGTalk and Divas with Disabilities

      Walton is the author of my newly released book Shattered Dreams, Broken Pieces. An eye-opening tale of reinvention, Shattered Dreams, Broken Pieces is the story of the decades Walton spent working to rebuild her world and discovering new confidence and a fresh sense of purpose along the way. Through disasters, setbacks, trials, and tribulations, the author continues to prove that no crisis is too large to recover from—and offers readers valuable insight for overcoming obstacles of all types. In 1976, Walton’s life was transformed when she was diagnosed with a life-threatening form of bone cancer called osteogenic sarcoma. At the age of 18, the young college student, an aspiring performer, received the crushing news she had to sacrifice her left leg above the knee to prevent the cancer from spreading. Since losing her leg to an amputation, Walton has achieved significant personal and professional success; having triumphed over her fears of deficiency to discover her assets within. Her inspirational motto: “What’s a leg got to do with it?” Now a certified cognitive behavioral therapist, Walton is an impassioned counselor to individuals and institutions around the country. She helps others realize their potential and achieve success! She conceived LEGGTalk,Inc. in 1996 under the name of Dream Reach Win, Inc. The goal of LEGGTalk is to motivate and empower individuals to conquer their personal limitations (real and perceived) and achieve their vision of success. In 2012, Walton launched her new venture, Divas With Disabilities Project (DWDP), which aims to showcase the beauty, diversity and normalcy of women of color with disabilities with the goal of impacting and transcending the definition of what disability looks like from this perspective. She also is producing a film documentary “Divas with Disabilities” that explores the lives of women of color with a disability. The film focuses on the impact that physical disabilities have on the women and explores such areas as self-esteem, self-identity and sexuality.


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

    Can I participate virtually?
    Yes! We will be live tweeting @Respect_Ability and invite you to join us there!

    Where can I contact the organizer with any other questions?
    Christopher Trujillo: [email protected]

    I’m a member of the media. Who can I contact for more information?
    Lauren Appelbaum: [email protected]

    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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