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Summer 2017 Fellows standing or seated in wheelchairs, smiling and posing for the camera

Amelia Heiden, Policy Fellow

National Leadership Program, Summer 2017

Amelia Heiden

Amelia Heiden was a Policy Fellow with Respectability, where she helped to create an innovative Community of Practice in Long Beach, California, with the ultimate goal of creating a national model of success while advancing opportunities for the people and community of Long Beach.

Heiden is a disabled Afro-Latina who has lived with Epilepsy since she was eighteen months old. Her passion and drive for advocacy and activism stems from her life experiences of overcoming adversity and discrimination as result of her disability, racial-ethnic and cultural background.

Heiden’s ability to face and overcome adversity has taught and motivated her to bring awareness to the social and systemic issues that have a negative impact on the disabled community. Heiden is also a first-generation American born. Her unique and diverse background and life experiences have allowed her to address topics of intersectionality within the disability community by talking about how policies affect subgroups within the disability community.

Heiden graduated from the University of South Dakota with a B.A in Psychology and a B.S in Addiction Studies. As part of a graduation requirement, she interned with the Department of Justice at the Federal Bureau of Prisons RDAP (residential drug and alcohol program).

Heiden has been attending public speaking events on disability and special education since her sophomore year of college. Her undergraduate research project on Epilepsy Awareness in Higher Education has been published in multiple media outlets. Heiden has numerous projects with the Epilepsy Foundation to help encourage and empower youth with Epilepsy to achieve their dreams.

Heiden dreams of becoming a disability rights advocate on Capitol Hill to work toward bettering the lives of those in the disability community. She would like to go back to school to work toward her J.D. to become a Disability and Human Rights attorney.

Heiden profiled Gerard Robinson, a guest speaker for the 2017 Summer Fellowship. Read it on our website: Mindfulness and its Impact to Create Change – A Conversation with American Enterprise Institute’s Gerard Robinson.

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RespectAbility is a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for and with people with disabilities. Learn more about the National Leadership Program and apply for the next cohort! Contact BenS@RespectAbility.org for more information.

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Meet the Author

Amelia Heiden
Amelia Heiden

Amelia Heiden is a Policy Fellow. She is a disabled Afro-Latina who has lived with Epilepsy from the age of eighteen months old. Her passion and drive for advocacy and activism stems from her life experiences of overcoming adversity and discrimination as result of her disability, racial-ethnic and cultural background. Heiden graduated from the University of South Dakota and has interned with the Department of Justice at the Federal Bureau of Prisons RDAP (residential drug and alcohol program).

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