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Charles D. Hammerman

Charles D. Hammerman, Board of Directors

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Charles D. Hammerman

Charles D. Hammerman is a Co-Founder, President and CEO of Disability Opportunity Fund, a national CDFI solely dedicated to advancing the needs of people with disabilities.  Hammerman has held these roles since DOF’s launch in 2007.

The Disability Opportunity Fund’s efforts are focused on creating a society where financing is readily available to address the gap in housing and related services for people with disabilities and their families. Hammerman brings many years of involvement with initiatives for people with disabilities and significant experience in the financial markets.

Prior to the creation of DOF, Hammerman founded the Burton Blatt Institute (BBI) at Syracuse University, an organization to advance civic, economic, and social participation of persons with disabilities in a global society. In 2007, Hammerman was appointed Director of CDFI Initiatives at Syracuse University by Chancellor Nancy Cantor.

Hammerman was a senior member of Private Executive Services, a division of Merrill Lynch’s Global Private Client Group, which focuses on financial management for high net worth families and corporations.  He also spent four years with Merrill Lynch’s Equity Capital Markets division and four years in the Office of General Counsel.  Before Merrill Lynch, he was an Assistant US Attorney in the Eastern District of New York and began his career as an associate at Morgan Lewis & Bockius.

At Merrill Lynch, Hammerman spearheaded the creation of its “Disability Awareness Professional Network” in New York and was a member on the firm’s Diversity Advisory Committee to Management, representing employees and their families with disabilities, and the firm’s customers with disabilities. As a result of his leadership, in 2005 and 2006, Merrill Lynch was recognized by Diversity Inc. Magazine as the “Number One Company for Employment of People with Disabilities,” capturing that crown since inception of the list.

Hammerman grew up on Long Island, received his BA from Washington University in St. Louis in 1985 and his JD from Fordham University School of Law in 1988.

Meet our Boards of Directors and Advisors

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Meet the Author

Lauren Appelbaum
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

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