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

Brooke Castagna, Nonprofit Management Apprentice

National Leadership Program, Fall 2017

Respectability fellow Brooke Castagna smiling in front of the Respectability banner

Brooke Castagna

Brooke Castagna is a strong believer in that your disability does not define you. Her interest in fighting the stigma surrounding those with disabilities started at a young age as she was diagnosed with several learning disabilities, as well as mental health issues. Currently enrolled in her third year at Dickinson College, she is studying psychology and health in hopes of opening up her own private practice for children and adolescents with disabilities.

Castagna hopes to not only argue against the negative connotation of what it means to have a disability, but to also increase the confidence of those individuals who struggle with their personal disability.

Castagna constantly persists in doing whatever she can to create equal opportunities and awareness for those who have disabilities. She has volunteered for many programs and services that include but are not limited to training service/support dogs, being the president of her high school’s girl’s mentoring program and becoming a mentor for incoming students with learning disabilities at Dickinson College. Overall, she has found her passion and goal in life to fight societies negative view amongst those with disabilities.

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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 [email protected] for more information.

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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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