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

Brooke Castagna, Nonprofit Management Fellow

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 BenS@RespectAbility.org for more information.

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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 LaurenA@RespectAbility.org.

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