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Investing in Inclusive Growth

JPMorgan’s Chase & Co., Corporate Responsibility Manager, Rodney E. Hood, talks about his efforts that are advancing successful disability inclusion.

All of the fellows and staff standing in a large group against the wall with the RespectAbility logo all over it

Rodney Hood with RespectAbility Fellows and Staff

Rockville, Md., Sept. 6 – You may be familiar with the phrase, “nothing about us, without us,” a powerful message that symbolizes the disability rights movement and stance on disability inclusion. However, more than two decades have passed and disability oppression still is present today. It is relevant that acknowledging a problem and its solution does not compare to doing something about it, Rodney E. Hood shared with RespectAbility Fellows.

Rodney Hood speaking to RespectAbility Fellows seated around a large brown table

Rodney Hood and RespectAbility Fellow Ricky Rendon

“People with disabilities need to be present because it’s the right thing that needs to happen,” said Hood, who joined RespectAbility Fellows on the day before Independence Day.

Despite his impressive career as a banker and policy maker, Hood takes most pride in his work engaging in the disability space around financial inclusion. An opportunity he says began by saying “yes” to the question, “Would you have an interest in doing this?” has turned into a job he is deeply passionate about and invested in.

Hood explained that taking on this task requires more than lip service; he wanted to roll up his sleeves, so he researched and learned about universal design, the ABLE Act, ABLE accounts and more. He admits that he continues to learn and embrace new information every day.

Rodney Hood speaking to RespectAbility Fellows seated around a large brown table

Rodney Hood speaking to RespectAbility Fellows

Hood pursues this with empathy, care and strategy, three characteristics that he shares with JPMorgan Chase & Co. as he joins their mission to drive inclusive growth and open new pathways to opportunity. “A disability should not dictate what level of job you have, your job should be dictated upon what your skill set is.”

“This should be second nature,” Hood added. “It’s important, it’s strategic and it’s the right thing to do.”

Hood wants everyone not only to be included, but also be empowered to participate, a main value behind the development of the Conference Disability Initiative, an initiative that is actively striving to make community development and policy conferences more accessible to people with disabilities. They do this by offering scholarships and sponsoring individuals with disabilities to be present in conferences and participate in national conversations dedicated to helping underserved communities.

Rodney Hood and Ricky Rendon posed standing and smiling for the camera

Rodney Hood with RespectAbility Fellow Ricky Rendon

Hood believes that bankability does not stop with disability and that we all benefit as a country when we invest in people and communities. Hood filled the room with hope and he instilled motivation in each of us to take our role in making the world a better place. He shared that each day he asks himself, “Who I’m bringing to my life today and how am I exposing myself to new ideas, new thoughts and new people each day.”

Hood’s daily mission contributes to his dedication to disability inclusion. His efforts are leading the way and setting an example.

“In life, you need to be present because you never know what you’re going to miss, and every opportunity that comes from this, do it with passion, do it with heart,” Hood concluded.

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RespectAbility is a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for and with people with disabilities. This summer 15 Fellows have the opportunity to learn from a variety of guest speakers. 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

Ricardo Rendon
Ricardo Rendon

Ricky Rendon is a Policy Fellow. He is working on his master’s degree in clinical rehabilitation counseling. Previously though Project HIRE (Helping Individuals Reach Employment), he ensured students with disabilities received the beneficial tools to graduate and successfully reach employment.

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