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Jose Plaza speaks with RespectAbility staff and Fellows

Jose Plaza: “We need to create safe spaces to thrive!”

Rockville, Md., Sept. 13 – Jose Plaza, current manager of The California Endowment and a former associate board member of the Washington, D.C., Latin American Youth Center, spoke with RespectAbility Fellows and Staff about his passion for the inclusion of people with disabilities in his work.

The California Endowment supports many of the core values that RespectAbility advocates for: bringing awareness to conducive, diverse populations such as people with disabilities and supporting the efforts in giving them equal opportunities to thrive. With the focus on underserved communities, Jose Plaza and The California Endowment have worked on finding the effective tools necessary for change.

“We need to ensure that we are all there for each other,” Plaza said. “We need to rise up as one.” With Plaza’s credence to find intersectionality across all communities, he uses his Hispanic background and former experiences to “celebrate diversity” across all borders.

Jose Plaza speaks with RespectAbility staff and Fellows

Jose Plaza speaks with RespectAbility staff and Fellows

Plaza explained how education and activism are key ingredients to successful advocacy. In order to allow various populations to understand the consequences minority groups such as those with disabilities wrongfully face, Plaza stated that it is necessary to start at home to teach families and educators how to be better advocates. He followed this statement with a personal story; one that further proved his passion for helping the disability community.

“My little sister was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.”

Immigrating from a Latino background, Plaza and his family were unfamiliar regarding what his sister was going through and how they could help. They were completely unaware of the fact that anxiety is mental illness; therefore, Plaza and his family needed to seek out resources and educate themselves on the appropriate information on how to accommodate and support her.

“It is all about the resources to provide awareness and stop the stigma.”

Incarceration, Plaza described, is one of the many unjust acts stemmed from stigma that are put on these young, minority populations. They are being incarcerated with minimal justification, and, in turn, lose all opportunities and advancements that the future may hold for them. The California Endowment recognizes this issue and “works to create a voice” for these deserving minority groups.

“We need to create safe spaces to thrive!”

Plaza’s leadership and passion encompassed the room. His positivity and commitment to create equal opportunities across minority groups was overwhelmingly evident and the RespectAbility staff and Fellows would like to thank him for his time and dedication to make the world a better place for all.


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 for more information.



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Brooke Castagna
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