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

Julia Wood, Communications Fellow

National Leadership Program, Fall 2017

RespectAbility Fellow Julia Wood smiling in front of the RespectAbility banner

Julia Wood

Julia Wood was a Communications Fellow in RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program. She used her communication and social media skills to change the public’s perspective of people with disabilities.

Wood was a senior at Emerson College where she was pursuing her Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism. She also was minoring in political science and history. She is passionate about telling other peoples’ stories and feels privileged that she has been given the opportunity to do so.

At birth, Wood’s youngest sister, Melissa, was diagnosed with Mitochondrial Disease, a metabolic disorder, and then nine years later with Leukemia. Wood always acted as an advocate for her younger sister, which is what drove her to pursue her interests in disability rights and education reform.

Additionally, Wood also has volunteered her time with Buddy Ball, an organization that aids children with disabilities in playing baseball. Previously, she was a communications intern with Make-A-Wish New Hampshire, where she aided in the wish-granting process of children with special needs. She helped grant numerous wishes, the most memorable was helping to give a young boy his very own at home aquarium.

Wood graduated from Emerson College in the spring of 2018 and hopes to someday work for the communications department of a nonprofit that focuses on education reform and disability rights.

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RespectAbility is a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of community. Learn more about the National Leadership Program and apply for the next cohort! Contact for more information.

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

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