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

Nicholas Olson, Policy Apprentice

National Leadership Program, Spring 2018

RespectAbility fellow Nicholas Olson smiling in front of the RespectAbility banner

Nicholas Olson

Nicholas Olson was a Policy Apprentice in the National Leadership Program at RespectAbility. He is passionate about the world of health and managing epidemics through publically provided medical services. Much of his inspiration toward health comes from the HIV/AIDS epidemic, which has changed shape over the years and presented new challenges. Through his academic study, family history and professional experiences, Olson also has studied advancements in cancer treatments, epigenetics, psychological and behavioral disorders, health insurance and the concepts behind the “social determinants of health.”

RespectAbility’s Public Policy Apprenticeship caught Olson’s attention because of its focus on transitioning young adults with differing abilities from school into the workforce. As a young adult transitioning from his formal education into the workforce, this program was an excellent fit. Public health ties into education and jobs because, as young adults exit school, securing a job means better access to health insurance and health care. However, many workplaces present potential risks to personal health and having health insurance does not guarantee access to a doctor.

As of June 2017, Nicholas completed a Master of Public Policy degree through the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, Germany. Before that, he attended Oberlin College for his Bachelor of Arts with a double major in politics and classical civilizations. After ending 2017 by spending time with his family in Phoenix, Arizona, and volunteering with the Human Rights Campaign and Arizona Citizens for the Arts, Olson is hungry to start his career. His previous work includes internships with Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema’s Legislative Office, Arizona Citizens for the Arts, Vitalyst Health Foundation (Phoenix), Smart + Strong Publications and Goodman Schwartz Public Affairs.

After the program, Olson hoped to manage projects that provide relief for people facing complex medical needs and to lobby legislators about the impact of policies on the health of minority communities. RespectAbility will prepare Olson to incorporate the perspective of the disabilities community as he continues his interest in health work.

Olson wrote one piece during the Spring 2018 Apprenticeship. Check it out on our website:


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.



Meet the Author

Nicholas Olson

Nicholas Olson is passionate about youth transition programs from school to work and the role of public health specifically in minority communities. He hopes work on projects that provide relief for people facing complex medical needs.

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