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RespectAbility Announces Leadership Changes

Co-Author of Americans with Disabilities Act Steve Bartlett Assumes Chair, Linda Burger is New Treasurer; Richard G. Phillips Jr. Joins Board

Washington, DC, Oct. 2, 2018 RespectAbility, one of the nation’s leading disability organizations, is proud to announce that former U.S. Representative and Dallas Mayor Steve Bartlett will serve as chair of the organization’s Board of Directors, and that Linda Burger, MSSW, the CEO of Jewish Family Service in Houston, is the organization’s new Treasurer. Bartlett takes the reins from outgoing chairman Calvin Harris. Business and social change leader Richard G. Phillips Jr. joined its board of directors.

Hon. Steve Bartlett Assumes Chair

Steve Bartlett, has brown hair and he is smiling and wearing a black suit, white shirt, and red spotted tie and an american flag pin on his jacket, color photo

Steve Bartlett, Chair

Former U.S. Representative and Mayor of Dallas Steve Bartlett is the new chair of the RespectAbility Board of Directors.

Among 18 major pieces of legislation he sponsored in Congress that became law, Bartlett was a principal Republican author of the Americans with Disabilities Act, a landmark measure that greatly expanded the rights of individuals with disabilities and improved their access to public buildings, communities and jobs.

Bartlett previously served at RespectAbility’s Vice Chair. He currently serves as a Senior Advisor with Treliant Risk Advisors. He has more than 30 years of experience in financial services, business strategy, corporate governance, ethics and compliance as well as public policy at the highest levels of the private sector and government.

A former president and CEO of the Financial Services Roundtable in Washington, D.C., Bartlett’s advice is sought on a range of policy areas. He brings RespectAbility broad contacts on both sides of the political aisle and deep insights in business and job creation.

Calvin Harris smiling and facing the camera with crossed arms and wearing a striped tie color photo

Calvin Harris, Chair Emeritus

Said Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, RespectAbility’s president, “We are thrilled that Steve Bartlett will now take us to an even higher level as we fight stigmas and advance opportunities for people with disabilities. His deep expertise, passion, contacts and innovative problem-solving skills will enable us to significantly expand our impact. We are also deeply grateful for Calvin Harris’ leadership as chair. Under his tenure our National Leadership Program, where Harris is a favorite trainer, grew deeply in its impact and size. We are delighted he will remain on our board and join our co-founder Donn Weinberg as a Chair Emeritus.”

Linda Burger, MSSW is New Treasurer

headshot of Linda Burger, who is smiling and wearing dangly earrings and a chunky necklace and a stripy shirt color photo

Linda Burger, Treasurer

Linda Burger, MSSW, the CEO of Jewish Family Service Houston and a veteran member of the RespectAbility Boards, has been elected to serve as Treasurer of the organization. She follows Ronald Glancz who recently died after a battle with cancer.

Burger has devoted her professional life to leading and shaping significant social service programs, including the establishment of game-changing initiatives that focus on erasing stigmas associated with disability and mental health issues.

As CEO of Jewish Family Service Houston since 2005, she continues to transform and expand the agency’s resources and its ability to respond to basic human needs and to respond to community emergencies and individuals who need ongoing help with counseling and other services.

She is immediate Past Chair of the Network of Behavioral Health Providers in Houston, among other board and advisory positions. Said Mizrahi, “Linda Burger is the kind of leader who makes everyone around her stronger, better, more resilient and successful. RespectAbility is extremely fortunate to have her take this role as we are in a period of rapid growth.”

Richard G. Phillips Jr. Joins Board of Directors

Headshot of Richard Phillips

Richard G. Phillips Jr.

Richard Phillips’ career has taken him from the U.S. Department of Justice to the halls of the U.S. Senate, and back to his hometown of Philadelphia to run Pilot Freight Services, which he turned into a highly successful global company. He has long ties to disability issues and is a fellow at the Yale Divinity School, where he works to place human dignity at the center of private enterprise and entrepreneurism. Said Mizrahi, “Phillips brings policy, business, heart and drive to our team. We know he will enable us to do even more to enable people with disabilities to have a better future.”

Said new RespectAbility Chair Steve Bartlett, “I can’t wait to continue my work with the full RespectAbility team. There is much to do to enable the 1-in-5 people who live with a disability – whether it is physical, cognitive, sensory, mental health or otherwise – to be fully included in our communities. Our nation was founded on the principle that anyone who works hard should be able to get ahead in life. People with disabilities deserve equal opportunity to earn and income and achieve independence just like anyone else. Indeed, people with disabilities bring unique characteristics and talents to families, communities and the workplace. They can work in healthcare, hotels, STEM, Hollywood or anywhere else. There are no limits to what they can do.”

About RespectAbility

RespectAbility is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that fights stigmas and advances opportunities so that people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of community. It understands we are a stronger community when we live up to our values – when we are welcoming, diverse, moral and respect one another. RespectAbility works with entertainment professionals, policy makers, educators, self-advocates, nonprofits, employers, faith-based organizations, philanthropists, journalists and online media to fight stigmas and advance opportunities for people with disabilities.

Led by people with disabilities and those who love them, RespectAbility knows that people with disabilities and their families have the same hopes and dreams as everyone else, even if they face different challenges. RespectAbility’s free tools and factual resources inform so people with disabilities can achieve the education, training, jobs, security and good health that everyone needs and deserves.

For more information contact See also

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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