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Still shot from Ian, with Ian playing with a girl on the playground with another girl looking on in the background

Shabbat Smile – Update on RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program

When Donn Weinberg, Shelley Cohen and I started RespectAbility, it was an outgrowth of the Jewish Funders Network disability funders group. Amazing people, including Judith Creed, Joan Alexander and others were involved. One thing we all realized is that young leadership is a key to the future, and that talented young people with disabilities need to be a part of advanced leadership training and networking opportunities.

Thanks to an ongoing commitment from Stanford and Joan Alexander, we were able to create our National Leadership Program. Already more than 130 young leaders have graduated from the program. They have gone on to work for the U.S. Congress, White House, numerous government agencies, nonprofits and Jewish organizations. We have three cohorts of approximately a dozen young leaders at a time (up to 36 participants a year in total). These include people who are deaf, blind, have Autism, spina bifida and a wide array of other disabilities. Many of these youth also live with mental health conditions, some as a result of bullying and rejection. It is an inclusion program so we also serve young allies who do not have disabilities. All of the participants are talented. We just did a report on the program, and I invite you to read it HERE.

We still have 4 spaces for our next cohort that starts mid-January. Thus, please send great people our way! You can find more info on the program overall HERE.

This past week one of our national leadership fellows, Virginia Campell, wrote a lovely piece on IAN, a very short animated film about playground inclusion. It’s wonderful and I encourage you to watch it HERE! It is breaking all records on our website, with more than 183,000 views in less than one week!!

As you go into Shabbat I hope you enjoy this video as it shows lovely values that we all can live up to!


Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi

Ian playing with a toy dinosaur on the playground

Meet the Author

Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi
Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi

Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi is the President of RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for people with disabilities. She regularly works with disability organizations, national, state and local policy leaders, workforce development professionals, media, employers, philanthropists, celebrities and faith-based organizations in order to expand opportunities for people with disabilities. To reach her, email

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Respect Ability - Fighting Stigmas. Advancing Opportunities.


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