National Leadership Program, Spring 2019
Vivian O’Neal was a Public Policy Apprentice in RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program for Spring 2019. RespectAbility is a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for people with disabilities.
O’Neal pursued a Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Relations and Political Science from The University of Southern Mississippi. She has a strong background in public speaking and advocacy work for nonprofits that benefit children with neuromuscular diseases. Fundraising has played a large role in previous service work for O’Neal, specifically for the Muscular Dystrophy Association and Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) Hospitals. Last summer, she was awarded the Miracle Maker award for raising more than $5,000 for CMN hospitals.
O’Neal’s interest in disability rights originally stemmed from the birth of her brother Josiah, who was diagnosed with a rare neuromuscular disease called Nemaline Myopathy. Josiah’s disease falls under the umbrella of Muscular Dystrophy. Watching her brother’s struggles with his disease exposed her to the loopholes within the Americans with Disabilities Act and true accessibility. O’Neal’s interest later grew from Muscular Dystrophy to extend to the entire disability community when she became more involved with nonprofit and advocacy work. She hoped to learn at RespectAbility about the different aspects of disability rights such as employment rates and unequal pay.
O’Neal joined RespectAbility as a junior in college with hopes to take her knowledge back to her hometown of Hattiesburg, MS for her senior year and moving forward. She plans to apply skills gained from her Apprenticeship to continue working toward the ultimate goal of fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for not only the disabled community but also for all minority groups.
Upon graduation, O’Neal hopes to move to Washington, D.C. to attend law school and pursue a career that places her in the midst of the political realm with hopes of one day potentially working on Capitol Hill.
O’Neal wrote several pieces during the Spring 2019 Apprenticeship. Check them out on our main website:
- Success in Disability Employment: Vincenzo Piscopo Speaks on Disability Inclusion in the Workplace and Coca Cola’s Philanthropy (April 1, 2019)
She also wrote 14 pieces for The RespectAbility Report:
- As 2670 Iowans with Disabilities Lose Jobs, Gov. Kim Reynolds Calls Them “Some of Our Best Workers” (March 7, 2019)
- 20,000 Illinoisans with Disabilities Gain Jobs, are “One of the Priorities” for New Gov. JB Pritzker
(March 7, 2019)
- 1381 Connecticuters with Disabilities Gain Jobs as Gov. Ned Lamont Promises “Absolute Opportunity” (March 8, 2019)
- 3,769 Alabamians with Disabilities Lose Jobs; Ranks 49th out of 50 States (March 22, 2019)
- 2,473 Arkansans with Disabilities Gain Jobs (March 22, 2019)
- 810 Hawaiians with Disabilities Leave the Workforce (March 23, 2019)
- As Mississippi Loses 2,875 Jobs for People with Disabilities, Gov. Phil Bryant Wants More Opportunities (March 23, 2019)
- Maine Gains 3,067 Jobs for People with Disabilities, Ranks 36th in the Nation for Disability Employment (March 24, 2019)
- 708 Delawareans with Disabilities Left the Workforce Last Year (March 24, 2019)
- Expansion of Best Practices leads to 10,471 new jobs for Virginians with Disabilities
(March 27, 2019)
- Great news: 5,760 New Jobs for Arizonans with Disabilities Last Year (March 27, 2019)
- 1,014 Massachusetts Residents with Disabilities Lose Jobs, Bay State Drops to 27th in Nation
(March 27, 2019)
- Bad News: 9,887 Oregonians with Disabilities Left the Workforce Last Year (March 28, 2019)
- Great news: Minnesota Stands 5th in the Nation on Jobs for People with Disabilities as Gov. Tim Walz Takes Office (March 28, 2019)
JOIN OUR TEAM!
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 BenS@RespectAbility.org for more information.
ALL APPRENTICESHIP OPPORTUNITIES
- PUBLIC POLICY/EMPLOYMENT
- ENTERTAINMENT AND NEWS MEDIA
- NONPROFIT MANAGEMENT
- CIVIC ENGAGEMENT/COALITION BUILDING
- JEWISH INCLUSION
- APPRENTICESHIP FOR BLIND AND LOW-VISION LEADERS