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

Laka Mitiku Negassa, Policy Fellow

National Leadership Program, Summer 2019

Laka Negassa smiling in front of the RespectAbility banner

Laka Negassa

Laka Mitiku Negassa is a Policy Fellow in RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program. RespectAbility is a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for people with disabilities.

A student of health policy, Negassa just finished her first year in the master’s program at George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health. She is interested in the ways in which health policy affects the disability community in terms of access to health care and quality of that care.

Born in Ethiopia, Negassa immigrated to the United States after completing her senior year of high school. She attended the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, where she earned a Bachelor of Science, with a major in biology and minor in psychology.

Negassa planned to study medicine and interned in neuroscience research labs during and after college. But a devastating accident changed the course of her career. While walking home from a job in Cleveland, Ohio, Negassa was struck by a snow plow truck and dragged nearly 90 feet along a road. This accident caused her to suffer from traumatic brain injury along with lacerations to different organs and fractures to bones that required major medical interventions. The recovery took nearly two years as she needed physical, occupational and speech therapies. While recovering, Negassa encountered what most disabled individuals experience navigating through this world. She especially became painfully aware of the healthcare policies that negatively affect those in the disability community.

She has interned in Maryland’s Division of Rehabilitation Services office where she fine-tuned her communication skills and first experienced working on issues affecting the disability community. Last summer, she interned at JBS International, a Bethesda consulting firm, where she summarized policy meetings and webinars on disability issues, gaining a deeper knowledge of the impact of health policies on the disability community.

In her free time, Negassa loves reading motivational books. She also enjoys baking and cooking for others.

Negassa wrote two pieces during the 2019 Summer Fellowship and contributed to a Maryland press release. Read it on our website:

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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.

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Meet the Author

Laka Mitiku Negassa
Laka Mitiku Negassa

Laka Mitiku Negassa just finished her first year in the master’s program at George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health. She is interested in how health policy affects the disability community in terms of access to health care and quality of that care.

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