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

Natalie Dunaway, Public Policy Apprentice

National Leadership Program, Spring 2020

Natalie Dunaway smiling in front of the RespectAbility banner

Natalie Dunaway

Natalie Dunaway was a Public Policy Apprentice in RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program for Spring 2020. RespectAbility is a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so that people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of community.

Dunaway majored in Math and minored in Geography at Virginia Tech, where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in May 2019. She hopes to continue her formal education in the future.

Dunaway applied to RespectAbility because of her interest in the disability community and in advocating for the rights of others. She was raised by a civil rights lawyer who ingrained in her the need for more advocates for those who cannot advocate for themselves. Dunaway hopes to gain more knowledge and experience in disability public policy and to become a better ally to those in the disability community.

Before joining RespectAbility, Dunaway volunteered with different nonprofit organizations including United Saints Recovery Project, Llipin Yahaur, ARCAmazon, and Anathoth Community Garden and Farm. She has volunteered both locally and internationally through Virginia Tech’s service organization VT Engage, which is Virginia Tech’s center for service-learning and civic engagement by working with a variety of nonprofits to create community-driven service programs. She spent school breaks working with underprivileged communities in New Orleans, New York, North Carolina and Peru.

During college, Dunaway balanced going to school with two part-time jobs as a project manager in the Living Learning Community Orion (LLC) and working at a 3D design studio. As a project manager for 40 students at Virginia Tech’s Orion LLC, Dunaway promoted teamwork and group cohesion while maximizing efficiency within the LLC. She delegated tasks among the students after making a detailed assessment of their progress. She also motivated each student to improve productivity by ensuring optimal workflow, effective communication and timely results.

Dunaway is knowledgeable and experienced in working with a variety of 3D printers, including Lulzbot Taz 5, Lulzbot Taz 6, Lulzbot Mini, Prusai3 MK2 and Prusa i3 MK3. These 3D printers transform mathematical data into vibrantly visual depictions of engineering and architectural models for students and staff members at Virginia Tech.

In her free time, Dunaway likes to volunteer at animal shelters and teach Sunday school at her church. She also enjoys kayaking, whitewater rafting, knitting, crafting and spending time with her dog Teddy.


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.



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Natalie Dunaway
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