Rockville, Maryland, June 20 – When Ben Spangenberg was young, he saw a news article reporting that people like him – who used wheelchairs – had few employment opportunities. He set out to prove them wrong for himself and to create a better future for others with disabilities. For the last 13 years, he has worked professionally on employment for people with disabilities.
“I want young people in the disability community to know they are loved and appreciated for their unique dreams, talents, and skills,” Spangenberg said. “Our community needs the opportunity to share and be recognized for our talents.”
Spangenberg is the director of RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program where he recruits and trains talented young leaders for careers in public policy, advocacy and media. He leads a program that already has trained more than 170 young leaders for careers in public service, communications, diversity, nonprofits, advocacy and other fields. Alumni of the program he directs have gone on to work in disability advocacy, on Capitol Hill, in philanthropy and other sectors.
Spangenberg also assisted with RespectAbility’s democracy work, spending several weeks in Iowa and New Hampshire interviewing presidential candidates. He met 100 percent of the major 2016 presidential candidates on both sides of the aisle, educating their campaigns on the importance of not only ensuring accessibility of events and materials but also creating thoughtful policies for helping people with disabilities achieve employment goals.
Spangenberg and his husband, Justin, are both active in the LGBTQ+ community. He has been profiled several times by local and national papers for his involvement in the intersection of LGBT and disability issues.
“Ben’s understanding of the intersectionality between disability and LGBTQ+ is an invaluable resource for the young leaders he mentors at RespectAbility,” said RespectAbility President Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi.
Prior to working with RespectAbility, Spangenberg worked on Capitol Hill and spent seven years working with a government contractor on several disability-related projects pertaining to employment, education and community living. Spangenberg received his bachelor’s degree in political science at the University of California, Berkeley.
View more coverage of Spangenberg:
- June 17, 2020: The Advocate’s 2020 Champions of Pride Come to Life in AR Experience, The Advocate
- April 8, 2020: For LGBTs with disabilities, virus brings challenges, The Bay Area Reporter
- February 7, 2020: Married Wheelchair Users Break Barriers to LGBTQ and Disability Inclusion in Political Media, Boom
- May 16, 2019: Ready and Abled, Voices of Monterey Bay
- June 26, 2018: Having a Visible Disability While Coming Out as Gay, RespectAbility
- July 2, 2015: Maryland couple gets double victory from Supreme Court, USA Today