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#ADA30 Summit: Leadership: Making A Difference for the Future

At its core we recognize that the work of the next 10 years for the ADA will be a series of partnerships. In the earlier sessions we explored the partnership between educators, parents and students, the partnership between employers and employees, the partnership between philanthropy and the not-for-profit sector, and the partnership of those who create, produce and market the material through which we see the world. In this session, we looked at the partnership inherent in different types of leadership: in our democracy, between the governing and the governed.

Introductory National Messages

Presenting a vision of where this partnership will take our nation in the next 10 years.

Chris Van Hollen smiling wearing a suit and tie with the US Capitol dome in the background behind him.Sen. Chris Van Hollen was elected to the United States Senate by the people of Maryland in November 2016. Van Hollen is committed to fighting every day to ensure that our state and our country live up to their full promise of equal rights, equal justice, and equal opportunity. Senator Van Hollen believes that every child deserves the opportunity to pursue their dreams and benefit from a quality education, and that anyone willing to work hard should be able to find a good job. That’s why his top priorities include creating more and better jobs, strengthening small businesses, and increasing educational and job training opportunities for individuals of all ages and in every community.

Governor Larry Hogan smiling, speaking behind a podiumGov. Lawrence J. Hogan, Jr. was sworn in as the 62nd governor of the State of Maryland on January 21, 2015. In 2018, he was overwhelmingly re-elected to a second four-year term, receiving the most votes of any Maryland gubernatorial candidate and becoming only the second Republican governor to be re-elected in the 242 year history of the state. In his first inaugural address, Governor Hogan reminded citizens of Maryland’s history as a state of middle temperament and pledged to advance the best ideas, regardless of which side of the political aisle they come from. He is recognized nationally as a strong, independent leader who consistently delivers real results and achieves common sense, bipartisan solutions.

Keynote: LA 2030-Building for ADA 40

Stephen David Simon sitting on a stone staircase wearing a suit and tie and glasses.Stephen David Simon is Executive Director of the City of Los Angeles Department on Disability, working to ensure that all City programs, services, activities, and facilities are accessible to all Angelenos. Immediately prior, he was Principal in the Los Angeles office of The Raben Group, a nationally recognized Progressive public policy firm addressing issues of disability, criminal justice, voting rights and domestic violence. He previously served as the City’s fifth AIDS Coordinator, responsible for development, implementation and oversight of the City’s HIV/AIDS policies and programs. Stephen is President Emeritus of Stonewall Democrats, and currently a Board Member of the Foundation for The AIDS Monument. Mr. Simon received his Juris Doctorate and Bachelors degrees at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

Panel: How Can You Engage with Your Government?

This panel consists of three government leaders who are also people with disabilities. They will each speak on two topics: how they came to serve in the way that they do, and how they work with engaged citizens every day to help build the best future possible.

Matan Koch headshotMODERATOR: Matan A. Koch is the Director of RespectAbility California and Jewish Leadership at RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for and with people with disabilities. A longtime national leader in disability advocacy and a wheelchair user himself, he leads Project Moses, RespectAbility’s Los Angeles-based Jewish leadership project, and is also on the front lines in many other areas of RespectAbility’s work, including: disability inclusion in philanthropy and nonprofits, Jewish outreach and impact, leadership, legal affairs and our continuing Los Angeles expansion.

Andrea Jennings headshot smiling.Andrea Jennings, actress, model, public speaker, commissioner and founder of Shifting Creative Paradigms Entertainment and Productions – Leveling the Playing Field®, envisions a world where underrepresented individuals in media such as people with disabilities, will be depicted as strong leaders. She believes that the design, fashion, arts and entertainment fields are powerful arenas that can be used to influence social change by using multiple media platforms. Creating and producing inclusive and diverse content for television, film, theatre and music productions is the vision and goal of her production company.

Jaime Pacheco Orozco smiling wearing a suit and tie and glasses. Jaime has short black hairJaime Pacheco-Orozco currently serves as the Assistant Executive Director of the City of Los Angeles, Department on Disability, where he manages the day-to-day operations of the department and oversees the budgetary, legislative, and strategic planning processes. He has been active in the workforce development arena for past twenty years and previously served as the Division Chief of the City’s Workforce Development System. In this capacity, Jaime continues to dedicate his time and energy to ensuring that People with Disabilities are afforded the opportunity and provided the option to be fully integrated in the workforce and educational systems.

Anastasia Somoza smiling. Somoza is a white woman with brown hair down to her shoulders who uses a power wheelchair. She is seated in front of a green backdropAnastasia Somoza, known to her friends as Tas, began her advocacy work in 1993, when, at the age of 9, she had the opportunity to ask President Bill Clinton to help mainstream her twin sister Alba into the New York City public school system. Anastasia is now leading the inclusion revolution as a human rights defender, speaker, and consultant. On the first night of the 2016 Democratic National Convention, she gave a moving speech about her relationship with Hillary Clinton and Americans with disabilities. Following her appearance at the DNC, Anastasia traveled the country as a surrogate speaker for the Hillary for America campaign. As a passionate advocate for women’s rights, she has received both the Martha H. Ziegler Founders Award (2017) from the Federation for Children with Special Needs, and the Susan B. Anthony Award (2016) from the National Organization for Women.

Virtual Gallery Tour

Celebrating Great Artists with Disabilities – Grand Finale
In partnership with The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.

Video – Defining Progress

  • Danny Gomez, Actor, New Amsterdam, NBC
  • Zack Gottsagen, Actor, The Peanut Butter Falcon
  • Shaylee Mansfield, Actress, Deaf Out Loud, A&E, Feel the Beat, Netflix
  • RJ Mitte, Actor, Breaking Bad, AMC
  • Ryan O’Connell, Actor, Special, Netflix
  • Natasha Ofili, Actress, The Politician, Netflix
  • David Renaud, Writer/Producer, The Good Doctor, ABC

Panel: The Many Facets of a Healthy Democracy – Different Models for Civic Engagement

There are many ways that we as people with disabilities can advance our civic society beyond direct engagement with our elected or appointed officials. This last panel consisted of three people sharing different ways in which they made a difference in civil society.

MODERATOR: Matan A. Koch

INTRODUCTION BY Kayla Cromer headshot. Kayla is a white woman with long brown hair.Kayla Cromer is a neurodiverse actress and activist who stars as Matilda, a high school senior who is driven to succeed and on the autism spectrum, in Freeform’s new comedy series, “Everything’s Gonna Be Okay.” Before Cromer started to pursue a career in the entertainment industry, her original goal was to attend the FBI Academy and become a criminal profiler. When a San Francisco photoshoot soared across social media, her modeling career took off. Cromer has appeared on magazine covers and editorials nationwide, which led to getting represented in both San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Ariella Barker smiling headshot. Barker is a white woman with blonde hair down past her shoulders who uses a wheelchairAriella Barker is a dual American-Israeli citizen and an attorney, policy advisor, and communications specialist. She has a BBA and JD from Emory University and an MPA from the Harvard Kennedy School, where she was a John F. Kennedy Fellow on a full merit scholarship. She has worked internationally across the public, social and private sectors, fiercely advocating for her clients and communities in the areas of employment discrimination issues, antisemitism and disability rights.

Ila Eckhoff smiling outside in front of trees and plants wearing glassesIla Eckhoff, CPA is a Managing Director at BlackRock. She is a member of BlackRock’s Business Operations as part of Investment Operations. She is responsible for leading BlackRock’s Industry and Counterparty Management strategy and TSS Services for Aladdin clients. Ms. Eckhoff serves on a number of committees, including the Business Operations and Technology Leadership Committees, and Government Relations Steering Committee. She is also a leader of Blackrock’s ABN- Ability Network. She is also a member of MarkitServ’s Advisory Committee and the Cerebral Palsy Foundation and RespectAbility Boards of Directors.

Gloria Medina smiling in front of the RespectAbility banner

Gloria Medina, a Trans Activist, was a Public Policy and Employment Fellow in RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program for Fall of 2019. Medina is a graduate of Montgomery College in Maryland with an associate degree in international politics and the University of Maryland (UMD) with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Government and Politics. Born in Peru, Medina moved to Virginia at the age of seven and completed her primary education there before attending UMD. What inspires her to help the disability community is her own experience as a Latin immigrant and a transgender woman. She wants to help all communities living in the margins of society, as she understands what it feels like to not get the same opportunities as others and to have stigma attached to a part of one’s identity.

Video – Dreams for the Next 30 Years of ADA

  • Kayla Cromer, Actress, Everything’s Gonna Be Okay, Freeform
  • Danny Gomez, Actor, New Amsterdam, NBC
  • Eileen Grubba, Actress, New Amsterdam, NBC
  • Zack Gottsagen, Actor, The Peanut Butter Falcon
  • RJ Mitte, Actor, Breaking Bad and Triumph
  • Ryan O’Connell, Creator and Star, Special, Netflix
  • Lauren “Lolo” Spencer, Actress, Give Me Liberty

Video Greetings from the Joe Biden and Donald Trump Campaigns

Closing Keynote

Steve Bartlett, has brown hair and he is smiling and wearing a black suit, white shirt, and red spotted tie and an american flag pin on his jacket, color photoThe Honorable Steve Bartlett is the Chairperson of RespectAbility, former member of Congress (1983-1991) and former mayor of Dallas. Bartlett was the principal author of 18 major pieces of legislation including many legislative initiatives on advancing the cause of independence for people with disabilities. In addition to being a principal Republican author of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), his legislation included Medicaid eligibility, Section 1619 for Medicare eligibility, supported employment, assistive technology, creation of Towards Independence, the President’s Council on Handicapped 1984 report, and mainstreaming reforms for IDEA.

Headshot of Jennifer Mizrahi, smiling and facing the camera wearing a red blazer color photoJennifer 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. Mizrahi has submitted testimony on employment for people with disabilities in all fifty states and at the Federal level.

Meet the Author

Eric Ascher
Eric Ascher

Eric Ascher is the Communications Associate for RespectAbility. He is responsible for supporting RespectAbility’s Communications Director in developing and implementing advocacy efforts and communications of various types. Ascher manages RespectAbility’s social media channels, website and emails; organizes and develops webinars; and supervises Communications Fellows.

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