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RespectAbility’s National Disability Speakers Bureau

Laka Mitiku Negassa smiling headshot

Laka Mitiku Negassa

Laka Mitiku Negassa recently completed her Master of Public Health (MPH) degree with a concentration in Health Policy from the George Washington University: Milken Institute School of Public Health. She was a Policy Fellow in RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program for two summers, and is acutely interested in the evaluation of current health policies to be able to amend areas that need reformation so it can work for all. Her focus is on how current health policies ensure access to equitable quality healthcare, and addressing solutions to the gaps in reaching this outcome.

A Black immigrant woman living with an acquired disability, Negassa has had multiple speaking opportunities with RespectAbility, delivering her personal journey and reflections. In March, 2021, Negassa is speaking on a RespectAbility panel for the United Nation’s Virtual NGO Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) Forum 65. The panel will cover The Untold Narrative: Immigrant Women with Disabilities. In May, she is a speaker for the Medical Library Association’s Insight Initiative, for its forum Moving towards Equitable Health Sciences Knowledge Sharing. In January 2021, as part of RespectAbility’s service day-on Martin Luther King day, she was a speaker in an Advocacy webinar titled Making Your Voices Heard: Civic Engagement Strategies for People with Disabilities in 2021 and Beyond. In 2019, Negassa was an invited panelist at RespectAbility’s 2019 Capitol Hill Summit on a panel titled: Success Stories of Self Advocates.

Born in Ethiopia, Negassa immigrated to the United States after completing her senior year of high school. She earned her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Negassa planned to study medicine. However, in January 2013, she was in an accident that caused her to sustain a traumatic brain injury (TBI), along with organ lacerations and broken bones which required major medical interventions. The recovery took nearly two years and while recovering, Negassa personally experienced the health disparities and healthcare inequities encountered by underrepresented groups that are known to experience disparities and inequities in health care: immigrants, women, people of color, and people with disabilities.

Negassa looks forward to delivering her academic-based knowledge, lived experience, and positive attitude on topics relating to disability inclusion and advocacy, especially equity in health care.

About RespectAbility’s National Disability Speakers Bureau

RespectAbility’s National Disability Speakers Bureau offers diverse speakers with disabilities to teach about disability inclusion; and/or to offer their expertise in an array of topics, ranging from Art and Entertainment to Entrepreneurship, Education, Finance, Law, Psychology, Religion (of many faiths) and every vocation in between. Our Speakers Bureau and its divisions are expanding. If this is of interest to you or you know a professional with a visible or nonvisible disability who might be interested, you (or she/he/they) can email

Meet the Author

Eric Ascher

Eric Ascher is the Communications Associate for RespectAbility. He is responsible for supporting RespectAbility’s Vice President, Communications 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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