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WarnerMedia’s Karen Horne Joins Board of Advisors at RespectAbility

Karen Horne smiling headshot

Karen Horne

Los Angeles, CA, Nov. 14 – Karen Horne, Senior Vice President of Equity and Inclusion at WarnerMedia has joined the board of advisors at RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization that fights stigmas and advances opportunities so people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of community. Bringing more than 20 years of entertainment industry experience, Horne has been recognized as a Diversity and Inclusion pioneer and pipeline builder. This expertise closely aligns with RespectAbility’s mission to strengthen a diverse talent pipeline of people with disabilities through a number of different leadership development programs, such as their Summer Lab for Entertainment Professionals with Disabilities, currently in its third year.​

“We’re thrilled to welcome Karen to our board of advisors” says Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, President of RespectAbility. “Her expertise in entertainment and inclusive talent development is unmatched, and we are excited to continue working together to create programs that will tap even further into the disability community that has historically been excluded from so many areas of the entertainment industry.”

Prior to joining WarnerMedia, Horne spent more than a decade at NBCUniversal where she served as Senior Vice President, Programming Talent Development and Inclusion. Horne was responsible for overseeing in-front-of and behind-the-camera primetime diversity efforts, and the programs and initiatives she created and developed have become the industry’s gold standard and a blueprint for many other companies.

“Everyone deserves to see themselves represented on-screen and have the opportunity to tell their own stories,” says Horne, “and it’s an honor to continue working with RespectAbility to ensure that the disability community is continually included and uplifted in that quest for better representation.”

Horne designed, implemented and oversaw Nickelodeon’s Writer Fellowship Program. She was the Director of Writer Development & Special Projects for Walt Disney Studios and Walt Disney Network Television. Previously, she also served as Director, West Coast, for the Black Filmmaker Foundation.

Horne joins entertainment industry powerhouses currently on the RespectAbility board: Christine Cadena, Vice President, Diversity and Inclusion at The Walt Disney Company; Paul Martin, Senior Vice President and Chief Diversity Office for Sony Pictures Entertainment; Jonathan Murray, Founder and Executive Consultant, Bunim/Murray Productions; and Delbert Whetter, a deaf film producer and executive with Exodus Film Group. Whetter has become a Vice Chair of the board. Author, director and screenwriter Stephen Chbosky is rotating onto the emeritus board.

In addition to Horne, two other industry leaders will be joining RespectAbility’s board of advisors, including Stacie de Armas, Senior Vice President, Diverse Consumer Insights & Initiatives, DEI Practice at Nielsen and Craig Leen, Partner at K&L Gates and former director of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) at the U.S. Department of Labor. Also at this time, Ollie Cantos, a blind civil rights attorney who was ABC News Person of the Week, was promoted from Vice Chair to Chair, as the organization’s current Chair, Steve Bartlett’s term came to a close.

As Cantos rises, two new Vice Chairs have been elected: Whetter, as well as Randall Duchesneau, a founding member of the United Spinal Association Greater Philadelphia Chapter, who is quadriplegic from a spinal cord injury during gymnastics. They join Vivian Bass, who continues her tenure as Vice Chair. Linda L. Burger was reelected as Treasurer and Ila Eckhoff is RespectAbility’s new Secretary.

About RespectAbility

RespectAbility is a diverse and disability-led nonprofit that works to create systemic change in how society views and values people with disabilities and that advances policies and practices that empower people with disabilities to have a better future. Our mission is to fight stigmas and advance opportunities so people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of community.

The following are RespectAbility’s core programmatic areas:

  • Entertainment and News Media: Increase diverse and authentic representation of disabled people in media, both on screen and behind the camera/keyboard, so they are seen for what they can do instead of what they cannot.
  • Leadership Development: Enable diverse people with disabilities to participate fully in decision-making and have seats at decision-making tables.
  • Public Policy: Break down barriers and promote best practices in education, employment, entrepreneurship, civic engagement, and access.
  • Faith Inclusion: Ensure the inclusion of people with disabilities in faith-based communities.


Lauren Appelbaum
Vice President, Communications and Entertainment & News Media, RespectAbility
[email protected]

Meet the Author

Lauren Appelbaum

Lauren Appelbaum is the VP, Communications and Entertainment & News Media, of RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so all people with disabilities can fully participate in every aspect of community. As an individual with an acquired nonvisible disability – Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy – she works at the intersection of disability, employment, Hollywood and politics. She regularly conducts trainings on the why and how to be more inclusive and accessible for entertainment executives throughout the industry. Appelbaum partners with studios, production companies and writers’ rooms to create equitable and accessible opportunities to increase the number of people with lived disability experience throughout the overall story-telling process. These initiatives increase diverse and authentic representation of disabled people on screen, leading to systemic change in how society views and values people with disabilities. She has consulted on more than 100 TV episodes and films with A&E, Bunim-Murray Productions, NBCUniversal, Netflix, ViacomCBS, and The Walt Disney Company, among others. She represents RespectAbility on the CAA Full Story Initiative Advisory Council, Disney+ Content Advisory Council, MTV Entertainment Group Culture Code and Sundance Institute’s Allied Organization Initiative. She is the author of The Hollywood Disability Inclusion Toolkit and the creator of an innovative Lab Program for entertainment professionals with disabilities working in development, production and post-production. She is a recipient of the 2020 Roddenberry Foundation Impact Award for this Lab. To reach her, email [email protected]

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