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Photos of RespectAbility Fox Fellows smiling on stage at the Vision Fair, RespectAbility Children's Content Lab writers together in a hallway, and three RespectAbility Lab alumni with SVP Lauren Appelbaum at an event

Developing Leaders

Developing leaders means that we model the practice of training and empowering the next generation of leaders in disability advocacy across our pillars. This includes investing in our staff through professional development and building new pathways for employee recognition and advancement. We also created new policies to shape a workplace environment that centers equity and inclusion.

In 2022, RespectAbility trained 34 Apprentices: 12 Policy, 6 Entertainment Media, 3 Faith Inclusion, 6 Nonprofit Management, 2 Jewish Development, 4 Communications, and our first-ever Leadership Apprentice. The team also ran three Labs for 52 disabled entertainment professionals. More than 400 people have graduated from one of our pipeline programs since 2013.

Headshot of Graciano Petersen. Quote: "I enjoy working at RespectAbility because I am an agent of change and the environment here was very much ready to make a shift. I am excited to part of the changing tide as we move toward a more human-centered organization for the staff. As we shift, everyone will be given the opportunity to develop and grow. As we do this work for the people with disabilities inside and outside of the organization, it is important for me that we allow our staff to thrive as well, and I'm happy to see so much growth and change in my short tenure."

In 2022, our Apprentices and Lab Fellows…Quote from Fall 2022 Apprentice Shira Leeder with her headshot: "Working at RespectAbility as their first-ever Leadership Apprentice was awesome. I could be myself in my own skin as a person with a disability. I feel like I learned how to be a part of a community and workforce where you can grow and learn new things about yourself and hone your skills."

  • Designed dozens of social media graphics, including Disability History photo series, which received more than 1,200 Instagram likes
  • Organized training events on disability inclusion in their respective congregations
  • Learned fundamental skills in grant writing, donor relations, budgeting, database management, and nonprofit administration
  • Drafted testimony on disability issues and contributed to the midterm Disability Voters’ Guides
  • Produced a Black History Month PSA, which aired on WarnerMedia’s platforms
  • Consulted on 33 TV episodes and films
  • Published more than 50 articles on inclusion in the faith, entertainment, and news media sectors, as well as film reviewsQuote from Board Vice Chair Delbert Whetter with his headshot: "I worked closely with RespectAbility to create our award-winning Entertainment Lab, and I am so proud to see the impact that it has made and continues to make in Hollywood, as well as in the lives of the people who have gone through the program."
  • Learned about program management, developing a leadership program, and DEIA efforts firsthand
  • Found externships or job opportunities with ABFE, Activision Blizzard, Amazon Studios’ Something From Tiffany’s, California Symphony Orchestra, Commercial Directors Diversity Program, Get Shot By A Girl Productions, JVS SoCal, The Kelsey, Kresge Foundation, Make A Wish Foundation, New York Women’s Foundation, and Oleb Media
  • Joined our staff: Policy Associate Rostom Dadian and Entertainment Media Coordinator Isabella VargasQuote from Advisor Tom Newman with his headshot: "RespectAbility combines a disability-led approach with a team of global leaders in their field. This is what is needed to create the type of change we need. I am beyond proud that they have asked me to be an advisor."
  • Thanks to support from Netflix’s Fund for Creative Equity, participated in a specialized Children’s Content Lab, featuring the work of 11 disabled children’s content writers and 4 development fellows in front of 200 entertainment executives and members of the disability community
  • Participated in Warner Bros. Discovery Access Bootcamp as part of the official RespectAbility delegation
  • Were hired by major studios including Apple TV+, Netflix, Nickelodeon, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, and the Walt Disney Company
  • Were chosen for other pipeline programming offered by entertainment studios and production companies
Fox Family Foundation Fellows with RespectAbility CEO Ariel Simms at the first-ever InVisions curriculum and Eye Health Fair.

Our Fox Family Foundation Fellows produced the first-ever InVisions Curriculum and Eye Health Fair, bringing services to the blind and low vision community in L.A.

Return to the 2022 Annual Report Table of Contents

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