Los Angeles, CA, February 18 – RespectAbility is proud to announce that our first Philanthropy Apprentices in the National Leadership Program have completed their training and been directly placed with partner organizations. Thanks to the generous support of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Ari Katz, Georgia Carr and Alejandra Tristan have brought disability visibility to the philanthropic sector. The National Leadership Program allowed Apprentices to “earn while they learned,” then transition into new jobs. Each apprentice found employment that supported a cause unique to their interests.
“It is vital for diversity programs to include people with disabilities,” said Hon. Steve Bartlett, Chair Emeritus of RespectAbility. Bartlett was lead co-author the Americans with Disabilities Act when he served in Congress. “We have come a long way on disability rights, but we need to ensure that people with disabilities are at all decision-making tables – and that includes in philanthropy. We are grateful to MacArthur for recognizing the importance of full inclusion and access for people with disabilities.”
Ari Katz has taken on a position at The Dorothy A. Johnson Center at Grand Valley State University whose mission is helping others understand, strengthen and advance philanthropy. She will be a Philanthropy Fellow, further developing her presence and skills in the nonprofit world. Experience as a Philanthropy Fellow allows Ari to help The Dorothy A. Johnson Center’s provide competency-based professional development; applied research and evaluation; and resources and tools to transform communities for the public good.
“The Johnson Center is delighted and honored to be able to host an inaugural fellow of this program,” said Tory Martin, director of communications and engagement at the Johnson Center for Philanthropy at Grand Valley State University. “Fellowships are especially important during these tough times – emerging professionals need meaningful opportunities to gain experience and host organizations need the fresh energy and perspectives that fellows can bring. Support is not a one-way street – we’re supporting each other’s growth.”
Alejandra Tristan has become part of The New York Women’s Foundation, which builds equitable and just futures for women and families. As a Program Fellow, Alejandra will continue learning and working towards her ambition of leaving a worldwide impact for present and future generations. Alejandra’s time with RespectAbility helps her support The New York Women’s Foundation in uniting cross-cultural alliances and investing in bold, community-driven solutions.
“Alejandra has been a wonderful addition to the Programs Team at The New York Women’s Foundation,” said Dimple Patel, senor program officer with the New York Women’s Foundation. “Her thoughtfulness and enthusiasm to learn about the philanthropic sector brings great energy to the overall team. We are excited for her final project in creating a disability inclusive social media toolkit for The Foundation to implement within our overall communications strategy.”
Georgia Carr has joined the The Kresge Foundation, which works to expand opportunities in America’s cities. Currently, she is a Disability Inclusion Fellow, amplifying her ambition of advocacy for and within the nonprofit sector. Her time with RespectAbility allows her to support The Kresge Foundation’s mission of helping others reach their full potential in economic and civic life.
These Apprentices are the beginning of RespectAbility’s talent-pipeline of people with disabilities in philanthropy. Per the Council on Foundations’ 2021 Grantmaker Salary and Benefits Report, only 8% of grantmakers employ a person with a disability, and people with disabilities make up 1% of staff at those institutions. Thus, the Philanthropy Apprenticeship is critical to increasing representation. This project is housed within RespectAbility’s larger National Leadership Program, which has been successfully operating since 2015 and has 215 graduates to date. Fully 85% of alumni from the program have found and retained employment. Many are already on the forefront of disability and nonprofit leadership. With the program’s shift to being virtual during the pandemic, the next cohort of Philanthropic Apprentices includes people from the Midwestern and Northeastern United States.
The pandemic created a powerful shift in attitudes on telework, which allows many people with disabilities to gain employment. Pandemic-driven adaptation to remote work shows how we can provide jobs for those who cannot easily commute. “I look forward to working with Apprentices throughout the country who are motivated to diversify the philanthropic community,” said Ben Spangenberg, RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program Director.
Over a six-month period, participants in the National Leadership Program work virtually with both RespectAbility and philanthropic organizations. RespectAbility provides job training, skill development, networking opportunities and assistive technology to facilitate greater synergy. Franklin Anderson, RespectAbility’s Director of Inclusive Philanthropy and Development, oversees day-to-day management. The program’s cohort model allows groups to learn and work together to accumulate skills, contacts and jobs. Every Apprentice has access to mentors, including many BIPOC disability leaders.
The National Leadership Program is geared towards directly helping young professionals with disabilities. Non-graduates with significant work experience are also eligible. They can be students, people who are actively looking for work for the first time, or people who are looking to return to work after a heath related absence.
RespectAbility is committed to hiring Apprentices from diverse backgrounds to combat intersectional challenges for people with disabilities. Applicants of various disability types, race/ethnicities, genders and sexual orientations are strongly encouraged to apply. Every demographic overlaps with the 61 million people with disabilities in the United States. Our impact must reflect this fact to reach our potential to impact every person with a disability.