Skip Navigation
Skip to Footer

Tributes from RespectAbility Board and Staff to Neil Jacobson

“I am heartbroken over Neil’s passing. He was a giant among us, and the enduring nature of his pioneering legacy will serve as an ongoing testament to the power of just one person to make the kind of difference whose ripple effects will last for generations.

Whether through his leadership in faith inclusion, his tireless and successful efforts to increase economic empowerment of countless members of the disability community, his impact as Vice Chairman of what was then the President’s Committee on the Employment of People with Disabilities in the Clinton Administration, his achievements in executive leadership at Wells Fargo, his indelible impact on the Independent Living Movement, his international work to change lives around the world (including in Uganda at an organization that bears his name), his groundbreaking work at the World Institute on Disability, or through his work as an early Board Member here at RespectAbility, the result was always the same. Namely, everything in which he was so deeply involved benefited indelibly.

My deepest sympathy to Denise as the love of Neil’s life, to their son David, and to all who had the privilege of being in Neil’s orbit. Our world is undeniably better because Neil lived in it, and millions of people with disabilities are forever blessed, because the greater opportunities that we now enjoy were made more possible, thanks to Neil’s groundbreaking work to jettison old and outdated stereotypes and to replace them with a deep and abiding belief that truly anything is possible.”

– Ollie Cantos, Chairman, Board of Directors

“Neil was an exceptional advocate for those with disabilities. We could always rely on Neil to hold us to a high standard and he will be deeply missed. We already know that his memory is a blessing to all and I pray that his family will find comfort in his good works.”

– Linda L. Burger, Co-Treasurer, Board of Directors

“Neil Jacobson was a giant in the disability community and in his Jewish community as well. As an early leader in employment for people with disabilities, Neil’s messaging and modeling on how people with disabilities can and should be employed in all parts of the employment sector truly changed the trajectory around employment opportunities for people with disabilities. Neil gave tirelessly of himself and truly dedicated himself to his passion for independence and community integration and often stated he did so in accordance with his Jewish values of Tikkun Olam – repairing the world. This world remains in deep need of repair and it will be challenging to move forward in our work without Neil. May his memory always be for a blessing.”

– Donna Meltzer, Board of Directors

“Neil was such a great community builder. He always was eager to connect me to others working within the disability and entertainment industry spaces, and I am so grateful for both his friendship and mentorship.”

– Lauren Appelbaum, SVP, Communications and Entertainment & News Media

“I met Neil when he joined the Board at RespectAbility. He was instrumental in teaching me about the many different technological accommodations that were available for employers to provide for folks that needed to complete their work in different ways. Neil was also a smitten fellow adoptee-parent and we shared our “gotcha” stories and updates. Neil was an “OG” in the disability community and will be very missed. For Neil, Go! Go! Go!”

– Tonya Koslo, VP, Finance and Operations

“Neil Jacobson may not have known, but he was my teacher. He was one of the earliest pioneers in Jewish disability inclusion and belonging. His grassroots advocacy and action in his own congregation became a call to action for other synagogues and Jewish organizations in the Reform movement and beyond. Neil’s influence and his teachings were infused with a love of Torah and the need to belong. All of us at RespectAbility offer our condolences to the family and friends of this giant in the disability rights advocacy movement.”

– Shelly Christensen, Senior Director of Faith Inclusion

Meet the Author

RespectAbility Staff

For more information, email

0 comments… add one

Leave a Reply

Respect Ability - Fighting Stigmas. Advancing Opportunities.

Contact Us

Mailing Address:
43 Town & Country Drive
Suite 119-181
Fredericksburg, VA 22405

Office Number: 202-517-6272


GuideStar Platinum

RespectAbility and The RespectAbility Report is a GuideStar Platinum Participant. Guidestar Platinum Seal
© 2023 RespectAbility. All Rights Reserved. Site Design by Cool Gray Seven   |   Site Development by Web Symphonies   |      Sitemap

Back to Top

Translate »