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Derek Shields speaks with RespectAbility Spring 2018 Fellows

Political Communications Fellowship

The National Leadership Program: Fellowship in Political Communications

Communications Fellows on the set of Meet the Press during a tour of NBC Washington Bureau

Voters with disabilities are systematically ignored and only 27 percent of polling locations are fully accessible. Our nonpartisan blog,, covers candidates’ and politicians’ progress in addressing disability employment issues. Fellows create news stories and are a part of the team for nonpartisan and educational candidate and grassroots outreach. Fellows interested in political communications should have good writing and editing skills and an interest in politics. This Fellowship is available leading up to the elections in 2018. Political Communications Fellows will:

  • Encourage candidates to complete the #PwDsVote Candidate Questionnaire and promote their responses to the media and other interested parties in the candidate’s state.
  • Coordinate outreach with volunteers from all 50 states and assist with event planning.
  • Write blogs, press releases and news articles covering candidates’ positions on disability employment from a nonpartisan point of view.

RespectAbility is nonpartisan in our approach, does not lobby and follows guidelines for nonprofit organizations.

Our program is fully accessible for people with disabilities and offers full-time in-house job coaching, skills development and networking opportunities. Assistive technology and personal care support are available as needed.

All Fellows have real work assignments – no learning coffee preferences! We have a fully accessible and warm office, and are located on the metro line just outside of Washington, D.C. Paid ($15/hour) and stipend opportunities available.

Who We Want

The National Leadership Program is ideal for people who want to gain media and communications skills and contacts while making a positive difference for people with disabilities. We are looking for creative, results-driven individuals who want to achieve breakthrough results while getting hands-on experience. The Fellowship is for college and graduate students, as well as for people transitioning into the workforce for the first time or back into the workforce after a break.

Fellowship Duties

Our current Fellows spend a great deal of time working on these issues through social media outreach and analytics, materials development, media pitching, database development and maintenance, event planning and website management. As a result, Fellows gain direct experience of working with the media, political campaigns and PR companies, including leaders in these fields.

The Fellows will work closely with our National Leadership Program Director and Communications Director. Individual projects will be assigned based on an individual’s unique skill set and their own ability to “bring something to the table.” Tasks might include writing blog posts, utilizing social media, designing graphics, editing photos and videos, attending political campaign events and maintaining a website. Fellows will join supervisors at workshops and webinars that pertain to stigma, national politics and communications.

Each Fellow will receive as many opportunities as possible to learn new skills, network and gain direct experiences. In addition to hands-on work experiences, all Fellows will participate in special presentations by guest speakers and intensive strategic communications workshops. A career plan will be developed by each Fellow that will enable him or her to gain appropriate workplace experience while contributing directly and measurably to RespectAbility’s impact.

Upon the completion of the Fellowship program, applicants can expect to come away with excellent experience in the field of strategic communications and policy, fair knowledge of issues for people with disabilities and leadership skills to help them grow into confident advocates.

Important Details for Applicants

  • Excellent communication and organizational skills are strongly preferred, and Fellows should exhibit leadership skills to complete their own projects.
  • Strong preference for college juniors and above.
  • Commit for a minimum of nine weeks.
  • Hours are 9-5. Summer Fellows are required to work a minimum of 35 hours per week and Spring/Fall Fellows should be able to work at least 20 hours a week, though 40 hours per week is preferred.
  • There is no tuition cost to do the Fellowship, and stipend Fellows will be awarded $300 a month as a transportation reimbursement.
  • A limited number of paid Fellowships will receive $15/hr for a total of 360 hours of work.
  • The Fellowship takes place in Rockville, Maryland. The office is a short distance from the White Flint Metro Station on the Red Line.
  • Your cover letter must explain why this Fellowship in particular is of interest to you and why you believe you have the skills, focus and independent drive to make a positive difference in your time with us at RespectAbility.
  • Journalism, political campaign and/or WordPress experience preferred.

RespectAbility provides equal employment opportunities (EEO) to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, age, disability, veteran status or genetics. In addition to federal law requirements, RespectAbility complies with applicable state and local laws governing nondiscrimination in employment. This policy applies to all terms and conditions of employment, including recruiting, hiring, placement, promotion, termination, layoff, recall, transfer, leaves of absence, compensation and training.

Fill out the linked Google Doc Form and send your resume and cover letter to Ben Spangenberg at to apply for any of our National Leadership Program opportunities! If you are applying for a paid Fellowship, explain in your cover letter how you can advance diversity and intersectionality issues.




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11333 Woodglen Drive, #102
Rockville, MD 20852
Office Number: 202-517-6272


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