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Meet our Staff


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Ariel Simms

President and CEO

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Graciano Petersen

Senior Director for Talent, Culture, and Leadership Development

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Tonya Koslo

Vice President of Finance and Operations

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Phillip Saldana

Operations Manager

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Donjeta Sahiti

Special Assistant to the President

Entertainment and News Media

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Lauren Appelbaum

Senior Vice President, Communications and Entertainment & News Media

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Lawon Exum

Entertainment and News Media Director

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Vanni Le

Entertainment Outreach Program Manager

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Lesley Hennen

Entertainment and News Media Associate

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Theresa Soares

Media Business Development Associate

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Jacquill Moss

Entertainment Media Program Coordinator

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Isabella Vargas

Entertainment Media Program Coordinator


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Wally Tablit

Senior Director of Policy and Workforce Development

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Jimmy Fremgen

Manager of State Policy

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Rostom Dadian

Policy Associate

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Matan A. Koch

Senior Policy Advisor


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Graciano Petersen

Senior Director for Talent, Culture, and Leadership Development

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Ben Spangenberg

Senior Manager, National Leadership Program

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Jake Stimell

Disability Training and Consulting Bureau Associate

Faith Inclusion and Belonging

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Shelly Christensen

Senior Director of Faith Inclusion and Belonging

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Ben Bond

Faith Inclusion and Belonging Associate


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Franklin Anderson

Senior Director of Inclusive Philanthropy and Development

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Theresa Soares

Media Business Development Associate

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Debbie Nathan

Individual Giving Manager

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Molly McConville

Senior Development and Individual Giving Associate

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Ian Cherutich

Development Associate

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Donjeta Sahiti

Special Assistant to the President


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Lauren Appelbaum

Senior Vice President, Communications and Entertainment & News Media

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Joy St. Juste

Director of Marketing and Communications

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Eric Ascher

Senior Communications Associate

Meet Our Fellows

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Audrey Bayne, Policy Fellow

Audrey Bayne is a student at the University of Alabama who serves as her university’s Student Director of Disability Affairs and founded her university’s first disability-related student organization. She plans to pursue a Master’s or Ph.D. program in Public Policy. [click to continue…]

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Elizabeth Kim, Entertainment and News Media Fellow

Elizabeth Kim graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Pennsylvania, where she developed her passion for deaf/disability advocacy. She helped start The Asian Americans with Disabilities Initiative (AADI). [click to continue…]

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Emily Snodderly, Policy Fellow

Emily Snodderly began in the nonprofit sector by leveraging her research skills to increase support and improve outcomes for at-risk youth, especially youth in foster care. She wants to create a thriving community where everyone is welcome and treated fairly. [click to continue…]

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Emily Tironi, Communications Fellow

Emily Tironi majored in Media Arts at SUNY Adirondack, learning graphic design. Wanting to learn more about disability advocacy, she went on to earn her Bachelor’s Degree in disability studies from The CUNY School of Professional Studies. [click to continue…]

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Hiram Helfman, Policy Fellow

Hiram Helfman has a Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs and a Master of Arts in Diplomacy. He has spoken at disability awareness events as part of the University of Central Florida’s Center for Autism and Related Disabilities. [click to continue…]

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Isabella Russo, Nonprofit Management Fellow

Isabella Russo recently graduated summa cum laude from Auburn University with a B.S. in rehabilitation and disability studies. She wants to create a transitional independent living center for people with disabilities outside of high school. [click to continue…]

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Jeremy Hsing, Entertainment and News Media Fellow

Jeremy Hsing is a humanistic sci-fi writer, mental health advocate, and second-gen Taiwanese immigrant based in L.A. He was previously a Get Lit Screenwriters Lab Fellow, RespectAbility Entertainment Lab Fellow, and Coverfly Best Unrepped Writers List 2022 Honoree. [click to continue…]

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Juliet Romeo, Communications Fellow

Juliet Romeo is the founder of Slamdance Film Festival’s “Unstoppable” program that encourages disability inclusion across all levels of filmmaking. As a writer and director, she crafts unique narratives from the perspective of a Caribbean woman of color living with a disability. [click to continue…]

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Kayla Dunlop, Nonprofit Management Fellow

Kayla Dunlop graduated from Cal State University, San Bernardino with her B.A. in Child Development. She would like to open her own small nonprofit that provides resources for children and adults living with Pulmonary Hypertension. [click to continue…]

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Kylee Tyndall, Faith Inclusion and Belonging Fellow

Kylee Tyndall is attending Syracuse University, majoring in Psychology and Women and Gender Studies and minoring in in Disability Studies. In the future, she sees herself as a child trauma therapist and a human rights advocate focusing on gender and disability rights. [click to continue…]

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Maddie Jones, Entertainment and News Media Fellow

Maddie Jones graduated from Pomona College in Claremont, CA. She believes that stories are the fundamental building blocks of society and that if we want to see significant change for the disability community, we must start by influencing the stories we tell and see. [click to continue…]

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Noah Strauss, Faith Inclusion and Belonging Fellow

Noah Strauss (they/them) is an organizer, educator, writer, and a graduate student in Judaism and Human Rights at Gratz College. They are creating a multi faith community in ASL using a viral disability justice-centered TikTok account. [click to continue…]

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Rebecca Woolfe, Faith Inclusion and Belonging Fellow

Rebecca Woolfe attended Mount Holyoke College and graduated with a major in psychology and a minor in religion. As a person of Jewish background who also has strong interest in other religions and spiritual traditions, she hopes to help to increase inclusion in all types of faith-based settings. [click to continue…]

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Samuel Krauss, Entertainment and News Media Fellow

Samuel Krauss is a TV comedy writer and a gay/disabled/wheelchair-using man who focuses on telling young adult comedies featuring disabled protagonists. He received his MFA in screenwriting from Spalding University in 2022, and was a Fellow in RespectAbility’s Entertainment Lab. [click to continue…]

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