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Apprentices Blog Series

What’s Your Goal?

Advice on Connecting with People from AIPAC Strategist Jonathan Kessler

Jonathan Kessler and RespectAbility Fellows standing and seated in a posed photograph, smiling for the camera

Jonathan Kessler with RespectAbility Fellows and Staff

Rockville, Md., June 9 – “It’s not about how the cards are dealt, it’s about how you play them,” Jonathan Kessler told RespectAbility fellows on Wednesday.

Many of us RespectAbility fellows have had considerable medical and physical obstacles to overcome, but it’s people like Kessler who help us find our voice. He made it clear that the defining feature of his life journey was developing personal connections and relationships with other people. As the Director of Strategic Initiatives for AIPAC, there is no need to be modest about Kessler’s influence in Washington and America, but he didn’t come to talk about himself; he came to help make us sharper advocates.

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Thinking Outside The Box

A Conversation with Ami Aronson of The Bernstein Family Foundation

Ami Aronson and RespectAbility Fellows standing and seated in a posed photograph, smiling for the camera

Ami Aronson with RespectAbility Fellows and Staff

Rockville, Md., June 8 – As her husband often says, Ami Aronson never thinks outside of the box; she never even knew the box existed.

En route to her current position as the Executive Director for the Bernstein Family Foundation (BFF), Aronson embarked on a circuitous journey. From her work at a refugee camp in Thailand, to tackling issues of sex trafficking in Nepal, to running the Women’s AIDS Network in San Francisco, Aronson has served as a champion for women and children alike with the self-proclaimed mantra of viewing life as a journey; one with no endgame or stopping point, but rather a continuous exploration of the world with a deep desire to have social impact.

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#RespectTheAbility Campaign: Spotlight on UCLA Medical Center


Job Openings in Healthcare Market Growing: Employees with Disabilities Help Hospitals Help Patients

A young woman answering the phone

“It felt like freedom,” Corinna Hitchman, storekeeper in materials management, said when she was offered a job in the unit where was interning.

Los Angeles, Calif., Feb. 17 – Filing, answering phones, providing customer service and making linen orders are just a few of the tasks Lily Fischer-Gilday completes in her rotation as an office assistant at the PathPoint Project SEARCH site at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica.

Fischer-Gilday is learning skills transferable to many industries, working alongside her supervisor Remy Abraham, who previously served as a job coach for the program. In September 2016, she began a yearlong program that has a greater than 70 percent success rate in ensuring its participants, all of whom have a developmental disability, find appropriate employment in an integrated setting.

“I’m an office assistant,” Fischer-Gilday proudly stated when asked about her position. “This is my first rotation. For my second rotation I hope to be trying out making badges. That seems pretty cool.”

At UCLA Medical Center and at other hospitals around the county, Project SEARCH interns work throughout the hospital, assisting the regularly employed staff in any task they need help fulfilling. Participation in the internship provides employers with great talent and the interns are compensated with work experience they can take with them into the competitive labor market.

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