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Bio – Board

Rep. Steve Bartlett

Rep. Steve Bartlett, Board of Directors – Chair

Steve Bartlett, Chair

As a member of Congress from 1983-1991, The Honorable Steve Bartlett was the principal author of 18 major pieces of legislation including many legislative initiatives on advancing the cause of independence for people with disabilities. In addition to being a principal Republican author of the Americans with Disabilities Act, legislation included Medicaid eligibility, Section 1619 for Medicare eligibility, supported employment, assistive technology, creation of Towards Independence, the President’s Council on Handicapped 1984 report, and mainstreaming reforms for IDEA. During his entire tenure in Congress, he served as the ranking Republican on the Select Education Subcommittee, with jurisdiction for disability issues in education and vocational rehabilitation. Bartlett also served on the House Banking and the Education and Labor Committees.

He currently serves as a Senior Advisor with Treliant Risk Advisors, has more than thirty years of experience in financial services, business strategy, corporate governance, ethics and compliance, and public policy at the highest levels of the private sector and government. His most notable positions include President and CEO of the Financial Services Roundtable in Washington, D.C., Mayor of Dallas, and member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Bartlett draws on his accomplished background and experience and specializes in offering strategic consulting advice to for-profit companies and non-governmental organizations. His advice is sought on a range of policy areas including regulatory compliance, financial services, health care, corporate reputation, Congressional trends, retirement security, identity protection, federal fiscal policy, corporate governance, disability policy and media relations.

During his service as Mayor of Dallas from 1991-1995, Bartlett led Dallas to reduce violent crime, adopt a 5 billion capital improvements plan, and achieve significant economic revitalization, a downtown renaissance, and 30,000 new residential units in or adjacent to downtown Dallas.

In the for-profit world, he is on two corporate Boards and two Advisory Boards: Independent Director for Ares Capital Corporation (ARCC), and membership on the Audit Committee; Independent Director for Intersections Inc. (INTX), with seats on the Audit and the Risk Committees; Member of the US Advisory Board of Alexander Proudfoot, a U K-based executive management consulting company; Member of Advisory Board of EverFi, Inc., a 20 million revenue technology company specializing in online financial education.

In the nonprofit world, Bartlett serves on the Board of Directors of the Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF), a 20 million non-profit based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, devoted to assisting Americans in homeownership. Most notably, HPF created and operates HOPE Now, a national system of counselors who assisted seven million homeowners in modifying their mortgages to keep their homes during the recent financial crisis.

He has provided a leadership role to a number of other non-profit organizations including Operation HOPE, International Relief and Development, Easter Seals of Greater Washington, D.C., and National YMCA. He also served on the President’s Commission on Excellence in Special Education.

Bartlett graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 1971, later serving as guest lecturer with the LBJ school of Public Affairs.

He has been happily married to Gail Coke Bartlett since 1969 and they are parents of three excellent children, and grandparents of eight beautiful grandchildren. He is an active adventure traveler, most recently Mt. Kilimanjaro in 2011 and Mt. Blanc Circuit in 2012. His 2010 Marine Corps Marathon time was 5:29.

Meet our Boards of Directors and Advisors

Learn about all of the members of RespectAbility’s Board of Directors and Advisors: https://www.respectability.org/about-us/meet-our-boards-of-directors-and-advisors/.

Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi

Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, Board of Directors – President

Headshot of Jennifer Mizrahi, smiling and facing the camera wearing a red blazer color photoJennifer Laszlo Mizrahi is the President of RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for people with disabilities. She regularly works with disability organizations, national, state and local policy leaders, workforce development professionals, media, employers, philanthropists, celebrities and faith-based organizations in order to expand opportunities for people with disabilities. Mizrahi has submitted testimony on employment for people with disabilities in all fifty states and at the Federal level.

She has published dozens of op-eds and publications on disability issues, including in USA Today, The Hill and other publications. She has columns in The Huffington PostTimes of Israel and The Mighty. Mizrahi is a co-author of Disability & Criminal Justice Reform: Keys to Success, which brought critical attention to the school-to-prison pipeline for people with disabilities and was featured on the PBS NewsHour. She is involved in the Emmy-winning TV show Born This Way and advancing diversity in Hollywood. Dyslexic herself, she also knows what it means to parent a child with multiple disabilities.

Mizrahi has met one-on-one with 43 of America’s governors on disability issues. She also has done projects with the White House and more than 60 U.S. Senators, as well as helping elect Prime Ministers and Presidents around the world. She is an expert in strategic communications, political strategy and on numerous public policies including international relations. A former spokesperson for a national political party, Mizrahi became “post-partisan” after 9/11 when she dedicated the next decade to “winning hearts and minds” on issues of terrorism and Middle East peace. She has worked with ambassadors from 85 different nations.

Mizrahi founded and led Laszlo Strategies and previously was political and training director for Campaigns and Elections magazine, campaign manager for a winning Congressional campaign, and founder of the District of Columbia Jewish Community Center’s award-winning community services program and public policy programs. She was a regular columnist for The Daily Record where she published more than 300 columns/op-eds on policy and politics. She has produced numerous videos, and has been more than a hundred times on national television including on CNN, MSNBC, FOX and others.

The co-founder/director of The Mizrahi Family Charitable foundation, Mizrahi is active in the philanthropic community. A graduate of Emory, Mizrahi also studied at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, L’Institute Catholic in Paris and successfully completed further work on performance metrics at Harvard. She can be reached at JenniferM@RespectAbility.org.

Meet our Boards of Directors and Advisors

Learn about all of the members of RespectAbility’s Board of Directors and Advisors: https://www.respectability.org/about-us/meet-our-boards-of-directors-and-advisors/.

Calvin Harris

Calvin Harris, Board of Directors – Chair Emeritus

Calvin Harris, Chair Emeritus

Calvin Harris, a native of St. Louis, Missouri, is the Director of Communications for The Economic Innovation Group. Harris became involved in the disability space as a teenager. Because of his mother’s work in the neuromuscular lab at the Washington University School of Medicine, Harris met many kids with a disability. This experience inspired him to volunteer as a camp counselor at the Muscular Dystrophy Association Camp for Kids, where he spent several summers during high school and college.

Harris previously served as senior manager of public affairs at the Bipartisan Policy Center, the only Washington-based think tank that brings together leaders with different perspectives, yet stand united in their resolve to work for consensus-based solutions. Harris is a graduate of Morehouse College and the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University.

Meet our Boards of Directors and Advisors

Learn about all of the members of RespectAbility’s Board of Directors and Advisors: https://www.respectability.org/about-us/meet-our-boards-of-directors-and-advisors/.

Vivian G. Bass

Vivian G. Bass, Board of Directors – Vice Chair

headshot of Vivian Bass with long hair color photo

Vivian Bass

Vivian Bass became the CEO Emeritus of The Jewish Foundation for Group Homes (JFGH) in June 2016 subsequent to serving for 30 years at the helm of the agency, which ultimately grew to 77 residential locations via a wide variety of models, two innovative transition youth programs, and a staff of 260. As JFGH continued to become a model for more than 25 communities over five continents, Bass travelled extensively, mentoring these communities wishing to emulate the JFGH Program.

She has presented at The World Congress on Disabilities in conjunction with the Paralympics, The National Organization on Disability (NOD), The American Association of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD), The National Association of Social Workers (NASW), The General Assembly of The Jewish Federations of North America, The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA), The International Lion of Judah Conference, RespectAbility, and numerous others.

Bass is the Immediate Past Board Chair of Jewish Women International (JWI) and currently serves as Vice President of Save a Child’s Heart US and on the Board of Directors of The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) as well as CaringMatters (formerly HospiceCaring) in Maryland. She was a founding board member of Potomac Community Resources (PCR), which evolved from the local Catholic Community. Bass is a Lion of Judah (“Woman of Valor”), the highest distinction internationally for Jewish women.

She remains loyally engaged with The University of Michigan, where she pursued both her undergraduate and graduate studies in Special Education.

Meet our Boards of Directors and Advisors

Learn about all of the members of RespectAbility’s Board of Directors and Advisors: https://www.respectability.org/about-us/meet-our-boards-of-directors-and-advisors/.

 

Janet LaBreck

Janet LaBreck, Board of Directors – Vice Chair

RespectAbility board member Janet LaBreck smiling in front of an American flag

Janet LaBreck

In February of 2013, President Barack Obama announced some key administration posts, including his intent to nominate Janet L. LaBreck, known as a national thought leader and key note presenter as the Commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA), within the United States Department of Education. In August of 2013, LaBreck was confirmed by the United States Senate as the Commissioner of RSA. RSA was established to provide leadership and resources to assist state and other agencies providing vocational rehabilitation services (VR) to individuals with disabilities to maximize their employment, independence and integration into the community and workforce.

Under her leadership, LaBreck was responsible for promulgating the most substantive regulation changes to the Vocational Rehabilitation program in over 15 years. She began her 27-year career in 1985 with the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind (MCB) where she served as Commissioner during the last six years of her appointment by Governor Patrick until her transition to Washington, D.C. She is also the recipient of numerous awards and honors including an Honorary Doctoral Degree from New England College of Optometry (NECO) for her innovative partnership which resulted in the establishment of a mobile eye care clinic for individuals with low vision conditions and was honored in 2017 by NECO who dedicated the Janet L. LaBreck Center for Low Vision Rehabilitation clinic in her honor in recognition of her commitment and dedication to the field of blindness. Most recently, LaBreck has established Janet L. LaBreck Consulting LLC in addition to becoming a contributing partner for Synergy Consulting Partners.

Meet our Boards of Directors and Advisors

Learn about all of the members of RespectAbility’s Board of Directors and Advisors: https://www.respectability.org/about-us/meet-our-boards-of-directors-and-advisors/.

Ollie Cantos

Ollie Cantos, Board of Advisors – Vice Chair

Ollie Cantos smiling in front of an American flag

Ollie Cantos

Ollie Cantos is the Vice Chair of RespectAbility’s Board of Advisors. Cantos has been active in the civil rights arena since 1990.  He is Special Assistant to the Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education, Attorney Mentor for the American Bar Association Commission on Disability Rights, Vice President of the Virginia Association of Parents of Blind Children, and Member of the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary.

Past positions include Staff Attorney and Director of Outreach and Education at the Disability Rights Legal Center, General Counsel and Director of Programs at the American Association of People with Disabilities, Special Assistant and later Special Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Justice, and Associate Director for Domestic Policy at the White House under President George W. Bush. Prior leadership posts include Vice Chair of the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities, Legal Officer for the Coast Guard Auxiliary, Vice President of the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, Chairman of the Board for Scholarships for Eagles, President of the California Association of Blind Students and the National Association of Blind Students, and member of the boards of directors of the ENDependence Center of Northern Virginia, the Blind Children’s Center, Community Lodgings, the California Association to Promote the Use of Braille, the National Federation of the Blind of California, Loyola Marymount University Alumni Association, and Loyola Law School Alumni Association.

But Ollie is most grateful for his adoption of three blind triplet boys – Leo, Nick, and Steven.  Their compelling story has been told by National Public RadioPEOPLE MagazineThe Washingtonian MagazineUSA Today, and videos that went viral on NowThis.comHeartThreads.com, and others. In addition to local media coverage, they were featured as Persons of the Week on ABC’s World News Tonight with David Muir In December 2017 for attaining the coveted rank of Eagle Scout as part of Boy Scouts of America. Their story has now reached a grand total of more than 53 million views.

Meet our Boards of Directors and Advisors

Learn about all of the members of RespectAbility’s Board of Directors and Advisors: https://www.respectability.org/about-us/meet-our-boards-of-directors-and-advisors/.

Linda L. Burger

Linda Burger, Board of Directors – Treasurer

Linda Burger, Treasurer

Linda L. Burger, MSSW has devoted her professional life to leading and shaping significant social service programs, including the establishment of game-changing initiatives that focus on erasing stigmas associated with disability and mental health issues.

CEO of Jewish Family Service Houston since 2005, Linda continues to transform and expand the agency’s resources and ability to respond to safety net basic needs, community emergencies and individuals who need ongoing help with counseling and other services. Burger is immediate Past Chair of the Network of Behavioral Health Providers in Houston among other board and advisory positions.

Meet our Boards of Directors and Advisors

Learn about all of the members of RespectAbility’s Board of Directors and Advisors: https://www.respectability.org/about-us/meet-our-boards-of-directors-and-advisors/.

Randall Duchesneau

Randall Duchesneau, Board of Advisors – Secretary

Randall Duchesneau

Randall Duchesneau is a consultant that provides clients with real estate investment and transactional advisory services. He also is a founding member of the United Spinal Association Greater Philadelphia Chapter, and is a C5-C6 quadriplegic from a spinal cord injury during gymnastics.

Duchesneau has an undergraduate degree from Cornell, a Masters of Public Health from Yale, and has advocated for legislation on behalf of disability organizations. He has worked at General Electric and the Department of Health and Human Services, and is also the former Director of the National Leadership Program at RespectAbility. He has interviewed United States presidential candidates, governors and senators on disability employment policy.

Duchesneau also is an active mentor for individuals living with spinal cord injury and has worked with engineers to design and develop medical devices and assistive technology.

Meet our Boards of Directors and Advisors

Learn about all of the members of RespectAbility’s Board of Directors and Advisors: https://www.respectability.org/about-us/meet-our-boards-of-directors-and-advisors/.

Shelley Richman Cohen

Shelley Richman Cohen, Board of Directors, Executive Committee and Co-Founder

Shelley Cohen

Shelley Richman Cohen is the Founder and Director of The Jewish Inclusion Project, which develops and conducts Disability Inclusion Training Programs for Rabbinic Students and Jewish Leaders. She also has served as a coach and advisor to Synagogues on increasing inclusivity. Cohen speaks nationally as an active advocate for the inclusion of children with disabilities in Jewish communal, educational and recreational environments. She serves on the board of the Foundation for Jewish Camp, on the executive committee of the American board of Beit Issie Shapiro, an innovator of therapies and programming for children with developmental & physical disabilities in Ra’anana, Israel. She is a former board member of SAR High School in Riverdale, New York and is a current board member of Lincoln Square Synagogue.

Cohen lives with her husband in Manhattan and has two married, grown children in the NY area. She has a B.A. from Barnard College of Columbia University.

Meet our Boards of Directors and Advisors

Learn about all of the members of RespectAbility’s Board of Directors and Advisors: https://www.respectability.org/about-us/meet-our-boards-of-directors-and-advisors/.

Khadija Bari

Khadija Bari, Board of Advisors

Headshot of Khadija Bari smiling leaning against a wall

Khadija Bari
Photo courtesy of Rick Guidotti, Positive Exposure 109

Khadija Bari (she, her) is the Student Career Coordinator in the Workforce Development department at VISIONS/Services for the Blind & Visually Impaired. VISIONS is a nonprofit rehabilitation and social service organization whose purpose is to develop and implement programs to assist people of all ages who are blind or visually impaired to lead independent and active lives in their homes and communities. Bari has over half a decade of experience guiding underrepresented college youth in academic and career development.

Bari lives in Queens, New York with her husband, stepdaughter and their dog. Bari was born in Pakistan and immigrated to the United States at the age of 22 with her parents and younger brother. It is then that she learned she had a disability and was diagnosed as being legally blind. Bari wrote a personal reflection that RespectAbility published during Women’s HERstory Month in 2020. [continue reading…]

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Respect Ability - Fighting Stigmas. Advancing Opportunities.

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