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Bio – Board

Faye Tate

Faye Tate, Board of Advisors

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Faye Tate

Faye Tate is the Vice President for Diversity and inclusion at CoBank. CoBank is a member of the Farm Credit System, a nationwide network of banks and retail lending associations chartered to support the borrowing needs of U. S. agriculture, rural infrastructure and rural communities.

Ms. Tate is well-known in the field of diversity and inclusion, having a proven track record in successfully developing and implementing strategic diversity and inclusion plans for multiple organizations. [continue reading…]

Tom Newman

Tom Newman, Board of Advisors

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Tom Newman

Tom Newman is founder and partner at KNA, a boutique advisory firm. KNA specializes in digital transformation in the media and technology sector. He has over 20 years of experience launching, investing and operating digital media companies. He founded and was CEO of Interactive One, the leading urban millennial digital media company. Prior to that, he was SVP of mergers and acquisitions for Time Warner, head of corporate strategy for AOL Media, and prior to that a banker at Goldman Sachs. Tom is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. Tom serves on the board of Asphalt Green and New Alternatives for Children. He lives in New York City with his wife and two boys. He is was born with phocomelia, a congenital disability of the legs and spine, and uses a wheelchair to navigate the potholes of New York.

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Malhar Shah

Malhar Shah, Board of Advisors

Malhar Shah smiling headshotBorn and raised in Downey, California, Malhar Shah is the child of Indian immigrants from Mumbai, India. His own struggles with mental health disabilities inspired his passion for education law and policy. Malhar graduated from University of California, Riverside and Harvard Law School Cum Laude.

Malhar currently works as the education attorney at the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund in Berkeley, California. His advocacy and litigation work focus on reforming State-level special education monitoring mechanisms to ensure school districts throughout California provide quality services to disabled students.

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Nicole LeBlanc

Nicole LeBlanc, Board of Directors

Nicole LeBlanc speaking at an eventNicole LeBlanc has a keen ability and interest in public policy and excels at communicating the needs of people with developmental disabilities to public officials. In December of 2020, she started working as the Self Advocate Advisor with TASH on the AOD Disability Employment TA Center, where she researches material on employment and self advocacy, recruits focus group members, and drafts blogs and social media posts.

Ever since the day Nicole first stepped foot in Washington, D.C. with her mentor Chester Finn, she knew she wanted to live in the political universe. Nicole has presented or facilitated webinars and video blogs on the topics of healthcare, autism, presuming competence, self-managed services, voter access, COVID-19, the dignity of risk, and employment of people with disabilities. She has worked with organizations including Green Mountain Self-Advocates, Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered, the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network, and the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. In the summer of 2019, Nicole won the David Joyce Advocate of the Year award for outstanding policy advocacy on Capitol Hill.

In 2017, Nicole was a Public Policy Fellow at RespectAbility, and has spoken at several RespectAbility events since then. In 2022, Nicole was the first-ever recipient of RespectAbility’s Steve Bartlett Award, which recognizes and honors an individual in the private or public sector who demonstrates a strong commitment to using the political system to advance public policy in support of people with disabilities.

Nicole is a natural leader chosen by her peers due to her unwavering commitment to speaking the truth to power. Nicole is one who is not willing to shy away from taking on big challenges and new adventures. Her motto is “control your own destiny or someone else will.” Her hobbies are following politics, ice skating, reading, going to conferences, hiking, exercising at the gym, traveling, hanging out with her best friends and alternative medicine.

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Tamala Patrice Scott

Tamala Patrice Scott, Board of Advisors

Tamala Patrice Scott smiling headshotTamala Patrice Scott brings more that 17 years of development and fundraising experience across a variety of non-profit organizations. As a Philadelphia native, Tamala relocated to Virginia for a change in scenery and to start her career where she was introduced to the field of development and loved it.

Over the course of Tamala’s career, she has led fundraising efforts to raise millions of dollars for non-profit organizations such as the United Negro College Fund, Paralyzed Veterans of America, The National Multiple Sclerosis Society, The Arc of the US and Childhelp, Inc., just to name a few. Tamala’s years of development experience include working with corporate and family foundations, corporations, major donors, board members, sponsors and managing special events.

Tamala is excited to join the RespectAbility board and looks forward to helping to raise awareness and visibility for this wonderful organization.

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Bianca Casanova Anderson

Bianca Casanova Anderson, Board of Directors

Bianca Casenova Anderson headshot smilingBianca Casanova Anderson is an educator, nonprofit leader, and social justice practitioner, with expertise in interpersonal communication, racial equity facilitation, and human development. As an educator for almost a decade, Ms. Anderson found her passion for human-centered change in the classroom. She built a unique background by cultivating inclusive learning environments that center relationships, uplift marginalized voices, and disrupt racism. As the founding Director for the Dallas-Fort Worth site of the Center for Racial Justice in Education, she trained and advised over 3,000 community leaders and educators around the nation in effective racial equity policies, practices, and procedures.

In 2021, Bianca was promoted to Co-CEO of ProInspire, where she supports nonprofit organizations and foundations by leading a portfolio of training programs and services that center race equity and leadership development.

Most importantly, Bianca loves people. She lives and leads through a lens of radical love, deep inquiry, and transformative justice. She is committed to creating spaces where every person feels safe, smart, and significant.

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Bill Gaventa

Bill Gaventa, Board of Directors

Bill Gaventa smiling in front of the oceanBill Gaventa is an author, speaker, trainer, and consultant primarily in the arena of faith and disability. He is the founder and Director Emeritus of the Summer Institute of Theology and Disability and the current Director of the National Collaborative on Faith and Disability. He was the Director of Community and Congregational Supports at the Elizabeth M. Boggs Center on Developmental Disabilities in New Jersey from 1995-2013. His primary areas of experience and expertise include spiritual and faith-based supports with people with disabilities, training for clergy, seminarians, and community services staff, aging, end of life/grief issues in intellectual and developmental disabilities, cultural competence, and community building. He served as the President of American Association of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities from 2016-2017. He was Editor of the Journal of Religion, Disability and Health for 14 years, and is author of Spirituality and Disability: Recovering Wholeness published by Baylor University Press in 2018.

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Daniel Goldsmith

Daniel Goldsmith, Board of Directors

Daniel Goldsmith smiling headshotDaniel (Dani) Goldsmith leads 5 Why Consultants. He has previously sold four companies that he co-founded, led, and grew to be 17 times larger than when he founded them to large private equity firms. He has more than 20 years of experience working in the financial services, manufacturing industry, business strategy, corporate governance, finance, tax, and insurance sectors with both Fortune 500 and start up high growth firms.

Dani is the son of a public health medical doctor that spent a career advocating for the rights of those less fortunate. Dani has served on the Chicago Board of Meals on Wheels and various school boards. He is a member of Town’s Council Disability Rights Committee. He co-founded the Los Angeles US Soccer Federation Council and works on food scarcity issues. He is bilingual in Spanish and English.

Dani holds a BS, MBA from DePaul University as well as a CMA and Executive MBA from Harvard University.

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Donna R. Walton

Dr. Donna R. Walton, Senior Advisor

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Donna R. Walton

Dr. Donna Rena Walton, Ed.D., is a Senior Advisor to RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of community. Dr. Walton is consulting for our Women with Disabilities and Speakers Bureau. From 2017 to 2019, Dr. Walton served on RespectAbility’s Board of Advisors.

Walton is the author of her newly released book Shattered Dreams, Broken Pieces, an eye-opening tale of reinvention that chronicles the decades she spent working to rebuild her world through disasters, setbacks, trials, and tribulations after a dangerous form of bone cancer threatened her life-and forced the amputation of her left leg above the knee.

Founder and President of Divas With Disabilities, Inc., Dr. Walton has made an unprecedented impact in the disability and women of color communities as a hub for thoughtful discussion on issues, self-love, and shaping the perception of what “disability” looks like by promoting women of color through various media platforms.  Her work has increased access and inclusion opportunities in countless industries that have traditionally marginalized the participation of the women she represents.

Articles by or about Walton have been published in several publications, including The Sexuality and Disability Society Reader, inMotion MagazineBarbara Faye Waxman Fiduccia Papers on Women and Girls with Disabilities, Amplitude, Disability Quarterly among others; Shattered Dreams, Broken Pieces is her first book.  She also is producing a film documentary “Divas with Disabilities” that explores the lived experiences of African America women who live with physical disability in the United States.

Overcoming what Walton considers “triple jeopardy” to get where she is today, she continues to live by the motto “What’s a leg got to do with it?”

Dr. Walton earned her bachelor’s degree in 1979 from American University; a master’s degree in 1985 in Adult Education from Syracuse University; and, in 2005, a doctoral degree in Counseling from The George Washington University.

Meet our Staff

Ollie Cantos

Ollie Cantos, Board of Directors – Chairman

Ollie Cantos smiling in front of an American flag

Ollie Cantos

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

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Respect Ability - Fighting Stigmas. Advancing Opportunities.

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