Skip Navigation
Image of people smiling and posing for a photo

Officers

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

Vivian G. Bass

Vivian G. Bass, Board of Directors – Vice Chair

headshot of Vivian Bass with long hair color photo

Vivian Bass

Vivian G. Bass is the Co-Chair of RespectAbility’s Jewish Inclusion Program (along with Shelley Richman Cohen) and a Vice Chair of the Board of Directors. She is a Past Board Chair of Jewish Women International (JWI) and President-Elect of Save a Child’s Heart US.

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.

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 serves 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 Board and Advisors

Randall Duchesneau

Randall Duchesneau, Board of Advisors – Vice Chair

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 Board and Advisors

Delbert A. Whetter

Delbert A. Whetter, Board of Directors – Vice Chair

Delbert Whetter smiling wearing a suit jacket and glasses

Delbert Whetter

Delbert Whetter is the Chief Operating Officer and Head of Business Affairs for Exodus Film Group. He served as the lead business affairs executive for numerous entertainment and digital content providers for nearly two decades. Delbert has negotiated talent and production agreements including acquisition, development, and film financing arrangements, and licenses of intellectual properties. He has worked on Exodus animated features, IGORThe Hero of Color City, and Bunyan & Babe, receiving Co-Executive Producer credit on Exodus’ two recent films. Delbert earned his law degree from the George Washington University Law School in Washington, D.C., and his MBA from Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business and Management.

Delbert serves as Vice Chair on the Board of Directors of RespectAbility, a national non-profit organization that works with Hollywood to promote inclusion, representation, and authentic portrayals of people with disabilities in media. He also serves on the Disability Advisory Board of SFFILM. He was appointed in 2018 by the City of Santa Monica to serve a four-year term on its Disabilities Commission and currently serves as its Vice Chair.

He is frequently engaged to consult, speak and conduct trainings at numerous entertainment studios, companies and organizations including Hollywood, Health & Society, Walt Disney Studios and its affiliated film/television entities, NBC, DreamWorks Animation, Netflix, and Six Flags Theme Parks.

Delbert is executive producing the upcoming animated feature film Pierre the Pigeon-Hawk, starring the voices of will.i.am, Jennifer Hudson, Snoop Dogg, Howie Mandel and Whoopi Goldberg.

Delbert is currently producing Flash Before the Bang, a live-action narrative feature film based on a true story about an all-deaf high-school track & field championship team (Film Independent 2020 Fast Track Finance Market & 2018 Producing Lab, 2019 PGA Power of Diversity Master Workshop, 2019 SFFILM Rainin Grant recipient, & 2019 WGA Disability Scene), and Live at the Deaf Club: The Story of Punk Rock at the San Francisco Deaf Club, a documentary about the legendary 1970’s punk rock venue (2020 California Humanities Grant recipient).

Meet our Board and Advisors

Linda L. Burger

Linda Burger, Board of Directors – Co-Treasurer

Linda Burger, Treasurer

Recently retired, Linda L. Burger’s professional life has been devoted to leading and shaping a robust resume of work in the Houston Jewish community, most recently in creating significant social service programs as CEO of Jewish Family Service of Houston. Since becoming CEO in 2005, Linda and her team have instituted game-changing initiatives that have transformed and expanded the agency’s ability to respond to basic needs and community emergencies and focus on erasing stigmas associated with disability and mental health issues. Linda’s inspiring leadership on inclusion of and advocacy for people with disabilities and the prevention of suicide and substance misuse has received national recognition. In addition, her leadership work related to seniors, employment and Behavioral and Mental Health Services have made JFS a premiere agency in the region. This includes an emphasis on being a teaching institution for the helping professions.

Prior to her JFS position, she served in senior management at the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston for 17 years and then as Executive Director of the Houston Chapter of the American Jewish Committee. Linda received her undergraduate and Master of Science in Social Work degrees from the University of Texas in Austin.

The deep expertise and contacts Linda gained along her professional journey aligned in life-changing ways when reoccurring floods devastated the Houston community. Jumping into immediate action, and even though she and many on her team were personally affected, Linda and the JFS Disaster Services Response Team wasted no time. They showed up with outstretched hands, offering everything from immediate basic needs to long-term recovery services. As a result, the agency was recognized by both the United Way and the Jewish community as a leader in helping those impacted by flooding in southwest Houston. This, in turn, gave donors and funds the confidence to commit over $10 million in aid and disaster case management resources to JFS in the first few months following Harvey.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Linda has led the agency team to continue to provide professional and compassionate assistance without an interruption of service, even as the agency transitioned to virtual therapy.

Linda’s impact in the human service arena is felt both local and nationally. In Houston, she served on the City of Houston Redevelopment and Drainage Task Force, the Cultivating Families Advisory Board and is past chair of the Network of Behavioral Health Providers. She serves as Treasurer on the national board of RespectAbility and serves on the board of the University of Texas at Austin Hillel board and recently completed her service on the board of the Network of Jewish Human Services Agencies.

Linda is a recipient of four prestigious Houston community awards: The Hans Mayer Award for Communal Service, Joan Alexander Chesed Award, the National Council of Jewish Women’s Women of Influence Award, and the Betty and Bernard Farfel Award. In 2020 she was selected as one of Houston’s Most Admired CEO by Houston Business Journal and under her tenure, in the same year, the agency was selected as a Best Place to Work, also by HBJ.

Linda is known as a visionary leader, whose exceptional personal characteristics have endeared her to her staff, her agency leadership and the leadership of Houston’s finest helping agencies.

Linda is married to her husband, Andy Burger who serves as executive director of Congregation Beth Yeshurun. They are proud parents of Allison and Michael Burger and, Lauri and Ryan Doyal. They are thrilled to be grandparents of Ellie and Emmet Burger and Asher Doyal.

Meet our Board and Advisors

Khadija Bari

Khadija Bari, Board of Directors – Co-Treasurer

Headshot of Khadija Bari smiling leaning against a wall

Khadija Bari, Co-Treasurer
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…]

Ila Eckhoff

Ila Eckhoff, Board of Directors – Secretary

Ila Eckhoff smiling outside in front of trees and plants wearing glasses

Ila Eckhoff

Ila Eckhoff, CPA, Managing Director, is a member of BlackRock’s Business Operations as part of Investment Operations. She is responsible for leading BlackRock’s Industry and Counterparty Management strategy and TSS Services for Aladdin clients. Ms. Eckhoff serves on a number of committees, including the Business Operations and Technology Leadership Committees, and Government Relations Steering Committee. She is also a leader of Blackrock’s ABN- Ability Network.

Ms. Eckhoff has had several roles at Blackrock, most recently managing the Market Initiatives team coordinating operational initiatives associated with meeting Dodd Frank and EMIR commitments for Over the Counter (OTC) derivatives working alongside the market structure, portfolio management, technology, and legal teams. Prior to that, Ms. Eckhoff managed BlackRock’s US Derivative Operations and Trading Operations Groups where she was responsible for collateral management and trade confirmation across fixed income and equity, swap payments and OTC legal confirmations. In addition, she has worked to enhance the firm’s system capabilities and develop the operations infrastructure for derivatives. Ms. Eckhoff has also developed and implemented collateral and swap payment processes and procedures for alternative products at the firm. Prior to joining BlackRock in 2000, Ms. Eckhoff managed the New York Collateral teams at both Barclays Capital and Credit Lyonnais, handling all interest rate, FX and equity derivatives. In this role, she was responsible for coordinating global collateral management for all US clients working with legal, tax and regulatory reporting. At Credit Lyonnais, she also managed the Accounting Policy Group where she developed and implemented the Bank’s procedures on collateralized derivative trading.

Ms. Eckhoff is co-chair of SIFMA/AMF Derivative Operations Committee, a member of the ISDA Collateral and Credit Steering Committees and a member of the SIFMA AMG Committee. She is also a member of MarkitServ’s Advisory Committee and the Cerebral Palsy Foundation and RespectAbility Boards of Directors. Ms. Eckhoff earned a BA degree in economics from Brandeis University and an MBA degree in Accounting from Baruch College.

Meet our Board 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 Board and Advisors

Respect Ability - Fighting Stigmas. Advancing Opportunities.

Contact Us

Mailing Address:
RespectAbility
43 Town & Country Drive
Suite 119-181
Fredericksburg, VA 22405

Office Number: 202-517-6272

Email: [email protected]

GuideStar Platinum

RespectAbility and The RespectAbility Report is a GuideStar Platinum Participant. GuideStar Platinum Participant Logo
© 2023 RespectAbility. All Rights Reserved. Site Design by Cool Gray Seven   |   Site Development by Web Symphonies   |      Sitemap

Back to Top

Translate »