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Bio – Fellow – Past Fellows

Molly Donald, Policy Fellow

National Leadership Program, Summer 2018

Molly Donald is smiling in front of the Respectability banner

Molly Donald

Molly Donald is thrilled to be working as a Policy Fellow in RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program for the summer of 2018. RespectAbility is a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for and with people with disabilities. While working as a teaching assistant for children with learning disabilities at a daycare center, Donald gained a particular interest in the advancement of rights for people with disabilities. Her goal for this Fellowship is to expand her knowledge of the barriers faced by people with disabilities so that she can better address them and the inequities they generate.

Donald believes that everyone deserves an equitable opportunity to thrive. The daughter of two public school teachers, Donald’s passion for fairness and equality developed while listening to her parents discuss the limits and failings of the public school system. This ardor only grew as she began to study law and government in college, as she observed that source of so many American citizens’ strife is structural and institutional.

A rising senior at the University of Maryland, Donald currently is pursuing an undergraduate degree in government and politics with a minor in professional writing. She also participates in a 4+1 graduate program, where she is able to complete a masters in public policy in addition to her undergraduate degree. After completing her masters, she plans on attending law school, with the goal of specializing in constitutional law.

Donald is originally from Frederick, Maryland. During her youth, she interned for five years at the Maryland Shakespeare Festival. During this time, she cultivated a love for the poetic meter—especially blank verse and anapestic tetrameter. An avid reader, she enjoys all genres of literature. Her favorite authors are Terry Pratchett (Discworld) and Amy Hempel (At The Gates of The Animal Kingdom).

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RespectAbility is a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for and with people with disabilities. Learn more about the National Leadership Program and apply for the next cohort! Contact BenS@RespectAbility.org for more information.

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Mannela Iparraguirre, Policy Fellow

National Leadership Program, Summer 2018

Mannela Iparraguirre is smiling in front of the Respectability banner

Mannela Iparraguirre

Mannela Iparraguirre is a summer 2018 Policy Fellow in RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program. RespectAbility is a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for and with people with disabilities. Iparraguirre has spent her academic career studying policy and writing about it, but now she is finally going to experience the process of applying policy into real-world practice. She is excited to strengthen her research skills and gain an in-depth experience in policy and political outreach—in the nation’s capital. On Saturday mornings Mannela loves volunteering with Buddy Ball of Edison, a sports organization for children with disabilities.

As a rising senior at Rutgers University, Iparraguirre consistently incorporates diversity into all her activities whether academic or extracurricular. She is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in political science with a double minor in international and global studies and in geography. She is interested particularly in environment, development, the Middle East and North Africa. As a sister of Omega Phi Alpha—a national service sorority — Iparraguirre enjoys spending her time volunteering with organizations such as Center for Great Expectations—a women’s shelter in Somerset, NJ. Excitingly, Iparraguirre is the incoming Co-President of the Rutgers University Ballroom Dancing Club and Team and is looking forward to growing the club. Before joining RespectAbility, Mannela held a full-time internship position with the Rutgers University Foundation last summer, where she learned about nonprofit management. She continues to work part-time in the Foundation’s Donor Relations department during the school year.

After graduating from college, Iparraguirre hopes to pursue a graduate degree in public policy or international relations, or find a job in a policy-related position. She is a travel enthusiast and has been to eight countries, with Cusco, Peru being her absolute favorite! She hopes to visit more countries in the future and learn more languages. Iparraguirre is familiar with a few languages but she wants to become fluent in them.

From Clifton, New Jersey, Iparraguirre is the youngest in her family and comes from a multicultural household; her father is from Peru and her mother comes from Irish heritage. Her favorite dish is Lomo Saltado, and she loves outdoor Salsa dancing events in New York City—the combination of a summer sunset and live salsa music is magical!

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RespectAbility is a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for and with people with disabilities. Learn more about the National Leadership Program and apply for the next cohort! Contact BenS@RespectAbility.org for more information.

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Daniela Nieves, Policy Fellow

National Leadership Program, Summer 2018

Daniela Nieves is smiling in front of the Respectability banner

Daniela Nieves

Daniela Nieves is a Policy Fellow in RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program. She joined RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for and with people with and without disabilities, to learn more about public policy and to work for a nonprofit organization that aims to help people with and without disabilities. Nieves plans to use her experience helping students with and without disabilities at RISE to contribute in education policy for youth with disabilities in America. She will also use her Spanish speaking and reading skills to participate in the creation of a Spanish toolkit for parents of students with disabilities. She first connected with people with disabilities as a high school advisor in Newark, New Jersey. She guided youth with intellectual disabilities to apply to college and to fight the stigmas associated with their disabilities. This process made her aware of the lack of accommodation and disability awareness. Most of the youth she advised had intersecting identities such as disability and race that made school more difficult.

Nieves is pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice with a minor in Political Science at Rutgers University-Newark. On campus, Nieves is involved with social justice in urban cities and is a member of the BOLD Women’s Leadership Network. She also is an Honors Living-Learning Community (HLLC) scholar. In HLLC, she takes social justice classes every semester, consisting of urban education, intersectionality and international cultures. Her experience through urban education as a Rutgers Inspires Student’s Early advisor led to her interest in children with disabilities.

Her professional and personal interests in the future include attending law school, traveling around the world and representing disenfranchised peoples such as those with disabilities, immigrants and people of color. One of her personal missions is to help people with disabilities in prison and juvenile detention. Her favorite nonprofit organization to advocate for is Mallory’s Army, a nonprofit in New Jersey focusing on the fight against bullying. She babysat 12-year-old Mallory for a year and tragically lost her from suicide due to bullying. She is passionate about bullying and suicide awareness among children and would like to learn about its correlation with people with disabilities.

Her mother and father motivate her to work for marginalized people in America. Her mother immigrated from Colombia to the U.S. at the age of 19, and her father is from Puerto Rico. Living in a predominately caucasian area in New Jersey, her family was marginalized regularly for being Latino. From the early complications of buying a house in the suburbs to her personally getting bullied in school for looking different and speaking two languages, Nieves understands intersectionality. As a minority, she can relate to others who have intersecting identities and plans to focus her career on public service for marginalized people.

 

Christina Revilla Chacon, Policy Fellow

National Leadership Program, Summer 2018

Headshot of Christina Revilla Chacon in front of the Respectability banner

Christina Revilla Chacon

Christina Revilla Chacon is a Policy Fellow in RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program for Summer 2018. RespectAbility is a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for and with people with disabilities. Revilla Chacon is excited to join the RespectAbility team to experience direct advocacy. She is passionate about dismantling the obstacles people with disabilities face each day to reach new opportunities in employment and education. Through RespectAbility, she hopes to gain experience in the nonprofit sector and to advocate for policy issues she is passionate about.

Originally from Weymouth, Massachusetts, Christina has called Washington, D.C., her home for the past three years. She is a rising senior at the Catholic University of America and is pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science with a minor in psychology. She has interned on both the state and federal level of U.S. government and internationally as an intern for the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Through her community service and work in student government, she has acquired a passion to fight for issues that are important for the common good. After her undergraduate studies, she hopes to put her interests and passions to work as a lawyer, fighting for minorities that lack health care, education or a livable wage.

While changing the world is on her future to do list, she dreams of moving back to the UK and trying every pub within the city’s perimeters to find the best meat pie and pint combo. For now, Revilla Chacon enjoys exploring DC in an attempt to find the best breakfast spot this side of the Atlantic. She also enjoys repeatedly binge-watching The Office, showing anyone who asks (or doesn’t) pictures of her dog and going for runs on the National Mall.

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RespectAbility is a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for and with people with disabilities. Learn more about the National Leadership Program and apply for the next cohort! Contact BenS@RespectAbility.org for more information.

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Victoria Grace Assokom-Siakam, Development Fellow

 National Leadership Program, Summer 2018

Victoria Grace Assokom-Siakam is smiling in front of the RespectAbility banner

Victoria Grace Assokom-Siakam

Victoria Grace Assokom-Siakam is a Development and Fundraising Fellow in the National Leadership Program at RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for and with people with disabilities. Through her work at St Louis ARC, Assokom-Siakam has worked with individuals with disabilities to expand their opportunities whether at work or at home. These experiences with people with disabilities have motivated her to join RespectAbility and to help ensure that people with disabilities have the financial resources to pursue their ambitions. At RespectAbility, Assokom-Siakam will be helping the development team in two major areas: the initiative to increase and strengthen partnerships with philanthropic organizations and the grant-seeking process.

Assokom-Siakam is a third-year student at Washington University in St. Louis pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in International and Area Studies – Development. Her own Cameroonian-American background, as well as growing up in multicultural Washington, D.C., has motivated her to study marginalized diaspora communities such as those of Arab or African descent in the U.S. During the academic year, Assokom-Siakam is an intern for the Center for Community Health Partnership and Research through the Institute for Public Health at Washington University. There she creates promotional material for center events and researches violence prevention.

Assokom-Siakam is interested in elements of urban spaces such as architecture, transportation, public policy and how people interact with these spaces. She still is exploring possible professions. Currently, her interests include public health, politics and user research. An example of user research is how people use a public park.

In her free time, Assokom-Siakam enjoys listening to comedy acts. In addition to the occasional run, to stay physically active, Assokom-Siakam plays rugby on the women’s club team at her university. She also likes frequenting restaurants with friends and family to try different food. Assokom-Siakam highly recommends inapa, also known as eru. Inapa is her favorite Cameroonian dish: a peanut sauce cooked with bitter leaves similar to spinach and beef.

JOIN OUR TEAM!

RespectAbility is a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for and with people with disabilities. Learn more about the National Leadership Program and apply for the next cohort! Contact BenS@RespectAbility.org for more information.

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Rachael Walloga, Development Fellow

National Leadership Program, Summer 2018

Rachael Walloga is smiling in front of the RespectAbility banner

Rachael Walloga

Rachael Walloga is a Development Fellow in RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program. RespectAbility is a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for and with people with disabilities. Walloga’s work as a translator for Compass Regional Hospice in Centreville, Maryland led her to meet older adults who developed disabilities later in life and were dealing with a language barrier in relation to their care. For this reason, she decided to be a Fellow at RespectAbility.

Here, Walloga is working with everyone at the organization to develop a skills toolkit that outlines a comprehensive list of disabilities, their descriptions and suggestions for caregivers in both English and Spanish. As her previous advocacy work was focused on promoting LGBTQ rights and those of the Hispanic community, Walloga is hoping to learn and to develop more intersectionality in her professional and private life during her summer fellowship.

At Washington College, located in the historical village of Chestertown, Maryland, Walloga is entering her senior year. She is a double major in International Studies and Spanish, as well as a French minor. Outside of class, she holds office as the Vice President of a Spanish language theater club, Grupo Cambalache, and works part-time at the university gym. After spending the spring semester of her sophomore year in Madrid, Spain always will hold a special place in her heart.

In her private life, Walloga loves to read, study language and paint. Currently, Walloga is reading Harry Potter’s first book in French (L’école des Sorciers). She also is reading Aunque Seamos Malditas (Although We Are Cursed), which is a fictional story about the first woman to win a sexual assault case in Spain and how her experiences of persecution compare to those of her ancestor, who was burned as a witch during the Inquisition.

Outside of Spanish and French, Walloga feeds her Duolingo addiction with Portuguese, Gaelic and Polish. Duolingo is her favorite app for her phone because it lets her do language exercises on the go or during her commute. When she has the time, she loves to paint simple nature scenes and abstract work with acrylics to de-stress.

JOIN OUR TEAM!

RespectAbility is a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for and with people with disabilities. Learn more about the National Leadership Program and apply for the next cohort! Contact BenS@RespectAbility.org for more information.

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Daniel Kawecki, Communications Fellow

National Leadership Program, Summer 2018

Daniel Kawecki is smiling in front of the Respectability banner

Daniel Kawecki

Daniel Kawecki is a Communications Fellow in RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program for the Summer of 2018. Kawecki is interested in exploring the intersection between disability and the criminal justice system as well as the topic of disability in poetry and fiction. Daniel is also interested in hearing about stories of disabled people who are artists. Daniel hopes, by the end of his time at RespectAbility, he will possess a broader range of skills and knowledge related to the portrayal of people with disabilities in mainstream culture.

Kawecki is a rising senior at Mercyhurst University. He is majoring in English with a concentration in Text, Image, and Design. Kawecki currently is enrolled in Mercyhurst’s AIM program for students with Autism. The program has opened several opportunities for him, such as meeting congressmen and interning at the American Psychological Association.  He has spent most of his college life around people with Autism. In addition to experiencing a variety of people on the spectrum, Kawecki has taken the initiative to become the administrator for the AIM program’s Facebook page. Along with Autism, he has developed an interest in poetry. This year Kawecki was awarded the P. Barry McAndrew award at Mercyhurst and published in the annual Lumen Arts Magazine for his poem, “Wormm.” To write the poem, he said “I drew inspiration from my disability and my struggles with mental illness.”

Kawecki grew interested in disability when he was diagnosed with high-functioning Autism at the age of 15. Kawecki loves to write poetry. His favorite poets are Allen Ginsberg, Ruth Forman, Mary Oliver, and Michael Ondaatje. He loves to spend time outdoors hiking with others. Kawecki is a fan of Alternative-Rock from the 80s and 90s. His favorite bands are the Pixies and Radiohead. Kawecki practices mindfulness and believes it is a powerful tool for activating kindness, compassion, and open-mindedness in human beings. Kawecki believes that the key to overcoming discrimination lies ultimately in addressing our own insecurities rather than the people who live around us.

As a Communications Fellow at RespectAbility, he gathers information and writes articles about people who have contributed to the disabled community to spread their accomplishment through our website and social media.

JOIN OUR TEAM!

RespectAbility is a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for and with people with disabilities. Learn more about the National Leadership Program and apply for the next cohort! Contact BenS@RespectAbility.org for more information.

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Kaity Hagen, Communications Fellow

National Leadership Program, Summer 2018

Kaity Hagen is smiling in front of the Respectability banner

Kaity Hagen

Kaity Hagen is a Communications Fellow at RespectAbility working on the Hollywood disability inclusion project. RespectAbility is a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for and with people with disabilities. Hagen is an advocate, activist and public speaker from Minnesota. She also is profoundly Deaf. Additionally, she is part of the LGBTQIA+ community, identifying as Queer. She joined RespectAbility because she wanted to be a part of making profound changes in disability rights, equity and accessibility all across the nation.

Hagen’s primary goal is to reduce the stigma and misperception that people with disabilities cannot work, obtain an education or support a family. She wants to set an example for others and, through her own actions, show what is possible. Hagen also wants to promote and encourage speaking openly about disabilities and make it more of a conversational norm, rather than something to hide and be discreet about.

Previously, Hagen was an intern in the Child Protection Unit at the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office in St. Paul, Minnesota. She also worked as a Special Education Assistant at a charter school for grades 6-12 in St. Paul, Minnesota. These experiences, along with her personal experience, motivated her to become a more active role model and advocate for herself and others with disabilities. Hagen is a public speaker, speaking at schools and universities in Delaware, Maryland, California and Minnesota.

Hagen is a senior at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities majoring in Psychology and minoring in Leadership. She was part of the brain club, unicycle club and the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association chapter club. In 2016, Hagen completed an internship at the University of Pacific Doctoral Audiology program in San Francisco.

Hagen’s favorite author is the late neurologist Oliver Sacks. Hagen has a black belt in Taekwondo and is a ski and snowboard instructor. She loves cats and dogs. For fun she likes to draw, paint, play card and board games, lift weights and go for walks. Hagen is fluent in American Sign Language and Cued Speech as well. After graduation, she wants to pursue law school or a career in disability advocacy and accessibility. In five years, Hagen wants to have graduated law school and be working as a criminal prosecutor or as a disability and human rights lawyer.

JOIN OUR TEAM!

RespectAbility is a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for and with people with disabilities. Learn more about the National Leadership Program and apply for the next cohort! Contact BenS@RespectAbility.org for more information.

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Lily Cantor, Communications Fellow

National Leadership Program, Summer 2018

Lily Cantor is smiling in front of the Respectability banner

Lily Cantor

Lily Cantor is a Jewish Inclusion and Communications Fellow in RespectAbility’s National Leadership program. RespectAbility is a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for and with people with disabilities. A rising junior at Sarah Lawrence College, she studies the Spanish language and politics. She is an avid participant in the Jewish community and is a member of the Hillel board at Sarah Lawrence. After graduating in spring 2020, Cantor hopes to spend a year doing advocacy work before attending law school.

Born in Washington, D.C., and growing up in Silver Spring, Maryland, she is excited to bring the skills she acquired at college back to the community she grew up in to inspire change at the local and national level. While managing social media for RespectAbility, Cantor is excited to learn about the challenges and rewards of advocacy for people with disabilities. She is thrilled to collaborate with an organization that simultaneously works on larger societal issues and interacts with individual people. While with RespectAbility, Cantor is ready to challenge the preconceived notions she has of herself and others.

In her free time, Cantor enjoys reading fantasy novels, watching Star Trek and scrolling through social media. She and her brother continue their search for the best scallion pancake in the Greater Washington, D.C., area and watch cartoons together on the weekends. She has a labradoodle named Clover, who hasn’t quite grown up yet. Cantor’s future plans include travel and picking up a third language. She is still trying to “catch them all” in Pokemon Go.

JOIN OUR TEAM!

RespectAbility is a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for and with people with disabilities. Learn more about the National Leadership Program and apply for the next cohort! Contact BenS@RespectAbility.org for more information.

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Thomas Noh, Communications Intern

Volunteer Intern, Summer 2018

Thomas Noh is smiling in front of the Respectability banner

Thomas Noh

Thomas Noh is a Communications Intern with RespectAbility for Summer 2018. RespectAbility is a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for and with people with disabilities. As a rising senior at Thomas S. Wootton High School in Rockville, Maryland, he has studied various programming languages such as HTML, Java, and C++. He is also fluent in Korean and studying Spanish for four years. Noh is seeking a learning experience and mentorship to help his future career as a successful entrepreneur. Noh’s primary goal is to become a powerful influencer through entrepreneurship. He wants to use his influence as a tool to mentor others and make positive changes to the society both domestically and internationally.

Noh has a sibling with Autism who has dealt with unfair treatments and bullying. After witnessing his sibling’s exclusion from his peers, Noh decided to join RespectAbility to learn more about how he can become a better ally for people with disabilities. Before joining RespectAbility, he has had numerous experience in volunteering to help the homeless, refugees and minorities as a leader in Youth With A Mission and Week of Hope.

Outside of work, Noh is a professional beatboxer and currently placed as Top 16 in International Midwest Beatbox competition. He also likes to read, play soccer and work on his part-time online business. Currently, he is reading 12 Rules for Life by Jordan Peterson and Essence of Success by Earl Nightingale.

JOIN OUR TEAM!

RespectAbility is a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for and with people with disabilities. Learn more about the National Leadership Program and apply for the next cohort! Contact BenS@RespectAbility.org for more information.

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