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Bio – Fellow – Past Fellows

Mireille (Ray) Pioppo, Jewish Inclusion Fellow

National Leadership Program, Fall 2019

Mireille (Ray) Pioppo smiling in front of the RespectAbility banner

Mireille (Ray) Pioppo

Mireille (Ray) Pioppo is a Jewish Inclusion Fellow in RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program for Fall 2019. RespectAbility is a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so that people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of community. Originally from New York, Pioppo graduated in 2018 from Elon University in North Carolina with a bachelor’s degree in Human Service Studies. She chose to study Human Services because she knew it would equip her with the skills required to serve clients in a variety of public outreach organizations. Pioppo recently moved to Potomac, Maryland and is pursuing a career in nonprofit management. She hopes to work with marginalized populations in the Washington, D.C. area.

Determined in her goal to advance human rights, Pioppo is dedicated to many social justice causes. She aims to empower others to become leaders in their communities and believes that every individual has the potential to create meaningful change. Pioppo is especially passionate about promoting the rights of women and children, both in the U.S. and abroad.

Pioppo is a dedicated public servant. She has interned at domestic violence and human trafficking agencies, helping women and children escape violent situations. She hopes to effect change in these communities on a policy level. Pioppo also spent much of her time as an undergraduate student working with homeless populations, both in Washington, D.C., and North Carolina. A primary focus of Pioppo’s was helping homeless individuals with disabilities find housing and employment, as well as to access public benefits. She is especially proud of her role in helping to establish a temporary shelter for homeless women and children.

Pioppo cites her experience working at the Kilmer Center as a primary influence informing her desire to work with the disability community and intern at RespectAbility. The Kilmer Center is a Fairfax County Public School for students with disabilities, ages 5-21. In recognizing the importance of physical activity for all, Pioppo chose to focus on normalizing the experience of the students by assisting with their physical mobility. Working with students in the gym was a rewarding opportunity for Pioppo. A large number of students were in wheelchairs. Her roles at Kilmer included facilitating the students’ gym activity time by pushing the students in wheelchairs, demonstrating stretches, and encouraging them to experience full body movement.

Pioppo’s personal experience with learning disabilities is an additional motivation to advocate for inclusion. Pioppo attended a high school for students with learning differences and attributes her skillset to an education that provided her with tools that helped her identify her strengths and classes that catered to her unique learning style. She hopes that this Fellowship opportunity will jumpstart an exploration of how opportunities such as the ones she was afforded can be shared with the larger population.

Pioppo’s decision to be a Jewish Inclusion Fellow at RespectAbility stems from her work in the Jewish community after her recent Birthright trip to Israel. Birthright is an educational organization that provides free trips to Israel for Jewish young adults. Pioppo enjoyed exploring Tel Aviv, hiking Masada and sleeping in a Bedouin Tent. The trip helped Pioppo strengthen her Jewish identity and values. Pioppo comes from a lineage of strong, educated Jewish women and is determined to help other Jewish women find their voice.

Beyond her interests in social justice, equity and inclusion, Pioppo is also a certified yoga instructor and hopes to teach yoga to people with disabilities. Travel is also one of her passions. Some of her favorite countries include Turkey, Greece, Zimbabwe, Ireland and Holland. She also has been fortunate to study abroad in Cannes, France and Copenhagen, Denmark. Pioppo appreciates learning about other cultures and customs. In her free time, Pioppo enjoys tennis, cooking, yoga, snowboarding and playing with her very cute and naughty Havanese puppy, Bodhi.

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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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Israel Sanchez, Nonprofit Management Fellow

National Leadership Program, Fall 2019

Israel Sanchez smiling in front of the RespectAbility banner

Israel Sanchez

Israel de Jesus Sanchez Carlos is a Nonprofit Management Fellow in RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program for Fall 2019. RespectAbility is a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so that people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of community.

Sanchez is finishing his last semester in Business Management Engineering for a bachelor’s degree at TESCo (Tecnologico de Estudios Superiores de Coacalco) in Mexico. During his time in the seventh semester, he participated in the Seventh National Meeting of Academic Groups by writing an article about a specific case of one of his classmates with cerebral palsy. During his research, he noted the lack of research, writing, public data and general interest on disability in Mexico.

Even though his academic major may not be highly relevant to people with disabilities, Sanchez is an idealist, who believes that everyone should have the chance of getting a good quality life no matter one’s social or economic distinction. Recognizing the fact that many people with disabilities do not have that chance, he decided to redirect his interest to create a more inclusive society.

In 2019, he decided to apply for an international scholarship, which led him to the Washington Center and then to RespectAbility. Sanchez hopes to help RespectAbility’s mission by creating more opportunities for people with disabilities through a state project that will promote different strategies to integrate students with disabilities in schools and universities and then in various industries.

Once he graduates, Sanchez hopes to fight the stigmas about people with disabilities, especially in industries as well as public institutions, not only to benefit from the public services, but also to be part of them. He wants to reduce the barriers that people with disabilities face in accessing education and jobs.

Sanchez’s plan for his future is to pursue another bachelor’s degree in Small and Medium Companies Management to help improve small communities and create programs to include people with disabilities. In Mexico, 72 percent of employment and 58 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) are generated by micro, small and medium companies.

In his free time, Sanchez enjoys reading science fiction and historical novels as well as constantly learning more about his major and successful experiences businesses have in integrating people with disabilities.

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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Stevie Mays, Community Outreach Fellow

National Leadership Program, Fall 2019

Stevie Mays smiling in front of the RespectAbility banner

Stevie Mays

Stevie Mays is a Community Outreach Fellow in RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program for Fall 2019. RespectAbility is a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so that people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of community. Mays has great passion and enthusiasm when working with and for the greater disability community. This passion is rooted in experiences of wanting to end the cycle of shame and taboo felt with their own learning disabilities growing up.

Born and raised in Michigan, Mays’ career in the disability community began in high school while volunteering at a life skills center, the Healing Haven, a center for children on the autism spectrum. This volunteering opportunity eventually led to a job as a lead therapist. Mays was able to assist in curriculum planning, augmented communication creation, and social skills training. The role, which lasted three years, brought great fulfillment and joy every day when working for the disability community. This created a desire for Mays’ interests in research with people on the spectrum, which lead Mays to transferring to the University of Michigan (U of M) to have such research and academic pursuits.

U of M had many opportunities to explore the academic side of disability. Mays worked in the Early Start Denver Model research lab under principal investigator Constanta Colombi. The study examined the effectiveness of teaching parents of children with autism a parenting class on a social skills toolkit to promote maximum communication and play skills within the family. The opportunity to add to the body of disability research arose and Mays elected to write a thesis on employment barriers for employees on the spectrum. This piece on adults sparked Mays’ advocacy desires for adults with disabilities and the necessity of job training. Mays graduated from the University of Michigan in August 2019 with a bachelor’s in general studies with a focus in Psychology, Sociology, Women/Gender studies, and Disability Culture.

During the summers while as an undergraduate, Mays worked with children, and occasionally adults, on the spectrum, as a camp counselor at Camp Michigania. Counseling involved managing groups of around 25 children each week for children ages zero to six-years-old. Singing by campfires, zip lining, and ‘spotting’ magical creatures only heightened Mays’ naturally playful energy. Mays also created assistive communication devices to make camp more accessible for non-verbal campers.

While camp is Mays’ favorite place, understanding the gravity of public policy, Mays elected to pursue work in disability political advocacy one summer. As an intern at the American Association for People with Disabilities, she was paired to work with the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD). While at NACDD Mays was able to help individual state developmental disability councils, lobby for national policy from the developmental disability perspective, and assist at NACDD national conference. While at NACDD, Mays concretely saw how important national policy and social welfare is as an aid to even out inequalities in the lives of those with developmental disabilities.

Mays was delighted to join the RespectAbility team for Fall 2019, which meant coming back to the Washington, D.C., area. Mays is committed to explore the East coast. With a never fulfilled desire to travel, Mays has plans of visiting all East Coast states before 2021 and already has completed six of the fifteen visits. While searching for the right a capella family for this alto two, Mays has a love for singing and is commonly known to sing in the car, shower, or jamming with friends. After RespectAbility Mays is hoping to transition into a role as a teacher for people with developmental disabilities with prospects to attend graduate school to earn a master’s in education and education policy to eventually co-run a community center for people with disabilities across the lifespan.

Mays wrote two pieces during the 2019 Fall fellowship. Check them out on our website:

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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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Otilia Lampman, Policy Fellow

National Leadership Program, Fall 2019

Otilia Lampman smiling in front of the RespectAbility banner

Otilia Lampman

Otilia Lampman is a Public Policy and Employment Fellow in RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program for Fall 2019. RespectAbility is a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so that people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of community.

Lampman was born in Romania and came to the United States in June 2004 for surgery. She stayed with the family that later adopted her. This past June, Lampman completed her Associates Degree in Communication at Northern Virginia Community College. She recently applied to George Mason University for the Spring semester 2020. Lampman will earn her Bachelor’s Degree in Communications or Journalism in 2022.

Lampman applied to the National Leadership Program because she believes in equality for all people. She also wants to have more knowledge about not only her own disability experience, but also about other’s disabilities. She wants to gain professional experience, especially in an office, and learn to present herself and her disability well. She also wants to know what careers and opportunities exist.

Lampman’s plan for the future is simple. She wants to work and not be poor and on the street. Beyond the necessities of a house, job, food, health insurance, she hopes, one day, to learn how to tell other people’s stories and promote their artistic and social work on radio or podcasts.

Lampan wrote several pieces during the 2019 Fall fellowship. Check them out on our website:

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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Gloria Medina, Policy Fellow

National Leadership Program, Fall 2019

Bruno Medina smiling in front of the RespectAbility banner

Gloria Medina

Gloria Medina was a Public Policy and Employment Fellow in RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program for Fall of 2019. RespectAbility is a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so that people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of community.

Medina is a graduate of Montgomery College in Maryland with an associate degree in international politics. Currently, she is a senior at the University of Maryland (UMD) working toward her Bachelor of Arts degree in Government and Politics.

Born in Peru, Medina moved to Virginia at the age of seven and completed her primary education there before attending UMD. What inspires her to help the disability community is her own experience as a Latin immigrant and a transgender woman. She wants to help all communities living in the margins of society, as she understands what it feels like to not get the same opportunities as others and to have stigma attached to a part of one’s identity. She hopes that with the help of RespectAbility, she will not only help provide more opportunities for the disability community but also learn how to be more inclusive of the disability community in her advocacy for immigrant rights and transgender rights. Intersectionality is a big part of RespectAbility, so she hopes to take this element of RespectAbility to any organization she works for in the future.

This is Medina’s first internship with a nonprofit organization and hopes that after graduation she can continue working with organizations that help people advance in society. Medina hopes to work with immigrants and asylum seekers in America but also to contribute to other organizations that fight to further the rights for the transgender community both nationally and globally.

Medina loves to spend time with friends and family and go to art museums. This year she went to many art museums all over Europe with her mom. Her favorite art museum is the Rijksmuseum in the Netherlands because of its vast collection of portraits and religious paintings from the middle ages. Close by she enjoys the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., which holds her favorite painting, Death of Ruben Salazar by Frank Romero. Medina hopes to return to Europe again someday and travel across the rest of the world.

Medina wrote several pieces during the 2019 Fall fellowship. Check them out on our website:

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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PUBLIC POLICY/EMPLOYMENT
COMMUNICATIONS/DIVERSITY IN FILM & TELEVISION
NONPROFIT MANAGEMENT
COMMUNITY OUTREACH/GRASSROOTS ORGANIZING
JEWISH INCLUSION

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Eitan Jacobsohn, Communications Fellow

National Leadership Program, Fall 2019

Eitan Jacobsohn smiling in front of the RespectAbility banner

Eitan Jacobsohn

Eitan Jacobsohn is a Communications Fellow in RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program for Fall 2019. RespectAbility is a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so that people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of community.

Jacobsohn currently is enrolled at Montgomery College and is gaining work experience during his Fellowship with RespectAbility. He has been aware of RespectAbility since its founding in 2013 and was eager to join the RespectAbility team after he graduated high school earlier this year. He joined RespectAbility to do something positive with his free time.

In his free time, Jacobsohn likes to play video games, learn new things, and hike with his dog Lucy. He has a particular interest in the sciences, but also is interested in math, creative writing, and history. He wants to eventually pursue computer science professionally. This past summer, Jacobsohn volunteered at Lucky Dog Animal Rescue to partially automate their data processing system.

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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Courtney Murray, Communications Fellow

National Leadership Program, Fall 2019

Courtney Murray smiling in front of the RespectAbility banner

Courtney Murray

Courtney Murray is a Communications Fellow in RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program for Fall 2019. RespectAbility is a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so that people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of community.

Murray’s professional experience in the disability field includes work as a full-time communications intern at American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD). At AAPD, she volunteered with the Global Down Syndrome Foundation and organized hundreds of giveaway packages for its gala. She also took part in daily discussions on the progress and setbacks of policies that were affecting people with disabilities. She researched and identified key players in the disability community for the benefit of business operations. Additionally, she worked at American Institutes for Research (AIR) and performed quality control (QC) of assessments for multiple state departments of education. Her work on the Operations team at AIR led to her evaluating the quality of braille assessments.

Murray is from Kensington, Maryland. She attended Howard University and graduated in 2011 with a Bachelors of Arts in Journalism with a concentration in Broadcast News. She minored in Administration of Justice. Her goal in completing the Fellowship is to enhance her social media management skills. In addition, she wants to become even more of an ally to people with disabilities during her Fellowship and beyond. Her hope is to secure a full-time position with an organization that encourages employee’s work-life balance.

Murray is passionate about music. She enjoys listening to most genres. Currently her favorite music streaming service is Sirius XM. Her go-to station on the service is Hip Hop Nation. Music-related television shows she favors are NBC’s The Voice and FOX’s Masked Singer.

Murray wrote several pieces during the Fall 2019 fellowship. Check them out on our website:

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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Grace Goldman, Community Outreach Fellow

National Leadership Program, Summer 2019

Grace Goldman smiling in front of the RespectAbility banner

Grace Goldman

Grace Goldman is a Community Outreach Fellow in RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program.

A rising junior in the School of Social Work at the University of Washington in Seattle, Goldman is also pursuing a minor in American Sign Language.

Determined in her goal to advance meaningful employment opportunities for people with disabilities, she works on a university task force to create a certificate program for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. This fall, she will begin working at the Disability Resource Center for students on campus.

Originally from Bethesda, Maryland, Goldman moved to the state of Washington for college to explore how the other side of the country approaches disability issues as both a social and socio-economic endeavor. She cites her personal experiences with learning disabilities as one reason for her motivation to advocate for inclusion.

Goldman has been heavily involved in Best Buddies since her first year of high school. She started a chapter of Best Buddies at the University of Washington as a freshman and currently serves as president. She recently spoke at the Best Buddies “Champion of the Year” Gala in Seattle where it was announced that local efforts had raised enough funds to open a state office in Washington. This office will further the group’s mission of inclusion through not only one-to-one friendships but also accessible jobs and self-advocacy.

In her free time, Goldman enjoys participating in her sorority, playing Special Olympics Soccer and serving as a student senator. She also enjoys time with her family and four rescue dogs.

Goldman joined the RespectAbility team because of its mission to change the stigma and isolation of disability in our society. She appreciates the network of like-minded fellows at Respectability, collaborating to learn together and create meaningful opportunities for those with disabilities. Goldman is inspired by the perseverance, positive outlook and enthusiasm of the individuals and friends she has met in the disability community who continue to push her to better the systems and challenges related to disability.

Goldman wrote two pieces for RespectAbility. Check them out on our website:

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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Adam Fishbein, Jewish Inclusion and Volunteer Recruitment Fellow

National Leadership Program, Summer 2019

Adam Fishbein smiling in front of the RespectAbility banner

Adam Fishbein

Adam Fishbein is a Jewish Inclusion and Volunteer Recruitment Fellow in RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program. He previously served as a Public Policy and Employment Fellow at RespectAbility in the fall of 2017.

Originally from the Philadelphia area, Fishbein recently graduated as a Politics, Policy and Law Scholar from American University, earning in just three years his Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies: Communications, Law, Economics and Government. He will continue his education for one more year at AU as a Master of Public Administration candidate.

Fishbein’s interest in disability policy and advocacy stems from his own mental health and learning challenges. Throughout his childhood, Fishbein was involved in the PA Tourette Syndrome Alliance (PA-TSA) and the Tourette Association of America. He lobbied his legislators for state and federal funding for Tourette Syndrome awareness and research efforts and promoted understanding of Tourette through mass media outlets and public speaking.

Fishbein has continued to embrace his role as a disability advocate during college. He has served as a member of the PA-TSA Board of Directors since 2015, initially as its first youth board representative, and currently as vice president and board development committee chairman. He was appointed as the deputy director of disability advocacy for AU Student Government during the 2016-17 academic year and attended Jewish Disability Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill in February 2017 and 2018.

Fishbein’s professional experience includes a policy internship with the National Center for Learning Disabilities, where he provided extensive research support for an assessment of every state’s Every Students Succeeds Act plan and how it affects students with disabilities. He also worked two stints as an intern for Sen. Art Haywood, who represents his home district in the Pennsylvania Senate. There, he assisted the staff with constituent services and legislative research. He also interned at the nonprofit Jewish Learning Venture where he worked closely with the director of the Whole Community Inclusion program to refine and promote its work on disability advocacy.

Fishbein came to this Fellowship because RespectAbility is the type of organization where he could see himself working after college. He is especially interested in advancing public policy related to disability rights, particularly in education and employment policy.

Although he recognizes the progress already made to empower and accommodate students and young adults with disabilities, he views the inequalities in education faced by children with disabilities to be the most pressing issue in the disability community. Fishbein looks forward to helping recruit and manage RespectAbility’s volunteer corps and advance Jewish inclusion efforts through the weekly Shabbat Smile newsletter.

Fishbein wrote four pieces during the 2019 Summer Fellowship. Read them on our website:

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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Molly McConville, Policy Fellow

National Leadership Program, Summer 2019

Molly McConville smiling in front of the RespectAbility banner

Molly McConville

Molly McConville is a Policy Fellow in RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program. RespectAbility is a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for people with disabilities.

McConville is a rising senior at Miami University where she is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in international studies with a concentration in global cultural studies. She has a minor in Spanish and spent a junior semester studying in Barcelona through the Council on International Educational Exchange.

On campus, McConville is an active member of Best Buddies International, a program that connects individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to friends, employment opportunities, leadership development programs and living arrangements.

Her passion for disability rights stems from her personal relationships with family members and friends living with physical and intellectual disabilities and witnessing firsthand the discrimination they experience. McConville joined RespectAbility because of her belief that people with disabilities deserve the same opportunities as anyone else. She is looking forward to helping advance rights for people with disabilities while gaining experience in public policy, enhancing her professional writing skills and learning from professionals in the fields of business, disability and government.

McConville’s passions include traveling, pursuing social justice for disadvantaged populations and volunteering with the charity her family established, In the Name of the Mother. This organization raises funds for impoverished mothers who are fighting cancer, providing them with financial assistance for rent, utilities, medical needs, food, wigs, clothing and more.

After graduation, McConville hopes to teach English in South America before moving back to Washington, D.C. to pursue a career advocating for marginalized communities.

McConville contributed to a Maryland press release and wrote an article covering the RespectAbility Capitol Hill Summit. Read them on our website:

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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