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Bio – Apprentice – Past Apprentices

Jessenia Leaphart, Policy Apprentice

National Leadership Program, Fall 2022

Jessenia Leaphart headshot

Jessenia Leaphart

Jessenia Leaphart is a Policy Apprentice in RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program for Fall 2022. RespectAbility is a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so that people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of community.

Leaphart is a Champion of Change and honoree of social innovation and civic participation from the Obama Administration. She works in underserved communities to increase access and amplify equity in the areas of education and healthcare. With a B.A. in Psychology from Florida International University, her work has included women and girls, mental health clinics, inmates within the Florida correctional system on death row, and children with disabilities. [continue reading…]

Lex Paul, Nonprofit Management Apprentice

National Leadership Program, Fall 2022

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Lex Paul

Lex Paul is a Nonprofit Management Apprentice in RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program for Fall 2022. RespectAbility is a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so that people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of community.

With a background in Community Organizing and Development, Paul is passionate about shining a light on injustice and prejudice, working to build understanding across the political and social spectrum through education and engagement. [continue reading…]

Abigail Shaw, Civic Engagement Apprentice

National Leadership Program, Spring 2022

Abigail Shaw smiling seated on a bench outside

Abigail Shaw

Abigail Shaw (she/her) is a Civic Engagement Apprentice in RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program for Spring 2022. RespectAbility is a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so that people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of community. Shaw’s apprenticeship is funded by the Fox Family Foundation.

Shaw is a transplant to New York from North Carolina and strives to educate the public on access and inclusion for people with disabilities through her work and hobbies.

[continue reading…]

Ellynne Davis, Nonprofit Management Apprentice

National Leadership Program, Spring 2022

Ellynne Davis smiling wearing a white t-shirt and red earings

Ellynne Davis

Ellynne Davis is a Nonprofit Management Apprentice in RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program for Spring 2022. RespectAbility is a national nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so that people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of the community.

Davis received a Bachelor’s degree in Communications and Psychology from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in May 2018. As a student, Davis was involved in a number of student organizations including Communications Leader and the Black Student Union. She also spent her time working at the Student Dining and Residential Programs building where she was able to create a community and connect with different students and staff members. In addition, she was active in demonstrations protesting police shootings of black people including Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, and Eric Garner. [continue reading…]

Elizabeth Pezone, Policy Apprentice

National Leadership Program, Spring 2022

Elizabeth Pezone smiling headshot

Elizabeth Pezone

Elizabeth Pezone is a Policy Apprentice in RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program for Spring 2022. RespectAbility is a national nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so that people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of community. Pezone’s Apprenticeship is funded by the Fox Family Foundation.

Pezone was born in Long Beach, California and resides in Artesia, California. She decided to go back to college in 2016, after difficulty finding any employment in early education. She transferred to California State University Los Angeles and recently graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Rehabilitation Services. [continue reading…]

Kim Chua, Communications Apprentice

National Leadership Program, Spring 2022

Kim Chua smiling headshot

Kim Chua

Kim Chua (she/they) is a Communications Apprentice in RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program for Spring 2022. RespectAbility is a national nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so that people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of community.

Chua was born in Inglewood, California but most of her upbringing was in Lawndale (all within the South Bay Area of Los Angeles). While the two cities are relatively neighbors, Chua became all too familiar with how policy and community dictated quality of life and unfortunate crime rates. The starkly ignored inequalities led her to a path of empowering others through advocacy and design. [continue reading…]

Christina Lisk, Philanthropy Apprentice

National Leadership Program, Spring 2022

Christina Link smiling headshot

Christina Lisk

Christina Lisk is a Philanthropy Apprentice in RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program for Spring 2022. RespectAbility is a national nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so that people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of community. Lisk’s Apprenticeship was funded by the MacArthur Foundation.

An outspoken Philadelphian, Lisk is a writer committed to disability advocacy in the nonprofit sector and the arts. Lisk graduated from Bryn Mawr College, where she studied English Literature and Creative Writing and co-founded the disability group EnAble. Her publications include articles for The Mighty, Yahoo Finance, and Hearinglikeme.com and a short story entitled Fox Hollow Secrets in Nothing Ever Happens in Fox Hollow Anthology: Volume 2. In 2019, Lisk presented part of her novel in progress, a disability love story, at Middlebury Bread Loaf in Sicily. [continue reading…]

Alex Hilke, Policy Apprentice

National Leadership Program, Spring 2022

Alex Hilke smiling in front of the RespectAbility banner

Alex Hilke

Alex Hilke is a Public Policy and Employment Apprentice in RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program for Spring 2022. RespectAbility is a national nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so that people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of community. Hilke’s Apprenticeship was funded by the Fox Family Foundation.

Hilke was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois with Cerebral Palsy, and a cluster diagnosis of lost peripheral vision in his right eye and optic hypertension. He was raised in Ferguson, Missouri before moving to California as a teenager. He earned an Associates’ degree in Liberal Arts at Ohlone Community College, and went on to earn a Bachelor’s degree in Government at California State University, Sacramento. He is currently completing a Master’s degree in Public Administration at California State University, Dominguez Hills. [continue reading…]

Andrew Reid, Entertainment and News Media Apprentice

National Leadership Program, Spring 2022

Andrew Reid headshot

Andrew Reid

Andrew Reid is an Entertainment and News Media Apprentice in RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program for Spring 2022. RespectAbility is a national nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so that people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of community. [continue reading…]

Madison Essig, Communications Apprentice

National Leadership Program, Spring 2022

Madison Essig smiling headshot

Madison Essig

Madison Essig is a Communications Apprentice in RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program for Spring 2022. RespectAbility is a national nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so that people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of community.

Born in New York City, Essig now lives in Washington, DC. She was the first person with Down syndrome to graduate with a full diploma from the District of Columbia Public School system. She then spent two years in George Mason University’s (GMU) LIFE program before applying for admission as a degree-seeking student. Essig will graduate from George Mason University in May 2022 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in integrative studies with a concentration in social justice and human rights. She is an active member of Gamma Phi Beta sorority, Campus Democrats, and Hillel. [continue reading…]

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