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Bio – Fellow – Past Fellows

Nicole LeBlanc, Policy Fellow

National Leadership Program, Spring 2017

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Nicole LeBlanc

Nicole LeBlanc was a Policy Fellow with RespectAbility. She is currently a SARTAC Disability Policy Fellow at the National Disability Rights Network. While she was at RespectAbility, she represented our organization at multiple DC-area events, conferences and meetings. She also conducted data entry for a variety of outreach projects and contributed to the selection process of the class of summer 2017 Fellows.

Before joining RespectAbility, LeBlanc worked for more than eight years at Green Mountain Self-Advocates (GMSA) as Advocacy Director supporting her peers with disabilities to feel comfortable talking to their elected officials about what they need. While at GMSA, she served as the Project Assistant for the Inclusive Healthcare Partnership project. For this initiative, she researched tools that would assist people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in getting their healthcare needs met.

In August 2016, LeBlanc Nicole moved to Washington, D.C., area to begin the Paul Marchand Public Policy internship at AUCD, which she completed prior to her fellowship at RespectAbility.

Since 2011, she has consulted for Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered and the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network developing self-advocacy tools and curriculums, presenting webinars and video blogs on the topics of healthcare, what is Autism, presuming competence, self-managed services, voter access and employment of people with disabilities. She has presented keynotes on the dignity of risk at statewide self-advocacy conferences in Alabama, Missouri and Rhode Island.

LeBlanc has a certificate of professional studies from the University of Vermont.

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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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Jay Kolodne, Nonprofit Management Fellow

National Leadership Program, Spring 2015

Jay Kolodne was a Nonprofit Management Fellow with RespectAbility during the Spring and Summer of 2015. He was responsible for social media output on Facebook and Twitter. He also assisted in fundraising and contact expansion. Koldone is a graduate of Montgomery College. Born with Spina Bifida and learning disabilities, he overcame many challenges and obtained a degree in General Studies. While in school, he worked in the athletic department as an office assistant. He enjoys volunteering, especially at his faith organization. Koldone helps people asking for assistance by setting them up with appropriate organizations.

Kolodne also served as a Fellow during the Summer 2015 and Summer 2016 Cohorts.

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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Nathan Shearer, Policy Fellow

National Leadership Program, Spring 2016

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Nathan Shearer

Nathan Shearer was a Public Policy Fellow with RespectAbility. He was drawn to RespectAbility because of its inclusive environment and its focus on employment for people with disabilities, something that he thinks is essential yet often overlooked. Given that people with disabilities are the nation’s largest minority, Shearer was proud to be involved with the excellent work being done at RespectAbility. He has spent most of his time drafting public comments on state workforce (WIOA) plans, offering suggestions and best practices for states to better include people with disabilities in their workforces.

A graduate of the University of Maryland, Shearer has interned on Capitol Hill and worked on multiple political campaigns. He plans to pursue a Masters degree in Public Policy and/or Public Administration.

Shearer also served as a Fellow during the Summer 2016 Cohort.

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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Timothy Young, Policy Fellow

National Leadership Program, Summer 2016

Timothy Young

Timothy Young was a Policy Fellow at RespectAbility who was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome during his childhood and was able to take advantage of excellent programs for special education throughout his time in primary and secondary education.

Originally hailing from California, Young moved to Washington, D.C. to attend American University, where he was a dual major in history and international relations. His time at American University was rife with many opportunities for education, both in and out of a formal academic environment. Young traveled to both South Africa and Russia during his undergraduate career, fulfilling lifelong interests and desires to visit both countries and learn about their histories, their cultures and the challenges both nations face in the modern day.

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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Nicole Rakusin, Inclusion Fellow

National Leadership Program, Summer 2016

Nicole Rakusin smiling

Nicole Rakusin

Nicole Rakusin was an Inclusion Fellow at RespectAbility. She is a rising senior at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, where she double majors in Psychology and Medicine, Health & Society, and minors in Religious Studies. Her primary academic focus is on the political and social determinants of health that pose barriers to equal access to healthcare resources for minority groups in the United States. She hopes to pursue a combined J.D./M.P.H. degree after she graduates college next May.

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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Dan Pinsker, Nonprofit Management Fellow

National Leadership Program, Spring 2016

Dan Pinsker smiling

Dan Pinsker

Dan Pinsker was a Nonprofit Management Fellow with RespectAbility, where he researched foundations and other potential funders while also representing the organization on Capitol Hill and at the White House. Born with a birth defect called Aperts Syndrome as well as learning disabilities, he has never let his limitations stop him from living an independent, meaningful life. A North Carolina native, he attended St. Andrews Presbyterian College, graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. While attending St. Andrews, he was a frequent contributor to the school newspaper and a member of the school’s business club.

Since moving to Washington, D.C., he has volunteered for a environmental conservation nonprofit with a focus of protecting the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador and Peru, worked at a community youth center as a HR and later a Research Assistant, and most recently volunteered for the White House passing along correspondence to the office of the President. He speaks Brazilian Portuguese and Spanish, and enjoys helping people overcome their limitations so that they can enjoy life to the fullest.

Pinsker also served as a Fellow during the Summer 2016 Cohort.

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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Charles Butler, Policy Fellow

National Leadership Program, Spring/Summer 2016 Cohort

Charles Butler smiling

Charles Butler

Charles Butler was a Policy Fellow with RespectAbility in the Spring 2016 Cohort and Communications Fellow in the Summer 2016 Cohort. Today, Butler is a Media Assistant at GMMB, a political consulting firm.

As a Fellow, he was part of a team creating responses to all 50 states on their individual WIOA plans. Because he likes to engage in all aspects the organization, he also assisted the communications team in creating state voter guides for the presidential primary season as well as in drafting press releases and creating social media posts for Facebook and Twitter.

Butler graduated from Miami University in the Spring of 2016, where he majored in International Studies with a focus in Conflict, Peace, and Diplomacy. He also minored in Spanish, Management and Leadership, and Latin American Studies. He is an avid traveler, having spent extended amounts of time in Colombia, Argentina, Ecuador, Thailand and Switzerland. In the future, Butler hopes to either work in environmental sustainability or marketing and consumer outreach and research.

Butler also served as a Fellow during the Summer 2016 Cohort.

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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Medard Masangu, Communications Fellow

National Leadership Program, Spring 2016

Medard Masangu

Medard Masangu

Medard Masangu was a Communications Fellow with RespectAbility, where he assisted in the maintenance and expansion of RespectAbility’s presence on social networks and social media by creating and posting written content, news and stories. In addition, he filmed presidential candidates speaking about disability issues and edited and transcribed video.

After graduating from American University with a focus in Film & Media Arts and Marketing, he is pursuing an MBA in Finance. His goal is to work in public policy and government.

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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Grant Denny, Policy Fellow

National Leadership Program, Spring/Summer 2016 Cohort

Grant Denny smiling

Grant Denny

Grant Denny was a Policy Fellow at RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for and with people with disabilities. Denny was part of a team creating responses to all 50 states on their individual WIOA plans. In addition, he helped the development team with research and fundraising.

Previously Denny has interned for Congressman Dave Reichert of Washington state, the Child Labor Coalition and the Democratic National Committee. He also has worked in jewelry retail and as a teacher assistant teaching K-12 students Mandarin. Denny attended Gonzaga University, majoring in political science.

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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Laura Halvorson, Communications Fellow

National Leadership Program, Spring 2016

Lauren Halvorson smiling

Lauren Halvorson

Laura Halvorson was a Communications Fellow at RespectAbility. Halvorson is a 31-year-old with muscular dystrophy and has a Masters Degree in Special Education from Texas Woman’s University. Starting with RespectAbility as a communications and public policy fellow, Halvorson has assisted with the daily maintenance of our social media accounts and served on part of a team creating responses to all 50 states on their individual WIOA plans. In addition, as the unpaid volunteer Acting Leadership Director, Halvorson assisted with the recruitment and hiring of the summer 2016 fellows.

Halvorson previously lived in Texas where she was a special education department head and taught kindergarten-5th grade special education classes. In 2014 she was Ms. Wheelchair Texas 2014 where she educated and advocated to the media, businesses, political leaders and the general public on disability rights issues. Halvorson is passionate about working at RespectAbility because of her commitment to the disability rights movement which led her to move to the DC metro area to help further the cause. In her free time, she likes to play adaptive sports like adaptive water skiing and power wheelchair soccer and hockey.

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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