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Bio – Fellow – Past Fellows

Charlotte Ruda, Nonprofit Management Fellow

National Leadership Program, Spring 2019

Charlotte Ruda smiling in front of the RespectAbility banner

Charlotte Ruda

Charlotte Ruda is a Nonprofit Management Fellow in RespectAbilitys National Leadership Program. RespectAbility is a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for and with people with disabilities. Ruda recently graduated from American University with a bachelors degree in International Relations in December 2018. 

Growing up internationally in France, Singapore, Australia and various cities in the U.S., moving for her fathers job in human resources for a defense contractor, Ruda had a desire to learn about international relations and affairs in a formal setting. During her time at American University, Ruda became more focused on international development and formed a passion for public health, particularly during times of humanitarian crises such as refugee crises and mass migration. Throughout college she spent her summers in upstate New York working at Camp Northwood, a traditional summer camp that caters for children and young adults on the autism spectrum, where she began to become a part of the disability community. Throughout the camp experience, while learning and growing personally, she began to notice the lack of discussion about persons with disabilities in the majority of her classes in relation to international development, aid or public health policies. This sparked her desire to become an ally for people with disabilities, particularly in the field of international development. 

Ruda joined RespectAbility in the hopes to learn more about disability specific policy and programing with the goal of applying it to international development programs. Outside of work, Ruda enjoys listening to music and Podcasts such as No Such Thing as a Fishand Serial,watching cooking shows, particularly The Great British Bake Offand It’s Alive!’and exploring the many free museums in Washington, D.C.

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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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Madeleine Hannah Tasini, Jewish Inclusion Fellow

National Leadership Program, Spring 2019

Madeleine Tasini smiling in front of the RespectAbility banner

Madeleine Hannah Tasini

Madeleine Hannah Tasini is a Jewish Inclusion Fellow through Respectability’s National Leadership Program. Tasini chose RespectAbility’s Fellowship program because she wants to fight stigmas against people with disabilities. She hopes to use her skills to help make the Jewish community aware of people with disabilities and treat them fairly and equally. Tasini wants to make the Jewish community and Israel a more accessible place for people with disabilities. She hopes to use her power to ensure people with disabilities are treated fairly in Israel, especially when it comes to employment opportunities.

Tasini earned her bachelor’s degree in Government from Connecticut College. There, she participated in Connecticut College’s Hillel Board. She planned events and helped strengthen the Jewish community. In addition, she was involved in a poetry and spoken word club called RefleXion on campus where she performed some of her poems. Tasini is now a second-year graduate student at American University studying for a Master’s in Public Administration.

Before graduate school, Tasini taught English in Israel for five months. She worked with students who had disabilities and taught them English. Before coming to Respectability, she worked at the Embassy of Israel in Washington, D.C, as a Congressional Intern. She researched how the United States is working with Israel to destroy Hezbollah, an international terrorist organization.

Tasini is a published author of the book Colors of the World sold on Amazon. The book is a collection of poetry about love, forgiveness, never giving up on yourself, poems about the world, and poems about her life. Tasini wrote this book when she was 16 years old. Today, Tasini has a poetry blog through her Instagram @racinghearts_123. Tasini is working on her next book of poems in her spare time. She hopes to use her poetry writing skills to help people believe in themselves and to express her life in her poems. Tasini is fluent in Hebrew. She hopes to move and live in Israel one day.

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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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Justin Tapp, Policy Fellow

National Leadership Program, Spring 2019

Justin Tapp smiling in front of the RespectAbility banner

Justin Tapp

Justin Tapp is a Public Policy Fellow at RespectAbilitys National Leadership. RespectAbility is a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for and with people with disabilities. Tapp is now an undergraduate student at The University of Toledo (UT) in Toledo, Ohio. He will graduate in May of 2019 with his bachelors degree in Disability Studies and Political Science.

Tapp’s interest in the nonprofit sphere stems from his passion for assisting marginalized groups by advocating, participating in the political process that affects public policy, and strengthening the social and economic awareness for individuals with disabilities. Overall, Tapp is motivated in researching the most accessible inclusion strategies, providing knowledge on the common barriers faced for those with disabilities, and ensuring compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. He especially wants to improve policy concerning Title II, Title VII and FMLA. 

Tapp’s interests in disability issues comes from UTs disability studies program. The disability studies program is Ohios first and only program that focuses on disability in academic scholarship, social discourse and public policy. Tapp has learned the meaning of human difference and how society accepts or resists certain notions of “normal” behavior, function and appearance. He is learning to understand the full spectrum of human variation, and the challenging barriers that prevent disabled individuals from participating fully in common activities such as socializing in public. Justin also has the privilege to be the Disability Studies Student Organizations treasurer at UT.

A fact you may not know about Justin is that he identifies as being disabled. He was born with two congenital diseases: klippel-feil syndrome and scoliosis. Tapp enjoys using identity-first language and making sure everyone gets to know him by name instead of by his disability. Tapp is disabled, but he does not consider himself anyones inspiration; he just wants to show that disability is able to be included in employment/everyday life with the right accommodations. He specifically would like the world to have a universal design. Tapp especially enjoys teaching others about disability culture. Lastly, he has a hazel-eyed black cat named Hazel Mae that he loves dearly.

Tapp wrote three pieces during the 2019 Summer Fellowship, including a personal reflection. Read them on our website:

Tapp also wrote 13 pieces for The RespectAbility Report following the release of the  2018 Annual Disability Statistics Compendium, delving into what the statistics mean for each of these states:

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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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Naya Rhodes, Nonprofit Management Fellow

National Leadership Program, Fall 2018

Naya Rhodes smiling in front of the RespectAbility banner

Naya Rhodes

Naya Rhodes was a Nonprofit Management Fellow in RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program for Fall 2018. RespectAbility is a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for people with disabilities. Rhodes’s knowledge and experience with disabilities come in part from her uncle who has bipolar disorder. He doesn’t receive the support he needs from his family and doesn’t have access to the right resources. As a result, like many other people with disabilities, he has fallen through the cracks, landing in jail and other institutions not equipped to meet his needs. Mental illness health and its treatment are problems that need more national attention. Rhodes believes change is possible and wants to help improve services and resources for all people with disabilities as best she can.

Rhodes graduated from Kent State University with a bachelor’s degree in Actuarial Mathematics and a minor in finance. During her time there, she tutored high school students in an after-school program called Upward Bound, which works with public schools and minority students to provide resources their schools cannot afford. For her study abroad in India, Rhodes visited numerous prominent organizations. One that stood out to her and shaped her ideals for the future was The Sehgal Foundation. They are responsible for providing basic resources to impoverished villages and empowering women in India. This journey showed Rhodes that many effective organizations, like The Sehgal Foundation, lack the representation of those they are fighting for. This resonating experience showed Rhodes that she had to get involved in diversity and inclusion.

In her spare time, Rhodes enjoys indoor and outdoor rock climbing, playing songs by My Chemical Romance, Panic! At The Disco, and Fall Out Boy on her guitar, intense hiking, and writing sad poetry. At her university, Rhodes dabbled in glass blowing and intends to have a complete glass blowing studio once she retires. Rhodes is from Chicago but currently lives in Denver, Colorado. She believes Respectability’s mission is important and flew to Maryland to contribute in the best way she can.

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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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Laura Haney, Policy Fellow

National Leadership Program, Fall 2018

Laura Haney smiling in front of the RespectAbility banner

Laura Haney

Laura Haney is a Policy Fellow in RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program for Fall 2018. RespectAbility is a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for people with disabilities. Haney is excited to do hands-on advocacy work related to public policy and to begin making a difference in the disability circle. Her connection to the organization’s central mission to fight stigmas and advance opportunities for people with disabilities stems from her relationship with her older brother who has Down syndrome. As a young girl, Haney began to see the ways her brother was treated differently in schools and affected differently by the law, so this sparked an interest and a passion for becoming an ally for people with disabilities.

Haney has been involved with the disability community for as long as she can remember. Working with her brother at Special Olympics, she became aware and interested in the issues that face people with disabilities from a young age. Beginning in seventh grade, Haney ran her own r-word campaigns that eventually turned into inspiration for her to start her own club in high school. However, this was only the beginning of Haney’s passion and interest within the field of disability.

As a senior at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Haney is pursuing a degree in Political Science. In her time as an intern for the New Jersey Council on Developmental Disabilities, she learned about the specific policies that affect people with disabilities and honed in on her interest in public policy. At St. Joe’s, Haney is a director of an organization that plans a yearly carnival for more than 300 community members with disabilities and hundreds of St. Joe’s students.

Haney is thrilled to be in Washington, D.C., during a time that is sure to make history. While not working at RespectAbility, Haney can be found exploring the city or out reading a book somewhere on a nice day. Her favorite books include the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling and East of Eden by John Steinbeck. In the future, Haney hopes to continue to travel the United States and the world at large as she settles into a career related to public policy and disability issues.

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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Heidi Wangelin, Volunteer Engagement Fellow

National Leadership Program, Fall 2018 and Spring 2019

Heidi Wangelin smiling in front of the RespectAbility banner

Heidi Wangelin

Heidi Wangelin is a Volunteer Engagement Fellow in RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program for Spring 2019, after serving as a Policy Fellow in Fall 2018. RespectAbility is a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for and with people with disabilities. Wangelin is a University of Washington graduate with two bachelor’s degrees in Culture, Literature and Arts as well as Disability Studies. She has worked with several disability advocacy nonprofits such as the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, National Council of Independent Living and University of Washington DO-IT Center.

Wangelin joined RespectAbility to further her learning about public policy regarding people with disabilities, especially about employment and future career goals primarily in the federal sector. She also has worked with the AmeriCorps program on projects about people with disabilities, including financial services for people with disabilities to receive assistive technology and senior care for people with disabilities to achieve independence. She has worked in an autistic college program and in campaigns to advance STEM opportunities for students with disabilities.

Wangelin has authentic experience with disabilities. She lives with multiple disabilities, including non-verbal learning disability, autism, ADHD, three anxiety disorders and physical disabilities. Being a person with disabilities, primarily autism and anxiety, has been challenging, but she is determined to work as hard as she can to be a role model to other people with disabilities and a more compassionate person. Both in school and at work, she was often the only autistic woman.

Wangelin is originally from Seattle, Washington but recently moved to the Washington, D.C., metro area. She is a passionate activist for people with disabilities and began learning about disability self-advocacy as a teenager. As an adult, she has continued her lifelong learning about disabilities as evidenced by her degree in disability studies. Currently she is a contributor to the Autism Women’s and Non-Binary Network anthology What Every Parent Should Know about Raising their Autistic Daughter as well as featured on the NeuroQueer blog. Wangelin is also a finalist for the Pacific Northwest and West Disability Studies Symposium about women’s reproductive rights and the history of eugenics. She loves to read about disability justice and social justice as well as young adult fiction and poetry. Wangelin is also a published poet and is featured in the Celebration of Young American Poets Anthology Wisconsin 2004. Her favorite book series is The Ship Who Sang series by Anne McCaffery and The Speed of Dark. Wangelin also loves foreign languages and currently is learning Hebrew, Spanish and American Sign Language.

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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Jaylynn Cruz, Nonprofit Management Fellow

National Leadership Program, Fall 2018

Jaylynn Cruz smiling in front of the RespectAbility banner

Jaylynn Cruz

Jaylynn Cruz was a Nonprofit Management Fellow in RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program. RespectAbility is a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for and with people with disabilities. Cruz is from Gibraltar and has earned her Education and Special Inclusive Needs bachelor’s degree with honors from Liverpool John Moores University in Liverpool. She recently has completed a Postgraduate Certificate in Primary Education, with a speciality in Special Educational Needs.

Cruz’s interests stem from observing a lack of awareness and opportunities within society for people with disabilities and therefore is interested and engaged in the disability rights movement. She aims to ensure equality of opportunity rooted in mutual respect for children with disabilities and she will promote these values through her future teaching career. Before RespectAbility, Cruz had led summer camps for children with disabilities that allow children to partake in numerous activities such as music, art and sport. She also has worked at numerous mainstream and special education schools as a primary school teacher.

At RespectAbility, Cruz is immersed in an environment that actively advocates to fight stigmas and advance opportunities for individuals with disabilities. She wants to further her research skills in fundraising and help RespectAbility with its mission.

In her free time, Cruz likes to eat good Chinese and Spanish food and listen to a variety of music genres. She is a huge fan of Grey’s Anatomy and takes the time to indulge in yoga and meditation.

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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Kathleen L. Brockway, Nonprofit Management Fellow

National Leadership Program, Fall 2018

Kathleen L. Brockway smiling in front of the RespectAbility banner

Kathleen L. Brockway

Kathleen L. Brockway was a Nonprofit Management Fellow in RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program. RespectAbility is a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for and with people with disabilities. Kathleen earned her bachelor’s degree in 2006 from the University of Phoenix. Currently, she is a graduate student at Goucher College and studies Cultural Sustainability. She hopes to become a historian, folklorist or cultural worker to sustain deaf history and culture after her expected graduation in 2020.

Brockway has come to RespectAbility because she is interested in gaining experience with program development and fundraising. Personally, she also is interested in sustaining deaf history and culture and advocating for important issues such as cleaning up the history of deaf education. She also advocates on her own time for collaboration between deaf history and culture museums and the state deaf schools through ASL Rose Company. She is passionate about research and experienced in gathering research and cultural documentation. As a deaf author, she has published two books on “Baltimore’s Deaf Heritage” and “Detroit’s Deaf Heritage.” She also has contributed articles such as “History of the Deaf Grassroots Movement” and background information on the early Virginia deaf history with the Virginia School for the Deaf Alumni Association. In the past, she served as a Chair of the Deaf Culture and History Section at the National Association of the Deaf for three years. Brockway also has been inducted in the Susan M. Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame in the Class of 2016 sponsored by National Disability Mentoring Coalition.

During Brockway’s free time, she loves to read non-fiction, history and biography, as well as to travel to explore the deaf historical sites. While exploring, she usually makes videos to post on YouTube or Instagram and shares her findings or tells a story about the sites, things or individuals in deaf history. Currently, she is working on a book about early Virginia deaf history while researching her own deaf ancestry.  She also loves to watch action and romantic movies on her own quiet time.

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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Margot Pitois, Nonprofit Management Fellow

National Leadership Program, Fall 2018

Margot Pitois smiling in front of the RespectAbility banner

Margot Pitois

Margot Pitois was a Nonprofit Management Fellow in RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program. RespectAbility is a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for and with people with disabilities. Pitois recently graduated from Grenoble Alpes University in France with a double Bachelor’s degree in Economics and in Languages, both English and Spanish. She spent two years studying in France and did her senior year at Washington College in Maryland as an exchange student. This experience motivated her to keep discovering the world for at least another year to better understand the theoretical knowledge learned in the classroom and to use that knowledge in the professional world.

Now in a transition year before starting a Master’s degree, Pitois is exploring different professional options through internships and traveling. She is interested in international relations, humanitarian issues and social-service professions.

Pitois’ interests in diversity, inclusion and equality stem from her work as a volunteer in different nonprofits in Peru that fight poverty and also in France, her home country, at Rêves, the French version of Make-a-Wish. These experiences confirmed her interest in working internationally to improve the inclusion of minorities. Both of her parents work with children and adults with mental and physical disabilities, so Pitois grew up with the desire to work to reach equality in our society. RespectAbility’s Fellowship is an opportunity to learn more about the management of a nonprofit, including the all-important aspect of fundraising.

In her free days, Pitois loves to learn new languages and to read the works of Pierre Rabhi, a French ecologist and author. She also enjoys playing music, piano and ukulele, as well as participating in her local circus back home.

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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Emily Kranking, Communications Fellow

National Leadership Program, Fall 2018 and Spring 2019

Emily Kranking smiling in front of the RespectAbility banner

Emily Kranking

Emily Kranking is a Communications (Hollywood) Fellow in RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program for Spring 2019. She is pleased to extend her Fellowship after having a productive experience as a Public Policy/Employment Fellow in Fall 2018. 

Kranking has hemiplegia cerebral palsy, affecting her right side of her body and her speech. She has gone through leg surgeries and a spinal fusion. Over the years, she has educated herself how people with disabilities are treated in entertainment and society. Working as a Communications Fellow at RespectAbility mixes her passion for entertainment and her love of service with strategic communications to help people with disabilities. 

Kranking has an associate degree in Graphic Design from Howard Community College and a bachelor’s degree in Media and Communications Studies from University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). During her time at UMBC, she received an A on her capstone project about “Disability and the Media.” She also was honored in UMBC’s Delta Alphi Phi chapter. Her leadership positions included the leading web developer in the Student Government Association, a copy editor for the literary magazine Bartleby and a photographer for The Retriever Weekly. She was also an active member of UMBC’s New Media Studios and the Musical Theater Club. She is currently an editor for Our Parish Times and a freelance writer for clients, including the interactive story app Episode. 

As an actress, Kranking’s first feature film, The Homecoming, is scheduled to be released this fall. Zeno Mountain Farm’s The Homecoming is the first movie musical that mainly stars actors and dancers with disabilities. Emily will star as Nancy, the bubbly best friend of the main character Sage. Locally, she is active in the inclusive theater company Open Circle Theater in Silver Spring, Maryland as the Director’s Assistant and Projection Operator. She plans on getting a master’s degree in screenwriting, theater, communications, disability studies or children’s 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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