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Bio – Fellows

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 Fall 2017. Fishbein is originally from Elkins Park, Pennsylvania. He recently graduated as a Politics, Policy and Law Three-Year Scholar from American University, earning 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 advocated to his legislators for state and federal funding and raised awareness 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, first as the first Youth Board Representative, and currently as the 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 Awareness 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 he could see himself working for after college. He is especially interested in advancing public policy related to disability rights, particularly 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.

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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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Kai Fox, Nonprofit Management Fellow

National Leadership Program, Summer 2019

Kai Fox, smiling in front of the RespectAbility banner

Kai Fox

Kai Fox is 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.

Fox is a rising junior at American University majoring in interdisciplinary studies: communications, law, economics, and government.

Fox serves as the CEO of a nonprofit called Students for Free Expression. Founded in 2016 at the University of Chicago as an informally organized coalition of students, Students for Free Expression strives to build a community of students who believe in free speech and equip them to defend it in higher education. Fox took the helm of the organization in 2018 and stewarded it to incorporation in the District of Columbia, where it is pending 501(c)(3) status.

Since taking over as CEO, Fox has met with high-ranking officials in the U.S. Department of Education, appeared on the podcast HigherEdNow and has been featured in a profile published by The College Fix, a conservative student-reported news site that covers higher education. Under Fox’s tenure, Students for Free Expression’s “Statement of Principles,” the petition at the organization’s core, has now been signed over 1,000 times, chapters are blossoming on campuses across the country and the organization has launched its new website. Fox brings this leadership experience to RespectAbility’s nonprofit management team.

Fox joins RespectAbility with the goal of learning more about the issues facing people with disabilities. He recognizes the importance of RespectAbility’s work and hopes to study the organization’s effective advocacy to inform his possible career in the nonprofit field. He is excited to apply what he learns from RespectAbility’s nonprofit management professionals in his own nonprofit work with Students for Free Expression.

Fox also enjoys his studies at American University. As one of only 11 students accepted to the School of Public Affairs’ honors program, Fox looks forward to crafting his yearlong original research project as the program’s capstone. He will start this project after his semester abroad at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, where he will study the differences between the governance and legal systems of the United Kingdom and the United States.

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.

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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Laka Mitiku Negassa, Policy Fellow

National Leadership Program, Summer 2019

Laka Negassa smiling in front of the RespectAbility banner

Laka Negassa

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

A student of health policy, Negassa just finished her first year in the master’s program at George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health. She is interested in the ways in which health policy affects the disability community in terms of access to health care and quality of that care.

Born in Ethiopia, Negassa immigrated to the United States after completing her senior year of high school. She attended the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, where she earned a Bachelor of Science, with a major in biology and minor in psychology.

Negassa planned to study medicine and interned in neuroscience research labs during and after college. But a devastating accident changed the course of her career. While walking home from a job in Cleveland, Ohio, Negassa was struck by a snow plow truck and dragged nearly 90 feet along a road. This accident caused her to suffer from traumatic brain injury along with lacerations to different organs and fractures to bones that required major medical interventions. The recovery took nearly two years as she needed physical, occupational and speech therapies. While recovering, Negassa encountered what most disabled individuals experience navigating through this world. She especially became painfully aware of the healthcare policies that negatively affect those in the disability community.

She has interned in Maryland’s Division of Rehabilitation Services office where she fine-tuned her communication skills and first experienced working on issues affecting the disability community. Last summer, she interned at JBS International, a Bethesda consulting firm, where she summarized policy meetings and webinars on disability issues, gaining a deeper knowledge of the impact of health policies on the disability community.

In her free time, Negassa loves reading motivational books. She also enjoys baking and cooking for others.

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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Abigail Alvarez, Nonprofit Management Fellow

National Leadership Program, Summer 2019

Abigail Alvarez smiling in front of the RespectAbility banner

Abigail Alvarez

Abigail Alvarez is a Nonprofit Management Fellow in RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program for Summer 2019. RespectAbility is a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for and with people with disabilities.

Alvarez is a sophomore at Santa Clara University, studying political science and Spanish in the University Honors Program.

Alvarez is a passionate young leader who has focused her work on youth empowerment, disability rights, immigration, and social justice. In high school, she founded an inclusive after school program for students with and without disabilities, that focused on engagement in her local community and disability rights advocacy within the school.  Since then, she has done inclusion work with Northwest Down Syndrome Association, Disability Rights Oregon, Special Olympics Northern California, and Portland Parks & Recreation. Additionally, after completing the Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST), she spent three years answering calls on a national crisis hotline.

Alvarez currently serves as the board president of Oregon Student Voice (OSV), a youth empowerment organization that aims to reform education policy and amplify student voices. Prior to becoming a board member, Alvarez served as OSV’s associate policy director.

Alvarez also works in downtown San José, teaching a STEM after-school program to fourth and fifth graders from low-income backgrounds. Alvarez volunteers at the Day Worker Center of Mountain View, which works to empower day-laborers to improve their socioeconomic condition through fair employment, education, and job skills training. She was also heavily involved with a campus-wide movement to protect the rights of service workers at Santa Clara University.

Next year, Alvarez will serve as a class senator in Santa Clara’s Associated Student Government. She will also work as a program coordinator in the Santa Clara Community Action Program, where she will focus her work on disability justice.

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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Elizabeth Batwinis, Nonprofit Management Fellow

National Leadership Program, Summer 2019

Elizabeth Batwinis, smiling in front of the RespectAbility banner

Elizabeth Batwinis

Elizabeth Batwinis is a Nonprofit Management Fellow in RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program for Summer 2019. RespectAbility is a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for and with people with disabilities. Batwinis is a rising senior at Virginia Tech where she is working toward a dual degree in psychology and human development and a minor in integrative health and wellness.

She joined RespectAbility to help end the stigma surrounding physical and developmental disabilities and mental health and to gain experience in the field. Her mother and sister are both special education teachers, which jump-started her interest in working with and supporting those with disabilities. Through this fellowship, Batwinis hopes to learn more about RespectAbility’s inclusive philanthropy and the fight against stigmas.

Before working with RespectAbility, she spent the previous summer interning with Voices for Children Montgomery, the Court Appointed Special Advocates program in Montgomery County, Maryland which represents abused and neglected children. In high school, Batwinis was a student aid in the physical education class for the special education students, where she assisted and participated in the activities with the students. This experience helped introduce her to working and interacting with her peers from different backgrounds and spawned her drive to help others succeed.

In her free time, Batwinis enjoys teaching cycle classes, cheering on the Washington Nationals and searching for the best ice cream out there. On campus at Virginia Tech Batwinis is an active member of both her sorority and the Student Alumni Associates.

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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Ana Kohout, Nonprofit Management Fellow

National Leadership Program, Summer 2019

Ana Kohout smiling in front of the RespectAbility banner

Ana Kohout

Ana Kohout is 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. 

Kohout is a rising junior at Beloit College, where she is a double major in education and youth studies and disability studies. She hopes to become an elementary school teacher and work toward making schools more accessible. She intends to earn her doctorate in disability studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago to better understand how to advance disability rights in schools and make them more inclusive. 

Her interest in fighting stigmas surrounding those with disabilities stems from an early age and crystallized in college. Kohout was born with spina bifida, causing her to have scattered paralysis from the waist down. She did not consider herself to be part of a marginalized group until college, when she learned about disability studies in her first-year seminar. From then on, she became passionate about disability rights and created her own interdisciplinary major in disability studies. 

Kohout has been involved with the Beloit Cross-Disability Coalition, a club on campus for people with disabilities and their allies that focuses on disability-related advocacy, education, and support; she plans to run for president of the group next semester. Next semester, she will also expand her role at her college’s Learning and Enrichment Disability Services (LEADS) office, where she was working as a learning assistant. Previously, her experience with disability mostly took place in adaptive sports. Kohout has been swimming competitively for the last 10 years and playing sled hockey for the last eight years. 

Through her fellowship at RespectAbility, Kohout hopes to learn how to destigmatize disability and create more opportunities for 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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Anthony Rendolph Clarke Brown II, Communications Fellow

National Leadership Program, Summer 2019

Anthony Rendolph Clarke Brown II smiling in front of the RespectAbility banner

Anthony Rendolph Clarke Brown II

Anthony Rendolph Clarke Brown II is a Communications Fellow at RespectAbility. RespectAbility is a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for people with disabilities. Brown was born with hydrocephalus, excess fluid in the brain, and a slight form of cerebral palsy. He developed mild seizures later in life. Disability advocacy became an avenue he wanted to explore after going to a resume and cover letter workshop and speaking with Nancy Forsythe, the Career Development Disabilities Specialist for the University of Maryland. She referred him to RespectAbility and their fellowship program.

Brown graduated from the University of Maryland College Park with a bachelor’s degree in English language and literature in December 2018.

Sports writing became a passion of Brown’s when he joined Bishop McNamara High School’s newspaper as a sports staff writer in his junior year (2010). The next year, he went onto become one of the sports editors. When he joined the newspaper staff at Prince George’s Community College in 2012, he held the managing editor position the semester before transferring to the University of Maryland in 2014.

He currently writes recruiting profiles for football and basketball athletes in high schools and junior colleges across the United States for PorterMedium.com. This is work he has continued to pursue with the new site after a three-year stint writing for the Sports Rants and Dimoro Sports sites housed under Elite Rank Media.

At the start of his tenure at Maryland, he was recruited to join FanSided Network’s The Baltimore Wire blog covering Terps football and basketball. He continues to write for the network, where he primarily covers Terps basketball for its Busting Brackets college basketball site.

Prior to those roles, he wrote for the Maryland Terrapins and Washington Redskins SB Nation sites’ Testudo Times and Hogs Haven, respectively.

Last summer, Brown interned for the Voice of America’s Africa Division, where he gained valuable video editing skills. He worked with Dalet Plus, multimedia editing software, to create B-roll packages for the daily edition of Africa 54. He also ran the teleprompter and live streaming for the show and tracked voice-overs for its packages.

A native of Clinton, Maryland, Brown joined Respectability to gain more experience with social media and website management and learn more about nonprofit work in disability advocacy.

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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Sarah Meehan, Political Communications Fellow

National Leadership Program, Summer 2019

Sarah Meehan smiling in front of the RespectAbility banner

Sarah Meehan

Sarah Meehan is a Political Communications Fellow in RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program for Summer 2019. RespectAbility is a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for and with people with disabilities.

Meehan joined RespectAbility to continue her longstanding advocacy for people with disabilities, including herself. Meehan was diagnosed with anxiety in the sixth grade. With the help of her family, she was determined to get the care she needed, through therapy and mindfulness techniques that would indefinitely support her mental health.

In her senior year of high school, she developed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from a sexual violence assault. That year was one of the most challenging yet rewarding years of her life. Along the way, she realized her true passion for wanting to help other people that have encountered sexual violence. She was determined to work in a field that would help her advocate for people that have gone through sexual violence, especially people with disabilities.

As a student at Virginia Commonwealth University, she was not originally planning to become a social work major and psychology minor, but she soon decided this was her calling. She became the co-founder and vice president of a new organization on campus called the Association of Students with Disabilities or Chronic Conditions (A.S.D.C.C), which aims to support and advocate for students with disabilities and/or chronic conditions. Meehan is now the incoming president of the organization and has big plans to keep the organization striving to include people with disabilities or chronic conditions.

Meehan joined Alpha Xi Delta, a sorority on campus that partners with autism-related causes for its philanthropy, and has been involved as the group’s parent relations director.

Meehan plans to acquire her master’s in social work at Virginia Commonwealth University. She wants to work in mental health education and outreach with a focus on sexual violence.

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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Angelica Vega, Policy Fellow

National Leadership Program, Summer 2019

Angelica Vega smiling in front of the RespectAbility banner

Angelica Vega

Angelica Vega is a Policy Fellow in RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program. RespectAbility is a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for people with disabilities. Vega is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences at American University in Washington, D.C. She is majoring in philosophy and minoring in public health. Also, she is enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences Leadership and Ethical Development Program (CAS LEAD). CAS Lead is designed to teach and empower students to become effective and ethical leaders through its rigorous, four-year certificate program.

As a person with a disability and woman of color, Vega is passionate about fighting stigmas and promoting diversity and inclusion in schools and the workplace.

As an arts coordinator at the Pop-Up Library, a free-to-access library at the Woodbridge Mall in New Jersey, Vega helped design a community mural and encourage citizens to visit the place. Vega went on to research the importance of libraries at the CAS LEAD Interdisciplinary Symposium. And this summer, as a recipient of American University’s Robyn Rafferty Mathias Undergraduate Summer Fellowship program, she will work with a faculty mentor to explore why public spaces such as public-school libraries help bridge the accessibility gap in education and develop engaged citizens.

Before joining RespectAbility, Vega won the 2018 Lime Connect Fellowship, the flagship U.S. program of a global nonprofit for people with disabilities that helps rising college juniors compete for selective jobs and internships. The program helps students with disabilities to self-advocate in the workplace. Vega’s experience with Lime Connect has made her interested in disability employment policies.

Vega also founded “A Higher Bridge,” a summer program to help high school students prepare for college. She writes career advice blogs on her website and plans lectures for all students. Vega hopes that this program can become a resource for libraries.

Vega is currently working as a campus ambassador for Jopwell, a diversity hiring startup to connect major companies such as Amazon and J.P. Morgan with Black, Latinx and Native American students and professionals.

Also, she is the historian of Phi Sigma Pi (PSP), a gender-inclusive national honor fraternity. As a historian, she is responsible for maintaining a written history of the chapter as well as managing and documenting ritual events.

Vega is looking forward to giving back to her school by becoming a teacher’s assistant (TA) in the fall. She will assistant teach “Theories of Democracy and Human Rights” in the College of Arts and Sciences at American University.

In her free time, Angelica likes to play video games, hang out with her friends, volunteer and read philosophy books. She also likes to travel to new and exciting restaurants around Washington, D.C.

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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