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Bio – 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.

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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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.

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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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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