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Bio – Apprentices

Adina Karten, Policy Apprentice

National Leadership Program, Fall 2022

Adina Faye Karten smiling headshot

Adina Faye Karten

Adina Faye Karten 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.

Karten is a Poverty and Development Consultant who has been working in inclusion, health advocacy, and the development spheres for more than 6 years. During this time, she has written about policy, designed M&E frameworks, and implemented interventions targeted toward increasing access to health resources for the rural disabled population. As a researcher for UN ESCAP, she contributed to the publication of “Harmonization of National Laws with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: Selected Trends in the ESCAP Region.” [continue reading…]

Ashley Melanie Castillo, Communications Apprentice

National Leadership Program, Fall 2022

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Ashley Merlanie Castillo

Ashley Merlanie Castillo is a Communications Apprentice in RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program for Fall 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.

Castillo is a disabled Latina/Hispanic journalist with cerebral palsy. Her passion for journalism began at a young age when her mother introduced her to Spanish language news broadcasts. An English language learner at school, she realized that watching the news at home allowed her to continue to learn and grasp Spanish. She especially enjoyed the entertainment and gossip news hour because she loved hearing about current events and the latest news in the entertainment business. She also noticed that Spanish language broadcasts covered more stories about disabled people like herself. [continue reading…]

Elizabeth Pezone, Policy Apprentice

National Leadership Program, Spring 2022

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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…]

Isabella Vargas, Entertainment and News Media Apprentice

National Leadership Program, 2022

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Isabella Vargas

Isabella Vargas is an Entertainment and News Media Apprentice in RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program for Spring and Fall 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.

Vargas is a filmmaker and community organizer who grew up chronically ill in the Hispanic heart of South Florida. Chronic illness was her perfect excuse to devour every movie and book she could possibly find. [continue reading…]

Riccardo Ricciardi, Jewish Nonprofit Management Apprentice

Riccardo Ricciardi, Jewish Nonprofit Management Apprentice

Riccardo Ricciardi smiling headshot

Riccardo Ricciardi

Riccardo Ricciardi is a Jewish 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 community.

Ricciardi was born in Los Angeles, California, but he spent most of his childhood in La Paz, Bolivia. He served in the US Air Force and was based in San Antonio, Texas.  He then moved to London, England where he worked for Pan American World Airways as a flight attendant, and eventually returned back to the United States to attend New York University. Currently he lives in the Los Angeles area. [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…]

Becca Block, Jewish Inclusion Apprentice

National Leadership Program, 2022

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Becca Block

Becca Block is a Jewish Inclusion Apprentice in RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program for Spring and Fall 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.

Block is a proud Jewish, queer, disabled, and chronically ill person who resides in Montgomery County, Maryland. Block graduated cum laude from the University of South Carolina School of Journalism & Mass Communications in December 2021. She majored in mass communications and minored in education. [continue reading…]

Leah Ilana Craig, Jewish Nonprofit Management Apprentice

National Leadership Program, Spring 2022

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Leah Ilana Craig

Leah Ilana Craig is a Jewish 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 community.

Born in Los Angeles, California, Craig has lived in New York City; northern New Jersey; Washington, D.C.; Roanoke, Virginia; and London, England only to return to Los Angeles—thus proving you never truly escape your hometown. [continue reading…]

Dennis Tran, Entertainment and News Media Apprentice

National Leadership Program, Spring 2022

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Dennis Tran

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

Roy Payan, Policy and Civic Engagement Apprentice

National Leadership Program, Fall 2021

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Roy Payan

Roy Payan (he/him) is a Policy and Civic Engagement Apprentice in RespectAbility’s National Leadership Program for Fall 2021. RespectAbility is a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so that people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of community. Payan’s apprenticeship was funded by the Fox Family Foundation. [continue reading…]

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