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Bio – Staff

Matan Koch

Matan Koch, Senior Advisor

Matan A. Koch smiling

Matan A. Koch, Senior Advisor

Matan A. Koch is a Senior Advisor at RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for and with people with disabilities. A longtime national leader in disability advocacy and a wheelchair user himself, he is on the front lines in RespectAbility’s work on disability inclusion in philanthropy and nonprofits, Jewish outreach and impact, leadership, legal affairs and our Los Angeles work.

Koch is a longtime leader in disability advocacy, and was a Senate confirmed Obama appointee to the National Council on Disability, for a term that ended in 2014. An inclusion expert, he has developed training and materials for many Jewish organizations, including Hillel International, the Union for Reform Judaism and Combined Jewish Philanthropies. He has also spoken and taught at law firms, and at Johnson & Johnson. He currently serves on the Advisory Council of Jewish Vocational Services in Boston, as their disability subject matter expert.

A graduate of Yale College and the Harvard Law School, Koch began his legal career as counsel to the Procter & Gamble Company, where he rose to become the primary legal support for a $2 billion portfolio of brands. He then transitioned to an AmLaw 100 Law Firm in New York, where he worked on a broad range of high-value commercial litigation matters, and was privileged to do pro bono work in the areas of criminal appeals and guardianship. For his commercial work, Koch was recognized as a “Rising Star” by New York SuperLawyers in 2012 and 2013, a distinction allotted to the top 2.5% of New York metro area lawyers, based on peer recognition and professional achievement. For his pro bono work, Koch was awarded the Legal Aid Society Outstanding Pro Bono Services for 2013, based on a victory at the highest court of New York.

Meet our Staff

Learn about all of the members of RespectAbility’s staff: https://www.respectability.org/about-us/meet-our-staff/.

Isabel Maxwell

Isabel Maxwell, Senior Advisor

Isabel Maxwell headshotIsabel Maxwell is a Senior Advisor to RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for and with people with disabilities. She will be providing strategic guidance to RespectAbility in Los Angeles County and in the Jewish community.

Maxwell is a high-profile Media and Internet entrepreneur, international executive, and champion of social innovation. She is known for her energetic leadership and advising of companies and non-profit organizations and leveraging her extensive network of investors, thought-leaders, business leaders and philanthropists around the world. She is multilingual and tri-national, and a graduate of Oxford University.

Meet our Staff

Learn about all of the members of RespectAbility’s staff: https://www.respectability.org/about-us/meet-our-staff/.

Stephanie Farfan

Stephanie Farfan, Latinx Inclusionist

RespectAbility Policy, Practices and Latinx Outreach Associate Stephanie Farfan smiling in front of the RespectAbility banner

Stephanie Farfan, Latinx Inclusionist

Stephanie Farfan is a Latinx Inclusionist for RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for and with people with disabilities. As a little person, she personally always has been committed to disability rights and advocacy. She has experienced firsthand the discrimination many people with disabilities face. This discrimination led to her commitment to fight the stigmas and social barriers that people with disabilities have to contend with to be taken seriously. This is especially true when one is also a member of another minority. Farfan has been a part of Little People of America (LPA) since she was 16 years old and volunteered her time as a co-chair for the Hispanic Affairs Committee. Her fluency in Spanish enables her to help Spanish-speaking little people and their families get the resources and support they may otherwise not have access to.

Farfan completed her undergraduate studies with a major in Peace and Conflict Studies and a minor in French at Juniata College in Pennsylvania. While at Juniata, Farfan studied abroad in Lille, France. She loved the experience and was grateful that the opportunity allowed her to improve her French. She later was accepted to American University’s School of International Service, where she currently is pursuing a Masters’ in International Peace and Conflict Resolution. As a graduate student, Farfan served as a Public Policy Fellow at RespectAbility and as the Policy, Practices and Latinx Outreach Coordinator. She also interned at Win Without War, a progressive foreign policy think tank, where she worked on immigration issues.

Farfan hopes to combine the experience she has working with the Latinx community and her academic work in peace studies into a career that can help the international disability community, particularly for Latinx people with disabilities. Eventually, she aspires to earn a Ph.D. and hopes to open doors in academia for people with disabilities and foster intersectional inclusivity through her social activism.

Contact Stephanie Farfan

Reach Farfan at StephanieF@RespectAbility.org.

Meet our Staff

Learn about all of the members of RespectAbility’s staff: https://www.respectability.org/about-us/meet-our-staff/.

Victoria Grace Assokom-Siakam

Victoria Grace Assokom-Siakam, Inclusionist

Headshot of Victoria Grace Assokom-Siakam in front of the Respectability banner

Victoria Grace Assokom-Siakam, Inclusionist

Victoria Grace Assokom-Siakam is an Inclusionist at RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for and with people with disabilities. Previously she served as a Development and Fundraising Fellow for the organization, in two major areas: the initiative to increase and strengthen partnerships with philanthropic organizations and the grant-seeking process. In her current position, Assokom-Siakam will focus on enabling people with disabilities to fully participate in foundations, philanthropy, nonprofit organizations and advocacy.

Previously she worked with individuals with disabilities to expand their opportunities whether at work or at home. These experiences with people with disabilities at St Louis ARC have motivated her to join RespectAbility and to help ensure that people with disabilities have the financial resources to pursue their ambitions.

Assokom-Siakam is a third-year student at Washington University in St. Louis pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in International and Area Studies – Development. Her own Cameroonian-American background, as well as growing up in multicultural Washington, D.C., has motivated her to study marginalized diaspora communities such as those of Arab or African descent in the U.S. Assokom-Siakam also is an intern for the Center for Community Health Partnership and Research through the Institute for Public Health at Washington University. There she creates promotional material for center events and researches violence prevention.Assokom-Siakam is interested in elements of urban spaces such as architecture, transportation, public policy and how people interact with these spaces. She still is exploring possible professions. Currently, her interests include public health, politics and user research. An example of user research is how people use a public park.

In her free time, Assokom-Siakam enjoys listening to comedy acts. In addition to the occasional run, to stay physically active, Assokom-Siakam plays rugby on the women’s club team at her university. She also likes frequenting restaurants with friends and family to try different food. Assokom-Siakam highly recommends inapa, also known as eru. Inapa is her favorite Cameroonian dish: a peanut sauce cooked with bitter leaves similar to spinach and beef.

Meet our Staff

Learn about all of the members of RespectAbility’s staff: https://www.respectability.org/about-us/meet-our-staff/.

Rebecca Gross

Rebecca Gross, NYC Inclusionist

Rebecca Gross headshot

Rebecca Gross

Rebecca Gross is an NYC Inclusionist with RespectAbility, working to make connections between New York City’s disability community and RespectAbility’s Women’s Disability Leadership, Inclusion & Advocacy Training Series in NYC. RespectAbility is a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for and with people with disabilities.

Gross graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in 2017 with a BA in liberal arts concentrating in disability studies, theater and education and currently is working toward an MA in Disability Studies from the CUNY School of Professional Studies.

Her interest in disability advocacy stems from her personal experiences with learning disabilities and mental illness. She spent the early part of her education transferring between Jewish Day Schools that could not accommodate her needs, before attending a specialized high school for learning disabilities where she felt firsthand the difference that appropriate accommodations make for a person’s academic and psychological well-being.

At Sarah Lawrence, Gross was one of the leaders of the Sarah Lawrence Disability Alliance (SLCDA), a student disability advocacy organization which works toward accessibility, understanding and acceptance of people with disabilities both on campus, and in the wider community.  In this role, she led weekly meetings for students with disabilities and allies and created many events and several publications working toward these goals. She also acted as a student representative on the administration’s Ad Hoc Accessibility Committee and contributed ideas and research to the design team for the creation of a new student center, which is set to open later this year.  She is passionate about ensuring that students with disabilities have the knowledge and practical self-advocacy skills that are needed to succeed in school and communities.

In addition to her work as an Inclusionist, Gross tutors students with disabilities in a variety of subjects, and is the Art Specialist for a weekend social skills program for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder. During the summer, she works every weekend as an actor and director at the New York Renaissance Faire. Gross loves live theater, especially Shakespeare, and is learning American Sign Language.

Meet our Staff

Learn about all of the members of RespectAbility’s staff: https://www.respectability.org/about-us/meet-our-staff/.

Stan Goldman

Stan Goldman, Writing Coach, National Leadership Program

headshot of Stan Goldman smiling and holding a pen

Stan Goldman, Writing Coach, National Leadership Program

Stan Goldman serves as the writing coach for the Fellows in the National Leadership Program at RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for and with people with disabilities. Although semi-retired, he also advises several disability organizations that support community integration, especially inclusive schools and competitive, integrated employment. Goldman is a reader for several literary agents and edits novels for first-time novelists.

His former lives include working as a college English teacher at Purdue University and for many years writing books and articles about Herman Melville and chasing large white objects, in his mind. He was the managing editor of Cardiovascular Toxicology, a peer-reviewed science journal. Goldman raised $12 million in six years as a grants writer for a network of hospitals in Kentucky, and served 18 years as a program director for health and disabilities at two major foundations, including The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation in Owings Mills, Maryland.

Goldman lives in Owings Mills, Maryland in a small rancher in the woods and shares his home with a 100-pound male Akita named Duncan — a spoiled brat. He is a long-time caneologist and collects antique walking canes and carves his own canes from the beautiful wood grown in Maryland: black walnut, cherry, honey locust, ash and Spanish cedar. Goldman is an inveterate reader of American poetry and essays. He is most proud of his only son who plays the clarinet in the Dallas Opera Symphony and is financially independent in the impossible world of classical music.

Meet our Staff

Learn about all of the members of RespectAbility’s staff: https://www.respectability.org/about-us/meet-our-staff/.

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