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Series Starring Cast with Disabilities Continues to Break Glass Ceiling

Born This Way Takes Home Two More Emmy’s for Cinematography and First-Ever Emmy for Casting

An African American man and a white woman dressed in a tux and gown back stage

Born This Way’s John Tucker and Rachel Osterbach back stage after they presented awards in three categories at the Emmy’s Creative Arts Awards.

Los Angeles, Calif., Sept. 11 – A&E Network’s critically acclaimed and award-winning original docuseries Born This Way’s honors keep adding up – showing that disability is a winning theme. This series starring a cast with disabilities, which received six Emmy nominations this year, won two Emmy’s at Saturday night’s Creative Arts Emmy Awards for Casting for a Reality Program and Cinematography for a Reality Program – after bringing home the Emmy for Outstanding Unstructured Reality Series in 2016.

Produced by Bunim/Murray Productions, Born This Way, an unscripted reality show on A&E, follows a group of seven young adults with Down syndrome along with their family and friends in Southern California. Because its focus is on showing their everyday lives, including employment, efforts for independent housing, loves and more, Born this Way breaks down stigmas surrounding disability.

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How and Why Did Cambodians Settle in Long Beach, California

The unveiling of "Cambodia Town" official street sign in Long Beach, California

The unveiling of “Cambodia Town” official street sign in Long Beach, California

Long Beach, Calif., Sept. 20 – Today, there are about 320,000 Cambodian Americans in the United States. California has the highest population of Cambodian Americans with an estimate of 118,000 people. Long Beach, California has the largest and oldest Cambodian community in the nation with at least 20,000 people.

In the 1950s and 1960s, Cambodia and the United States created a program for Cambodian students to attend California colleges and universities. The students learned about agriculture, industrial arts and engineering. After students completed their degrees, they returned to Cambodia. When Cambodia ended diplomatic relations with the United States in the mid-1960s, the program ended as well. However, several students decided to remain in the United States permanently. When the first wave of Cambodian refugees came to the United States at Camp Pendleton, California, which was 70 miles south of Long Beach, the former students visited the refugees. The former students brought them meals and supplies; they ended up sponsoring refugees to earn their citizenship and to help them adjust to life in a foreign country. This student support system resulted in the formation of the Cambodian Association of America, which attracted subsequent refugees who came to Long Beach after the Cambodian genocide because of the Association’s ability to help the refugees adapt to life in the United States.

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RespectAbility Condemns Racism & Anti-Semitism in Charlottesville

Rockville, Md., Aug. 18 – RespectAbility strongly condemns the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia and expresses concern about more demonstrations being planned by white nationalists this weekend. People with disabilities cut across every group in America, including those of all races, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations and religions. There is no room in America for any prejudice of any kind.

Our thoughts are with the Charlottesville victims and their families. Last weekend in Virginia, Heather Heyer was killed and dozens were injured when a young man who idolized Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany drove his car into a group of counter-protestors. At the same time, protestors marched past Congregation Beth Israel, shouting, “There’s the synagogue!” followed by chants of ‘Seig Heil’ and other anti-Semitic language.

There is no room for the racism and anti-Semitism that was so evident in Charlottesville and continues today across America. RespectAbility condemns any and all prejudice.

A Better Future for Children & Young Adults with Disabilities in Long Beach

Long Beach, California – Children and young adults with disabilities will have new hope and opportunities thanks to grants from two California foundations, including the Long Beach Community Foundation and the work of RespectAbility. New seed funding is being invested to support local leaders and to develop community resources that will enable more students, parents and families to succeed.

Long Beach is a beautiful city with a vibrant downtown, growing economic opportunities and a winning Mayor who is deeply committed to serving this diverse city. There are dedicated community leaders and self-advocates who are eager to make things better for their friends, neighbors and family members with disabilities.

Today there are 46,000 working-age residents with disabilities in Long Beach. Just 21 percent of working-age people with disabilities have a job in the Long Beach economy, putting the city below the national average of 34.9 percent. However, a new initiative is looking at ways to make things better for job seekers and employers alike. This effort has a special focus on filling key jobs where people with disabilities can excel.

Through a Knight Foundation grant, the Long Beach Community Foundation and and another funder are supporting RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization with deep experience around advancing opportunities for people with diverse abilities.

“The Long Beach Community Foundation initiates positive change in our community through strategic grant-making,” said Marcelle Epley, President & CEO of the Community Foundation. “We are delighted to support Respectability’s efforts through our Knight Foundation Fund. By working with local leaders, we can support our community to attract and retain people with diverse abilities, provide economic opportunities, and support civic engagement.”

Those three goals are critically linked to efforts that RespectAbility is investing in getting to know local leaders and understanding local economic conditions. “We are eager to learn from community members who want to coordinate and collaborate with each other,” said Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, the president of RespectAbility. “We want to help Long Beach benefit from new strategies that will result in more opportunities and independence for people with and without disabilities alike.”

The group is working on a new community resource guide with detailed information about local programs and services for children and youth with disabilities. They also are preparing a toolkit with solutions based on community feedback and new proven best practices. RespectAbility is hosting meetings for local residents to get to know each other and act on these new opportunities.

“We are thrilled that the Long Beach Community Foundation is supporting this effort,” said Philip Kahn-Pauli, the Policy Director who will work directly with community members. “People with disabilities want opportunities for training, civic engagement and success, just like anyone else. This effort will positively impact everyone in Long Beach from educators to students to parents to local employers.”

The local infrastructure is a key reason why Long Beach gained the attention of a national group looking to partner with leaders and turn the city into a national model.

“Long Beach has an award-winning school system and a nationally recognized workforce development board,” Kahn-Pauli added. “We look forward to helping fill gaps when it comes to employment opportunities, especially youth with disabilities. We want to find and to support local leaders with cutting edge practices and share their stories nation-wide.”

Youth with disabilities and their parents stand to greatly benefit from this work. The Long Beach Unified School District is the second largest district in Los Angeles County and serves more than 9,600 students with disabilities out of a total population of 75,000 students. The current high school graduation rate for Long Beach students with disabilities is 62.4 percent, compared to 84.2 percent for nondisabled students. In the Long Beach Class of 2016, 413 students with disabilities graduated high school, while 110 students dropped out and 76 received only a certificate.

“That cohort of young people with disabilities,” Kahn-Pauli added, “represent a talent pool that can go on to achieve great things in college and contribute greatly to the local economy.” The reason for that is simple. Because traditional ways of doing things do not always work for people with disabilities, people with diverse talents can find incredible ways to innovate and succeed. In fact, some of the greatest companies on earth were started and led by people with disabilities.

RespectAbility regularlys highlights the incredible drive, determination and creativity that people with disabilities bring to their life and work. Innovators Richard Branson and Charles Schwab like Governors Hickenlooper and Bryant is dyslexic. Arthur Young of EY was both deaf and visually impaired. Likewise, Steve Wynn is legally blind. Billionaire Sheldon Adelson, scientist Stephen Hawking, Michigan Supreme Court Justice Richard Bernstein, Congressman Jim Langevin, Snoop Dog, Senators Tammy Duckworth, John McCain and Tommy the “one arm golfer” all have disabilities.

In reaching out to the business community in Long Beach, RespectAbility hopes to showcase how people with disabilities bring unique characteristics to workplaces that benefit employers and organizations. Nationally Amazon, AT&T, Bank of America, Starbucks, Pepsi, Walgreens, Walmart and others have all shown that employees with disabilities are loyal, successful and help them make more money. Jennifer Mizrahi went on to add that “inclusion of people with disabilities in the Long Beach workforce will help the city overall thrive.”

This new effort will host its first formal meeting on Monday, August 14 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Pike Long Beach Hyatt (285 Bay Street, Long Beach, CA 90802.) Marcelle Epley, Long Beach Community Foundation President & CEO will provide opening remarks at the event from 9:30a.m. to 10:00a.m. This will be the first of a series of meetings to recruit and empower local leaders to advance new opportunities for education, training, and employment in the community. Learn more and RSVP here:

Media Contact: Lauren Appelbaum, 202-591-0703 or


From Hollywood to Capitol Hill: The Future of Americans with Disabilities
Featuring Leah Daniels-Butler, Casting Director and Producer, Tommy Morrissey, the One-Arm Golfer, and Marc Summers of The Food Network

Rockville, Md., July 28 – RespectAbility invites you to our free one-day summit, From Hollywood to Capitol Hill: The Future of Americans with Disabilities, geared toward bridging the gap between entertainment, politics and disability advocacy. This entirely accessible event is open to the public.

The summit will take place on Monday, July 31 from 8:30 A.M. – 3:00 P.M. at the Rayburn House Office Building, Gold Room on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. The summit will celebrate the good that can be done to end stigmas and advance opportunities for the 57 million Americans with disabilities.

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Famous TV Host who Once Wanted to be a Rabbi to Discuss Succeeding with a Mental Health Disability

RespectAbility Summit Features Marc Summers on Monday, July 31

headshot of Marc Summers wearing a black suit and blue shirt with arms crossed in front of a kitchen set

Marc Summers

Rockville, Md., July 28 – RespectAbility invites you to our one-day summit, From Hollywood to Capitol Hill: The Future of Americans with Disabilities, geared toward bridging the gap between entertainment, politics and disability advocacy. This free and entirely accessible event is open to congressional and Senate staff, journalists, disability advocates and other interested parties.

As a kid, Marc Summers, born Marc Berkowitz, was raised in a Jewish household and originally was inspired to become a rabbi before he began his rise to stardom. In an interview with the Jewish Times, Summers explained:

“I got the TV bug and went to talk to Rabbi Weitzman of Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation, and I told him that I wanted to be a rabbi but also to be a performer. Regardless, I wanted to help people. He told me, ‘As a rabbi, you can help a small congregation a lot, but as a performer you can help a lot of people a little.’ I decided that I would rather help a lot of people, so my path was set.”

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From Hollywood to Capitol Hill: Full Lineup of Speakers Announced

head shot of Leah Daniels-Butler wearing a blue collared blouse color photo

Leah Daniels-Butler

Rockville, Md., July 27 – RespectAbility announces the final line-up for next week’s summit From Hollywood to Capitol Hill: The Future of Americans with Disabilities. The summit will take place on Monday, July 31 from 8:30 A.M. – 3:00 P.M. at the Rayburn House Office Building, Gold Room (RHOB 2168) on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

The summit will celebrate the good that can be done to end stigmas and advance opportunities for the 57 million Americans with disabilities.

headshot of Marc Summers wearing a black suit and blue shirt with arms crossed in front of a kitchen set

Marc Summers


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27 Years After ADA, Employment for People with Disabilities Still Too Low

A black and white photo of an American flag with the stars in shape of a wheelchairRockville, Md., July 26 – As the nation celebrates the 27th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), there is still so much work that needs to be done.

Fundamentally the ADA was a civil rights bill; this law guaranteed legal protections and physical access for the nation’s largest minority. The ADA reduced physical barriers to the world of work, transportation and independent living. Because of this law, millions of Americans with disabilities have been able to go to school, participate in the political process, live independently in the community and enter the workforce to pursue a better future for themselves and their families.

However, since its passing, not much has changed by way of employment of people with disabilities. The law has done so much to remove physical barriers without removing many attitudinal barriers.

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On Fourth Anniversary, RespectAbility Announces New Officers and Welcomes New Members to Its Board

Calvin Harris Elected as Chair, Succeeding Donn Weinberg; New Board Member Ronald Glancz, Deeply Seasoned Leader in the Nonprofit Community, Elected Treasurer

New members include cross section of national leaders from Hollywood, public policy, philanthropy, communications and the private sector

Calvin Harris smiling and facing the camera with crossed arms and wearing a striped tie color photo

Calvin Harris, Chair

Rockville, Md., July 19 – RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for people with disabilities, today announced the additions of new members to the boards of directors and advisors, as well as new officers. Notably, Calvin Harris has been elected to be the chair of RespectAbility. He follows co-founder Donn Weinberg, whose impact on RespectAbility and the disability sector has been indispensable.

“We are deeply grateful for Donn Weinberg’s leadership and delighted that he will remain as chair emeritus,” stated RespectAbility President Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi. “ Meanwhile, we are extremely excited for Calvin Harris to assume the role as board chair, as well as the additional high level perspectives and personalities that will join him on RespectAbility’s board of director and advisors.”

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Emmy Award-Winning Show Highlights ABLE Accounts and Financial Security for People with Disabilities

Born This Way Nominated for Six 2017 Emmy Awards including Outstanding Unstructured Reality Program

Cast of Born This Way smiling and posing for the camera

Born This Way Cast

Rockville, Md., July 18 – For the cast of Emmy award-winning Born This Way and others with disabilities, acquiring a sense of financial stability is important in being able to live an independent life.

Born This Way, a reality TV show just nominated for six Emmy awards, including again for the 2017 Emmy Award for Outstanding Unstructured Reality Program, which the show won in 2016, is centered on seven young adults with Down syndrome living their day-to-day lives, all while pursuing their passions, following their dreams and defying stigmas. In the final episode of season three, Megan and her mother Kris learn about opening an A Better Life Experience (ABLE) account. ABLE accounts are savings accounts designed specifically for people with disabilities and their families to aid them in financial independence.

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Respect Ability - Fighting Stigmas. Advancing Opportunities.


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Los Angeles CA 90017

Office Number: 202-517-6272


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