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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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Advice from Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Ollie Cantos

All of the fellows and staff standing in a large group against the wall with the RespectAbility logo all over it

Ollie Cantos with RespectAbility Fellows and Staff

Rockville, Md., Aug. 22 – Ollie Cantos is a blind Filipino-American who currently serves in public service under President Donald J. Trump as Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education.

“People with disabilities: we all have things we want to do”

During a lunch with RespectAbility’s Summer Fellows, Cantos shared a compelling story about his journey toward embracing his disability as a part of his identity, admitting that he originally considered his visual impairment a “minor” obstacle that he tried to hide. In spite of his obstacles, he eventually became the highest-ranking person with a disability in the U.S. federal government and an avid advocate for the disability sector.

His work as a civil rights attorney, the General Counsel & Director of Programs for the American Association of People with Disabilities, as Special Assistant and later Special Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, the Associate Director of the Domestic Policy Council at the White House under President George W. Bush, and many other roles, has contributed immensely to empowering individuals with disabilities.

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An Interactive Session with Photographer Rick Guidotti

Rick Guidotti taking a selfie of himself taking a picture of RespectAbility staff and Fellows

Rick Guidotti in front of RespectAbility staff and Fellows

Rockville, Md., Aug. 22 – Rick Guidotti, an award-winning photographer, visited with RespectAbility Fellows earlier this summer and spent the day taking our portraits.

Guidotti became restless of societal standards of beauty after taking pictures of supermodels for renowned publications such as Elle and LIFE magazine.

“I was always told every single day who was beautiful, I was forced within certain parameters,” Guidotti said.

Rick Guidotti stands at the front of the room while fellows sit and listen to him speak

Rick Guidotti speaking to the Fellows

Instead of waiting for society to acknowledge other forms of beauty, Guidotti created Positive Exposure, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advocating for people living with genetic, physical, behavioral and intellectual differences.

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Real-Life Lessons from Real World Creator Jonathan Murray

All of the fellows and staff standing in a large group against the wall with the RespectAbility logo all over it

Jonathan Murray with RespectAbility Fellows and Staff

Rockville, Md., Aug. 22 – Jonathan Murray is widely credited for being the father of reality television and creative hand behind some of the most successful reality shows ever made. He has nurtured the reality TV industry, and over time has created a space where underrepresented groups and individuals can be recognized and appreciated.

When Murray took the risk of putting a diverse group of real people on TV in his first show, The Real World, in 1992, he facilitated progress in the diversity agenda.

Jonathan Murray speaking to RespectAbility Fellows

Jonathan Murray speaking to RespectAbility Fellows

He captured something new and something real that no one was used to seeing because of his own life experiences. Murray grew up in an area that did not have much diversity.

“The first time I saw someone who looked different from me was on TV,” Murray said, illustrating the importance of showing diverse individuals on television.

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A Conversation with Morna Murray

All of the fellows and staff standing in a large group against the wall with the RespectAbility logo all over it

Morna Murray with RespectAbility Fellows and Staff

Rockville, Md., Aug. 22 – Morna A. Murray became acquainted with the disability advocacy world through her journey of motherhood. She has two adult children, one of whom happens to have a developmental disability.

“Being his mother has formed my work and helped develop my interest,” said Murray.

For years, Murray worked as a lawyer focusing on children and vulnerable populations. After her son was born and experienced developmental delays, she felt an increasing draw to service in advocating through public policy initiatives concerning disabilities.

“I guess you could say I did things backwards,” Murray explained. “ I started working in the private sector and worked my way toward the Hill.”

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Learning from The Jewish Federations of North America’s William Daroff

All of the fellows and staff standing in a large group against the wall with the RespectAbility logo all over it

William Daroff with RespectAbility Fellows and Staff

Rockville, Md., Aug. 21 – “We need people on both sides of the aisle to champion disability issues,” William Daroff told RespectAbility Fellows last month.

William Daroff speaking to RespectAbility Fellows

William Daroff speaking to RespectAbility Fellows

Daroff is a senior vice president for public policy and director of The Jewish Federations of North America. He works to ensure that the Federations’ public policy work is post partisan and post ideological and as close to the middle line of the road as possible. Throughout his career, he has played politics on both sides of the aisle and recognizes the importance of disability not becoming a partisan issue.

Daroff understands the challenges that student with disabilities face. Throughout his work, he has brought the violations of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and lack of accommodation and consideration to the table for serious discussions.

“It is unfortunate that there needs to be a personal linkage to the disability world for people to take action,” Daroff said, recognizing the importance of relating to people.

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A Conversation with the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation’s Kevin Webb

All of the fellows and staff standing in a large group against the wall with the RespectAbility logo all over it

Kevin Webb with RespectAbility Fellows and Staff

Rockville, Md., Aug. 21 – Armed with a long history in nonprofit work, Kevin Webb gave a group of RespectAbility National Leadership Fellows key information about the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation (MEAF). Not only is he donating his time to speak to and empower a group of young disability advocates, but he also is representing one of the few foundations that focuses its grantmaking toward youth with disabilities. The match is unparalleled.

He describes a picture on his powerpoint to make it more accessible for visually impaired attendees: “Here we have [an example of the employee volunteer program in which] people with disabilities work alongside employee volunteers installing solar panels for low income housing.”

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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.

letters spelling out Hollywood and Diversity on top of a mountain with trees

Date: Wednesday, August 16, 2017
Time: 8:30 A.M. Breakfast will be provided.
Location: Bunim/Murray, 1015 Grandview Ave., Glendale CA
Contact: Lauren Appelbaum, or 202-591-0703

headshot of Jonathan Murray wearing a gray striped shirt and facing the camera color photo

Jonathan Murray

Jonathan Murray of Bunim/Murray will be hosting this breakfast. Murray has created and executive produced some of the industry’s most diverse, innovative, unscripted, entertainment television programs including Emmy-winning Born This Way (A&E), which documents the lives of diverse young adults with Down Syndrome and their families. Murray serves on the Board of Directors for RespectAbility.

RespectAbility’s focus is on the inclusion of diverse people with disabilities within the entertainment industry. However, it is our view that everyone who works on any aspect of diversity in Hollywood should help everyone else as a rising tide lifts all ships. Television and films that represent ALL of us are simply better. We will explore ways we can work together to pitch diversity in Hollywood to ensure a more inclusive medium. We will discuss messages and strategies to fight stigma and advance opportunities for all underrepresented people in the industry.

Please RSVP

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letters spelling out Hollywood on top of a mountain with treestThis event is by invitation only.

If you have any questions, please contact Lauren Appelbaum at or 202-591-0703.

Date: Tuesday, August 15, 2017
Time: The focus group begins at 6:00 p.m. Please plan to arrive by 5:45 p.m. to be seated before the group begins. Dinner will be provided.
Location: Provided with RSVP.
Contact: Lauren Appelbaum, or 202-591-0703

We invite you to watch behind the glass of a focus group that will investigate existing perceptions of people with disabilities among entertainment decision makers. We will work to identify messages and strategies to fight stigma and advance opportunities for people with disabilities in the industry.

Please RSVP

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Lessons from USA Today’s Richard Wolf

Richard Wolf pictured with RespectAbility Fellows and staff seated and standing in front of a RespectAbility banner

Richard Wolf speaking to RespectAbility Fellows and Staff

Rockville, Md., Aug. 6 – In a country where two political parties constantly battle for power, it can be difficult for some to choose a side. One might wonder why it is so hard, given the sheer amount of news sources we have at our fingertips. Many news sources tend to have a specific political party leaning, therefore ultimately having a biased opinion when it comes to their stories. It has become almost impossible to find an unbiased news outlet, leaving little to no room for people to formulate their own opinions about an issue or idea. Although it is rare to find an unbiased journalist these days, it is not impossible to do. Richard Wolf is the perfect example of this.

Richard Wolf has been a USA Today reporter and editor for three decades, covering all three branches of the federal government. He has been the Supreme Court correspondent since 2012. Wolf covered the White House during the Bush and Obama administrations, traveling with and interviewing both presidents. He spent a decade reporting on Congress, as well as five years as the newspaper’s congressional editor. In addition, Wolf has reported on the federal budget and economics, health care and welfare policy, state and local governments and national politics.

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Respect Ability - Fighting Stigmas. Advancing Opportunities.


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