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Structure of Volunteer Teams

RespectAbility’s Director of Community Outreach & Impact, Debbie Fink, is your preliminary point of contact and the person you should go to with any general questions. Each team is staffed by a RespectAbility employee who specializes in that subject (see below). In addition, each team is further supported by a minimum of two board members who also specialize in that area.

With time, RespectAbility also plans to select a Volunteer State Representative for each state and Washington, D.C. These representatives’ roles will include coordinating his/her home state’s volunteers among all eight teams, organizing statewide events, and serving as the point of contact with our headquarters. Should you wish to be considered for this vital role, please let us know.

  1. Education & Skills Building Team works on projects to improve educational opportunities and outcomes for students with disabilities at the local, state and federal level. Given that only 65 percent of students with disabilities graduate high school, and only seven percent complete college, this is a high priority.
    Contact: Philip Kahn-Pauli, Policy and Practices Director
  2. Jobs for People with Disabilities Team advances our ongoing efforts to promote disability employment through best practices. This work includes meeting with governors, workforce boards, agencies, employers and other leaders to expand best practices at the state level.
    Contact: Philip Kahn-Pauli, Policy and Practices Director
  3. Stigma Reduction / Disability in Hollywood Team includes entertainment professionals who wish to ensure they and their colleagues are as inclusive of people with disabilities as possible while promoting positive, accurate, diverse and inclusive media portrayals in film, TV and theater. This team is largely made up by people working professionally in media or entertainment. 
    Contact: Lauren Appelbaum, Communications Director
  4. Intersection of Politics & Disability Team supports our respectful nonpartisan engagement with political candidates in key governor and other races during their respective elections. We reach out to candidates and campaigns to educate them on how to make their campaigns accessible, what policies are important to people with disabilities as well as ask them to complete candidate questionnaires. We distribute those answers in a nonpartisan way, largely in press releases and voter guides prior to the election. This work can only be done by people who are willing to be nonpartisan for the purpose of this project. 
    Contact: Lauren Appelbaum, Communications Director
  5. Inclusive Philanthropy/Nonprofits Team consists of disability inclusion experts and employees of foundations, philanthropic associations, individual philanthropists, and others involved in the nonprofit sector to advocate for full inclusion of people with disabilities in both the programs philanthropists and nonprofits support and within their organizations.
    Contact: Franklin Anderson, Development Manager
  6. National Leadership Program Team recruits diverse talented young adults with and without disabilities who want to go into careers in public policy, advocacy and media while making a positive difference for people with disabilities.
    Contact: Ben Spangenberg, National Leadership Program Director
  7. Jewish Inclusion Team works to ensure that Jews with disabilities are able to fully gain access to agencies and synagogues so they can fully participate in their communities. Volunteers for this team should already be involved in the Jewish community at some level and have some disability and inclusion experience. 
    Contact: Debbie Fink, Director of Community Outreach & Impact

Modes of Volunteer Engagement

There are multiple modes and ways for you to be involved – many do not require physical presence. Your involvement can include any one or combination of the following:

  1. Attending Events: Examples include attending a town hall meeting or an event in your community; and, if you feel up for it, asking specific questions to spark constructive, respectful dialogue. We also hope to visit with the governors of every state to speak about education and employment for people with disabilities.
  2. Writing: Examples are writing an OpEd piece for your local newspaper or sending an email or letter to your representatives (we will provide a sample template) or emailing invitations to attend events. We also hope to write profiles of companies that are succeeding by hiring people with disabilities, and to write about disability-owned businesses.
  3. Phone Calls: Examples include calling individuals and/or organizations and/or businesses in your community, to invite them to attend an event or request needed statistics or answer specific questions.
  4. Social Media: Examples include reposting, sharing, and/or retweeting messaging that is provided (and approved) by RespectAbility.

Download the Volunteer Handbook

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    If you have any questions, email Debbie Fink, RespectAbility’s Director of Community Outreach and Impact.


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    HQ: 11333 Woodglen Drive, #102, Rockville, MD 20852
    West Coast: 350 S Bixel Street
    Los Angeles CA 90017

    Office Number: 202-517-6272


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