article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)
Washington, D.C. – RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for people with disabilities, recently announced that the Ford Foundation awarded the charity a grant, which has enabled RespectAbility to create and offer Harriett Tubman Fellowships to select participants in the National Leadership Program.
Tubman acquired traumatic brain injury when a slave owner hit her with a heavy metal weight leading to epileptic seizures and hypersomnia. Her work, while living as an individual with a disability, to free enslaved people and then for women’s suffrage is one of the great stories of how people with disabilities can help make a nation stronger and better.
Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, published a groundbreaking op-ed in The New York Times called “Internships are Not a Privilege,” which discussed how the practice of requiring people to do unpaid internships before they get good policy jobs harms diversity efforts and discriminates against people who cannot afford to do them.
“We are thrilled to have this new transformative support,” said Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, president of RespectAbility. “Thanks to the Ford Foundation, we will be able to strengthen and diversify our National Leadership Program for young leaders with and without disabilities who are going into public policy, advocacy, journalism, public relations and other leadership roles. Previously, many people who wanted to participate in the program could not do so because while it offered free lunch and a transportation stipend, it was an unpaid program. Now we will be able to pay $15 an hour to many of the fellows who otherwise could not afford to do such a leadership program.”
RespectAbility’s first Harriet Tubman Fellows are:
Eddie B. Ellis Jr. is a reentry advocate/consultant, trainer, mentor and motivational speaker. As a returning citizen with multiple disabilities and a person of color, Ellis’ experience provides invaluable insight and depth into his work that allows him to connect with and engage the community in which he serves. He recently published in The Washington Post: “I am one of the success stories from D.C.’s second-chance law for young offenders.”
Ellis is the founder and CEO of OneBy1, an organization that works with communities and partners to provide youth development workshops and mentoring services to keep youth out of the corrections system and help those exiting the system stay out. Ellis also has written and published several resource guides offering service referrals, practical tips and inspiration to former offenders and parolees returning to the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. He works hard to ensure that individuals reentering society are well informed and sufficiently equipped to make better choices for themselves and that they are truly given a second chance.
Ming Canaday recently completed coursework for a master’s degree in the History of International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science. This week she published a first-person piece in Foreign Policy: “I Was Rescued from a Chinese Orphanage. My Friend Wasn’t.” During her time in Europe, Canaday traveled extensively on the continent and to the University of Cape Town in South Africa to complete her dissertation research on contemporary attitudes towards rising Chinese migration to that region.
From 2009 to 2013, she earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Oregon, where she triple-majored in International Studies, Chinese, and Asian Studies. During her undergraduate career, Canaday spent time in China interning at Justice for All, a disability advocacy organization that serves individuals with disabilities as well as individuals with HIV/AIDs and Hepatitis B. After graduation, Canaday, who is a wheelchair user, pursued a certificate at the City University of New York in Disability Studies to better advocate for individuals with disabilities. She also completed a summer internship at Human Rights Watch, assisting with research on issues related to China’s policies toward people with physical or mental impairments. Continue reading