Katherine Seelman, University of Pittsburgh

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the National Disability Mentoring Coalition has named 25 outstanding leaders as the first inductees into the Susan M. Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame. These inductees were selected for their demonstrated commitment to mentoring and for the impact of their contributions on improving the lives of people with disabilities.

Katherine Seelman photoWe are proud to induct Katherine Seelman, Ph.D., associate dean of disability programs and professor of rehabilitation science and technology at the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, into the Susan M. Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame’s 2015 inaugural class.

Dr. Seelman holds secondary appointments in the School of Public Health and the Center for Bioethics, an adjunct position at Xian Jiatong University, China and served as senior policy adviser for the National Science Foundation-supported Quality of Life Technology Engineering Research Center.

Dr. Seelman, who is hard-of-hearing, serves as adviser to the University’s Students for Disability Advocacy, is co-chair of the City of Pittsburgh-Allegheny County Task Force on Disability, and serves on the Advisory Board of the Area Agency on Aging.

President Barack Obama appointed her to the National Council on Disability in 2014. She was one of two from the U.S. serving on the World Health Organization’s 9-member international editorial committee to guide the development of the first World Report on Disability and presented a chapter of the Report, for which she was a principal author, in 2011 at the United Nations.

During the Clinton Administration, she served for seven years as the Director of the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research in Washington, D.C. She was the recipient of the University of Pittsburgh Chancellor’s Distinguished Service Award in 2007. She is widely published and the recipient of many awards.

Susan M. Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame: Information and Inductees

Jason Bryn, BAE Systems, Inc.

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the National Disability Mentoring Coalition has named 25 outstanding leaders as the first inductees into the Susan M. Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame. These inductees were selected for their demonstrated commitment to mentoring and for the impact of their contributions on improving the lives of people with disabilities.

Photo of Jason BrynWe are proud to induct Jason Bryn, Workforce Disability Compliance and Inclusion Programs Manager of BAE Systems, Inc., into the Susan M. Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame’s 2015 inaugural class.

Jason has over 20 years EEO, ADA and disability program experience that spans the federal contractor, private industry, county government, non-profit, government enforcement agency and public university sectors.  In addition to leading BAE System’s disability compliance and inclusion strategy and programs, Jason has served as outsource ADA compliance officer to hundreds of small and mid-size companies, ADA attorney in private practice and county government, ADA grievance mediator for a state enforcement agency, EEO consultant, EEO investigator and workforce inclusion program director for the largest U.S. employment program for people with blindness and low vision.

Jason’s passion for disability inclusion and compliance stems from his personal experience living with low vision.  Jason has been legally blind since birth due to a degenerative and hereditary retinal eye disease that impacts three generations in his family including his mother, himself and one of his three children.   Outside of work Jason volunteers in several disability mentor programs.  As Lockheed Martin Corporation’s coordinator for the 2015 USBLN CareerLink Mentor Program, Jason increased company mentor participation by 900%, where Lockheed Martin employees represented almost half of this year’s USBLNN Career Link mentors.

Jason also serves on boards of disability organizations and empowers others as a sports mindset coach to youth, college and Paralympic athletes.  Jason is a former college basketball player before losing significant vision and then Paralympic tandem cyclist after vision loss.

Jason credits his professional success and personal accomplishments to a strong family support system, internal drive to give back and make a difference, and becoming a student of personal development and leadership development.

Susan M. Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame: Information and Inductees

Susan Sygall, Mobility International USA

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the National Disability Mentoring Coalition has named 25 outstanding leaders as the first inductees into the Susan M. Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame. These inductees were selected for their demonstrated commitment to mentoring and for the impact of their contributions on improving the lives of people with disabilities.

Susan Sygall photoWe are proud to induct Susan Sygall, CEO and co-founder of Mobility International USA (MIUSA), into the Susan M. Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame’s 2015 inaugural class.

Susan Sygall is an internationally recognized expert in the area of international development, educational exchange and leadership programs for persons with disabilities. MIUSA’s mission is to empower people with disabilities around the world to achieve their human rights through international exchange and international development. Since its founding in 1981, MIUSA has built an extensive network of over 2,300 alumni from over 110 countries.

Ms. Sygall is also recognized internationally for her work on issues related to women with disabilities.

Since 1995, Ms. Sygall has directed the National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange, a project sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and administered by Mobility International USA to increase the participation of people with disabilities in the full range of international study, volunteer, work and research programs.

Ms. Sygall has become a much sought after consultant and speaker. She has lectured throughout the United States, the Middle East, Latin America, Europe and Asia on a variety of topics related to international exchange and inclusive development, and has traveled to more than 35 countries. She has co-authored numerous publications in the area of international exchange and international development, includingBuilding Bridges: A Manual on Including People with Disabilities in International Exchange Programs. Most recently, she published a memoir, No Ordinary Days, which highlights the creation of Mobility International USA and the impact that international exchange can have on everyone, including people with disabilities.

Ms. Sygall has also received numerous awards in recognition of her passionate advocacy for disability rights. She received the “President’s Award” from Bill Clinton in 1995 for her dynamic leadership in promoting international exchange programs and international development for people with disabilities. She received the Rotary Scholar Alumni Achievement Award in 1999. In addition, Ms. Sygall received a MacArthur Fellowship in 2000. This prestigious, unrestricted fellowship is awarded to a small number of talented individuals each year who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits. In 2011, Ms. Sygall was also awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Chapman University. Most recently, she received an Ashoka Fellowship in 2013.

Ms. Sygall earned her M.S. from the University of Oregon in 1981 and now teaches an undergraduate and graduate level course through the department of International Studies called Global Perspectives on Disability. The course utilizes a human rights paradigm to examine issues facing people with disabilities. In addition, Ms. Sygall serves on the President’s Diversity Advisory Community Council (PDACC) at the University of Oregon to carry out the university’s mission in ways that enhance access, retention, and opportunity for traditionally underrepresented groups, including people with disabilities.

Susan M. Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame: Information and Inductees

Tatyana McFadden, athlete and author

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the National Disability Mentoring Coalition has named 25 outstanding leaders as the first inductees into the Susan M. Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame. These inductees were selected for their demonstrated commitment to mentoring and for the impact of their contributions on improving the lives of people with disabilities.

Tatyana McFadden photoWe are proud to induct Tatyana McFadden, athlete and author, into the Susan M. Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame’s 2015 inaugural class.

There are very few athletes in history who have come from so little to accomplish so much. Born with spina bifida, a hole in her spine, Tatyana McFadden spent the first six years of her life in a Russian orphanage with virtually nothing, not even a wheelchair. Paralyzed from the waist down, and with no other way to move, she learned to walk on her hands simply to keep up with the other children. Little did she know that the powerful arms and hands she began to develop as a small child would someday carry her around the globe as one of the world’s greatest athletes.

In 1994, Deborah McFadden, then Commissioner of Disabilities for the U.S. Department of Health, came upon Tatyana while visiting her orphanage on an otherwise routine business trip. She felt a connection, an inexplicable feeling that they were meant to be together. Deborah adopted Tatyana, brought her to the United States and gave her both a wheelchair and a new start on life.The transition was difficult and Tatyana’s health worsened so she was enrolled into various sports groups in hopes that it would build her strength. It did, and then some, and so began Tatyana’s extraordinary life as an athlete.

Tatyana tried every sport she could find; wheelchair basketball, swimming, ice hockey, and even scuba diving. From the start she fell in love with wheelchair racing –a sport through which her powerful arms immediately brought success. At 15, Tatyana made her Paralympic debut in Athens in 2004. She was the youngest member of Team USA. She returned from Greece with her first two medals and a hunger to become the best. Two years later she was, winning gold at the World Championships and setting a new World Record in the 100 meter event.

At the 2008 Paralympic in Beijing, at 19 and still in the infancy of her athletic career, she earned four more medals. In London, in 2012, she added another four medals, three of which were gold. One year later, at the 2013 World Championships, she became the first athlete in history to win six gold medals at the same competition. Her dominance was in full swing and she was still only 24.

Tatyana challenged herself with the professional marathon circuit in 2009, and with her win at the Chicago Marathon, she set off an extraordinary string of first place finishes that is still going strong. In 2013 she won the Chicago, London, Chicago and New York marathons, becoming the first man or woman, able-bodied or disabled, to win the Grand Slam (4 World Major Marathons in the same year) and then repeated her Grand Slam victory in 2014.

In 2015, Tatyana has already won both London and Boston and is poised to win the Grand Slam for a third year in a row. Always looking for a new challenge, and intrigued by the idea of returning to Russia to race, in 2013 Tatyana decided to give cross country ski racing a try in hopes of earning a spot on the Sochi Paralympic Team. With less than a year of on snow experience in her life, Tatyana made her winter Paralympic debut in Sochi and in a dramatic sprint to the finish line she narrowly missed yet another gold medal, settling for silver. It was first of what promises to be many more winter medals for Tatyana and the 11th Paralympic medal of her career.

McFadden had difficulty competing at high school. Atholton High School would not allow her to race at the same time as able-bodied runners, with officials saying her racing chair created a safety hazard and gave her an unfair advantage (as the best wheelchair racers are noticeably faster than runners over long distances). She could compete in separate wheelchair events at high school meets, which meant that she would circle around an otherwise empty track by herself, which embarrassed her.

In 2005 Tatyana and Deborah McFadden filed suit against the Howard County Public School System and won the right for her to race with her fellow classmates, with U. S. District Court Judge Andre Davis stating “She’s not suing for blue ribbons, gold ribbons or money — she just wants to be out there when everyone else is out there.” McFadden’s lawsuit is credited for the eventual passage of the Maryland Fitness and Athletics Equity for Students with Disabilities Act, requiring schools to give students with disabilities the opportunity to compete in interscholastic athletics.

Tatyana went on to press for federal legislation so that other students with disabilities across the USA would have equal access. In 2013 it was passed and now all students with disabilities will have opportunities to be involved with sports in school. She was also a leader of an ultimately unsuccessful effort against a 2012 Russian law to prohibit adoptions of Russian children by American parents.

In 2014 Tatyana graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in Human Development and Family Studies and is returning to U. of I. to pursue graduate work in Education. When she isn’t racing or studying, she works as a national advocate for equal access for people with disabilities, is a lifetime member of the Girls Scouts, is on the Board of Directors of Spina Bifida of Illinois, and speaks to children and adults about healthy living.

Susan M. Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame: Information and Inductees

I. King Jordan, advocate

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the National Disability Mentoring Coalition has named 25 outstanding leaders as the first inductees into the Susan M. Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame. These inductees were selected for their demonstrated commitment to mentoring and for the impact of their contributions on improving the lives of people with disabilities.

Photo of I. King JordanWe are proud to induct I. King Jordan, advocate and former president of Gallaudet University, into the Susan M. Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame’s 2015 inaugural class.

I. King Jordan made history in 1988 when he became the first deaf president of Gallaudet University, the world’s only university for students who are deaf and hard of hearing. He became president as a result of a social revolution frequently called Deaf President Now (DPN). The week-long movement was a watershed event in the lives of deaf and hard of hearing people all over the world.

Since DPN, I. King Jordan’s leadership has heightened public awareness of the important educational contributions Gallaudet makes to the nation and the world. He serves as an international spokesperson for deaf and hard of hearing people, as well as an advocate for all persons with disabilities. As a public speaker, Dr. Jordan continues to challenge the American public to examine their attitudes toward people with disabilities and to open their minds, hearts and workplaces to them.

Dr. Jordan earned a B.A. in psychology from Gallaudet and an M.A. and Ph.D., both in psychology from the University of Tennessee.  He holds twelve honorary degrees and is the recipient of numerous awards including the U.S. Presidential Citizen’s Medal, the Washingtonian of the Year Award, and the James L. Fisher Award from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.

In 1990, President George Bush appointed Dr. Jordan Vice Chair of the President’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities and in 1993, President Bill Clinton reappointed him.  He served as Commissioner on the National Commission on Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, and in 2010, President Obama appointed him Commissioner on the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars.

Susan M. Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame: Information and Inductees

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