Donna Fox inducted into the Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame

The Susan M. Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame was established by the National Disability Mentoring Coalition (NDMC) to honor those individuals who are making a significant difference in the lives of youth and adults with disabilities through mentoring and to raise awareness about the importance of mentoring for individuals with disabilities.

We are proud to induct Donna Fox into the Susan Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame.

Donna Fox is employed at the Center for Accessible Living as a Youth in Transition Coordinator with emphasis on preparing young adults for life after high school. This includes teaching self determination, independent living skills and self advocacy. Being physically disabled since early childhood she understands the importance of and the need for the knowledge, experience, and practical help gained from trainings and peer support.

Donna mentors several peer mentor groups:

The YES! group serves youth and young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and provides information and skills required for gaining independence. Currently, the YES! group has meetings in the community and has created a program within the public school system.

Kentuckiana Parents with Disabilities serves as a support network for disabled adults who are currently or hope to some day become a parent.

Advocates in Motion is an all ages, any disability advocacy group that teaches self and system advocacy and encourages individuals with disabilities to advocate for the needs of themselves and others in the disability community.

Donna has a passion for educating others, including teaching disability awareness and sensitivity trainings. This permits her to raise awareness to disability, discuss the removal of attitudes and barriers and educate through lecture and interactive role playing.

She has served as an ambassador for Kentucky’s third congressional district and has served as an advocate on local and national levels. She has participated in “fly-ins” to Washington D.C. where she has spoke on issues, including the need for quality and affordable healthcare.

Donna earned her Associate Degree in Human Services from the University of Kentucky and her Bachelor of Science in Sociology from the University of Louisville. In her free time she loves photography, writing, and spending quality time outdoors.

What does mentoring mean to me?
As someone with a disability, I hope and believe mentoring can make a significant impact to the lives of young people with disabilities. Mentoring can assist in becoming self-aware, gaining skills, building networks and creating opportunities for youth and young adults. Together these things help an individual to enhance their personal growth and allow them to reach their fullest potential.

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

Talila Lewis inducted into the Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame

The Susan M. Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame was established by the National Disability Mentoring Coalition (NDMC) to honor those individuals who are making a significant difference in the lives of youth and adults with disabilities through mentoring and to raise awareness about the importance of mentoring for individuals with disabilities.

We are proud to induct Talila Lewis into the Susan Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame.

Recognized as a 2015 White House Champion of Change and one of Pacific Standard Magazine’s Top 30 Thinkers Under 30, Talila A. Lewis is an attorney-activist who engineers & leads innovative and intersectional social justice campaigns that illuminate and address grave injustices within our legal system that have gone unaddressed for decades.

Talila’s advocacy primarily focuses on creating equal access to the legal system for people with disabilities & deaf people. As one of the only people in the world working on deaf wrongful conviction cases, Talila regularly presents at universities; testifies before legislative & regulatory bodies; and trains members of congress, attorneys, and law enforcement about this and other disability-related topics. As the creator of the only national deaf prisoner database, Talila advocates with & for hundreds of deaf defendants, incarcerated & returned individuals.

Talila co-founded & serves as the volunteer director of Helping Educate to Advance the Rights of Deaf communities (HEARD), an all-volunteer nonprofit organization that works to correct & prevent deaf wrongful convictions; end abuse of incarcerated people with disabilities; decrease recidivism for deaf incarcerated and returning individuals; and increase representation of disabled people in professions that can combat mass incarceration.

Talila serves as a consultant and expert on cases involving deaf/disabled people, and served as a visiting professor at Rochester Institute of Technology/National Technical Institute for the Deaf and the Givelber Public Interest Lecturer at Northeastern University School of Law. A recent graduate of American University Washington College of Law, Talila has received awards from numerous universities, the American Bar Association, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, the American Association for People with Disabilities, the Nation Institute, and EBONY Magazine, among others.

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

Dior Vargas inducted into the Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame

The Susan M. Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame was established by the National Disability Mentoring Coalition (NDMC) to honor those individuals who are making a significant difference in the lives of youth and adults with disabilities through mentoring and to raise awareness about the importance of mentoring for individuals with disabilities.

We are proud to induct Dior Vargas into the Susan Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame.

Dior Vargas is a Latina Feminist Mental Health Activist. She is the creator of the People of Color and Mental Illness Photo Project, a response to the invisibility of people of color in the media representation of mental illness. She is a volunteer crisis counselor for Crisis Text Line and works full time as an Outreach Coordinator for Project UROK, a youth outreach initiative of the Child Mind Institute. She goes around the country giving keynotes, hosting workshops, and speaking on panels.

Dior is the recipient of numerous awards, The White House Champion of Change for Disability Advocacy Across Generations, a Voices of the Year honoree under the Impact category at #BlogHer15: Experts among Us Conference, 2015 Alternatives Conference Cookie Gant and Bill Compton LGBTQI Leadership Award. She was listed as one of the 15 Remarkable Women of Color Who Rocked 2015 in Colorlines.

She has a B.A. in the Study of Women and Gender from Smith College and has a M.S. in Publishing from Pace University. This Fall, she will be working towards a Master’s in Public Health at NYU. She is a native New Yorker and currently lives in New York City.

Why does mentoring matter to me?
“Mentoring matters to me because our work never stops with us. Our work is a legacy that should inspire others to find meaning in their lives. I want to leave something in this world and passing on my advice, failures, and successes to even a single person would fulfill that mission. I want to be able to show others that they are not alone and that my support can give them the strength to keep pushing and live a life that is meaningful to them.”

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

Susie Rutkowski inducted into the Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame

The Susan M. Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame was established by the National Disability Mentoring Coalition (NDMC) to honor those individuals who are making a significant difference in the lives of youth and adults with disabilities through mentoring and to raise awareness about the importance of mentoring for individuals with disabilities.

We are proud to induct Susie Rutkowski into the Susan Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame.

Susie is the Co-Director and Educational Specialist for Project SEARCH. She is a nationally recognized transition expert with specific experience in program development in career technical education, job training and job development for young adults with disabilities. She served as the Manager for Disability Education at Great Oaks Career Campuses for over twelve years. During that tenure she, with Erin Riehle, co-founded Project SEARCH. Susie has been instrumental in designing the Project SEARCH Training Institute modules and leading replication efforts for new Project SEARCH sites. She speaks and writes on transition-related topics. With her Project SEARCH colleagues Maryellen Daston and Erin Riehle they wrote the books: High School Transition That Work: Lessons Learned from Project SEARCH.

Susie’s degree in Special Education was received from Bowling Green State University. Her Masters in Educational Administration was received from the University of Dayton and she did post-graduate work at Wright State University and Xavier University. In addition to her other positions, she taught young students with significant disabilities for eight years in northwest Ohio and worked for 10 years as a Job Placement Coordinator at Great Oaks for students and graduates with disabilities.

Susie lives in Loveland, Ohio with her husband, Joe, and is the proud mother of five children, Sharon, Noah, Kurt, Kevin, and Lucas. Most importantly, she is the proudest Mimi ever to Gallagher, Sophia and Jack. In her spare time, Susie dotes on her grandchildren, runs, and creates beautiful handmade greeting cards.

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

Curtis Richards inducted into the Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame

The Susan M. Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame was established by the National Disability Mentoring Coalition (NDMC) to honor those individuals who are making a significant difference in the lives of youth and adults with disabilities through mentoring and to raise awareness about the importance of mentoring for individuals with disabilities.

We are proud to induct Curtis Richards into the Susan Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame.

Curtis Richards is Director of the Center for Workforce Development at IEL. He is a nationally-recognized leader in the disability community. Richards serves as the lead technical assistance (TA) provider for the National Collaborative on Workforce & Disability for Youth (NCWD/Y). With support from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, NCWD/Youth is a national technical assistance center focused on assisting the workforce development system to better serve youth, including youth with disabilities.

Examples of his TA include: (a) assisting the Florida Partners in Transition with the development of a comprehensive statewide Transition Strategic Plan (based on the NCWD/Y’s Guideposts for Success), and providing on-going TA to local-level teams implementing the plan; (b) providing content expertise and TA to the National Governors Association’s Policy Academy on Improving Outcomes for Young Adults with Disabilities; (c) assisting the HSC Foundation in convening a transition summit, identifying activities to support youth with disabilities, and using the Guideposts to identify gaps in services for youth with disabilities; and, (d) providing TA to the Gates Foundation’s East Coast Education Team.

Richards assisted in developing the framework, Guideposts for Success (including Guideposts specifically addressing foster care youth, juvenile justice youth, and youth with mental health needs), the Guideposts for Employers, the Knowledge, Skills and Abilities of Youth Service Practitioners, and the National Alliance for Secondary Education and Transition (NASET) Standards & Indicators. He writes issue briefs, background papers, policy analyses, and articles on various topics and serves as a trainer and workshop presenter for an array of workforce development audiences. He is the content lead at NCWD/Y on connecting activities, universal access, self-sufficiency, performance accountability, juvenile justice, significant disabilities, postsecondary education, and disability public policy. He conducts site visits under NCWD/Y’s Community College Case Study project.

Richards originally joined IEL as a Senior Policy Fellow (dedicated to the NCWD/Y) in 2001. He also formed his own public policy consulting firm, known as The Advocrat Group, in 2001 with an emphasis on issues of disability, education, employment, and health care.

Richards served the last three years of the Clinton Administration as Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services in the U.S. Department of Education. In that capacity, he administered more than $10 billion of national programs in special education, disability research, and vocational rehabilitation for youth and adults with disabilities.

Before trekking to Washington, Richards was Chief Consultant to the California State Assembly’s Budget Committee, where he guided strategy for legislative discussion, modification, and adoption of a state-spending plan. As he did for several years, Richards held specific budget responsibilities for key programs and departments serving people with disabilities, including special education, vocational rehabilitation, aging and long-term care, mental health, and developmental services. And, from 1991 to 1995, Richards served as an Assistant Director for Consumer Affairs in the California Department of Rehabilitation.

Richards also has an extensive background in postsecondary education. He served as Consultant to a California State Assembly committee on higher education from 1985 to 1991, and, before that, lobbied for California State University students for five years.

Richards has spoken extensively on disability issues throughout the country, on a wide range of topics including the disability civil rights movement, the Americans with Disabilities Act, education of disabled youth and adults, and disability and employment. And, as a freelance writer, he has a number of magazine, journal, and newsletter articles in his portfolio, many addressing the same subjects.

Richards has been honored for his work in the disability field. Among his numerous awards are: a 2000 Certificate of Appreciation from the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, a 1999 Disability Rights Activist Award from the California Foundation of Independent Living Centers, and the 1997 Lanterman Award from the California Association of Postsecondary Education and the Disabled.

Richards has been visually impaired since he was a toddler.

Richards holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Government-Journalism from the California State University, Sacramento.

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

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