We had a wonderful night at the end of last month inducting 30 individuals and organizations into our 8th Annual Susan M. Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. Although we celebrate and emphasize the importance of mentoring all year long, our Induction Ceremony is an opportunity to acknowledge those who are going above and beyond in their mentor roles and truly making a difference.
This year, we specifically recognized mentors and organizations that support mentees’ mental health and wellness through the development of coping skills, reducing stigma and isolation, providing mental health education, and brokering connections to community resources. The night was full of inspirational speakers, dedicated inductees, and remarkable memories.
Inducting the Susan M. Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame Class of 2022
At the start of the night, we shared our dedication of the event to disability rights activist, mentor, and friend Judy Heumann, who suddenly passed away in March 2023. Various photos and clips of Judy’s work were played to showcase her commitment to the disability community. We especially love this quote she’s shared:
“Together, we can make a difference. Together, we can speak up for justice. Together, we can change the world.” – Judy Heumann
As we mourn the loss of this incredible advocate and inaugural class of 2015 inductee, we created a tribute page on our website to honor her life and legacy, where folks who knew and loved Judy could share the impact she made on their lives. Please feel free to fill out this form to share a tribute for Judy.
From there, our Inclusion Communities Manager, Nicole Homerin, shared an overview of what to expect throughout the night before passing the mic to our Executive Director, Tere Ramos, for opening remarks. Tere explained the Hall of Fame’s namesake as well as its mark in the mentoring community, in addition to sharing her own experience of the importance of having access to mentors, as both a person with a disability and a mom of two daughters with disabilities. After Tere’s introduction, co-emcees Lisa Matrundula and Tatiana Thomas officially kicked off the night.
Lisa and Tatiana have been a match for more than four years and have both made an impact on one another. Tatiana has been a part of PYD for nearly seven years and values the relationship she has with Lisa — and Lisa feels exactly the same way! Lisa made a statement that stuck with us all:
“The magic of being a mentor is not just learning about yourself or enhancing your life. It is about the wonderful people that we meet and what we receive from them, which is not always observable or describable, but it comes from inside of ourselves, a feeling, happiness, connectedness, comfort, and unity.” – Lisa Matrundula
After discussing the role that mentoring has had in Lisa and Tatiana’s lives, they then introduced our keynote speaker, Dior Vargas.
Dior’s emotional and inspirational keynote shared her first experience of mentorship from her grandparents. Although she first thought that family members don’t qualify as mentors, throughout the years, she’s realized that a mentor is anyone who helps you to live your fullest and most authentic life. Through her experience with domestic violence and mental health struggles, Dior acknowledges the positive impact her grandparents had on her life by making her feel seen, supported, and loved. By listing several staggering statistics in regards to mental health, Dior emphasized the importance of having access to mentorship and mental health resources.
Additionally, Dior shared the several positive encounters she had with Judy Heumann throughout the past few years, especially with the amount of care that Judy showed her after she faced two significant losses in her life of both her grandfather and her family dog. Dior closed her keynote with an important reminder in regards to mentoring:
“Mentors come in many forms. You may or may not know them personally, but their impact or influence on your life is no less significant.” – Dior Vargas
This was the perfect segue into introducing our inductees. Edmund Asiedu, Co-Chair of the NDMC Advisory Council, announced the first group of inductees:
- Mary Fashik
- Michael Agyin
- Kelly Timmons
- Jenny Border
- Candace Coleman
- Tristan Scremin
- Azza Altiraifi
Edmund then passed the mic off to Brelynn Bille, a Dinah F.B. Cohen DREAM Fellow, to introduce the next group:
- No Barriers USA
- The NAN Project
- Bender Leadership Academy
PYD’s Inclusion Communities Manager Dan Bradley followed Brelynn’s introduction to celebrate the next round of inductees:
- Libbie Rifkin
- Dr. Sara Maria Acevedo
- Dr. Pau Abustan
- Aimi Hamraie
- Dr. Saili Kulkarni
- Michael Morris
- Jess Cowing
Priti Pandya, our Career Readiness Academy Director, announced four organizations who are now inductees:
- Aurora Youth Options (AYO) prevention programming with Aurora Mental Health & Recovery
- Silver Lining Mentoring
- Capital Clubhouse
- Great Life Mentoring
Lastly, NDMC Director Kristin Humphrey wrapped up the introductions with these inductees:
- Cindy Fritz
- Nancy Yang
- Jen Deerinwater
- Karen Nakamura
- Oluwatobi Maeyen Odugunwa
- Dan Campbell
- Nechama F. Sammet Moring, CPM, MA
- Shain A.M. Neumeier
- Steven W. Allen
At the end of the night, Lisa encouraged a moment of reflection to remember members of the Hall of Fame who passed away in the past year. Career Readiness Program Manager Becca Cronin honored the wonderful Darryl Sanchez, PYD’s Career Readiness Program Coordinator who passed away in July 2022 after a battle with Glioblastoma.
Support the Hall of Fame and the Importance of Mentoring
We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without our sponsors. Special thanks to:
- Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation
- ForwardWorks Consulting
- Genelle & Scott Thomas
- Edmund Asiedu
And many more for their support. Please consider making a donation today.