Self Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE) and the leadership of the AIDD Self Advocacy Resource and Technical Assistance Center (SARTAC) are pleased to announce the 2018-2019 SARTAC Fellowship Award recipients.
Six Fellows were chosen through a competitive application process to carry out independently designed self advocacy leadership and policy-related projects. This is the second of four groups of SARTAC Fellows. Fellows are listed below with their hometown, brief biography, title and summary of their project, and Host organization.
To learn more about the SARTAC Fellowship, these outstanding self advocates, and the previous class of Fellows, click here.
SARTAC Fellows 2018-2019
Samuel Capozzi: SARTAC Fellow from Thousand Oaks, California
Fellowship project: “Point of Access: Accessing Communication, Higher Education, and Community for Non-Speaking Individuals on the Autism Spectrum Who Use Augmentative and Alternative Communication”
Samuel Capozzi is a junior at California State University Channel Islands who has autism and spells/types to communicate. He is considered non-speaking and non-writing and hopes to be a pioneer for others who face similar obstacles pursuing higher education and a career. As an underrepresented “voice” in the conversation, Samuel believes it is important to be present and included in decisions about and for the autism community.
Samuel’s goal is to educate individuals with autism to better understand their opportunities, rights, and the need to effectively self-advocate for communication, inclusion in the community, and access to higher education, should they so desire to pursue it. As part of this project, he will also assist in the planning and execution of a College-Bound Academy for autistic high school students who use Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) and the 3rd annual Spectrum of Opportunity Conference to be held at California Lutheran University.
Thomas Caswell: SARTAC Fellow from Essex Junction, Vermont
Fellowship project: “I Know Who I Am and I Feel Welcome!”
Thomas Caswell graduated from high school in June 2017 and also completed Project Search, a program that included an internship experience his last year of high school. He is one of the youngest self-advocates to complete the Vermont Leadership Series where he was able to sharpen his advocacy skills to speak up for positive change.
Thomas’ Fellowship will address youth with developmental disabilities coming out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or trans, which for many can be like coming out of two closets. He will be adapting and creating accessible resources geared toward self-advocates. Thomas will be interviewing self-advocates who are LGBTQ+ to find out what helps when coming out and share this advice with families, teachers, and organizations so that, together, they can develop ways to welcome people with disabilities. He will also share information with self-advocacy groups to help them be open to all peers and show respect for diversity.
Kelsey Cowley: SARTAC Fellow from Avon, Indiana
Fellowship project: “Starting the Conversation: Addressing Sexual Violence within the Disability Community through Advocacy, Education, and System Change”
Kelsey Cowley is currently serving as the President of Self-Advocates of Indiana, Indiana’s statewide self-advocacy organization. She is also the Co-President of her local Awesome Westside Advocates self-advocacy group and serves on several different disability-related coalitions and advisory groups. She has most recently served on a workgroup to amend the current person-centered-planning process in Indiana. Kelsey also works as a speaker for the Self-Advocate Speakers Bureau, The Arc of Indiana’s Career Counseling and Information Referral Program, and works as a salesperson at Frazee Gardens in Avon, Indiana.
The goal of Kelsey’s project is to address the issue of sexual violence within the disability community through advocacy, education, and system change and help other self-advocates start the conversation in their communities. She will be working to raise awareness in her state about the issue, its prevalence, and the importance of bringing self-advocates to the table to discuss it. She will provide self-advocate representation on state-level violence prevention conversations, gather information from self-advocates, and educate self-advocates about sexual self-advocacy and informed decision making in sexuality and relationships, including the right to say no. Kelsey will also be working with state and organizational leaders in and outside the disability field to look at current reporting, prevention, and follow-up policies.
Kevin Greenstein: SARTAC Fellow from Port Washington, New York
Fellowship project: “Invisible No More - Using Strong Relationships to Improve Policy”
Kevin Greenstein is an activist. He has given testimony in front of the Speaker of the New York Assembly, his state senator, and assembly members. He is a member of a town wide Disability Advisory Committee as well as a motivational speaker and blogger. He currently attends Queensboro Community College.
Kevin’s project focuses on helping people with disabilities who may feel scared to overcome their fear of building relationships with people in positions of power in order to help themselves and their communities. He will be working on providing tools they need to develop relationships with legislators and policy makers
Sorretie Jaro: SARTAC Fellow from Spokane, Washington
Fellowship Project: “Empowering Legislative Advocates Through Video”
Sorretie Jaro has been employed by Sacred Heart Hospital for 5 years filling isolation carts for medical personnel. She is the President of People First of Spokane, Washington. Sorretie travels to local high schools and teaches self-advocacy to Student First clubs. She has been involved in self-advocacy for 5 years and enjoys it very much.
Sorretie’s project will create an accessible training that teaches advocates how to research bills, find their legislators, and contact them in a variety of ways, including by making video messages to them. Her project will result in written materials, including a tutorial and at least one example video that will be sent to legislators in the 2019 legislative session.
Nicole LeBlanc: SARTAC Fellow from Silver Springs, Maryland
Fellowship Project: “Toolkit for Self-Advocates on the Importance of Competitive Employment”
Nicole LeBlanc is a person with autism with a keen interest in public policy. She worked for more than eight years at Green Mountain Self-Advocates (GMSA) in Vermont as Advocacy Director, supporting her peers with disabilities to learn to confidently talk to their elected officials about what they need. Since 2011, Nicole has consulted for Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered and the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network, where she has developed self-advocacy tools and curriculums, presented webinars, and produced video blogs. She is passionate about advocacy and politics.
Nicole will be working to create a toolkit that self-advocates can use to make the case with policymakers and the general public about the importance of competitive employment for people with disabilities. The toolkit will include accessible fact sheets and PowerPoint presentations that can be used across the United States. Nicole will also be participating in coalition meetings, Capitol Hill and Administration visits, conferences, and briefings, and use the knowledge to help formulate the employment toolkit. Throughout the project, she will also bring the voices of self-advocates to a variety of policymakers.
Stay up to date on the Fellows’ progress by following SARTAC on Facebook!
The next round of Fellowships will open for submissions in late fall of 2018. Watch social media and the SARTAC website for announcements about application deadlines and process.
If you would like to contact the SARTAC Fellows, please email Teresa Moore (firstname.lastname@example.org).