Disabled in Development Project Storyteller #10: Catherine Hyde Townsend

“Linking ableism to other forms of oppression is also critical.”

Color headshot of Catherine Hyde Townsend, a white woman who is smiling

Photo courtesy of Catherine Hyde Townsend


Multi-colored hexagons“Developing relationships between community leaders and philanthropic staff is essential. These social networks not only inform grant-making decisions, but also help reinforce learning and understanding of the disability community. It’s also one of the hardest things to do.”


Name or Anonymous:
Catherine Hyde Townsend
Please share how you prefer to introduce yourself:
I’ve worked in philanthropy on human rights issues since 2002 and became disabled 16 years ago.
Like lots of people, I was pretty clueless about disability before I experienced it myself.  But I quickly realized what internalized ableism looked like as well as the social model of disability. I had/have access to incredible support from my family, work and friends, as well as significant privilege within the healthcare system. I haven’t always self-identified for a variety of reasons, but do so now for both political and personal reasons, finding significant community with others in the disability community.
For most of my time within philanthropy, I’ve been trying to educate and advocate to colleagues about how they can better include people with disabilities. One of the things I’m most proud of is helping to launch the Disability Rights Fund, a global donor that uses a participatory decision-making structure.
Most of my past work was at Wellspring Advisors, which works anonymously and takes a very low profile. For obvious reasons that was challenging, but I was able to launch and expand a grant-making portfolio focused on the [UN] Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities with a very intersectional lens. That grant-making was/is really important, but it was also important for donors of women’s rights, HIV, AIDS, immigration, etc., to understand the ways different forms of oppression link and reinforce one another, but also how our advocacy can do the same.
My current work seeks to advance the inclusion of people with disabilities within philanthropy – mostly focusing on the grant-making, but a lot on learning and culture change, as you cannot have one without the other. 

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Disabled in Development Project Storyteller #9: Alex Tabony

Good introductions should be considered part of universal design.

Color photo of Alex Tabony, a white man, looking relaxed and happy

Photo courtesy of Alex Tabony


Multi-colored hexagonsEmployers are often focused on obtaining the ‘best and the brightest’ and have defined that, in part, as having a profile that typically PWD (people with disabilities) do not have because of missed developmental opportunities and/or non-traditional backgrounds for the position.


Name or Anonymous:
Alex Tabony
Please share how you prefer to introduce yourself:
Call me Alex.
Here’s a little more about me. Since 1999, I’ve dedicated my life to help break the cycle of poverty for people disabilities and the economically disadvantaged. Employment is the key to a life of independence. I develop and maintain programs that go right to the heart of the issues and produce remarkable successes. My hat is off to those who take the challenge and I am so proud to be part of the process of transforming.
As Computer Technologies Program‘s Executive Director, I’m responsible for overseeing the administration, programs and strategic plan of the organization. Other key duties include fundraising and community outreach.

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Disabled in Development Project Storyteller #8: Emily Ladau

The biggest gap in organizational commitments to disability inclusion continues to be a lack of inclusive hiring.

Color photo of Ladau, a youthful white woman, sitting and smiling

Photo courtesy of Emily Ladau


Multi-colored hexagonsCurrently, it seems a lot of organizations are beginning to recognize disability as an area for funding, but it’s time to move beyond a charity perspective.


Name or Anonymous:
Emily Ladau
Please share how you prefer to introduce yourself:
I’m a disability rights activist, writer, speaker, and digital communications consultant whose career began at the age of 10, when I appeared on several episodes of Sesame Street to educate children about life with a physical disability.
My writing has been published in outlets including The New York Times, SELF, Salon, Vice, and HuffPost and I have served as a source for outlets including NPR, Vox, and Washington Post. I have spoken before numerous audiences across the United States, ranging from lectures at universities to conference keynote presentations.
At the core of my work is a focus on disability identity, sharing our stories, and harnessing the powers of communication and social media as tools for people to become engaged in disability and social justice issues. More about my work can be found on my website, Words I Wheel By.

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Disabled in Development Project Storyteller #7: Judy Heumann

Philanthropy is not different than other fields. If there isn’t meaningful inclusion of disability across the organization, ableism is occurring.

Photo of Judy Heumann in her powerchair, laughing

Photo courtesy TEDX


Multi-colored hexagonsMy most positive experience was working at The Ford Foundation when they wanted to learn about barriers we face and what Ford needed to do to become more educated and inclusive.”


Name or Anonymous:  Judy Heumann
Please share how you prefer to introduce yourself:
It depends on the situation.  Typically Judy Heumann, sometimes Judith Heumann, Ph.D.
Senior Fellow, The Ford Foundation 2017-2018
I’m now building an online presence under The Heumann Perspective through social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. This new project is intended to broaden and spur discussions on the intersectionality of disability rights.

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Disabled in Development Project Storyteller #6: Cara Liebowitz

My fundraising career has been very affected by the income restrictions imposed by public benefits systems.

Color photo of Cara Liebowitz, a youthful white woman with shoulder-length brown hair and glasses, who is smiling.

Photo courtesy of the Disabled and Proud Conference


Multi-colored hexagons“It’s hard to work in this sector and to be asking mostly people with disabilities for money.  People with disabilities are disproportionately low income, and the system keeps us poor… And if foundations aren’t interested in funding disability rights and individual donors just can’t give enough, where does that leave us?”


Name:  Cara Liebowitz
Please share how you prefer to introduce yourself:
I’m a multiply-disabled activist and writer.  I’m the Development Coordinator at the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL), where I handle all of our grant-writing, fundraising, and partnerships.  I like cats, country music, and books about plagues.

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Disabled in Development Project Storyteller #5: Tiffany Yu

To say that we can only be charity recipients is another way our community is dehumanized.”


Color photo of Tiffany Yu, an Asian-American woman in a bright blue shirt, looking off to the side and smiling.

Photo courtesy of Tiffany Yu

Multi-colored hexagonsI look to other movements for best practices and learnings that we can bring back to the disability community. I also acknowledge that we are still working on making all of our movements more intersectional.”


Name:  Tiffany Yu
Please share how you prefer to introduce yourself:
I am building and funding things I wish existed when I was younger. Today, I’m on a mission to increase access and opportunity in the disability community.
I do that as the CEO & Founder of Diversability, an award-winning social enterprise focused on building community through the celebration of our diverse disability lived experiences and as the Founder of the Awesome Foundation Disability Chapter, which has awarded $30,500 in grants to 31 disability projects in 6 countries. I also serve as a Mayoral-appointed member of the San Francisco Mayor’s Disability Council and am 2019 California Miss Amazing, serving as an ambassador for girls and women with disabilities. I have had the opportunity to share our work at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, TEDx, and media outlets like Forbes, Marie Claire, and the Guardian.

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Disabled in Development Project Storyteller #4: Marsha Saxton

I would like to see nonprofits and NGOs all around the world have more power in relation to philanthropy.


A white woman of middle-age who has short blonde hair and is wearing a pleasant expression.

Photo courtesy of Marsha Saxton

 

 

 

Multi-colored hexagonsI would like younger leaders, women and people with disabilities, to not have to go through the tokenization that I experienced as a younger person. I submitted to this because I didn’t really recognize what was happening to me at the time, and was afraid, and made to feel grateful to have a meeting or participate in conference with philanthropy.”


Name:  Marsha Saxton
Please share how you prefer to introduce yourself:
I’m a researcher and scholar. I’ve been interviewed on 60 Minutes and Talk of the Nation and served on the boards of Our Bodies, Ourselves Collective; the Council for Responsible Genetics; and the Ethics Working Group of the Human Genome Initiative. I’ve published three books, several films, and over one hundred articles and book chapters about disability rights, personal assistance, women’s health, nutrition, employment, violence prevention, genetic screening, disaster preparedness and climate crisis impact on the disability community.
I like the slogans, “Nothing about us without us,” and “Power to the people with disabilities!” I tell my students, “The Disability Rights Movement is one of the most successful movements for human rights in the history of the world – although we still have a ways to go.”

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