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AAPD Hearne Leadership Award Winners Announced

Washington, DC (February 18, 2014) — The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), the nation’s largest disability rights organization, is pleased to announce Talila Lewis and Jason DaSilva as the winners of the prestigious 2014 Paul G. Hearne Leadership Award.

Lewis, of Washington, D.C. and DaSilva, of Brooklyn, New York will be presented with their awards, which are given to emerging leaders in the national disability rights movement, at the 2014 AAPD Leadership Gala, on March 18, 2014 in Washington, D.C. The AAPD Paul G. Hearne Leadership Award advances the work of Paul Hearne, one of the founders of AAPD and a renowned leader in the national disability community, and realizes his goal of cultivating emerging disability rights leaders. Each awardee will receive $10,000 to help them continue their progress in disability activism.

Talila Lewis is the Founder and President of Helping Educate to Advance the Rights of the Deaf ("HEARD"), an all-volunteer nonprofit organization that promotes equal access to the legal system for individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing. HEARD is the only organization in the nation that focuses on correcting and preventing deaf wrongful convictions, ending deaf prisoner abuse, decreasing recidivism rates for deaf returned citizens, and increasing representation of the deaf in the legal profession. Through Talila’s leadership, and with the support of the community, HEARD has considerably advanced the rights of the deaf in the legal and corrections settings with no office, no employees, and a limited budget.

Director Jason DaSilva has been a prolific filmmaker for the past 10 years. He has directed four short films and two feature-length documentary films. Many of his films have won awards; OLIVIA’S PUZZLE premiered at the 2003 Sundance Festival and qualified for an Academy Award. Three of his films had national broadcasts on PBS, HBO, and CBC. DaSilva’s latest film, WHEN I WALK, which captures DaSilva’s transformative experience living with multiple sclerosis, was an official selection of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and won Best Canadian Feature at HotDocs 2013. Following the film’s theatrical release this fall, it will air on POV on PBS in 2014.

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