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AAPD Announces the Disability Advocacy Certificate Program Class of 2020!

by | Jun 29, 2020 | Press Release

For Immediate Release: June 29, 2020

Contact: Christine Liao, internships@www.aapd.com

WASHINGTON, DC – The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) is pleased to announce the Disability Advocacy Certificate Program Class of 2020.

Due to the current pandemic and many unknowns associated with COVID-19, AAPD has postponed the in-person Summer Internship to 2021. Despite this postponement, we remain committed to providing young leaders with an opportunity to gain meaningful employment and leadership opportunities for the 2020 cohort.

In partnership with American University, AAPD is providing a credit-optional Disability Advocacy Certificate Program. The 10-week virtual Certificate Program prepares participants to be knowledgeable and effective advocates and representatives for the disability community. The focus will be on preparing participants to advocate in their home universities, home states, and on the national level.

During this course, participants will have the opportunity to become familiar with the history of the disability rights movement through a variety of topics such as disability legislation, healthcare, employment, and more. Through conversations with issue experts, participants will apply their learning to advocate effectively to influence policy change. Participants will complete a government visit, learn how to communicate across multiple platforms to engage with diverse stakeholders, and understand their role as an advocate and in the disability rights movement. In addition to the Certificate Program, all participants are paired with a virtual mentor..

Below are the 2020 Disability Advocacy Certificate Program Participants.

Matthew Arnold

Year: Rising Senior

Major: ESE/Elementary ED

College/University: University of West Florida


Kyra Beckish

Year: Rising Junior

Major: Public Relations/Digital Media Engagement

College/University: Temple University


Fanisee Bias

Year: Rising Junior

Major: Sociology, Change-making

College/University: University of San Diego


Hana Gabrielle Bidon

Year: Rising Senior

Major: Information Science, Systems, and Technology

College/University: Cornell University


Nadia Bon

Year: Recent Graduate

Major: History/Science and Technology Studies

College/University: Cornell University


Kaitlyn Brennan

Year: Rising Sophomore

Major: Political Science and Human Rights

College/University: Columbia University


Jonas Bryson

Year: Rising Senior

Major: Political Science/Minor, History

College/University: North Carolina State University


Shirley Carrillo-Acevedo

Year: Recent Graduate

Major: Communication Studies, opt. PR/Advertising & French

College/University: California State University-Los Angeles


Daniel Charney

Year: Rising Junior

Major: Politics/Communications

College/University: University of Puget Sound


Courtney Felle

Year: Rising Senior

Major: American Studies / English and Public Policy

College/University: Kenyon College


Naomi Hess

Year: Rising Junior

Major: Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs intended major, Journalism intended minor

College/University: Princeton University


Jake Linn

Year: Rising Senior

Major: Film and Public Policy

College/University: School of the Art Institute of Chicago


Osler Moore

Year: PhD Student

Major: Computer Science

College/University: Mississippi State University


Louis Paniccioli

Year: Recent Graduate

Major: Political Science with a dual minor in legal studies and philosophy

College/University: College of Staten Island


Alma Silver

Year: Recent Graduate

Major: Communications and Journalism / Psychology

College/University: St. Catherine University


Verlencia Somuah

Year: Master’s Student

Major: Masters in Social Work, Policy Practice

College/University: Columbia University


Jesica Weaver

Year: Rising Senior

Major: Political Science/History and Russian

College/University: SUNY at Binghamton


Learn more about the 2020 DAC program participants here!


The 2020 AAPD Disability Advocacy Certificate Program would not be possible without the generous support of our partners. Thank you Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation, AT&T, The Coca-Cola Foundation, Arconic Foundation, Microsoft, and the Aid Association for the Blind of the District of Columbia for supporting these participants!


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AAPD is a convener, connecter, and catalyst for change, increasing the political and economic power of people with disabilities. As one of the leading national cross-disability civil rights organizations, AAPD advocates for the full recognition of rights for the over 60 million Americans with disabilities. AAPD’s programs and initiatives have been effective in mobilizing the disability community through communications advocacy; cultivating and training new and emerging leaders with disabilities through leadership development programs; increasing the political participation of Americans with disabilities and elevating the power of the disability vote through the REV UP (Register! Educate! Vote! Use your Power!) Campaign; and advancing disability inclusion in the workplace through the Disability Equality Index (DEI) — the nation’s leading corporate benchmarking tool for disability equality and inclusion. To learn more about AAPD, visit www.aapd.com.