AAPD Paul G. Hearne Emerging Leader Awards
Through the AAPD Paul G. Hearne Emerging Leader Awards, the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) recognizes outstanding emerging leaders with disabilities who exemplify leadership, advocacy, and dedication to the broader cross-disability community. Two (2) individuals will each receive $2,500 in recognition of their outstanding contributions and $7,500 to further a new or existing project or initiative that increases opportunities for people with disabilities. The recipients of the 2021 AAPD Paul G. Hearne Emerging Leader Awards were honored among national disability leaders at the 2021 AAPD Leadership Awards Gala, held virtually in the Spring of 2021.
Applications for the 2021 Paul G. Hearne Emerging Leader Awards are now closed. Please come back in the Fall of 2021.
Below outlines Paul G. Hearne’s legacy and the application process. AAPD hosted a Zoom webinar for any interested applicants to review the information below and answered general questions. You can view the recording of the webinar here, which includes captioning and ASL interpreters. We also have provided the transcript, and PowerPoint slides.
Paul G. Hearne: A Legacy of Leadership
This award is named in honor of Paul G. Hearne, an advocate and visionary leader with a lifelong disability who achieved success as a nonprofit executive, foundation president, federal agency director, and mentor to countless people with disabilities. A passionate advocate for increased employment of people with disabilities, Paul opened doors for thousands through his leadership of Just One Break, an employment agency for people with disabilities in New York City, and The Dole Foundation for Employment of People with Disabilities in Washington, DC. Until his passing in 1998, Paul pursued two core passions: 1) to create a national association that gave people with disabilities more consumer power and a stronger public voice, and 2) to cultivate potential leaders to carry on the disability rights movement. Paul achieved his first goal during his lifetime with the 1995 creation of AAPD, now recognized as a powerful force for organizing the disability community as catalysts for change. The AAPD Paul G. Hearne Leadership Awards were established in 1999, not only as a way to honor his lifetime of leadership and advocacy but to help realize Paul’s second goal by highlighting and supporting emerging leaders with disabilities.
AAPD Paul G. Hearne Emerging Leader Award Application Process
Any person who self-identifies as an emerging leader with a disability is invited to apply. Emerging leader is not necessarily tied to age, education status, employment, or specific experience or involvement in the disability community.
You will not be required to disclose your specific disability; however, your application for this award will signify that you consider yourself a person with a disability.
Application Guidelines and Procedures
Candidates for the AAPD Paul G. Hearne Emerging Leadership Award must submit all of the following required documentation through the online application portal:
- Applicant Information
- Project information
- A current resume
- Two (2) letters of support. It is strongly recommended the letter of support is from people who will support and/or collaborate with you on your project.
You can view the application in a Word document format: 2021 PGH Award Application. In addition, AAPD has developed a document with suggestions and guidelines for your application process. View the 2021 Paul G. Hearne Award application tips and guideline document: 2021 PGH Application Tips.
It is recommended that you complete the essay questions in a separate word processing program and then copy and paste them into the online form to prevent loss of information while applying. Incomplete or late submissions will not be considered. We will not consider any materials in excess of the stated requirements.
Recipients who are chosen for the AAPD Paul G. Hearne Emerging Leader Award release all information contained in their application for use on the AAPD website and in public press releases, including releases to the program funders, and potential employers.
Conflicts of Interest
Please note that to avoid conflicts of interest, applications will not be accepted if a letter of support is written by a member of the AAPD Board of Directors, an AAPD staff member, or a relative of any of these individuals. View a list of AAPD Board and Staff.
An AAPD internal review team will evaluate all eligible applications. The review team will identify the finalists who will be interviewed via video conference (or another accessible format). The finalists will be recommended to the AAPD Paul G. Hearne Leadership Awards Selection Committee (comprised of AAPD Board members, staff, previous Hearne Awardees, and other partners), who will then select the two award recipients.
All applicants will be notified of a decision by January 2021.
Recipients of the 2021 AAPD Paul G. Hearne Leadership Award will have several responsibilities, including but not limited to the following:
- Attend the AAPD Leadership Awards Gala in Spring 2021
- Complete quarterly reports and calls with AAPD staff regarding the status of their initiative
- Submit a final report detailing the outcomes of their initiative, including an accounting of all expenditures
- Present their final report to AAPD Paul G. Hearne Leadership Awards Selection Committee
- Discuss their work and career path with AAPD’s Summer Internship Program class
- Actively promote the AAPD Paul G. Hearne Leadership Awards program as well as other AAPD programs—such as the REV UP Campaign, Disability Equality Index (in collaboration with Disability: IN), Disability Mentoring Day, and the Summer Internship Program—to help grow the strength and outreach of AAPD nationally
- Contribute to AAPD’s social media and other communication channels to amplify and elevate their work and the work of AAPD
2021 AAPD Paul G. Hearne Emerging Leader Award Recipients
Elijah Armstrong is an activist from Jacksonville, Florida, who received his Bachelor of Science in Education and Public Policy from Penn State in 2019, and his Master of Education Policy and Management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2020. With the funds from the 2021 Paul G. Hearne Emerging Leader Award, Elijah is going to start the Judy Heumann Award for Education Activism. This will give monetary awards to students who have experienced ableism in education, while also driving a conversation around ableism in education that is centered around the experience of students with disabilities.
Elijah is an epileptic who was denied accommodations in high school and was thus motivated to prevent the same thing from happening to other students. He founded Equal Opportunities for Students in 2015 and published pieces in Education Post and Faces of Education. He can be heard telling his story through his Ted Talk or his interviews with NPR. Elijah was an AAPD intern in 2018 in the office of Senator Bob Casey (D-PA). He served on the DREAM (Disability Rights, Education Activism, and Mentoring) National Student Advisory board for three years, and also branched out into other forms of activism while at Penn State, helping to plan a multi-day program around sexual assault prevention and cofounding No Hate Penn State with three other students. In his time at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Elijah was president of the Black Student Union.
Elijah enjoys performing arts like comedy clubs or live music in his spare time, but the pandemic has brought him back to his deep love for reality television. During the pandemic, he has taken the time to watch old seasons of The Bachelor while loom-knitting blankets. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram @elijahsaprophet, and connect with him on LinkedIn.
Learn more about Elijah and his work here.
Noor Pervez is a queer, Muslim disability activist and community organizer working at the intersection of faith, disability, race, LGBT+ issues, reproductive justice, and eating disorders. His project aims to start the creation of an English-language Easy Read translation of the Holy Qu’ran. This translation aims to provide all Muslims with intellectual disabilities access to the original holy text, nuances and all, and help them participate fully in their community’s discussions about it. The end product will also be a helpful reference for non-Muslim people with intellectual disabilities who want to better understand the Holy Qu’ran, as well as for English language learners and people with other disabilities that benefit from Easy Read.
Noor is employed as the community engagement coordinator for the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN). Noor is a student organizer turned broader community activist and takes pride in learning much of his original advocacy skills from other trans people raised in the southern US. Noor has bylines at Disability Visibility Project and Rooted in Rights, and has presented at a variety of conferences and universities on the intersections of the communities he is a part of and works alongside. You can follow Noor on Twitter: @snoringdoggo.
Learn more about Noor and his work here.