2016 Summer Interns

The AAPD Summer Internship Program develops the next generation of leaders with disabilities and offers host employers access to a talented, diverse workforce. Each summer, AAPD places college students, graduate students, law students, and recent graduates with all types of disabilities in summer internships with Congressional offices, federal agencies, non-profits, and for-profit organizations in the Washington, DC area.


Meet the 2016 AAPD Summer Interns!



Ahilan Amirthanayagam

Interning with the Federal Communications Commission

Ahilan Amirthanayagam is a student at the George Washington University majoring in Communication with a minor in Psychology. He was born in New York City but has spent most of his life abroad. Having lived in seven different countries (India, Ethiopia, US, Kenya, Singapore, Bolivia, and Barbados) and having had the opportunity to visit over 60, he is fascinated by different cultural groups and their interactions.


Caitlin Chasar

Interning with the Association of University Centers on Disabilities

Caitlin Chasar is a 24 year old graduate student born with spina bifida. She is originally from North Wales, Pennsylvania and has three sisters and two brothers. Currently Caitlin is pursuing her graduate studies in Clinical Rehabilitation and Clinical Mental Health Counseling and is set to graduate with her Master’s in December 2016. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communications with a specialization in Public Relations from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania in 2013. Caitlin considers herself an active advocate for individuals with disabilities and has a passion for advocating for equality in the workforce and education for those with disabilities. Her hobbies include traveling, participating in wheelchair sports (especially wheelchair basketball and swimming), and spending time with family and friends.


Jillian Gruetzner

Interning with the Department of Homeland Security

A proud Michigan native, Jillian Gruetzner is currently a senior with a double major in Communication Studies and Accounting at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC. She has a several years’ worth of experience in customer service through working a variety of positions within Gallaudet University’s Office of Residence Life. In that time, Jillian had come to realize her affinity for crunching numbers and her skills in writing would be useful in a career as an accountant, leading her to pursue her second degree in Accounting in addition to one in Communications. A “switch-hitter” of sorts, Jillian seeks to obtain both her CPA and CMA certifications in order to be able to offer a broader and better range of services to her future clients. When she has time off from studying for her certification exams, Jillian enjoys spending time at her family’s cottage by Lake Huron and traveling by backpack to different places around the world. Her most notable experiences to date are skydiving for the first time over the Swiss Alps and visiting a church made entirely out of human bones in the Czech Republic.


Frances Isbell

Interning with the Administration for Community Living

Frances Isbell is from Gadsden, Alabama, and graduated summa cum laude in 2014 from Samford University with a degree in English and Political Science. She is currently a rising third-year law student and Dean’s Scholar at the University of Alabama School of Law. While in law school, she has clerked with the Protection & Advocacy Program in Alabama, externed with a federal district judge, and worked as a research assistant for a law professor on mental health law. Frances was recently selected as a U.S. Albert Schweitzer Fellow, and through that fellowship, has opened a chapter of NMD United in Alabama. As President of her law school’s Public Interest Student Board, Frances has also volunteered with multiple community service and pro bono projects, including the Southern Immigration Detention Documentation Project and her law school’s Free Legal Advice Clinic. After law school, Frances hopes to pursue a career in disability advocacy and policy.


Catherine Jacobson

Interning with Senator Amy Klobuchar

Catherine Jacobson is currently a junior at Hamline University in Saint Paul, Minnesota. She is pursuing a double major in Public Health Sciences, and Social Justice, with a Health Equity concentration. Catherine was adopted from South Korea when she was only six months old by her loving, and blind parents. Catherine is also blind, and she has albinism. Catherine had the privilege of growing up closely knit to the blind community with the National Federation of the Blind (NFB). The NFB has given her various opportunities including being a 2014 summer intern for their national headquarters in Baltimore, Maryland. While Catherine is at school she holds numerous leadership positions within her university’s office of student activities, counseling and health services, creative writing program, and the dean of students office. Catherine hopes to continue school by getting a masters in Public Health with a concentration in Public Health Policy and Administration. Her career goal is to be an administrator for an organization that works towards health equity through policy work.


Isabella Kres-Nash

Interning with Senator Patty Murray

Isabella Kres-Nash is studying Political Science and History. Isabella is finishing her second year at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, but she is originally from Seattle, Washington. Throughout her time at Brown University Isabella has been active in several social justice initiatives on campus, and has worked as a Minority Peer Counselor in the Brown Center for Students of Color. Isabella hopes to continue working with marginalized communities, especially focusing on identity and coalition building, at Brown and beyond. Isabella is also preparing to study abroad in Granada, Spain in the upcoming year.


Jessica McHale

Interning with USAID

Jessica McHale attends American University where she is majoring in International Studies with a concentration in Justice, Ethics, and Human Rights. Her interest in international relations began when she completed a project on economic development and read “The Bottom Billion” by Paul Collier in her high school economics course. During the fall, as part of her American Constitution class where she studied Constitutional Law, Jessica participated in a mock appellate court in front of a panel of attorneys, when she realized that she is also passionate about law. She aspires to work on international law for a non-profit organization. Jessica spends her free time reading and exploring Washington, D.C. with her friends.


Jovan Ruvalcaba

Interning with Senator Charles Schumer

Jovan Ruvalcaba is a student at the James E. Rogers College of Law. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a double minor in French and Spanish. Jovan has volunteered with Pima County Teen Court in Tucson, Arizona for more than thirteen years where he now serves as court magistrate. Prior to entering law school, Jovan studied International & Comparative law at Sciences-Po Paris for five months. Jovan also served two terms with AmeriCorps. More recently, Jovan taught English and researched accessibility issues as a Fulbright Fellow in Curitiba Brazil.


Thank you to our 2016 sponsors!


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