2018 Summer Interns
Meet AAPD’s 2018 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.
Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY)
Nathan Altmann is entering his final semester at the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire in the fall of 2018 to finish his studies in political science, legal studies, and philosophy. Nathan’s academic pursuits have earned him positions as a McNair Scholar, Undergraduate Research Fellow, and an academic apprenticeship. He currently researches in conjunction with faculty members from the Center for Constitutional Studies where he examines 14th Amendment protections for people with disabilities. Apart from his scholarly pursuits, Nathan has led the effort to transform university vehicles and facilities to better accommodate people with disabilities, founded an intersectional organization to address the needs of students of marginalized identities, and serves on numerous local committees related to the needs of people with disabilities. Nathan also advises local progressive candidates with outreach strategies to campus communities. After graduation, Nathan hopes to return home to Madison, Wisconsin to attend law school and continue fighting for progressive values.
Senator Bob Casey (D-PA)
After facing extreme discrimination in high school, Elijah began his work in advocacy. He is committed to making sure students understand the laws protecting their civil rights. As part of that commitment, he started a nonprofit called Equal Opportunities for Students. One of organization’s goals is to informing and empowering students, families and community leaders to counter discrimination. Participation in Equal Opportunities for Students stretches from Rhode Island to California. Elijah has worked directly with policy advisers to President Obama, the US Department of Education and New York City Public Schools advocating student rights. He has also presented at the International Disability Studies conference, Columbia University and to New York City Department of Education’s Inclusion Division. Elijah is a senior at Penn State University’s University Park campus, studying Education and Public Policy.
Benard N.K. Bampoh studies Computer Science at the University of Maryland, College Park. He finds it very rewarding to solve a problem with wit and the speed of a computer. Though the power of computing continues to amaze him, he has other hobbies as well. Benard enjoys drawing, crocheting, and playing the piano. When he is not in school, Benard is at church with his parents. Those are the few places he tends to spend the most time. It is a simple way to live. The simplicity gives Benard time to think about life. One observation worth sharing is this: always let your friends out-number your enemies—that is the secret to success in life.
Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL)
In pursuit of a Bachelor of Science in Human Development & Community Engagement with a concentration in Childhood Mental Health, Maya continuously demonstrates a keen interest in education policy, advocacy, and social work. This theme of creating equity can particularly be seen in her working with Mikva Challenge DC, taking on a summer project with Whitman Walker, interning and volunteering at the Smithsonian, hosting a workshop at GirlsRockDC!, working at the Center for Social Policy & Community Development in Philly, and beyond. Considering she loves writing as much as advocacy, Maya has also had the privilege of speaking at several conferences including The National Conference on Citizenship, The National Conference on Social Studies, Every Student, Every Day, and Pearson Action Civics Conference. Themes of her work during such projects include destigmatizing mental illness, alleviating truancy through educational and policy reform, ensuring equal rights for the LGBT+ community, research, and empowering disenfranchised communities through civic engagement. After her undergraduate years, she hopes to continue her studies by obtaining a Masters in Social Work and travelling the world.
Senator Ed Markey (D-MA)
Chris Damon-Cronmiller is a dual-degree MPA/MA-IR student at Syracuse University who graduated in May of 2018. Originally from Newton, MA, he received a BA in Politics and International Studies from Fairfield University in 2013. Chris has been heavily involved in disability rights and advocacy for several years, and is very interested in bringing disability to the forefront of legislative and policy agendas in the U.S. and abroad. He also briefly interned at the Department of State, and served as a healthcare liaison at St. Martin’s Hospitality Center in Albuquerque for one year through the Jesuit Volunteer Corps.
American Council of the Blind
Courtney Dignan is a junior at The College of New Jersey. She is a double major in Elementary Education and Women and Gender Studies. Her professional goal is to teach in an elementary school for a number of years and return to school to receive her masters in school administration. Eventually she hopes to become a principal in an urban elementary school. She feels incredibly passionate about public school funding. Courtney love sports and athletics. At school she is an involved member of the club lacrosse team. Courtney also is involved in an elementary tutoring program, and is a member of the Nation Sorority Sigma Sigma Sigma. Courtney is eager to begin her summer internship experience with AAPD.
Institute for Educational Leadership
Danielle Nicole Drazen received her B.S. in American Studies from Charter Oak State College, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude. She is currently in the M.S. program in Special Education with an area of specialization in Assistive Technology at Southern Connecticut State University where she received her Initial Certification in Special Education. She is currently working as a Special Education Teacher with focus on helping students with disabilities transition to adulthood. She serves students with exceptionalities including but not limited to learning disabilities, autism, ADHD, emotional disturbance, TBI, communication disorders, and physical challenges. In her role, she serves as advisor to the school’s Student Government, Committee Chairperson for Field Day, Committee Member for Arts Fest, and enjoys mentoring new teachers. Her colleagues remark on her super power which is getting others to do things they did not know they wanted to do. Danielle is a member of Alpha Sigma Lambda Honors Society, Council for Exceptional Children, and Connecticut Transition Community of Practice Assistive Technology Focus Group. She recently traveled to Guatemala to volunteer and complete an international field study focusing on Special Education in a developing country with attention to policies, availability, accessibility, professional development and the impact of culture. In her spare time, Danielle has volunteered as a Puppy Raiser for Canine Companions for Independence since 2010 and is currently raising her 7th assistance dog. She is also an avid board game enthusiast and serves as an event coordinator for multiple clubs in Connecticut.
Information Technology Industry Council
Morgan Dunnigan is a sophomore at Davidson College in Davidson, North Carolina, where she plans to major in economics. Morgan is an attorney on the Davidson mock trial team, she sings in the Davidson Singers choir, and is involved in campus religious life. She is a spirited disability advocate for herself and others, especially in educational environments.
Shoshana Finkel is an undergraduate student at Brandeis University in Waltham, MA, majoring in Health: Science, Society, and Policy, and minoring in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies. Originally from Bergen County, New Jersey, Shoshana is passionate about disability advocacy and inclusion. On many weekends out of the month, she volunteers with the New England chapter of Yachad, the National Jewish Council for Disabilities, as a peer advisor and social coordinator for young adults with disabilities. She is also the event director of the Brandeis community rooftop farm, where she facilitates events to teach students how to grow their own produce and educate about food justice, and is the music director of an a Capella group. With what little free time she has left, Shoshana enjoys playing the ukulele, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors. She hopes to pursue a career in public health and empower others to take control of their wellness.
National Center for Learning Disabilities
Adam Fishbein is in his second year as a Politics, Policy and Law Three-Year Scholar at American University, where he is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Communications, Law, Economics and Government. Adam ultimately wants to start a career in disability advocacy and policy. His interest in disability advocacy stems from his own mental health and learning challenges. Adam has worked as a Public Policy and Employment Fellow at RespectAbility, as an intern for PA State Senator Art Haywood, and as an intern for the nonprofit Jewish Learning Venture, where he worked closely with the director of the Whole Community Inclusion program to refine and promote its work on disability advocacy. Adam is especially interested in advancing public policy related to disability rights, particularly education and employment policy. Although he recognizes the progress already made to empower and accommodate students and young adults with disabilities, he views the inequalities in housing, jobs, and income faced by people with disabilities to be the most pressing issue. ”
Eiryn Griest Schwartzman
Equal Rights Center
Eiryn Griest Schwartzman is a 20-year old Disability and LGBTQ Rights Activist pursuing a degree in Public Health with a strong interest in medical ethics and public policy. As a teenager in 2014, Eiryn founded The Literal Heart, a community organization for the support and empowerment of chronically ill, disabled, and neurodivergent young adults. Since that time, Eiryn has been heavily involved in community organizing and been a guest at the White House for disability advocacy. She has successfully lobbied for rare disease and disability rights organizations, for legislation on medical research, health care innovation, community living, and civil rights. In her spare time she frequents protests and actions on Capitol Hill.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Cecilia Grugan recently completed her last semester at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio in the Student Affairs Higher Education graduate program. She completed three internships thus far in the field of higher education. In addition, Cecilia performed in a two year graduate assistantship stint as an Assistant Community Director with Residence Life and Housing at Wright State while a student there. While in the graduate program, Cecilia did an independent study by authoring a Master’s thesis that focuses on a concept called Universal Design. As a native of Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, Cecilia received her undergraduate degree in Individualized Studies (Communications, Psychology, Women & Gender Studies, and Creative Writing) at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in Rochester, New York. After embracing an identity as a Deaf person at RIT, Cecilia has developed countless dreams that include advocacy work, diversity initiatives, and inspirational contributions to the community around her. While learning more about how to advocate for fellow individuals in the disability community and implementing ways of Universal Design in her work and community, Cecilia aspires to become a published novelist and caregiver of children in the foster care system.
Department of Energy
Andrew Hart is a graduate of Fresno Pacific University where he studied Philosophy and Communication. He was an editor on his university’s student-run newspaper, The Syrinx, where he has won several awards at the ACP Midwinter National Journalism Convention and has also presented on Title IX exemptions and implications. Through his university’s Model United Nations delegation, he served as head-delegate and the designated Student Senate representative where he worked with fellow students within the international community at the Harvard National Model United Nations each year. Having Tourette’s since he was five years old, being confident with his quirky personality led to becoming a strong leader with an uplifting spirit and positive mentality. He developed a passion for social justice and fostering a dialogue between himself and others. In his free time you can find him watching Netflix with his cat Janice, listening to Electronic music, or heading to music festivals.
Luanjiao “Aggie” Hu
Association of University Centers on Disabilities
Luanjiao Hu is currently pursuing a Ph.D in International Education Policy at the University of Maryland, College Park. As a person with a physical disability originally from China, her expertise and research interests are in disability, gender, and education for people with disabilities. A 2017 Disability Research Consortium summer fellow in Washington, D.C., Luanjiao has conducted and published research on education for people with disabilities in China. She has also been teaching disability issues at the University of Maryland since 2015. Beyond graduate studies, Luanjiao serves as a frequent guest speaker sharing her research on disability at universities in the United States and China. She was an invited speaker for the TEDx Maryland conference and gave a talk on disability and education in 2015. Luanjiao is a dedicated lifelong student, scholar, educator, and practitioner aiming to push for a more inclusive society for people with disabilities.
National Disability Rights Network
Megan Lambert is a rising Junior at the University of California, Merced with a major in Anthropology. She was diagnosed as autistic in the 5th grade, but truly began to discover her identity when she was 14. Since then, she has been very passionate about autistic and disability rights. At University, she runs a disability club and coordinates a disability campaign. In the future, she hopes to continue the work she does now and help to empower disabled people everywhere. Outside of her disability work, she’s passionate about petting cats, playing video games badly, and listening to podcasts at all hours of the day.
Angelique Long is a senior at University of Missouri – Kansas City (UMKC) where she is majoring in Psychology and minoring in Healing and Humanities. Before transferring to UMKC, she was able to study Child Health and Understanding Autism. She has been a member of numerous campus organizations including Pi Gamma Mu, an international honor society in social sciences. Last year, Angelique worked as a peer mentor for the UMKC Propel program, a certified two-year transition program for individuals with intellectual and developmental disorders. She also volunteered at her local children’s hospital, where she had the opportunity to play with children on an inpatient unit. After completing her undergraduate degree, Angelique hopes to continue her education in pediatric health psychology. Eventually, she would like to work with kids with chronic illnesses, helping them cope with the added stressors their illnesses may bring. She believes that because of her own history of lifelong chronic illnesses she has given her a unique ability to help this population that others may not have. When not working or studying, Angelique likes to read. She can almost always be found in a library, either studying or enjoying a wide variety of fiction. She also likes to spend time with her family, spoiling her nephew has become her favorite pastime.
National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities
Sarah is a Senior at the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor Michigan. She is majoring in Psychology. Sarah was a Behavioral Therapist at the Healing Haven, a Behavioral & Holistic Services for Families of Children with Special Needs. While at the Haven she utilized applied behavior analysis while working one on one with children helping them improve their social, communication, emotional, scholastic, and selfcare. Her previous two summer’s were spent at the University of Michigan alumni camp, Camp Michigania. At Michigania Sarah supervised childcare/management for over 30 children any week ages ranging from infancy to six years old. As well at camp, created a Picture Exchange Communication System ( P.E.C.S.) and cared/aided a teen on the autism spectrum during their time at camp. This Fall Sarah did a thesis for the course organizational discrimination on managerial employment positions for adults with ASD. During the fall and winter semester Sarah worked as a research assistant in a lab studying the effectiveness of teach the Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) in a group setting. This role had Sarah in direct care implementing the ESDM approaches as well as doing coding, and aiding in assessments. She also works part time as a caregiver for a ten year old girl with a corpus callosum split, as a caregiver helping in life skills and Playmate role model. Sarah is current working on a literature review on ASD and joint attention for she is in the hypothesis creation process of an honors thesis she working on with her psychology mentor in research lab. After this summer she will be returning to Ann Arbor for the following school year to finish her undergraduate degree.
National Disability Rights Network
Johileny Meran is a Dominican immigrant who moved to New York at age 8 with her mother for medical treatment for Cerebral Palsy. During her public school education her family lived in a shelter. Nonetheless, she used this obstacle as fuel to power forward. Johileny graduated Valedictorian of her high school and earned several scholarships. Currently she is a junior at NYU’s College of Arts and Science majoring in Global Public Health/Sociology. Johileny often describes her leadership role on campus as President of the Disability Student Union as one she stumbled across while searching for a disability community on campus. Her leadership beliefs are based on integrity, quality, and service. Johileny participates and enjoys rock climbing, scuba diving, sled hockey, tennis, track, basketball, writing poetry, and sharing her motivational story.
Department of Energy
Lydia Parenteau is a law student at Syracuse University College of Law. She earned a Bachelors of Art in Sociology with a minor in Asian Studies at Western Michigan University. Once Lydia graduates from law school, she plans on taking the bar exam, then working in Washington D.C. for the federal government. Her main work interests are in National Security, Cyber Security, and Cyber Crimes. In her free time Lydia likes to read science fiction novels, build computers, and study Japanese.
Shiven Patel completed his B.B.A. in Supply Chain Management with a minor in Management at the University of Houston-Downtown in December 2016. Upon graduation, he immediately started law school at the South Texas College of Law in Houston. He went to law school knowing that he wanted to become a public servant and obtain the skills necessary to become a better advocate for the disability community. During his undergraduate career, he gained experience in public service by volunteering at homeless shelters in the Houston area. Since starting law school, he took an internship opportunity with the office of the Harris County Attorney where he represented the citizens of the State of Texas in public nuisance lawsuits to protect the community from illegal activity. In his spare time, he enjoys watching and playing basketball, travelling, and spending time with family and friends.
Feminist Majority Foundation
Sarah Patnaude is a current graduate student pursuing her Masters of Social Work (MSW) at George Mason University. Having studied Criminal Justice and Psychology in undergrad, Sarah is interested in using her MSW to become a victim advocate in the court system. Her love for advocacy stems from her active involvement in the National Federation of the Blind, where she has had the opportunity to serve in numerous leadership roles on the state level. Sarah loves traveling, having visited six countries including Italy, Netherlands, and Belgium. In addition to traveling, Sarah enjoys exploring her creative side through photography, painting, and cosplaying.
Office of Disability Employment Policy
María Antonella Pereira is a rising senior at Barnard College majoring in Political Economics and minoring in Latin American Studies while completing the Athena Scholars Program on women’s leadership and entrepreneurship. For the last two years, María has been heavily involved in housing relief initiatives surrounding the 2016 earthquake in Ecuador. Through these experiences, especially as board member of non-profit Fundación Raíz, she has come to a deep understanding and interest in post-disaster urban development. She has tied this interest to disability advocacy, which she relates to at a personal level due to her own experiences navigating life as a person with severe hearing loss. María spent the Spring 2018 semester interning at the department of planning and development of the Ecuadorian Federation of People with Physical Disabilities (FENEDIF) where she learned from and supported the administration and evaluation of projects such as the construction of inclusive villages for low-income people with disabilities displaced by natural disasters. Through her personal, professional and academic experiences, María has honed project administration and research skills which she intends to use as she aspires to a career in development and public policy. On her free time, María learns Portuguese, writes in Spanish and English, paints and dances Flamenco.
United Spinal Association
Laura graduated Summa Cum Laude from Edinboro University in May 2017 with a B.A. in Sociology and a minor in Biology. While at Edinboro, Laura was a four year member of the Student Government Association, co-President of Delta Alpha Pi (Beta program), President of the Sociology Club and a member of the National Society for Leadership and Success and was the recipient of the Outstanding Sociological Award Service Award. In addition to her academic work, Laura has volunteered with the Red Cross on their Pillowcase Project (Disaster Preparedness Campaign), the University of Pittsburgh’s Bioengineering Summer Camp program (group leader) and the Carnegie Library’s Summer Reading Extravaganza. Additionally, she participates in the Pittsburgh Junior Sports Clinic on a monthly basis. Laura is interested in pursuing a Master’s degree in Public Health and recently completed the GRE. She’s currently engaged in advocacy work through the Pittsburgh Consumer Health Coalition’s Health Committee for People with Disabilities. On a personal note, Laura enjoys working out at the gym, loves yoga and is a voracious reader.
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
Abeeha Shamshad is a Junior at The Ohio State University, where she studies Public Management, Leadership, and Policy at the John Glenn College of Public Affairs. Originally hailing from the Bay Area, Abeeha is a sister of Kappa Phi Lambda Sorority, Inc. She has a passion for intergovernmental and political communications, campaign operations, and public relations. She has had the distinct privilege of working in various governmental and nongovernmental organizations, and is continually excited to learn more about what role she can play in the future of public engagement. Abeeha is a dedicated San Francisco Giants and San Jose Sharks fan, and studies linguistic revitalization and forensic anthropology in her spare time. She is a proud Pakistani, and can’t wait to share her cuisine with her fellow interns.
Administration for Community Living
Ellie Stitzer is from Columbia, Missouri and attends Mizzou where she studies Health Sciences with an emphasis in Leadership and Policy. She passionate about improving how people with disabilities are treated within the health care system. Ellie is involved with a lot of organizations at her school that advocate for students with disabilities, such as Mizzou Unity Coalition and the Chancellor’s Committee for Persons with Disabilities. Ellie’s involvement has given her the ability to work with others on campus improvement projects and educate students, staff, and faculty. She is also a policy intern at Services for Independent Living in Columbia. In her free time, Ellie loves to read, watch movies, and go to concerts!
US Access Board
Kurt Vogel is a rising fourth year at Georgia Tech’s Expanding Career, Education and Leadership Opportunities (Excel) Program, a program for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). He hopes to leave there with a position in IT that allows him to help other people. He has a passion for working with computers. He is interested in doing work that will allow him to use technology to improve the lives of people with disabilities. He completed a traineeship program in the Georgia Leadership and Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (GaLEND) Program. He worked with Georgia House Representative Hilton to help get a law passed that would adopt more respectful and dignifying terminology to describe people with disabilities. He has also served as a research assistant at Georgia Tech’s Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access (CATEA), which has helped him realize that he wants to combine computer technology with helping people.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
Adam Webber began his life with Cerebral Palsy, but at age 20 he began experiencing difficulty walking. By age 25, Adam was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Confined to a wheelchair, his situation forced him to determine, at an early age, that what one really needs in life is a sound mind and a willing heart and that life is not about what you are but who you are. Adam was unwilling to give up on his dreams and goals. As a result of his experiences, Adam has created a life of service helping others find their own voice and their own strength. Even before he began his college experience, Adam became active as a disabled advocate. As Dr. King said, “If I can conceive it I can achieve it.” Adam currently attend California State University-Stanislaus majoring in Political Science. His long-term goal is to become a civil rights lawyer. In the meantime, Adam tirelessly works to protect those with disabilities and advocate for better enforcement of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Support for the 2018 Summer Internship Program is provided by:
Aid Association for the Blind of the District of Columbia