Ari Ne’eman, 22


He’s a presidential nominee who has served on state councils and has influenced legislation all across the country. And he just graduated college.

Though he now holds a degree in political science from University of Maryland Baltimore Country, Ari Ne’eman has been applying his field of study to the world at large for years.

Ne’eman was diagnosed in 2000 with Asperger’s syndrome, a developmental disability that places him on the higher functioning end of the autism spectrum.

Since he was a child, Ne’eman witnessed injustice against the diabled, both in society and the media. He has worked for years to advocate on their behalfs and to teach others in his situation to do the same.

In addition to serving on the New Jersey Special Education Review Commission, he has advised the government on creating legislation that it is inclusive towards those with disabilities. In 2006 (shortly after graduating high school), he founded the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network, which organizes people from a variety of different backgrounds to promote autism awareness and changes in the law on both local and federal levels to benefit those with disabilities.

Ne’eman was also recently appointed by President Barack Obama to serve on the National Council on Disability, and awaits his confirmation.

His work encompasses the national community, but he attributes his drive to help others to his Jewish upbringing. “As a Jew and as a human being, I believe we have an obligation to leave the world in a better place than how we found it,” he says. “I am glad that my experiences as a person with a disability have led me to the disability rights movement as a way for me to try to fulfill that mitzvah.”

Guilty pleasure: Watching the television show “Mad Men.”

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