Disability advocacy group RespectAbility announces CEO change and $1 million grant


(JTA) — RespectAbility, a disability advocacy and leadership development nonprofit, unveiled Thursday a $1 million grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. 

The organization, which is active on disability inclusion issues in the Jewish community, also announced that its founder and CEO, Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, will be stepping down early next year. 

Founded in 2013, RespectAbility has steadily grown into a multimillion-dollar nonprofit with 17 full-time staff. One of its most recent accomplishments was the completion last month of a survey on disability inclusion in the Jewish world. 

Two-thirds of the 2,300 people surveyed by RespectAbility said that Jewish institutions have become more accessible and inviting to people with disabilities over the past five years. But the survey also showed higher rates of poverty and barriers to employment for disabled people. 

“With RespectAbility on solid footing and in a super growth mode, and my transition to ’empty nester’ and move back to Annapolis on the near horizon, now seemed like the right time to work with the Board and staff on a smooth transition,” Mizrahi said in a statement.

“Since RespectAbility’s inception, my passion has been to build an organization focused on fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of community,” she added. 

The rising profile of RespectAbility in the field of Jewish disability advocacy helps fill a void left by the Ruderman Family Foundation when it recently decided to end its funding for the issue in favor of a new charitable focus.

In addition to the $1 million, RespectAbility announced a $100,000 gift from the Milbank Foundation. 

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