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Ep 35: Mentoring


Did you know that the third Wednesday of every October is Disability Mentoring Day? This day is connected to month-long activities for the National Disability Employment Awareness MonthToday’s episode is about mentoring featuring two dynamic disabled mentors: Yolanda Vargas and Judy Heumann. Both Yolanda and Judy share what mentoring means to them, their experiences mentoring others, and the mentors they had throughout their lives. Intergenerational conversations are so important and I am thankful for this opportunity to learn from both Judy and Yolanda.


[Google doc]     [PDF]

Related Links

2018 Disability Mentoring Day Events (American Association of People with Disabilities)

Disability Mentoring Day (American Association of People with Disabilities)

National Disability Employment Awareness Month (U.S. Department of Labor)

Association of Youth Leadership Forums

Youth Leadership Forum (California)

National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth

Partners for Youth with Disabilities, Online Mentoring

Lives Worth Living (documentary)

The Heumann Perspective (YouTube)

Our fight for disability rights — and why we’re not done yet. (Judith Heumann, TedXMidAtlantic, October 2016)

Judy Heumann Fights for People with Disabilities (Drunk History, Comedy Central, Season 5, February 20, 2018)


Yolanda Vargas, a young Latinx person in a manual wheelchair wearing a purple knit cap and glasses. She is smiling at the camera with both hands in a thumbs-up position.
Yolanda Vargas, a young Latinx person in a manual wheelchair wearing a purple knit cap and glasses. She is smiling at the camera with both hands in a thumbs-up position.

You might remember Yolanda Vargas as a current board member for Disability Rights California, Advisory member for Working for Inclusive Transformative Healthcare (WITH) Foundation or as NCIL’s newest queer caucus co-chair. She is currently a private consultant for disability cultural competency, intersectional feminism, and radical queer theory. Her most recent project is working with, a start up company looking to revolutionize the way people access durable medical equipment.

You can find Yolanda on Twitter as @meekyetmighty, instagram @yoyoyolandayo Or anywhere there is Mexican hot chocolate or tea and Jane Eyre!

Judy Heumann with short brown hair and red glasses looks directly at the camera smiling, wearing a red blouse.
Judy Heumann with short brown hair and red glasses looks directly at the camera smiling, wearing a red blouse.

Judith Heumann is an internationally recognized leader in the disability community and a lifelong civil rights advocate for disadvantaged people. She is currently a Senior Fellow at the Ford Foundation. Prior to this, she served as the first Special Advisor for International Disability Rights at the U.S. Department of State from 2010 – 2017 under the Obama Administration. Recently Judy has been building an online presence under The Heumann Perspective through social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Youtube. This new project is intended to broaden and spur discussions on the intersectionality of disability rights. She served as the Director for the Department on Disability Services for the District of Columbia from 2007-2010, where she was responsible for the Developmental Disability Administration and the Rehabilitation Services Administration. 

From June 2002- 2006, Judith E. Heumann served as the World Bank’s first Adviser on Disability and Development. In this position, Heumann led the World Bank’s disability work to expand the Bank’s knowledge and capability to work with governments and civil society on including disability in the Bank discussions with client countries; its country-based analytical work; and support for improving policies, programs, and projects that allow disabled people around the world to live and work in the economic and social mainstream of their communities. She was Lead Consultant to the Global Partnership for Disability and Development 2006-2007.

From 1993 to 2001, Heumann served in the Clinton Administration as the Assistant Secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services in the Department of Education. Heumann was responsible for the implementation of legislation at the national level for programs in special education, disability research, vocational rehabilitation and independent living, serving more than 8 million youth and adults with disabilities.

She co-founded the World Institute on Disability with Ed Roberts and Joan Leon and served as it’s Deputy from 1981-1993.

She moved from Brooklyn, New York to Berkeley to attend graduate school and helped to cofound the Berkeley Center for Independent Living where she served as it’s Deputy Director and then on it’s Board from 1973-1993.

For more than 45 years, Heumann has been involved on the domestic and international front working with disabled people’s organizations and governments around the world to advance the human rights of disabled people. She has been active with Disabled Peoples’ International, Rehabilitation International and numerous Independent Living Centers throughout the world.

Heumann graduated from Long Island University in 1969 and received her Masters in Public Health from the University of California at Berkeley in 1975. She was the first teacher to be hired by the NY Board of Education after suing to obtain her license. She has received numerous awards including being the first recipient of the Henry B. Betts Award in 1990 in recognition of efforts to significantly improve the quality of life for people with disabilities, Max Starkloff Lifetime Achievement Award and InterAction Disability Inclusion Award. She has received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Long Island University in Brooklyn, an Honorary Doctorate of Public Administration from the University of Illinois, Champaign, and an Honorary Doctorate of Public Service from the University of Toledo.

Twitter: @JudithHeumann

Facebook: The Heumann Perspective with Judith Heumann

YouTube: The Heumann Perspective 


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Alice Wong, Writer, Producer, Interviewer

Cheryl Green, Text Transcript

Lateef McLeod, Introduction

Mike Mort, Artwork

Theme Music (used with permission of artist)

Song: “Dance Off” and “Hard Out Here for A Gimp”


Artist: Wheelchair Sports Camp


Slow Casino” by Blue Dot Sessions is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License

Chance Encounter” by David Hilowitz is licensed under a Creative Commons  Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International license


“VOCODER countdown” by Jack_Master. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons 0 License.

8 Bit Beeping Computer Sounds” by sheepfilms. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons 0 License.

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