By B.A. Haller
“Loreen and I are proud of Team LCA 2.0 collaborative Phase I accomplishments, including two Think Tanks that coincided with ADA25, adoption by the Clinton Foundation as a ‘Commitment to Action,’ co-branded CBS News/LCA 2.0 Internship, three Resume Review, Speed Interviewing and Flash Mentoring Summits, and expanded partners," Squire said.
“We look forward to launching Phase II with adding Summits in Hollywood, Informational Webinars, expanded Internships, deeper focus on the Disability Narrative Imperative, collaborations with Industry Associations and Unions, and building the groundwork for our LCA2.0 Mentoring Data Tracking System. We welcome new partners and collaborators who want to support the next generation of media professionals with disabilities,” Squire explained.
Becky Curran (pictured left), coordinator of EEO and diversity at SAG-AFTRA and who participated as a mentor at the Oct. 31 LCA 2.0, explained how important these events are for young disabled people: "LCA 2.0 is a wonderful opportunity for college students, who happen to have disabilities, to find mentors in people like them, who are in professions that they want to seek out for the near future."
The summits drew high school students, college students and recent graduates with disabilities who participated in resume reviews, flash mentoring, networking discussions and heard from speakers and panelists with disabilities about how they got into media work.
Rutgers University journalism/media studies/theatre 2013 graduate Melanie Waldman said the events she attended gave her a new perspective on the vibrant and diverse community of people with disabilities: “Before attending the summit, I don't think I truly realized just how broadly the disability community extended. Between mentors, mentees and the event organizers, whether able-bodied or not, every single person in attendance was working towards the same goal.
Ben Pearce, a public relations student at Towson University who graduated in December 2016, attended the Nov. 14 LCA 2.0 at the White House. He said, “more than anything, this event opened my eyes to the lack of media representation of those with disabilities. I'd gotten so used to it, I never even thought about it. It's refreshing to see efforts being made to change that trend. What I took away from it is that I want to be a voice for the disabled community in the media, to show what we're capable of and hopefully because of it, one day my disability won't be much of a factor anymore.”
LCA 2.0 Partners also invited select high school students to measure impact on career exploration of youth with disabilities. The mother of a high school student with cerebral palsy said, “My teenage daughter attended one of these events a few weeks ago at the White House, and I believe it may have changed her life… What you don’t know is that she has had a challenging time in middle school, feeling increasingly isolated and stigmatized by her ‘typical’ classmates. You offered her a radically different narrative for her life—and gave her a stronger sense of her own future than she otherwise would have had at her age. After the networking session ended she immediately marched over to Maysoon (Zayid), asked her to exchange business cards, and said ‘I hope we can work together someday.’ That is not something she would have done before.”
In picture right, the creator/producer of the ABC comedy "Speechless" Scott Silveri speaks to attendees via a telepresence robot named ALF (Accessible Life Form) that resides at the USDA TARGET Center.
Mentor Emily Ladau (pictured left), communications consultant and writer at Words I Wheel By and Editor in Chief of Rooted in Rights, said she wanted to give back: "I attribute much of my early career success to mentors who provided guidance and support, so when I was offered the opportunity to serve as a mentor for LCA 2.0, I knew what an honor it would be to pay it forward to the next generation of media-makers in the disability community."