United Spinal Roll Reception
I always liked the higher powers at AAPD, but I believe there is one thing that makes them simply amazing and that is they make a reception as one of the required events. In other words if you do not like to eat food then you might be kicked out of the program! The United Spinal Roll association put together an amazing reception as several individuals from the Disability community were present and honored for their services. I also had the opportunity to interact with Ms. Yoshiko Dart, who is the wife of Justen Dart, it is quite astonishing how humble and personal Ms. Dart truly is, unfortunately I did not get a picture taken, however it is all good this is what Google and facebook is good for, oh the power of photo crop(just kidding). Before entering the Reception I made a bet with Angela that together we will meet twenty people. Unfortunately our quota was not reached as we met a total of..... one individual, but this individual just happened to be Senator Harkin. The great Senate from Iowa was remarkable as he shook hands with everyone and spent few minutes talking to the interns. After a few minutes, he yelled "I have to go, I have to go" judging by his facial expressions I did not ask him where he wanted to go, but I knew the answer. Regardless Senator Harkin is a strong advocate in the Disability community and regarded as the "Father of the ADA", Below you will find my picture with Senator Harkin.
Meeting with Marcie Roth
As I was preparing to write my blog, I was trying to come up with a cultural reference for which I can draw a comparison to Marcie. Unfortunately there are no Saturday Night Live comparisons this time, there is nothing funny about Marcie, she is simply awesome!. When I walked into the FEMA headquarters after missing my first two meetings with Marcie, I was expecting a "door slam", "a member of homeland security deporting me back to India" or being taken into an empty basement where there is no return!(Jack Bauer can't save me this time). Instead I was greeted with open arms by Marcie as she invited me to join one of her staff members going away party. Shortly after the precipation on my face washed away, I entered a room filled with cake, pizza and drinks and I felt like part of the family. The party was thrown for Neil Mcdemmit, who was a communication specialist and an inclusion advocate at Fema. Usually when you meet an inclusion advocate, what you see on the outside is the opposite of what you see on the inside. In other words think of the phrase "Priest by Day, Gangster by night", however Neil was amazing. You could see that he truly enjoys what he was doing at FEMA and all of the FEMA staff loved his energy, determination and motivation to succeed. I only met Neil for a few hours, but you can tell he is just like his boss! Simply Amazing!.
Marcie inviting me to her party and then letting me observe the staff meeting was the highlight of my week as I had a close up view of how the FEMA staff deals with a crisis situation. I am deeply passionate about emergency preparedness of individuals with disabilities. I did not think it was a big issue, however Marcie's story of Belinder, who was stuck in a buliding for three hours changed my mindset. Accessibility is an issue that needs to be addressed and it feels good to know that there is a hall of fame team addressing it! Thank you Marcie for all that you do! It feels good to know that I still have my green card.... just teasing! I look forward to our next meeting as you help me grow both as a professional and a person
Meeting with Joyce
The first time I met Joyce Bender was during the first week of Oreintation as she gave a presentation. There are many individuals who I write about in my blog who are powerful, but they do not have much of a lasting impression. Ms. Joyce Bender is an exception to this rule(along with my amazing mentor, Marcie Roth). I will always say that the first time I met Joyce Bender was a very eye opening experience usually I am shy to speak up in front of a group or approach a person, however Joyce changed my fear of large groups in a matter of minutes. During our first meeting, Joyce was very empowering as she relayed a message that would create a lasting image in my mind "show no pity to yourself or to others with disabilities". I would also speak up in a group of 30 interns something I have rarely done even as a graduate student. It is amazing how much of an impact Joyce has on persons with disabilities just through her words. There are many folks that dream about changing lives and empowering individuals with disabilities to reach their god given potential, but Joyce Bender does it on a daily basis! As a Rehabilitation counselor and a Disability advocate if I can adopt her approach to employing individuals with disabilities and her way of empowering individuals with disabilities then I think of myself as being successful at what I do.
The second meeting with Joyce was a "rollercoaster ride" at first, however it ended up being an once in a lifetime experience. When I met Joyce the second time, the first thing she said to me was "Am I trying to grow a beard". My response was "Yes, I am trying to look like Sigmund Freud or a Hippy". Joyce laughed and the rest of the meeting was history! During our meeting Joyce gave me some valuable feedback on performance based interviewing(PBI), disclosing my disability to an employer and she even mentioned her company Bender Consulting Services who I happen to have an interview with tomorrow! During our 20 minute session, Joyce instilled so much confidence in me that I felt like I am ready to excel in the job interview. She also gave me valuable feedback on how I can approach some of the questions in the job interview. Joyce Bender is a godsend! and I am happy to have an opportunity to meet her! You have no idea how empowering you are Ms. Bender!
Until next time