Susan M. Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame Class of 2020

Headshots of the NDMC Hall of Fame Class of 2020

This week the National Disability Mentoring Coalition (NDMC) – housed at PYD – inducted the Hall of Fame Class of 2020. Fifty six remarkable individuals and organizations from around the country comprise this year’s inductees, a salute to the 56 years that have passed since the Civil Rights Act was signed into law in 1964. Click here for the full list of inductees.

In the United States, the Civil Rights Act recognized the right for people to live without fear of discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. For many of us, however, 2020 shined a harsh light on the truth that there is still much progress to be made in each of these areas and beyond.

Najma Johnson, an anti-violence activist, disability/language justice advocate, organizer, educator, author, and member of the Class of 2020 offered during the induction ceremony:

“We must allow ourselves to be held accountable. Throughout this work, being intentional is crucial…being intentional in doing anti-violence work with integrity, and understanding how our bias and worldview can feed this system that we are fighting–even though we are from historically marginalized communities–is vital to being the agents of change we aspire to be.”

With this in mind, PYD and NDMC recognized the Class of 2020 as mentors and organizations that have not only supported disability justice, but have also supported racial justice and/or have mobilized against COVID-19-related issues that have disproportionately affected the disability community.

Among the Class of 2020 are attorneys, college professors, mental health advocates, musicians, social workers, and more. Regardless of background, location, or occupation, what ties the Class of 2020 together is the dedication each has displayed in empowering, supporting, and mentoring young people with disabilities.

Dr. Manu Thakral, Assistant Professor in Nursing, University of Massachusetts Boston and Member of the Board of Directors, Partners for Youth with Disabilities, said during the ceremony:

“Mentoring reminds me of my favorite part of being a nursing professor, which is on the first day when I ask students why they want to be a nurse, and they all say ‘I want to help people.’ It’s the purest form of humanity that just shines through, and no matter who they are or where they come from, that drive to help people ties us together and builds community.”

PYD and NDMC are honored to be part of this community and to have the opportunity to celebrate the life-changing work of its members. Congratulations to the Class of 2020, and thank you for all that you do to support youth with disabilities.

The Susan M. Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame was created in 2015 to honor some of the many people making meaningful differences in the lives of young people with disabilities, as well as to carry on the legacy of its namesake: disability champion and lifelong mentor, Susan Daniels.

This article was written by PYD volunteer Lizzy Wimberly.