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Webinar: Disability and Economic Justice

Click here for a transcript of this webinar.

In the United States, full and equal participation in society is a fundamental right protected by legislation including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), yet barriers to economic opportunity persist. People with disabilities experience unemployment at double the rate of those without a disability, and approximately 26 percent of disabled people live below the poverty line. 

For too long, philanthropy has ignored the ways that existing policies and systems exclude and/or penalize people with disabilities, denying them economic security. This webinar will address why philanthropy cannot meaningfully advance economic justice without incorporating a disability lens.

Join Weingart Foundation President and CEO Miguel A. Santana in an open, honest dialogue with disability advocates. CART will be provided. If you require another accommodation to fully participate in the webinar, please note it in your registration, or contact us at or 407-917-6864. This free webinar is presented by the Disability & Philanthropy Forum.

About the Panelists

Miguel Santana

Moderator: Miguel Santana, President and CEO, Weingart Foundation

Miguel A. Santana has over 30 years of experience leading numerous fiscal, legislative, political, and community issues. He served as President and CEO of Fairplex, a nonprofit community benefit regional organization based in Pomona, CA. Previously, Santana was the City Administrative Officer for the City of Los Angeles, where he oversaw the City’s $9 billion budget and designed the City’s first comprehensive homeless strategy, resulting in a $1.2 billion voter-approved housing bond and a doubling of the City’s general fund investment on programs to end homelessness. Prior to joining the City, Santana served as one of five Deputy Chief Executive Officers for Los Angeles County, overseeing all social service programs supporting children, families, veterans and persons experiencing homelessness.

Santana was appointed President and CEO of the Weingart Foundation in 2021. He engages in numerous civic efforts to create a more equitable Southern California region, including serving as Chair of the Committee for Greater L.A. He also serves on numerous nonprofit boards, including the Whittier College Board of Trustees.

Santana has a B.A. in Sociology and Latin American Studies from Whittier College and a master’s degree in Public Administration from Harvard University.

Mia Ives-Rublee

Panelist: Mia Ives-Rublee, Director, Disability Justice Initiative, American Progress

Mia Ives-Rublee is the director for the Disability Justice Initiative at American Progress. Prior to coming to American Progress, she advocated for disability justice and inclusion at nonprofit organizations and businesses across the United States. She has worked with Women’s March, Families Belong Together, DC Action Lab, Adoptees for Justice, Fair Fight, People’s Collective for Justice and Liberation, and numerous other progressive organizations.

Best known for founding the Women’s March Disability Caucus, Ives-Rublee helped organize the original Women’s March on Washington in 2017. The Women’s March was one of the first large-scale events to have certified deaf interpreters on stage. Ives-Rublee’s work pushed for better access to disability accommodations at progressive events and more policy platforms inclusive of the disability community. For her work on the Women’s March, Ives-Rublee was named by Glamour magazine as one of 2017’s Women of the Year Award. She was also recognized by She the People as one of 20 Women of Color in Politics to Watch in 2020 and awarded the 2019 Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of North Carolina (UNC) School of Social Work.

Ives-Rublee holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a master’s degree in social work from UNC Chapel Hill.

Rebecca Vallas

Panelist: Rebecca Vallas, Senior Fellow, The Century Foundation

Rebecca Vallas is a senior fellow at The Century Foundation, where her work focuses on economic justice. Vallas joins TCF after seven years at the Center for American Progress, during which she helped to build and lead CAP’s Poverty to Prosperity Program, in a range of roles, including as the program’s first policy director and managing director, and later as vice president. During her time at CAP, Vallas also helped to establish CAP’s Disability Justice Initiative—the first disability policy project at a U.S. think tank—as well as the organization’s criminal justice reform work.

Vallas previously served as the deputy director of government affairs for the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives, working to protect and strengthen the Social Security disability programs, including as co-chair of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) Social Security Task Force. Forever a legal aid lawyer at heart, Vallas spent several years representing low-income individuals and families at Community Legal Services in Philadelphia, where she began her work as a Skadden Fellow, and was the inaugural recipient of the National Legal Aid and Defender Association’s New Leaders in Advocacy Award.

Vallas received her law degree from the University of Virginia and graduated summa cum laude from Emory University, where she received a bachelor’s degree in psychology.

Keith Jones

Panelist: Keith Jones, President and CEO, SoulTouchin’ Experiences

Keith Jones is the President and CEO of SoulTouchin’ Experiences. As an African American community activist and entrepreneur with cerebral palsy. As a strong advocate for independent quality living in the community, Mr. Jones has participated actively in various issues that face people with disabilities. These areas include, but are not limited to housing, education, and voting access. Mr. Jones is also extremely active in multicultural, cross-disability education and outreach efforts and has performed trainings (including train the trainer) with the purpose of strengthening outreach efforts to provide services and information to people with disabilities. Mr. Jones works to not only educate the disability community about enhanced community living, but also the community at large. Mr. Jones holds a strong desire to get the disability community more involved in the issues that concern their own lives.

Mr. Jones provides outreach support in relationship to the arts and independent living skills. Mr. Jones has been recognized for his emerging leadership by the state of Massachusetts and President’s Commission for Employment for People with Disabilities. Also, Mr. Jones is the recipient of the Disability Law Center’s 2011 Individual Leadership Award.