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Webinar – Disability Justice and Labor Rights

Click here for a transcript of this webinar

People with disabilities are more likely to work in service and manual labor occupations than people without a disability, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But in addition to ableist labor issues such as subminimum wage and lack of accessible workplaces, disabled workers also often face unsafe working conditions that can potentially lead to acquiring new disabilities without adequate social, economic, or health infrastructure for support. As the labor movement experiences mounting action since 2020, it’s crucial for philanthropy to support disabled leadership in workers’ rights organizing.

Join Inevitable Foundation, United for Respect, and Rebecca Vallas from National Academy of Social Insurance to learn why disabled leadership is crucial for labor rights organizing and how funders can support disability-inclusive labor movements.

About the Panelists

Rebecca Vallas, a smiling white woman with curly brown hair, wearing a black jacket over a white shirt and big light-blue earrings, stands with arms crossed in front of a tree, with a view of a black fence and green grass behind her.

Moderator: Rebecca Vallas, Distinguished Fellow & Senior Adviser, National Academy of Social Insurance

Rebecca Vallas is the Distinguished Fellow and Senior Adviser at the National Academy of Social Insurance, after spending nearly 8 years as a member of its Board of Directors. Previously, she was a senior fellow at The Century Foundation, where she founded the organization’s disability economic justice work as well as the Disability Economic Justice Collaborative, which brings together nearly 50 leading organizations across the policy/research and disability rights and justice communities to bring a disability lens across economic policymaking. Over the years, Vallas has authored a wide range of policy reports and proposals on social insurance and public assistance, disability policy, and criminal justice/reentry policy.

Panelist: Marisa Torelli-Pedevska, Co-Founder & Head of Writing Programs, Inevitable Foundation

Marisa Torelli-Pedevska is a co-founder of Inevitable Foundation, tasked with leading all writing programs. She is a screenwriter with an invisible physical disability who recently completed her MFA at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. She’s the recipient of the Jay Roach Endowed Award, the USC Sloan Screenwriting Award and the national Sloan Student Grand Jury Prize. Before Inevitable, Marisa spent eight years working and living at a residential summer camp for teens and adults with developmental disabilities. Marisa’s experience with disability has informed the ways she views accessibility in the traditionally inaccessible entertainment industry and drives her passion for systematic change.

Panelist: Monica Lucas, Inevitable Foundation Accelerate Fellow

Monica Lucas is a neurodivergent, Puerto Rican screenwriter who hails from suburban California. After receiving her BA in Political Science, she relocated to Washington, DC where she spent four years as a political activist working in the U.S. Department of State and for various nonprofits and think tanks. Disillusioned by the 2016 election, she abandoned her political ambitions and moved to Los Angeles, where she received her MFA in Writing for Screen and Television from USC. Monica’s stylistic character dramas have earned her recognition as the 2021 JHRTS Feature Drama Winner, a finalist in the Moving Picture Institute’s Short Film Lab, and a runner-up for the 2022 Hollywood Radio and TV Society Foundation Fellowship. She is also a semi-finalist in the 2023 Women in Film x Black List Episodic Lab, and is a recipient of Inevitable Foundation’s Accelerate Fellowship.

Panelist: Joan Morris, Amazon Worker and Leader at United for Respect

Joan has been working at Amazon for the past 3 years. She is a mother and a woman of faith. Most recently she has also become a warrior and a leader at United for Respect by standing up for herself and her co-workers against injustice in the workplace. She aspires to live in a world where disabled workers are treated fairly and without fear of harassment or retaliation for speaking out.

Mona Abhari, young Palestinian woman with dark curly hair held back by a yellow bandana, wearing gold hoop earrings, soft pink makeup, an orange shell necklace, and a black shirt. She is smiling with a slight head tilt towards the camera.

Panelist: Mona Abhari, Lead Organizer, United for Respect

Mona Abhari is a 27 year old labor organizer with United for Respect, a national labor rights organization. Mona is Palestinian, and works hard to uplift the struggles of her people in her community organizing. Mona has been with United for Respect for 3 years, organizing Amazon workers in their workplace who are fighting for better working conditions. For the past year, Mona has concentrated on building strong worker committees in Atlanta, GA, focusing on issues like sustainable wages, health and safety on the job, disability justice, exploitative quotas, and more.