An Open Letter to Medical Students

baby's hand

For any child, the agents of nurture—parents, clinicians, therapists, educators—are there to help keep her future as open as possible. That way, the child, when she is ready (when she is no longer a patient, no longer a child) can begin to find her own way, and to choose the meanings for herself.

One parent’s perspective on disability contains wisdom for everyone. Read the article.


The Gender Gap


Who’s that in your database? The findings from a study by the Women’s Philanthropy Institute didn’t surprise me, but I found the article useful. Perhaps you will, too: WSJ The Gender Gap in Charitable Giving.

P.S. But that said, what’s really important about the people in your database are their desires, beliefs, and values.

Here’s to Your Health

I believe in health, don’t you? Well, like you, I have a desk job, and now the medical community is telling us that too much sitting is killing us. People who sit too much have an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Not to mention back pain… Ouch! Well, I’m going to share with you a 12-minute exercise program you can probably do in the clothes you have on (unless you’re wearing heels…) Enjoy!

Wait…You say you don’t have 12-minutes? Um…check your priorities, friend. Okay, how about 3 minutes, then. This exercise could get rid of that giraffe neck. We’ll have to see…

How Celebrities Can Help

Celebrities have a ready-made fan base that helps raise awareness for a cause, but in some cases, they can also dispel misperceptions and inspire solutions. When the NFL’s Steve Gleason developed ALS, he had the connections to make a difference in improving the quality of life for others with disabilities. He embraces life and focuses on what he wants to accomplish.

Through a collaboration with Microsoft, he challenged innovators to help him meet his specific core objectives with the help of technology:

I want to be able to play with my son.
I want to be able to talk more easily with my wife.
I want to be able to move my wheelchair independently.
I want to be able to power on and off my Surface independently.

Businesses and nonprofits can take a lesson from his success and his inspirational story.

I Give Them an A+!


Creative and inclusive app developers are solving problems for people with disabilities. Math problems. Well, they’re not actually solving them, but… well, let me explain.

They’re making math accessible, tying it to relevant information about the world, and making it self-paced. Progress is trackable, so there’s less need for a separate test.

Now, was that so hard?

Read the full article.

Reason for Hope

Do you ever wonder if we’re actually making progress? Sometimes a little creative data visualization can bring inspiration. Take a look at Hans Rosling’s amazing 2010 video showing us how much progress we’ve made and how far we need to go.

Disability is the Largest Minority

Maysoon Zayid is a comedian, and she’s really good. Her TED Talk, “I’ve got 99 problems…palsy is just one” explores her personal story as a young Palestinian-American with cerebral palsy and dreams of becoming a daytime soap actor. The biggest take-away from her presentation is that the real “disability” is people’s inability to understand what people with disabilities are actually able to do. She is proof-positive that we are losing out on access to some incredible talent. Isn’t it time we changed that?

Her 14 minute TED Talk:

Facebook Practices Universal Design


No matter how you feel about Facebook, (and I have friends who range from proudly proclaiming “I have NEVER used it!” to “Yea, I’m addicted!”), you have to hand it to them for not leaving out a significant segment of the population — people with disabilities.

When products and platforms are designed with ALL potential users in mind, people with disabilities don’t have to find, develop, and pay for expensive and often clumsy “fixes”. They can enter the workforce and social situations fully confident that they can easily demonstrate their abilities and shift the focus from their “disabilities.” Employers benefit by not having to provide accommodations. Society benefits because we have access to more great minds and talents.

Read all about it: Facebook

The Future of Disability

I work with many nonprofits that assist people with disabilities. As a nation, we are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the ADA, and yet we are only now asking the very hard questions about what it all means. This fascinating conversation delves deeply into the many perspectives and philosophies regarding the impact of new technology on the rights and needs of people with disabilities.

DIY Toolkit

tashland / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

I work with a number of small nonprofits that are always looking for ways to improve their internal capacity so they can continue to do their good work. I came across this handy, free reference recently that is too good not to share. Download, enjoy, and let’s get to work!

Use It or Lose It

RONyPwknRQOO3ag4xf3R_KinseyRuth McCambridge, editor-in-chief of the Nonprofit Quarterly, writes about how today’s nonprofits need to develop an attitude of co-creation with those they serve — or miss out on a crucial resource and get left in the dust…

The investment is in the faith placed in those with whom you are in common cause. The integrity with which you approach that relationship is your coin of the realm—it buys you more confidence, donated labor, intellectual contributions, and ambassadors than the other two sectors. The investment is far from transactional but there is give and take—with trust flowing in both directions. Promise and don’t deliver, contract to listen but remain deaf, refuse to share decision making and violate your stakeholders’ sensibilities with no, or a weak, explanation, and you are headed into bankruptcy as a nonprofit—you have relinquished your advantage and distinction. In short, we are re-approaching our nonprofit traditions as nodes of democratic activity when it seems like the reins of our communities’ futures have slipped from our individual hands. And that is a position with powerful potential for success or failure, but the outcome will be of your choosing.


Read the article: Use It or Lose It


Photo by Morgan Sessions

Live with Intent, by Design

What does a poorly designed car or article of clothing mean to the purchaser? What does the design of a counter or the entrance of a building mean to someone using a wheelchair? How do people’s perceptions of someone with a disability change when the person is involved in designing their own environment?

In 2015, we are entranced by new technologies and designs, but author and journalist John Hockenberry asks us to reflect on what it all means. What does it mean to live a life of intent? To live by our own design? What shall we do now in the face of the chaos we have created?

Always entertaining, always thought-provoking, ride with John on a journey into his and our world…


How will technology augment our capabilities in the future? John Hockenberry hosts an intriguing panel discussion with Luciano Floridi, John Donoghue, Gary Small and Rosalind Picard at the 2015 World Science Festival.

Seeing the Light

Seattle leaders recognized that significantly more street lights were out in poorer parts of the city, and this situation offered more opportunities for crime. The “process” for getting them fixed was through citizens’ complaints — a low-priority for the city, with barriers from citizens that include: lack of trust/hope in government, language/cultural barriers, etc.

By changing the “system” to one that logged the date the bulbs were put in streetlights in a neighborhood, and then automatically scheduling maintenance in a year and a half (average bulb life) and replacing all the bulbs, the problem was resolved cheaply and efficiently.

Philanthropy must move beyond providing programs and services to actually changing policies, institutions and structures — such as by developing regional networks that include those formerly marginalized.

We can do this. We need the right mindset.