In continuing its commitment to advocating for the full inclusion of people with disabilities into society, the Ruderman Family Foundation (RFF) has announced it will award the second annual Morton E. Ruderman Award in Inclusion to Ari Ne’eman, President of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network and Member of the President’s National Council on Disability. The $100,000 award recognizes an individual who has made an extraordinary contribution to the inclusion of people with disabilities in the Jewish world and the greater public and is based on past achievements and the potential for future contributions to the field.
“As a person with autism, Ari Ne’eman serves as an inspiration to millions of people with disabilities around the world,” said Jay Ruderman, President of the Ruderman Family Foundation. “As one of the leading disability self-advocates in the United States, Ari is extremely wise beyond his years. His voice advocating for people with disabilities taking control of their own lives is respected in our nation’s capital and throughout our country. My father, someone who believed that we all deserve a fair shot in life, would have been proud that Ari has received an award in his name.”
Ari is one of America’s most recognized self-advocates for the rights of people with disabilities. He is the President and co-founder of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, an advocacy organization run by and for Autistic adults seeking to increase the representation of Autistic people across society. In 2009, President Obama nominated Ari to the National Council on Disability, a federal agency charged with advising Congress and the President on disability policy issues. From 2010 to 2012, he served as a public member to the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee, a Federal advisory committee that coordinates all efforts within the Department of Health and Human Services concerning autism. Ari also served as an adviser to the DSM-5 Neurodevelopmental Disorders Workgroup convened by the American Psychiatric Association. In 2010, he was named by the New York Jewish Week as one of their “36 by 36.”
“I am sincerely honored and humbled to receive this award from the Ruderman Family Foundation,” Ari said. “This recognition carries special meaning to me, not only as a person with a disability, but also as a Jew. The Ruderman Family Foundation’s continued leadership on issues of disability inclusion in the Jewish community should be a source of sincere admiration and pride.”
“People with disabilities deserve the right to have our voices at the center of the national conversation about us. I believe that no conversation on autism or any disability is complete without the meaningful inclusion of those most directly impacted: people with disabilities ourselves.”
The Award was named after Mort Ruderman, a founder of the Ruderman Family Foundation. Morton E. Ruderman was a successful entrepreneur, mentor and proud family man. He saw his success as the result of help he received from others and was therefore passionate about providing opportunities for others – including assisting many people in becoming independent and successful in business.
The work of the foundation addresses Mort’s view that the exclusion of persons with disabilities – in Jewish life and society at large – is fundamentally unfair. Twenty percent of the U.S. population has a disability, yet they are the most excluded group in many ways; for example, 70 percent of working age adults with a disability are unemployed.
The primary consideration for the award is whether the recipient’s work has made life more equitable for people with disabilities. This award joins other signature programs of the Ruderman Family Foundation, which believes that inclusion and understanding of all people is essential to a fair and flourishing community.