(JNS.org) Disability self-advocate Ari Ne’eman, a member of the President’s National Council on Disability, on Monday was named the recipient of the second annual Morton E. Ruderman Award in Inclusion, a $100,000 prize from the Boston and Israel-based Ruderman Family Foundation (RFF) that “recognizes an individual who has made an extraordinary contribution to the inclusion of people with disabilities in the Jewish world and the greater public.”
Ne’eman, 27, is the president and co-founder of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, which seeks to increase the representation of Autistic people across society. Appointed by President Barack Obama to the National Council on Disability in 2009, Ne’eman has served as a public member on the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee, a federal advisory committee that coordinates autism-related efforts within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
“As a person with autism, Ari Ne’eman serves as an inspiration to millions of people with disabilities around the world,” RFF President Jay Ruderman said. “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.”
The award, which is named after the RFF’s founder, “carries special meaning to me, not only as a person with a disability, but also as a Jew,” Ne’eman said.
“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,” he said.
Last year's recipient of the inaugural Morton E. Ruderman Award in Inclusion was Dr. Michael Ashley Stein, an internationally recognized expert on disability rights and executive director of the Harvard Law School Project on Disability.
“My father (Morton E. Ruderman), 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,” Jay Ruderman said.