The National Leadership Program

Four summer fellows - two women and two men - standing outside the gates of the White House, which is in the background

Summer 2015 Fellows outside the White House following an event

The National Leadership Program is ideal for people who want to gain media, policy, communications and development skills and contacts while making a positive difference for people with disabilities. We are looking for creative, results-driven individuals who want to achieve breakthrough results while getting hands-on experience. The fellowship is for college and graduate students, as well as for people transitioning into the workforce for the first time or back into the workforce after a break.

The National Leadership Program has three cohorts of Fellows – in the fall, spring and summer – for a total of at least 24 Fellows. The 2017 Summer Fellowship dates are June 5 – August 11, 2017. The deadline for Summer 2017 Fellows now has passed. We are accepting applications for Fall 2017, which allows for flexible dates between August 14, 2017 and December 29, 2017 for a minimum of nine weeks. 

Our National Leadership Program enables young leaders to gain critical skills, contacts and experiences necessary to be accepted into graduate school or go directly into careers in public policy, media or advocacy. This program is fully accessible for people with disabilities and offers full-time in-house job coaching, skills development, networking opportunities, assistive technology and personal care support. People with and without disabilities are encouraged to apply but applicants must have a strong commitment to fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for people with disabilities.

There are opportunities for both paid and unpaid Fellowships. Unpaid fellows receive a monthly transportation stipend. Lunch is provided daily for all fellows.

RespectAbility is an Equal Opportunity Employer and Affirmative Action employer. Persons with disabilities and minorities are strongly encouraged to apply.

Fall 2017 Fellowship Opportunities

Important Details for Applicants

  • Excellent communication and organizational skills are strongly preferred, and fellows should exhibit leadership skills to complete their own projects
  • Strong preference for college juniors and above
  • Commit for a minimum of nine weeks
  • Hours are 9-5, and fellows should be able to work at least 20 hours a week, though 40 hours per week is preferred
  • There is no tuition cost to do the fellowship, and unpaid fellows will be awarded $250 a month as a transportation reimbursement
  • The fellowship takes place in Rockville, Md. (office is a short distance from the White Flint Metro Station)
  • Your cover letter must explain why this fellowship in particular is of interest to you and what you “bring to the table.” You must discuss in your cover letter why you believe that you have the skills, focus and independent drive to make a positive difference in your time with us at RespectAbility.

Fill out the linked Google Doc Form and send your resume and cover letter to to apply for any of our National Leadership Program opportunities! Please note in your cover letter if you are applying for a paid fellowship and explain how you will be able to advance diversity and intersectionality issues.  

Internships (assigned based on skill set)

  • Public Policy/Employment
  • Communications
  • Program Development/Fundraising
  • Faith Inclusion

Seven people standing and three in wheelchairs, posed, facing the camera and smiling

Summer 2015 fellows and staff with Jonathan Murray, creator of The Real World and Born This Way at DC’s premier of Born This Way

About Us: RespectAbility is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to reshape the attitudes of American society so that people with disabilities can more fully participate in and contribute to society; and to empower people with disabilities to achieve as much of the American dream as their abilities and efforts permit.

RespectAbility provides equal employment opportunities (EEO) to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability or genetics. In addition to federal law requirements, RespectAbility complies with applicable state and local laws governing nondiscrimination in employment. This policy applies to all terms and conditions of employment, including recruiting, hiring, placement, promotion, termination, layoff, recall, transfer, leaves of absence, compensation and training. RespectAbility expressly prohibits any form of workplace harassment based on race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, age, genetic information, disability, or veteran status.

Fill out the linked Google Doc Form and send your resume and cover letter to to apply for any of our National Leadership Program opportunities or internships!